Automotive News
Chevy Volt: It's Not Time to Panic

The Chevy Volt needs more time to burn off its up-front capital investment. (Source: GM)
The Chevy Volt needs more time to burn off its up-front capital investment.
(Source: GM)

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Re: Automotive economics
notarboca   9/12/2012 11:08:23 PM
I was, at first, stunned to hear about the Volt losing 49K per vehicle.  Thankfully, this article cleared that up to my satisfaction.  There seems to be a dark undertone against EVs these days.  These things are coming, folks, kicking/screaming aside.  It will require a vast infrastructure change, no doubt, but we are capable of it.

Brian Fuller
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Captain Hybrid to the rescue!
Brian Fuller   9/12/2012 3:33:08 PM
Chuck, thanks (again) for bringing level-headed context to this ongoing story. There are ancillary costs as well that people have thrown out in the past two years to put their own context around the Volt ($200K per car if you factor in bailout and subisidy $).

Whatever. The point made here multiple times is that the R&D will benefit other GM vehicles for years to come.

Personally, I wish the investment was targeted toward a technology that didn't require such an infrastructure build out (fuel cells perhaps?) but time will tell.

That said, the Volt is a triumph of engineering, pure and simple and great engineering ain't cheap.



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Re: R&D Ain’t Cheap
Watashi   9/12/2012 12:58:57 PM
I agree with you in principle.  But considering that GM is a restructured (failed) company, the risk of an R&D project of this magnatude makes absolutely no financial sense.  IMHO GM should be trying to stabilize their business for the first several years by getting costs under control, improving quality, and probably even restricting near term new model developments.

GM has instead gone full steam ahead on an expensive model, in an economic downturn, that serves a small (niche) market, that is full of risk.  This is what gives rise to the theories of enviro nuts in the government pulling the strings at GM.

GM will fall again.  Hopefully this time they will file bankruptcy like they should have before, and be sold off to a competent organization that can restart them with a clean slate.

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Bought and Paid For?
rainmaking   9/12/2012 10:49:16 AM
What middle-eastern oil sheik is the mainstream media working for now? We buy $800M of foreign oil a day in the US and all we get is story after story trash-talking electric vehicles. In the beginning it seemed as though the resistance was just the normal resistance to change but it has grown into something much more. I for one will be going electric when it's time to replace my hybrid Lexus. The choice to pay engineers and engineering-oriented companies over the priveleged few oil resource owners is an easy one...

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Automotive economics
naperlou   9/12/2012 10:10:29 AM
Chuck, this is a good summary of a lot of what has been discussed on this site for a while.  On the other hand, one point you make needs a little more exploring.  To point out that some of the technologies used in the Volt is really no different from the sharing of major components of standard cars.  For example, most manufacturers  have a smaller number of engines and transmissions than models.  I am not talking about variations of the same model.  For example, Chrylser has a V6 that was used in their LH sedans and the Pacifica, and I think the Prowler.  So, until there are other cars that use components the Volt has pioneered, that cost is still with the Volt. 

So, I think that the Reuters article is probably correct.  Until GM gets to their sales goal, they will probably lose money.  That is just the way industrial economics work (same with a chip factory, for example). 

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R&D Ain’t Cheap
tekochip   9/12/2012 9:44:46 AM
It's unfair to amortize the development cost of an EV into the cost of the vehicle.  R&D is expensive and almost always a worthwhile venture.

Beth Stackpole
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Good development is hard and takes time
Beth Stackpole   9/12/2012 7:13:12 AM
Great reality check, Chuck, and definitely worthwhile to put GM's Volt dilemma in perspective. We live in such an immediate gratification society that the impetus is to take the kneejerk reaction whether it's to dismiss a new technology or do some quick math that doesn't account for the total lifecycle picture.

I think your stance is a fair one: There is much more work to be done, but don't close the books on the Volt yet.

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