Electric Car Market Gets Another Jolt: $5,000 Price Cut on Chevy Volt

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Chevy Volt electric vehicles come off the assembly line at the General Motors Detroit Hamtramck Assembly Plant.

The field of electric cars has been getting more crowded, and more appealing to consumers thanks to aggressive price breaks by automakers eager to woo more drivers to plug in. Amid the heightened competition, one of the electric vehicle pioneers, the gas-electric hybrid Chevy Volt, has experienced stagnant sales. But that could change with a sticker price drop of $5,000.

On Tuesday, General Motors announced that the 2014 Chevrolet Volt, arriving at dealerships this month, will have a sticker price starting at $34,995 (including an $810 destination fee). That’s $5,000 less than the previous year model’s starting price. Add in a federal tax credit of $7,500 and the effective base price of the Volt comes to a competitive $27,495.

From the beginning, automakers have known that they would have to lower electric car prices in order to attract mainstream buyers, and it looks like the hand of GM was forced to decrease Volt prices or risk falling behind in the market. Over the weekend, news outlets such as the Hartford Courant reported that Nissan sold 1,864 Leafs in July, a 372% increase compared to the same month in 2012. Drivers purchased 1,788 Chevy Volts last month, meanwhile, a 3% decrease compared to July 2012.

What’s more, once the July figures were tallied up, it became clear that Nissan was deserving of bragging rights in the EV market, with the Leaf outselling the Volt 11,703 to 11,643 through the first seven months of 2013. (In the new press release regarding the Volt’s price cut, GM stated, “The Volt continues to be the best selling plug-in vehicle in America,” but that’s questionable at this point.)

(MORE: Ford Smartens Up and Dumbs Cars Down)

A year ago, the Volt routinely trounced the Leaf in head-to-head sales. In May 2012, for instance, Chevy sold 1,680 Volts, compared to just 510 Nissan Leaf purchases in the U.S.

There’s no mystery as to what’s caused the turnaround. Early in 2013, Nissan announced the sticker price on the new Leaf would be cut by $6,400. Now, GM is lowering prices on its best-known plug-in to better compete in an EV field that’s not only more crowded—with plug-in vehicles from Honda, Fiat, Smartcar, and BMW, among others—but that’s also priced more competitively than ever. The Volt’s price cut is one in a long series of EV markdowns, including not only the Nissan Leaf Leaf but the Ford Focus EV, which became $4,000 cheaper in July.

What’s notable is that unlike Nissan, which introduced a new entry-level S model that eliminated extras like navigation and cruise control in order to lower the Leaf’s overall base price, Chevy isn’t removing any of the Volt’s amenities to cut prices. “The 2014 Volt will offer the same impressive list of features, but for $5,000 less,” Don Johnson, U.S. vice president, Chevrolet sales and service, said via press release.

Because the Volt comes with a gas-powered engine in addition to battery power—able to be driven 38 miles on an electric charge, then another 350 or so miles using gasoline—it’s certainly more practical and multi-purpose than the Leaf, which can be driven about 75 miles before requiring a charge. GM, meanwhile, brags that Volt owners typically drive 900 miles in between fillup trips to gas stations.

(MORE: All of a Sudden, There Aren’t Enough Electric Cars to Keep Up with Demand)

But we’ll have to see to what degree the $5,000 price cut will sway consumers over to the Volt. In Nissan’s case, dropping the price certainly succeeded in boosting demand in a big way: Sales of the Leaf are up 230% so far this year.

39 comments
MarkRenburke
MarkRenburke

Thank you Brad, for the informative and straightforward update on the Volt, and reminding people of its value and versatility. Many people are STILL unaware that the Volt is an electric vehicle that turns in to a hybrid when the battery is low. 

In real world driving, this often exceeds EPA rating at 40 to 50+ miles; quite easy to do 60-70+ EV miles by plugging in to regular outlets at work or again at home any time you get back from a local trip. It's as easy as plugging in your cell phone. 

And on longer trips combined when the EV mode is followed the hybrid mode, it's quite common to achieve 70 to 100 mpg or more for the whole trip - numbers that can be matched by any hybrid vehicle currently on the market.

deregulate_this
deregulate_this

You will spend far less in electricity than you would in gas.  We purchased a Volt last year and we found our electric bill went up $22/month, while our spending on gas dropped to almost $0.  


You get around 45 miles on a charge.  Most of our errands are within this range.  Plug-in hybrids are nice.  The Volt also gets good mileage on the freeway after the gas engine starts to charge the battery.  


People said the same bad comments about the Prius before it became popular.  The Volt is a better design and out-performs the Prius.  Once the initial nay-sayers are proved wrong, the Volt will also be a popular hybrid. 

JdReader
JdReader

Chevy will attract intelligent buyers with this move.

JayRazner
JayRazner

Middle class wiped out in America.  Only rich and poor left.  The rich will by their fully loaded Lexus and don't care about gas prices.  The working poor who may have a 10-15 an hour part time or contracted job still needs to get on the road is not going to buy a 35k car but rather a preowned for under 20k at most.  The economy is a disaster.  Chevy doesn't get it neither does our government.  

gopvictory
gopvictory

If the Volt would cost $25,000, I still would never buy one.

deimpact
deimpact

Since I don't support unions, no way I would buy a union made car.

aerolark
aerolark

Please, oh, please - The Volt does NOT have an engine - it has an on-board, gas powered GENERATOR. The car is always running on its electric motors.

SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

@MarkRenburke

But a Camry Hybrid is a good deal quicker and faster than the Volt, and still cost less.   The Volt also does not get great mgs once the charge runs out.  On a long trip the Camry Hybrid beats the Volt on mpgs.


MarkRenburke
MarkRenburke

Sorry, I meant "numbers than CANNOT be matched by any hybrid" :)

MarkRenburke
MarkRenburke

@DonAke Don, the information you have at your link on the Volt is simply inaccurate. I suggest you do some research, update your information, but most importantly, actually get behind the wheel of the American engineered, American built, and American fueled Chevy Volt...you'll be shocked alright - in a good way! ;)

SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

@JdReader

No, this car can never pay for itself in saved gas.

It is a small 4 seater that few people want to drive.

WalterBiber
WalterBiber

I appreciate your honesty. It has been my impression that many in the GOP want American car compnies to fail. It's refreshing that at least you are honest about your anti-American views.

DaveBaragona
DaveBaragona

@deimpact As this limits you to only buying foreign cars, it sounds more like anti-American than anti-union. 

I guess you could buy a Mexican made Ford though. That is non a union-made vehicle.

JosephWallace
JosephWallace

@deimpact   

That really limits your purchase.  You know, a lot of republicans, I would guess 50% work for the auto industry.  I am sure they do not appreciate your negative comments impacting them being able to support their families.


SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

@aerolark 

Untrue, the engine drives the wheels directly at times, that has been widely proven and reported.

BIGELLOW
BIGELLOW

@aerolark Your comment is confusing (and inaccurate). You said "has powered generator". A gas powered generator would USE GAS to convert MOTION into ELECTRICITY. That's the opposite of what the electric motor in the volt does. Though it CAN use gas to run the motor and generate electricity to recharge the battery (which would be the function of a GENERATOR), it's primary doing the opposite... using the electricity from the battery to turn the motor.

Also, I'm not sure why you say "the Volt does NOT have an ENGINE". It certainly does. An engine is any machine that converts some sort of ENERGY into MOTION. An motor doesn't necessarily need to be gas-powered to be called an engine. An all electric engine is still an engine.

The Volt happens to be a hybrid. It is capable of using electricity for its energy, or gasoline. It's always converting one of these energy sources into motion. This is different than, say, a Tesla which only has an electric engine. It cannot take gasoline. You must keep a charged battery in it since liquid fuel is not an option.

So, given all of these facts, what inspired you to go on a rant to claim the Volt doesn't have an engine (even though it does), then to explain that it is "always running on its electric motors", yet call this a "gas powered generator" (which, although it has the capacity to do, it technically flies in the face of what you were trying to explain?

MarkRenburke
MarkRenburke

@SukeMadiq @MarkRenburke

Where do you get this stuff?

First of all, the Camry hybrid is not "a good deal quicker and faster" than the Volt, neither by the books nor real world. The Camry's 0-60 time is 7.6 seconds, versus the Volt's 8.7 seconds, because the Volt slightly governed for efficiency at high speeds and to provide consistent performance in all situations. 

The Camry is a weak electric vehicle in any hard acceleration, always dependent on a noisy engine for more power (CNET describes it as "having an engine noise is downright obnoxious". 

The Volt is a pure EV is such events, 273 foot pounds of torque which is MUCH more than the Camry. The Volt is in fact quicker than the Camry in any traffic or maneuvering scenario. Take a test drive, put it in Sport mode, and you'll experience and feel the difference instantly.

The Camry's hybrid $27k base price versus the Volt's now $27.5k net?!! You'll "break even" on with $500 in gas savings with the Volt in a few months.

The Camry's hybrid highway mpg is 39 EPA; the Volt's is 40 mpg. Many people get ~42-43 on long trips. And when you get to your destination, the Volt plugs in, anytime, anywhere, like a cell phone. The next time you drive it, it's an EV again for 30-50 miles or a hybrid if you need it. Rinse and repeat. 

Sorry, you may like Toyota or just dislike GM, but face the facts, the the Volt now beats out the Camry Hybrid on price, hands down, and is an excellent drive, unless you need to transport 5 people.


MarkRenburke
MarkRenburke

@SukeMadiq @JdReader A Camaro and many, many other cars also seat only 4 people. The Volt is not as small as you think, and weighs the same as a Camaro actually (and has a longer wheelbase), and also handles and rides very well. It also has the same amount of torque as a V6 Camaro, except the Volt delivers its torque at any speed from 0 to 101 mph. So it is quite nimble and fun to drive, too. Compare it to an actually comparable vehicle(not some low end economy car), and you might find it "pays for itself" the moment you start driving electric!

VoltOwner
VoltOwner

@SukeMadiq

You say that as if it is a bad thing to avoid a needless conversion of energy. Why would you not use the mechanical torque to propel the car directly? 


  This really points out the freedom the Volt design team was given to do the most efficient thing at any given moment. They decided to provide a link to the drive line from the gas engine and Mgmt was not even aware of it and kept saying there was no link, until one of the engineers heard them saying so and corrected them. 

Kind of the Volt story in a nutshell, brilliant designers, clueless Management and Marketeers...

DaveBaragona
DaveBaragona

@SukeMadiq @aerolark If you like splitting hairs......

 It is true that there is one specific situation where the engine assists to power the wheels.

1. IF AND ONLY IF the battery is depleted, an the gas engine is running

2. IF AND ONLY IF the vehicle is driving over 75 miles per hour

In that one situation the engine is coupled with the electric motor to make it slightly more efficient.....


At less than 75 miles per hour, even when the battery is depleted, only the electric motor drives the wheels for propulsion. The gas engine acts only as a generator below 75 MPH...


When the battery is not depleted, the gas engine never engages, even at speeds up to 100 MPH.

deregulate_this
deregulate_this

@SukeMadiq @aerolark This car is not a Prius.  The Volt uses an electric drivetrain.  The gas engine is used to charge the battery after the battery falls below a certain voltage.

VoltOwner
VoltOwner

@BIGELLOW

Convention is GAS engine, ELECTRIC motor. Since forever. We don't want to confuse the rubes, now do we?

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

@BIGELLOW@aerolark "what inspired you to go on a rant"...

When someone is so far off the mark of the subject, that question is universally answered with the term "Willful ignorance".

 People have the OPPORTUNITY to become enlightened.  It's right at their fingertips.  But instead of taking the opportunity to learn something, they choose - on purpose - not to do that and base their rants on misinformation, bad assumptions and just plan lack of knowledge about the subject and/or a complete lack of skill in relaying what they think they know to others.

it happens quite a lot.

You can lead a person to knowledge, but you can't make them THINK.

MarkRenburke
MarkRenburke

@SukeMadiq @JdReader Minor correction; The Volt's wheelbase is ~6 inches shorter than the 2013 Camaro. It's around 106 inches, same as the 2013 Prius, a mid-sized car.

MarkRenburke
MarkRenburke

@SukeMadiq @MarkRenburke @JdReader

This is like deja vu. OK, let's cover the facts again:

First of all, the Camry hybrid is not "a good deal quicker and faster" than the Volt, neither by the books nor real world. The Camry's 0-60 time is 7.6 seconds, versus the Volt's 8.7 seconds, because the Volt slightly governed for efficiency at high speeds and to provide consistent performance in all situations. 

The Camry is a weak electric vehicle in any hard acceleration, always dependent on a noisy engine for more power (CNET describes it as "having an engine noise is downright obnoxious".)

The Volt is a pure EV is such events, 273 foot pounds of torque which is MUCH more than the Camry. The Volt is in fact quicker than the Camry in any traffic or maneuvering scenario. Take a test drive, put it in Sport mode, and you'll experience and feel the difference instantly.

The Camry's hybrid $27k base price versus the Volt's now $27.5k net?!! You'll "break even" on with $500 in gas savings with the Volt in a few months.

The Camry's hybrid highway mpg is 39 EPA; the Volt's is 40 mpg. Many people get ~42-43 on long trips. And when you get to your destination, the Volt plugs in, anytime, anywhere, like a cell phone. The next time you drive it, it's an EV again for 30-50 miles or a hybrid if you need it. Rinse and repeat. 

Sorry, you may like Toyota or just dislike GM, but face the facts, the the Volt now beats out the Camry Hybrid on price, hands down, and is an excellent drive, unless you need to transport 5 people.

SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

@MarkRenburke @SukeMadiq @JdReader

But a Camry Hybrid is a good deal quicker and faster than the Volt, and still cost less.   The Volt also does not get great mgs once the charge runs out.  On a long trip the Camry Hybrid beats the Volt on mpgs.


SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

@VoltOwner @SukeMadiq 

The Volt is not ready for prime time. a great research car, bu not practical even with taxpayer subsidies.

VoltOwner
VoltOwner

@DaveBaragona 

75MPH is NOT the low end of the two-motor mode. So your No. 1 is correct, No. 2 is not

Volt engineers have stated that the speed is load dependent, and any time the load is minimal, two-motor mode is active. You can easily prove this by noting how long it takes to accelerate from a steady speed. The slight delay means you were in the energy-saving two-motor mode. It does take a while for the program to decide that you are cruising before it engages two-motor mode, so you can't just maintain a speed for a minute before trying the accel test...

Two-motor mode is also used with battery only, so it's easy to test without resorting to burning gasoline.

MarkRenburke
MarkRenburke

@SukeMadiq @MarkRenburke @GeraldLarey @deregulate_this @aerolark

I think this person must be a paid tr0ll for Toyota or something...Jeez. I'm just a Volt owner (and still a Prius owner too) Here we go folks:

First of all, the Camry hybrid is not "a good deal quicker and faster" than the Volt, neither by the books nor real world. The Camry's 0-60 time is 7.6 seconds, versus the Volt's 8.7 seconds, because the Volt slightly governed for efficiency at high speeds and to provide consistent performance in all situations. 

The Camry is a weak electric vehicle in any hard acceleration, always dependent on a noisy engine for more power (CNET describes it as "having an engine noise is downright obnoxious". 

The Volt is a pure EV is such events, 273 foot pounds of torque which is MUCH more than the Camry. The Volt is in fact quicker than the Camry in any traffic or maneuvering scenario. Take a test drive, put it in Sport mode, and you'll experience and feel the difference instantly.

The Camry's hybrid $27k base price versus the Volt's now $27.5k net?!! You'll "break even" on with $500 in gas savings with the Volt in a few months.

The Camry's hybrid highway mpg is 39 EPA; the Volt's is 40 mpg. Many people get ~42-43 on long trips. And when you get to your destination, the Volt plugs in, anytime, anywhere, like a cell phone. The next time you drive it, it's an EV again for 30-50 miles or a hybrid if you need it. Rinse and repeat. 

Sorry, you may like Toyota or just dislike GM, but face the facts, the the Volt now beats out the Camry Hybrid on price, hands down, and is an excellent drive, unless you need to transport 5 people.



Read more: http://business.time.com/2013/08/06/electric-car-market-gets-another-jolt-5000-price-cut-on-chevy-volt/#ixzz2bOVE4AXv

VoltOwner
VoltOwner

@MarkRenburke

"the gas engine will "latch" through a clutch to directly provide some power to the wheels (rather than just drive the generator) This is done for efficiency only, NOT for the reason the Prius does it which is lacking electric power."

Technically, the engine is almost always latched to the small motor (the "generator") when it's running. The latching you are referring to is actually a de-latching. The ring gear is normally locked to the trans case with a clutch so that the main motor alone propels the car. When cruising the ring gear is un-latched and allowed to rotate, driven by the generator and the engine. The torque is used to counter the main motor in order to lower it's RPM back into it's efficient range. Power in this mode is limited to the amount from the small motor/engine combo. (The engine's power is being used to not only generate the electricity to power the main motor, but also to oppose the torque of the main motor, so there is not any left over. In other words, you do not add the power of the small motor and the engine...)    


VoltOwner
VoltOwner

@MarkRenburke  

Right, the little delay when flooring it is the ring gear getting spun down and locked to the case, enabling one-motor mode. 

MarkRenburke
MarkRenburke

@GeraldLarey @deregulate_this @SukeMadiq @aerolark 

To be clear, whenever you need "more power" with the Volt (such as "flooring it") that power will ONLY come from the single electric moto (273 torque) getting its energy from the battery (there is always a decent reserve of battery, even when it is it "low" state) Hence the Volt is simply always fun to drive (unlike the Prius:)

MarkRenburke
MarkRenburke

@GeraldLarey @deregulate_this @SukeMadiq @aerolark 

The Prius has a low power electric motor that can only propel the vehicle alone at lower speeds or as long as you don't depress the accelerator very much. So it is frequent switching back and forth between motor and/or engine to ensure a reasonably acceptable car-like performance.

In contrast, the Volt's electric motor is sized for full vehicle power (149 horsepower and a hefty 273 foot pounds of torque for you motor heads) So it functions as fully powered Electric Vehicle at all times, regardless of whether the energy is coming from the battery, or if the battery is low and the energy is coming from the gasoline engine/generator. Consequently, performance is smooth and quick, and always the same no matter what.

Also different than the Prius, when the Volt is in its low battery "hybrid" mode in (only) and driving in a steady state (such as cruise control at 65 miles per hour, the gas engine will "latch" through a clutch to directly provide some power to the wheels (rather than just drive the generator) This is done for efficiency only, NOT for the reason the Prius does it which is lacking electric power. As soon as you need more power (press the accelerator hard for example) the gas engine un-clutches and goes back to be a generator. The very small gas engine in the Volt (~80 hp) is not useful in providing any meaningful acceleration power - it is engineered as a generator that can drive the wheels on occasion.

I hope I explained that well enough- they are a bit of opposite engineering designs, to summarize: One is dependent on the gas engine to provide the power that the electric motor can't (the Prius) and is simply tuned for straight gasoline efficiency...the other (the Volt) is a fully powered Electric Vehicle with a gas engine to generate more electricity extend range a little or a lot, and occasionally optimize efficiency in that mode through direct connection.