Here's another way to think about the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in hybrid: as a raging good deal.
Writing at the Motley Fool, Chris Baines says the Volt just might be underpriced because its monthly lease payments, through Ally Financial, are quite competitive to those for a Toyota Camry. More importantly, Baines says, Volt lessees may be able to make a profit off the car after the lease period expires.
Volt drivers can lease the car through Ally Financial at rates starting at $369 a month. Comparatively, Toyota is charging $289 a month to lease the Camry, whose base price is "a little over half" the Volt's base price, according to the Fool. The trick comes in what Baines sees as an incorrect residual value that Ally is estimating for the Volt, writing:
Perhaps others are seeing the Volt this way, too. Chevy parent General Motors earlier this month said May sales of the Volt totaled 1,680 units, more than three times year-earlier figures. Through the first five months of the year, GM sold 7,057 Volts, or about 600 less than the automaker sold for all of 2011.
If the value of the car at the end of the lease deviates significantly from the agreed upon residual value at the beginning of the lease, you can win big. The one big difference is that you're contractually obligated to exercise one of these two options with a lease, whereas with stock options you aren't obligated to exercise either.
And in the case of the Volt, the potential for the price to differ from the agreed upon residual value is huge. [...]
Yes, this is speculating and not investing. But the point is that with the Toyota Camry you don't even have the possibility of making money. With the Volt you do. [...]
If Ally has set the residual value too high (as I suspect) then the lease payments may be too low. By contrast, if they've set the residual too low then lessees will opt to buy the cars for less than Ally could have resold them for.