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Adding the 2013 Chevy Volt to a Solar-Powered Home

After a full year of using solar electricity in our home, my family took the next step over the holiday weekend and bought a plug-in electric vehicle. While running errands, we passed a local dealer to test-drive the only 2013 Chevrolet Volt (GM) on the lot and ended up driving it home a few hours later. Earlier this month, I noted that we were considering such a move because our 41 rooftop solar panels had generated 6207 kilowatt hours of excess electricity.

My wife and I both work from home, so even though we can certainly rack up miles on our vehicles, most travel is short-range. Still, we didn’t want to go completely electric for our next car because we occasionally like to take trips to New York, Baltimore, and Washington, all of which are at least 100 miles away.

Courtesy General MotorsHow much did our Chevy Volt cost? I shared the details and costs of our solar panel project, so it makes sense to cover the Volt financials, too. The car still qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax credit, which can help offset some of the expense. That’s good because the base 2013 Volt starts at $39,145. Our particular vehicle has a few options—alloy wheels, a rear camera, sensors for front parking assistance, and a forward collision alert camera—bringing the manufacturer’s suggested retail price to $41,935, including destination charge.

For a few reasons, we opted to lease the vehicle, so we won’t get the direct tax-credit benefit. Instead, the dealer gets the credit and can apply some of it to reduce the leasing costs. Since the Volt doesn’t have a long history of proven technology, we opted to work with the dealer on the lease and after applying some equity on our trade-in, our total payment, including tax, is $301 per month for 36 months. We also got a 4000-watt gas generator from the dealer, which was a Thanksgiving weekend perk, so now we’re really ready for the next big storm.

Ultimately, we paid nothing out-of-pocket because of our trade-in and various incentives that GM and Ally Bank currently offer. We also opted for 15,000 miles per year—which raises the monthly cost—because the Volt will be our primary vehicle. A further $6 of the monthly payment extends the 36,000 mile warranty to our potential 45,000 miles. (Bear in mind that any particular deal you work out on a Volt will likely vary from ours; I’m simply trying to provide an idea as to what it might cost.)

Is the Volt efficient? Obviously, it’s too soon to say how efficient the car will be. So far, I’m impressed. During the first 73.2 miles we drove, the car used 0.4 gallons of gas once the battery was depleted. Note that this data is for two days and the battery was recharged once; GM says you should expect about 38 miles of driving on the battery before the gas generator kicks in.
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