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Has anyone thoroughly modeled a total cost of ownership for the Volt? I get asked the question a lot; my friends want to know how high the price of gas has to go to economically justify the purchase of a Volt versus a $20k fuel efficient car, for example. I know I paid a premium for the cool technology and being an early adopter, but the performance and savings are actually better than I had anticipated. The biggest challenge I have is estimating the maintenance costs. I know oil changes are only required every 24 months or so, but what about other maintenance? Did Chevy provide those numbers somewhere?
 

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Yes, I have a spreadsheet that I made to do just that.

The key is what car do you really compare the Volt to? I say it's a much nicer, more fun to drive, and more interesting car than any $25K car. It really compares to cars in it's MSRP price range like an 3 series BMW (the interior and exterior dimensions are very similar too).

If you PM your email, I can send you the spreadsheet since I can't post it here.

In my case, with the rebate and the gas savings and the OnStar freebie (which I would pay for if it wasn't free), the equivalent cost is around $25K for a car that I feel is easly worth it's $45K MSRP.

If you want to compare it to something like a $25K car, tell your friend you might as well compare it to a $79 10 speed bicycle from Toys-R-Us. Those get even better gas mileage, even though they aren't as nice as a Volt.
 

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The biggest justification is in "doing our part" to:
1) cut down on oil usage. Fewer barrels of oil imported.
2) cut down on emissions. Literally tons of CO2 is saved per year.
3) buying american-made vehicles. Why buy an EV from Japan when you can buy this car built by fellow Americans?
4) The Volt can run 40mpg on the gasoline engine. That is very nice on its own.
5) If you have a Solar PV system, you are fueling your own car from the energy you make yourself.

Volt cannot be justified on gasoline savings alone. You would have to drive 200+ miles a day on battery to have a 5-6 year ROI. But if you are driving that much - why the heck are you driving that much?

Who cost-justifies a BMW 540? A Camaro? A minivan with DVD screens? The Volt is its own species and you choose to get a Volt for far more reasons than just cheaper fuel per mile. Just as a Corvette is a "turn on", the owner of a Volt is "turned on" by not using oil most of the time and also cost per mile of fuel can be 1/3 to 1/4 that of gasoline. And, they can choose to use oil if they wish and drive a long distance - not possible with battery-only vehicles or BEVs.

One member here wants a volt and has a 2.5 mile commute to work. That's a walkable distance. He would rather buy a Volt than buy a used, high mpg car which is FAR more prudent cost-wise. There is a lot of passion in the car and people are willing to pay for it. Just as someone is willing to pay $1 Million or more for a "used" Shelby Cobra. It's more than the car.
 

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If you're worried about TCO, then buy a Chevy Cruze. What's more important is the COST-VS-BENEFIT analysis. Then you can factor in the BENEFIT of making at least 1 son-of-a-goat-herding-oil-sheik just a little bit poorer because you drive a VOLT. 'Nuff said.
 

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Has anyone thoroughly modeled a total cost of ownership for the Volt? I get asked the question a lot; my friends want to know how high the price of gas has to go to economically justify the purchase of a Volt versus a $20k fuel efficient car, for example. I know I paid a premium for the cool technology and being an early adopter, but the performance and savings are actually better than I had anticipated. The biggest challenge I have is estimating the maintenance costs. I know oil changes are only required every 24 months or so, but what about other maintenance? Did Chevy provide those numbers somewhere?
As has been discussed already, that is the wrong analogy with the Volt. The Volt is a mid-size, loaded, luxury car with the world's most advanced, production power train. The Volt's advanced power train technology is applied to minimizing petroleum use, not minimizing the 0-60 time. You can either afford this technology, or you can’t. As with all advanced automotive technology (4 valves per cylinder, programmed direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, etc.), the cost will eventually come down and the technology will migrate to less expensive GM vehicles in the future.

If you're primary consideration is inexpensive transportation, consider the following models:
The Top 15 Cheapest New Cars of 2011
 

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For Loma and your friends. One thing about these calculations "in reality" is the smartest and cheapest way to own a car is never to buy a new car. Buy good, 2-year used cars at 40% off the MSRP or better. If you buy a 2011 Cruze in the middle of 2012 or 2013, you can probably get one for $14K with 20,000 miles or so on it. People buy new cars for various reasons but many of them make no economic sense in terms of real "cost per mile to own and maintain the car".
 

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I actually did such an analysis very recently for a friend. I was sold on the Volt regardless of cost, but he was interested in doing the comparison. I used the following assumptions, which are currently valid for me.

Gasoline at 1.25$/litre (4.75$/gallon)
Electricity at 0.09$/kWh
Weekday driving: 45km city, 8pm highway per day
Weekend driving: 25km city, 20km highway per day
3000 km of road trips yearly, would be all gas on a Volt
Financing on 5 years
Lifetime of car: 9 years
Energy cost increase: 5% per year

For those prices and driving patterns, the total cost over the life of the car is quite competitive at around 55000$. When compared to other vehicles that have decent equipment (heated seats, alloy wheels), only 4 vehicles come out lower: the Hyundai Elantra, 2012 Ford Focus, VW Jetta TDI and Toyota Prius. A Corolla LE with leather package actually costs more than a Volt over a 9-year lifespan.
 

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Bonaire,

Thanks for jumping on this in the proper direction so quickly. The mindset (actually mindlessness) of the average American consumer regarding his oil 'fix' is mind numbing. Whether it be the number of new Chinese vehicles coming online, the end of easy oil, financing terrorists, climate change, oil spills in the Gulf or getting screwed by big oil companies, why is the 'cost of ownership' treated like the cable or phone bills? Just go to pump and insert card. Think no further. If people treated the grocery store like they do the gas pump, we'd all be getting e coli on a routine basis. My Gawd, when does it end?
 

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If you have lived in and visited as many countries as I have, you would know that Americans aren't the only ones that just want to pay less.

Oil has been historically a relatively cheap and convenient source of energy. That's why it is used.

It's a small percentage of the world's (not American's) population that will spend more money on another alternative because it's better in the long term for their country or the world.

So, I am sorry to say, the answer to your question is that it will never end unless you can personally overthrow the world and force everyone to do what you want.


Bonaire,

Thanks for jumping on this in the proper direction so quickly. The mindset (actually mindlessness) of the average American consumer regarding his oil 'fix' is mind numbing. Whether it be the number of new Chinese vehicles coming online, the end of easy oil, financing terrorists, climate change, oil spills in the Gulf or getting screwed by big oil companies, why is the 'cost of ownership' treated like the cable or phone bills? Just go to pump and insert card. Think no further. If people treated the grocery store like they do the gas pump, we'd all be getting e coli on a routine basis. My Gawd, when does it end?
 

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It may end as some oil fields dries up in producing countries based on demand. And, by then, EV and EREV will have a cost maybe 20% premium over an ICE car - then they sell by the 100's of thousands per year.

I really think the USA is sitting on some really large oil fields which they will only tap once other countries appear to be tapped-out. If oil is at $200/barrel in a few years, the USA can start drilling, pumping and exporting to make some income from those sources. Of course, by then, the US Dollar will be worth maybe 1/2 the current-day buying power. The future really is somewhat unclear as to how it shakes out.

What all our consumers forget to look at is not cost - but buying power of the dollar. As the Fed Government raise the debt ceiling, the buying power of the dollar continues to slide.
 

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The funny thing I notice is when i get these TCO questions from people who claim that the cost is not justifiable, the majority of them drive 30,000 - 40,000 SUV's....

If you drive the car for a long enough period of time it will more than pay for its self in gas savings alone. 300,000 miles on a volt vs 300,000 miles on a cruze. This is really rough and crude a true TCO calc would consider insurance rates, registration rates, all maintenence etc. The point im trying to make is if you drive the car long enough it will more than make up the difference. See below i also assumed a replacement battery for the volt and did not account for a tax credit, so those combined could make the TCO 14,000 in the other direction making the volt signifigantly cheaper than the cruze after 300,000 miles.

Cruze 48,000 in gas
60 Oil cahnges = $1800
3 sets of brake pads = 600
cost of car = 18,000

$68,500

Volt 12,000 in Gas + $5000 in electricty $17,000 combined
2 sets Brake pads (maybe) = 400
20 oil changes = 600
car = 41,000
replacement battery (maybe)= 7000

$66,000
 

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That is how I started shopping for a volt - as a result of calculating the cost of ownership against the only cars I was interested in.
So here are two links to the spreadsheet. Feel free to download and correct if you can find anything wrong. At the bottom are the variables (1) Miles/Year that you drive, (2) Trade in value of your current vehicle, (3) Cost of Premium Gas (cars that take regular take 20cents a gallon off this price automatically, (4) Gas Increase percent per year, and lastly (5) Years of ownership. Notice that I didn't allow for the tax rebate in the Volt cost - if you change its invoice value to 33,000 it will bring the Volt higher up the chart which is currently sorted by Cost of Ownership. Now about that strange value for the Mazda RX-8 - my current vehicle. I gave it an invoice value of $1 more than the trade value so that it appears that it cost $1.00 since it is paid for and I didn't want any divide by zero errors. Notice that with my paid for RX-8 with poor gas mileage that I can still save money in 8 years by purchasing any of several vehicles. I have a deposit on a Volt order slot now. Here are the links.
https://files.me.com/kayfisher/zpzxoy this is a link to an Excel spread sheet and
https://files.me.com/kayfisher/bvbiys.numbers.zip is a link to a Mac numbers spreadsheet.

Respectfully,
Kay R. Fisher
 

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P.S. You may also notice I modeled the fuel for all vehicles for in-town milage only - since I only drive in town. And I used the original 230MPG that they first advertised. You may want to change those numbers. Also I did not put requires premium gas on the Volt which I recently discovered it does. So by the book you may want to change the MPG to 98 - I will eventually...

Respectfully,
Kay R. Fisher
 

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P.S.S. I corrected the above anomalies..95MPG as per Edmunds.com, Premium gas for Volt, and allowed for $7,500 tax credit.

I also added a pdf version of the spreadsheet as:

https://files.me.com/kayfisher/p4lzws (pdf file but format is difficult to read unless you print it and cut it up with scissors)

I estimate (amongst many other things) cost of ownership to be $1,000 per year for every year past the drive chain warranty plus $200 during every warranty year.

Most of the columns only contribute to the "Value of the car" not the cost of ownership. So you can see the things that are important to perhaps only me. Such as the Wow factor of the volt is 8 but the wow factor of a Corvette is 9.5. Length determines if it will fit in my carport. There is added value if it is a convertible, has traction control, stability control, more cylinders (sorry - like the sound and power of V8 and V6's better then 4s), horsepower to weight ratio, leather, side air bags, heated seats, AC seats, power seats, Memory seats, GPS, climate control, MP3 player, backup camera, adaptive cruise control, Heads Up Display.
Feedback welcome - but you won't change my mind - I can't wait for our new Volt.

Respectfully,
Kay R. Fisher
 

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300,000 miles on a volt vs 300,000 miles on a cruze.
The problem with that is that putting that much mileage on a Volt means at least half of the miles will be on gasoline not electricity. Your comparison between Volt and Cruze seems to be based on 1/4 of all miles being gas, so we'd be looking at 225000 electric miles. Considering 40 miles/day in electric mode, it would take about 15 years and 5 months to reach that point. Few people keep their cars that long. In my area, where salt is used to melt ice on roads throughout the winter, the majority of cars don't stay on the road that long because of corrosion.

I've based my calculation on a 9-year ownership period and about 13500 miles a year. At current Canadian fuel and electricity prices (the former is quite a bit more expensive than in the US, the latter is a bit cheaper), the Volt pretty much breaks even with a similarly-equipped Cruze.
 

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How much on gas totally depends on your opportunity to charge.

I work from home, so I often make 40 mile round trips, and then I am back where I can charge. Once I get a 220 charger (thanks for nothing so far Ecotality) it's entirely possible that I would do 120 electric miles in a day.

If/when the charging infrastructure pops up in areas that you can really use it (malls, town centers, parks, movie theaters), you can really hit a high percentage of charge miles.

The only time you definitely will not get a high percentage of charge miles is when you have to make lots and lots of long road trips, which is a small percentage of the population.


The problem with that is that putting that much mileage on a Volt means at least half of the miles will be on gasoline not electricity. Your comparison between Volt and Cruze seems to be based on 1/4 of all miles being gas, so we'd be looking at 225000 electric miles. Considering 40 miles/day in electric mode, it would take about 15 years and 5 months to reach that point. Few people keep their cars that long. In my area, where salt is used to melt ice on roads throughout the winter, the majority of cars don't stay on the road that long because of corrosion.

I've based my calculation on a 9-year ownership period and about 13500 miles a year. At current Canadian fuel and electricity prices (the former is quite a bit more expensive than in the US, the latter is a bit cheaper), the Volt pretty much breaks even with a similarly-equipped Cruze.
 

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This popped up on Yahoo. Hard to know how to do TCO on the new Corvette. Doesn't really matter. The folks who buy them do so primarily for the passion for the car. Story is about the new engine design V8.

http://autos.yahoo.com/news/next-corvette-will-be-powered-by-small--high-revving-turbo-v-8.html

I'm nearing the point that says if you are doing a TCO on the Volt - you should wait until the 2014 model when the cost of scale makes the car more cost-efficient and in-line with regular 4-door sedans. The current MSRP is a 1st year, higher-priced scenario that is an early-adopter price. Buying one now would be mainly for the passion of the Volt's features and to get the word out and start the revolution.
 

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I disagree (which is normal for me, so don't take it personally).

If you are going to buy ANY car at ANY time, it makes sense to do a TCO because a car is often the 2nd largest purchase anyone makes. You should take into account all costs like insurance, gasoline, expected repair bills, etc to see if you really can/want to afford it.

The Volt has ways to save some big bucks in gasoline and rebates depending on your driving/charge habits and what state and local rebates you may get, so you can easily see you can get more car for the same money with the Volt. It's really a good value car.

This popped up on Yahoo. Hard to know how to do TCO on the new Corvette. Doesn't really matter. The folks who buy them do so primarily for the passion for the car. Story is about the new engine design V8.

http://autos.yahoo.com/news/next-corvette-will-be-powered-by-small--high-revving-turbo-v-8.html

I'm nearing the point that says if you are doing a TCO on the Volt - you should wait until the 2014 model when the cost of scale makes the car more cost-efficient and in-line with regular 4-door sedans. The current MSRP is a 1st year, higher-priced scenario that is an early-adopter price. Buying one now would be mainly for the passion of the Volt's features and to get the word out and start the revolution.
 

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Has anyone thoroughly modeled a total cost of ownership for the Volt? I get asked the question a lot; my friends want to know how high the price of gas has to go to economically justify the purchase of a Volt versus a $20k fuel efficient car, for example. I know I paid a premium for the cool technology and being an early adopter, but the performance and savings are actually better than I had anticipated. The biggest challenge I have is estimating the maintenance costs. I know oil changes are only required every 24 months or so, but what about other maintenance? Did Chevy provide those numbers somewhere?

I did a cost / benefit analysis before buying my volt as I am a broke college student finishing up my PhD in Engineering.... I compared the honda insight EX (without nav), Prius 3 (without nav), prius v (without nav) and the volt.... I had 3k in gm card money from paying my tuition for years with the card. The volt never beat the insight or prius 3 (almost beat the prius 3) in a realistic 10 year ownership with gas getting as high a 4.5 a gallon..... after 4 years it was ahead of the high end prius with gas at 4.5 a gallon (phased in over 2 years as I believe gas will cost that after we elect a new president).... the elephant in the room on these calculations is teh battery failing outside of the warrenty.... 8 years 100k warrenty... I am hoping that like the prius and insight batteries as these cars age the battery costs will go down, in addittion, when my car hits 75k / 5 years old i will start looking for scrap volts that have good batteries so I can get a spare....

the reason it worked out the way it did for me is that I drive 40-44 miles a day (which i can do under EV) and a 120+ mile trip every weekend.... on the trip the hybrids pull ahead comparing regular to premium gas but the extra cost of the nicer prius (which was the one I would buy) made it more expensive then the volt.... the insight EX is a nice car and I liked it a lot but I waited 6 months for a red one after the tsunami and still had not gotten one, after i sat in a volt the interior quality and the novelty of owning an electric car took over the geek in me and i had to have one.....

sorry for the long reply...

-ed-
 
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