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Chevrolet Volt Lease Was Competitive, Now a Steal

By · August 08, 2012

ChevroletVolt

The Chevrolet Volt lease seems too good to be true.

When General Motors first released pricing for the Chevrolet Volt two years ago, the lopsided low lease price raised eyebrows. By playing with the Volt's residual value, G.M. was able to set the $40,000-plus Volt's lease price at nearly identical terms to the lease for the $32,000 Nissan LEAF. The Volt lease got even better over time, and was recently named the number one best lease deal in July by TrueCar.com.

According to TrueCar.com, the current Volt lease offer—which expires on September 4—is $2,529 down, and $260 a month for 36 months. But PluginCars.com is hearing about even better lease offers from individual dealers. There are anecdotal reports of a two-year lease for $249 a month, with $2,479 due at signing; and a three-year lease at $268 a month, with only $999 paid upfront.

These deals echo a June report in The Motley Fool, which listed the Volt plug-in hybrid as one of the automotive world’s best bargains. According to The Motley Fool, the terms of that deal in play in June started at $369 a month with $0 down at signing. The lease, managed by Ally Financial, could even potentially net a tidy profit for anyone who opts to purchase the Volt at the end of the lease and then immediately resell it. As we recently noted, the estimated trade-in value of a 2011 Volt, according to the NADA guide, is $29,325— or 90 percent of its post-incentive $32,780 sticker price.

The attractive lease price could explain why Volt sales have been dramatically higher this year, especially compared with sluggish sales of the Nissan LEAF. (In June, Nissan announced its own reduced lease price—$289 per month for 39 months with $2,999 down on the 2012 Nissan LEAF SV.)

Short-Term Gains

In the short-term, the Volt lease does seem a steal. As Chris Baines in The Motley Fool notes, the Volt lease is nominally ($80-bucks) more expensive than a local deal being offered near him on a vastly cheaper Toyota Camry sedan. Yet the Volt is nearly double the price of the Camry and, depending on your driving habits, the Chevy could save you a ton of money in terms of fuel bills. Baines also argues the Volt is “way cooler” than the Toyota.

The terms of the agreement with Ally Financial sets a fixed purchase price once the Volt lease is over. If resale values hold strong and demand for fuel-sipping cars outstrips supply, the former-lessee-turned-Volt-owner could sell the car for a profit…perhaps. The problem is that the plug-in and EV market is extremely new and potentially more akin to ‘the next big thing’ mentality that dominates the mobile phone and tablet computer market. As Baines points out in his article, all it could take for Volt (let’s call it Version 1.0) resale values to drop is if Chevrolet builds, say, an improved Volt with much greater electric-only range. In fact, the 2013 Volt has an EV range of 38 miles—a 3 mile jump in all-electric range from the 2012 model.

Or gas prices could temporarily fall, giving U.S. car buyers the false impression that fuel efficiency is not worth any extra investment.

New to EVs? Start here

  1. Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
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  2. Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
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  3. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
    You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.