Monday, December 30, 2013

Conversations with friends are already interesting!

I have mentioned to a few people that I ordered a Volt and already the conversations are getting interesting! Firstly everyone is impressed with the price. The $7865 "instant government rebate" is a shocker to everyone I have spoken too. This brings the price of the Volt in line with other hybrids although I still think it is different car than the Ford C-Max plugin or the Toyota Prius Plug-in. Both of the latter cars are much bigger (seat 5) and play a different game with their smaller EV-only ranges but much better fuel economy. I think more competition is better, which is probably one of the reasons why the Volt got a near $5000 price reduction a couple of months ago.

Another interesting topic is the warranty, particularly for the battery pack. The 3-year OnStar subscription is a nice bonus, as well as the 5 years of Roadside Assistance (8 years if the issue is related to a hybrid component!). I always had a CAA membership (AAA for our neighbors to the south) so I guess I can cancel it once I get the Volt. 7 years of rust warranty is amazing but it is rare for a car to rust all the way through (even up here in Montreal) within the warranty. Surface rust is always a problem (especially for Mazdas it seems!) but a full hole right through the metal is rare. Still, 7 years is better than the 5 I typically see. The 8-years/160,000km Hybrid/Volt warranty covers the following (taken from the Chevrolet Canada website):

Hybrid Components
  • First 8 years or 160,000 km, whichever comes first, coverage against defects in material or workmanship.
  • During the Hybrid warranty period, towing is covered to the nearest Chevrolet servicing dealer if your vehicle cannot be driven because of a warranted Hybrid specific defect. Contact the GM Roadside Assistance Centre for towing.
  • What’s covered: Transmission, brake modulator assembly, hybrid battery, and 300-volt electrical system. See owner’s manual for details.
 and specific to the Volt:
Volt battery and VoltecTM Component Limited Warranty

  • First 8 years or 160,000 km, whichever comes first.
  • Covers 161 battery components in addition to the thermal management system, charging system and electric drive components.

That's a serious warranty but a little light on the details. Does this cover a decrease in range after so many years? A friend of mine also asked what happens if there is an issue with the battery pack when the warranty is over. How much is a battery pack going to cost if we replace it? This would definitely have an impact on the fuel savings accumulated over the years if a pack costs many thousands to replace. So far I hear that the Toyota Prius battery packs are working pretty much flawlessly even after many many years of usage so let's hope it translates to the Volt! The same friend recommended I sell the Volt at 7 years to avoid a massive drop in value because of the unknown in the costs of replacing the battery pack. This is a valid worry, however seeing how the Volt has already dropped so much in price, the battery pack costs can only get cheaper over the years. It doesn't seem to affect the resale value of the Prius either. I am hoping that in the future the range can be increased within the same battery-pack dimensions we have now. 

One thing is for sure, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE wants to go for a ride in the Volt! It is a unique experience from the test drive I had so I can't wait to share it with everyone. I watched a number of Youtube reviews on the Volt and it is unanimous that the Volt is an excellent car, not "just a Cruze with batteries" but a very good handling, smooth-driving car. And ultra quiet of course. I will ping the sales representative next week to see where the Volt is on the assembly line. I wish GM had a way for us buyers to check without having to bother our sales rep all the time. Maybe they can create an App for it hehe.

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