Yes, the 2013 Chevrolet Volt--a four-seat, five-door hatchback--has a base price of $39,995. And, yes, that's more than twice the base price of the similarly sized Cruze compact four-door sedan, which can hold five. But the first few years of electric cars are rarely going to be bought for their list prices (and a $7,500 Federal tax credit plus other state, local, and corporate incentives can bring down the effective price by $10,000 or more).
The Volt's range-extended electric powertrain, for a start, is all but unique. The only other such car on the market today is the limited-production Fisker Karma luxury sedan--which starts at $106,000, making the Volt's technology almost seem like a bargain. And the Volt comes with many standard features that are optional on many gasoline compact cars, including a tilting-and-telescoping steering wheel, automatic climate control, keyless entry with proximity sensing, remote start, and a smartphone app that lets the driver monitor the car's performance and charging.
An energy-efficient Bose audio system costs extra ($495), though, as does the navigation/DVD system (at a whopping $1,995). The standard radio has only AM, FM, and CD capabilities, while the Bose adds satellite radio, MP3 playback, Bluetooth connectivity, and the ability to show DVDs--plus 30 GB of music storage space on a 60-GB hard drive.
Buyers can also tick boxes for a handful of other extra-cost options, including various special paint colors--including White Diamond Tintcoat and a very handsome Crystal Red Metallic Tintcoat--and polished alloy wheels.
A frequently asked question is about battery life. GM warrants the Volt's battery for eight years or 100,000 miles, though buyers concerned about the battery life of a car that's only been on the market for three years may be reassured by the option of leasing their first Volt rather than buying it outright. The entire car is covered bumper-to-bumper for three years/36,000 miles, plus a limited warranty on the engine of five years/100,000 miles. Chevrolet throws in roadside assistance for five years or 100,000 miles as well.