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The Chevrolet Volt: Electric Buzz or Hype?

Photo: Mike Mullen, GM

Automotive magazines such as Motor Trend have been going gaga over the Chevrolet Volt, GM’s electric hybrid car – announcing the Volt has won its 2011 Car of the Year award. With even the military looking to invest in electric and hybrid vehicles, it’s a trend that is here to stay.

“The Volt absolutely delivers on the promise of the vehicle concept as originally outlined by GM, combining the smooth, silent, efficient, low-emissions capability of an electric motor with the range and flexibility of an internal combustion engine,” said Angus MacKenzie, editor-in-chief of Motor Trend. “It is a fully functional, no-compromise compact automobile that offers consumers real benefits in terms of lower running costs.”

However, some reviews of the car have been less than glowing, with many questioning the car’s $40,000-plus retail value. The good news is that consumers can apply for a $7,500 federal tax grant to buy the vehicle, but even including the credit other hybrid cars sell for less.

In addition, the Volt can only drive 25-50 miles in electric-only mode before switching to gasoline power, meaning that those who drive more than 25 miles will need to fill up more often.

Edmunds calculated a monthly fuel cost of only $54 for the Volt, considering an average monthly mileage of 1,250. Despite the Volt’s price tag, it is the first of a breed, suggesting later models might cost less. Besides, the gas savings are significant – and in a recessionary economy, every dollar counts.

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