2011 Chevrolet Volt – Click above for high-res image gallery

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt will have a resale value of a tick over $17,000 after 36 months, the length of an average lease, according to Kelley Blue Book. That's only 42 percent of the plug-in hybrid's $41,000 MSRP. KBB's projection assumes that the going rate for a gallon of gas will hold steady at $4/gallon 36 months from now.

Eric Ibara, director of residual value consulting at Kelley, told Automotive News that the Volt's projected residual value may seem to be on the low side. But, as Ibara points out, the first 200,000 Volts sold qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit, effectively slashing its sticker price down to $33,500 (well, maybe not).

Using that $33,500 number, KBB's projection means the Volt will hold onto 51 percent of its value. That compares to 46 percent for the 2011 Toyota Prius and 37.5 percent for the 2011 Ford Focus. As we see it, factoring in the $7,500 tax credit is crazy, but we'll let you guys and gals debate that.

KBB expects to set residuals for the $25,280 $32,780 Nissan Leaf, which also qualifies for the $7,500 federal tax credit, later this year. Hat tip to Frank!


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  • 81 Comments
      NorthBeach
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is not a big deal: depreciation is a fact of life - the only thing is to try to avoid vehicles on the higher end of the depreciation scale if your transaction is PURELY based on financials, which most car purchases are not. A friend of mine was recently in the car market to replace his Volkswagen EOS hard top convertible (with all the bells and whistles), and after 3+years, that car had depreciated a whopping 65%. After a little cajoling, I got him to replace it with a Mazda3 which only experienced about 35% depreciation over the same period of time. Clearly these are two vehicles at the far ends of the depreciation curve. Most vehicles lie somewhere in between, which is apparently the case with the Volt. Of course, the primary reason people are currently buying the Volt is more than simple transaction-price/trade-in price comparisons. If that were the case, even in general, people simply wouldn't buy cars ever since they are usually awful "investments". Rather, there is a slew of other variables to consider when purchasing vehicles and the Volt in particular: Do I like the car? Do I love the car? Do I really want to deal with the unknowns of operating an electric vehicle? Should I buy or lease the car? Do I have a parking space where I can install a 220V charger? What are the electric rates in my area? Do I really care about consuming less energy/fuel versus most other vehicles despite the higher transaction price upfront? Do I primarily drive less than 35 miles a day? Do I care about reducing exhaust/emissions? Do I care about consuming less imported oil, specifically from the Middle East, and reducing the gazillions of dollars America ships abroad to countries whose people want to destroy us? And so on and so forth. It may well turn out that the answers to those questions have an intangible value that bridge the that $1000-$4000 depreciation gap. Just as is the case with leather seats, in-car entertainment systems, detailing packages, upmarket rims, and other luxury options, i.e. those extras have some 50%-100% depreciation if taken individually. Frankly, I plan on my next vehicle being a Chevy Volt, and if I - and even America at large - had to swallow an extra $1000-$4000 hit per vehicle in order to massively improve the efficiency of our nation's car fleet and reduce air and water pollution as well as keeping the United States out of ***$3 TRILLION*** wars abroad every decade essentially over oil (or terrorists funded by oil wealth), then I would HAPPILY pay. Wouldn’t you??? The reality with the Volt is that currently it may be more intelligent to simply lease the vehicle because no-one really knows what to do with the batteries after 5 years, what kind of shape they will be in, or if there will be an established market for "previously owned" energy storage systems. Since GM is more of an expert in this field than the average consumer, just let GM deal with it. And 2015 Volts should have nicer batteries!
      reattadudes
      • 3 Years Ago
      it is very difficult to predict a resale value on a new type of car like this, so they choose to wisely err in taking a conservative approach. the popularity of vehicles like this hinge on two important factors: fuel prices, and at what pace this technology continues. Prius vehicles piled up on dealer lots, complete with $2,500 rebates, as recently as last year. when fuel prices have their precipitous drop in the next few months, inventories will rise again. this explains the relatively low residual on the Prius. if electric car technology continues at a rapid rate, these early examples will be considered "Fred Flintstone" technology, and will be totally undesirable as used cars. another huge factor will be the replacement cost of the battery packs, with estimates running in the $5,000-$9,000 range. for anyone who has leased a vehicle in the last ten years, it's quite easy to understand the conservative approach to residuals. I've had several where the residual was off by $5,000, and not in the leasing company's favor.
      Apeweek
      • 3 Years Ago
      Blue book value at this early stage is based on a set of assumptions that will probably change. I doubt they understand EVs very well. I find that most people who don’t drive them don’t understand the people who do. Look at the Toyota RAV4 EV, made at the beginning of the 2000s. That electric car, used, has sold for up to twice its’ original purchase value. KBB certainly didn’t predict that. If GM is still not making enough Volts to satisfy demand in three years, resale price will stay pretty high. Also, this car beats anything else on the market for overall fuel economy - most people keep it somewhere close to 100 mpg by driving a lot of miles on cheap plug-in electricity. A typical driver can save $100, $200 per month or more on fuel costs. That's worth something, and has to be reflected in pricing (just like putting solar on your house increases its value.) We’ll just have to wait and see. But I don't think KBB has this anywhere near correct.
      Basil Exposition
      • 3 Years Ago
      Oh man this would be awesome if true - I could be driving a Volt in only 3 years! I'm not holding my breath though.
        johncanspeak
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Basil Exposition
        Hey! That's one way to look at it! I could afford one too! :-)
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      I dunno, i think electric cars are going to have an extremely overinflated resale value just like fuel sipping cars with good reputations like the Civic, Prius, Corolla etc. have. Do they really think that nobody's gonna jump on a $5k-$10k savings on one of these? That it would need to be $20k off? i don't think so. We'll see how it goes with these cars though, their reliability is unknown. Same with the Leaf which has sort of a questionable battery design in terms of long-term life.
      Brand X
      • 3 Years Ago
      All the available VOLT's in my area are priced in the $43K+ range. With tax and a 4.9% rate for 48 months the payment is $1041. Holy Crap these are expensive. Factor in the depreciation, I'm better off with what I have. I'll wait for the LEAF.
        johncanspeak
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Brand X
        You failed to figure in the $7,500 ace. And the Leaf has a short range. It runs out before you find a charging station, you are screwed. The Volt can run and run due to it's on board recharging system. The Leaf reminds me of the old Beverly Hilbillies episode where Jethro says he invented the eeee-lectric car! It just need a long enough extension cord to keep it plugged in!
      Claud
      • 3 Years Ago
      ?????????????? So?.............Most cars are worth less at 6 mo's, 10 mo's, 17 mo's......... Now I know you guys like the foreign cars better but come on!!!!!
      mikemaj82
      • 3 Years Ago
      and people are surprised by this? Most cars lose this much value after 3 years, especially luxury cars.
      Rotation
      • 3 Years Ago
      I wouldn't be surprised to see it have a low resale. There will be other models out there and updated Volts (AT-PZEVe) for it to compete with. A lot of these problems aren't really problems if you aren't looking to flip the car in 3 years. And if you are looking to flip it in 3 years, why didn't you take GM's incredibly attractive lease option?
      Tanooki2003
      • 3 Years Ago
      I can honestly say that this does not surprise me one bit, in fact it was to be expected.
      cliff
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wish I could buy one right now for that (lol). Why when they say these vehicles depreciate so much on paper but you never find one that cheap on the lot.
      BimmerFerret
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'd buy a $17k Volt in a heartbeat. $17k and no gas fillups on my commute? Yes please.
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