Dealership Quotes $30,000 to Replace Battery in a $10,000 Chevrolet Volt

It’s a huge sum to pay for a new battery in an old hybrid, but cheaper alternatives may exist.

byLewin Day|
Electric Vehicles photo

A Chevrolet Volt owner in Florida was shocked to receive a $30,000 quote for a replacement battery from a dealership, reports CarScoops.

The quote in question comes from Roger Dean Chevrolet in Florida, and regards a battery replacement for a 2012 Chevrolet Volt, which if you recall was a plug-in hybrid. The cost of the new battery itself comes in at $26,853.99. Further charges include $33.98 for coolant and $1,200 in labor. Add tax and the total bill comes to $30,842.15. It's a steep price, particularly when a brand-new, all-electric Chevrolet Bolt with a far larger battery can be had for a base price of $26,595.

The enormous figure raised questions when the quote was posted online, with commenters on Reddit and beyond raising questions as to its authenticity. However, fact-checking website Snopes was able to confirm with the dealership that the quote was indeed legitimate.

The core of the matter is the price of the battery itself. Posting on Facebook, the dealership noted that "This is an estimate for a 12 year old vehicle out of warranty and for a battery that is extremely hard to get, due to the older technology of the 12 year old vehicle." The battery is not sourced from GM, according to the dealership, but a third-party supplier, with the dealer noting that "The dealership does not set battery prices."

A 2012 Chevy Volt could reasonably be expected to attract a $10,000 offer on a site like CarMax, so it's hard to justify spending three times that on a replacement battery. It's also shocking, given the small 16.0 kWh capacity of the Volt's battery pack. A Tesla Model 3 battery can be had for under $14,000, and that's four to five times larger.

The argument from the dealer nonetheless is a frustrating one for owners of older hybrids and EVs. The average vehicle age on US roads is 12 years, and most of them aren't incurring $30,000 repair bills out of the blue. As EVs grow older, the broader expectation is that battery replacements will be affordable, if expensive. They certainly shouldn't cost the whole price of a new car.

Interestingly, Redditors were able to hunt down a refurbished Chevrolet Volt battery for under $7000 in online parts catalogues. Notably, though, the part number does not match the one quoted on the invoice, which is listed as discontinued.

Without access to dealer parts catalogues, it's difficult to know why the part number quoted is so expensive. However, rare and discontinued parts are often more expensive than run-of-the-mill items. However, it suggests that the owner could likely get a far cheaper battery replacement if they're happy to go with a refurbished battery for their 2012 Chevrolet Bolt.

As with rare ICE-powered cars, obscure EVs could be killed off as it becomes difficult to source parts to keep them on the road. For example, while there's plenty of aftermarket support for cars like the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S, you're going to find it far harder to source a battery for something like a Mitsubishi iMIEV. In any case, for now, battery replacements remain prohibitively expensive. The hope is that as EVs go mainstream, those prices come down.