Chevy Volt Offered at $350 Per Month, Matching Nissan LEAF Lease

General Motors announced today that the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid will be offered for sale at $41,000, or for a surprisingly low monthly lease cost of $350 per month (with a $2,500 initial payment.) The sticker price for the Volt is $8,200 higher than that of the $32,800 all-electric Nissan LEAF—though the two vehicles’ lease prices are virtually identical.

The Volt’s $41,000 sticker cost doesn’t actually reflect what early buyers will pay for the car—the federal government is subsidizing the price of both it and the LEAF to the tune of $7,500. That brings real price of the Volt down to $33,500. For California drivers in particular though, the economic attractiveness of buying a LEAF versus a Volt is even stronger—the Volt plug-in hybrid isn’t eligible for the state’s $3,000 Advanced Technology-Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle rebate for plug-in hybrids.

When Does a $41,000 Car Cost the Same as a $32,000 Car?

GM says that the apparent disparity between the Volt’s sticker and lease prices is a reflection of the company’s calculation that the vehicle will maintain a very high residual value after three years—significantly higher than that of the LEAF. Even if that is the case, it’s probably more than just a coincidence that the result of that calculation was a monthly lease that matches up so closely to the LEAF’s.

But there also seems to be bit of a hitch in GM’s residual value logic. If electric vehicle incentives are still being offered three years from now, will any original lessees be interested in buying their used Volt when they can get a brand new plug-in for almost the same price?

Remember, the $7,500 federal credit only applies to new vehicles, and is subtracted from the monthly payment of the original lease. That means that whether or not the lessee decides to purchase the car at the end of 36 months, the Volt will effectively come full circle—from a $41,000 car that leases for the price of a $32,000 car, to a used car that resells for the price of a $41,000 car.

It will be very interesting to see how many original lessees actually purchase their Volts—if not many do, General Motors could end up taking a loss on those vehicles similar to what it would take if they had been priced thousands of dollars cheaper from the start.

Reservation Process and Options Packages Also Announced

Beginning today, participating Chevy dealers in launch markets will begin taking orders. Unlike the Nissan LEAF’s centralized ordering system, Volt customers will directly work with local dealers to order the car or establish a position in a waiting list. Customers will be able to track the status of their order via a new website,

Chevy will be offering rather limited options packages for the car, favoring to standardize as much of the Volt experience as possible. GM’s OnStar navigation system will come standard for five years, and the car’s battery warranty will last eight years or 100,000 miles—one of the primary reasons that Chevy puts its residual value so high.

But in a surprising turn of events that could put a bit of a damper on Chevy’s big news, Nissan has just announced this morning that the LEAF will also come with an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty. Gamesmanship, anyone?

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  • Max Reid

    Expensive. For someone who drives 40+ miles / day, this will be worth.

    It took 12 years for regular hybrids to capture 1% share worldwide and it started at 20K price. The plugin starts at 41K and how many years will it take for them to attain that 1% share.

    Meanwhile a Chinese company is selling Zoyte Electric SUV for 30K which will have 250 mile range. Anyway some competition is there between Volt & Leaf & Zoyte. Alternatives to Oil is appearing.

    It will be much better if every city builds a Mass / Light Transit to cut down the oil consumption.

  • AutoOfficionado

    This is a thoroughly informative post. Your analysis is great and seems to justify the little bit of skepticism I have about the Chevy Volt. The jury is still out (it hasn’t even convened yet) on both the Volt and the LEAF, but I’m cautiously more optimistic about the LEAF. I personally don’t expect to be behind the wheels of either car anytime soon, but if I got to pick one to try out it would definitely be the LEAF. I’d prefer to compare both cars, but that’s probably wishful thinking.

  • JamesDavis

    It makes me laugh sometimes when the three big American auto makers try to make the American people think that they have the most advanced technology in the world.

    Here in the comment section, the first commenter, Max Reid, God bless you, Max, threw egg in all three of the American auto makers faces. Would you rather have old worn out technology that Chevy placed a band aid on and calls it new and improved and slaps a $41,000.00 dollar price tag on it and can only offer you 40 miles between charges, or would you rather have $31,000 dollar piece of Chinese technology that can get you 250 miles between charges? I am a pure blood American, ready to die for the American way and have offered my life for this country in two branches of the military…but, I’m not a stupid American. Sorry Chevy, Ford, and Chrysler, I’ll go with the Chinese car that will give me 250 miles between charge and I will not have to use any of their foreign oil or gas.

    Good luck Chevy on that inflated price.

  • jBob53

    Is the picture at the lead of this article from GM?? Where’s the $2200 charging station? You mean we can plug in directly to house current?? Interesting!

  • MoisheK

    when u bring it for service will they crush it like ev1

  • Anonymous

    i for one hope volt will succeed but only time and real world operations will tell how functional and reliable it will be

    @moishek: lol

  • veek

    -Leasing sounds like a great option for this car, given the sizeable risks you will take buying a “revolutionary new car from GM.” Past “revolutionary new cars from GM” include the Vega, the Citation, the passenger car diesels, the EV-1, the Chevette, and the like. Each of these cars was a disaster in its own way, and some were arguably the worst mass-produced cars ever made, so you will really be taking a chance that the Volt will be any different. GM seems to do best building traditional, big-size, “good enough” cars, not revolutionary ones.
    -Sorry, GM, but fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

  • Charles

    veek you left out the Corvair. The Corvair was a truly revolutionary car. Rear engine, good room in the back seat for such a small car. It even went around a corner at a good speed for such an inexpensive car. It did have its problems. Not the most reliable of cars. A few too many burned. And when in the hands of a novice driver it would kill them (same as a VW bug and other rear engine cars of the day).

    Dirt clod theory of the Corvair (from Glen Griggs):

    Part one: Pull a weed from the garden. Try to throw the weed and the dirt clod at its root so that the dirt clod does not end up at in front. It cannot be done. Same with the Corvair, the heavy end always wants to get in front.

    Part two: A dirt clod is smart enough not to own a Corvair.

  • Indigo Halo

    It seems to me that the Volt is WAY overpriced for what it does. GM is also using some pretty fuzzy math in the claim that the vehicle gets 50 MPG. Considering that the car has a cruising range of 300 miles once the battery is depleted, the only way the Volt gets 50 MPG is if it only holds six gallons of gasoline. If the Volt holds a standard ten gallons, then the fuel economy is 30 MPG, not 50 MPG.

  • Stan Smart

    The Volt will come with a 110v & 220v cord(s). You can plug it into any outlet. However, it charges much faster with a dedicated 220v outlet. The cost you mention would be for an electrician to add a new circuit to your garage, for example.

    The Volt’s internal computer checks to see what type of line it’s plugged into and adjusts its charging rate accordingly. Thus a 30-amp 110v circuit with no other load would charge faster than a 20-amp circuit that already had a 5-amp load from another source. A dedicated, 30-amp, 220 circuit would be faster still.

    Check out the extensive discussions from GM engineers at

  • Micheal73

    That was a good news!
    Now any one can be afforded hybrid vehicle. Hybrid cars have more advantage. Today increase fuel prices day by day. Using this hybrid cars people can save money & fuel. And, it helps also the environment.

  • Anonymous

    I had the chance to drive both the Leaf and the Volt over the past two days. Love them, love them, love them. Wow! I was very impressed with both cars and think that there will be serious supply shortages when people realize how well these cars perform.

  • Joe

    Who can afford that crap!

  • Tran Moore

    Hey James, Will the Funds for these Hybirds stay in America or GO to China!

  • calvin

    Hey Tran, will the profits that Volt sales generate be reinvested in the American economy or GO to offshore bank accounts or oversea tax havens?

    China is the largest foreign holder of U.S. bonds–total Chinese holdings of U.S. debt in 2008 was $1.4 Trillion USD. They’re essentially helping to pay for our public services and institutions. Not only that, but almost half of all Chinese foreign stock investments are in the united states. So many American companies themselves are backed by Chinese capital.

    On the other hand, the American public’s relationship with the Big 3 have been mostly one-sided: privatize gains but socialize losses. When the Big 3 get into financial trouble, American tax payers have to bail them out, yet we don’t see any of the profits or even get that bailout money back.

    Besides, many so-called “American cars” aren’t even made in the USA whereas many “imports” are actually manufactured in the U.S. So buy cars based on value and engineering merits, not blind jingoism.

  • tapra1

    purchase their Volts—if not many do, General Motors could end up taking a loss on those vehicles similar to what it would take.Consulting Blog

  • james123

    Not only that, but almost half of all Chinese foreign stock investments are in the united states. So many American companies themselves are backed by Chinese capital. tatuaggi stelle

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