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GM says the 2011 Chevy Volt, America's first mass-market electric vehicle, will be offered in the low 30s (possibly before tax credit), and that it will make a profit.
Its unclear whether Volt's price tag in the low 30s is with or without tax credit

The 2011 Chevy Volt, designed and manufactured by General Motors, faces tremendous challenges as the highest profile electric vehicle launch to date.  Among the most pressing are performance -- currently the Volt can not tolerate very hot climates well -- and pricing.

Many factors, including the cost of the battery pack, the cost of the vehicle warranty (which could possibly include limited battery replacement coverage), and cost of design have led analysts to predict that the Volt will be quite expensive for a mass market vehicle -- in the range of $40,000 USD.  A $7,500 USD tax credit on electric vehicles will bump this price down substantially, but many have voiced doubts about how many consumers will bite at a $32,500 USD price point.

However, according to GM-Volt.com, the cost may be significantly less, improving the Volt's prospects.  The blog spoke with GM CEO Ed Whitacre and quotes him as saying, "We’re not in business to lose money, we did enough of that already.  [The Volt] is going to sell in the low 30s.  We’ll get a margin on that."

Noticeably absent was any mention that the low 30s price estimate included the government tax credit.  If that figure indeed proves to be before the credit, it could mean GM has a major surprise in store for the market.  If GM can hit the market in the high 20s after a  tax credit, it could steal a substantial amount of business from hybrid makers like Toyota and Honda.

Again, Mr. Whitacre's comments do not entirely rule out that the "price" he's quoting is after tax credit, though that is how GM-Volt.com has interpreted them.  Regardless, if GM can merely make a profit on the electric vehicles it is producing, that will be impressive.

If GM can achieve either goal -- a price in the 20s after tax credit, or a margin on the vehicles it sells, its bold experiment could pay off.  After all, its position is similar to that of Toyota, when the Japanese automaker entered the world market with the Prius in 2001.  At the time hybrids were unproven and doubts were high; now the car is the bestselling car in Japan and climbing U.S. sales charts.  The Volt has the potential to achieve similar success, if GM can live up to its big promises.

Update 1: Tues., January 19, 2009, 11:05 p.m. -

Turns out that like most things that sound to good to be true, the notion that a "low 30s" price might be pre-tax credit turned out to be wishful thinking.  A GM spokesperson contacted AutoBlog, commenting that while GM "has not officially announced final Volt pricing, a price in the low 30's after a $7,500 tax credit is in the range of possibilities."

While it may be disappointing to many that the Chevy Volt won't hit in the high 20s, this comes as little surprise.  Returning to the Prius parallel, if GM can indeed turn a profit, though, that will still be quite impressive.  Hopefully that prediction by Mr. Whitacre was not simply more wishful thinking.

 



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By someguy743 on 1/19/2010 11:03:07 AM , Rating: 2
No doubt about it ... if that "low $30,000s" figure is the price BEFORE the $7,500 tax credit, this news is going to be HUGE. That would mean you could get a 2011 Volt for around $23,000 - $25,000. That's right in the same ballpark as the Toyota Prius ... which is selling well all over the world.

If you drive under 40 miles per day (or 80 miles if you recharge at work), you will be using ZERO gasoline. You only pay 2 cents/mile for the electricity. Then you get 40+ mpg when the IC engine kicks in after that. You could own a Volt for a purchase price about the same as a 48/50 city/highway mpg Toyota Prius. The Volt is also going to have better PERFORMANCE than the Prius since it goes 0-60 mph in around 8 seconds. The Volt would probably make the Toyota Prius OBSOLETE if it sells for $24,000 or so.

Bottom line ... a $24,000 Chevy Volt will be a MASSIVE hit. GM won't be able to make them fast enough. People will be mad a GM because they have to be on a waiting list for a long time in order to get one. GM better have a plan in place to rapidly ramp up production if they know they can sell the Volt at these prices.




By Sandok on 1/19/2010 11:20:15 AM , Rating: 3
Well, GM has just clarified that the Volt's "low 30s" price is only possible after tax credit.

Even if it were the same price as a Prius, I doubt it'd sell half as well. People concerned with emissions don't care if it does 0-60 faster than their current ecobox and only want good emissions and reliability.

I think it'll be a good car and am looking forward to the European version which, in my opinion, look WAY better. But it's still expensive and doubt it'll sell as well as GM hopes.

Still, who knows.


By omnicronx on 1/19/2010 5:26:03 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Even if it were the same price as a Prius, I doubt it'd sell half as well. People concerned with emissions don't care if it does 0-60 faster than their current ecobox and only want good emissions and reliability.
I really don't see the logic, the Prius is not battery operated in any shape or form, do you really think the Volt won't compete if the price points are similar?

40k for a Volt, no way, it would have been doomed for failure, but a plugin for 30k? Personally I think you are crazy if you don't think this will rival the Prius, especially for those that live within 20 miles of their workplace.

The value of the volt is not its 0-60, its the battery powered operation, its also a bigger car. Personally I would not be caught dead in a Prius, but the volt really make me think.


By Mint on 1/19/2010 5:33:46 PM , Rating: 2
In Europe I could see a PHEV doing extremely well, especially with corporations that give their employees gas money. They pay the equivalent of ~$10 per gallon, so even cars averaging 30MPG cost $300 per 1000 miles over the price of electricity.

If I was in Europe I would want a PHEV yesterday. A $10k premium will pay for itself in just a few years.


By Keeir on 1/19/2010 5:48:00 PM , Rating: 2
No kidding

British price for Petrol today is ~ 7.05 USD per USG.

Electric Prices vary, but ~ 0.15 cents per kWh seem acchievable.

PHEV... I would want some sort of way to use the much cheaper electricity prices instead of the much higher gasoline prices. PHEV, EREV, straight EV... all would be good.


By Keeir on 1/19/2010 5:50:20 PM , Rating: 2
Emission eh?

Since the Volt's generator/ICE runs ~25% of the time, the Volt will likely emit between 25%-50% of the pollution emissions of the Prius. If your one of those they buy "Green" Electricity, you could even claim its C02 production is 25%-50% that of a Prius.

Seems like that would go over well with the Prius as green crowd.


By Nutzo on 1/19/2010 12:10:41 PM , Rating: 2
2 cents/mile? You would have to be paying less than 5 cent/KW. Try working the numbers using your local electricity costs

When plugged in, the Volt battery will charge to 16KW/h (Kilowatt hours), which is 80% of the max charge.
This is supposed to give you 40 miles, so that is 2.5 miles per kilowatt.

Out here in California (SCE), we have a tiered electrical rate, the more you use, the higher the cost per Kilowatt. Any electricity used to charge the Volt, would be in addition to what you are already using.
At the lowest price of $.12/KW, it would cost about $2 to charge, and at a 40 mile range, that’s 5 cents/mile.
During the summer, if you use your Air conditioning, you are facing $.28/KW or even $.38/KW.
At $.28/KW it would cost $4.50 to charge, at $.38/KW it would cost $6.00 to charge.

Now compare this to the Toyota Prius at 40 miles/Gallon
Gas is currently $3.00/gal, so 40 miles would cost $3.
The Volt would cost me $4 to $6 to go 40 miles during the summer. So much for any savings by going electric.
My guess is that it would be cheaper to put gas in the Volt.

Explains why the GM CEO recently came out in support of a large tax increases on gas. They need gas to be $5 to $6 per gallon for the volt to be cost competitive in California.


By 67STANG on 1/19/2010 12:37:48 PM , Rating: 2
True, but not everyone has SCE. I have SCE too, and of course, they rape you. They even charge a "nuclear decommissioning" fee every month. Awesome.

That said, this car would have to be AT LEAST $10,000 cheaper than it currently is, before they sell them in any great number. The only consumers that want to pay $30,000+ on an electric car, are already buying Tesla's. The consumer's that aren't buying Tesla's, are going to buy a $20,000 Prius or Fusion Hybrid.

Of course, that's assuming that the Volt doesn't have even more competition when it FINALLY arrives-- which of course, won't be the case. Chevy is a day late and $10,000 high on this one.


By tallguywithglasseson on 1/19/2010 1:37:32 PM , Rating: 4
People that want to pay $100,000+ on an electric car are already buying Teslas.

The $100,000+ Roadster is still the only Tesla in production. The Model S comes in 2012 sometime, if Tesla can make their own deadline, and still comes it at $50,000 (tax rebate included) with the lowest (160 mile) range, and no ability to fuel up on long trips (unless you can find a "quick" 45 minute charge station). They offer 230 or 300 mile range versions but I can't find pricing on those, I'm going to guess they are considerably more expensive.

Now the Model S, unlike the Volt, is sexy as hell. Oh man would I love one of those. But $33,000 and $50,000 are not the same price range/market, much less the same as $100,000. Chevy may have overshot the price range at $33,000 for a (presumably) non-luxury vehicle, but I guess I don't blame them for trying to make a profit on them.

IIRC Toyota was willing to take a hit on the Prius with their pricing when they first introduced it. But demand for the "green"/new tech vehicle was such that dealerships were actually charging a sizable premium, you couldn't find a Prius anywhere.

Now that's Toyota, not Chevy, so a better reputation is granted. But hopefully (I say so because I'm a big fan of the so-called RE-EV concept) GM is able to find success with the mass-produced Volt.

Personally if I had an unlimited car budget, I'd want a Fisker Karma!


By 67STANG on 1/19/2010 6:33:19 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with you. My point wasn't so much that this was competing with Tesla's. I'm was simply saying that if someone had cash to burn and a guilty conscious about their carbon footprint, that's what they're buying.

The target market for the Volt are people wanting sip fuel. The same target market as the Prius that's over 10k less (18k less before the Volt's rebate).

For me, I'll wait until they have an EV that:

a)Can be recharged/replenished in the same amount of time as filling up at a gas station.
b)Can get the same distance as a comparable ICE car.
c)Costs the same as a comparable ICE car.
d)All of the above.


By Reclaimer77 on 1/19/2010 6:38:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
For me, I'll wait until they have an EV that:

a)Can be recharged/replenished in the same amount of time as filling up at a gas station.
b)Can get the same distance as a comparable ICE car.
c)Costs the same as a comparable ICE car.
d)All of the above.


Those will never be technically possible though. EV's will always be a compromise at best when it comes be practicality.


By tallguywithglasseson on 1/20/2010 2:53:48 AM , Rating: 2
I agree on principal with what you're saying: the Prius comes in at a much, much lower price point, and seemingly (I think we agree) it's the same class of vehicle as the Volt.

However, notably, there is a segment of the population that can budget for a 30K car, but not for a 50K++ car.

Now some of these people will buy Lexus, VW, Buick, etc.

But a sub-segment of these customers place more value on being eco-friendly, or at least on being seen driving an eco-friendly vehicle.

Whether this sub-segment decides to buy a Prius and spend the extra 7K (or so) on something else, or decide to get the newest, "greenest" thing... I guess time will tell.

As for your EV reqs:

a) Probably will be a while. There's some potential with lithium iron phosphate batteries but there are still hurdles to overcome.
http://www.gizmag.com/lithium-ion-battery-breakthr...

For me, the RE-EV is an adequate solution. Most of the time you're using electric, use gas when you need it, and if you're in a hurry or on a road trip, you can fill up at a gas station like normal.

b) Tesla already does this with their full-time EVs, Fisker and Chevy (plan to) do to this with the range extender gas generator.

c) Well, yeah. But you gotta start somewhere. Really bringing an EV to market at the price GM is doing would have been unthinkable even a few years ago.


By Motley on 1/19/2010 12:57:55 PM , Rating: 5
Except not everyone is paying California prices. Here in Chicago, I'm paying $0.035 per kWH during the times a volt would be charging. So I plugged in our prices into your post:

This is supposed to give you 40 miles, so that is 2.5 miles per kilowatt.

Out here in Chicago (ComEd), we have a real time pricing rate, the price is cheaper on off-peak times and lowers the cost per Kilowatt. At the lowest price of $.035/KWh, it would cost about $0.56 to charge, and at a 40 mile range, that’s 1.4 cents/mile.
During the summer, if you use your Air conditioning, you are facing $.035/KW or even $.035/KW.
At $.035/KW it would cost $0.56 to charge, at $.035/KW it would cost $0.56 to charge.

Now compare this to the Toyota Prius at 40 miles/Gallon
Gas is currently $3.00/gal, so 40 miles would cost $3.
The Volt would cost me $0.56 to $0.56 to go 40 miles during the summer. Yay for all the savings by going electric.


By Nutzo on 1/19/2010 1:01:21 PM , Rating: 2
If you are really paying $.035/KW, including transmission cost/etc. then the Volt would be cheaper. However when you have freezing tempratures, the efficency will drop, and cost/mile will go up. Same for people where it gets over 100 degrees.


By Motley on 1/19/2010 1:14:34 PM , Rating: 2
Here's a link to our prices here in Chicago:
https://il.thewattspot.com/login.do?method=showCha...

However, you are correct, distribution, transmission, and taxes are an additional cost of about $0.032 per kWH (in our coldest of winters), which would make the numbers slightly higher, but still much much cheaper than a prius.


By Screwballl on 1/19/2010 9:04:30 PM , Rating: 1
The local prices in my stretch of Florida vary. We actually volunteered to go into a tiered plan since we use the most during the low and med time periods.

Non-tiered prices locally are $0.023/KwH (it was $0.013 until early 2009 when they jacked up the prices across the board for all customers)

Low price tiered = $0.018
med = $0.03
high = $0.076
and the rare critical rate = $0.285

All these do not include taxes, transmission fee, location fees and the rest of the shit they add on.

In the case of this car, smart people would wait to plug it in at the low tier time which is 10PM regardless of the season, meaning they pay just pennies to drive the first 40 miles. The dumb people would plug in when they get home at 6PM which is high tier cost during the summer and medium during the winter.
Also for gasoline costs in my area, it varies lately from $2.65/gal to (currently) $2.90.

Here is a link to our tiered plan:

http://www.gulfpower.com/pricing/pdf/rsvp.pdf


By grandpope on 1/21/2010 3:23:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
and the rare critical rate = $0.285

wow.
Here in Central Cal, PG&E has 5 tiers:

Tier 1 Up to the Baseline amount
Tier 2 Electricity usage from 101% to 130% of Baseline
Tier 3 Electricity usage from 131% to 200% of Baseline
Tier 4 Electricity usage from 201% to 300% of Baseline
Tier 5 Electricity usage in excess of 300% of Baseline

They assume customers will hit tier 5 regularly, since the baseline is set at "50 to 60 percent of average use for basic electric customers". I normally see 40% of my bill charged at the tier 5 price, which can be as much as 4x the baseline price.

Sometimes I wish CA would just fall into the Pacific.


By Motley on 1/19/2010 1:03:55 PM , Rating: 2
I quoted $.035 because that's on the high end, however, rates yesterday for example, was $0.02.


By Nutzo on 1/19/2010 1:08:28 PM , Rating: 2
I assume that the California legislature will come up with some stupid solution, like increasing the baseline allowance (the amount of lower cost electricity) for people who buy a Volt or similar car.

Since I only drive about 5K miles a year, and any allowance would cover the typical 10K+ miles per year, buying a Volt might be a way to lower my electric bill :)

That's the only way I'd see me buying one.


By steven975 on 1/19/2010 3:30:06 PM , Rating: 2
That price is insanely low. In FL it is about 11-12 cents per KWH if you use under 1,000, then 16 cents per KWH if you go over that. These are effective (post tax/surcharge/BS fee) rates. This is about average for the US I believe.

2-3.5 cents...wow!


By Mint on 1/19/2010 5:26:32 PM , Rating: 2
If you charge at night, utilities practically give electricity away. Nuclear power doesn't ramp down because fuel cost is dirt cheap, and even coal plants usually prefer to avoid the thermal stresses of daily cycling. 1 cent per kWh is better than nothing.

From what you guys are saying about CA and FL, they badly need some smart meters. It's peak demand that strains the system and requires new generation capacity to be built.


By Solandri on 1/20/2010 1:15:37 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you charge at night, utilities practically give electricity away. Nuclear power doesn't ramp down because fuel cost is dirt cheap, and even coal plants usually prefer to avoid the thermal stresses of daily cycling. 1 cent per kWh is better than nothing.

That's how how things are right now. Prices are cheapest at night because electricity use then is lowest and the power plants have the most excess capacity. The average electricity use in the U.S. is about 31 kWh per day per household. The Volt is supposed to have a 16 kWh battery of which half (8 kWh) is used.

So if the Volt and future electric vehicles are actually successful and every household has one, you're talking about a 25% increase in daily household electricity use mostly hitting the grid at night. It would no longer be the period of lowest electricity use, and thus the price you're charged during those hours would go up.

I grant you, charging these will be cheap initially when only a few tens of thousands of households have one and they don't have a significant impact on the power grid. But long-term, I think you're better off using the average electricity price to gauge how expensive it'll be to charge an electric car. I mean, if the number of people who drove gasoline cars in the U.S. dropped to 100k overnight, gas prices would probably be like 10 cents a gallon. You have to compare these things long-term, assuming tens or hundreds of millions of them are in use.


By Mint on 1/20/2010 11:01:34 PM , Rating: 2
That's reeeeaaally long term. For each household to have one even 30 years from now, we'd need ~4M PHEVs sold per year on average.

If PHEVs become that popular, by then we'll have charging outlets everywhere to fill up during the day, too. Hopefully people will stop being scared of nuclear power in 10 years, and we can get some plants built well before that 30 year timeframe. Maybe we'll have high altitude wind (estimated 1.2c/kWh) and compressed air storage working, too.

In any case, electricity will always be far, far cheaper than gas. Unless, of course, those predictions of $1/gallon cellulosic ethanol come true...


By Schrag4 on 1/19/2010 1:58:42 PM , Rating: 2
I hate to nit-pick, but the term you're looking for is kilowatt hour (kWh or kW-h). KW is kilowatts. KW/h is kilowatts per hour (doesn't make any sense). I'm not doubting your math, in fact I didn't read your post. The reason I didn't read your post was because, at least the way you wrote it, you don't seem to have a grasp of what units are used to describe amounts of electrical power used or stored.

Again, your math may be totally sound. However, electrical rates aren't measured in cents per kilowatt, or cents per kilowatt/hour (which would be cent-hours per kilowatt!). It's just confusing.


By mcnabney on 1/19/2010 4:39:30 PM , Rating: 2
Everyone is miscalculating their miles per KWh.

The car does not run 40 miles in the process of running it from full to empty. It runs 40 miles by discharging a 16KWH battery from 100% to 50%. So it is only expending 8KWh of energy.

That means it gets 5 miles to the KWh. That means with $0.10 per KWh energy pricing you can go 50 miles on a dollar - or in todays $2.50/gallon gas prices - equates to 125MPG!


By Keeir on 1/19/2010 5:11:43 PM , Rating: 3
Much as I hate to say it... the Volt will not go 5 miles for each kWh you purchase unless you are really gentle.

A reasonable comparison point for the Volt is the estimated

230 MPG (.434 gallons/100 miles) AND 25 kWh/100 miles

From the EPA testing. This includes leakage due to "soaker" charging, leakage due to time spent between full charge and actual discharge... and the kicker in my mind, charger efficieny.

True Cost to Run a Volt per Mile will be around

.00434 * Price of Gas + .25 * Price of Electricity

My Prices per Mile at Today Rate at the Local Pump and December 2009 Marginal Electric Rate

Volt: 0.035
Prius: 0.060
Civic: 0.102


By mcnabney on 1/19/2010 4:43:11 PM , Rating: 2
Also, if GM is smart they will sell the cars, but lease the battery pack.

And it doesn't go from 100-50%. It goes from 85-35%.

Still, sell the 'car' for $20k, but have an annual lease on the battery. Remember, the battery is fully recyclable and quite valuable. I bet they can work out a battery lease of $100/mo.


By formulav8 on 1/19/2010 2:09:36 PM , Rating: 4
Not everyone lives in that overpriced, overtaxed, ripoff state they call Cali...


By Keeir on 1/19/2010 3:46:36 PM , Rating: 3
So many many wrongs

The Volt's Battery Pack Size is 16 kWh

However, a single Charge of the Volt will put between 8 kWh and 8.8 kWh into the Battery.

This is maintain the ability at year 10 to still have a 8 kWh to 8.8 kWh battery availible for AER usage, thanks to Californian Emission Legislative that mandate emission reducing car parts be warrantied for the same operation up to 10 Y(15 Y)/150K Miles.

Depending on Using the 110V or the 220V charger options, a slightly different amount of power will be drawn from the wall, but ~10 kWh is likely are good estimate, not 16 kWh.

Its funny you bring up SCE. SCE has a special Electric EV rate schedule

http://www.sce.com/residential/rates/electric-vehi...

Super off peak cahring rate appears to vary between 7 cents per kWh and 14 cents per kWh.

Thankfully the Volt can be set to use only Super off peak charging and can use Gasoline instead of electric during peak hours.

if we assume super off peak charging primary, at 130% baseline loads, it appears a Volt's per mile cost on SCE is 3.5 cents per mile. This equates to $1.75 a gallon gas in a 50 mile Prius.


By Nutzo on 1/19/2010 4:18:12 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks, I hadn't seen the SCE info for electric cars.

Problem is that you have to have a "smart" meter or a secondary meter installed for several hundered dollars.
You also need to live in an area that that support the smart meter if you go that route.

It's not SCE that's the rip-off, the rates are set by government agencies out here. They mandate that SCE buy expensive green energy, they stop the building of any low cost power plants, and then guarantee that SCE makes a percentage of profit.


By Keeir on 1/19/2010 4:56:28 PM , Rating: 2
Ummm... maybe currently...

I don't live in SCE's service area, but I was under the impression that by the end of 2012, SCE will have rolled out Smart Meters capable of the EV pricing.

Customers can either pay a little now and get a smart meter installed. Or wait till 2012, which appears to be "free" installation of smart meter.

All california utilities seem to be heated that way.


By technomancer77 on 1/19/2010 4:09:58 PM , Rating: 1
Please verify your facts before you go making assertions. Some quick research will show everyone that while the volt's battery pack is 16kwh, it's oversized. It's only 8kwh effective, because they only charge in the 30% to 80% band. This is because lithium ions that are designed with charge controllers like this last much longer. This is what the military does with lithium ion cells designated for long life. (Source:Wikipedia)


By FITCamaro on 1/19/2010 4:42:19 PM , Rating: 3
Thank you for giving me another reason not to live in California.

$.38 cents per KWh? No thank you.


By Masospaghetti on 1/20/2010 10:31:49 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
When plugged in, the Volt battery will charge to 16KW/h (Kilowatt hours), which is 80% of the max charge.
This is supposed to give you 40 miles, so that is 2.5 miles per kilowatt.


The battery holds 16 KW/h at 100% capacity...the 40 mile range is using 50% of that capacity, or 8 KW/h, so the actual cost of operating the Volt in electric mode is half that as shown in your calculations. Remember? The battery pack will cycle between 30% and 80% only.

At current prices, I don't argue that the Volt will never pay for itself in gas savings...HOWEVER...it IS cheaper to operate than the Prius, EVEN AT $3 gasoline AND an electrical rate of $0.28 per KW/h, which is far above the national average. For comparison, in NC, electricity is 0.08 per KW/h, even during the summer. And, personally, I expect gasoline to get much more expensive over the next few years, which make the Volt seem much more economically viable.


By Yawgm0th on 1/20/2010 4:00:38 PM , Rating: 2
Your units are wrong after the second sentence, but it doesn't change your point.

But California is less than 1/9 of the country. $0.12/kWh is ridiculous. In the midwest, we pay more like $0.07 - $0.09/kWh. At around $0.8kWh here in Minnesota, assuming 2.5 M/kWh, I'd be paying $0.032/mile. I don't drive a Prius because accelerating at a reasonable rate is useful, and having a week, light car on snow is at times dangerous. I get a much more common 30mpg with my car (Saturn Ion 2007, 2.4L automatic) and pay just under $.10/mile (gas is more like $2.60 = $2.90 in the Twin Cities). I'd say that at about a two-thirds reduction, $.0.032/mile is great savings.

The issue is the cost of acquisition, not the cost of energy. Saying each car lasts 150,000 miles without needing extensive repairs/maintenance (with regular costs being the same) and that at that point I replace the car, I end up paying about $.25/mile to drive the Volt, averaged out over the life of the car. That's at the post-tax $32,500 price. My car would be less, at $0.23/mile based on its cost of approximately $19,500 -- overpriced for a car of its class, admittedly. That's a $3,000 difference when all is said and done.

That is not counting for interest. I'd have to finance the Volt (and I did the Ion). Accounting for interest, the Volt would need to last over 200,000 miles to be cost competitive. Bring the Prius in and the numbers get silly, but who wants to drive a Prius? ;)

Gas in Minnesota would have to be close to $8/gallon for the Volt to have a competitive TCO. In California, it's probably more like $12/gallon.

Between the cost of acquisition, issues with the battery at certain temperatures, and uncertainty over how long the battery will last in comparison to a transmission in a traditional ICE vehicle, including hybrids (the Volt battery should go out much, much quicker than a non-plug-in hybrid), it's hard to make an economic case for the Volt. TCO comes out too high no matter how conservative you get with the cost estimates.

In fact, if you look at an economic cost of cleaning up or reducing air pollution from cars, it would actually be smarter for the government to spend money directly on that (even if you include CO2, which is not pollution) than to subsidize every Volt by $32,500. The emissions reduction is just not enough to justify the tax break, even from a save-the-environment standpoint.


By Hoser McMoose on 1/21/2010 5:53:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
When plugged in, the Volt battery will charge to 16KW/h (Kilowatt hours), which is 80% of the max charge.

Not quite. The Volt will use a 16kWh battery but it will only make use of the capacity from roughly a 25% charge to an 80% charge, or around 8.8kWh worth.

For the price of electricity, California has roughly the highest electricity costs in North America. Even $0.12/kWh is a touch on the high side and certainly $0.28/kWh is getting up close to the rates Europeans pay.

At $0.12/kWh it would cost 2.64 cents/mile. For 2 cents/mile you'll need 9 cent/kWh which is on the cheap side of electricity but certainly available in some areas in the U.S. and most of Canada.


By walk2k on 1/19/2010 1:40:04 PM , Rating: 1
steaming pile of crap


By jonmcc33 on 1/19/2010 4:27:05 PM , Rating: 1
Sorry. For $30K I'll be getting the Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8L V6 and not some stupid battery powered car.


By Keeir on 1/19/2010 5:29:46 PM , Rating: 2
While I am not attempting to say one choice is right and the other wrong, I think though the conception of a Battery Car is that it costs alot upfront, and then costs do not rise significantly.

For example, you 30K Genesis Coupe will likely require 12K-15K of fuel to reach even 100,000 Miles (even assuming gas does not rise in price... heh). The "32K" end price Volt, will likely require between 2K-5K of Fuel/Electricity to reach 100,000 Miles.


By ajoyner777 on 1/20/2010 1:15:31 AM , Rating: 1
Why on earth would you want to waste $30k on a Hyundai? You'd spend at least 1/4 of that on maintenance alone.


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Of course it's including the tax credit
By 91TTZ on 1/19/2010 10:10:39 AM , Rating: 5
Manufacturers always release the most optimistic figures possible, even if they border on inaccuracy. You can be sure that this is referring to the most stripped down version they'll sell combined with the tax credit.




By Brandon Hill (blog) on 1/19/2010 10:12:41 AM , Rating: 2
Problem is, I bet the tax credit isn't going to last forever and will be limited to a certain number of vehicle sales. Toyota ran into this problem when sales for the Prius skyrocketed and customers lost out on the tax credit.


RE: Of course it's including the tax credit
By quiksilvr on 1/19/2010 12:21:02 PM , Rating: 2
That happened because the tax credit is only available for a certain battery capacity. If Toyota just use Lithium Ion batteries, the capacity would have increased and they would have received the tax credit.

Instead they whined about it a lot and cut their price of the Prius to compete (did I say compete? I meant pwned) the Honda Insight.


By Brandon Hill (blog) on 1/19/2010 2:11:15 PM , Rating: 2
We're talking about two seperate rebates here. I'm talking about the initial government hybrids rebate that was offered three or four years ago to boost the sales of hybrid vehicles. Once automakers reached a certain sales target, customers were no longer eligible to receive a rebate. That's what happened to Toyota.

You're talking about the new tax credit which Toyota was whining about. My point was that even with this new tax credit, it's probably sales based -- once a target is reached, you can kiss that $7500 goodbye.


By Keeir on 1/19/2010 3:50:07 PM , Rating: 2
The current legistlative appears to be Not based on Make and lasts for the first 250,000 cars eligible.


RE: Of course it's including the tax credit
By Reclaimer77 on 1/19/2010 4:32:55 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Problem is, I bet the tax credit isn't going to last forever and will be limited to a certain number of vehicle sales.


Problem is, the tax credit is offered in the first place. They already bleed the American taxpayer for BILLIONS. Now they are asking me and everyone else to fund your Volt purchase ?

Fuck that. This is an outrage.


RE: Of course it's including the tax credit
By Mint on 1/19/2010 5:43:48 PM , Rating: 2
If you can help bring to market a technology to get America off foreign oil for, say, $7500 * 250k ~= $2B spread over a few years, and our increased independence helps us cut just a few percent off our half trillion yearly spent on defense, it's a no-brainer.

Then you have the reduction in urban air pollution, too, which costs tens of thousands of premature deaths per year (look it up).

This is not just to appease some kooky global warming alarmists. It makes sense in so many ways.


RE: Of course it's including the tax credit
By Reclaimer77 on 1/19/2010 6:22:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Then you have the reduction in urban air pollution, too, which costs tens of thousands of premature deaths per year (look it up).


Such bullshit. We do not have tens of thousands of deaths per year because of air pollution. And define "premature" deaths for me please. Anyone who doesn't live to the national average is "premature" ? That's absurd logic.

Please find me all these deaths where the coroner pronounced the cause of death was "urban air pollution".

quote:
If you can help bring to market a technology to get America off foreign oil


We already have a product. It's called DRILLS and pumps. We have them, we should use them.

quote:
This is not just to appease some kooky global warming alarmists. It makes sense in so many ways.


How ???


By Yawgm0th on 1/20/2010 4:44:13 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Such bullshit. We do not have tens of thousands of deaths per year because of air pollution. And define "premature" deaths for me please. Anyone who doesn't live to the national average is "premature" ? That's absurd logic.

Please find me all these deaths where the coroner pronounced the cause of death was "urban air pollution".
I disagree with OPs position, but he's not far off. Air pollution is a serious health problem, particularly in the more densely packed urban environments. Of course you're not going to see cause of death of random people in big cities as hydrocarbon or CO inhalation (not counting suicides, of course). However, the overall air-quality does have a long-term health impact. You see an increased rate of lung problems. Average life spans are reduced.

It's really not up to debate. Air pollution has an undeniable causal relationship with reduced life expectancy.

It's like saying smoking doesn't kill. Sure, a puff from a cigarette won't kill you now, but a pack a day for thirty years very well could give you lung cancer. You wouldn't put "tobacco inhalation" as the cause of death, but it did cause the lung cancer.

quote:
We already have a product. It's called DRILLS and pumps. We have them, we should use them.
You fail in the same way as OP, more or less. Fungible markets mean it doesn't matter much if we drill domestically. Unless we can produce petroleum to the point of a surplus (truly impossible at even 30% of our current usage, no matter where we start drilling), the market will adjust itself such that our foreign providers, regardless of how much we like or don't like them, will still get compensated very well for their oil.


By Mint on 1/20/2010 11:45:08 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Such bullshit. We do not have tens of thousands of deaths per year because of air pollution. And define "premature" deaths for me please.


Defined by who? How about the American Medical Association? World Health Organization? EPA? It's not the dumbass definition that you assumed it to be.
http://www.wunderground.com/health/airpollution.as...
http://dx.doi.org/10.1001%2Fjama.291.10.1238
EPA estimated 20k per year in 1997. WHO estimated 70k per year in the US. Journal of the Americal Medical Association says 22k-52k.

http://www.thestar.com/article/477901
20k premature deaths per year in Canada (Canadian Medical Association), 620k visits to the doctor.
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/412202
European Respiratory Journal says 3% of deaths in the US are due to air pollution (~80k/yr)

The bottom line is I don't give a flying crap if you don't want any of your tax dollars going to PHEV subsidies. Drivers are shortening our life expectancy, sending us to the hospital, and killing more people than traffic accidents, and think how much you pay in insurance to cover just the latter. Gas tax doesn't come close to covering the costs.

quote:
We already have a product. It's called DRILLS and pumps. We have them, we should use them.
You're an idiot if you think we can triple our oil production by drilling more.


By Yawgm0th on 1/20/2010 4:28:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you can help bring to market a technology to get America off foreign oil for, say, $7500 * 250k ~= $2B spread over a few years, and our increased independence helps us cut just a few percent off our half trillion yearly spent on defense, it's a no-brainer.
You clearly have no understanding whatsoever of how a worldwide market of a fungible product works -- or where we get our oil. Almost all of it is foreign. Even if the Canucks could provide us with all of our oil (assuming by "foreign" you meant "from countries we don't really like") that wouldn't effect how much money goes to the Persian Gulf or Venezuela. If we don't buy their oil, someone else will at a similar price while we continue to pay a similar price.

Reducing how much we use we reduce would reduce quantity demanded for the entire market, but it's not enough to particularly damage the oil states that "we don't like" -- certainly no more than it hurts our domestic oil companies or our hat's oil companies.

If you want to lower air pollution, a better way would be to eliminate all subsidies and mandates for ethanol. Making Ethanol doesn't substantially impact the petroleum market (which, as I said, doesn't really do anything for us geopolitcally or economically anyway) and, in fact, results in MORE pollutants and CO2 being emitted.

Alternatively, apply that same money towards other ways to clean or prevent air pollution and the effect will be much greater. The technology has come a long way in ten years, but subsidizing it now is not going to make it move much faster. Give it five or ten years and we'll be ready to see a more reasonable shift to cars like the Volt -- but without the outrageous subsidies and the drawbacks.


RE: Of course it's including the tax credit
By shin0bi272 on 1/19/2010 11:18:20 AM , Rating: 2
Can someone explain to me how the government (and yes I know they own GM) giving me money to buy a car makes the production of that car cheaper? The car still costs 40k+ to make unless they strip out stuff like 91TTZ said or get the batteries cheaper somehow. Just because the Gman decides Im being a nice little progressive and bending over and taking it in the wallet so I deserve 7500 extra dollars, doesnt mean that the car is cheaper to produce. That will just lead to GM losing more money each year and the government having to give them more money to keep them in business while they are handing me money too. So in the end wont the losers here be the tax payers?

I mean eventually your tax dollars are gonna be given to GM and anyone who does what the environmentalists say and buys one of these cars. Cause the way a tax credit works (except for cash for clunkers) is you go buy the car at 40k+, GM loses money on it, then next april you file your taxes and the government pays you money (which is classified as an outlay of misc funds) for your favorable action of purchasing a car they deemed worthy. That results in lower tax revenue for the government at tax time and because of that we'll run higher deficits every year this credit is around. That results in higher taxes eventually and more bailouts for companies owned by the government (see fascism) all of which are paid with tax payer dollars.

So isnt the government paying you to do what they want and then taking money from you later to keep their programs and companies running? How is that turning a profit?

Not saying dont buy the car... that's up to you... Im just lost as to how this means GM turns a profit


RE: Of course it's including the tax credit
By theapparition on 1/19/2010 11:37:42 AM , Rating: 3
I don't agree with subsidies and tax credits, but to answer your question:
quote:
Can someone explain to me how the government (and yes I know they own GM) giving me money to buy a car makes the production of that car cheaper?

Increasing the production of any item reduces it's cost. Imagine how expensive an iPod or GPS device would be if they only made a few. Sell thousands, and prices are somewhat affordable. Sell millions, and now they are downright cheap. Billions and now they are the surpirse at the bottom of cereal boxes.

So the thinking is that if the government can artificially create demand, production increases and costs decrease. Once again, let me reiterate that I do not agree with that conclusion, just trying to explain it.


RE: Of course it's including the tax credit
By shin0bi272 on 1/19/2010 2:07:08 PM , Rating: 2
That kinda makes sense. If the government could sell enough of them to make the price go down so that it could actually turn a profit. They did artificially create demand with the cash for clunkers and now I would postulate that all the people who bought cars in c4c wont be purchasing cars this year like they might have without c4c. Essentially they didnt really create any demand they just displaced future demand to last summer which is already leading to lower buying now. But thanks for explaining it that does make sense now I appreciate it.

Motley: The government giving you a tax rebate doesnt reduce the cost of producing the car it reduces your price of the car theres a difference. The car's tires are still the same price for GM to purchase and install. The windshield, the engine, transmission, etc. are all the same price for them to purchase and install. That means the cost of making the vehicle is the same but the price to the buyer after the fact goes down.


By foolsgambit11 on 1/19/2010 6:02:39 PM , Rating: 1
True, the rebate doesn't reduce the cost to produce the car. But that's not really germane. GM gets paid for the full price of the car - it gets the $7500 from the Government and the rest from you. So if they price it at $40k pre-rebate, and it costs them $35k to make, even if you only pay $32,500 (or $32,499 more likely), GM doesn't lose $2500, they make $5000.

That's good for GM's budget, not so good for the Government's. Let's say GM sells 5000 Volts while the rebate program is going on - it'll probably cost the Government more than $40 million after administrative costs. $40 million to help sell 5000 cars. Wow.

The hope with c2c, by the way, is that it will, in the long run, increase demand more than it reduces demand. If everybody who bought a car during the c2c program holds out until they would have bought the car after their current one, then there's no increase in demand overall. But if, by moving their purchase forward, it moves all their future purchases forward as well, then overall it increases the total demand in the long run. Not much. But some. Not saying it'll work, just expounding on the theory a bit more.


By Motley on 1/19/2010 12:21:42 PM , Rating: 2
By the government giving a tax credit, the cost of the car is reduced significantly. There are a lot more people that would be interested in buying the car at $30k than $38k, and that increases the quantity of cars needed to be produced. Many costs of a manufacturer are "set up" costs. It may be programming the robotic arm to precisely weld points A,B,C on the car, or creating a mold for the plastic trim. So the more cars selling, the more cars these costs can be spread over. It doesn't reduce the cost of doing them, but it's cheaper per car.

A $20,000 plastic mold for 1000 cars = $20 each car. If you sell 5000 cars it's $4 each car.


RE: Of course it's including the tax credit
By someguy743 on 1/19/2010 1:42:02 PM , Rating: 2
The bottom line is ... in order to get the prices of the (now) expensive batteries for the Chevy Volt to come down, you need subsidies and incentives in place so that the R&D costs and the new factories can be finished and optimized, etc. Once the big factories are built you'll see "economies of scale" kick in and the price of the batteries will probably go down 50-70% ... according to what GM and others have said.

It'll be like with HDTVs. They were expensive at first. Then the competition kicked in and the factories got built. THAT lowered the prices of HDTVs a lot. You also probably don't realize how much this product called GASOLINE is subsidized by the government do you? How do you feel about that?

Read this: http://www.setamericafree.org/saf_hiddencostofoil0...

Another good reason WHY the government should be subsidizing the Chevy Volt is because of what George W. Bush said in a "State of the Union" address about 5-6 years ago ... WE'RE ADDICTED TO FOREIGN OIL !!! Oilman T. Boone Pickens says the same thing. It's a bigtime military, economic, and diplomatic problem. Remember in 2008 when GW Bush was over in Saudi Arabia kissing the hands of the fat cat oil sheiks trying to get them to lower their crude oil prices? These same oil sheiks have people around them that are inclined to give money and other assistance to radical terrorist groups like Al Qaida.

We need to "grow our own" energy here in America. Create more energy jobs here. We can make plenty of ELECTRICITY here to "fuel" our Chevy Volts and tell the oil sheiks and petrodictators "we don't need no stinking oil". :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ixqMYKodeg&feature...


By shin0bi272 on 1/19/2010 1:56:09 PM , Rating: 2
Right I understand that the price goes down eventually if you sell enough (look at the ps3). But if you are selling them at a loss to begin with then your giving people additional money to buy the thing for the first few years or so youre loosing over 7500 bucks per car (since the government owns gm now and all that).

We have been addicted to foreign oil for a long time and lots of presidents have tried to gin up support for stopping it but none ever have... I just doubt battery powered cars are the answer to getting off foreign oil... Mainly because the bulk of the lithium to put in the batteries comes from china anyway last I heard.


Cooked books
By wookie1 on 1/19/2010 10:46:22 AM , Rating: 3
Since the gov't now owns and controls GM, and is bent on electric cars, the accounting will be all messed up. What I mean is, how can anyone determine if the car is profitable when the gov't is subsidizing large chunks of R&D and manufacturing? I believe that there was an article here on DT not long ago about a >$100M grant to GM's manufacturing to help prepare to build the car. Add to that many other gov't money infusions and the $7500 tax credit, and it really isn't possible for outsiders to determine if the car is "profitable". It will of course appear profitable, because the costs to build it are heavily subsidized and that won't be factored in. Of course, competitors will have a difficult time making a profit on any similar vehicle since they have to invest their own money on it and the investments will count against profitability.

We knew before that GM was too big to fail, now even the Volt is too big to fail.




RE: Cooked books
By shin0bi272 on 1/19/2010 11:20:02 AM , Rating: 2
+1 to you my friend... just sorry I already voted and commented before seeing your post.


RE: Cooked books
By Motley on 1/19/2010 1:26:01 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think the government will own GM for very long. GM is repaying their loans to the government even quicker than anticipated.


RE: Cooked books
By CosmoJoe on 1/19/2010 2:01:54 PM , Rating: 2
This means nothing until GM is out from under Govt control and no longer receiving massive amounts of taxpayer aid. GM just posted another loss. This company, as it exists now, is not looking like a strong company which can stand on its own. It is banking everything on the Volt and as many have said, we may never know if this car is a financial success for the company if everything about it is heavily subsidized.


RE: Cooked books
By steven975 on 1/19/2010 3:34:13 PM , Rating: 2
with their planned production, the Volt will be just a blip on their income statement. One positive uptick offset by losses upon losses.


RE: Cooked books
By wookie1 on 1/19/2010 2:14:39 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but they're repaying it with OTHER money given to them from the gov't! It's like making your car payment with your credit card, especially if your car loan and credit card are issued by the same bank! It's just money going from one of the banks money accounts to another, with nothing coming from you.


RE: Cooked books
By hashish2020 on 1/19/2010 2:21:09 PM , Rating: 2
...well that is what happens when you let Korean and Japanese companies import with artificially low exchange rates for 25 years---if you think that isn't a subsidy...

Even Adam Smith agreed that governments can distort world markets


RE: Cooked books
By foolsgambit11 on 1/19/2010 6:13:07 PM , Rating: 2
I see your point, and acknowledge that it's a good one. But Lutz wasn't talking about profitability in the sense that you are. He meant that GM's production costs would be completely covered by the money it receives from the sale of the Volt. If you leave out all the government subsidies, the math becomes a lot simpler:

(1) (GM's) R&D costs
(2) plus production and shipping costs
(3) minus sales revenue
(4) ???
(5) Profit!!!

(I'll give you a hint - the ??? is where we all chip in an help GM out, enforced by a friendly IRS agent)


Close to $30k
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 1/19/2010 10:10:34 AM , Rating: 3
My guess is that it will be close to $30k after the tax credit. Low $30s plus an additional $7,500 credit seems almost impossible.

That being said, if it's the former, I still see a 40 mpg Chevrolet Cruze (which the Volt is based on) with its 5-passenger seating (vs 4-seats for the Volt) being a better buy.




RE: Close to $30k
By Kurz on 1/19/2010 12:19:03 PM , Rating: 2
Almost every Econo car will be the better buy including Crossovers.


Great quote.
By Mr Perfect on 1/19/2010 12:49:24 PM , Rating: 5
GM CEO Ed Whitacre and quotes him as saying, "We’re not in business to lose money, we did enough of that already.

There's another quote for the bottom of DT.




Battery
By btc909 on 1/19/2010 10:12:41 AM , Rating: 2
Whatever the price ends up being I bet you are buying the car & leasing the battery for life.




RE: Battery
By steven975 on 1/19/2010 3:38:25 PM , Rating: 2
leased until the warranty is up. Then you're on your own. And Li-Ion doesn't have a proven reliability record outside of simulations.


Toyota is going to be piiiissssssssseeeeddddd!!
By chruschef on 1/19/2010 11:11:17 AM , Rating: 1
subject says it all.




RE: Toyota is going to be piiiissssssssseeeeddddd!!
By rudy on 1/19/2010 11:44:55 AM , Rating: 1
Maybe but they should not care. Toyota and GM sell cars that are the same made in the same factory of almost the exact same parts yet toyota can fetch thousands more for the same exact car. Basically being out priced is not a problem for toyota people buy their cars anyway.


By steven975 on 1/19/2010 3:37:27 PM , Rating: 2
That really applied to a few models. The only one I can think of was the Vibe, and that was really all Toyota.

Most of GM's products are GM with no Toyota components. I think Toyota is closing that CA factory anyway (it was their only UAW plant).

The Prism was a Corolla, but that isn't made now.


Been a long time
By slash196 on 1/19/2010 10:09:50 AM , Rating: 2
since I've seen a car make the Chevy logo look as good as it does on the Volt. If it drives half as good as its styling it'll do well.




Hot climates
By Alexvrb on 1/20/2010 10:40:39 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Among the most pressing are performance -- currently the Volt can not tolerate very hot climates well
The Volt itself tolerates them just fine. The Li-ion batteries suffer in very hot or very cold climates, and thus you aren't going to get as many electric-only miles out of them. But that isn't a Volt-specific issue, and it really only reflects the limits of current Li-ion battery technology. A future battery replacement could fix the problem without requiring a major redesign.




By chunkymonster on 1/19/2010 12:34:27 PM , Rating: 1
I imagine that the Volt will not sell once the other car manufacturers begin releasing their next gen hybrids. It will take at least the third generation of Volt and a final sale price under $25,000 (w/o tax incentives) to make it long term viable and competitive.

The Chinese made BYD F3DM have a 2 year head start as a production series hybrid vehicle and currently sells in China for the equivalent of $17,000USD; and the F3DM is slated for sale in North America, coincidentally, in 2011 . Even with meeting American safety standards plus whatever other standards the US government makes the F3DM meet, it will still be cheaper than the Volt.

Don't get me wrong, people will buy the Volt, it will see moderate sales as early adopters jump on the bandwagon but as it stands today, I do not see the Volt as a long term and viable solution.

Here's an idea for General Motors, start making a line of compact and mid-size sedans that are diesel-electric-full-hybrid and diesel-electric-plug-in-hybrids and then at the same time lobby the oil industry and US government to subsidize bio-diesel production.




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