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Will the Chevy Volt Succeed?

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  • nedzelnedzel Posts: 787
    No, that is just the concept car. The production car is going to look different. It will not have as long a hood and will be far more aerodynamic.

    GM has not released pictures of the production version yet.
  • reddroverrreddroverr Posts: 509
    there are some people trying to make it work.

    In an electric application, one wonders if the extra system would be worth it. Also, the energy captured would logically not be able to be stored for very long.

    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2007/10/flybrid-flywhee.html

    I read about one car that was to be run by flywheels...haven't heard much about it since so it probably isn't going to pan out.

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1511/is_n8_v17/ai_18471043
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,871
    Seems like GM is Lowering Expectations for the Volt.

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  • michael2003michael2003 Posts: 144
    I disagree with the translation provided: 'Translation: We haven't solved the battery problems and this really isn't going to be a production vehicle so you shouldn't expect too much. '

    If the battery price is still higher than expected or the vehicle volume is not more than a couple of hundred thousand a year, that should not translate into 'battery technology is not here' or that 'this really isn't going to be a production vehicle'!
    It really sounds more reasonable to think that GM is being conservative on expecting that there will be sufficient battery supply to support a major ramp up of EV or REEV vehicles. I wonder whether GM is attempting to entice the government into increasing incentives to help reduce the initial costs to consumers?
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I read the article and totally disagree with your interpretation.

    My interpretation is that GM and most of the other auto manufacturers have always fought these higher mileage standards. They do not want the Volt or similar vehicles to be used by the NHTSA as an argument as to why these higher standards should be easily achievable.

    I realize that you like to focus on Volt articles that talk about problems and obstacles that this program faces. If you'd read all the articles with a less biased attitude you might draw a different conclusion. What I'm hearing is that this program is progressing on schedule and there have been no setbacks in battery testing. GM plans on awarding it's battery contract to one of 2 suppliers next month. That will give whoever they choose a couple years to ramp up manufacturing capacity. I'd say that the biggest obstacle facing the Volt right now is not technological. It's whether or not GM will still exist after 2010.

    BTW, there's not a single knowledgable EV enthusiast that isn't well aware of what EVs impact on the grid will be. If every vehicle today suddenly became an EV this country would use 15% more electricity. We already have that much excess capacity during non-peak hours. It doesn't matter since everyone's vehicle won't suddenly become an EV overnight. It will take 20-30 years for the fleet to transition. Plenty of time to expand the country's generating capacity.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,871
    We've had plenty of time to expand oil refining capacity as well, and "not in my backyard" has prevented that. Do you see ANY reason why that won't happen if they try to build an electric power generation facility in John Q. Public's back yard?

    I'm not against the idea of the Volt. What I've said all along is that it has seemed like an overly ambitious project and deadline for something that's clearly not worked out yet.

    I don't think GM is going away anytime soon, but putting up a high-profile target like they have with the Volt, and then not meeting that expectation will do damage to the company as well.

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  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,993
    It will take 20-30 years for the fleet to transition. Plenty of time to expand the country's generating capacity.

    That would be ambitious. Maybe 50 years from now. The biggest obstacle is the storage device for energy. The batteries are still too expensive to compete with very high priced fossil fuel. When GM awards the battery contract we will know more if the Volt is going to make its debut by 2010 or 2011. I do think it will be very limited the first few years. Maybe a few hundred leased like the hydrogen cars. It will take a major battery break through to get a large enough battery for under $20k. Toyota has pulled back from Li-Ion and is building a new NiMH factory. That would not be happening if they had anything promising with Lithium batteries.

    Think about this. The NiMH battery in the Prius will maybe carry the car a couple miles. It weighs in just over 90 lbs. It costs somewhere between $2500 and $6000 to replace. Hard to get an honest figure from Toyota. Even at the least amount a Plug in Prius would be $25k more. There are some cheapo PHEV conversions supposedly coming out for $10k that will carry the car 10 miles on electric.

    I'm with those that see more than just a few obstacles in the way of the Volt being mainstream.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I didn't realize that Toyota had pulled back from Li-ion. Everything that I've read recently says that they still plan on going to this chemistry in 2010. I also thought that this new plant they were building would be producing both NiMH and Li-ion batteries.

    The problem I see with Toyota is that they seem determined to produce their batteries in house, i.e. through Matsushita/Panasonic. That approach may ultimately end up being the best from a financial perspective but it won't necessarily get them to the market as quickly as a company like GM that looked outside amongst all the contenders. I believe there are companies who's Li-ion battery technology is considerably ahead of where Toyota is right now.

    After all the negative PR GM got over it's EV1 leases I'd be very surprised if they leased the Volt. Maybe the battery pack.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    They have not pulled back from lithium. This is as of June 11, 2008:

    'Yota goes with lithium

    TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp's (7203.T: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) battery joint venture will start producing longer-lasting lithium-ion batteries in 2009 as it aims to roll out more electric cars over the next few years.

    Toyota, the world's top maker of gasoline-electric hybrids, is keen to bring such vehicles into the mainstream by lowering their costs as more consumers around the world demand higher fuel economy amid record-high energy prices.

    The battery venture with Matsushita Electric Industrial Co (6752.T: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) currently produces nickel-metal hydride batteries used in Toyota's hybrid vehicles. It is building two new factories to bring annual output capacity to 1 million batteries around 2010.

    Full-scale production of lithium-ion batteries would start in 2010, Toyota said on Wednesday, declining to disclose planned output capacity.


    AND: They are also looking BEYOND lithium to "whatever is next":

    'Yota plans for Future

    If you can believe it (and we think you can), Toyota is already hard at work on a new battery system to replace its lithium-ion units currently slated for use in upcoming models. According to a report in Automotive News Europe, the company is hoping to adopt a more advanced battery for its hybrid vehicles in about 12 years as part of its Global Vision 2020 plan. The automaker won't say what technology it plans on moving towards, though it has suggested that air-zinc batteries could be a possible solution for maintaining its dominance in the hybrid vehicle market. In June the company will launch a new division dedicated to developing technologies for future cell power, while its lithium-ion vehicles will hit the roads around 2010.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,993
    Our resident Toyota guru says that we may not see Li-Ion except in specialty higher priced hybrids after 2010. That NiMH is the battery of choice for the next few years.

    Like you always remind us. Unless you see it direct from Toyota DON"T believe it. So that kind of tosses what you posted.

    This might interest you from the above article:

    Executive Vice President Takeshi Uchiyamada, chief engineer for the original Prius, told Reuters Toyota would continue to make most of its hybrids in Japan due to the difficulty of making key components abroad.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Gary says, "Our resident Toyota guru says that we may not see Li-Ion except in specialty higher priced hybrids after 2010. That NiMH is the battery of choice for the next few years."

    That's true for NOW. But as soon as 'Yota gets what they believe to be an affordable, safe, and rightly sized Li-Ion battery, it will be in cars on the road. They are already promising it for fleets in Japan AND in the Good Ole U.S.of A.

    As Gary requested - from the MOUTH OF 'YOTA

    As a part of its commitment to the concept of sustainable mobility, Watanabe said that Toyota will build and deliver what he called "a significant fleet" of Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) that rely on lithium-ion batteries to a variety of global fleet customers.

    A large part of that PHEV fleet will be sent to fleet customers in the U.S., Watanabe said. Toyota will deliver its PHEVs as part of the acceleration of its global plug-in hybrid research and development program, scheduled to begin late next year.
    Indeed, early iterations of the PHEVs were planned for use transporting Toyota executives to the show this week, Detroit's notorious January weather permitting, and also for limited use by select members of the media - again, weather permitting.


    GM better hurry if they want to beat 'Yota to a production-worthy, usable Li-Ion technology. They are a little behind right now I think.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Even if Toyota and/or GM deliver vehicles with Li-ion battery packs in 2010 it will be dismissed by some people until they've been around for 10-15 years with bullet-proof reliability. And even if they accomplish this they will still be dismissed because there is some Mercedes or Lexus that is running great after 30 years.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,993
    You would think I was from Missouri. Of course that is all depending on price point. My skepticism grew about the Prius when they went through the ceiling price wise. I just don't see them as a safe buy for the average buyer. And especially the long term buyer. For the lease addict they are fine. I am just too tight with my cash to throw it away to be a first guinea pig for GM or Toyota. Although I did waste about $3 grand on that GMC Hybrid PU. Weak moment on my part.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I'm personally not an early adopter. However I'm not totally averse to risk and am willing to be a fairly early adopter.

    I want GM to meet it's schedule and I hope for the Volt to deliver on it's promise. I see myself as being a potential 2012 customer.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,993
    I am likewise hoping for GM to move back to the place of prominence. The Volt could be the key to that return. I would bet they beat Toyota on this one. Toyota is playing safe on the Li-Ion. They are taking a wait and see attitude.
  • gwmortgwmort Posts: 22
    I think Toyota knows the direction they will have to move. I think they just need to recoup more of the initial investment they made pioneering the tech we have now before they move on. It really makes business sense, they let GM make up some ground (it wil take years of good performance for GM Yota's green/quality creds), meanwhile reaping the return on their last investment and preparing for the launch that puts them on the cutting edge again.
  • reddroverrreddroverr Posts: 509
    The Prius is the bird in the hand so to speak. The development costs have already been sunk. We do know that they probably have another 2-3 years of edge there, regardless. As is pointed out they are moving ahead with development...it is a new ball game for the auto makers.
  • 1stpik1stpik Posts: 495
    The Volt may actually turn out to be cool. But will General Motors survive long enough to build it?

    With the stock below $10 per share, and market cap. of 5.6 billion, it must be an attractive takeover target.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,871
    I think it's clear that GM's survival will result in a very trimmed down company. Takeover target? When stock prices fall, that's certainly a possibility. Heck, even when stock prices just stagnate. That's what attracted a takeover at Anheuser Busch.

    I truely hope they're not hanging the fate of the company on the Volt. All your eggs in one basket is never a good idea. And given the emotional climate in the markets right now, and the hurdles yet to be cleared for the Volt, things could turn from "worried about bad" to bad in a hurry. Detroit is no longer the automotive mecca it once was. Good news, Bad News

    Back to the Volt, even assuming that battery problems are overcome, I'm having a hard time seeing the mass appeal of an electric vehicle with a range of 40 miles at a price of $40,000+

    The price alone is enough to keep me disinterested.

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  • nedzelnedzel Posts: 787
    "Back to the Volt, even assuming that battery problems are overcome, I'm having a hard time seeing the mass appeal of an electric vehicle with a range of 40 miles at a price of $40,000+ "

    Just to be clear, it will have a range of over 300 miles. The 40 mile figure is how far it will go on battery power alone until the gas engine starts up.

    I agree about the price, however. At $25k sales would be through the roof. At $30k, it would still attract a great deal of sales. $40k is another matter.
  • aspesisteveaspesisteve Posts: 833
    the Volt may turn out to be a huge PR gain but financial disaster. I really doubt they will sell enough of them to ever recoup their R&D investment at $40 per vehicle.

    GM is so used to taking single chasis, engine, tranny....and sharing amongst so many different brands in it's line up. How many Volts do you think they would need to sell to offset the R&D that goes into it?

    Just using the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid as an example or the Malibu Hybrid, I'd say the volt isn't going to sell many vehicles.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    aspesisteve says, "Just using the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid as an example or the Malibu Hybrid, I'd say the volt isn't going to sell many vehicles. "

    I don't think that's a good measuring stick at all. The Volt will not just be "another poor hybrid" from GM. It will be sharp looking and (GM hopes) the only car on the road which does what it does.

    The Volt, should it be priced decently below $40K, will be as popular as the Prius in it's heyday.

    My guess is if they can meet demand, it will sell at least 100K the first year. Assuming the price is kept down.

    It they price it above $40K, they have a disaster on their hands. Even if they need to price it at $40K to try to keep the profit at least halfway decent, they might be better off taking it in the seat of the pants and keeping it around $35K to help increase sales volume and get it into the public eye.

    I can already see dealers marking them up five and six grand over MSRP if the demand is strong.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Just using the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid as an example or the Malibu Hybrid, I'd say the volt isn't going to sell many vehicles.

    Was that meant to be a serious analogy?

    The Honda Accord hybrid wasn't a big seller, therefore there should be minimal demand for a Civic hybrid, right?

    At this point it is pure speculation on what the demand for the Volt will be. I think it will be high you think it will be low. In a couple years we'll know the answer.
  • 1stpik1stpik Posts: 495
    We hybrid owners had to hear a lot of this (before gas hit $4):

    "You paid $23,000 for a hybrid?! Are you nuts? You'll never get back that extra money in gas savings. You shoulda just bought a $15,000 car, and kept the other $8,000 to buy gasoline."

    Of course, those folks conveniently overlooked the fact that a $15K car doesn't have the same features or comfort as a $23K car. If it did, everyone would drive $15K cars.

    They also ignored the $2,100 tax credit on hybrids. Plus, it turned out that gasoline DID go to $4, which means that anyone who bought a hybrid before 2007 has already received his "payback," and is now enjoying "profit" every time he fills the gas tank.

    Anyway, the point of this charming anecdote is that I expect the same arguments to plague the Volt when (if) GM releases it.

    "$40,000 for a coupe?! Are you nuts? You should just buy a $30K car, and keep the extra $10K to buy gasoline."

    That'll be fun.
  • gwmortgwmort Posts: 22
    "We hybrid owners had to hear a lot of this "

    Amen to that brother. When I bought my Prius in 2003, I was teaching environmental science, and liked that the car was a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle, that it lowered dependence on foreign oil, and yes was an economical, yet comfortable car. All I ever heard was whether the mileage was worth the cost. Back then I could have bought an identical conventional vehicle to the Gen I Prius (a toyota Echo) for about $3,000 (give or take with options). This was made up nearly entirely with the tax break I got the first year, not to mention the monthly savings on fuel, and that was before Katrina and the giant price hikes for fuel.

    I think there will be literal fuel shortages in our near future (3-5 years), and when that happens I'll be driving to work on the nightly charge of my next PHEV while everyone else is waking up and getting in line to wait for one (or their gas ration).
  • morin2morin2 Posts: 399
    A 40 mile range on battery power is worthless. Anyone with a commute under 40 miles doesn't need this - the payback time will never arrive. An easy commute like that can better use any of the many more practical 30+ mpg vehicles. My commute is 107 miles. What good would a Volt be to me? I'll be better off with a VW TDI or diesel from Honda or Subaru when they come out.

    The Volt will be a novelty car for Hollywood types who can afford to be impractical & to make a statement, nothing more.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Morin2 says, "Anyone with a commute under 40 miles doesn't need this"

    Did you intend to say "Anyone with a commute OVER 40 miles doesn't need this" ???

    Because your argument went on to explain that you yourself with a long commute would be a bad candidate for a Volt.

    But remember: even on generator power, the Volt is expected to get around 50 MPG, according to an article I read just this morning in the July/August Atlantic magazine.

    It will go 40 miles on a charge. Then a small gasoline engine will ignite. The engine’s sole job will be to drive a generator, whose sole job will be to maintain the battery’s charge—not to drive the wheels, which will never see anything but electricity. In generator mode, the car will drive hundreds of miles on a tank of gas, at about 50 miles per gallon. But about three-fourths of Americans commute less than 40 miles a day, so on most days most Volt drivers would use no gas at all.

    It was a VERY informative article that makes me think the Volt has several big problems.

    If you want to understand the Volt a LOT better than you do now, read this story front to back

    The article mentions that the way the Volt is being built and planned is bass-ackwards:

    Many in the industry will tell you there’s a good reason car companies don’t do things this way. Toyota, which is proceeding much more cautiously with its own plug-in car, has made no secret of its belief that neither GM nor anyone else can keep the Volt’s promises. When I called Menahem Anderman, a prominent battery consultant in California, he said the lithium-ion battery will be expensive—far too expensive to make sense as a business proposition as long as gas is $3 or $4 a gallon. (“At $10 a gallon we can have a different discussion.”) Its life is unproven, and unprovable in the short time GM has allotted. To deliver tens of thousands of vehicles in 2010, Anderman said, “they should have had hundreds of them already driving around for two or three years. Hundreds. Not everybody can say it publicly, but everybody in the high-volume industry is saying, ‘What are they thinking about?’” An executive with a GM competitor, after making some of the same points, offered forthrightness in exchange for anonymity: “They’re making a huge mistake.”

    We'll know in about 4 years if GM has another EV-1 fiasco on their hands or if they have a 'Yota-beater on their hands.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,871
    The Volt project just sounded very ambitious from the start to me, but I guess we'll find out more as that Nov 2010 target date gets closer.

    I'll poke around a bit for the latest so we can talk about it at the chat tonight.

    Tuesday means Mazda chat night! Mazda ownership is not a requirement! :) Just bring yourself and your love of cars and the desire to discuss anything and everything automotive and you're good to go!

    The chat opens at 8:45 pm ET and runs until 10 pm ET. I hope you're able to join us tonight to meet and greet with your fellow CarSpace members!
    See you there!

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  • morin2morin2 Posts: 399
    larsb,
    When I said anyone with a commute under 40 miles does'nt need this, I meant that with current fuel prices, the fuel savings would not justify the high cost of the Volt. If my round-trip commute was under 40 miles, I'd drive my V-8 Silverado. Since I drive 107 miles, the Silverado sits in my barn waiting for the weekend, and I drive a Chev. Prizm as a commuter. If I want to average 50 mpg, I could do it much cheaper with a VW TDI, and come close by gently driving a Yaris, the latter at 1/3 the expected cost of a Volt.

    The electric charge to the Volt is not "free". I actually hope the Volt is DOA because I don't want more electricity demand - leading to more coal-burning power plants & greater pollution than modern gas vehicles would have produced. There may be unintended consequences of this ill-conceived experiment that outweigh the benefits. Obviously, if gas went over $10/gal, the increased elec usage would have to be evaluated.

    The article is good. Unfortunately, its obvious that GM management is completely clueless to what the country needs & wants. These guys don't live in the real world. Maybe they should get hourly jobs and learn some common sense.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,871
    We're going to go through the deregulation of electricity here in PA and rates are going to be going up in a lot of states.

    It's possible that electric rates here are going to jump by 50%. That certainly will take some shine off of the Volt.

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