The Chevy Volt Explained: Would You Pay $41K for a Green Car That Goes 40 Electric Miles Per Charge?

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LAS VEGAS - JANUARY 07: The Chevy Volt is displayed at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Hilton January 7, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology tradeshow, runs through January 10. The gadget show is expected to feature 2,500 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 110,000 attendees. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Green-thinking drivers are often willing to pay more for cleaner cars -- which explains why both the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt and all-electric Nissan Leaf have long waiting lists of would-be buyers. But tell me this: Would you pay $41,000 for a car that can only travel 40 all-electric miles per charge?

That $41,000 price tag's what General Motors announced for its 2011 Chevy Volt earlier today, according to the New York Times. Now, to be fair, the $41,000 for 40-miles per charge doesn't quite tell the whole story. First of all, a $7,500 federal tax credit brings the Volt's price tag down to $33,500. Californians can deduct an additional $5000 CARB credit, lowering the Volt's price to $28,500.

Plus, the Volt doesn't come to a standstill after 40 miles. That's just when the car has to switch from the electric battery to the fuel-efficient gas engine, which will let you travel another 300 miles --albeit no longer just on electric power.

The Volt's MPG is as of yet unknown, though expected to be somewhat less than the 230 MPG G.M. originally announced. Still, the Volt will likely save you a lot of gas money. In fact, if you stick to using just the electric power by keeping your trips under 40 miles, you'll only spend $1 to $1.50 per every 40-mile charge.

For comparison purposes, the Nissan Leaf comes with a price tag of $32,780 before rebates, can go about 100 all-electric miles per charge -- but has no gas motor (the car really would come to a standstill after those 100 or so miles). The Volt and Leaf are expected to start being delivered to customers late this year in November and December, respectively.

So I guess the real question is this: Would you pay $33,500 ($28,500 for Californians) for a car that drives 40 all-electric miles per charge -- plus 300 more miles using some gas power -- knowing you'll save on fuel costs long-term? If so, you may want to Chevy Volt's fan club.

BlogHer Contributing Editor Siel also blogs at


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