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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 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.


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