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Published on December 21st, 2013 | by Tina Casey


True Cost Of Owning A Chevy Volt Might Surprise You

December 21st, 2013 by  

Our friends over at Edmunds have a nifty little True Cost of Ownership calculator, and the results are giving our other friends over at GM-Volt.com something to cheer about. When you plug the numbers into Edmunds’s proprietary system, you come up with a five year cost of ownership for the Chevy Volt that is thousands less — yes, less, than the retail price.

That makes sense since one factor is the fuel savings you get from an electric car, but what really has GM-Volt.com all excited is that the numbers come out a lot better for the Chevy Volt than for Toyota’s Prius.

Chevy Volt true cost of ownership

Chevy Volt (cropped) by Michael Gil.

As Jeff Cobb of GM-Volt (the site is not affiliated with GM, btw) enthused last week:

As we enter the holiday season, you who chose a Volt may know it is like a gift that keeps on giving, whereas a Toyota Prius is an expense that ultimately costs more to own even though it sells for much less.

The numbers vary somewhat according to zip code so you can check them out for yourself at Edmunds, keeping in mind that there may be other algorithms out there.

The takeaway really is that when you go to buy a new car, you need to look at your costs over time rather than just the retail price.

Chevy Volt Bells And Whistles

Along with our sister site Gas2.org we’ve been following the Volt since GM first launched it with a cross-country tour in 2010 with a relatively modest range in electric mode (currently the EPA rating is 38 miles), so we’re looking forward to seeing what GM has in store for Volt’s future.

That apparently includes a much more ambitious electric range of 200 miles and a few other surprises, including a drop in the retail price.

In the mean time, Volt drivers who have regular access to EV charging stations are reporting that their routine driving habits fall well within the Volt’s unique concept. The car always runs in electric drive but has a gas tank to back up its EV battery, so it can accommodate daily commutes and errands exclusively off the battery, with gasoline extending the range for longer trips.

Last spring, GM noted drivers who charge the battery regularly reported going an average 900 miles before filling up their gas tanks.

Let’s also note for the record that GM has also introduced some new apps for the Volt, including the Volt Driver Challenge that lets you compete (friendily, of course) with other drivers to set fuel efficiency records, and the OnStar RemoteLink that lets you manage your battery from your phone and do a bunch of other cool stuff.

In one of life’s little ironies, things have gone around full circle for GM. Back in 1998, GM purchased the Hummer brand, that notoriously gas-guzzling civilian knockoff of the military Humvee, and now it seems that GM’s Volt gas-electric concept has inspired the Department of Defense to phase out the Humvee in favor of developing a cutting edge, solar-friendly gas-electric ultra light vehicle, which for now it’s calling the — you guessed it — Ultra Light Vehicle.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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