Can the Chevrolet Volt Bring EVs into the Mainstream?

January 28th, 2013
2011 Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt

Sometimes the universe chooses crazy ways to tell us things.

Whether in life, love, or work, sometimes things happen that are just too much to write off as coincidence and can only be described as the work of fate.

In addition to pulling the strings of how and when people meet or opening the door to new potential career paths, it seems the universe has taken an interest in the furtherance of electric cars.

Allow me to explain.

I don’t like electric vehicles. It seems like I say that a lot here, and I’ve made my case many times, but it’s true. I see more and more Nissan Leafs (Leaves?) in my city and always wonder if the car will make it home before it runs out of charge. Granted, I’ve yet to see a stranded Leaf, so I presume the cars do what they are supposed to do.

Sales of EVs aren’t exactly skyrocketing, and supply so far outstrips demand. The Chevrolet Volt and the Leaf will both get lower prices for the next model year, and reports indicate that the Ford Focus EV can be had for next to nothing on a lease. My intuition tells me that current prices are just too high for cars that can’t be driven anywhere, anytime, without the driver worrying about running out of power.

Of the current EVs available, the Chevy Volt is the most appealing to me, because it also has a gas engine to take over when the batteries get exhausted. That’s smart, but the $40,000 price tag for a midsize Chevy sedan explains why I’ve seen only one humming through my local streets.

Yesterday, though, the universe intervened, and I parked right behind that Volt at Target. Moments later its owner (lessee) returned from a shopping trip. Naturally, I introduced myself and struck up a conversation.

The woman leased the car 6 months ago, got a great deal, and thinks she has visited the gas station three times. She hasn’t had any problems and spoke as though she’s loved this car for a great deal longer than 6 months. She showed me the interior, let me sit in the driver’s seat and excitedly told me how most of her trips are on battery power only. She runs errands, commutes to work, goes home and plugs in.

I asked if she’d lease the car all over again.  She answered in the affirmative without hesitation. But here’s the trickier question I asked next: Would this car be worth a $40,000 purchase price?

Her pause alone told me everything I needed to know. Electric cars, at the right price, can make a lot of sense for people who do most of their driving in the city and return home each evening to recharge. A low monthly payment and the promise of little or no gas station visits is a hard proposition to turn down.

While I woke up yesterday with my EV grudge in full force, I went to bed thinking maybe, just maybe, they’ll find their place if the price is right. And who knows, that Volt driver convinced me that one of those places could someday be a garage attached to my house.

The universe has done stranger things.

Would you pay $40,000 for a Chevrolet Volt? What about under $300 per month?

-tgriffith

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Used Nissan Leaf
Used Chevrolet Volt
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  1. Randy
    | #1

    Another question is, “Would you pay $2000 for an Apple II with 64K RAM, two 500K floppy drives and a monochrome 12″ monitor?” You had to pay that much if you wanted one back in the 70′s, and that 2K is 70′s dollars. That’s the price of early adopters. EV and plug in prices are already on their way down, and they’ll become more affordable as time goes on.

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