Autoblog Green recently stumbled upon some ridiculously cheap Chevrolet Volt replacement batteries for sale by unofficial online GM parts supplier, GM Parts Online. The batteries are selling for a low-low $2,994.64, but with an online discount, that number drops down to $2,305.88. That seemed a little too good to be true, so they called up a dealer who told them replacing the battery pack could cost up to $34,000. So what gives?
Battery packs in electric and hybrid vehicles are often priced by the per kilowatt hour (kWh), which was previously thought to be around $500 per kWh. It works out to $144.11 per kilowatt hour to replace the 16 kWh battery in the Volt at GM Parts Online’s price. But Kevin Kelly, manager of electrification technology communications for General Motors, reminded ABG that GM Parts Online is not the official GM parts supplier and their prices do not reflect what they would charge a customer.
“The costs indicated on the site are not what we would charge our dealers or owners for a replacement battery. There would be no cost to the Volt owner if their battery needs replacement or repair while the battery is under the eight year/100,000 mile limited warranty coverage provided by Chevrolet,” said Kelly.
Also, he noted that a single price tag cannot be accurate for every Volt owner.
“If the customer needs to have their battery repaired beyond the warranty, the cost to them would vary depending on what needs to be replaced or repaired. So, it’s hard for us to tell you exactly what the cost would be to the customer because it varies depending on what might need to be repaired or replaced. As a result, the core charge would vary.”
A sharp-eyed ABG reader pointed out that the lithium-ion modules, where many of the expensive bits are, are not included in the $2,305.88 Volt batteries listed for sale on GM Parts Online. Oops.
To help gain a clearer picture of how much a Volt replacement battery would really cost, ABG contacted Keyes Chevrolet in Los Angeles, who told them the price could vary from $3,400 to $34,000 to replace a drive motor replacement battery. They also said they were unsure what replacing the drive motor battery would entail, and that the Volt would have to be brought in to see what’s wrong with the pack to get a real estimate.
Kelly said looking at what a dealer charges can be misleading, as GM’s strategy in regards to servicing Volt batteries usually entails repairing rather than replacing altogether.
“As part of the replacement and repair process, we provide the option of using refurbished batteries that provide the customer with similar or better range performance as they would expect from their original battery system. I should also point out that the quotes you (Autoblog) received could include a possible dealer markup for out of warranty repairs. The high end of what you provided is not consistent with what we would expect the customer to pay,” said Kelly.
In conclusion, no one really knows what it costs to replace a Volt’s battery, but the $34,000 told to them by the dealer seems unrealistic. Instead the previously mentioned $500 per kWh estimate seems more plausible, which would bring the cost of replacing the Volts battery to $8,000.