As we enter the holiday season, you who chose a Volt may know it is like a gift that keeps on giving, whereas a Toyota Prius is an expense that ultimately costs more to own even though it sells for much less.
This synopsis is not our opinion but based upon data crunched by Edmunds.com’s proprietary “Total Cost of Ownership” (TCO) calculator.
Assuming a Volt bought in Long Beach, Calif. was purchased for $36,179, after five years of ownership and 15,000 miles driven annually, the Volt costs $30,080 – a payback of $6,099.
By comparison, a base-level Prius II selling for $24,799 costs $38,217 after five years, 15,000 miles per year – an expense of $13,418.
Without regard for selling price, total cost of ownership for the Prius is $38,217 and for the Volt it’s $30,080 – $8,137 cheaper. Even with no tax credit, the Volt comes out ahead by $637 dollars.
Of course as Edmunds says, your actual results may vary, but this is an apple-to-apple hypothetical scenario.
However, some qualifiers are in order. The TCO calculator numbers change somewhat depending on zip code, but the only differences are by how much the Volt beats the Prius, as it seems to always win.
The Volt in question is a 2013 model year, as Edmunds does not have data loaded in for the 2014, which now costs just under $35,000. It also assumes the full $7,500 tax credit, but no state or local credits.
Here is a synopsis Edmunds gives about the TCO calculator:
The components of TCO® are depreciation, interest on financing, taxes and fees, insurance premiums, fuel, maintenance, repairs and any federal tax credit that may be available. In order to estimate certain mileage-dependent costs, we assume that vehicles will be driven 15,000 miles per year …
Note that TCO® is a comparative tool, not a predictive tool — your actual five-year cost of owning a particular vehicle will vary depending on your personal circumstances, such as your driving history and the number of miles you drive.
You can read more details about the calculator here.
And while we’re at it, the Volt tops the Prius plug-in hybrid (though here too, no tax credits are deducted that might have been – and the Prius plug-in models just had prices cut).
The base Prius is now over $2,000 less than last year – which in turn was just a bit more than 2012. Also, the PiP qualifies for a federal tax credit of up to $2,500 plus the State of California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Program (CVRP) which offers a $1,500 rebate.
So we’ll take the Edmunds data for a 2012 with a grain of salt. In this case, the base PiP cost $27,584 and TCO is $39,222 – it would need to be adjusted, but then, so would the Volt which is $1,200 more than 2014 MSRP (including destination).
The 2013 Volt’s TCO is $30,080 – and without tax credit, it’s $37,580. In this case of previous-years’ models it beats the plug-in Prius by $1,642 – though again, comparing two 2014s would create a different spread still likely to see the Volt beating the PiP to some degree.
How did the Leaf do, you ask? Pretty well. The 2013 Leaf S costs $29,867 and TCO is $27,167 – this is also with federal but no state tax credit taken out.
Note the Volt and Leaf pay back somewhat, but the Toyotas both cost beyond their selling price.
Oh also, since the Volt gets panned as an electrified Cruze, we thought we’d check that Chevy model too – in this case a 1.8-liter with six-speed automatic.
Cruze price: $19,627. TCO: $39,019 – that’s just about double the price ($19.392) for true ownership cost. The “inexpensive” Cruze has hidden costs making it almost as expensive as an un-subsidized PiP, more than the regular Prius, and $8,939 more than the subsidized Volt.
Even if the Volt were not subsiduized, the Cruze cost $1,439 more than last year’s $1,200 more-expensiove Volt – and the Cruze’s selling price was $16,552 less than the 2013 Volt’s.
Pay me now, or pay me later
Obviously some wiggle room needs to be accounted here, and these numbers are anything but set in stone, but they are decent relative indicators.
So with that said, for all the Chevy salesman pushing people into the less-expensive Cruze, perhaps Edmunds.com ought to be required reading?
It should also be noted the Volt shows an advantage over the Toyotas in energy and some other costs, and resale on a percentage basis is about equal with the Toyotas.
These numbers can be sliced a number of ways besides, and of course, they are based on one company’s own algorithms, and representative of one region.
With all qualifiers considered, is it still safe to say that buying decisions may be made on surface impressions without deeper analysis?
Undoubtedly Toyota enjoys a strong reputation, having been around since before Bob Lutz called its Prius a “science project.”
The Cruze on the other hand is a relatively cheap car and when people focus on price – or worse, monthly payments – it appears to be a better value when they fail to look at all costs involved, but for people who match Edmunds’ criteria, it is anything but!
Feel free to plug in your own zip code to the TCO calculator, or share your own cost of ownership calculations.
It would be interesting to see if anywhere in the country the Prius plug-in or regular hatchback have a lower TCO than the Volt – or much higher.
This entry was posted on Friday, December 13th, 2013 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.