This is the first Hybrid vehicle that GM developed, that is the reason it is more expensive and you get $7.500 to offset the high price, which tips the scale again in favor of the Volt.
Regarding your other comment about long term maintenance: you are apparently familiar with a DC electric vehicle, seeing you mention brushes and such. The Volt has an AC motor and never needs brushes. You mention a lot of other small parts that essentially never fail, for example contactors have a typical service life of 1,000,000 cycles. Of course the electronics and the motor can fail, but looking at the service data from another Hybrid, the Prius, those events are very rare. The major thing that is needed at some point is the battery. Again the experience from the Prius is that initially a very high price is charged for the first replacements, but as soon as more used Volt packs become available, some hackers (in positive sense) will figure out how to rebuild packs by combining good modules from those packs and reconditioning them - there is a lot of knowledge about batteries in general, so it is more a matter of making a good setup to crank out reconditioned batteries. That has also happened for the Prius and the pack price has dropped to an acceptable level due to that. It is still a major amount of money, but in your ICE you also have expenses in the same order when a drivetrain component is worn or fails, think about replacement of seals, gaskets, a clutch and so on...
So, if you start figuring in a battery pack in your mileage costs then you must also compare it with all the cost that you encounter on an ICE car...
Regarding charging efficiency: once the battery starts losing capacity, it will not become less efficient like the Lead-Acid batteries you are used to, it will just look like a smaller battery pack, so it will charge in less time and the range will be equally limited. Initial reports on Lithium-Ion batteries that I see is that after 8 years/100,000 miles they still have more than 80% of their capacity remaining. In the case of the Volt this means that the initial 39 mi electric range is still more than 31 miles after 8 years and 100,000 miles. The capacity will continue to decrease linearly is the expectation, but there is not much data yet to prove it. It will not be a hard stop once you reach 100k mi and it will not be the same for everyone because it also depends on how hard you have been on the battery during that time. Some Prius have gone 300,000 miles without battery replacement. Sure, the capacity was reduced by that time but it still works and still gives you some benefit. There were also Prius where the pack suddenly failed, which was typically a single module failure so that is a good candidate for a battery rebuild which was even quoted by some rebuilders by the number of modules they needed to replace - you only pay for what is needed. I like that.
Jack, thanks for the review and sharing your experiences with the Volt!
Indeed GM had to come up with a strategy. They made the gas tank steel and pressurized. That is also a reason they required premium gas plus they tuned the ICE/Gas_Generator to run optimally on it. It tracks your gases age. It will periodically run maint on the ICE/GG but ask you first 3 times. It needs to do self test on the ICE/GG and lub the engine, etc. I only put in $10 at a time and rarely add gas. I don't care about the price diff of the premium. 12.2 gal in 6,600 miles ... how much extra did I pay for premium just a few bucks (coffee or a small lunch).
Carrying your math a bit further, look at the Volt at $40000 + $3200 = $43200 and for 100K miles, this is 43.2 cents per mile. Your Subaru at $26000 + $12000 = $38000 and at 100K miles, that cost you 38 cents per mile.
So how bad do you want to spent 5 cents a mile to run on electricity?
Again, ironically, if you use the car as little as these people seem to then your savings from using electric only is not significant enough to justify the additional cost and maintenance of the car when compared to an ICE or hybrid only car. Looks like your having fun though!
Make sure you factor in the $20+ initial, additional, cost to purchase the car compared to a comparable ICE car. And if you borrow the money don't forget to add the additional interest! I think this car will be a real collector's item in a few years since so few will be manufactured before the model goes belly up! The technology may be great but you also need to market it to real people with real weekly incomes, not just people fascinated with the technology. GM is not always so good at that.
My problem just begins with the fact that no one will admit what the battery will cost. And what about battery life? What happens when you don't have 100% capacity anymore, and then 80% and then 60%, etc.? Is it still fun to drive when the capacity is gone in 15 miles and the new battery is going to cost $3000 ?
That is only the beginning...How many $50 fuses and $300 motor brush replacement jobs will there be? What is the cost of replacement for 149 HP motor? How many contactors are involved with pure silver tipped contacts at $75 a piece? And what about the semiconductor control elements that switch the power? The are not going to want to change one when it gets blown...Will they be talking about a $1500 module replacement?
Then there are charging issues, what happens when a storm kills your charger? This thing will be the size of welding machine and who do you know who will repair on of those full of electronics? And when yoiu find one, at what cost and in what time frame? At 14000 Watt Hours and being charged at 220 Volts, that is 14000/220=64 Amp Hours.
At 10 cents a Kilowatt times 14 KW = $1.40 a day for a full charge...initially. But as the battery wanes, the charging efficiency will likely fall off and it will be $1.75 a day or $2.00 a day, ending up where ?
I drove a much less sophisticated electric car for three years and in those days, you never really could be certain that you would get home without walking. It was fun at times, but when it was cold and damp and foggy and dark...It was necessary to pick and chose your poison because all auxiliary devices ran off the same battery and I always wished that I had a gasoline backup like the Volt.
It would be nice for them to work out, but the fact that no one will discuss the maintenance costs is very telling. I just don't see them ever being cost effective over the long haul.
Neglecting the cost of the replacement battery, since we don't have any idea what that will be:
If it takes 16kWh to recharge and you get 39 miles for that at 8 c/kWh, that looks like 3.2 c/mi (check my math, please)
In ICE mode, you get 50 mpg, at 3$/gal, that looks like 6 c/mi. A 10Kmi annual budget gives me 32 mi/day (for 6 days/week). That looks like mostly battery mode so I'll use the 3.2 c/mi figure only. 100,000 miles costs me 3,200$. If I drove my Subaru which gets 25 m/g for the same distance, it would cost me 12,000$ in gas. That gives me a gross difference of 8,800$. I can haul a lot more stuff in my Subaru but the Volt is more environmentally friendly. My guess is that the 8,800$ might almost pay for a replacement battery.
Thanks for your nice review. I own a Volt with 8000 miles on it. Last 6600 miles using 12.1 gal of gas.
Other electric only vehicles (BEVs) on the market do/will require a 220v L2 charger before you can buy the car (ie. LEAF). Not so for the Volt!
I take some exception to your assumptions above about charging. As an example, I have a neighbor with a Volt as well. She is charging on 110v out of their *existing* standard garage outlet. NO extra cost. Zero. She tells the car that she leaves at 6am and just keeps the car plugged in. The car figures out when it needs to start charging to let her leave by 6am. Very simple and perfect for the masses!! More often than not she does not use the full battery ... so key point here is that the car may wake up at 11pm one night or 1am the next "night" to charge by 6am.
I originally was going to charge only on 110v and that would work for probably 90% of my usage. One night a week I come home from work and go somewhere 15 miles away so I charge up when I get home from work on a 220v charger. I bought this for $490 from SPX and installed it for less than $300.
I am on an hourly rate plan so my charging is cheaper at night when I normally charge. The car wakes up on schedule at midnight and charges from 1-4 hours depending on my previous days drive. Key point again is that typically I do not need a full charge.
Both my neighbor and I have virtually no impact to the grid since we charge "off peak". (Except for that day I charge up after work. Then we just don't use the oven <grin>.)
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