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Chevrolet Volt  (Source:

Nissan Leaf  (Source:
The Volt even surpassed the Nissan Leaf in October sales, but the Leaf is ahead for the year overall

General Motors Co. has announced October as the best-ever sales month for its extended-range electric Chevrolet Volt, which has been struggling to beat 2011 sales targets as well as Nissan Leaf sales.

The extended-range electric Chevrolet Volt is a plug-in electric hybrid vehicle that has an EPA-rated electric range of 35 miles. It then switches to a gasoline engine. The 2011 Volt started at $41,000 and the 2012 base model price is set for $39,995. The Nissan Leaf, on the other hand, is all-electric with an EPA-rated 73 miles per charge. The 2011 base model sold for $32,780 while the 2012 is set for $35,200.

According to GM, it sold 1,108 Volts in October. This is a hefty increase from September, where GM only reported 723 Volt sales. This also brings GM closer to its 2011 sales goal, which is 10,000 Volts sold for the whole year. It also plans to export 6,000 Volts.

In addition, this is the first time the Volt outsold the Nissan Leaf since April, which only had 849 sales in October. The Nissan Leaf is still ahead overall for the year though, with 8,048 Leafs sold from January through October while GM has sold 5,003 Volts during the same period of time.

While October was looking good for GM's Volt, it still has a long, hard road ahead in order to meet its 2011 goals. According to The Detroit News, GM must sell 2,500 Volts per month for the last two months of 2011 in order to meet the 10,000 mark.

GM, however, remains confident that it can meet this goal. It said it has added 200 additional Volt dealers, totaling to 2,200 nationwide in 27 states. By the end of 2011, GM hopes to have 2,400 dealers in all 50 states.

"I'm going to keep pushing," said Don Johnson, GM vice president for sales.

Nissan predicts that it will meet 10,000 Leaf sales in the U.S. by the first week of 2012.

Source: The Detroit News

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RE: declining returns on publicity
By m51 on 11/3/2011 10:27:31 PM , Rating: 2
He was comparing the driving experience of the two cars, a valid comparison no matter the technology under the hood.

The current high price of the Volt is certainly slowing down it's sales, which is unfortunate because I believe PHEVs are the direction we should be going. As an engineer the more I have looked at the Volt design the more impressed I am with the technical elegance of the drive train design.

I don't think pure electric vehicles will have a significant market share for many years. There are two major problems with it being widely adopted into the market place. One is the cost of the batteries, to put enough batteries in the car to get a driving range sufficient to not be restrictive to people prices the car out of the major market. Also in an effort to achieve maximum range on limited battery capacity many costly compromises have to be made to increase efficiency, at the cost of driver comfort, capacity, and so on. If the vehicle is too costly and only a tiny fraction of the vehicles on the road are electric it will have no positive impact on oil usage, the environment, or the economy.

The other is the lack of a widespread recharging hookups for recharging and the grid improvements that it would require. This is a major infrastructure cost with a chicken and egg problem of not wanting to build the chargers because there are no electric cars and not wanting build electric cars because there are no chargers.

The PHEV like the Volt has neither of these problems. By restricting the electric only driving range one can reduce the total battery capacity required, thus reducing the cost of the vehicle to the point where it's broadly affordable. As battery technology improves and costs come down you can increase the battery range accordingly. The only charging infrastructure needed is at the home of the owner of the PHEV. For longer distance trips the PHEV makes use of the already existing gas stations and fuel distribution infrastructure.

It's the perfect transition approach to moving away from fossil fuels. Jumping directly to all electric has too high of an economic barrier.

RE: declining returns on publicity
By Gurthang on 11/4/2011 8:32:35 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry, my issue with his comparison is that it is a half truth. Yes with the Volt in the unrestricted "sport mode" and while it still has enough juice in the batteries it is quieter and has great get up and go. But driving like that you will not achieve anything like 35 miles of battery range much less the 70 he claims many real world users get. And once depleted the Volt is a "noisy" 35 mpg hybrid with acceleration about equal to the 50 mpg Prius not exactly impressive.

And apparently you missed my other point so let me reiterate it more simply. The car is too expensive right now. But by the time the technology exists to fix that it is my belief that the same infrastructure and technology will make pure EVs more attractive than plug-in hybrids outside of some markets where power requirements or longevity make it impractal.

I would also make the point gasoline engines and generators/alternators are not "free" and they have already been refined to the point where significant cost reductions
are not likely. So if we believe bettery prices will continue to drop for some time to come then at some point the cost to add range via battery will be less than they cost to add range via an ICE+generator to a plug-in hybrid. And thus make most hybrids pointless.

RE: declining returns on publicity
By m51 on 11/5/2011 10:45:30 AM , Rating: 2
Until the battery is depleted, the Volt is a very quiet and peppy car. Even after the battery is depleted it's still fairly quiet, better than the Prius. And it's still peppy. It's just a quieter and quicker car than the Prius. Pricing aside most people appear to prefer the Volt over the Prius.

Yes, I don't disagree that the car is currently priced to high to achieve significant market share. It's early days yet, the Prius was pricey when it first came out also. It's pricier but it's also a better car than the Prius. Whether that price premium is worth it or not to you is an individual call.

The technology to 'fix' it as you say is mostly in cost reductions in the batteries. Currently at around $700 Kwh the volt battery is in the $10,000 range. This is for only 35 mile range. A similar spec pure EV battery with a 210 mile range would be around $60,000. The Volt battery is very conservatively specced to insure a long life, Pure EV's like the Leaf can't afford to do that so they reduce costs by cycling the battery closer to it's maximum capacity, and by having a fairly restrictive range. This reduces longevity though. This is one place where improved battery cycle life will reduce costs by allowing operation closer to the battery's maximum capacity, thus reducing the battery capacity needed.

But battery technology improves only slowly and incrementally. Costs will drop slowly. The large batteries for Pure EV's will be very high cost items for a long time to come and will keep Pure EV prices very high.

PHEV's using 1/5 the battery of an EV at 1/5 the cost are going to reach broad market prices many years before EV's do.

The other point you keep ignoring is the lack of charging infrastructure. With A PHEV you can take advantage of chargers, but you don't need to. If you don't have an opportunity to charge the car, doesn't matter it still works fine. Go on a long trip and you'll never be stranded because you can fill up at any gas station in a couple minutes and go. Have an opportunity to charge it up? fine, you save some money and lower emissions. This eliminates one of the big problems of market acceptance that pure EV's have.

There is also the issue of grid capacity. Currently our electical grid has nothing like the capacity to support a majority of people driving EV's, PHEV's will put a much reduced load on the grid and slow down the pace of grid upgrades needed.

Engines and generators are not free, but with the current battery prices they are a minor fraction of the system cost. Yes at some point it may be cheaper to add battery to extend range, but that's not going to happen for many decades. PHEV's on the other hand are at the economic threshold of mass market penetration. And again it does not address the lack of charging infrastructure and the massive costs to build such a system, or leverage our existing fuel distribution network. PHEV's allow you to incrementally install charging only where it's most useful (the owners home) minimizing the costs. Nor do PHEV's force users to change their driving habits which will aid market acceptance. Remember people won't buy these vehicles if they are too annoying to drive.

There are many incremental steps to get from our current gasoline system to an electric system. You can't do it in one jump. PHEV's are the practical next step in that direction and will achieve significant market share many years before EV's can be affordable enough to do so.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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