Interest in Chevy Volt surges with cheap leases

Interest in Chevy Volt surges with cheap leases
September 14, 2012 | posted by The Institute

Source: USA Today by James R. Healey

Cheap lease deals now on the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car could be a time when something that looks too good to be true really is true.


“I’m not exaggerating when I say I wonder why everybody isn’t driving a Volt. It’s virtually a free car right now” says Jessy Toprak, market analyst at TruCar.com. Drivers could save enough on gasoline to make the lease payment, he says.


Some dealer ads show Volt leases as low as $135 a month. The official Chevy-backed deal is $279 or $249 a month for 24 months, based on region.


The price helped draw enough shoppers that Chevy reported record August sales of Volt even before the month was over. It expects a final tally of more than 2,700. Previous monthly high was 2,289 in March.


Another key to Volt sales: It was approval for coveted access by solo drivers to California ca-pool lanes that normally require two or three aboard.


Chevy also is offering dealers rewards to focus on the small-volume Volt at a time when they’re also selling many thousands of, say, Cruzes. Dealers can get up to $2,500 per Volt sold, retroactive to mid-May, if they sell 300% of a goal assigned to them by GM. They start getting smaller amounts when they reach 100% of the goal.


Such volume-based incentives to dealer are a wrinkle that can escape typical Internet car shopping, though auto websites say they are able to account for such fluid incentives when they advise what shoppers should pay.


The spread of such ghost give-backs is detailed in the new book Letting the Cat Out of the Bag by James Bragg, founder of Fighting Chance, which helps car buyers get discounts.


Bragg points out that a dealer who is, say, one car short of hitting a high-paying goal, could afford to give you the car. But it’s all but impossible to know how close a dealer is to the goal.


Research for USA TODAY by Edmunds.com shows at least 30 cars now with monthly lease payments of about $250, including versions of the Honda Accord and the new Acura ILX. Also included: Jeeps, Subarus and the Volkswagen Routan minivan.


But shoppers also must look at the amount due at lease signing when comparing deals, Edmunds notes.


Chevrolet says the $39,995 Volt’s lease deal requires a down payment at signing of $2,419.