Why the Chevrolet Volt has low resale value (and it’s not battery replacement)

 In Electric Vehicle News, EV Industry

Last week I drove the 2016 Chevrolet Volt for the first time.

It’s nice. Really nice.

With ~40% more electric range, a more efficient hybrid-mode, and a center console that no longer feels like a capacitive touch experiment gone wrong, the redesign is a true upgrade on every front. What drivers will enjoy most is the significant bump in peppiness.

The future for the Volt looks good. The future for current Volt owners doesn’t.

I own a 2012 Volt. It cost me just over $55k before incentives to pick up one of the first units. Nearly four years later the resale value is $16k. Which means it depreciated at 27% per year, or 24% if I used the after-incentive number (which I contend is the correct way to consider it). Average depreciation for cars is 14-15%.

Fortunately for me, I don’t care. I will be driving my Volt into the ground – how quickly the value drops to scrap metal prices is irrelevant for me. But many other Volt owners do care.

The low resale values of plug-in vehicles is covered nicely in a few articles. And a few smart dealerships and individuals are scooping up some great values.

Everything you need to know about the 2016 Chevrolet Volt infographic

Are resale values so low because of battery replacement concerns?

Many people are pointing to the risk about battery life and the cost to replace the battery. I don’t buy that as the main driver, for three reasons:

Reason 1: many of these vehicle have substantial warranties left, so a purchaser isn’t absorbing much risk. The standard warranty for most of North America is 8-year/100,000 mile. Many lucky Volt owners in California actually have a better warranty of 10-year/150,000 mile. Most of the units I’m seeing have around 40,000 miles, so you have another 60,000-110,000 miles of battery warranty.

Reason 2: battery degradation simply doesn’t matter as much for a Volt. As we’re going to show in a different post, the Volt does some interesting things with degradation, so most owners don’t experience any degradation for quite a while (more on this later – subscribe to be flagged when we publish those results). Regardless, even when you do start to see degradation, it doesn’t matter as much as it does on a BEV. If my 40 mile (64km) real-world range became 35 miles, I would simply use a bit more gas. Meh.

Reason 3: The Model S disagrees. Unlike many other plug-ins, the Model S has impressively high resale value. If you used the post-incentive price as your starting point, the Model S depreciation rate is between 13-14% – slightly better than conventional cars and much better than most plug-ins. So if plug-in buyers are so concerned about battery replacement costs, then why are they very ok with buying a used Tesla with a much higher battery replacement cost?

So what is the main factor causing the low resale factor?

Consider yourself on the market for a new flat screen TV. Consider two scenarios:

Scenario 1

Your neighbor just got a job in Japan and posted on facebook their 1 year old TV – great shape, 1080P, the right size for you, gen1 smart-TV integration.

You do some quick browsing and find that the new version of that model is still 1080P, same MSRP, same smart-TV features.

How much are you willing to pay for the used TV, which has basically all the same features as a new one?

Scenario 2

Same neighbor and used TV, but the new model is 4K, bigger screen for the same MSRP, and gen2 smart-TV integration.  Heck it even feeds your cats and tutors your kids.

How much are you willing to pay for the used TV?

For most of my life, the introduction of new vehicle models has been closer to Scenario 1. New models are prettier, maybe a couple more horsepower, maybe more airbags, or a better catalytic converter. The biggest additions were Bluetooth and a USB port.

For the first time in my life, Scenario 2 is becoming more common for vehicles. Each new model is a dramatic increase in what you get. And in cases like the Volt, you get a lot more for a lower MSRP. This results in a downward pressure on resale value of previous generation Volts.

The Catch-22 for Electric Vehicles.

Each new plug-in model is becoming dramatically better than the last.

That is the good news. And the bad news.

The articles about low resale values are just starting to trickle in. Brace yourself because the wave is coming. So what will that mean?

Lower resale values will make it slightly harder for fleets to make a Total-Cost-of-Ownership argument for purchasing EVs. This impact will be modest though. After 6 years of doing EV Suitability Assessments for fleets I can assure you most fleets already assume a near-zero salvage value for all their vehicles.

The most significant impact will likely be felt by people who wish to lease. Leasing companies will have to assume a lower end-of-lease value which will drive up monthly lease rates. That may move some families that are considering leasing an EV to a non-EV option. That will be the unfortunate cost of progress.

Why does the Tesla buck the trend?

Three things make the Tesla unique compared to the rest: luxury category, higher range, and OTAs.

I am going to, with limited reasoning, assume the luxury category is irrelevant. Depreciation for the luxury segment is equal to or higher in conventional vehicles. I can’t see why it would be different in EVs.

When the range of a Volt goes from 35 miles to 53 miles in the new model – that matters. A Model S increasing its range from 250+ miles to 270+ doesn’t feel all that impactful. Diminishing returns on increased range could be at play.

Most notably, Tesla does an Over-The-Air update of its vehicles. Many Tesla owners consider OTA days better than Christmas. New features are updated and some owners have remarked that they feel like they just got a new vehicle with the seat already formed to their body – best of both worlds. The result is a smaller difference between the new vehicles and the used vehicles. Whether deliberate or not, I believe this is a genius move by Tesla to increase the retained value of their vehicles.

An Opportunity?

This is causing an interesting dynamic. The major improvements in the new Volt are causing significant downward pressure on used Volt pricing. The new generation Prius was just unveiled in Las Vegas, and while it has a rumoured 18% bump in fuel efficiency, most have characterized it as an evolutionary improvement and not nearly as significant an upgrade as the Volt. Since the new generation doesn’t have as many improvements, it will likely have less downward pressure on the used model pricing. Looking at a popular used car website below is the first result I got:

Used Prius vs Volt pricing

Nearly identical miles. That is the conventional Prius, not the plug-in. And I deliberately took the screenshot with the Volt picture that shows it has HOV access. Option 1: pay $4k+ more, sit in traffic, have no electric range. Option 2: save $4k+, save time, save on fuel and emissions.

Bluntly, there are fantastic deals to be had. Many in our office are on the hunt for used Volts, LEAFs, Spark EVs, and Smart EVs.   The impact of the shiny-new-thing effect is there are some massively under-priced used plug-ins.

And for those that are truly concerned about battery health and replacement… well… stay tuned, we have something in the queue.


Everything you need to know about the 2016 Chevrolet Volt infographic

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  • Lets ignore the fact you paid over invoice for your Volt, and assume you could get the full $7500 credit. This would make the car about 33,500 after incentives and worth $16,000 today; a bit less than 50% residual after 4 years is not so bad.

    • Volt Owner

      Yeah, I’d like to see the list of items that could add almost 15K to the MSRP of $40,280! Even with every option but paint, mine was about $45K. (Had to be Black, that two-tone look was not for me…)

      I bet the list has a maintenance contract and an extended warranty, probably some snake-oil “protective coating” too. I did see a few with $5K markup, but simply walking out of that stealership got me down to MSRP within a week.

    • Would be nice if that was the case, but in 2015 I bought a 2012 with 12k miles on it for 8k. The original MSRP sticker was 41k.. that’s less than your expected example.. just sayin’..

  • viperrt10matt

    Probably the best written post I’ve seen on this topic. Good job.

  • Johnathan Sievers

    $55,000+ for a 2012 Volt! Current list price with every possible option (including dealer installed items) is just over $40,000. I assume you paid over sticker to be an early adopter. Certainly a valid choice, but not one that can be used to calculate normal depreciation for the model.

    • Jeffrey Krantz

      GM Chevy lowered the list price of the Volt by around $5000 about a year after I bought my 2012 Volt. 2012 model year is not an early adopter timeframe for the Volt. I feel totally screwed. This was not a sale or a discount. They actually lowered the list price and didn’t care what they did to current owners…I got the car fully loaded and out the door with tax, etc. I think the bottom line was around $45K.

      • Johnathan Sievers

        I stand corrected. However, keep in mind that GM had hundreds of millions of dollars invested in creating the Volt and probably wanted to recoup as much of that money as possible in the first few years of sales. In addition, battery costs likely declined from 2000 to 2012, which may have been a factor (along with slower than expected sales) in their decision to lower the price. With the rapid pace of change in today’s vehicles, new powertrains and technology features such as advanced driver assistance systems are introduced at a premium, but prices fall rapidly as availability becomes more widespread. My 2011 luxury car has adaptive cruise control that cost a pretty penny at the time, but today you can get it on a new Honda Civic at a much lower price. I appreciate your frustration, but I would guess that you like your Volt (nearly 100% of owners do) and can take some comfort in the fact that it has one of the most sophisticated vehicle powertrains on the planet – except for that in the new Volt which is even better!

        • Jeffrey Krantz

          I bought my daughter a 2010 Honda Civic over 3 1/2 years ago from a Honda dealer. A week ago she was in a car accident (everybody is fine – her first experience and she is 23). I just found out yesterday that the insurance company is going to total the car and they are going to give me $1000 less than what I paid for it over 3 1/2 years ago. How does that make us all feel?

          • Johnathan Sievers

            Depreciation has always been the single biggest cost of vehicle ownership, so if you want to maximize ROI when you eventually sell, trade or total the car you should only buy a Honda, Toyota or other make/model that has proven over time to retain more of its initial value. However, people buy cars for a lot of other reasons and accept the depreciation as a fact of life. Look at the price of a three-year-old BMW, Mercedes or even a Cadillac and you will see that their owners take a major hit. Cars at the cutting edge of technology often fall into this category as well because their component and manufacturing costs fall as volume increases, and improved versions of the technology make newer models more desirable than older ones. Again, I feel your pain, but no vehicle manufacturer guarantees the value of their cars years down the road – there are too many variables, and the pace of change today is measured in warp speeds.

          • preferred user

            I had a Honda Civic commuter for maybe 8 years it was one of the most dependable and economical commuters I ever owned .

            I maintained it by the book including timing belts ,drive belts and the obligatory cam belt driven water pumps at the specified timing belt mileages and flushed all the fluids per the Honda schedules . Those years Hondas can self destruct if you don’t maintain them in a minute and I belive thats still true but they were real good for a Civic compact or the larger Accords .

            I put 288K miles on that but after maybe 195 K I had to do the cyl head gasket and a low miles salvage transaxle and maybe its 3rd clutch and the usual new struts ,CV axles and so on for a high mileage compact but I did the all work myself for the time I owned it so it was only parts at wholesale but at 288K it was getting a rod knock and the bearings on those are all custom fit to each main journal and rod so you can’t just put some .002.-004 undersize bearings in it and polish the crank so I got rid of it not knowing the condition of the crank ,

            I wasn’t about to do the crank and bearings at that mileage but I wouldent be adverse to a new Honda Civic if I needed a compact .

          • StarFighter

            What do you think the insurance company should have paid for a car you bought 3 1/2 years ago. Sounds like a great settlement to me. How did the settlement compare with what KBB.com estimates the value?

      • goblin072 .

        Well the price change had no effect on the quality or running ability of your Volt. If you never found out about the price drop you would be happy in your bliss. Be happy for what you have not for what others have. There is never a perfect time to buy and there is always going to be a price lower than what you paid.

      • vamike999

        prices of the battery will drop, same as laptops over the year. Don’t get mad, this is how it will be.

    • My2Cents2013

      I was an early adopter – I got one of the first Volts delivered to Portland in October of 2011 – base price was $39,145, I got every option available including the $995 upcharge for White Diamond Triple Coat paint and it stickered out to $46,309. I still have the car and the sticker.

  • D. Harrower

    Very well written article and your conclusion makes sense. However, as your TV analogy shows, this is not just a concern for EV/PHEVs. If the new version of ANYTHING is a significantly better product for the same money, it’s going to seriously limit the appeal of the old version. Any interested parties are going to demand a huge price gap in order to justify being saddled with a less feature-laden model.

    As a Tesla Model S owner, I can also comment that the whole “updates make your car better with time” thing is mostly marketing fluff. Yes, the car does update and get more features over time, but experience is showing me that the usefulness of these updates is often limited by changes to the car’s hardware which cannot be retrofit into older cars. For example, the majority of new updates deal with autopilot features. If your vehicle is old enough to not include the suite of sensors and drivetrain changes these features require (like mine), you’re pretty much forgotten; Like an old iPhone.

    • My2Cents2013

      As an S and X owner I respectfully disagree with your OTA comments. It still adds a lot of value and features beyond Autopilot. Autopilot gets the headlines but there is a lot of other additions that aren’t getting attention You’ll feel differently once you experience it yourself.

  • RobertSeattle

    Thanks for posting. I have a 2012 Volt and waiting for delivery of our Tesla X – will then sell the Volt. The Volt has been a great commuter car but we needed something with more range for family trips, For those just needed a commuter car, the Volt 2011-2014’s are a steal!

  • As a volt owner i can tell you in a word why the resale is bad.. “Garbage”.. The car is a total piece of garbage.. Bought it used with 12K miles on it, has been in the shop 47 times since August of 2015.. It’s currently May.. So in that time i have driven it a total of 6K miles, due to the car being constantly broken. Honestly better off with a prius if you live in a warm climate.. in a cold climate the Hummer H1 gets better MPG in the winter.. I average 12MPG.. It was so bad i bought a used corolla to drive in the winter, because it gets better MPG, has heat, and is just a much better built car..

    If you are thinking about buying one..
    Google the Steering column Class action law suite against GM in regards to the Steering column before you buy one..

    Also look at the huge list of complaints on the NHTSA website..
    Compare the list to the Prius..

    • danwat1234

      You got a crazy lemon, that’s all. Most people think they are great cars imo

      • Thing is..
        That lemons typically have a single issue, over and over, not a list of about 50.. Also, lemons don’t typically exist in such mass quantities that there are class action lawsuits against the manufacturer.. Or write-ups on edmunds about reliability and build quality issues.. They also don’t tend to get 200+ service advisories and a slew of recalls in the first few years of existence.. Honestly just think i have been spoiled by imports and the harsh reality is that GM can’t build anything but Pushrod driven gas engines well..

        • danwat1234

          The only class action lawsuit I know is of the steering linkage. 200 + service advisories? I doubt that. It did have some service bulletins, probably over 10 but it’s a high tech car. The Volt has very high customer satisfaction according to Consumer Reports, I’ve heard. reliability of the Volt on CR is so so depending on the year, but definitely not poor.

      • Jeffrey Krantz

        I had the same experience and I am still totally pissed off. My April 2012 Volt started totally misbehaving (I live in flat South Florida and I got a battery electrical system warning that I didn’t go into Mountain mode soon enough). I Onstar-ed and they told me to just ignore it. Within a month they had to take the car for a couple of weeks and replace the entire battery system including all the batteries. So I guess my car is good for another 3.5 years and then it will be a complete piece of garbage….

        • danwat1234

          Hmm, could have been the whole battery pack but more likely they didn’t want to do the work to figure out what was specifically wrong, so they swapped it all out under warranty. A lot of people are confused/worried when the car won’t charge, and it’s just because the coolant reservoir for the battery pack is running low.
          Water pumps can go out. Transmission parts too

          • Jeffrey Krantz

            Not in my case. I am a EE and I was noticing the Volt’s behavior over a period of time. The entire system was messed up. There is no transmission in the volt. Corporate needed to get involved in order to approve the complete removal of the old battery pack. They had corporate technical people look into my car to see what happened. Nothing was simple about the situation. Don’t try to trivialize whatever happened to the 2012 Volt. My next electric car will be a lease – I have never done a lease in my entire life….

          • danwat1234

            I know it is a very complex car. sh!t can really hit the fan with complex cars.
            There is an e-CVT transmission in the car, it isn’t purely direct drive. It has solenoids and clutches.

    • goblin072 .

      47 times wow. That might meet the Lemon Law criteria, yea sounds like you got one built on a Friday.

      • Ended up suing GM and getting all the time loss of work, and all the costs of travel, gas, and my home electrical system repair back, plus some.. and used the money to purchase a Toyota Camry, which hasn’t had a single issue since buying it.. not to mention that I get 32mpg average, and it’s a much nicer car.. I’ll miss the EV idea, but I learned why buying an EV is just not a good idea yet..

        • goblin072 .

          Glad you had a happy ending. Did it cover your attorney costs?
          I’ve done that before and ended up a wash with both sides attorneys making the most.

  • My2Cents2013

    $55K is not reality. I was an early adopter – I got one of the first Volts delivered to Portland in October of 2011 – base price was $39,145, I got every option available including the $995 upcharge for White Diamond Triple Coat paint and it stickered out to $46,309. I still have the car and the sticker.

  • Regan Smith

    We have a 2013 fully loaded Volt in black. Sticker was 43k. Today it’s worth 13k 😤 We also own a Tahoe and a corvette. However the depreciation of the volt has put a bad taste in our mouth with chevy and we are done. Turning to Audi for better resale value. At least volt was 0% APR for 60 months and we did get 7500 tax incentive. We are still bitter though. And are done with GM.

    • danwat1234

      Or just hold on to your awesome Volt.

    • miserableoldfart

      New technology almost always comes with a high price and fast depreciation. I bought a blazingly fast Del 200mhz system for top dollar once and in about two years it was a tired old horse. As the time frame goes out, the advances slow down and the depreciation will slow. Not much consolation to early buyers, like those who paid $500 for a Commodore 64 or $10,000 for an Apple Lisa, but it’s just the way of technology. Hopefully in a few years these plug in hybrids will be better and cheaper and more mass market available.

      I still believe firmly that the (dreaded) government should step in to the EV and hybrid market, and develop a standard for a cross-brand swap-out auxiliary battery system that can provide some serious mileage and be yanked out of the car (a recess in the trunk is a possibility) and replaced with a fully charged one at what used to be a “gas station” for a reasonable fee. Weight not that big of a deal as a simple device based on an engine hoist could lift a couple hundred pound battery and drop a fresh one in – in less time than it takes to fill a gas tank.

      • OttoNobedder

        Nice Handle! The later designs of battery placement tend to consider weight distribution (and vehicle handling) more than ease of replacement. The cars are built around the battery-not vice-versa.I agree with your principle idea-now to make batteries even lighter & smaller.

        • miserableoldfart

          But there could always be room for a swap-out auxiliary battery somewhere that could boost the total mileage of the vehicle on an as-needed basis, at what once were gas stations (someday..)

      • goblin072 .

        I like that idea of battery swap. But then like Gas grills you swap out and new 2016 battery and get a crappy 8 year old made in china knock off at the gas/battery station. I can see some initial problems with the idea.

    • goblin072 .

      I think the Volt is for those that hold on to a car longer. I keep my cars 8 years, I don’t need to have the latest model that is more for Cell phones not cars. People that have to have a new car every 3-4 years always pay the price of that admission.

    • Kumquat

      Bad for you, great for cheap bastards like me who only buy used cars because we know that new cars depreciate fast. I’ve never understood the value proposition for buying any car new.

      • Logan Five

        There are several reasons. One you get the latest technology. Two you get a very reliable car with a factory warranty with no unknowable issues. Three you can get the options you want. Four the price of a car is a know commodity and as other have shown you can get a lot off a new vehicle that is not obvious in a used car price (that is you can dealer shop, i never buy a new car in Green Bay WI, i go to Milwaukee or Chicago for a far better price). Five I have the original GM card (5% off a new vehicle of up to 1500 a year for 7 years). I have bought a brand new car in 2004 for under $5k. I bought a Colorado for $12k off sticker this year.

        • Kumquat

          I agree the factory warranty is useful for some cars, but used cars also have a factory warranty. I looked at a 2015 Volt a few days ago and it’s warranty would be up in the 2020s.

          Having the latest tech is a good reason to go new, though you’re also getting all the issues associated with new unproven tech. Even with a warranty that’s time and nuisance to get new tech repaired. Less of an issue for GM than for something like a Tesla, but still…

      • steve sibert

        I’m the same way, with one exception. We have been driving old used vehicles for years, and my wife needed a reliable car for her business. We found a 2013 Subaru Outback at the dealer here in Colorado Springs for only $3000 less than a brand new 2016 base model Outback. No brainer – we bought our first brand new car and it’s been fantastic! She drives it, I’m still in a beater. That will change soon, I hope, but it won’t be brand new.

    • hmm

      “Turning to Audi for better resale value.” If you’re concerned about depreciation, don’t buy a luxury car. Especially not a German one.

    • Merv99

      I bought a new 2017 Volt with leather, heated seats and steering wheel, and lighted charge port. Sticker was almost $35k. But, I paid $29k for it, got $3k in state incentives and $7.5k in federal incentives. Effective purchase price was under $20k. THAT is the reason the resale value is low. Why would anyone pay top dollar for a used Volt when he can get a brand new one for only slightly more.

      • peter mainwald

        ^^^^ BINGO We have a winner!!

    • peter mainwald

      Your biggest problem is that you buy a car to sell it… 43K minus 7500 minus state tax rebates and 0% interest.. You did quite well. Plus the money you saved in fuel.

  • Jeff Saxton

    Personally I think the volt is a high quality car. I think GM did not want this thing to be a lemon. The customer ratings prove this out. I bought a 2013 model one year ago and was So Satisfied that I bought a second one for my wife. He represents Bankrate used car value and the GM battery warranty is still good for both cars.

  • Mark Wiseley

    I have a 2013 Volt but looked at the new model when I had to take my car in for service. I noticed that although there is a 5th seat now, it is only large enough for probably a child and it seems that the other 2 rear seats actually have less room than the older body style, so I don’t know if I would consider that an improvement. Nice that they got rid of the touch buttons though, they are quite annoying and actually kind of a safety hazard since you basically have to look at them in order to use them.

  • Kelvin Ricks

    I just got a New 2017 Volt Dec. 28 2016 for 36240 and this is the Primer Model that has the lane drive Assist and push button parallel parking option. It is Loaded. I was considering the Bolt but the same Primer Version would cost 44,000 with a 6 speaker Bose system and I got a 8 speaker Bose in my car. I also got 1500 cash rebate from GM of the above price and 0 percent financing. Ha Ha Ha sometimes it pays to wait them out!!! Now if i consider a Bolt i will wait for the leased ones to show up at a low price. I will use the internet to get a low price deal on one or I might even just go to the Tesla Model 3. You just have to be a smart shopper to get the deals. I am also willing to go over a 500 mile range to get the best deal and not just say local because this is how they stick it to you!!!

  • Vector

    I have my own theory…like maybe a combination of two factors. First, these things are butt ugly (yes, I have one and I do drive it.) Second, that the insanely liberal cheating residents in the Peoples Socialist Republik of Kalifornia among other places buy these vehicles, take the tax credits, then turn around and do something to them that qualifies them for return under Kali’s lemon laws and return them shortly after purchase. Long live Gov’m’t Free Money!!!

    • hmm

      You think the resale prices are low because Californians deliberately turn their cars into lemons…?

  • Darrell Rademacher

    thank you everyone! Almost made a terrible mistake by purchasing a Volt. Will keep our 2010 VW TDI Jetta Sportwagen until the government yanks it out from under us! Gets 39mpg in the city. Runs and runs without any service other than a battery every 3 years and tires.

    • Jason King

      Too bad it’s polluting like 500x more than a mack truck

      • peter mainwald

        oh shut the fuck up Jason… go back in your troll hole

  • Ted

    I bought a NEW 2014 Premier in 2016 for 27,500 or 20K, net of rebate. Good deal. But I find it limits my life! I am so concerned about battery-only, that I coast a lot and hate to go out of my 40-mile commute. I’m looking to trade it for a used 2012 Chrysler 200 Limited hardtop convertible that does about 30 mpg. I’ve been telling folks that I’ve put my life on hold for my last two years before retirement. I think it’s the Volt that did that to me. A pox on the end to Liberty and Freedom of the open road. Screw the battery!

    • hmm

      I’m confused. Doesn’t it run on gas when you’re out of electricity? How is it limiting your life in a way that a gas car wouldn’t?

      • Logan Five

        I think it is a troll. Back on the bridge Ted.

  • phicrappazappa

    I owned a 2007 Pruis for a few years. It was a good, dependable, economic car. I also owned a Honda Civic Hybrid. Also, a good, dependable, economic car. I now own a 2017 Volt Premier. Had it since Dec. Haven’t used a drop of gas yet with a little over 1700 miles on it.The biggest difference I care to point out is F-U-N. The Volt is a blast to drive. And it’s looks are a definite improvement over the other two as well as its’ predecessors. A $40K auto with $5K up front discount plus $7500 tax credit – I’m very happy.

  • Jason King

    My 2011 Volt has LUNGED forward for no reason 4 times in the last 6 months. It almost caused a major accident last time. I am scared to drive it. I’ve called GM 4 times and I can’t even get them to return a phone call. Shoulda bought a Tesla. My 2011 Volt which I bought for 46k is now worth about 9k. WTF??!?!!?

    • Gale Hess

      Writing. Put it in writing as a complaint to your dealer, GM, and consumer safety. Get an attorney involved. That’s all I know to say, how the world works.

  • Mm

    Very well written article. I just bought a used 2013 Volt with a clean title for $7500. Wasnt looking specifically for a Volt but when it popped up on craigslist, it made me realize the extent of depreciation on the volt. Specifically, the combination of a plugin combined with “chevy brand” leads to very poor resale value. However, I really like the car and will drive it to the ground.

  • Jramza

    I saw the 2016 Volt in consumer Reports got an A on how owners liked it, and an F on reliability. What gives? (Considered buying a Volt until I read that.)

  • preferred user

    In Feb 2006 I was broadsided in the two passenger doors by a speeder in a nearly new compact Mitsubishi doing maybe 60 mph before the collision at an intersection. I was in my paid fort 2003 GMC Sierra 1500 Extended cab V8 2WD pick up in Feb 2006.

    The preliminary repair estimate was 9500.00 ,the other driver was at fault.

    I had a passenger and the collision i bumped the truck into the air a couple of feet and sideways maybe 8 ft and it landed fine and upright and not much beyond a 2″ deformity inside on the collision side at the right floor plan and ruined doors and we were both fine .

    The preliminary estimate to repair my 2003 truck was 9500.00 for two doors ($1900.00 back then ) and collision work and paint and it looked like that was going to happen .

    Upon further inspection there was very minor frame damage that in the old days would have been a minor section repair and frame pull at the most .

    The truck had a hydroformed high strength steel frame and my insurance co. and I were advised it was not repairable without a new frame bringing the repair estimate to $19,000.00

    Needless to say it was deemed a total loss but I had a new vehicle replacement policy ( gap insurance ) still in force and ended up just paying sales tax on a much better and better optioned brand new 2006 GMC Sierra HD model and they rented me a Dodge Hemi Pick up until I bought the new one . .

    Not sure if the other driver’s insurance was adequate to cover all that or if my insurance company even recovered anything but my rates stayed the same so that was good . FWIW I was with Liberty Mutual but how it relates here in 3 years the 2003 only depreciated about $3,000 from my GM supplier courtesy discount price .

    OTOH that may not be true today the 50K mileage cherry 2006 GMC is worth about 10 large less than I paid for it but its over 10 years old and I didn’t pay anthing close to sticker or incentive street price .

    OTOH a Volt fleet return pr trade with low milage and a Calif. 150K mile warranty might not be bad bad for any number of reasons .

  • vamike999

    Also Toyota always had better resale value over any GM car. Looks at trucks to see this too. however the volt is the first american car i have ever bought and i LOVE IT!!

  • Chad

    Owner of a 2012 Volt Premium. Purchased in January 2012 for 43K, drove 90 miles/day for the first 30 months averaging about 110mpg in that time. Since it’s driving 45 miles/day with now 83k miles on the car with approximately 50k battery driven and the car is experiencing some degradation. The degradation isn’t all in the loss of miles on a charge but also in it’s ability to maintain a 35kwh charge output when the generator is trying to drive the car and charge the battery. At that point the volt will “reduce power” and only allow a max drive of 20mph. Try not crapping your pants when that kicks in on the interstate! SMH!! The only option is to drive home from work in mountain mode for about half the trip.
    This issue has “supposedly” been addressed and fixed in the ’16 and ’17 models. This issue is pushing me to the trade in for a new Volt. After 5 years of ownership the gallons of fuel burned is in the hundreds not thousands, the drive of the 5 year old car is just as nice as it was the day it was purchased, the paint is flawless, tires are new, and the engine has about 40k on it… why is the trade in value offered me $7,000? Holy crap I just lost every penny I saved not buying fuel! Such BS!

    • alan

      If the battery is failing, isn’t it covered under warranty? Is the warranty prorated like tires so it’s not really worth it after a few years?

  • DangerFed

    What I dont understand is why there are so few Volts (2013 to be precise) available at CarMax right now. There should be dozens of off-lease units. Instead I have to pay hundreds to get one shipped from Georgia …

  • Susan Ostler

    I love my volt. I am not crazy about the new design where I lose the cargo area between the seats and in the doors. I am shocked that there is no red this year. Guess who will stick with the one she has then. I have hated the red the last couple years! Come on get that pretty red back!!!!! I have special licence plates. RED people!!!!

  • Terry Robb

    I would have never bought my Volt in 2012 if it was 55K. You could have paid a little more for a Tesla and Tesla has constant upgrades. I asked Chevy dealer people if there was an upgrade for Hold mode for the 12. They said buy another Volt. This is a big reason why there are around 400,000 or more waiting for model 3 Tesla. Detroit and toyota may think Tesla is small but once 500,000 vehicles are made each and every yr I consider that a major auto company.

  • Vagabond Roadtrek

    I’m glad the resale value has dropped. I just picked up a 2013 volt with 120,000 mile for $8,000. Never owned one before but it sure does ride pretty well.

  • ProDigit

    My 2ct:
    The Prius’ replacement/reconditioning batteries are about 3x cheaper.

    The Volt and other electric car sales are low, mostly because a lot of people in the city don’t have access to electricity in their parking lots, and can’t run a power cord from their homes to their car!

    Battery longevity is another reason.

    Concerning the resale value: Once more Volts hit the second hand market, ownership might rise.
    The price for a Volt is just way too much for an average person, including with a $7.5k tax discount!

    I would never own a Volt, since my job is exactly 37 miles away from my home. I do 72 highway miles each day, and an electric car with a range of only 50 odd miles, just isn’t feasible.

    I would NEVER buy a Tesla!
    Not for the purchase price (sell the tesla at 1/3rd of the price, then perhaps),
    Nor for the maintenance (there’s no ‘mechanic’ that will work on them other than changing brakepads, or tires, or windshield wipers).

    Battery replacement is an issue.

    The lower return on gas. People buy a Volt, not to pay for gas, but they still do.
    Sometimes their cars get stolen, or crashed, before they get a good return on their investment.

    The Volt is a great concept, but I like the concept of the Prius better, even if the Volt performs better.
    Use a direct drive on the prius, to propel the car on the highway, and use electric to do city.
    It’s more energy efficient; but the prius just sucks big time on feats, looks, safety, and performance!

  • Giovanni Paolo Ciotti

    Carvana has a few. I have a $500 off coupon you can have. Seriously. -Gio (Nashville, TN)

  • elkhornsun

    A new Volt or Tesla or Leaf provides at this time a $7500 tax credit which is available only for a new EV and not if someone buys a used EV. In essence that $7500 credit reduces the value of a used EV. The $7500 is a much smaller percentage of the cost of buying a $120K Tesla model S than a $35,000 Volt or Bolt or Leaf.

  • Brock Shute

    I purchased an off lease 2014 (Oct. 2016) with 45k miles with the loaded options we all enjoy (Navi, heated seat etc). I’ve had it for a year and half. The price was $14.7 (it’s now worth about 10k give or take with 61k miles). My experience for this car is OMG nothing but praise for my B-Spark It’s drives nicer than cars in this size class and the electric torque is great, it’s just fun to “zip around”. I advise anyone looking at adding a car to the family to look hard at a used 2014-2015 you can pick up for $10-$12k (as of mid 2018). If your daily range is about 50 miles a day you will almost never use gas. I currently get 156.8 MPG overall, I fill the 8 gallon tank once every few of months ($18). I do and try to stay plugged in (daily at work on a standard 110 plug.) when possible, and rarely take long drives however. It is nice to know if I can if need be. I’ve spent about $150 in gas in a year and half.

    The one thing that was not mentioned about in this, was the lack of maintenance the car requires. I am coming up on it’s first oil change, and brakes hardly need to be done, as using the L option to slow and re-gen the car helps save on wear. One site has a Volt logged “Sparky” in (MY12) with 400+k miles, and he has done two things, tires and oil changes. When comparing to other cars and factoring the lack of care the car needs it’s insane not to put this on the list of second cars in the family’s “consideration list”. 5 star safety even! The car eats tires every 35-40k, and visibility, is a little hard at night in the back, little head room for the rear seats is my few complaints. It’s me 95% of the time anyway so…meh.

    Overall lifetime average MPG for the car is almost 90 mpg (It got it with an average of 70 something). Style was important to me, and it reminds me of the Acura wedge look of the late 2000’s (not fugly). Sorry Prius lovers, but the Volt is one of the best cars to own and operate ever made to date! Trick is to learn & drive the car correctly and it’s a great value! Final comment, the car does not work well in cold weather areas, as it reduces the range of the battery, even in Northern California we have a few cold days a year (30-35). I noticed the car’s range dropped to about 20 miles. Thanks for reading, hope this helps!

  • patrickmcswain

    The author is a fool. I own 2013, 2016, 2017 Volts. Including all taxes, fees, incentives and discounts all three were between $25,000 and $28,000. I’ve been offered $13,000 for the 2013, or $14,000 loss in 5 years. A Tesla Model S or X will cost you over $12,000 per YEAR in depreciation.

    Just sayin’.