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Report: 2011 Chevy Volt Worth $17,000 After Three Years

2011 Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt

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The problem with any kind of new automotive technology is that it’s difficult to project a residual value after three years of ownership. Take the 2011 Chevrolet Volt for example, which is the first modern application of a serial hybrid design in an automobile. Variations of the technology have been used for years, in things like diesel-electric submarines and locomotives, so the technology has long been proven as robust. GM warranties the batteries in the Volt for 8 years and 100,000 miles, and even they admit that their lifespan projections are very conservative, even under the worst conditions. Still, since there’s never been a another modern vehicle like the Volt, it’s difficult to estimate what one will be worth three years down the line.

Kelley Blue Book has done so, and claims that a 2011 Volt will be worth $17,000 in 2014. If you base the residual value on a purchase price of $41,000, that represents a depreciation of over 58 percent in just 3 years, a number more typically associated with high-end luxury cars. On the other hand, if you factor in the $7,500 federal tax credit to the purchase price, the depreciation becomes a much more palatable 49 percent. That’s better than a 2011 Toyota Prius, which KBB expects will depreciate by 54 percent over the next three years. Their value projections assume that the cost of fuel will hold steady at $4.00 per gallon over the next 36 months, which is the topic of an entirely separate debate.

In the meantime, here’s some advice for early adopters of new automotive technology: unless you’re buying a car like the Volt as an investment, and intend to keep it in a hermetically sealed garage to preserve its value for future generations, leasing is probably a better option than buying until the actual residual value is established.


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Comments (6)
  1. GUESSING. that's all this is. For one thing, why would'nt they factor in the tax credits.Buyers most likely would never even consider these vehicles if there were no tax credits.
    I read congress is seriously thinking of raising the tax credits to as high as $9500.00, or even some type of tax rebate.
    Obama stated "EVERY" government vehicle purchased as of 2015 must be some type of hybrid or ev.
    This should be a huge shot in the arm for the auto companies newest technology.

  2. @DRUFFO4291, I had a chance to drive the Volt from NYC to Detroit, and I'm one of the car's biggest fans. Still if someone asked me "lease a Volt or buy a Volt", I could only recommend leasing until the residual value of the car is established.

  3. You'll be lucky to get a Volt for 25-30K in three years... I'm in the LEAF camp right now but I'll get two used Volts if they're only 17K each - you gotta be kidding me.
    Oh, and btw, no one is getting the full 7.5K tax credit. Everyone thinks they do but 3.5K is the average.

  4. Folks - here in the UK, vehicle depreciation in %ages and $ is FAR higher than in the US (We own vehicles in both countries - various, including a Leaf(!) in the UK and an Expedition in the US) We run a futures valuation company in the UK, and would generally forecast lower numbers than one would perhaps anticipate, SIMPLY due to the uncertainty, as our job is to give folk values that do not expose them to undue financial risk. Like the prior post, one COULD see these vehicles acheiving tremendous values, way above cautious forecasts if they perform well and have a strong used following (which they ought to do, when one considers just HOW good the Leaf is in particular). Leasing is the safe option for now, and is viable, overall.

  5. @Dennis, I've worked for British companies in the past, and from what I know about the UK owning a vehicle in general is much more expensive than over here. A company car used to be a right of passage for middle managers, many of whom couldn't afford a car otherwise. Is that still the case?

  6. You gotta' be nuts buying a used hybrid/electric car. Have you checked out the cost of replacing those battery packs ? OMG ! And they do rapidly deteriorate with age and numbers of recharges.

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