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Chevrolet Volt

Bob Lutz is a legend among auto enthusiasts  (Source: Patrick Arena/The Car Lounge)
Bob Lutz is tired of the Volt haterz

The Chevrolet Volt has been a bit of a lightning rod in the automotive industry and political arena. The vehicle was first shown as a concept back in early 2007 and went into production in late 2010. 

The Volt can travel from 25 to 50 miles on battery power alone before the gasoline engine/generator kicks in to keep the vehicle moving. All of this technowizardry comes at a steep entry price, however. The Volt's base MSRP is $41,000 before a $7,500 tax credit

Because of the Volt's high price tag and GM's past bankruptcy, the Volt program has come under a lot of scrutiny. Rush Limbaugh was a vocal critic of the Volt, noting in July 2010

I'm not going to recommend people go buy an electric car that gets 40 miles to a charge.  That would shoot my credibility.  It takes three to four hours to charge the thing, 40 miles to the charge.  And then there's a backup gas tank that gives you 375 miles.   

So who's kidding who here?  And all this is 41 grand.  This is the most expensive Chevrolet outside a Corvette.  

Bob Lutz, former vice chairman and "Car Czar" for General Motors, is fighting back at the critics in a new book due out next month. Lutz, who identifies himself strongly with conservative ideals, had some harsh criticism for some of the more vocal critics in the media according to Motor Trend magazine

Animosity towards the Obama administration is so intense among the right-wing talk-show hosts that any vulnerability, however tenuous, must be attacked and blamed on ‘socialist influence’, with no regard to truth or to the damage these reckless claims can make to GM, an American corporation, to the dedicated and hard-driving members of the Volt team, and to a now-misinformed public that may be steered away from a transportation solution that would fill their needs perfectly.

Lutz went on to say that these people hurt the credibility of the Republican Party. The outspoken Lutz doesn't take too kindly to people criticizing the hard work that went into developing the Volt, and feels that the Volt is just the beginning of a new wave of advancements in automotive powertrain design.

The skeptics, the pundits, the GM haters, and those who detest lithium-ion as a chemistry will all be dragged, however unwillingly, to the same conclusion. Volt paved the way; Volt was the first with the extended-range EV concept; Volt demonstrated the will and the technological capability of General Motors.  And to all the doubters, opponents, critics and skeptics… [including] Glenn Beck, I say: ‘Eat your hearts out. Volt is the future’. 

The Chevrolet Volt (EPA classified as a compact) is definitely not for everyone – its high price of entry (before tax credit) makes it a non-starter for many people. And in many cases, sub-$20,000 compact cars that can achieve 40 mpg or greater on the highway and roughly 33 mpg combined make better buying options. Likewise, hybrids like the Prius, Fusion, and Sonata offer more room than the Volt, excellent fuel economy, and much lower price tags.

However, for those that like to stay away from gas pumps as much as possible, but still want the added security of a gasoline backup when needed, the Volt makes a credible alternative to all-electric vehicles like the Leaf.

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Heh...not at that price
By MartyLK on 4/29/2011 2:10:29 PM , Rating: 2
The Volt might be the distant future, but it isn't it for the foreseeable future. Hard to tell which company will succeed, but I'd give the nod to Tesla with its all-electric vehicles.

The Volt is a typical American-made joke. GM still is practicing deceit of the products with the Volt. It was advertised as have 4-wheel motors and having no link to the driveline by the engine. However, as is the deceitful nature of American automakers, they changed it up to a common hybrid type system. They say the engine only runs the generator, but the layout connects the driveshaft to the axles.

However, at $50,000, the future is way the hell off. I know for myself, if given the going of the Volt, Prius, Insight or Tesla, I would rather go with the Tesla. The Volt wouldn't even get considered. Not because it is bad, but because of the deceitfulness of it existence. But is a low-tech Prius.

RE: Heh...not at that price
By Tabinium on 4/29/2011 3:47:31 PM , Rating: 2
GM found, during the course of development, that linking the engine to the drivetrain while the batteries are low is more efficient than a fully-decoupled powertrain. The Volt can run the gasoline engine at its most efficient rpm and load to charge the battery independently of road speed. In addition, the Volt powertrain can run full-electric at high speed, which the Prius cannot do.

Personal preferences and budgets aside, it is decidedly more high-tech than a Prius.

RE: Heh...not at that price
By MartyLK on 4/29/2011 3:53:41 PM , Rating: 2
While that may sound all good and well, it doesn't compensate for the deception. They had no good business being deceitful. They could easily have explained this to the media and public but chose to keep it secret. When a company does that, it's their own fault for any evil perceptions. They are at fault for the hatred of the Volt. No amount of PR will fool the wise.

I know one thing as sure as death and taxes: a jaded view of American business ethics. Even in a securely honest environment, a company would not want to practice this type of business. But to do it in an environment that expects the worst is suicide.

RE: Heh...not at that price
By Tabinium on 4/29/2011 4:37:39 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that the change was handled poorly from a PR standpoint. But, to me, coming out with a quality product is more important than what the marketing and PR guys decide to do. The engineers saw an opportunity for improvement in efficiency and made the changes, despite the possible backlash. A far bigger crime would have been to NOT make the change SOLELY for the sake of saving face.

RE: Heh...not at that price
By MartyLK on 4/29/2011 4:55:43 PM , Rating: 2
But then, we just have to take their word for it when they say it was for the better. I have no doubt it was for the better...for them, monetarily.

As I said before, if the question cannot be answered properly, American business ethics dictate the answer be strictly negative or malicious. People don't expect honesty in American automakers. So if no proof of their claims are forthcoming, the assumption of evil is a given. And I talking about an unbiased appraisal of any proof they do give. Cooking the evidence isn't out of the question for a corrupt business.

RE: Heh...not at that price
By Sheffield on 5/20/2011 12:45:43 AM , Rating: 2
The Volt actually has 4 operating modes:

Charge Depleting, normal driving: battery provides energy to traction motor (all electric drive). The traction motor powers the wheels.

Charge Depleting, high power (about 70 mph and up): battery provides energy to traction motor and to motor-generator (all electric drive). Both the traction motor and the motor-generator power the wheels.

Charge Sustaining, normal driving: Internal combustion engine drives the motor-generator. Electricity from motor-generator powers the traction motor, which powers the wheels. Excess electricity is stored in the battery, either during drive or regenerative braking.

Charge Sustaining, high demand (about over 70 mph): Internal combustion engine drives the motor-generator. The motor generator powers the traction motor. Both the traction motor and the motor-generator power the wheels. The internal combustion engine in this mode is mechanically coupled to the wheels through the mediation of the motor-generator.

The fourth mode is the one that causes all the "oh, GM lied, the motor does drive the wheels."

But with a dead battery the Volt goes nowhere. The main source of motive power, and the one that MUST be working to drive, is the electrical traction motor.

The Volt does not operate like a traditional series hybrid (a locomotive, for example) nor does it operate like a parallel hybrid (a Prius). And for the vast majority of driving, it never uses gasoline at all.

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer

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