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How to buy a Chevy Volt for the price of a new Kia Optima

When Al Shirley, 66, brought his Buick Lacross for a routine service he didn't know he would end up buying a Chevy Volt, but the 99 MPG on the EV's window sticker left him amazed.

I am 66 years old and have been retired from the Air National Guard since 2004. I live near a lake in Midwestern Mn. The closest city, Fargo, ND, is about 60 miles away. Most of our shopping can be done in smaller area towns, all within 20 miles of my home.

My wife and I brought our 2005 Buick Lacrosse to a Chevrolet/Buick dealership for routine service. We got a cup of coffee and walked over to the new car showroom. Outside the showroom, we spotted an interesting looking car and saw the window sticker said 99 mpg. What? A salesman came out and told us a little about the car and asked if we wanted to take it for a drive? With time to kill, we said sure. It was sporty and fun to drive and the estimated combo mileage figure was still dancing in our heads, but the 43k sticker price pretty much spoiled the party.

When we returned the car, the salesman told us about the 7500.00 tax credit for plug- in cars. We had told the salesman in the beginning that we were just in for service and we had worked with another salesman on our previous Buick purchase. We thanked him and went home.

We had been pricing out KIA Optimas, Honda Accords and even a Hyundai hybrid, but were wanting to wait till wife retired at the end of the year. The wife’s retirement was going to require partially getting a “lump sum” payment and we were concerned about taxes. Tax credit you say? Then 2013 Volt prices dropped 5k because the 2014 Volt sticker prices dropped 5k.

Then GM had another 500.00 end of the year clearance incentive. So 43,000, minus 5000, minus 7500 (tax credit), minus 500 equals 30,000 dollars.

Thus, I worked up a figure which included throwing in a 500 dollar 240 volt home-charger and a little more from the dealer and they accepted the offer. Now we were in the price range of Kia Optima's etc. Funny, I jumped into the 21st century by purchasing an electric car and an iPhone on the same day. What was next, a color TV?

I have had the 2013 Chevrolet Volt (review) since Sept of 2013. I have put on about 3500 miles. Lifetime mpg is about 72 mpg. I was 150 mpg plus all fall until the MN winter took it's toll. Driving around in minus 10 to minus 30 degrees takes its toll as the gasoline generator will kick in from time to time to help keep things warm and defrosted. I feel just terrible when I have been on a short trip and only achieve 60 mpg. Can’t wait till spring and summer when I see that 250+ mpg display on my trips of 40 miles or less.

Volt Owner Shares Tips for Driving Chevy Volt in Winter

No problems whatsoever with the car so far. This car is not for everyone, but for more people than you would think. Chevy needs to advertise more and get butts in the seat for a test drive. We love it!

Charging Experience: I have only charged the car outside my home about three times. First time I was staying at a hotel in Fargo in November. I asked the desk clerk if the block heater receptacles were on and he said they were. I tried to plug in but got no indicator light in the car that said it was charging. I had never recharged on 110/115 before so thought maybe there was something wrong with my cord as I had the same problem at my son’s house. Tried 110 when I got home and everything was fine. Was at same hotel a week later and I told the desk clerk that his outlets didn’t work. He got the manager and he went out and tested outlets and found out a whole bunch of them didn’t work, told me which ones that did and put in a work order for an electrician in the morning.

May I Plug in My Electric Car, Please?

A few weeks ago we went to a casino in SD for a concert. Checked into hotel and plugged into a block heater outlet. A railroad guy who had stayed at the hotel the night before said that someone had tried that outlet before and it didn’t work. I said my car says it’s working and we left it at that. About an hour later, I got a call from the desk and she asked if I had some kind of a hybrid or plug-in car? I said we did and she said the maintenance guy had seen it plugged in but had a report that the outlet didn’t work so I should use the next one. I told her it was working fine. Only in a smaller town can you check into a hotel, not record your car's make and model at check in and still get a call, watching out for you. Later we drove about 20 miles to the casino and low and behold, found block heater outlets at their hotel so picked up a few more miles of charge. Then returned to the hotel and plugged in and left in the morning with a full charge.

Written by Al Shirley


Goat Rancher (not verified)    February 4, 2014 - 7:42PM

I bought a 2012 Volt and 20 months later, it has 20,600 miles on it. It has driven onto a gas station twice in it's life. The first stop at a gas station was about 6 months after I bought it, and I only stopped at the station to buy some green tea because I was thirsty. The second time my Volt pulled into a gas station was on day 367 after I drove it off the lot. This was the first time I popped the gas cap and bought gas and it took less than 8 gallons.

I love to boast about my Volt and bash General Motors at the same time. When GM built the Volt, they produced a masterpiece, however their MESSAGE is a MESS. And as exampled by Al Shirley above, he had no idea about this amazing car, and it was just a fluke that he walked onto a dealer's lot and a salesman was able to tell him more about the Volt.

GM does no advertising about this car. Their message is non-existent. And ironically, since this car is so advanced and unique, GM needs to hire a "story teller" to explain the many virtues because this car is so different than anything else on the road.

I'm 62 years old and from the same generation as Al Shirley, and folks like me probably are not "up-to-speed" on new vehicles these days. And Baby Boomers like me and Al Shirley, probably when they hear something about a car that runs on electricity, think back to golf carts and lousy experiences they have had with them... Thus, the fact that they MIGHT have heard about the Chevy Volt (fat chance they have because GM does not ADVERTISE) the Volt is discounted in the mind of older buyers because of the fact that it seems a tad more complicated and reminds them of old golf carts they might have driven.

The Volt is perfect for people like me and Al Shirley... I don't need to haul a mess of kids around, nor passengers. The fact that the back seats are cramped is totally inconsequential to me and a heck of a lot of other people in this world. If you need something for a car pool or hauling kids to soccer games, the Volt is a lousy choice... If you need to haul goat food, it is excellent (well, I actually haul goat food in the back of my Volt, because it is a lot more fun than driving my 4x4 longbed pickup. The Volt is a total joy to drive.

And in the 20,600 miles I've driven my Volt, it has been powered by electrons made from many thousands and thousands of wind turbines here in Texas. Hardly a dime has left my pocket and left the United States on it's way to the middle east, where Americans export $400 BILLION per year of our wealth, to countries who basically don't like us. (Google "state sponsored terrorism" and see what you find.)

As a war veteran, I am totally repulsed that we as a nation send our youth off to war, in order to keep crude oil flowing out of OPEC countries. Thousands of young men and women have been killed in the nation's longest war, basically for the sake of keeping the spigots open in the middle east. And for the young people who managed to come back from these recent wars, thousands and thousands of them who were injured, maimed and disabled, will have their lives impacted forever, and more funding will need to be channeled to the VA in order to assist them with their physical and mental needs.

As a right-winger and fiscal conservative (who understands how expensive our addiction to oil is) I'm appalled at Fox News for their unfair treatment of alternative powered vehicles, of which the Volt seems to be at the top of their list. (Oh, my "war background" I had a college deferment in 1970 when I immediately enrolled in college, however I elected to join the Army and volunteer for service in Vietnam... Rush Limbaugh avoided serving in the military as did Bill O'Reily, Glenn Beck, Neil Cavuto and there are many more...

My wife and I have two ranches here in Texas. The oil is long gone yet here in Texas the wind has blown and the sun has shined long since before Europeans came here, and the wind and sun shall continue for God only knows how long. And the fact that we can utilize renewable energy like this, to lessen our consumption of foreign import of crude oil (and stop the flow of American wealth out of this nation) I have to wonder what part of "this" Fox News and extreme right-wingers can not figure out.

(There, I said it and I feel a whole lot better now :)

Lewis Pinch (not verified)    February 15, 2014 - 1:58PM

In reply to by Goat Rancher (not verified)

Ghost rancher has it right. GM has done a crappy job in advertising the Volt. I am averaging about 100 mpg over the last year despite the cold weather and going on two 1000mile trips. I am going to write to the new lady at the head of GM tomorrow!

Tim Esterdahl (not verified)    February 4, 2014 - 8:05PM

The more stories I hear like this, the more I wonder if "range anxiety" is real or simply a myth. If you told me someone was going to buy a Volt in a remote area of the country, I would have laughed at you. Yet, this guy has made it happen. While he states the Kia was about the same price, the real cost of ownership is a lot, lot better.

Ira Watson (not verified)    February 5, 2014 - 2:06PM

In reply to by Tim Esterdahl (not verified)

Tim, your comment proves the point made earlier that very few people know anything at all about this wonderful car. There is no range anxiety for owners of the Chevrolet Volt. I charge my car at night. Each morning when I leave home I can travel the first part of my day on electric power only. This range varies depending on temperature, type of driving (highway speeds or city street speeds) and use of accessories (primarily climate control). My personal range varies from a low of 20 miles in this cold weather (I like to crank the heat). to a high of 40 in the summer. Part of my daily commute is 70 mph on the freeway but many owners who commute at lower speeds report ranges in the mid 40's to near 50. In the summer I can complete my daily commute without using any gas. In the winter or on a long trip, the Volt's gasoline engine/generator comes on automatically to supply power. At this point the car burns gas just like every other car providing zero range anxiety. My lifetime average is 146 mpg and I have taken several trips in my car of 250 and even 400 miles. I could even drive coast to coast in my Volt stopping at gas stations to re-fuel just like any other vehicle.

Goat Rancher (not verified)    February 15, 2014 - 4:24PM

In reply to by Ira Watson (not verified)

I think, for the purpose of killing the myth that a Volt has range limitations, I'll jump in my Volt on the two year anniversary of my ownership, and head up from the isolated spot here in Texas where I live and drive up to Idaho where my cousin lives. He was a buffalo rancher up there (no bull) and the roads I'll have to drive, there are few places to charge in the backwoods area from here to Boise, Idaho. I might even install an HD camera and make a movie and then post it to www (dot) AskMeAboutMyVolt (dot) com. If I can find my John McCain for President bumper sticker, I'll put it on the back of my Volt just so thick-skulled people will no that Republicans are not only buying and loving their Volts, but are laughing all the way to the bank because the darned things are so inexpensive to drive. Oh, I might make a bumper sticker reading "I had a college deferment just like Bill O'Reily and Rush Limbaugh, but I postponed my college education and JOINED the military to serve in Vietnam, and they hid behind their mothers skirts. (Sorry for my rant, but I'm pissed about there things in this world - Chickenhawk Republicans -- United Auto Workers Union (not now, but for what the did to sabotage cars when they were spoiled, fat and lazy in the 1970s -- and OPEC (for whom I have a bumper sticker on the back of my Volt that reads "Hey OPEC. Kiss My Gas Cap! I drive a Chevrolet Volt."
(Oh, I guess there are four things I'm mad about... #4, the fact that General Motors is keeping the Volt darned near as secret as Area 51. Hey, GM do some darned ADVERTISING...

Ray Maes (not verified)    February 7, 2014 - 4:42PM

I agree 100 % of what you have mentioned, I too am a Volt owner (2012) and I also enjoy it myself, my MPG is 111, and I am 72 years old, I hope I hear from you someday, take csre, and goodluck

Ray M.