While the Volt is certainly intriuging technology, the hard facts are that the emperor has no clothes.
It ideally can run 40 miles on pure electric before reverting to being powered by the gasoline motor. (presumably, that 40 miles is moderate speeds, no hard acceleration, no AC, no headlights, no heat, etc). Once past 40 miles, it gets something more like 42mpg.
Compare to my trusty old 2002 Saturn SL stick shift. Rated 40mpg highway when new, it actually gets that on 70mph freeway trips (and no AC use). On my 58 mile per day round trip commute, it returns about 37 mpg average.
So I’m nearly the ideal user. For convenience, we’ll assume that the recharging electric costs will be about equal to the gas cost difference between my 37 and the Volt’s 42 over the 18 miles per day that the Volt will run on gas for me. That means my daily savings is 40 free miles. In my Saturn ($12,500 brand new) that 40 miles burnt 1.1 gallons of gas. That means I would save $3.24 per day in gas cost when gas is $3/gallon. For fun, let’s expect gas to go up to $5. Now I’m saving $5.50 a day.
The Volt is gonna cost, what, $35,000? 35k-12.5k = $22,500. Divided by $5.50, that’s 4,090 days. IF and only IF gas goes up to $5 a gallon and stays there forever, the Volt will pay for its gee whiz technology in 11.2 years. Mind you, that presumes the battery pack lasts that long! If gas stays around $3/gallon, it’ll take 19 years to pay back the difference. No car LASTS that long around here (snow/salt country).
If you want to have less impact on Earth’s limited resources, as always, the solution lies not in consuming more and fancier technology, it lies in keeping things simple and modest. Learn to drive stick and buy an econocar. A Toyota Corolla or Chevy Cobalt stick shift will get you similar mileage to my old Saturn (and probably not burn oil in the process!).