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The Volt's gasoline capacity is being cut back

The Chevy Volt plug-in electric car from GM is one of the most desired new cars coming to the market.  Everyone is talking about the car's stylish design and relatively affordable price tag of around $40,000; not bad compared to past electric cars totaling over $100,000 like the Tesla Roadster.  With sales planned to commence in 2010 and with a production model possibly being unveiled later this year, the buzz surrounding the new vehicle is intense.

One fact many people didn't know is that while the Volt is an electric car, relying first on charge, it also sports hybrid capabilities.  It features a 12 gallon gas tank, which will only kick in after the lithium-ion battery charge is depleted.  This could take the car 600 miles, thanks to an impressive 50 MPG projected fuel economy.

However, recent reports have revealed that GM, in a surprising development, has decided to cut down the fuel tank for the Volt.  They won't say what the new capacity will be, with the source only saying, "We're working on that." 

The original goal for the Volt was to equip it to drive 40 miles on a charge, without using any gas.  This goal remains, and appears to be within GM's reach.  Additionally, since 40 miles isn't long enough for road trips or longer business travels, GM planned on adding the gas tank.  The gas does not power a traditional engine, but rather a generator, which provides enough charge to keep going, and actually performs more efficiently than most gas-engines.

GM has revised the target range to 360 miles, which would seem to indicate a fuel tank of 7.2 gallons.  The reasoning behind the cut is research that cars, on average, travel less than 40 miles a day.  While GM wants to provide a comfortable extension to this range, it decided that 600 miles was a bit excessive.  Many older sedans don't get much more than 300 miles on a 12 gallon tank, so the new range seems relatively reasonable.

Jim Hossack, vice president of AutoPacific, an automotive research and consulting firm states, "Most cars today have a range of more than 300 miles and less than 400 miles before refueling.  GM didn't need a longer range because most bladders can't go 600 miles.  By going with a smaller tank it means GM can take weight and price out and make Volt a little lighter and a little cheaper, and that's what you call making an improvement."

While GM's move should help it cut costs and cut down slightly on the weight of the vehicle, it may come as a disappointment for fans of ultra-long treks across the country.  Still, it is dubious that such minor gripes will be able to do anything to quell the PR frenzy surrounding the Volt.

At its price tag, even with possible subsidies, the Volt will likely fall into the luxury car class.  However, with its wild popularity and sleek looks, it seems likely to thrive in this class, or whatever class it may enter as prices drop.

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By clovell on 7/9/2008 11:46:10 AM , Rating: 2
So GM has upped the price to ~$40k now, eh? Forgive me my cynicism here (I'm as excited about this car as anyone), but if this keeps up, the Volt won't make it to the showroom with a tag under $50,000 or so.

RE: $40K?
By excelsium on 7/9/2008 12:08:38 PM , Rating: 2
What's most peoples car budget these days? $10-20k?

RE: $40K?
By DFranch on 7/9/2008 12:32:34 PM , Rating: 2
I might seriously think about it at 30k, but at 40k it seems more cost effective to get a regular car. Maybe if I drove like 20000+ miles a year, but at around 15000 miles I don't think I will ever recoup the initial investment.

RE: $40K?
By Spuke on 7/9/2008 2:13:47 PM , Rating: 2
20k miles a year driving a 1/2 ton pickup truck won't make it cost effective either.

Truck costs not including maint or insurance:
Payment $350/month with $5k down payment at 7.5%
Gas $320/month

Volt costs not including maint or insurance:
Payment $765/month with $5k down payment at 7.5%
Gas $132/month

RE: $40K?
By jRaskell on 7/9/2008 1:09:05 PM , Rating: 2
Considering GM hasn't even unofficially announced a sticker price for the Volt, they haven't upped anything. Any numbers you may have read about so far have been nothing more than speculation on the media's part.

RE: $40K?
By Spuke on 7/9/2008 2:20:10 PM , Rating: 2
Any numbers you may have read about so far have been nothing more than speculation on the media's part.
No, actually Bob Lutz said in an interview that the car won't be $30k but could be as much as $40k but he wasn't sure.

RE: $40K?
By jRaskell on 7/9/2008 4:14:33 PM , Rating: 2
Interviews are interviews. They can be informative, but are in no way binding. Nothing against Bob Lutz, but if we look back over the last few years, we'll see a number of statements he's made that, through no fault of his own, ultimately didn't hold true. That's the nature of an ever changing market.

You're right that it is more than speculation on the media's part though, so I was incorrect about that, but I still wouldn't constitute statements made in an interview as even unofficial announcements.

RE: $40K?
By Spuke on 7/9/2008 5:34:10 PM , Rating: 2
but I still wouldn't constitute statements made in an interview as even unofficial announcements.
Considering that he is in a prominent position with the company that's building this car AND is more than privy to what's going on with it, I would take his statements as official. If he says they can't do it for $30k, it ain't gonna get done. Now whether or not the price is $40k remains to be seen and in HIS statement he says he doesn't know how much exactly it will be. But it won't be $30k.

Now, if he is dead nuts wrong and the car is introduced at $30k, guess what? You STILL won't be able to get it for $30k. Why? 10,000 units a year AND all the eco wannabes, the eco I-feel-guilty, and just plain those with enough money to muscle others around will line up around the block to get one.

If people were willing to pay upwards of $10k over for a car (Solstice/Sky) that's just a weekend toy that was going to be produced in quantities of 30,000 units/year, just imagine what people will be willing to pay for a practical sedan that's on the forefront of the "green" fad.

RE: $40K?
By clovell on 7/9/2008 6:48:54 PM , Rating: 2
Sure, okay. I was more or less lamenting the relentless march on what we'll just agree to call 'price estimates' from $25k up to where we are now.

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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