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GM to Idle Chevy Volt Production Again

GM will stop production of the Volt at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant from mid-September to mid-October. (Source: GM)
GM will stop production of the Volt at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant from mid-September to mid-October.
(Source: GM)

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Prius Plus in - User experience
sblozis   9/22/2012 4:57:03 PM
2012 Prius Plug In (not advanced model) – delivered April 2012

$36,157 out the door in CA (1.79% for 72 months @ $530/mth) with $2500 federal tax credit and $1500 state rebate (credit and rebate not deducted from total price).

30 mile one way daily commute charging 3.1 KWH into the 4.4 KWH battery at work – per tank MPG range is from 51 to 68 MPG depending on number of electric recharges (EV miles are added to gas miles divided by gallons of gas). Use EV (electric) mode on surface streets (work to freeway 4 miles and home to freeway is 2.5 miles) and switch to HV (hybrid) mode when on freeway at speed. Individual  30 mile commute with battery usage is high 60s MPG with highest recorded 91 MPG during Friday return home where freeway traffic is slow and I can stay in EV mode on the freeway and totally deplete the battery (due to start/stop technology, using battery even in HV mode during low speeds/low power needs and regenerative breaking the Prius will give best MPG in slow rolling freeway traffic). During long trip with no battery charges I get 52-54 MPG just on the gas engine in HV mode.


1.       Purchased the Prius Plug In for better gas mileage and ability to get the car pool sticker (40K in CA).

2.       I don't think that the EV or Plug In HV are currently economical but I think gas prices will increase to $6-8/gal range where the payback period will become much shorter so I jumped in now for the perks (e.g., rebate, credit, car pool sticker, free charging) outweighing the higher cost/immature battery technologies.

3.       Purchased the Prius Plug in rather than the Volt due to the mature/proven technology on the Prius except for the new larger battery, ability to hold 5 persons with good room in the backseats and higher MPG in gas mode for long trips.

4.       Would reconsider leasing Volt (Aug special was $199 to $249/mth) since it would be less expensive monthly payment, if there was a long term problem with the technology I could turn it in before the problems surface, normally there are only 3 persons in the car and if I need to hold 5 I still have the MB, I haven't made that many long trips that I need to worry about the gas only MPG and battery range is 40 miles in the Volt so I could do most of the entire round trip commute on the battery (free charging at work).

5.       Either the Prius or the Volt would be good for user who has only one car. Pure EV like the Leaf would also work for me since I could switch out to MB for longer trips where I couldn't be sure I could recharge or were outside battery range but not for person who has only one car (unless most everywhere you go is within 80 mile range and then you could rent gas car for longer trips).

6.       At work there are four EV recharge stations. It was OK until the 5th EV showed up. As there are more EVs you can't count on the recharge station being available and even when it is you need to be able to dedicate the delay in the trip to recharge (e.g., I have killed time at the winery and shopping center to complete free recharge on 240V @ 1.5 hrs). The best option is to be able to fully charge at home and then "save money" by being able to recharge at work or other locations that offer free recharging to reduce the amount of charge at home to completely fill the battery.  At some point this recharging will no longer be free so the economics will need to be based on your home electric rates and the EV range dictates your maximum range unless you also have the gas engine.

7.       The Prius gets 25 – 35 MPG during the initial 4-6 minutes of engine warm up. At $4.00 gas the cost to go 10 miles @ 50 MPG is $0.80 and @ 25 MPG is $1.60. To fully charge the battery (3.1 KWH = 10 miles) @ $0.08 per KWH is $0.25, @ $0.13 per KWH is $0.40, @ $0.30 per KWH is $0.93. My E-1 electric rate is $0.13 KWH to 100%, $0.15 to 130% and $0.30 to 200% usage and during the summer I'm below 130% and in the winter below 200%. If I can keep my usage rate below 130% it makes sense to recharge at home and it even makes sense to recharge up to 200% if the Prius is going to be used for around town/local driving since the gas MPG is lower.

8.       I will be moving to the E-9A time of use electric rates (one meter for home and EV), recharging the Prius both at home and work and fully exhausting the battery during each leg of the commute. The rate between midnight and 7 AM is $0.05 KWH so there will be even more savings but the rates are much more expensive 2 – 9 PM weekdays in the summer ($0.30 KWH < 130%) so we'll have to watch our AC use. Since the charging rate is 8 amps at 120V and the Prius needs only 3 hrs to fully charge I will not get a 240V home charging station. For larger batteries like the 16 KWH Volt and 24 KWH Leaf I probably would consider (additionally cost $1K- $1.5K for charger and installation).

9.       The perfect EV for my current situation would be the Prius Plug In with 30 mile battery range that drives (handling)/interior comfort like at MB. When I drive to the airport and park or go to offsite meeting or make long trip I don't have to worry about recharging and battery range. Obviously if I lived closer then the battery range could be smaller and having the gas engine does increase the car weight, cost and increases the maintenance expenses but I don't have to worry about range. IF I could trade out cars with my wife and take her gas car leaving her with the EV (without range problems for her) when I needed the longer range then I would consider an EV only (e.g., reduced operating cost due to no gas engine maintenance).

10.   Although not hard to do, taking the AC recharging cord out of the car, plugging into the AC wall outlet, flake out to the charge port and plug in does take some time so it would be nice not to have to do it that often (e.g., larger battery or inductive charging mat so you don't have to plug in the cord).

User Rank
Re: Down time
Mydesign   9/11/2012 12:11:59 AM
1 saves
"Guys like me who have to keep their money together simply cannot buy cars on ideology"

Constitutional_ man, I totally agree with you. Since there is always a fluxuation in gasoline pricing, peoples may obliviously look for EVs. But as of now EVs are also have major drawbacks with batteries and power.  In current scenario the maximum output from an EV battery is 100-125 miles. It's better to replace the existing batteries with high yield batteries having yield of minimum 200-250 miles.

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Volt losing 49K per car
Bunter   9/10/2012 12:51:01 PM
I have long maintained that the Volt, however excellent an engineering exercise, should not be compared with any profitable, commercially viable vehicle on any sort of economic basis as the retail price was money losing fiction...but I didn't think it was nearly as bad as the reality.

Losing $49k per car?  This little buggy is a loooooooooooooooooong way from being a viable alternative to the current offerings on the market.

Don't get me wrong, I recognize that throwing a new idea out at an initial loss can be a good thing long term.  Prius is an excellent example.  But the Volt is not going to change the game any time soon.  Opinion.



Charles Murray
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Often forgotten
Charles Murray   9/7/2012 6:15:54 PM
When it comes to the Volt, one thing that's often forgotten is that credit is very tight today, and that makes it difficult to buy a car like the Volt, even if the gasoline savings justify it in the end. These days, many people have trouble securing a $30,000 car loan, and the automakers are painfully aware of this.

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Re: What we've been saying
akwaman   9/7/2012 11:24:55 AM
I think you are missing my point.  I'm not comparing any 2 cars directly in any way, shape or form.  The exercise was to determine if a Chevy volt would fit into a monthly budget without adding to the monthly budget, ie: can you trade in your 25mpg car and buy a Volt, and have your monthly payment be even or less than currently (combined payment and gasoline charges).  I think the answer is found on a case-by-case situation.  I drive to work 4 mile round trip.  A Volt would not fit in my budget.  If I drove 75-100 miles round trip to work, it probably would.  I did not even include the giant tax break you get with the Volt, and no, I did not include the cost of the electricity, because that is difficult to determine, but from what others that own Volts say, it is miniscule in comparison to what they were spending in gasoline.  In one particular case, the gentleman said that he easily cut down on electric usage around the house to cover the difference of electric use from his cars.  I tend to agree that you can work the numbers, and each case is different. I never said this would make sense for everyone.  Gas prices are not going down, they will only go up, so the savings increase with each rise in the price of gas.  Do the calculations with $5 gas (coming soon to a town near you).  Additionally, I think that in a budget, it is nice to have less variability in our monthly bills.  The budget changes with the price of gas for many people.  The price of gas goes up, but your boss doesn't pay you more because of it, so OPEC is regulating our salaries.  They make more, we make less, and they do that by regulating supply and demand.  Isn't it interesting how gas prices conveniently go up just before a holiday?  Right before summer?  Hmmm.  Coincidence... I think not, OPEC has been doing this for long enough to know that they need to increase production before holidays and vacation season, but they conveniently get it wrong all the time.

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Re: What we've been saying
naperlou   9/6/2012 5:38:09 PM
Well, you are correct that I used the wrong daily mileage.  You cannot however compare a Volt (or Prius) which are compact cars to a car that gets only 25MPG on the highway.   Those are much larger vehicles (assuming we are talking five passenger sedans). In addition, you have to compare to another car you might buy other than the Volt.  If you are concerned about mileage you have to look at the alternatives in the same class.  You also mention leases.  Have you leased a car?  The limit is usually 10K or 12K miles.  Over that you pay a penalty that be as high as $0.10 per mile.  After five years (when you might have to be replacing batteries, etc.) you have 120K miles on the car.  They can last a lot longer, but you will begin to incur costs, on all vehicles, for wear and tear that are significant.  Most cars cannot be leased for five years anyway.  If you look at what is on offer, they are generally 24 to 36 month leases.  I once did one for 48 months, and that was an execption.

So, I can get a conventional car with more passenger room (marginally) and more cargo space (about 50% more) for about $20K less.  I might save up to $5 to $6K in fuel costs over five years and that does not include the cost to charge the Volt.  So, your monthly costs are going to higher for the Volt, assuming you finance both cars.  That really was my original point.  I think Chuck makes the point in this discussion as well.  The point is that these cars will be bought by people who are not sensitive to the price of gasoline.  They are curios at this cost. 

By the way, the Cruze has a model which is only about $2K more with a more effecient engine that would also compare favourably with the Volt.  There are lots of other options out there for cost conscious drivers. 


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Re: What we've been saying
akwaman   9/6/2012 4:19:12 PM
A lot of assumptions on your part, and incorrect assumptions at that.  Of course, that is what happens when you assume.  I was not comparing to the Cruze, I would have to look at those numbers, it was a genererlized hypothetical case compaing monthly costs, and it was calculating by about 24000 miles/year, not the 12000 like you asssumed.  You are only assuming the amount of gas used on the trip, so I am not going to get into that.  You also assume that the maintenance is the same as conventional cars, but that is not the case, they don't work as hard or as often, and oil changes on my Prius come every 10,000 miles, which is also included with my deal with the dealership along with 100,000 mile warranty, so no maintenance costs at all.  Don't know how often you change the Volt's oil, but it's probably less often than the Prius.  Records show that they break down rarely.  This is a scenario that compares MONTHLY costs related to owning a Volt vs. a standard ICE car that gets 25mpg (generous, because my Toyota Solara averaged 18mpg city/hwy combined).  Also generous is the price of gas, because we all know that gas is only going to get more expensive, not cheaper.  You also incorrectly assume that I was comparing the Volt to the Prius, and you assumed incorrectly that I mentioned anything about compact or mid-sized cars. 

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Re: What we've been saying
naperlou   9/6/2012 3:44:34 PM
akwaman, I almost don't know where to start.  To say the least, your analysis is flawed in both methods and facts.

First off is the matter of purchase price.  Let't stick with Chevy models.  If you look at the specs, the model that comes closest to the passenger and trunk volume is the Chevy Cruze.  Actually, the Cruze is larger in both respects. Since we are looking for least cost of ownership, let's take the base model.  The LS sells for $17,995 in my zip code.  The Volt sells for $39,995.  That means that we would have to save $22,000 with the Volt to break even.  This is how these analyses are done.

Let's look at gas mileage.  I will go with your drive to work scenario and use your cost of gasoline.  These seem reasonable.  Now, the Volt has an all electric range of 38 miles.  So, it would have to be charged (for a fee at a public charging station) or it will use it's gasoline engine.  I am assuming that the commute is all city driving.  The Cruze gets 25MPG, while the Volt is rated at 35MPG.  The amount of gasoline used per day for the Cruze is 2 gallons.  The Volt would use half a gallon.  At $4 per gallon, the daily cost for the Cruze is $8 and for the Volt, $2.  I will not even add in the cost of charging the Volt for this comparison.  If we just look at the commute, as you did, and we figure the cost per year, then the Cruze will cost $1,920 per year.  The Volt will cost $480.  I am assuming five days per week and 48 work weeks per year (2 weeks vacation, 2 weeks holidays).  Thus, the Volt saves $1,440 per year.  Now, if we talk only about the savings on the commute, the pay back period is 15+ years. 

As for some of your other points, Since the Volt and you Prius have ICEs under the hood, you do need to service them.  I am assuming that these costs are roughly equivalent.  Frankly, even if they were double for the Cruze, it would still not significantly impact the analysis.  Since you left them out of the analysis, I will as well.

Now, if you also take into account the battery replcement, and with the the payback timeframe we are talking about you must, this mode the difference in cost even more unfavourable.  You mentioned $2,500.  If you have to do this once, then cost differential is $24,500 for the Volt. 

The fact of the matter is that the Prius and the Volt are comparable in size to what is called a compact car.  In fact, the Prius and Volt are a bit smaller in the critical dimensions than the compact cars on the market.  The price, on the other hand, is comparable to a high end, full size car.  You will never win that comparison.

Just to summarize, I have not added anything to charge the Volt.  Whether you do this with the on-board ICE or plug it in, there is definately a cost.  The mileage we are talking about is 12,000 miles of commuting per year.  I have assumed that this a city commute, the worst case for the Cruze.  On the highway, it gets much better mileage. 

I hope that clarifies things.



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Re: What we've been saying
akwaman   9/6/2012 12:05:31 PM
naperlou, if you follow the posts on these subjects on this site, you would not make the statements you make, like "The Volt seems to be a nice car, but at the price only people who are not sensitive to the gas price can afford one."  Absurd, considering the guy who drives 100 miles/day commute and saves he and his wife 1000 dollars a month in gasoline.  He leases them and pays less than that for them/month.  They actually 'make' him money.  My Prius that doesn't do nearly as well on gas saves me 80-200 dollars a month depending on my mileage.  These are not mere curiosities, this is real life, happening in front of your eyes.  Battery prices have already come down, to replace a Prius battery is around 2500 dollars, not the 10,000 of yesteryear, and they will continue to go down as demand goes up and technology improves. 

Let's break down the pricing... for new:   39,145 sticker price, which we know is negotiable.

That is (at 3.39%interest for 70 months) about $575.00/month. If you drive 100 mile round-trip to work each day and drive a car averaging 25mpg, at 4/gal gas, that is 4*4=16 dollars a day * 5 days/week = 80/week * 4 weeks in a month = 240/month in gasoline JUST DRIVING TO WORK.  Let's say you drive another 100 miles/week for non-work stuff:  16 dollars a week recreatinal use * 4 weeks/month = 64 dollars a month recreational + 240 dollars a month work related = 304/month in gasoline costs alone (Not including routine maintenance, oil changes...)

Subtract 575/month in car payment, minus 304 dollars in gasoline, you get $271.00.  In this case, the person with this driving pattern can easily make a fiscal case for owning an EV.  These figures don't even include routine maintenance, or breakdowns typical of ICE engine powered cars.

A salesman would have no problem getting people to understand these numbers, good for some, not good for everyone... yet.  it's just really hard to sell cars that the customer can't drive off with (and wait many months). 

Now, figure out what your car payment is now, calculate your monthly mileage, and decide for yourself if it makes financial sense.  For some people, this would NOT be a good option, it would cost more than it saves, but for many people, it is a smart play.

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GM milliVolt
warren@fourward.com   9/5/2012 7:06:26 PM
Well, Government Motors' 5 year plan didn't work, again?  Now they will do another 5 year plan?  Maybe the Czars will decide the Volt failed because it didn't have fins.  So they will produce the same lousy car with fins, and again, no one will buy it!

Instead of looking at the market from a capitalist point of view, they do what governments always do.  They make decisions they are not qualified to make.  The marketplace decides that they don't need all size "8" shoes.  It also needs all other sizes.

Get the government out of business!!!  Let failing business models fail.  Let America give you the right to try and the right to fail (emphasis on the word "fail").  Central planning never will succeed.  Never has and never will!

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