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Bill Roth headshot

The Volt Is Electric Luxury At Chevy Prices

Words by Bill Roth

The second generation of the electric Chevrolet Volt is a game changer. It drives like a luxury car. It is priced like a Chevy. It is a plug-in electric vehicle that accelerates quietly, smoothly and quickly.

Oh, by the way … it also achieves approximately 100 miles per gallon in city driving. The Volt is a low-emissions technology solution to urban pollution. If you need to go further than its 53 miles of electric range from a fully-charged battery, then it has an onboard gasoline engine using regular unleaded gasoline to achieve a driving range of more than 300 miles.

GM loaned me a Volt for week to test-drive it. This first article profiles my initial reactions and that of selected friends and professional associates.

Volt challenges luxury cars at half the price

Tesla is the No. 1 selling luxury car in America. Reflect on that for a moment. An electric car with zero tailpipe emissions is outselling the top luxury models from Mercedes Benz, BMW, Audi and Lexus. Sustainability is now cool! Tesla also proves that sustainability can be a sales winner.

The Chevy Volt is a challenge to the definition of a luxury car. It looks expensive. I interviewed about a dozen people during my first day with the Volt. “I was not prepared to like the Volt. It looks great,” is one women’s feedback that summarizes a common response. For all the social media buzz questioning its style, the in-person impression is that this is a good-looking, no it is an expensive-looking, car.

“I can feel a G-force during acceleration,” is how an engineering friend of mine reacted to driving the Volt. If you think electric cars are slow just because they are fuel efficient, then you have this impression only because you have not driven one. They get up and go at the speed of electrons. The Volt handles confidently and smartly. It is a joy to drive.

My first reaction behind the wheel was how quiet and smooth it was. This is not an eco car with a motor that strains to accelerate or a bouncy ride. The Volt is a fun-driving luxury car that also gets up to 100 miles per gallon in city driving.

The Volt costs less, means more

Chevy has got a problem. It created a very attractive luxury car with a Chevy brand. It is pricing Volts at around the average new car price of $33,000. My test model is fully loaded with every conceivable feature you can find in a luxury car. Its sticker price is $40,000. These prices are before electric-vehicle tax credits from federal and state governments. I've seen Volt lease offers of less than $269 per month posted on social media.

The green economic revolution’s core concept is that American businesses will figure out how to deliver more sustainable products that cost less. The latest generation of the Volt is a manifestation of this 21st-century mega-trend. It is a technology so pioneering and valuable that GM may license the technology to other car manufacturers. Volt’s technology delivers great performance at a competitive price while also slashing tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil-fueled cars.

American made. Luxury feel. Enjoyable performance. A hundred miles per gallon in city driving. The Chevy Volt proves that sustainability can deliver triple-bottom-line results in terms of economic competitiveness, job creation, and human health and environmental benefits.

Cruising Southern California in a Volt

My next articles will profile my experience driving a Volt. I have trips planned for the beaches of San Diego, Oceanside Harbor, lunch on the pier in San Clemente, and a 200-mile round trip to Palm Springs. Who said sustainability can’t be fun?
Bill Roth headshotBill Roth

Bill Roth is a cleantech business pioneer having led teams that developed the first hydrogen fueled Prius and a utility scale, non-thermal solar power plant. Using his CEO and senior officer experiences, Roth has coached hundreds of CEOs and business owners on how to develop and implement projects that win customers and cut costs while reducing environmental impacts. As a professional economist, Roth has written numerous books including his best selling The Secret Green Sauce (available on Amazon) that profiles proven sustainable best practices in pricing, marketing and operations. His most recent book, The Boomer Generation Diet (available on Amazon) profiles his humorous personal story on how he used sustainable best practices to lose 40 pounds and still enjoy Happy Hour!

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