There's a growing hubbub in the plug-in vehicle community over what looks like some ridiculously cheap replacement batteries for the Chevrolet Volt going up for sale. GM Parts Online, for example, is selling a replacement Volt battery with an MSRP of $2,994.64 but, with an online discount, the price comes down to $2,305.88. For the 16-kWh pack in the 2012 Volt, that comes to a very low $144.11 per kilowatt hour (kWH). But is it a real deal? How can it be, when a Chevy dealer may quote you a price of up to $34,000 to replace the pack?

For a 16-kWh Volt pack, $2,305.88 comes to a very low $144.11 per kWh. But is it a real deal?

Battery packs in alternative propulsion vehicles are usually priced by the kWh and, historically, they've been thought to be in the range of $500-per-kWh for OEM offerings. Since automakers are understandably secretive about their costs, we still don't know what the real number is today, but we do know it varies by automaker. Tesla, for example, has said it pays less than $200-per-kWH at the cell level but, of course, a constructed pack would be more. Whatever is going on, li-ion battery prices are trending downward.

So, $144.11 certainly sounds great, but what's the story here? Kevin Kelly, manager of electrification technology communications for General Motors, reminded AutoblogGreen that GM Parts Online is not the official GM parts website and that, "the costs indicated on the site are not what we would charge our dealers or owners for a replacement battery. There would be no cost to the Volt owner if their battery needs replacement or repair while the battery is under the eight year/100,000 mile limited warranty coverage provided by Chevrolet."

2013 chevy volt

A single price tag also can't be accurate for everyone, Kelly said. "If the customer needs to have their battery repaired beyond the warranty, the cost to them would vary depending on what needs to be replaced or repaired (i.e. number of modules, which specific internal components need replacement, etc.)." he said. "So, it's hard for us to tell you exactly what the cost would be to the customer because it varies depending on what might need to be repaired/replaced. As a result, the core charge would vary."

But, is the $2,300 price even accurate for anyone? Thanks to a reader comment, we see that this similar item on New GM Parts makes it look like the lithium-ion modules that Kelly mentioned – where a lot of the expensive bits are – are not included.

We called up Keyes Chevrolet in Los Angeles and were quoted a broad price range of between $3,400 and $34,000 to replace a "drive motor replacement battery" in a 2012 Volt. Tellingly, perhaps, the dealer we spoke with was not sure what replacing a 'drive motor replacement battery' (and the 'Grade B' version, at that) entails, and told us we'd have to bring a Volt in to see what's wrong with the pack to get a real estimate. We got the same confusion and numbers to replace the battery from Berger Chevrolet in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We asked GM to clarify what this $34,000 charge includes, but that information was not forthcoming.

"The high end of what you provided is not consistent with what we would expect the customer to pay" - GM's Kevin Kelly

Instead, Kelly told AutoblogGreen that looking at the highest price in the dealer catalog is misleading, since, "GM's strategy when it comes to servicing Volt batteries has been to repair, rather than replace. Technical support has been in place with trained service technicians at dealers specializing in repairing these battery systems. As part of the replacement and repair process, we provide the option of using refurbished batteries that provide the customer with similar or better range performance as they would expect from their original battery system. I should also point out that the quotes you received could include a possible dealer markup for out of warranty repairs. The high end of what you provided is not consistent with what we would expect the customer to pay."

So, what does a replacement Chevy Volt battery actually cost? No one seems to know for sure. Any of our readers have first-hand experience with this, perhaps from a crashed Volt that had a new pack installed? If you do, please let us know in Comments.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Debbie Myers Robb
      • 1 Month Ago

      We live near the small community of Bolivar MO north of Springfield. The Chevrolet dealer gave us a quote of 8,000 dollars to replace our Volts battery when they replaced the hatchback doors shocks on recall. We bought the Volt in 2012 to save on fuel. The cost of fuel is usually 20 dollars a month. That is big savings compared to 50 to 75 dollars a week back from 2008 to 2013. our previous vehicles were 2005 Escape and F150. In 5 years the gas cost for the 150 would pay for 2 Volt Batteries. The 150 only got 17 MPG and I was driving 35 miles a day. The Volt did that on 1 charge and it was at the top of calculations 220 MPG. Today we are at 98 MPG. We moved and are doing more extended range. However there are no prius out there that have 98 MPG. Thanks debbie

        • 1 Month Ago
        @Debbie Myers Robb

        The savings in fuel are indeed great.  However, the sticker price compared to a Cruze (which my understanding is essentially a gas-powered volt) is around $14k more, which is close to the price of the 2 $8k batteries.  After calculating in the cost of electricity to charge the Volt, you will, at best, break even when comparing these two vehicles.  Until the battery prices start to sharply tick down, I'll probably stick with my 3.8L, 6-passenger, mammoth-sized-trunk, paid-for LeSabre.

        Don't misunderstand me -- the Volt is a great vehicle, and will meet the needs for some better than others.  I hope one day to electrify my Buick.

      • 3 Months Ago

      The price of the battery pack will go down as time goes on. Also the 2011-2012 Volts with the 16KWh battery and 2013-2014 with the 16.5KWh battery, when the battery goes out, you can get the 2015's 17.1KWh battery pack as the replacement.

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