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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, 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 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 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
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.

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:

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:

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

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.


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
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

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
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 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
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.

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