The Chevy Volt is a hybrid electric plug-in vehicle that is EPA-rated between 38 and 53 miles of all electric range when new, depending on model year. It was designed to be an affordable, everyday car. It runs exclusively on electric energy until the battery is low enough to kick off a gasoline motor that recharges the battery. This hybrid engine configuration is referred to as a "series" hybrid, and the Volt was the first such hybrid made by a major automotive company. It has won multiple awards and is credited with helping to bring electric cars to the mainstream.
When the first Volt rolled off the production line in the end of 2010, it had a modest all electric range of 35 miles. By 2013, the EPA had recertified the first generation Volt at 38 miles all electric. It had a single redesign in 2016, with production models of the updated version available only in zero-emissions states that adhered to the California Air Resource Board (CARB) standards. In 2017, the second generation Volt was available across the country with 53 miles of electric range and a combined range of 420 miles.
GM decided to decommission the Volt in 2019 as part of a larger strategic move away from the sedan body type and towards full electric vehicles. Reportedly, the hybrid engine was expensive to produce and despite the Volt's mass appeal, it never saw enough profit to continue it.
The Volt is available in two trims: the LT and Premier. These are the same trim levels offered on the Chevy Bolt. The two trims have identical performance and engines, and differ mostly in accessories. However, only the Premier model offers driver assist features such as blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alerts, forward collision warning, automatic low-speed emergency braking, lane departure intervention, and adaptive headlights. All the other features that come standard with the Premier - Bose speakers, heated seats and wheel, leather interior, faster on-board charger - can be purchased as bundles or add-ons to the LT trim. Note that exact features and options depend on model year.
Chevy considers the Volt an extended range electric, but it is commonly referred to a “series” hybrid, meaning that it runs on exclusively electric energy until the battery is depleted, after which a gasoline motor powers the battery. The Volt also has regenerative braking to help recharge the battery while driving.
The Volt will also run with both electric and gas engines at high speeds or if the car is really heavy - whenever some extra power is required. Old Volts will also occasionally switch on gas mode to use up old fuel that may not be used in all-electric mode.
Range is defined as how many miles a car can go when fully fueled. For an electric car, this means when the battery is fully charged and for a gas car, when the tank is full. For a hybrid, range is measured when both the battery and tank are full. Factors like outside temperature, driving conditions, and driving style can affect the efficiency and energy needs of the car. So, while the EPA rates vehicles with a single "range," this number is really an estimate under a set of highly controlled conditions. Short term range changes tend to reflect external factors, while permanent range effects point to vehicle degradation and age.
The range that a car can see on any given drive is a complex mix of short and long term effects. Battery powered cars are most efficient when the temperature is warm, terrain is flat or downhill, and the car can use its regenerative braking feature to recharge the battery. Meanwhile, gas cars are most efficient on highways. In the Chevy Volt, we've observed that the all electric range can drop around 15 miles in the cold (just under 30%) and around 7 miles in the heat (around 13%). Recurrent is not able to observe the effect of temperature on gas-powered efficiency.
Read more about how temperature affects range.
The Chevy Volt has been on the road since 2011 so it is a rare case of an electric vehicle that has seen its tenth birthday. This means that there are ten year old Volts that we can observe and learn from.
In the Recurrent data set, we track the maximum achievable range at 100% charge for vehicles in different locations and conditions. We have seen vehicles with a maximum range as low as 19 miles and as high as 86 miles - far above the EPA rating on the newest Volt. Of course, older vehicles have lower original range estimates and generally lower current ranges, as their battery capacity declines with age and use. First generation vehicles, from 2011 to 2015, tend to have used ranges between 19 and 56 miles. Second generation Volts, from 2016 to 2019, generally have used ranges close to their original EPA rated 53 miles, with variation from 19 to 86 miles.
The main ways to measure vehicle efficiency, or energy use per distance traveled, are MPGe and miles/kWh. You may see these values on new car stickers or on dealer listings. Since the Chevy Volt is a hybrid, it has two separate MPGe ratings: one for its electric efficiency and one for its gas efficiency. For electric, the MPGe is 94, 98, or 106, depending on model year, with efficiency improving with later models. The gas efficiency is 37 for first generation Volts and 42 for second generation. Miles per kWh is a measurement that only applies to electric cars, and the Chevy Volt has an average to high rating at 2.78 - 3.23 miles per kWh.
Our community of Volt drivers give their car a Charging Score of 3.91/5, meaning that most drivers are moderately satisfied with their charging experience. Most drivers report a preference to drive their Volts in all-electric mode, meaning that after 30-50 miles, they must recharge, While the Volt has a small enough battery to be charged using a standard, household 110V plug, this can take up to 12 hours. A level 2 charger can refill the Volt in 4-5 hours but is not strictly necessary for many drivers. Later year Volts have an optional, upgraded on-board charger, which cuts the charge time down to just over 2 hours.
Chevy Volts, like most hybrid cars, are not compatible with DC fast charging.
The Volt uses lithium ion batteries - a power dense, high voltage technology that works well for storing a lot of energy. Although the lithium ion batteries in an EV are much stronger and more durable than those in your phone or laptop, they will still start to lose power and capacity with age and use. Battery degradation happens because of two things:
a) the age of the battery (also known as 'calendar' aging)
b) how the battery is used, charged, and stored
Calendar aging is inevitable - it starts the moment a battery is made. However, there are things that can cause a battery to degrade faster. The way an EV is charged and stored will impact the rate of battery degradation, so there are ways for an EV owners to slow the process. This discussion is covered in a research article on battery degradation.
The battery size, or battery capacity, is measured in kWh. Since the Volt is a hybrid vehicle, it has a relatively small battery - between 16 and 18.4 kWh. After a certain percentage of the electricity in the battery is used to power the car, a gasoline motor switches on and recharges the battery for further use. Like other electric vehicles, the Volt also recaptures energy from regenerative braking.
One of the biggest benefits of having a smaller battery is that it can be recharged using a standard home plug, the same as you would use for a TV or blender. The downside is needing to refuel more frequently to avoid using the gas engine.
Chevy offers an 8 year, 100,000 mile warranty against defaults or extreme degradation in the high voltage battery. The expectated degradation over this period is between 10 and 40%.
This page shares Chevy Volt data collected from 66 drivers across the United States. Each of the 2.37 million miles driven helps to draw a picture of the driver experience. We polled our community to find out what they love and what they could leave with their vehicles.
Most liked features:
"It's been VERY low maintenance, and has been a great car for 8 years now."
"55 miles is more than I drive most days. Therefore I seldom use gas. I fill up twice a year. But I can drive worry free as far as I want."
"The performance in full electric mode is excellent, and GM did a great job matching electric and hybrid modes so that they don’t feel different. That’s not something other plug-in hybrid manufacturers have done well."
Room to improve:
"The fact that it is not 100% BEV. If they made the volt with a larger battery and no ICE power train at all, it would be the perfect car."
"Visibility isn’t great. The corners of the car are a mystery."
"Based on more modern electric vehicles, I wish it had a longer electric range, but the range has held up well over the years, so the range limitation was not a surprise or a new development."
The Green Score for the Volt is GOOD. When running as an all-electric car, it has no tailpipe emissions. However, the Volt does have a combustion engine that assists at high speeds and heavy loads. Additionally, older models of the Volt will occasionally switch to using gas in order to keep the engine clean.
If driving electric isn't enough for you, you can lower your environmental impact by buying used and avoiding the production and shipment of a brand new car. Finally, you can really up your green game by powering your EV with renewable energy for the ultimate clean machine.
The Chevy Volt was released as an affordable, economical hybrid car with original purchase price between $34,400 and $40,300 for the base level vehicle. Packages, options, and the Premier trim add to this MSRP. New Volts were also eligible for the $7,500 federal tax incentive through 2019 after Chevy hit 200,000 electric vehicles sold. This made it a very affordable hybrid electric vehicle and a great introduction to electric vehicles. Since the production of Volts ended in 2019, there are only used ones available for purchase today.
The affordability of the new Volt trickled down to the price of used Volts, which range from $4,000 at the very low end to around $43,000. Newer vehicles command a higher used price, as do add-ons and Premier trims. Most vehicles fall in the range of $10K - $30K.
Since the Volt is such an affordable car, it's cost per range mile is fairly low. For most used Volts, the cost per range mile will be between $28 and $71, while for some very inexpensive or very pricey vehicles, you'll see cost per range mile values between $11 and $102. Even looking at the extreme cases, the Volt is one of the most affordable options reviewed by Recurrent, as well as one of the most highly rated.
Recurrent uses data from the AFDC to determine the range of annual charging costs for the Volt, but since it is a hybrid, the fuel costs really depend on how much you need to charge and refuel it. Assuming ad average driving pattern of 34 miles a day, 5 days a week, 49 weeks a year with 25% highway driving, plus a few additional highway road trips, you can estimate your annual charging costs to be between $417 - $986. Using an average gasoline price, the total costs are between $2,675 and $3,244. More detailed and personalized values can be calculated at the link above. For our calculations, the highest electricity price is found in Hawaii and the lowest in Louisiana.