Electric Cars

Chevy Volt Part Deux: Even A New Shade Of Lipstick May Not Help This Pig Fly

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Now before you get all lock-jawed, this article ain’t about technology, or even the alleged advantages of electric versus ICE vehicles; it’s about Dollars and $ense. That’s right, I said it; Gilders, Marks, Euros, Pounds, Baht, Yen, Yuan, and U.S. old school greenbacks; you know the transaction medium that keeps economies running, water flowing, and food on the table, or in this case, cash enough to purchase a new car, and the potential lack thereof.

Now, 39 months ago, GM decided to try its hand at building an ‘electric car’ that the manufacturer sold and branded the Volt. It didn’t matter that shortly after the product rolled out, it became apparent that the vehicle was flawed for a host of reasons, but mainly because the Volt wasn’t all-electric at all, but instead was a plug-in hybrid, or more specifically, an ‘Extended Mileage Electric Vehicle (EMEV).  While some technical purists would insist that the car was more electric than ICE, the fact was that if a driver wanted more than about 40 miles worth of range, the Volt’s little 1.3 liter four-banger would come on-line to get the driver where he wanted to go.

Nonetheless, the advertising confusion created all kinds of credibility issues, particularly since the all-electric hubbub was driven by pervasive messaging fostered by the brand holder and a host of Federal proponents, further amplified by a seriously co-opted auto press including venerable outlets like Motor Trend. In the end of the day, however, the vehicle was ultimately shown to be what it was; a hybrid cloaked in electric sheepskin, that offered a modern equivalent of Odin’s all-powerful steed Sleipnar but, when in fact, it was more akin to the fragrant quality of methane produced by a herd of cows on a summer day.

Then, on top of the messaging problem, there was an issue with the price. Ah, it’s funny how stuff works, particularly if you follow the money far and long enough, since the marketplace will usually tell a manufacturer when to step off. In this case, at an original MSRP of $41k, the price was a bit rich for the average buyer even with a perky list of Federal subsidies, a cheap lease program, and the fact that the car lost money on every unit delivered.

Meanwhile,  however, “true” all-electric, or PHEV’s including the Mercedes-supported SmartForTwo, and Nissan’s Leaf both starting at $25k were well below the Volts’ price point, got the same subsidies, and those manufacturer’s were “already” making money. Subsequently, Volt sales were slow, until Uncle Sam stepped in and mandated that all federal fleet vehicles be eco-friendly.

Suddenly, and by an amazing “coinky-dink”, the Volt became Government Motor’s poster-car for green transportation, to the degree that up to 15% of all units sold went to the Feds. This lead to GM’s ability to apply projected sales as booked units on its P/L, and allowed the company to claim that the Volt was the “best selling” PHEV in the U.S.. Sales numbers aside, however, as a practical matter the political move from Washington saved the Volt, and its parent brand from further vehicular ignominy, rather than having to deal with another crap storm just after coming out of its previous TARP troubles. Nonetheless, over the next two model years the car continued to languish in the midst of a generally somnambulant market, even though it continued to top the sales charts sustained by its Federal hog trough.

However, “someone” at GM has finally decided to make a downside price move on the Volt, and the effort appears to involve the initiation of actual market competition; win or lose, (one may suggest that the “someone” is new CEO Mary Barra, since she’s a highly-practical manager who certainly knows the difference between soft sales totals, versus actual retained earnings; but that’s just conjecture at the moment).

As a result, the news here regards a second-generation Volt based on an MSRP closer to $30k for 2016. But, then, the car’s competitors are undoubtedly going to reduce their own pricing in response, as multi-year economies of scale to evolve as the PHEV market further firms up. This is particularly true of Ford’s Eco-boost and Nissan’s Leaf products, and lets face it folks, those manufacturers are a lot further down the road to stand-alone financial stability when compared with the Volt’s somewhat dubious business situation.

So, it remains to be seen whether the 2016 effort will create new promise, or just herald a last blow from a trumpet that wasn’t managed and sold properly in the first place. Either way, though, the business runway will be short, and right at liftoff, the ride ought to be pretty bumpy.



Rick Carlton has worked as a journalist, writer, researcher, editor, publisher and technologies professional for many years. His bylines have appeared in a host of domestic/international newspaper, magazine and online outlets including; The Auto Channel, Finland’s Teknikan Maalma, Unilever’s The Adrenalist, The Tribune Newspapers, The Austin Business Journal, Crutchfield Labs Research, Crowdfunding Guide and National Business Media’s magazine group. In addition to his publishing career, he served as a C-Level executive/consultant for a wide-range of private and public sector companies, and also taught as a professional instructor within the Coastline Community and Cerritos College systems. He has also served as a press/media consultant for a range of professional motorsports organizations including work for Diamond Rio Racing (NASCAR), Taylor Racing (ARCA), Jimmy Wellman Racing (NASCAR), and others.

  • bobbleheadguru

    Wow! Lots of Anti-Chevy Volt propaganda here! My question is why?

    Here are some facts to counterpoise your talking points:

    1. Chevy Volt outsold EVERY plug-in in 2011 AND 2012 AND 2013. That is a obviously strong indicator that they have first mover advantage.

    2. Chevy Volt had the highest satisfaction for ANY car under $50,000 (not just plug–ins, ANY car) in 2011 AND 2012 AND 2013. Source: Consumer Reports.

    3. The MSRP of a Chevy Volt with the Tax Credit is $26,685. The $41,000 price listed in this article is FIFTY FOUR PERCENT higher than reality.

    4. The Average Chevy Volt driver gets about 125MPG. Source: Volt Stats DOT net (real data taken from OnStar).

    With that kind of mileage, drivers are using the Volt exactly the way it was designed… about 2/3rd battery only, 1/3rd with gas assist. 125MPG is so close to “infinity MPG” when compared to a conventional car, it is like the difference in adding mint to your double mocha at Starbucks a couple of times per week. Well worth avoiding “range anxiety”.

    5. Please list your source for 15% of all sales = government. Is this a guess? Do you have a statement or sales records that point to this?

    GM has publicly stated that less than 5% of sales are to Fleet and a subset of those are to the government.

  • Hank Gagnon

    Another right wing oil Koch brother lackey writer. The Volt concept is perfect. This concept can be used for pick up trucks also. I see a future where extended range generator in the vehicle can be smaller and more efficient, and be powered by other alternative fuels like Diesel, Natural gas, or Bio Fuel. But as long as we have writers writing propaganda like this some people who do not have a clue will buy what Carlton is selling …Lies. The mileage on the Volt as it stand NOW is way better than any gas hog on the market and he knows that. Especially if your commute back and forth to work is close to 40 miles which a majority of American commuters journey to and from work is. The price will come down for the volt and all the other Electric Vehicles, it already has started to. We need to stop Koch Brothers, Rupert Murdock, Right Wing Oil Cartels, and any other evil traitors that are hell bent on stopping progress in the name of Greed at all costs even if it means facilitating the end of man kind by destroying our ONE and ONLY planet.

  • frednardhol

    Dear Guru, here my responses to your comments:

    A. “Propaganda: noun; information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement,institution, nation, etc.”

    In this case then, propaganda was not involved. I just happen to cleave to an alternative view of the business value of this particular PHEV product.

    And specific to your comments:

    1. As I asserted in my piece, as long as the Federal Government continues to support Volt production, then its likely that your assertion won’t mean much. For example, at the end of the FY 2013 Volt ended with a unit total of 23,094, while the Nissan Leaf ended at 22,610, for a delta of 484 units sold. However, the Volt only outsold the Leaf during 5 months of the year, as opposed to the Leaf with 7. (2013 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers US Sales Based On Quarterly Disclosures (Q1 & Q2 from filings, Q3 based on shareholder letter, and Q4 based on company estimates half-year NA sales).

    2. “Satisfaction values” are entirely subjective; and when ‘every’ major auto outlet uses the same marketing adjectives/adverbs to showcase a single product, someone is simply toeing the $$$ party line. This is certainly true in the case of the Volt, and particularly in the case of Consumer Reports, who’s information has become less and less credible over the years .

    3. In the case of MSRP, I can only work from published numbers provided by the manufacturer, or affiliate auto finance segment analysis. To whit; ” Chevrolet Volt MSRP Starts at $41,000, $33,500 Net of Full Federal Credit; 3-year Lease Program with Option to Buy: GM will introduce the Chevrolet Volt extended range electric vehicle with a starting MSRP of $41,000; after applying the Federal income tax credit of $7,500, the price drops to $33,500. Chevrolet will also offer a lease program on the Volt with a monthly payment as low as $350 for 36 months at MSRP, with $2,500 due at lease signing, and with an option to buy at the end of the lease.” – Green Car Congress 9/14/2014 – Chevy Volt

    On the other hand, this same subsidies formula can be applied to the sale of a Nissan Leaf, returning a Net of $27,500, while offering a much lower lease payment. Also, in your comment you imply purchase numbers that suggest ‘other’ local deal-making, and again, I can’t write on the basis of ‘what a dealer might do” in order to move one or more units off his/her lot. All of these cars are floored, and as long as local units are not moving, dealers are losing money. So, it wouldn’t surprise me that a dealer would sell ‘whatever at whatever price’, to get a car off their inventory. Nevertheless one transaction process has nothing to do with the other.

    4. I can’t write on the basis of what ‘average drivers’ get in terms of Volt mileage since those values are subjective, and could include all kinds of spoofs like the leveraging of hyper-driving. That said, according to the EPA these are the published numbers for the Volt: Range 379 miles (610 km) (EPA EV-ICE), Electric range only; 35 miles (56 km) EPA (2011/2012), 38 miles (61 km) EPA (2013-), 52 miles (83 km) (NEDC) Plug-in charging 120V/15A, 240V/20A AC.

    5. “GM (Volt) also benefits from fleet sales of its vehicles to the government, no doubt done in part to help prop up the bailed-out automaker. According to car website Edmunds.com, industry-wide fleet sales made up about 15% of sales — which is actually a low point because of the effects of sequestration that are still in play, but fleet sales comprised 19% of GM’s sales in July.” – Auto sales segment analysis The Motley Fool – 9/9/2013

    In the end of the day, my piece was primarily based on a discussion of the relative ‘cost versus value’ of the vehicle. However, given GM’s obvious struggle trying to keep the Volt at the top of the sales charts, and now a projected price drop for 2016 (on top of already losing money unit-over-unit), my experience suggests that this product is on the way to the bone yard, unless it can find a substantive, non-subsidized consumer audience pretty quickly. Sorry, but that’s the way I see it.

    • bobbleheadguru

      Thanks for the response. I appreciate it! I a lot of thought went into it.

      Propaganda is too harsh a word. I agree. I apologize.

      As for the other points:

      1. Consider that month-to-month sales on EVs are NOT stable. A lot has to do with inventory… and a lot has to do with timing of getting tax credits…. or specific marketing campaigns.

      Should Chevy get no credit for selling 3000+ cars in August 2013… but then get blamed if July and Sept sales are low (which is obviously because Aug sales are so high)?

      2. Actually Consumer Reports is very specific and uses a scientific methodology. They simply ask a sample of drivers “would you buy/lease the car you got again?” Three straight years, the Volt was over 90%. That is an astonishing number topped only by the Telsa and Porsche Panamera in 2013 (not topped by any car in 2011 or 2012).

      3. Please visit the Chevy DOT COM website. Does it make sense to quote a price from 2011 when they only sold 6000 vehicles in 6 markets? Or would it make more sense to publish the actual price shown on the Chevy website (chevy DOT com SLASH volt) today: $26,685?

      4. [Volt stats DOT net] is NOT subjective. Why would you not use actual data with real drivers?

      Volt drivers opt into an API which pulls data direct from Volt computers and transmits that data via Onstar. You should really take a look at the site the stats are very cool to look at as the data is granular (to the car level).

      Here are the exact numbers right now on the site:

      21,930,430.3 total miles driven.
      1312 total cars in the sample (more than a statistically representative sample, if your goal is to establish confidence intervals using standard deviations)
      72.7% Battery only miles
      124.90 Mean MPG
      153.39 Median MPG

      As a SECOND SOURCE that substantiates the first one:
      Chevy advertises an average 900miles between fill-ups. Realistically, that is about 7 gallons (tank is a little over 9 gallons…. Volt drivers will not wait until there is 1/16 of a tank left, more like a 1/4 or 1/8 like other drivers). By my math: 900 miles/ 7 gallons = 128.57MPG.

      [NOTE Even if you run the gasoline tank dry to 9 gallons, it will still be 900 miles/ 9 gallons = 100MPG.]

      5. Should GM fleet sales as a percentage OVERALL be projected on the Chevy Volt? GM has stated publicly that the overall fleet number for Chevy Volt is less than 5% and Government sales are subset of that. As I recall, that was more than a year ago… so someone should double check the exact number.

      Thanks for having an open mind! Hope this was useful.

  • Vatcha

    For the Volt, at an initial build cost of $26k – $28k the $41k base price would have yielded somewhere around $8k profit per unit to work with. At the current base of $35k you’re probably looking at $2k to $3k to work with. Considering special promotions and such, and they’re probably just breaking even at this point.

    The SmartForTwo electric is $25k not $14k – $15k.

    Just considering the $1.4 billion DOE loan for the Nissan Leaf Plant in Smyrna, and assuming no other investment on their part, and not considering interest, if you assume $2500 per unit debt service, Nissan will need to do 560k units from the plant to recoup the loan. They’ve produced less than 25k so far. .

    If you apply the same $2500 per unit debt service to Ford for the $5.9 billion DOE loan they received in 2009 for high mpg vehicle development. for vehicles like the c-max energi, it comes to 2.36 million vehicles to recoup their loan.

    Clearly these companies are in this for the long haul. Anyone truly interested in thinking about this area intelligently should familiarize themselves with the government CAFE requirements if they want to begin to understand a car company’s decisions and strategies. A Volt that makes no money is still a profitable vehicle if it enables you to sell another Silverado with a $15k profit margin.

  • frednardhol

    Wow, a LOT of good comments and a mea culpa….@Vatcha, correct; on SmartForTwo, I used the ICE MSRP, rather than the electric variant. This fact has been corrected.

    On your ‘development investment’ v. ‘build out cost/recovery” v. ‘sell other brand over time’ value prop assertion, I’m not sure that business model will work out for GM, when compared with the overall business stability of SmartUSA or Nissan. Granted all of the brands ‘appear’ to be in the game for the long run, but in my view, your assertion is an apples v. oranges, comparison, since neither the Smart nor the Leaf can claim an advantage driven by Federal fleet sales. On the other hand, however, that fact alone COULD keep the Volt line running in perpetuity. Nevertheless, in the end, the value could represent a negative rather than a positive depending on which way the political winds blow, and then there’s the pesky element of share price based on market response to consider, on top of the permanent back eye on the case of GM’s failure to pay back all of its TARP investment; all leading to a generally weak business position. Certainly Barra is driving hard to change the culture of the company, but it may be too little too late; overall, however, we’ll have to see how it shakes out.

    @Guru, I will take a look at ALL of the additional metrics you suggest, and see if I can get my head around the Volt as a more positive business value. Fair enough?

    That said, however, while I accept that ‘you see things the way you and your brethren see them’, the application of EPA and/or DOT numbers to make one or more editorial points are still traditionally utilized, rather than third-party numbers. So in the end, we ‘may’ have to simply and pleasantly disagree. Rear ends are like opinions, after all, everyone has one.

    @Hank, really dude? Put the coffee down and get some SLEEP!

    • Vatcha

      I don’t know where you get this federal fleet sales stuff. I have never seen anything that shows any significant federal purchase of plug in vehicles, nor have I seen anything indicating that they favor Volts over any other type of vehicle. If you have references please post them.

  • Gera Quiroz

    I own a Volt and love it. My mom wants to steal it, my daughters want it when they are old enough to drive (2 and 5 more years).
    I use gas only when I travel beyond the 40 mile range. Which is every other weekend.
    Daily driving, commute, errands and leisure (movies/mall/parks) are all done on cheap electricity. How far can you go on $1, I can go 40-45 CITY miles. (35@73mph)
    Hopefully they will use a 1L, 3 cylinder turbocharged powerplant in the next generation, and de-throne the prius.

  • In the first two paragraphs, you got most of your facts wrong. It is a good thing you said that “this article ain’t about technology”, but maybe you should have said “this article ain’t about facts or math either”.

  • Jon Helms

    First, it’s an Extended Range Electric Vehicle, get your terms right. Second, it isn’t really a plug-in hybrid, the Volt runs on electric all the time, it’s just if the battery is depleted the gas generator kicks in to power the electric drive, it doesn’t switch over to the transmission being fully powered by gas like traditional hybrids. Third, I love my Volt that I have driven 27,000 miles electrically and 3,000 miles on gas. It is the perfect electric vehicle for me, no I’m not single, no we aren’t a single car household, but I drive my car and my wife drives her car.
    I’m sorry you hate the Volt, it’s really a nice car to drive, provides plenty of flexibility in how you drive and how you charge, and is affordable unlike the Tesla. One thing you should remember about the Leaf is if it runs out of battery, which does not get the full 100 miles (especially in extreme temps) you are just stuck. If the Volt runs out of battery you just hear the gas generator turn on.

  • Matt J

    The left needs to get off of blaming dislike for their pet projects on the Koch brothers. There were AT LEAST 22 liberal organizations that donated MORE money to Democrats than the Koch brothers did to Republicans. Chew on that. Then of course the left has George Soros, who funds lots of astroturf projects on the left.

    I AM A VOLT OWNER. Yes, I have a 2013 white Volt. I am not liberal. I’m also not ‘conservative’ in the way liberals would define it.

    Enough of that stuff. Why did I buy a Volt?

    I like technology. The Volt is an entirely unique vehicle that has no comparison available. The Fisker Karma was the only vehicle that operated similarly, but is not in production any more.

    The advantages are cheap operating costs – about $1 worth of electricity charges the battery and gets you 30-50 miles depending on conditions. Regenerative braking reduces wear on brake components DRASTICALLY. The infrequent engine use will have most Volt owners changing the oil once every two years or so. All other engine maintenance will similarly be spread out at much greater intervals and will defray maintenance costs greatly.

    The drawbacks are the relatively high cost of entry, which is also mitigated by a tax rebate. You get up to $7500 of YOUR OWN MONEY back. That effectively gets the base price of the Volt to $27.5k. Not bad at all for the technology you get. As it is now, even the base model Volt is chock full of awesome technology. Smart Key, bluetooth radio, USB ports, OnStar connectivity, satellite radio, etc etc.

    The biggest drawback to the Volt is the confusion it causes. Most people simply don’t understand it, so they label it and pigeonhole it as inferior tech.

    Simply put, if you commute less than 40 miles per day, there is no more awesome car you could own.

  • patb2009

    15 years ago, GM had the EV-1 which users were crazy over but, the company thought they might lose $100 million on, so they crushed them all.
    Toyota came out with the rinky dink, underpowered prius and that’s now a million seller. GM would like to jump over the Prius with the VOLTEC technology. I think they have a real shot at doing this. It’s a billion dollar bet, but, the Volt makes an excellent commuter car and weekend trip vehicle.

  • I’m a right-wing war veteran and about to purchase my second Volt, probably a 2015 in a few weeks. My 2012 Volt is at 23,000 miles, has used less than 20 gallons of Jihad Juice and about 22,500 miles my Volt has been powered by an American fuel (electrons from the many thousands of wind turbines here in Texas near two ranches my wife and I own.) It has been to the shop one time for an oil change and a tire rotation, $49. I’m able to drive my Volt on an electric charge to travel 45 miles from “ranch A” to “ranch B” where I have 240 chargers at both locations. The round trip between ranches costs me less than a large coffee you can buy at Starbucks. In fact, I am driving my Volt (mile per mile) at what it cost me when I was a senior in high school and had a new 1970 Camaro (gas was 37 cents per gallon then.) Driving inexpensively is only one reason I bought a Volt. As a “patriot” I was tired of the fact that we as a nation were exporting $400 BILLION in American wealth to foreign nations in the middle east that don’t really like us. (Google “State Sponsored Terrorism” and see what you come up with! We “made” Osama Bin Laden filthy rich because of our addiction to crude oil. Show me another car (made in America) that can do this, which is my Volt data on a website called “Voltstats” http://www.voltstats.net/Stats/Details/1791 If you don’t want to click on the link, just do a Google search “Dusty Voltstats”.

    The two ranches we own here in Texas have been depleted of oil and my grandparents 6 square mile ranch about 180 miles away is also “bone dry” of oil, yet the wind turbines that produce electricity do so nearly 24 hours per day and the wind will be here long after all the oil is gone. Texas is also becoming active in installing solar power farms and between the two renewable sources, we have a great way to transport people across this vast state without having to depend on crude oil imports from OPEC.

    If OPEC screws with us again as they did in 1973 and 1979, I’ll be driving by all the gas stations waving at other drivers who are stuck in lines waiting to buy gas as I did back then. On several occasions, I’d be next in line when the attendant ran out with a sign “SORRY NO GAS”. My “duel-fuel” Volt gives me options that I didn’t have back then, and electric rates are stable, unlike gasoline when it spikes.

    Last, although I nearly despise UAW (for goon tactics in assembly line processes in the 70s and 80s) there are a lot of good Americans in the rust belt and especially Detroit who are in a big hurt for jobs. And I would like to think that buying my Volt, designed by a bunch of very savvy and “with-it” engineers and geeks at GM, might have put a few bucks into the pockets of folks in Detroit that need to put food on their table.

    I’ve been so satisfied with my 2012 Volt that I hope to order a 2015 in May and I suspect three years after that, I’ll then buy a “Volt 2.0” if GM doesn’t pork it out and make it bloated.

    My 2012 Volt is nearly like an Indy car in the way it handles and in fact sticks on the road better than my 240-Z did. It is the quietest car I have ever ridden in (except for wind chirping when the windows are down? and no car from Korea or Japan can come close to the economies I am experiencing.

    “Journalists” who are committed to this old and very tired tirade about the Volt fail to see the merits of this engineering and technology and what vehicles like this can do for American. Journalists who continue to call this an “Obama Car” fail to understand that my former governor (when he was president and during his administration) moved forward incentives to promote alternative fueled vehicles. And as a former oilman, President Bush also recognized the detriment of America exporting $400 BILLION each year to foreign nations. The first President Bush bought his son Neil Bush a Volt for his birthday, and I wonder what it is about this that other “right-wingers” can not figure out? It didn’t take me too long to see the “light”.

    And I wonder if President Obama had been sitting on a Harley Davidson and had his picture made, if right-winger slanted journalists would be slamming the folks in Minneapolis http://rideapart.com/2010/12/harley%E2%80%99s-secret-2-3-billion-taxpayer-bailout/

    Harley Davidson has received billions in assistance from the feds, long ago and as recently as when assistance was provided to Chrysler and GM. Oh, and did you know that some Harley Davidsons are going to be made in India now?

  • Matthew Sawyer

    You said this is about “U.S. old school greenbacks.” I traded in a 2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid for a 2014 Chevy Volt. The Volt’s payments would’ve been less than the Fusion except there was a negative equity gap that got rolled into the Volt, so my payments remained the same. However, with the Fusion I was still spending in the neighborhood of $100/month on gas. I needed an oil change every 6 months, to the tune of $30. So monthly use of the Fusion comes out to roughly $105 per month.

    Now let’s look at my Volt. In 6 months, I gassed it up once, to a tune of $22. My electric bill went up by about $24/month to charge the Volt–less than a dollar per day. My GEICO insurance increased $2/month, which wasn’t a surprise as I was insuring a more expensive, newer car. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll round the gas up to $24, and over the 6 months (including the worst winter Detroit has seen in 130 years according to the National Weather Service) of Volt ownership I’ve spent $4/month on gasoline. The Volt will require at most one oil change per year. We’ll call it a $30 expense, and over the course of the year is $2.50/month.

    So let’s do the math (per month) –

    Fusion: $100 gas + $5 oil change = $105/month
    Volt: $24 electric + $4 gas + $2.50 insurance = $30.50/month

    Volt SAVINGS per month: $105 Fusion – $30.50 Volt = $74.50/month
    Annual SAVINGS $894/year — that’s a mortgage payment and a couple trips to the grocery store to feed a family of four, and still leaves some left over for a few trips to Starbucks.

    AND, there’s an extra bonus with the Volt. With an ICE vehicle (including traditional hybrids like the Prius or my aforementioned Fusion), it REQUIRES gas, which comes from oil. Much/most of the oil used in the US is IMPORTED, which means those greenbacks are enriching other folks overseas.

    With the Volt, however, it’s powered by 100% US energy. If it’s a coal-fired plant, the coal was mined in the US. If it’s a nuclear plant, the uranium came from the US. If it’s wind or water power, it’s from US wind farms and hydroelectric plants. In other words, every penny of my electric bill goes to US energy and therefore US jobs.

  • Gareth Williams

    Wow, the hyperbole and misinformation in this piece is astounding. That old GM “loses money on every unit delivered” chestnut has long been proven misleading and inaccurate. This claim seems to have been advanced by some clever anti-GM / anti-EV “analysts” who guessed the total R&D costs to develop the Volt and divided that by the number of Volts sold to that date (mid 2012?) and arrived at a figure of a “cost” of $75,000 per vehicle. Therefore GM is supposedly losing tens of thousands on every unit it sells…. Think about how ridiculous that is for a few seconds. Of course they ignore this “cost” figure continues to go down for each additional unit sold. Or that the technology derived from that R&D benefit all of GM’s current and future vehicles. And not once have I seen this standard applied to other technologically advanced vehicles such as the Leaf.

    I’m a Volt owner, not a “technical purist” and I can tell you in my real-world situation, the Volt *is* all-electric, 90% of the time. Having the gas engine gives me the flexibility to drive further than the electric range would allow. The trade off is less range than a Leaf. It is well worth it, not just for the piece of mind it provides but the ability to drive longer distances without arranging a rental vehicle.

    I can’t speak to the price in the US, but here in Canada the price for the Volt in 2012 was very similar to what Nissan wanted for the Leaf. We were originally going to buy the Leaf, but the local Nissan dealer wasn’t interested in returning our emails or phone calls. I’m kinda glad we didn’t, because we would have had to keep our second car.

    As for the proportion of “fleet sales”, this is bandied about as a negative, but I see it as the opposite. I’ve seen quite a few Volts as fleet vehicles in Canada as well. Why do I think the Volt excels as a fleet vehicle? Partly because fleet managers are more practical in their purchasing decision, and look at total cost of ownership instead of more intangible perceived ‘needs’ that seem to drive the average car buyer.

    I do agree however that the Volt has never been sold properly by GM dealers. When I know more about the car than anyone at the dealership, that’s a bad sign. And that’s frequently the case.

    But the majority of criticisms levelled by the author seem to be politically motivated, not genuine criticisms of the Volt.

  • Folks, I am very happy that you love the Volt. Good for you, be confident in your choice. That said, however, when the Tesla S, Nissan Leaf, the SmartForTwo, and now, the BMW i3 begin to erode the Volt’s market share, on top of GM’s host of business, management, and production issues we’ll see what happens then.

    • Vatcha

      Rick,

      This is a worthwhile point of discussion. You could have published an article that discussed points like:

      – the increasing competition in the plug-in market and whether the Volt model can be competitive
      – is there a niche within the plug-in market that the Volt fits best
      -what future growth might be expected in the plug-in segment and what that might mean for future Volt models
      -whether the Volt will be able to reach a competitive price point once the tax credits are exhausted.
      -will there be clear price points in this segment and which one(s) GM/Chevy should try and compete in
      -whether GM made a mistake by offering the Volt as a Chevy instead of a Cadillac in the North American market
      – etc.

      Instead using a contemptuous/derisive tone, you presented an article riddled with errors and unsubstantiated claims. Consequently you’ve lost credibility with thoughtful readers.

  • Mark Renburke

    Author: Your article is so factually incorrect that you are either a yellow journalist, an unskilled amateur writer, or both. From the get-go, the Volt was conceived and engineered as the perfect long-lasting daily driver electric car with a (1.4 liter) gasoline range extender. Please correct your methane ridden article!

  • Jim Seko

    According to Edmunds dot com “true cost to own” calculator the Nisan Leaf has five year cost of ownership lower than any car, new or used. In second place is the Chevy Volt. I have a 2012 Nissan Leaf and 2013 Chevy Volt. My total electric bill averages $110 when it’s not air conditioning season. I spend about $25 per month on gasoline. That compares to $300 per month I used to spend on my old gasoline cars. The only people who can afford plugin cars are those who can do math!

  • Greg Noel

    It is obvious from this misguided rant that the author knows little about the Chevy Volt and has never driven one.

    With roughly 40miles of EV range this car is no “hybrid in EV clothing”. It is a car that functions as a pure EV for over 80% of most peoples driving. Then, and only then, does it outperform typical EVs by being able to switch to gas. The author claims that the Leaf outshines the Volt. That does not very well explain why most Leaf owners I talk to are planning to switch to a Volt for their next car.

    The Volt provides the pure EV experience (and low total cost of ownership) for everyday drives while also providing the long range flexibility when it is needed for road trips.

    Furthermore, the author’s focus on the 2013 sticker price before rebates demonstrates his agenda to make the Volt look bad. He says 2013 has a $41k sticker before incentives. HE COULD have said the 2014 has a $27,500 price tag AFTER incentives. That’s a pretty huge difference and he chose with great intention to use the $41k figure.

    Just drive one. Then you’ll understand why The Volt was #1 in consumer satisfaction in Consumer Reports.

  • Mic Theory

    Give it up smart people know you guys are working for the oil companies youre on the losing side its day is done Energy Independence is coming. I feel bad for the horse traders who went out of business because of the model T,and I feel bad for the clueless who believe your article. Chevy volt averages 93 mpg on a bad day!

  • Informed

    At the current cost of a gallon of gas and at the current cost to charge my Volt, I can drive 155 miles for the cost of that one gallon of gas. That’s dollars and sense.

  • Informed

    Oh yeah, I don’t have to turn around and go home after 35 miles like the leaf owner. I own one car. That Leaf owner HAS to own two cars. Also, according to KBB, the Volt costs from $8,000 – $11,000 less to operate than a Prius Plug in, depending on which car you compare.