Volt vs. Prius: What's the better deal?

Discussion in 'Off-topic Zone' started by Doomsday101, Aug 14, 2009.

  1. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Volt may get 230 miles per gallon, and GM says it will cost only 40 cents to charge up the car from a regular household outlet. But guess what...it still might not be worth it to buy one.

    The problem: You might not save enough on fuel costs to compensate for the likely higher sticker price.

    The Volt is designed to go 40 miles on battery power alone. Since most people drive 40 miles or less a day, according to the Transportation Department, most Volt owners wouldn't need a drop of gas for daily driving.

    But even if GM is able to live up to that promise, a couple of things have to happen for the Volt to beat out traditional gas-powered vehicles on cost, let alone other fuel efficient vehicles, such as the hybrid Toyota Prius.

    First, GM will have to price the car far less than it costs to build it, a subsidy that the still financially troubled automaker could have trouble affording.

    Second, gasoline prices will need to go higher and stay higher.

    The Prius, with its own price premium, doesn't always make economic sense compared to some cheap gas-only models. That price difference hasn't stopped it from becoming a sales success.

    Concerns about where gas prices might go in the future, and the desire of a growing number of consumers to drive a "green" vehicle will likely support demand for the Volt, especially given GM's modest initial sales goals. But it's likely most Volt buyers aren't likely to save money by kicking the gasoline habit.

    How the Volt stacks up against the Prius
    Here's how the math works out.

    The Transportation Department says three out of four drivers drive 40 miles a day or less, most drivers wouldn't use the gasoline engine at all, and could get by on electricity only.

    The Volt will use normal household outlets and would charge overnight. GM's CEO Fritz Henderson said it might cost consumers in Detroit paying off-peak rates only 40 cents to recharge the vehicle. But relatively few utilities offer off-peak residential rates. The battery needs about 8 kilowatts hours to recharge, and most consumers would pay about 11 cents a kilowatt hour, or 88 cents. During the course of year, that means a typical Volt owners' electrical bill would increase by $321.

    In contrast, the hybrid Prius' electric motor is charged from the excess energy thrown off by the gasoline engine, as well as the energy generated from braking the vehicle.

    The electric motor powers the car at low speeds. The gas engine generally takes over on the highway and during fast acceleration or uphill driving. That allows it to get an average of 50 miles to the gallon.

    Driving a typical 14,000 miles a year, or 38 miles a day, the Prius would use about 280 gallons of gasoline.

    With gas at its current price of about $2.65 a gallon, that would come to about $742 a year in gas, or $421 more than the Volt owners would pay if they can stick with electricity.

    Even if gas goes back to the record high of $4.11 and stays there, gassing up a Prius would cost about $1,150 a year, giving the Volt an $830 a year cost savings.

    But a Prius costs $25,428, on average, according to sales data from Edmunds.com, while GM will probably have to spend $40,000 or more to build each Volt.

    While Volt buyers will get a $7,500 tax credit that reduces the still undisclosed purchase price by that amount, the fact is that GM will have to subsidize much of the remaining $7,000 difference in cost to make it competitive with the Prius.

    At current gas prices, the $421 a year savings over a period of six years that a new car is typically owned, would mean that a Volt would only be cost competitive with a Prius if was about $34,500 before the tax credit.

    That means GM would have to take about a $5,500 loss on each Volt if it is to be strictly competitive.

    If you assume modest sales of 20,000 Volts the first year, that would mean about $110 million in additional losses for the cash-strapped automaker.

    Even if you assume a worst case scenario of $5 average price for a gallon of gas over those eight years, it's only worth it to pay a $4,300 premium for a Volt after the tax credit. But that would reduce the loss that GM would need to take on each vehicle by $2,600 to be competitive.

    0:00 /5:52GM launches auto 'space race'
    But the Prius itself, and many other hybrids, aren't cost competitive with many gas powered cars. The Prius costs about $6,000 more than the average compact car, according to Edmunds data. If you compare the cost of operating a Prius to a 25 mpg compact car, which is on the low side of that class, you find a savings of about $750 a year for the Prius over the gas burner. And that would mean it only makes sense to spend about $3,500 more for a Prius, not $6,000.

    Of course higher gas prices can make the Prius more cost competitive with its cheaper gas-only competitors. Driving more city miles can also increase the cost advantage for a Prius. That's a cost advantage that doesn't necessarily work for the Volt because the additional miles for the Volt use gasoline, not electricity, to fuel the car.

    But the Prius has become a sales success, with U.S. sales reaching a record 181,221 in 2007, before slipping 12% last year as auto sales overall plunged. So it's not impossible that the Volt could become a sales success, even if the strict dollar analysis does not work out for it.

    First Published: August 14, 2009: 5:24 AM ET

  2. theogt

    theogt Surrealist Zone Supporter

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    People buy a Prius to be cost effective just like they buy a Mac to be a stable computer. In other words, it's an excuse to be a douchebag.
  3. Temo

    Temo Well-Known Member

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    The better deal is a bicycle.

    It'll help you live longer too. Well, unless you're biking on the highway. Then all the smog and reckless drivers will do you in.
  4. xWraithx

    xWraithx Benched

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    they're both hideous looking so... neither.
  5. Sam I Am

    Sam I Am Unfriendly and Aloof!

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    I think the Hummer H1 is the best deal. Like theogt says, only douchbags by a Prius or Apple products. :laugh2:
  6. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    Dude I'll anytime a volt owner want to race me in my Prius bring it on. :laugh2:
  7. Kangaroo

    Kangaroo Active Member

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    The Pirus because the Volt is owned by Government Motors and will be out of business again soon and Toyota makes a better car than Government Motors
  8. ologan

    ologan Well-Known Member

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    I don't own a "hybrid",so I don't know if this is true,but it's my understanding that should you have a problem with the battery,i guess after warranty expires,then it costs like the devil to fix them. I've also heard that standard maintenance inspections on the things can also be quite costly. I can only imagine what it will be like for a Volt.
  9. masomenos

    masomenos Less is more

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  10. big dog cowboy

    big dog cowboy THE BIG DOG Staff Member

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  11. Yeagermeister

    Yeagermeister Active Member

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    Ford Expedition :D
  12. Jon88

    Jon88 Benched

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    The Hummer
  13. CowboysFan02

    CowboysFan02 Degree or Bust

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    I don't know ******-bags aren't limited to the Prius or Apple products, most people who drive hummers ten to be pretty douchey too. Taking up multiple parking spaces, driving slowly in the fast or carpool lane. Cutting people off and not speeding up.
  14. Heisenberg

    Heisenberg That gum you like.

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    The Prius I would agree with, but the Volt actually looks pretty cool to me.



    Not so ugly:

  15. Sam I Am

    Sam I Am Unfriendly and Aloof!

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    I don't drive a Hummer. I was just making a joke about gas milage. Actually, I have an LR3 which isn't much better! :laugh2:
  16. Kangaroo

    Kangaroo Active Member

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    That is because most of them do not drive a real hummer; come on they are now Hummer shell on a SUV body anything but an H1 is a knock off and a rip off and those people should be laughed out for not knowing better.

    By the way the Hummer even Military Model has always taken up two parking spots they are to wide something like 8ft across (I can vouge for this when I tried to park it in a normal spot and a creased door later :yourock:). Anyways if you ever look at a Military Hummer they all have a grill that you pull a bolt to lower to get to the engine. The original ones did not have this want they found out was the passenger side right corner is a blind spot for the driver because they are so wide so they added the grill so you can see.

    They are dam fun to drive in the mud; I want a military 4 seat (not the armored one) with a snorkel kit (That would also make it diesel)
  17. Sam I Am

    Sam I Am Unfriendly and Aloof!

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    My brother in law was driving one when he was in the Texas National Guard. A cop pulled him over for speeding, and his commanding officer was in the hummer with him. The officer said he clocked him going 70mph and his commanding officer flat told him he did not. The officer looked at him funny and his commanding officer told the cop why he didn't. (radar absorbing paint)

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