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I'm car-shopping & not really looking for EVs at all. I started at the local Carmax because that's a good place to see a variety of brands and models without some sales guy resting his chin on your shoulder the whole time...

Anyway, Carmax has several Volts on the lot at $17k (2012) and up. I really expected a Volt would cost a lot more than that. So now, not only are EVs on the table, I'm pretty psyched about possibly getting a Volt in the next week or so.

My question is, why is the price this low? Do I just not "get" the used car market? I tend to be a buy-and-hold guy, so I don't really car-shop that often.

More importantly, what surprises would be in store for me after purchase? I get that temperature affects range, and living in the Chicago area that's definitely going to be a factor. My daily commute is about 15mi round trip. I'm pretty tech-savvy -- I design embedded control systems and write code in assembler -- so gizmos are not going to scare me. But what (if anything) is going to make me think I should have bought a "normal" car instead?
 

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15 mile round trip! There is no good reason NOT to buy one!

Volt is the best kept secret in motoring. I think they are cheap because the average American driver is a moron.
 

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Used Volts, with the right commute, are a fantastic buy. Make sure you can run the car's Vin # through the local Chevy Shop's service department to verify all customer-satisfaction updates have been done before you buy.
 

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Its because of the $7,500 tax credit new car buyers qualify for, not all buyers can get full credit however. Some new Volts are going for $30,000 or sometimes even less, and when you consider the $7,500 tax credit the price,if you can use the entire credit, the price drops to $22,500, and some states there is more tax incentives where the price can go even below $20K. So a 2012 used Volt at $17K is only 3-5 thousand less than a new Volt
 

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New Volts start at $35k.
Subtract $7500 for the fed rebate, and subtract any IL rebate and the price at most is $27,500.

Besides normal depreciation at that point, the fact that GM recently announced the second gen Volt. This means lots of people are waiting, depressing sales even more.

It all adds up to some great prices on used Volts.
 

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@alfon

Not only that, there was a $5k drop in MSRP in 2013. Auction price (what the dealer would pay you in a trade-in situation) is running $12k to $15k for 2012/2013s.

@ OP
A 15mi commute is a no-brainer for a Volt buyer. Zero gasoline use is very liberating.
 

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This is hilarious but also somewhat scary because it's true.
Agreed, unbelievably after 4 years on the market, many drivers still don't understand how the Volt works. We still get comments asking how we can get around with so little range in an electric car. It completely baffles some when I tell them we drove our second Volt home from Minnesota. Where were you able to charge it? Makes life interesting.
 

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This is hilarious but also somewhat scary because it's true.
Dude, its true. Take a look at these samples....Taken THE SAME DAY from my car.

1st. This is a sign in the parking lot that says 'Watch for Curb'. Yup! Someone hit the sign telling them to watch out!

2nd. If you look at a map of St Louis, hwy 70 is a major highway. He was driving his Nissan quest from downtown to the Missouri Bridge on 70 for Approx 25 miles. He is looking over the rims of his glasses, doing approx. 15-20mph less than traffic. This was on a weekday, coming home at rush hour.

He could not keep his vehicle at a steady speed, nor in his lane. When I honked at him, he gave me a thumbs up and went back to it.

He was NOT in violation of Missouri Law. In Missouri this is completely legal since he is over 18!

You think the Pilot In Command on these 2 examples could grasp how a Volt works?
 

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I ended up with a Volt for the same reasons, good value for an EV. As pointed out, with incentives on new cars, the resale is not that low. It is only low if you paid 40k+ MSRP for the 2012 Volt well optioned, but you can get a new Volt pretty cheap with lots of incentives before the federal $7,500 and any state tax credit (non-refundable, so you can only get back at most what you paid in federal or state income tax after other credits). If you had a well equipped car at $38,000 or something, it might not be hard to get it for $25,000 or less after all incentives and credits, so $17,000 for a 3 year old car is pretty normal depreciation, again, relative to what people are paying today.

The biggest surprise to me was ERDTT (engine running due to temperature) in cold weather, because I hadn't looked that closely before buying. I was aware of it, but wasn't aware of how annoying it would be to me for my short commute for 4 months this year, if it were 1 month I wouldn't care so much. There are options to disable this through a hack of the ambient temperature sensor. On a cold week with temps below 10 F you could easily expect it to burn 0.5 gallons a day even on a short commute, in addition to a full charge.

For 15 mile round trip, the car could do that even at sub 0 F for a high with heat on comfortably warm. Again, might consider ERDTT to reduce gas consumption though.

The center console controls are not intuitive, but like you I didn't really care so much. This might prevent me from recommending it to someone else, but didn't influence my buying decision.
 

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You might be able to buy new for less.

$35,000 MSRP
- $5,000 Dealer incentives ($5,000 is fairly common these days when everything is stacked)
- $1,000 Private Offer (can be as high as $1,500)
- $7,500 Fed Tax Credit
- $4,000 Illinois Rebate (10% rebate up to $4,000) EDIT: Only $3,417 for the Volt
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$17,500 new with all warranties and services plus TT&L - EDIT: $18,083

If you can find a demo, you could theoretically take another $3000 off.

Also in Illinois, your car registration is discounted to $18, compared to $101 for regular cars. Also you have less maintenance in oil changes, brake pads, etc. With a 15 mile commute, you would never need to fuel up. That's a huge savings right there.
 

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Just remember the sales tax is on the price before the federal and state tax credits (so you still have to pay sales tax on that $11,500), and most people won't be able to take full advantage of the tax credits. A family with 2 or 3 children and a mortgage will probably have to make over $100,000 to take full advantage of the federal tax, so used can still be more appealing.
 

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That's not quite right. The site that you've linked to is incorrect about the 80% for new EV purchases. It's actually 10% of the base MSRP up to a max of $4,000. So, $3,417 for a 2015 Volt.

Here's the full story:
"Electric Vehicle Alternative Fuels Rebate Program

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency offers a rebate for the purchase of a new alternate fuel vehicle, such as a natural gas, propane, E85, electric, or hydrogen vehicle. (Used or pre-owned vehicles and vehicles that are leased and not purchased are not eligible for this program.) Electric vehicles that are eligible for this program are those that are predominantly powered by and primarily “refueled” with electricity and do not have restrictions confining them to operate only on certain types of streets or roads. Electricity must be the primary fuel that powers the vehicle, and not used as a supplemental or secondary fuel source.

For a new alternate fuel vehicle that has a conventional gasoline or diesel make and model counterpart, the amount of the rebate is 80 percent of the incremental cost of the alternate fuel vehicle versus its conventional counterpart (same make, model, and model year) up to $4,000. For a new alternate fuel vehicle that does not have a conventional make and model counterpart, but does have an increased cost due to the alternate fuel engine/motor and fuel system versus a comparable conventional engine/motor, the amount of the rebate is 10 percent of the base retail price of the vehicle as reflected on the MSRP, not including add-on equipment options, up to $4,000."
http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/green/Pages/ElectricVehicleInitiatives.aspx
 

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I get that temperature affects range, and living in the Chicago area that's definitely going to be a factor. My daily commute is about 15mi round trip.
Even in the winter here in Chicago, you'll do fine. Mine gets 45-50 battery miles starting about now and drops to 30-35 miles Jan - March. Although snow tires are not required, they make the Volt into a tank in my experience. I took mine off yesterday. I'm approaching 4 years in May. My 2011 has been awesome. I too am a buy and hold guy.
 

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Just remember that it is a tax credit and not a rebate therefore if your tax liability is less than $7500, say 6500 then 6500 is all you get. The additional credit cannot be carried over to the next year. Later aceinsp
 

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I took money out of a old 401k to boost my tax burden.... Worked like a champ!
 

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As others have said here, the Volt is a great car for a 15 mile commute - you can have gas for longer trips but not using gas on a daily basis is truly paradigm shifting. In 4+ years I haven't had to worry about stopping at a gas station before work - amazing! If your work has a plug you can access, you can charge while you're at work and go even further afterwards.

I haven't looked into used Volts, but to address your concern about surprises, I would say make sure you know what kind of warranty comes with the vehicle, especially specific to the battery and drivetrain. I haven't heard about any Volt owners needing to replace their batteries yet, but in the next few years the first Volts should be hitting their battery warranty limits, and replacing the battery out of pocket will be like buying a new car (I think estimates were in the $12k range). I'm at 75k miles on my Volt because of my longer commute (24 miles one way) plus lots of activities all over the city, family 100+ miles away and lots of road trips 600+ miles each, so I may very well be the first Volt owner needing a new battery in a couple years, but for now, she's going strong.

On the positive side, you might be pleasantly surprised that the Volt only needs an oil change roughly every 24 months. I just got my second oil change last week.

There are two humorous downsides to owning a Volt: the first is that you get used to the immediate power with no noise, so going back to driving a "normal" car is painful. To me, gas cars sound like they're complaining when I hit the gas. And my goodness, they can be slow off the line! The other downside is that you start to get irritated when you do go so far out of your way that you switch to gas. I think many of us have a mental range anxiety because we mentally limit ourselves to the electric range plus whatever range we can get charging while out and about. I get crabby when I use gas unless its for a planned road trip.

I do not think any Volt owner has regretted not getting a "normal" car. Volts aren't ideal for everyone, but if they seem to fit what you want, then they are awesome! If you do end up with a Volt, come back to this forum when you have questions, because the people on here are very smart, creative and helpful.
 
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