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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 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.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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