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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 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.

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