2016 Chevy Volt PHEV – Price Reduced, but Is that Enough?

Written By: Assen Gueorguiev

There is no question the 2016 Chevy Volt PHEV is one of the most anticipated green cars this year, in both the US and Canada. Earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show, Chevrolet announced most of the key tech details, but not surprisingly left us guessing on the price.

The cost of the base model has just been released and in case you want to make this your next vehicle, you can now start saving. Here are the details:

  • 2016 Chevy Volt (Base Model) - $33,995 MSRP

  • Price After $7,500 Federal Tax Credit – $26,495

  • Here’s how the price compares to other plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles in the same class:

    • 2015 Chevy Volt PHEV - $34,170 (with 37 miles in all-electric mode)

    • 2015 Nissan LEAF BEV  - $29,010 (can go 81 miles on battery)

    • 2015 Toyota Prius PHEV – $29,990 (with only 11 miles in all-electric mode)

    • 2015 Ford Focus BEV - $29,170 (can go about 80 miles on battery)

    • 2015 Ford C-MAX Energi PHEV - $31,770 (with 20 miles in all-electric mode)

As a reminder, the next generation of the 2016 Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid is expected to hit the dealerships this fall.

The news was both sweet and sour. Many welcomed the price reduction, while others hoped the base model will be even cheaper… just below $30,000. It is inevitable… there will be other price cuts down the road. They’ll be driven by many factors - supply and demand, sales numbers, federal and local incentives, and most importantly the competition.

The Good:

This may definitely be Chevy’s lucky year. If it plays its cards right, it will have a competitive advantage for a short while. That advantage will be driven by its range and fuel efficiency – 50 miles on battery and 41 MPG when running on gasoline. These are numbers that hardly anyone else will be able to match this year! For most commuters, that would be sufficient to drive only on electricity for 95% of the time.

Let’s also refresh our memory on a few other key things the new 2016 Chevy Volt PHEV will offer:

  • 18.14 kWh battery (up from 17.1 kWh)

  • 1.5 liter, 4 cylinder gas engine

  • 0 to 30 in 2.6 seconds and 0 to 60 in 8.4 (19% and 7% improvements respectively)

  • Regen On Demand  - will allow the drive to control the regenerative braking

  • Finally a 5th seat (previously occupied by the T-shaped battery)

  • An additional 8 inch display with customizable controls for a personal dashboard layout

  • And last but not least, a more appealing and aerodynamic design that was inspired by Corvette, the bodies of athletes and wind-swept sand

The Bad:

The truth is, there’s really no perfect vehicle that meets everyone’s needs and there will never be. We all have our needs and preferences, and what may seem beautiful to some of us, can be less appealing to others.

With this in mind, let’s go through some of the areas where the 2016 Chevy Volt missed the mark:

  • Even though the new Volt can now fit 5, the back row is definitely not roomy and is more suitable for kids

  • The trunk remains unchanged at 10.6 cubic feet, which is not quite enough for those who like to travel

  • The price is higher than most green vehicles in the same class and definitely higher than the gasoline ones

It’s not a secret that many wish this was a more affordable, more roomy family car. One that would finally meet this huge gap the market has had for a while. Many consumers are torn between small somewhat impractical green vehicles, and hard to afford luxury PHEVs with not so decent all-electric ranges (Porsche, Mercedes, BMW). We all wonder, who will finally close that gap?

In the meantime, there’s no question the Volt, LEAF and others in this class will meet the needs of the younger generation, those with smaller families and even the ones looking for a 2nd commuter vehicle. If you drive more than 20,000 miles each year, the savings from fuel and maintenance will definitely make up for the higher price.

And let’s have a quick reality check. Many will get this vehicle not because of the money it saves them, but because of its low emissions and the impact on the environment.

Quiet Before the Storm?

Even though many avoid comparing BEVs and PHEVs, we all know that the Volt’s biggest competition has been the Nissan LEAF. Nissan has yet to play its final card and reveal official details on the next generation of the all-electric LEAF. If they want to keep their market share, they’ll definitely have to act fast, offer a competitive price, keep the design appealing and the body roomy, and most importantly bump the battery range from the current 81 miles (2015 model) to at least 120.

How about Tesla? When the Model 3 finally hits the market in 2017 (let’s hope), without doubt it will pose a direct threat to the Chevy Volt. But 2 years is a long long period, and rest assured, the volt will be even better by then. The ball is definitely in Tesla’s court, as everyone is expecting them to deliver a cutting edge, yet affordable all-electric vehicle.

Would you give the 2016 Chevy PHEV a try, or would you rather go with a different green vehicle?