Extended range electric powertrain, federal and state incentives, still-high gasoline prices and hip interior and exterior design are all helping the Chevrolet Volt lead U.S. plug-in vehicle sales. Even though the overall numbers remain small, the Volt is clearly bypassing the Nissan Leaf and niche competitors. The stumbling block has always been the MSRP sticker price, which started out at about $41,000 when the Volt was launched in late 2010. So far, leasing has been the solution and that's getting even better for car shoppers.

When pricing was announced two years ago, eyebrows were raised over the Volt being priced about $9,000 more than the Nissan Leaf. General Motors forecasted strong residual values for the Volt and set up a lease program very close to the monthly payments for the Leaf. Since then numbers have gotten even more competitive, and TrueCar said the best lease deal arrived in July. A consumer can place $2,529 down and make $260-a-month lease payments for 36 months. The deal expires September 4. PluginCars is hearing anecdotal evidence about even better deals through individual Chevrolet dealerships.

There's also the question of resale values and finding deals on used Volts, once enough of them come off-lease within the next two years. The estimated trade-in value of a 2011 Volt, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association used car guide, is $29,325. That's 90 percent of its post-incentive $32,780 sticker price.

In California and New York, it's helping that the Volt qualifies for the HOV lane access for driver-only trips. It would also help to see gasoline prices go up over $4 a gallon – the Volt's competitive advantage being range anxiety reduction and freedom from gas station trips. As the Chevrolet Volt website says, "Electric When You Want It. Gas When You Need It."


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 44 Comments
      • 2 Years Ago
      I just started a 2yr Volt lease. I figure technology will advance pretty quickly on these things and would like to be able to take advantage of it. That said, I am loving my Volt and would be happy to keep it longer but my understanding is that the residual that is making the lease price so attractive will make purchasing the car a bad decision. Especially with the $7500 tax rebate worked into the residual so I will be paying that much extra for the car. I wonder if the tax rebate will still be around in 2 yrs...
      • 2 Years Ago
      Forget these big motor companies - they're bloated and wasteful like the fed govt.... I'm getting a Tesla.
      Nick
      • 2 Years Ago
      How does chevy make any money of these low leases? They make only $11,000 over 3 years! Then what?
        Ziv
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Nick
        Don't ask! I want one... I think that they will be able to sell them second hand with 20,000 miles on them for at least $28,000, that is what the used Volts with 24,000 miles are selling for now. So they get the $7500 tax credit, they get the $11,000 in lease payments, they get the $28,000+, and they build the economies of scale even faster, which lets them make a larger profit on the volt in the near future.
          Ziv
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Ziv
          Whoops, that should have been 30,000 miles on them. I was thinking about the 2 year, 10k miles per year lease, but that wouldn't have resulted in the $11,000 in payments.
        Marcopolo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Nick
        @ Nick, Most 'Auto-leasing' arrangements, are not 'rental'. Although in theory, you could hand the vehicle back in three years on termination of the lease, you will discover that the agreement will contain a residual clause. This residual amount, will be carefully calculated at a slightly lower figure than the cars estimated wholesale used price. The terms of the residual will contain a clause which passes the liability for any shortfall between the price the Lease company recovers from the sale of the vehicle, and the agreed residual, to the person (or organization) surrendering the lease. This provides Volt owners with a powerful incentive to either buy the Volt for the residual value, or trade-in for a new car and lease. The finance company claims the $7500, as 'proprietor,' but passes it on the the purchaser as 'owner'. This is pretty good deal for new Volt owners. In addition, due to the even very low interest rate can prove profitable through the application of the principles of compounding interest. GM's finance agents are not losing money ! ( just not making as much as usual).
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          You can end up owing money at the end of a lease if you exceed the terms of the lease. That is, if you exceed normal wear and tear. This comes down to either putting more miles on the vehicle than you were contracted for or returning the car not in good condition. I have seen places offer to forgive extra wear (miles) before on condition of taking out a new lease on a new vehicle. But to be honest, this isn't forgiving anything, they're just taking those charges out of their profit on the new lease (or passing it on to you in capitalized cost). Other than that, you don't have to sweat it. If the car takes a dip in value due to actions not of your own doing, you don't owe anything, the lessor takes the bite. This is the case for the US at least. So PR: You say these are forbidden for the kinds of leases we are used to. ARe you saying they're still allowed for some leases? What kinds? Commercial leases or something?
          Nick
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          GM (and many other car makers) have their own financing company....so they take the bite at the end.
          PR
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          That's right A.M. When you really want to know what Americans think, you should always listen to an Australian pommy! They know much more about Americans than you! /sarc *laugh*
          PR
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          Nick, Every time you talk to someone selling you something, there are 20 different angles they are working in order to benefit the most from the transaction. This is the nature of free market capitalism. The only defense is to educate yourself and know what angles your opponent is working on you and what legal consumer protections you are entitled to, or find a nice Communist State where the state owns the means of production and fixes the prices. Yes, a lease contains a fair number of angles where they can try to make a few more bucks off of you. But the same situation exists with buying cars and selling them your trade-in. Dealerships play as much games with your trade-in (if not more) than they play with a lease return. A car dealership may manage to get you for thousands of dollars of additional profits because of your trade-in when you are buying a car outright. In fact, this additional profit that dealerships take on your trade-in is very well documented by the gap between wholesale and private party and retail used book prices in KBB and NADA. But if you know where YOUR leverage lies, you can use use the lease-return to your benefit too. For example, did you know you can choose whatever dealership you want to return your lease? In fact, one clever way to play dealerships is to go to one dealership and get their lease-return quote along with a quote on a new lease, then go to another dealership and tell them if they will waive this fee or that penalty, that you will re-lease with them instead of the other dealership. This is basic capitalism. It is the system we have, so your choice is to either learn how to be good at capitalism, or be the "whale" that gets taken advantage of no matter what kind of transaction you are conducting. With that said, most of my cars I buy with cash, then I usually sell my old cars on the private market at my leisure. If anyone is in the financial position to pull this off, and have enough cars available to drive to make this work, it is a very good way to avoid a ton of the ways car dealerships can nail you.
          PR
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          Rotation asked: "So PR: You say these are forbidden for the kinds of leases we are used to. ARe you saying they're still allowed for some leases? What kinds? Commercial leases or something?" Yes, there are open-end leases for commercial/corporate leases. For example, if you are a company and you want to buy an SEO truck through Ford's commercial fleet sales, you would likely do an open-end lease. The consumer protection regs no longer apply because you are now going B2B (business to business). Open-end leases make companies happy because of how depreciation works in business taxes, and they don't have to worry about mileage overages, because there are no mileage restrictions/penalties. Basically it works like a normal closed-end lease on a car, except always choosing the option to buy out the car at the end of the lease and sell it at auction. All while being able to fully deduct the full amount of the monthly lease payments regardless of depreciation laws. It is basically used as a way to get around the US laws on tax depreciation, while keeping all the risk on the side of the company, not the lessor. Oh crap! Now I'm going to be accused of being a tax lawyer AND a Ford salesman!
          PR
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          Roy_H If you live in the United States, you can ignore what Marco Polo says about residual recoup clauses. None of the major car manufacturers offer those types of leases to retail consumers in the United States. The 1998 Federal Consumer Leasing Act made clauses like that illegal in the United States for the closed-end leases you will encounter at US dealerships. The term 'proprietor' also does not apply to US leases. The lease holder is the "Lessor" here. Marco is from Australia/UK and seems to have a hard time understanding that US leases work differently than what he knows about. But since there is no way he could have ever leased a US car himself, it is easy to understand why he has no idea about US leases. US consumer leases from major car manufacturers are a "closed-end" lease, where the residual is fixed and locked at the time of the lease contract. It cannot change based upon the "Realized Value" of the vehicle after it is returned to a dealership and sold. If you are offered lease with a residual that under-calculates depreciation, any loss is entirely on the shoulders of the finance company (Lessor). The Volt's residual might not be being calculated correctly compared with what the "Realized Value" will be in 2-3 years when the car is re-sold. But that risk is 100% on the shoulders of the lease holder in the United States. If they are wrong, it comes out of their pocket. As long as you keep the car to the end of the lease term, you will never have to make up for any shortfall. More info on US lease laws: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/leasing/
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          PR has it completely right. Tho US leasing companies do limit their liability via excess mileage and condition clauses. For example, you can't turn the car in if you've stripped the drivetrain.
          Marco Polo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          @ Actionable Mango " I can't speak for where you live, but nobody in the USA is confused by this" Amazing ! You know everybody in the USA ?
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          :D Without PR and Marco, this site would not nearly be as much fun! CNN could hire you two as a redo of Crossfire and that would be a ratings boost against Fox (and even MSNBC now, it seems....how far they have fallen). Either that or Fox could hire you two and nail that CNN coffin shut.
          Nick
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          Thanks all. This more or less confirms what I thought leasing was: A crafty finance contract with adjustable parameters, designed to offer vehicles to people who can't afford to buy them straight away, but who might be enticed to make the purchase at the end of the lease contract. It seems like a very powerful inventive actually: You've already spent $11,000 on something, and you have the option to walk away from it, or buy the car by paying the remainder of its value (minus a few additional sweeteners, "we'll throw in an extra set of tires!" and a full service!"). You're offered the chance to get a discount on another lease, which you will lose by walking away. It's no surprise that people stick with the same brand for several years.
          Actionable Mango
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          Marcopolo, "Auto-leasing is often confused with genuine Auto-leases for experimental models, where the consumer must return the vehicle, and no buy back opportunity exists." I can't speak for where you live, but nobody in the USA is confused by this.
          PR
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          Marco, This blog is about US lease rates on US market Volts. Any talk about non-US leases is non-topical to this blog. It is funny that you are soooo desperate to know more about me personally and what I do and have done for a living. You really are getting sweet on me! Heck, you even wrote a fantasy story a week ago where you used my name and pronouns for me more than a dozen times in your fantasy world. If I'm in your fantasies, and your are dying to get to know me so bad, why not just ask me out a that date you are clearly dying for?
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          Marco: You seriously don't know how leasing works in the US. Why bother to pretend you do? I've definitely seen people pressured to re-up. But over excessive wear and tear. All that junk you list is either up-front costs that were already on the lease when you signed it (gap insurance, acquisition fees, disposition fees) or just BS. For example if you get in an accident, you are required to fix the car, if you get in a wreck and don't get the car restored to normal condition of course you can expect to have to pay for the damage when you return the car. And maintenance cannot be required to be done at the dealer in the US. You had a point, but you lost your way somewhere trying to win an internet peeing match. Why don't you just stop and say you don't like leasing? That's what you're trying to say. I don't like leasing either, but I'm not going to make up lies to try to convince others to agree with me. No, auto-leasing is not often confused with auto-leasing for experimental models. Almost no one in the US or anywhere has ever leased an experimental model. And anyway, in the US the leases for compliance EVs ("experimental models") have been standard closed-end leases anyway. Nick: Yes, leasing is crafty financing. The dealers love it because it brings you back into the dealership to return the car, so they might be able to entice you to buy another. But this cuts both ways. If a dealer believes they have a chance of making more money on you in the future by leasing, they might accept reduced profit from a lease versus a purchase. The other real advantage for the customer on a lease is that you don't have to take ownership of the part of the car you will never have it for. So instead of paying interest on the residual value of the car just to pay it off in a lump sum when you trade it in 3 years later, you just never "buy" the portion of the car's life after 3 years in the first place. Personally, I rarely find leases advantageous, I keep my cars too long. But if you're dead-set on only keeping a car a few years, you might find leases work well for you.
          Nick
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          Thanks. Basically, automakers are using lease contracts as powerful hooks...in order to either offload the car to the same person at the end of the lease, or to entice him to sign for another lease or purchase. Pretty smart.
          Roy_H
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          I was totally unaware of this residual clause. So you could end up paying a large amount of money if GM were to make a significant drop in price of new Volts. Suppose in 2015 you can buy a new Volt for $34k - $7500 = $26500. What does that do to the price of the used Volt? And how much would you be on the hook for? I thought the whole point of this lease program was that the lease company took the risk, how naive I was.
          Marco Polo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          @ Rotation I neither like auto-leasing, nor dislike auto-leasing, it's just a finance contract like any other ! It doesn't matter whether I like leasing or not. The point I was trying to make, is that auto-leasing contains many hidden (or not understood) charges. The point is that you should read the contract very carefully. If having read and really understood the lease terms and conditions, and still believe leasing is for you, great ! It's a perfectly legitimate way of purchasing a vehicle. But the terms and conditions can be complex. The complexity doesn't matter unless there's a dispute ! Then it really matters ! Repair quality, higher mileage, 'excessive wear' etc. The consumer may find themselves joining hundreds of thousands of other disputes involving auto-leasing, that take place in the US each year. (like being stuck with a $550 transport 'fee', ). What you describe as 'Junk" and 'all that b/s", adds thousands of dollars to the costs involved in leasing. It's true that these costs are included in the contract at the time the contract is signed, but they are additional to the monthly payments and so must be considered when evaluating the total cost of the lease contract. In the US, the Better Business Bureau provides excellent advice @ www.bbb.org/upstate-new.../auto...cars/.../leasing-an-automobile-149 A quick read of "Look Before You Lease: Secrets to Smart Vehicle Leasing" by Michael Kranitz, may help you decide (and save you enough to buy Micheal's the price of the book ! ).
          Marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          @ PR, I have no difficulty understanding US auto-leasing ! In your eagerness to be pedantic, maybe you should consider not everyone resides in your state, or even the US ! Nick lives in Switzerland ! I use the term 'proprietor' , because it's a basic legal concept easily interpreted in any jurisdiction. (even the US ). Just as the term 'residual' is generic term used by the finance industry internationally, to describe those terms and conditions employed to distinguish a 'lease' from a 'rental' agreement ! . Every jurisdiction, has variations in 'auto-lease' contracts, but the principles remain basically similar ! Originally, Auto-leasing was restricted to Corporate clients, who were able to tax deduct lease payments more easily than claiming depreciation. The idea became more popular than Hire-to-purchase contracts, which attracted a lot of consumer law criticism. PR, you sound like an ex-car salesman (or F&I sales) who has been indoctrinated with the concept that Auto-leasing is offered for the customers benefit, and a benevolent Federal government will make sure the consumer get's a good deal ! You display an almost naive faith in government regulations ! Finance companies do not design contracts to lose money, or benefit the consumer, but maximize profits! If there was any suggestion of real risk or loss, the finance company wouldn't offer such terms ! In the US, instead of simple agreed residuals, Auto-lease contracts get round consumer laws by imposing such items as, Up-front payments, (including capitalized cost reductions), 'disposition fees', acquisition fees ( sometimes called 'processing' or 'assignment' fees), security 'refundable' deposit (or last monthly payment), 'end-of-lease fees'. Including,excessive mileage, 'excessive wear', tyre condition, batteries, maintenance books serviced by authorized dealers, all sorts of additional fees and conditions. (including battery charging regimes, very interesting for Leaf). 'GAP' insurance, terms of the contract must not be varied, accessories, accidents, legal claims etc etc.. When all these 'conditions' are added up, a simple residual, can look a good deal ! All these conditions are designed to motivate the purchaser to 'trade-in' or resign a new contract, (when suddenly, all these factors, will magically disappear ! ) Leasing, is not renting ! Nick is accurate when he says, it's a 'hook', to 'sugar coat' a what is in effect, just a finance contract ! There's nothing wrong with auto-leasing, as such, but before signing the contract, any purchaser should carefully examine the contract, including all the clauses that the salesman brushes under the table ! ( Especially, the idea that at the end of the contract you just walk away, having only paid the monthly payment ! ) . Auto-leasing is often confused with genuine Auto-leases for experimental models, where the consumer must return the vehicle, and no buy back opportunity exists.
          Marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          PR, For someone so particular about inappropriate behavior as to demand the banning of Dan F, you seem pretty eager to use such terms yourself. The term 'pommy' ( in that derogatory context ) is an offensive epithet, akin to "spic' or 'wop', or '****'. I would advise you against the use of such expressions, or you may find someone lacking my tolerance of mealy- mouthed hypocrites, and learn a most unpleasant lesson.
          PR
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          Marco, The term Pommy has zero racial intonations like the other terms you listed. Australians and the British share common racial heritage. Nor is it an attack on anyone's sexual preference, like Dan's attacks. Your apology for trying to paint me as a racist or a homophobe is expected immediately.
      Julius
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hmm... maybe the high residual prices on used Priuses is making this happen. In any case, it's a way GM can get around the high cost of the car - kinda a "cake and eat it too" approach.
      Ziv
      • 2 Years Ago
      If my condo would let me install a plug and a Kill-A-Cycle so I could pay them for the electricity I use, I would buy a Volt tomorrow. I imagine this is something that will work itself out in a year or two.
        Actionable Mango
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ziv
        A Kill-A-Cycle is an electric drag-racing motorcycle. Why would you need to install one of these into your condo in order to buy a Volt? Or do you mean Kill-A-Watt? :)
      EZEE
      • 2 Years Ago
      Honestly, even this radical right wing, children starving, old people throwing into the street, forcing them to eat dog food (and not the good stuff either, we are talking Alpo) looks at this and says, if you live in a city, or primarily make short trips, this should be tops on your list of cars to look at. Unless you have a family or need a truck for towing or hauling, one should look at this. His is insanely good.... Hmmmmm, I know a bunch of kind hearted feeling caring liberals who live in downtown Orlando who drive giant gas guzzling vehicles....I will have to let them know about this. Nick lives in Switzerland? Who knew? Cool place...there is this cafe...like, on a lake at the base of a mountain...(sigh).....beautiful....
      Marcopolo
      • 2 Years Ago
      A high resale price improves the image of the new vehicle and increases desirability. The danger begins when Automakers start artificially stimulating the market with 'special' low interest finance deals. This is especially true when the model is superseded and the resale value declines dramatically. The Volt should have this problem since their is every indication that the market for used EV's is probably bigger than for new models. But it's a tricky business for the manufacturer. Low interest deals can lower the image of the product, and only create an illusion of false prosperity.
        Ziv
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Marcopolo
        Marco, did you mean " the Volt should NOT have this problem"? I think you did and I agree, the market for used EV's appears to be hot, used Volts are going for 90% of their original net sales price with 20,000 to 25,000 miles on them. I know, I have been looking at buying one and they are selling quickly at prices that are little lower than they got new.
          Marco Polo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Ziv
          Ziv Thank you for the correction ! Yes that exactly what I mean.
      • 2 Years Ago
      http://voltowner.blogspot.com
      Rotation
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm sure it is. The Volt has always had a sweetheart lease. Also, the Plug-in Prius now has 0% financing in California, has had for a week or so.
      oollyoumn
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'll still wait for the C-Max Energi, it has much better mileage when on long trips, and 20 miles electric is still well within my 3.5 mile one way commute. Also the Volt is far too small for someone my size. I sat in one earlier this year, and setting the driver seat to fit me left less than 2 inches between the back of my seat and the rear seat cushion. The extra 10 cu ft of passenger space makes the C-Max is far more liveable on those long trips.
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @oollyoumn
        The C-Max is not going to feel bigger than the Volt, the extra 10 cubic feet are up in the head area (taller car). Unless you head is hitting the headliner on the Volt, the C-Max is not going to feel bigger to you.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          Just test drove a volt today.. I am only 5 ft 11 and I had to scoot the seat up to let my 11 year old daughter room to sit behind me. I too am waiting for the C-max Volt is simply too small.
      EZEE
      • 2 Years Ago
      Let's see....a Nissan Versa, or a Chevy Volt...what to pick....what to pick....or maybe that accord with 100,000 miles on it....
      Actionable Mango
      • 2 Years Ago
      Eventually the Volt will have to have a drastically lower price. This has been stated publicly as part of the plan. I wonder then, how Volt residuals could possible hold up to whatever is selling new 2, 3, or 4 years from now?
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