A Chevy Volt for $999 down and $268 a month?

2013-Chevrolet-Volt-004editors-blog-entry3If you read SolarChargedDriving.Com on a semi-regular basis, you probably know that I’m extremely eager to get an EV, but, due to unusual personal circumstances – we’ll probably be out of the U.S. for 12 months beginning in about a year – I’ve resigned myself to the fact that we must wait.

That’s because, no matter how I crunch the numbers, hanging on to our two aging clunkersa 1992 Acura Integra with 165,000 miles on it and a 1994 Toyota Camry with nearly 300,000 miles on it – still seems to make more financial sense than grabbing a plug-in, driving it for a year, then having to let it sit for a full year while we make payments on it even though we can’t drive it that year.

[I’ve already checked with relatives and friends, and I can’t find anyone who’s willing to take over a lease or payments for a year while we’re gone.]

However, a new, seemingly phantom lease deal for the Chevy Volt, which I first heard about from a reader via a comment made under a Plugincars.com article written by Zach MacDonald, and to which Plugincars.Com has now devoted a full article, might change the math.

A great deal
Apparently, some Volt dealers – it’s not clear which ones – have given some people an incredible deal of $999 down with monthly payments of $268 over the course of three years.

If this is for real, that’s $10,647 for three years with a Volt! And we’re sitting on about 10,000 kWh of banked electricity we’ve over-generated with our 5.59 kW home solar system during the past two years, or somewhere around 35,000 miles of “free” solar electric driving in a Volt (yes, we did pay $8,000 out of pocket for that solar system, so those miles aren’t “free” – but we have already paid for them).

But, of course, we’ve got that full year coming up, starting in August of 2013, in which we’ll very likely be out of the U.S., and during which, if we jumped at this three-year Volt lease of $999 down and $268 per month, we’d be forced to make 12 $268 monthly payments while that Volt just sat in our garage.

Doing the math
So, here’s how the math looks in our situation:

  • $210 = average total monthly gas expenditures for our ’92 Integra and ’94 Camry
  • $200 = average total monthly maintenance costs for both clunkers
  • $410 = average total monthly cost of ownership for our two clunkers
  • $14,760 = total cost of ownership for two clunkers across 36 months

To clarify, I’m comparing the total cost of two gas clunkers with the cost of one shiny new Volt because, if we got a Volt, we’d move to a one-car household, though it will inconvenience us some of the time.

So, $14,760 is clearly more than $10,647. Snap up that Volt lease deal – if you can actually find it, right?

Not exactly. If we’re out of country for a full year from August 2013 to August 2014, that means no gasoline costs and no maintenance costs for our two clunkers for a full 12 months (we won’t have a car while we’re abroad). So, the math has to be done based on 24 months:

  • $410 (average monthly gas + maintenance costs for two clunkers) x 24 months = $9,840

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Sun Miles® in a Volt
$9,840 isn’t that far off from $10,647, and that $1,000 premium would be well worth it just to be able to drive solar electric (I estimate that 80 to 90 percent of our miles in the Volt would be solar electric miles, or what we at SolarChargedDriving.Com like to call Sun Miles®).

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The $10k figure for the Volt lease doesn’t include gasoline costs. Nor does it includes sales tax costs or maintenance costs, though it appears maintenance is often included in a lease.

When you add in sales tax and associated local taxes and fees — which look to be more than $2,000 for a Volt here in Colorado, it’s no longer even close: Given our impending year out of country, financially we’re clearly better off continuing to run our two stinking gas clunkers rather than going with this fantastic Chevy Volt lease.

Damn! And I thought I’d be able to crunch the numbers on this and show the wife that ditching our two clunkers for a Volt would make financial sense, even in our unusual situation.

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