It doesn't seem fair that GM, while struggling to get the car on its feet, should now have to deal with the task of revamping the Volt's reputation. When Design News spoke to battery experts at MIT and the University of California-Berkeley in November, they strongly believed that GM engineers were properly managing lithium-ion's temperature risks.
Moreover, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had this to say about the Volt in January, at the conclusion of its fire investigations. "NHTSA does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-power vehicles." So safety shouldn't be an issue.
But GM execs are apparently starting to wonder about the Volt's future. "I think it will be May or June before we know whether this thing has legs," Girsky has been quoted as saying about the Volt in numerous publications.
While we wait to find out if the Volt "has legs," GM is still facing the cost issue. By putting an expensive 16kWh battery onboard, the giant automaker hasn't left itself a lot of wiggle room to bring the price down. GM could accept that fact and direct its marketing toward those buyers who have that "untraditional sense of luxury," but it's not known how big that market would be for the four-seat Volt.
If that doesn't work, GM will have to convince middle-class buyers in a slow economy to buy a $40,000 Volt instead of a gasoline-burning Chevy Cruze that costs half as much.
That could be a tall order.
For a closer look at the Chevy Volt, go to the Drive for Innovation site and follow the cross-country journey of EE Life editorial director, Brian Fuller. In the trip sponsored by Avnet Express, Fuller is taking the fire-engine-red Volt to innovation hubs across America, interviewing engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators, and students as he blogs his way across the country.
Is anyone aware of any "Dirt to Dirt" studies of the actual impact of hybrid vehicles?
By that, I mean the true total cost, both monetarily and environmentally of engineering, building, selling, purchasing, operating, maintaining, and recycling/destroying/landfilling the final remains when it's no longer feasible to keep a hybrid running?
Why do I suspect that the total bill will be far higher for something like the Volt, vs. a gasoline powered version of the same thing - such as a Cruze? (the standard platform the Volt is built on)
I think that the whole hybid 'solution' is merely more marketing hype. It in no way improves our 'footprint' on the planet.
And since that seems to be the only rationelle for building the things in the first place, I think that common sense should prevail when contemplating the purchase of one of these engineering/marketing exercises.
It's a great car, even without talking about the fact that it is a hybrid. Adding that to the mix, it's fantastic!
No, it's not going to be a break-even proposition. It's not going save us money unless you discount the lease cost as the price of admission and only look at the cost of electricity Vs. gasoline. In our case, my wife and I commute together 4 days a week. I drive her to her office and continue to mine for a 29 mile commute. I typically have 8 miles left, all from the overnight charge. I charge at work for 9 hours and then pick her up and we drive home down 101 in the HOV lane, again all-electric miles. We don't use any gas unless we do something on the week-end.
After 4 weeks, I still have a smile on my face every time I drive the car. It's exhilarating and makes the everyday commute something to enjoy again. Backing out of the driveway in the morning and then moving down our very quiet street in the dark is like driving a starship; It's really something!
Oddly, I don't like driving any of our ICE cars anymore, unless it has something to do with the unique nature of the vehicle-our big van for the hauling and towing capability, our '95 Saab convertible for the wind in the face experience. As a result, I can't imagine buying a new non-hybrid electric vehicle ever again!
Even if you are not in the market for a new car, go drive a Volt. The experience is well worth it!
I think it's a kind habit to denegrate government regulation. Without government regulation in auto safety, annual traffic fatalities would probably be 60,000 to 70,000 per year -- which is simply taking the annual fatalities of the pre-seatbelt rate and adjusting for a larger population and greater miles per year.
Yes, it's good to see the fatalities go down, Chuck. From all the stories on auto safety you've covered recently, it looks like fatalities will continue on a downward trajectory. This is one area where government intervention seems to have worked.
Good point, Rob. For years, this country's annual highway fatality count continously came in at 40,000. But in 2010, I noticed that it dropped to 32,000. So the fatality numbers are declining, while the number of cars on the road is increasing. The use of seatbelts probably has a lot to do with it. Other safety features, such as electronic stability control and airbags, are probably having an effect, too.
Yes, that logic was more than just false. Now it's hard to imagine being in a car without a seatbelt. Safety measures such as seatbelts, airbags, even braking systems have collectively driven down traffic fatalities significantly as compared to miles driven annually.
That's funny. The decades-long period before seatbelts was also deadly. I remember as a kid standing up on the front passanger seat. I remember my dad saying he didn't need a seatbelt because he had the steering wheel to protect him.
Tesla Motors’ $35,000, 200-mile electric car may not revolutionize the auto industry by itself, but it could serve as a starting point for a long, steady climb to a day when half of the world’s vehicles will be plug-ins.
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