I’ve written a how-to for getting the Volt for only $28,000. That’s less than the cost of Saturn’s VUE hybrid… which doesn’t happen to be electric. And, it’s only $6,000 more than the Toyota Prius 3G (seriously, they need to stop with the 3G references, it isn’t a cell phone).
Now, I will point out that this guide takes into account some assumptions. It assumes Bob Lutz’s most recent Volt pricing projections are correct. Second, it assumes legislation that has not yet passed Congress, will indeed pass.
Essentially, we’re going to combine multiple government welfare (oh snap, I said welfare) programs, to bring the Volt down from its $39,999.99 price tag (they’d tack on a 9/10th of a cent if they could).
First, we’re going to take the government’s $7,500 tax credit for the Volt into account. GM doesn’t yet know how this is going to work with financing. It’s possible that they’ll write up two loans, one of which being a $7,500 loan at 0% interest… which would be due upon receiving your tax refund check. That would keep the loan for the car, separate from the loan for the tax credit.
The price is now $32,750. How do we get to $28,000? Cash for clunkers.
Cash for Clunkers (you may have heard of it in the past) is a government welfare program, aimed at getting clunkers off the road, to cut pollution. It uses about $4 billion of that $787 billion TARP bailout (which again, was for banks… to save the economy… from evil, dirty, inequitable capitalism…). Basically, it requires that you have a car which gets an EPA city/highway combined estimate of under 18 miles per gallon.
Plus, the new car has to be under $45,000. That’s fine for the entry-level Volt buyer, but options can easily push the price tag up a few thousand. Be careful, I doubt dealers will negotiate on a car that, if there was a sales line for early-adopters, would resemble an iPhone launch.
Oh, and the clunker has to be registered for over a year. That means if you have a car collecting dust, now is the time to pay a few hundred bucks and get it registered. I can’t promise the law won’t change in Congress before it’s passed, but as it stands now, all the car has to be is registered for 365 days.
So, when it comes time to buy the Volt… well, there’s a problem there too. See, Cash for Clunkers only lasts for a year, from when it is signed into law. Let’s say it gets signed into law in two months (it could get passed sooner, or later). That’s mid-August. How many Volts are going to be in-stores in mid-August 2010? Zero. No, GM doesn’t expect to have them shipped to customers until late Q4. And those will sell out almost instantly. Most people who want Volts, will have to wait until 2011 for their orders to be filled.
That’s the one unknown about Cash for Clunkers. If we “buy” a car, which hasn’t been built yet, does the program apply? Or, do we have to actually take ownership of the car within the program’s period… in order to get the discount? I think this will depend on how much GM pushes for it. Remember, the car makers support this program because they claim it will help sell new cars. But if the world’s first mass-production electric car can’t benefit from the program, then this is just going to push people into cars on the lots right now.
In fact, GM had better be careful with Cash for Clunkers. Let’s say the bill gets tweaked, and the Volt is somehow exempted. If I can get $4,500 now for my clunker, I might as well go get a Kia (from the car company for hamsters), and get the Volt after that car dies. Why waste a $4,500
bailout credit welfare check, especially when the Volt will only go down in cost later on?