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  (Source: Wikipedia)
Gas prices at $4 a gallon have pushed drivers over the edge

With gas hovering $4 a gallon, it's easy to understand why many drivers are becoming increasingly frustrated with their gas guzzling vehicles that drain their wallets on a normal basis. To make matters worse, fuel prices are expected to remain around the $3 to $4 mark for some time, and these high prices are pushing some consumers toward electric vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt.

According to a study from the University of Delaware, which surveyed over 3,000 people, consumers would be willing to pay for several different electric vehicle attributes. For instance, the UD study found that consumers put a price of $75 per mile up to 200 miles of additional range, and $35 per mile from 200 to 300 miles. 

"This information tells the car manufacturers what people are willing to pay for another unit of distance," said George Parsons, a professor at UD. "It gives them guidance as to what cost levels they need to attain to make the cars competitive in the market."

In addition, the study found that consumers believe the cost of batteries needs to decrease significantly without subsidy. But researchers noted that the current $7,500 government tax credit could "bridge the gap between electric car costs and consumers' willingness to pay if battery costs decline to $300 a kilowatt hour." 

"It appears that even modest electric vehicles with today's limited battery range, if marketed correctly to segments with appropriate driving behavior, comprise a large enough market for substantial vehicle sales," the study concluded.

With this in mind, automakers like General Motors are looking to increase production to meet consumer demand of electric vehicles. As a matter of fact, GM has announced that it will increase production of its electric Chevrolet Volt. 

GM announced the news yesterday, saying it would build 1,000 more electric Volts than previously planned for 2011, and will build an additional 15,000 Volts on top of its target for 2012. This would put the electric Chevrolet Volt's total production number at 16,000 in 2011, and 60,000 in 2012.

In June, GM will shut down its Detroit-Hamtramck plant for four weeks to prepare for added production. Cristi Landy, director of Chevrolet Volt Marketing, mentioned that this temporary shutdown will withhold Volt supplies at dealers through the summer, but will allow GM to ready itself for the added Volt production. 

Of the 16,000 Volts made in 2011, about 2,500 will be sent to dealer demonstration fleets, 3,500 will be exported to Canada, China and Europe, and the other 10,000 will be sold in the United States. As far as 2012's 60,000 Volts go, 45,000 will be sold in the U.S. 

A big question regarding the added production is whether it will create more jobs at the plant. Currently, the plant employs 958 hourly and 159 salaried workers, and runs on one shift. These employees will be laid off during the plant shutdown. 

"We're not talking about jobs yet," said Michelle Bunker, a Chevrolet spokeswoman.

GM did announce last week, however, that it would spend $2 billion at 17 U.S. locations for upgrades, and that this would create or keep 4,000 jobs in eight states.

GM hopes to eventually build more than 100,000 Volts a year. So far this year, it has sold 1,700 Volts, which are priced at $41,000 minus $7,500 in tax incentives.



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By johnbuk on 5/19/2011 4:19:17 PM , Rating: -1
..for $40,000 electric cars.

Just too expensive for me to really consider purchasing one myself.




By thorr2 on 5/19/2011 4:28:11 PM , Rating: 2
I am about to spend ~$40,000 on a Camaro Convertible. I could just as easily decide to spend that much on a cool car like the Volt. Don't forget about the coolness factor!


By thorr2 on 5/19/2011 7:35:02 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed about the looks (they are just ok), but from a technological standpoint, I think it is a very cool car.


By thorr2 on 5/20/2011 1:15:55 AM , Rating: 1
You are totally wrong... I own a Droid. Am I less shallow now?


By MechanicalTechie on 5/20/2011 1:49:37 AM , Rating: 1
Then why use 'coolness' as a measure for purchasing something?? Do you need to be reassured by then general population that your hip and with it? Are you afraid to go against flow the of popular opinion? I couldnt give two sh*ts what people think, if its good based on its merits then thats what matters.


By Dorkyman on 5/20/2011 12:18:29 PM , Rating: 2
Er....Apple, anyone?


By thorr2 on 5/20/2011 7:40:06 PM , Rating: 2
I don't care what others think either, but I do care about my own enjoyment. If I get all geeked about having an electric car or sports car and it is worth it to me, then that is what matters. I am not going to buy a Volt, and would rather have the Camaro because I want a convertible that is fun to drive around. It gets about 30MPG, which is much better than what my current Impala gets. I do like saving on gas and that is part of why I like both cars. I think it is very cool that a Camaro blows away a regular car in gas mileage.


By shin0bi272 on 5/22/2011 5:29:21 AM , Rating: 2
So wait you dont care what others think but you are concerned about the emissions your vehicle produces. Why? OH YEAH because youre concerned that you might be producing more EVIL co2 than other people. Because you believe that your tiny tiny little car can have any effect on the environment (btw remember plants breathe in co2 and exhale o2) so you want the people around you to think youre the bee's knees because you drive a hybrid... youre just as shallow as you claim he is! Hypocrite says what?


By thorr2 on 6/1/2011 11:36:15 AM , Rating: 2
Dude, it has nothing to do with what others think, and has very little to do with the environment. I brought up the MPG because I like to save money on gas. Yes, the cars are expensive, but that doesn't mean that I don't enjoy saving money on gas. I think both cars are cool. One is fun to drive because it is a convertible sports car. The other is very technologically innovative which I happen to think is cool.


By thorr2 on 6/1/2011 11:40:33 AM , Rating: 2
Haha, I thought you were replying to me. I just re-read it, and you were replying to him. Anyway, it doesn't hurt to clarify, especially since I was confused. :-)


By Dr of crap on 5/20/2011 8:39:43 AM , Rating: 2
Wait -
Did you just compare the Volt to the Camaro????

YOu need to see a doctor.


By thorr2 on 5/20/2011 7:49:44 PM , Rating: 1
Yes, it is a bit of a stretch, but they are around the same price point. :-) Like I said, the Volt is cool to me because of the technology involved, not the performance or styling of the car. I am a tech geek (hence reading this site). I would think more people would see my point of view on this at least on this site. I can't stand Prius's though because they are butt ugly and are all over the place and always seem to be in my way on the roads. Plus they are yesterday's technology. The Camaro on the other hand smokes them all in the coolness and fun factor for me, less so on the tech side but they do get crazy good gas mileage for a sports car.


By shin0bi272 on 5/22/2011 5:55:24 AM , Rating: 2
if all you are interested in is the technology then put a laptop in your camaro and watch a movie on netflix. putting technology like this in a car does 2 things. 1) makes people like you flock to it for the cool factor (mission accomplished) and 2) makes it harder to work on and/or more complicated to keep on the road. The more crap you add to a system the more parts that can sideline you.

If all you are worried about is the coolness factor then stick with the camero and fly by all the volt drivers who ran out of battery power on the way to work.


By gamerk2 on 5/19/2011 4:42:38 PM , Rating: 2
Hence teh $7500 tax credit.


By Bobalouie on 5/19/2011 8:00:39 PM , Rating: 1
It's not a subsidy. It's a tax credit. A subsidy is what we give the oil companies. A tax credit is applied to taxes I have already paid. 47k is incorrect. I paid $32k after the $7500 credit. I did not get the polished wheels, but I have every other option. In other words: fully loaded with Bose sound system, dual LCD screens, 8 airbags, OnStar, parking assist, heated leather seats. Oh, and the ability to drive gas free for almost all my driving but still go cross country like any other car. At 0 RPM this care has the torque of a revved 300 HP engine. It GOES.


By Bobalouie on 5/19/2011 8:26:17 PM , Rating: 2
This car weighs as much as a full size car. That's actually a safety advantage in a crash. The insurance industry gave it Top Safety Pick (the highest) for front, side, rear and rollover crashes. Part of that is attributed to it's 4350 lb weight, part to 8 air bags, part to HHS (high strength steel) body, part to great engineering.

As far as absurd, I find giving the oil companies $4 billion a year to add to their $32 billion profits just a tiny, tiny bit absurd.


By Chaser on 5/19/2011 8:36:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
As far as absurd, I find giving the oil companies $4 billion a year to add to their $32 billion profits just a tiny, tiny bit absurd.

Anything to make gasoline less expensive for all U.S. consumers regardless of what they drive or own is reasonable. The federal government subsidizing a handful of fringe overpriced cars is ridiculous and pathetic. Just a teensy bit.


By Bobalouie on 5/19/2011 8:51:42 PM , Rating: 3
If we take away the oil companies corporate welfare, they will have a hard time making ends meet on just $32 billion dollars of profit? The oil companies do not need the help.

Threatening to raise the price of gas sounds like blackmail because it is. The last guy who retired from Exxon was given half a billion dollars in severance. If we took away Uncle Sam's corporate welfare payment, I think he would still have been in fine shape.


By Solandri on 5/20/2011 2:59:22 AM , Rating: 3
The $4 billion "subsidy" (when you get to the bottom line in accounting, there is no difference between subsidies and tax breaks) works out to something like 2 cents per gallon of gas sold. The oil companies are not making off like bandits from it.

You're conflating amounts and rates. While $4 billion is a large amount, it's a rather small rate compared to the cost of gas. 2 cents out of $4 is 0.5%. $7500*300k cars sold is $2.2 billion, which is a smaller amount. But $7500 of $40,000 is 19%, making it much, much higher rate for a subsidy/tax break.

The government also takes in far more revenue in the form of gas taxes (18-40 cents per gallon for Federal + state taxes) than it gives back to the oil companies via tax breaks. So if you follow the theory that cutting oil company subsidies will cause a decrease in gasoline consumption, it would probably result in a net revenue decrease for the government. They save 2 cents per gallon sold, but end up losing about 25 cents per gallon not sold.

OTOH if you follow the theory that lower taxes is better, then this could be a good thing. Bottom line is, it's a lot more complicated than you're making it out to be.


By tng on 5/20/2011 8:33:36 AM , Rating: 2
Once again, common sense rules.

Wish I could rate you up on that.

This story does nothing but confuse me, it leads me to think that the Volt so far has been a complete failure, but we know that is not really true. Maybe we should not be talking about production volume but the number of customers on the waiting lists?


By shin0bi272 on 5/22/2011 6:09:00 AM , Rating: 2
actually what he said was the government makes 25c/ga but they give the oil companies 2c/gal. So if you wanna hurt the government's wallet get an electric car because you wont be giving them the 25c/gal (plus there's a 30c/gal state gas tax in my state) by buying gas. If you want to hurt the oil companies buy an electric car AND push your congressman to vote to repeal their tax subsidy. Though they will just raise prices accordingly and end up right where they are now profit wise since businesses dont pay taxes... they pass the expense on to you the consumer... yaaay tax the rich huh? thats just a tax on the poor by proxy. Brilliant!

The flaw in his logic is 2 fold. 1) the government will NEVER do with less... so they will raise the gas tax and dump the subsidy for oil companies and probably invent a new miles driven tax so that they can get every cent out of you that they can and then a few cents more. Then 2) more people buying these electric cars will lower gas demand and that will lower prices on gas which lowers the demand for electric cars because unless they jack the gas tax up to $5/gal on top of the cost of the gas itself an electric car isnt cost effective at less than $4/gal.


By Paj on 5/20/2011 7:43:12 AM , Rating: 2
Fuel is already incredibly cheap in the US compared to the rest of the world. Why subsidise a power source that will soon be on its way out? Its the same argument as why charcoal isnt subsidised - its been superseded.


By shin0bi272 on 5/22/2011 6:22:10 AM , Rating: 2
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroleum#Uses

we need oil for more than gasoline. The result of cracking petroleum results in ~19gal of gasoline ~10gal of diesel and lesser and lesser amounts of things like asphault and so on. Why in the living hell would we get rid of an energy source as abundant as gasoline?

And to your other comment... not everyone is dependent on charcoal. If there was something that everyone used as was as or more energy dense than gasoline then we would be using that. You put up a strawman argument to try to defend your opinion but you have failed.


By StanO360 on 5/27/2011 2:06:44 PM , Rating: 2
Let's be clear on two points.

First the giving $4Bil to oil companies. Very little if any money that you're talking about is "given" it's not taken from them. The government receives far more than it doesn't take from the oil industry. And in an age of vanishing American jobs, oil and gas are dominated by US companies that provide a lot of jobs in the US.

Second, if you understood anything about business it is not just the profit that's important it's the profit margin. So oil companies are not making huge profit margins. Small compared to companies like Apple. Are you raging against Apple? Demanding that those fat cats in Cupertino stop robbing the consumer?


By Hiawa23 on 5/19/2011 11:28:15 PM , Rating: 2
Our government shouldn't be subsidizing cars. I thought we were broke, isn't Saturday the rapture? Won't matter after that.


By smitty3268 on 5/20/2011 1:39:04 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Why would you get a "tax break" for buying a car? It's absurd.

Why should anyone get a tax break for anything? Why do married couples deserve a tax break which singles don't get? Why give people a tax break if they have a mortgage? It's all absurd. Buying a car is no different than anything else in the tax code.


By tng on 5/20/2011 8:46:15 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Why do married couples deserve a tax break which singles don't get?

Actually, it is the other way around. When I got married I did the taxes for about 4 years both ways, just for fun, Married filing Joint and single for both of us. Every year it turned out that if we were single, we would pay ~$2k less in taxes overall.

Looking at this you realize that someone in the government along time ago looked at the fact that 2 people can live cheaper than one and decided to confiscate those savings from you.


By shin0bi272 on 5/22/2011 6:25:21 AM , Rating: 2
that's the marriage tax penalty. that's the thing that the republicans tried to get rid of but the democrats brought back in 2007.


By ZmaxDP on 5/19/2011 8:07:53 PM , Rating: 2
Ummm, when the government gives you 7.5K back, they're taking it from someone else to do so. The government is spending X amount of tax revenue per year on this program. We're all paying for your new car. Given, it's a teensy tiny bit. But, no offense, I'd rather put that teensy tiny bit towards my own new car instead of financing 7500 of yours.


By Bobalouie on 5/19/2011 8:17:45 PM , Rating: 3
Adding leather seats and a backup camera will add, what 5 pounds to the weight? Big deal. Everything else comes standard. Yes, an "economy" car like a BMW 5 Series! I think incenting people to switch to a new type of vehicle that can get us off the OPEC oil teat and enhance our energy security is well worth it. This car is the iPad v1, something very new and different. Everyone but the early adopters like me panned that too. This car represents the best of American ingenuity. I'm tired of spending billions of our country's wealth protecting oil tyrants, much less with American souldiers lives.


By Bobalouie on 5/19/2011 8:36:17 PM , Rating: 2
Electric comes from coal, nukes, hydro, nat gas, solar, geo. Those are all domestic. There are Volt owners who are charging their cars from PV panels mounted on their house.

In the real world, 80% of US drivers travel 40 miles per day or less. That's gas free in a Volt. Volt drivers last month averaged 1000 miles between gas fill ups. Real world.

A hybrid runs a gas engine at all times with a battery assist. The Volt is driven by an electric motor. When the battery is drained, a gas engine generates electricity at 40 MPG. Toyota will be introducing their reply to the Volt summer/fall of 2012. It will have a range of 13 miles (compared to 40) on battery. And it will be $1k more than the Volt.

Name calling. Classy.


By torpor on 5/20/2011 12:13:22 PM , Rating: 1
Complete fail on this post.

1: Hybrids, such as the Prius, have a hybrid transmission which allows either/both the gas engine or the electric motor to provide propulsion. An alternator slaved to the gas engine generates electricity for recharge purposes. So they are called hybrids because both engines (gas and electric) provide motive force. It is NOT a generator.

2: The Chevy Volt has a similar transmission setup to other hybrid cars. And the Volt's engine can/does engage the transmission to assist the electric motor when needed.

3: Hybrids will shut off the gas engine when not needed. A Prius at a stoplight is perfectly silent because the gas engine has shut off; it does not run "at all times".

4: An MPG rating for the generation of electricity on a supplimental drive? Did you really go there?

5: If you live near Canada, you probably import electricity from there. So it's not domestic in many cases.

I understand you're jazzed about your expensive toy, but you really need to get your head on straight about it. Back away from the marketing materials...


By Dr of crap on 5/20/2011 8:41:37 AM , Rating: 2
And how do you think the govt is going to make up for the TAX BREAKS it is giving out to these buyers?


By Bobalouie on 5/19/2011 8:07:15 PM , Rating: 2
$32k after tax credit. I bought mine instead of a more expensive Ford Edge, similarly loaded. One difference, the Volt comes with a gas-free option built in. I will save $1200/year over the car I am replacing.


By Bobalouie on 5/19/2011 8:42:14 PM , Rating: 2
Um, yes.

Compared to what I currently spend on gas, I will save $1200/year. My car is 21 years old. I was going to buy a new luxury car in the $30-$35k price range anyway.

Choosing the Volt, one of the luxuries I get as a bonus is gas free driving. Since I rarely drive more than 40 miles a day, that is real savings over ANY other luxury car in that price range.

And don't even get into that whole "pay-back" argument. No car "pays for itself" unless its a taxi.


By Reclaimer77 on 5/19/2011 9:12:14 PM , Rating: 2
You spent more in gas on your other car than payments on a $32k vehicle? Yeah right. You just said you rarely drive more than 40 miles a day, didn't you?


By Bobalouie on 5/19/2011 9:50:41 PM , Rating: 2
I never said I was making payments, nor did I say they would be $1200/yr. I said I'd save $1200 in gas.

IF I were to lease the Volt (e.g., "make payments"), the payments would be $350/month. That's $4200/year, not $1200 so you are correct, $1200 would be unbelievable. Except I did not make that claim.

Also, as a fiscal conservative, I don't lease cars. I do keep them for a long, long time though. They have all been foreign cars until now. The $7500 tax credit incentive (and a beautifully engineered car) worked to convince me to buy an American car. My first ever.


By dkapke on 5/20/2011 12:47:35 PM , Rating: 4
I'm going to come to Bobalouie's defense here because apparently he and I are the only ones to actually own one of these let alone look at or test drive one.

My wife traded in her mustang convertible - $500/month payments on a 5.9% loan - on a Volt. $35K after credit (fully loaded) - $5K in trade in. We got a $30K car, leased it, and payments are $350. ON top of that, she's driven it about 750 miles so far (a few days less than a month), usually to/from work. You know how much gas she's used? 3.2 gallons so far. That's roughly 250 mpg. In town driving with the mustang at 22mpg works out to 34 gallons of gas. So, she's saved 30.8 gallons of gas in a single month. At $4 a gallon, that's almost $125. So, not only was the car $150 a month cheaper, but we've saved $125 in gas. What's $275 x 12? Shoot - $3300?

"Oh, but you're electric bill is going to skyrocket". Actually, just got the bill yesterday. It's $35 more than it was last month, but it's also hotter here in Houston so the A/C ran more last month (obviously). So...I'm not really sure how much of that was the car and how much of it was more A/C. Tough to say, but even if it's the FULL $35 that's still a lot of savings.

I love my Avalanche and thank god I work from home because the mileage sucks on it. If they put this tech into an Avalanche, they could charge $10K more for it and I'd be all over it. The wait list for these cars around Houston dealers is stupid - 4-10 at every dealer we went to. And these aren't just "sign your name" wait lists. These are ALL people who put $1,000 or more down. And, for all you idiots who think dealers are marking these up all over, not only did Chevy say specifically NO to that, we went to 7 dealers around Houston simply trying to find one (3 had one or two on hand but were already sold and therefore we couldn't drive it) - NONE of the dealers had a markup on them. They were going for sticker. I'm not saying every dealer around the US is sticking to that, but every dealer we went to in Houston is.

Finally, the "cool factor". You know, we bought it to save gas and because we loved the look of the car. What we've found out is that EVERY SINGLE PERSON who's looked at this car just oogles it...they all geek out over it. In fact, we know of 5 people who, after seeing it, have went to the dealer and dropped their down payment on one. The cool factor of this car is off the charts and it's not something I expected. Well, I'm a computer programmer so I geeked out over it, but I didn't expect to see every day Joe's and Jane's geek out over it.

Bottom line is this - please - stop ripping a car you've never even seen or sat in or test drove or owned...until you do. I think there's a lot of BMW, Lexus and Infinity drivers that would would drop their cars in a second if they had a chance to see this car. And, for us at least, I actually like the look of the car. Now, it's not nearly as cool as the concept was, but it's pretty sharp.


By Dr of crap on 5/20/2011 8:47:18 AM , Rating: 2
Good one!

I was going to say - you didn't save anything.
You just wrote a check for over $32,000. And more if you took out a loan.

Me All four of my cars are paid for! I just fill with gas and get 30mpg plus!


By Hiawa23 on 5/19/2011 11:25:37 PM , Rating: 2
I got a 97 Honda Civic & a 2006 Mitsu LAncer Ralliart. No way in hell am I buying another car, & I would never even consider buying one for $40k. My mortage balance is that. I am more concerned with how does our government get our gas prices down cause for the masses, electric vehicles are no option, especially in this bad economy where most folks are struggling just to get by. Somone said he would buy the Volt for it's benefits & it's cool factor. I would never buy a car for it's cool factor. I just need to go from A to B & that the car looks decent. Cool factor, are you kidding me, but I don't buy things for cool factor as that will wear off.


By Dr of crap on 5/20/2011 8:52:49 AM , Rating: 2
Bravo. Well said.
And that is the feelings of over half of the car buyers, that wouldn't even consider the Volt.


By JediJeb on 5/20/2011 12:12:11 PM , Rating: 3
I agree, I don't think I have ever bought something because of the "cool factor". I usually buy the things that are just the opposite. I just want something that works. I would consider a Volt if it were made as a stripped down bare bones daily driver. Just like my truck, I want something with simple cloth seats, rubber floor covering, and maybe delay wipers those are nice to have but not necessary. No electric windows or locks, those just break and you have to open your door to make an order at the drive through. When they can make a bare bones Volt and sell it for $20k or less then I will buy one, not before.

My vehicles are going to get muddy inside and out, scratched up from the gravel roads I travel and have dog hair inside from when I take my dogs places with me. I will stuff them full of everything I haul around (believe me an eight foot tall cedar Christmas tree will fit into a 79 Mustang notch back) and not be easy on them. Why would I want to pay more than $20K-25K for anything I am just going to abuse. Leather seats would be a waste for me as would carpet on the floor.

I would love to be able to save money on gas and even use an electric vehicle but what is being offered right now definitely will not work for me. Something like a late 80's early 90's Suzuki Samurai or Geo Tracker that was electric would be more what I need. I would even like something like the old Dodge D50 minitruck if it was made electric. If you ever want to get electric vehicles to truly penetrate the US market you need to make some cheap entry level ones for people who would try one but not want to blow a ton of money on them. Trucks and SUVs started out as the cheap vehicles compared to cars, then they evolved into the bloated luxury things popular on the market today, same needs to be done with EVs.


By Zingam on 5/23/2011 7:45:34 AM , Rating: 2
Here is suggestion what your government should do: Initiate a total war in 5 stages:
1. Eliminate Russia by pinpoint nuclear strikes
2. Occupy Venezuela and kill the local population
3. Occupy Saudi Arabia and kill the local population
4. Kill the local population in Iraq
5. Prepare for invasion of Iran
6. Keep China from getting their hands of the remaining oil fields in the World.

So you'll be able to get cheep oil for a few decades. After that you'll have to start buying horses to tow your Honda.


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