The 2012 Chevrolet Volt was recently named by Kelley Blue Book as the “Best Electric Car” in its 2012 Best Resale Value Awards.

The Volt's resale value according to the car value estimation source is 42 percent at 36 months, and 27 percent at 60 months.

The reviewers' projection could be seen as a mixed blessing, as compact internal combustion powered vehicles scored better percentage-wise, but Kelley’s editors nonetheless offered high praise for the top electric car.


“The Chevrolet Volt can arguably be considered the ultimate green machine,” led off Kelley Blue Book. “From its seats made from recyclable materials to its innovative electric drivetrain, the Volt bleeds eco-friendly from head to toe.”

And to be sure, the Volt did beat out its often-compared battery electric rival, the Nissan Leaf, which placed second with a 39 percent estimated resale value at 36 months, and 25.5 percent at 60 months.

The Volt is a compact-class car. It also represents brand-new technology, and the market is yet adapting to it, deciding how it will place its bets and ultimately value electric vehicles.

As such, it may not be surprising at this juncture that the long-established Honda Civic was named “Best Compact Car,” and its estimated value at 36 months was 56.5 percent, and at 60 months it is projected to be 41.0 percent.

But how much stock should even be placed in the Hondas’s estimation? Although Kelley called the 2012 Civic number one, this same car was recently near the top of another list put together by Forbes magazine.

The inauspicious distinction of being one of ForbesWorst car flops of 2011 ” also belongs to the 9th-generation Civic.

"The 2012 redesign plummeted in Consumer Reports scores from one of the best small cars to one of the worst," said Forbes of Kelley’s top pick. "Its nimble handling was replaced with a 'soggy' suspension, and braking distances are too long. The interior quality also declined, with lots of hard plastics throughout the cabin."

So go figure.

Could it be that the old paradigm is yet positively valuing the latest expression of a former pinnacle, but Chevy's new EREV is positioned to rocket to new heights from here?

Time will tell, but there surely is room for error in anyone’s projection, and this is true also for what could be undervalued electrified vehicles. In the budding industry, the Volt had limited competition, and the market will see some adjustments as more electrified vehicles come online, and actual years of hindsight, supply, demand, and other factors enable a clearer picture.

Kelley's conservative estimate also falls in line with a story we ran in May documenting conservative lease residual values placed on the Volt and other electrified cars.

As is true for insurance underwriters, any type of institutional investor placing odds on something will want the deck stacked in its favor as much as possible.

While possibly disappointing to those who see what electrified vehicles represent, conservative estimations of what they will really be worth are virtually to be expected as no one wants to lose.

Also, just as consumer knowledge and awareness for electrified vehicles is expected to catch up to what is patently obvious to GM-Volt readers, their resale value should increase as well.

This said, the Volt’s Kelley value estimation is still a positive portent. The Volt has won numerous other unqualified accolades, and it can now say it offers the highest estimated resale value.

So for now, although every EV is seeing its wings clipped, the Volt is still number one.

Kelley Blue Book

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