The Chevy Volt sounds an awful lot like their Bolt, but the two cars are very different. In fact, the Volt is one of the least expensive cars in Chevy’s lineup, and there are some big reasons why. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, stay tuned.
The Volt is a car that was discontinued a few years ago after making a dent in an underappreciated market. Since not many people like plug-in hybrids, the Volt was fighting an uphill battle. On top of that, all-electric cars started getting more popular, so this segment of the market got even smaller. Couple that with the negative stigma behind Chevy, and the lack-luster performance and space of the Volt and you have a car that’s sold for cheap today.
I’ll go over 11 of the biggest reasons why the Chevy Volt is so cheap. I’ll also let you know how to get the price even lower and capitalize on these savings.
What Is a Chevy Volt?
The Volt is Chevy’s first stab at a semi-electric vehicle. It’s a plug-in hybrid which means that there’s a combustion engine as well as a rechargeable motor under the hood. This means that you’ll need to fill up the tank with gas as well as plug your vehicle into a wall charger from time to time.
It was released in 2010 and was subsequently killed off 9 years later with their 2019 model year, which was discontinued in February of 2019.
The name sounds all-too-similar to Chevy’s all-electric car, the Bolt (with a B, not a V). The Bolt can be compared to a Tesla 3 or a BMW i3 and it’s a pretty strong competitor in either matchup.
The Volt’s closest cousin is a Honda Clarity plug-in, a vehicle that not many people have heard of. Truthfully, plug-in hybrids are a pretty unpopular segment of the market.
Drivers tend to go with more convenient hybrids, like Toyota’s front-runner the Prius, or a full-electric car like a Chevy Bolt or Tesla Model 3.
The Volt is a compact FWD hatchback that weighs just under 2 tons and is less than 15 feet long.
Price of a Chevy Volt
As I mentioned, the Volt was discontinued back in 2019, so you won’t be able to get a brand-new one from Chevy’s lot.
For older Volts with plenty of miles on them, you can expect to pick one up for less than $10,000. Looking at Autotrader, I even found some in the 5-to-7-thousand-dollar range. Near me, a well-equipped 2019-model year Volt still rings up for less than 20 grand.
If you want a more specific range, Volts on the market typically cost between $16,000 and $20,000. This value will change depending on where you live and how used the car is.
This is a great price to pay for a 2-year-old vehicle. The strange thing is that the same car has an MSRP of $34,400 back when they were first unveiled.
A car losing 42% of its value in two calendar years isn’t a great sign. The industry standard is a depreciation of 31%, and the Volt sees a rate 11 points higher than that. Why does that happen?
Are Cheap Cars Bad?
There’s a huge misconception when it comes to buying cars (at least in my circle of friends and family). People think that older, cheaper cars are always bad. A lot of people think that the price tag is indicative of how good the car is.
After all, Porsches start selling in the six-figure range and they’re beautiful cars. Well, that same Porsche can be found for $35,000 if it was made in 2005.
The price tag doesn’t tell you how good a car is, it’s just a simple equation.
Older cars have more mileage which means there are fewer miles left for the next owner. With proper care and some luck, this doesn’t matter to the new owner. A car could just as easily go 600,000 miles or it could 200,000.
There’s nothing wrong with a cheap car unless there’s something wrong with the car itself. Major mechanical damage can lead to a lower price tag, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.
Don’t get thrown off just because the Volt is inexpensive.
Disclaimer: I Don’t Hate the Volt
I’ve driven in a handful of Volts in the past, and I just want to make sure I’m coming across clearly: I don’t hate the Chevy Volt. Do I think it’s award-worthy or a class leader? Not at all. But I still think it’s a great car.
The points that I talk about later are not in an effort to dissuade someone from buying one. I’m just explaining why the car is as cheap as it is.
11 Reasons Why Chevy Volts are So Cheap
Well, there are a few reasons why the Volt is so inexpensive today. Let me dive into 11 of the biggest ones.
1. Performance Isn’t Great
When you think of an electric vehicle, your first thought should be a great performance — fast speed, good cornering, and great acceleration.
With the Volt, you don’t really get that. The car is fun to drive, but it’s pretty underpowered. The equivalent combined horsepower is only 149 and can do 0-60 in 8.7 seconds (which feels like an hour).
2. The All-Electric Range is Bad
If you just want to live off the electric motor, I hope you live close to where you work. The all-electric range is only 53 miles on paper, but owners reported actually getting as few as 20 miles on electric-only power.
The all-electric range isn’t a huge focus of this car since there’s a gas-powered engine ready to kick in at any time.
Even still, this range is impressive when you compare it to another hybrid on the market. The unfortunate part is that there are all-electric vehicles that you can also compare the Volt to today which offer significantly more miles per charge.
I want to point out that this all-electric range is probably plenty of mileage for most commuters. As long as you live within 26 miles of your workplace, you won’t have to put a drop of fuel in your car during your annual commute.
3. It’s Not Luxurious Inside
The interior gives off mixed signals. There are nice leatherette seats and accent trim, but there’s more plastic than anything else. While this is perfectly fine on an entry-level vehicle, Chevy was charging 34 grand for this car. That’s hardly an entry-level price.
In my opinion, the inside makes a lot of sense for someone buying it with that $7,500 rebate in mind. It’s nothing too fancy, but it’s not particularly bad. It’s just “meh”. No one wants to shell out a ton of money for a “meh” interior.
4. Chevy is Focused on Function
It’s very clear that Chevy’s focus was on the function of the vehicle. This is largely the case with Chevy vehicles. You won’t find a lot of luxuries, extra bells, and whistles, or staggering performances.
With the Volt, you’re getting a plug-in hybrid that gets the job done. A lot of consumers want more than that, and that’s part of why a used Volt is so cheap today.
5. Limited Cargo Space
A big downside of the Volt is how little space there is inside. One reason is that the car has to fit in the components to make an EV and ICE in the same car.
The other reason is that Chevy just wanted to make a small-base car. It’s a hatchback but there’s not a lot of room to spread out.
Your passengers in the back are going to be pretty uncomfortable, too. As comfort becomes a more popular decision-maker in today’s cars, consumers aren’t crazy about the Volt.
There is also not a lot of headroom or legroom for the folks in the front of the car.
Besides the customers’ disapproval of the size, smaller cars also cost less to make. Less material and less design will keep the costs low.
6. They Discontinued the Line
Whenever a car model gets discontinued, the price of the vehicle typically tanks. Part of it is because the manufacturer is showing that the demand isn’t high enough for the vehicle to justify making them.
Another part of it is that there are no new OEM parts being made specifically for the car model. Chevy tends to share parts between models, but that doesn’t change the fact that specifically-made Volt parts won’t be made anymore.
That means that replacing and repairing parts becomes harder for people who own the Volt. Once you start talking about more difficult maintenance, you can expect the retail price of the vehicle to go down.
In other markets, discontinuing a line could result in the price going sky-high like with sneakers or collectibles. With modern, mass-produced cars, it’s just not the same.
7. They’re All Used
A huge advantage of buying a used car instead of a new car is that you immediately save a bunch of money. Since Chevy isn’t making new Volts, that means that the whole inventory is used.
As such, you’ll spend less money on a Volt of your own.
The reason why the prices go down is due to a thing called depreciation. It’s a calculation that determines how much life is left on your car. After owning a car for enough time, there is a higher chance that things will catastrophically break.
This, of course, leads to the price going down.
8. The Competition Is Strong
If you look around the Volt, you’ll see a number of vehicles that outperform it. They have more luxuries, a stronger performance, better aesthetics, and a comparable price.
I’m extending this comparison to full-electric and hybrids that you don’t have to plug into an outlet.
Due to this reason, you should expect the Volt’s price to naturally deflate. If you are asked to spend the same amount for a Model 3 or Volt, which would you pick?
9. It’s a Chevy
Although American car manufacturers have come a long way, there’s still an aura of unreliability around American cars.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve overheard someone bragging about their car only for the other participant in the conversation to say, “Yeah… but it’s a Chevy”. Some reputations just can’t be shaken off, and this seems to be one of them.
As such, the sticker price will naturally plummet as time goes on. People get freaked out when it comes to buying a 10-year-old American-made car because they’re afraid it’s on its last leg. This means the price has to be lower for buyers to be interested.
10. Plug-In Hybrids are Unpopular
I brought it up before, and this is actually a big reason why the Chevy Volt is so cheap: plug-in hybrids are unpopular.
The first problem is the big learning curve. Chevy has to explain to people that this vehicle needs to be plugged into the wall like a Tesla, but also filled up with gas like a Civic. What?
On top of that is the added inconvenience of this technology. With a Prius, you know that you’re doing your part for the environment without going out of your way. It drives just like any other car, but the fuel efficiency is way better.
With a full-electric car (which there are plenty of nowadays), there are no gas pumps at all. Again, this is so much more convenient than a plug-in hybrid.
Besides the Volt and Clarity plug-in, I couldn’t name another 3 cars that are plug-in hybrids. I could name a dozen electric, hybrid, or gas-powered cars, though.
11. The Rebates Inflated the Number of Owners
Another reason is a simple case of supply and demand. These cars were rolled out with a $7,500 federal rebate slapped on them. A list price of $34,400 instantly became $26,900 to anyone who signed for the car.
If you look at the car through that lens, every fault you have with the car becomes less meaningful. It might be bad to have a non-luxurious car and spend 34 grand on it, but it’s okay if the interior is on a 27-thousand-dollar car.
This naturally inflated the number of consumers who were on the fence about the car. What do on-the-fence shoppers do a few years after buying a car they’re not crazy about? They sell it for less than they should just to get rid of it.
Ways to Save Even More on Your Volt Purchase
If you love the Volt, then you probably love the fact that the car is currently so affordable. I have some more good news for you. There are even more ways to save on your Volt purchase as well as minimize how much money you have to put into it.
Keep the Car Alive for Longer
Earlier this year, I put together an in-depth guide all about keeping your car alive for longer. I would highly recommend reading through that guide, but here are the major points:
The longer you keep your car running, the more bang for your buck you achieve. In other words, you’re already spending a set amount of money, so that money goes further if your car is alive for longer.
This can be done by taking care of your car. Cleaning it, maintaining it, and fixing problems as soon as they arise will help you do so.
Remember the Do’s and Don’ts of Negotiating
Another guide I put together is about the negotiation process. This is how you can go back and forth with the person selling the car in order to get the best price.
Successfully negotiating with the seller is one of the best ways to decrease the price of a vehicle. It’s easier said than done, but it’s always worth a shot.
Electric Saves You Money
Simply buying a Volt will save you money on fuel in the future. This is especially true if you can manage your commute with just the electric motor and battery. If that’s possible, then you’re essentially driving an electric vehicle like a Tesla.
Saving money on fuel is a major reason why people swap to electric cars in the first place. Assuming you drive 53 miles a day in your Volt (which is the maximum all-electric range), you can save up to $2,200 annually.
The math I did was 15 cents (gas-powered price per mile) minus 3.6 cents (average EV price per mile) times 53 (miles per day) times 365 (days per year).
Go For an Even Older Volt
There are still plenty of 2011 and 2012 Volts on the market. Since these vehicles are older and have more miles racked up, they’re going for even cheaper.
I mentioned earlier that I found listings for under 7 grand. That’s about a third of the cost of the newest model of Volt that you can buy.
There are definitely more risks if you opt for older cars, but it comes alongside bigger savings.
As you can see, there’s nothing majorly wrong with the Volt. If anything, it was a steppingstone to the era of popular all-electric cars that you see today. These 11 reasons shouldn’t dissuade you from getting a Volt, they should inspire you to get a nice car that you don’t have to write a huge check for.
For more of your car questions answered, check out my website. I also have a nice list of products that can help every car owner. If you have a Volt or were thinking about getting one, drop a comment below.