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
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
"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.