Charles; If the plug-in Prius had been available, we would have seriously considered it. The Volt is interesting, but was not available, and also has not been in production as long as the Prius. The Prius and Aspen each have about a 500 mile range on one tank of gas. The problem with most all-electrics I have seen is about 100 mile range, and then several hours to re-charge. The Volt looks like the bridge between an all-electric and the 'true' hybrid. We will definitely look at the plug-in Prius and the Volt when it comes time to replace our current vehicles.
I'm curious, GlennA: As an owner of two hybrids, does the plug-in concept interest you? Would you stand to benefit by driving a vehicle such as the Prius PHV, which gives you 13 miles of all-electric operation? How about the Volt, which gives you about 35 miles of all-electric operation?
@mellofello: Corperations certainly DO have "personality traits", there is no question about that. One of those traits is an overwhelming preoccupation with profits, which is highly motivated by the large bonuses for those who maximize returns to shareholders. So the primary thing is to minimize expenses, which may well include not spending much development money on products that do, or may not, sell well. The pressure to maximize profit is quite strong, and many times doing what looks like it might cut into profits is a career ending mistake. We all know this, even those who deny it. So it is always a risk to launch any new vehicle.
My wife's hybrid is a 2010 Toyota Prius, and she gets up to 55 mpg. My hybrid is a 2009 Chrysler Aspen that I only recently purchased (used). I didn't know there was such a vehicle available. It has a 5.7 Hemi V8, and I average just over 20 mpg. 'Normal' mileage for a Hemi is about 12 to 13. I wanted a truck that could tow a trailer, and the Aspen can do that. I was specifically looking for a hybrid, but didn't want a car with limited cargo or towing capacity. I think there is a perception that 'truck' and 'hybrid' are mutually exclusive. And it seems the Aspen Hybrid was only built for 1/2 a model year, because of that perception.
I can only speak for myself as I currently own two Toyota Hybrids.
It is my choice to limit my consumption of fossil fuels and I do consider my impact on the environment as justification of owning and driving hybrids. I do not want to be noticed on the highway or be treated differently because I drive them. A BMW would not be something that I would consider as an alternative to my current hybrids due to the expected high cost to purchase, or recognition that I own a BMW. The Chevy Volt is also not a car that I would consider due to the very high cost to purshase it. From what I can determine, the Chevy Volt would cost more than I paid for my two Toyota Hybrid cars combined.
I will keep my hybrids about 10 years, and I expect my financial offset of gas consumption to yield between 15K to 18K USD per vehicle. This will of course depend on the cost of gas during the lifetime of ownership. So far though, I am on track with my expected savings.
One study published late last year argues that buyers shied away from the Insight because it didn't look enough like a hybrid. The study, "Conspicuous Conservation: The Prius Effect and WTP for Environmental Bona Fides," claims that the Prius grabbed most of the sales because its appearance helps them signal their "green intent." See the study: http://areweb.berkeley.edu/fields/erep/seminar/Prius_Effect_V1.5.1.pdf
Although a corporation is an entity for legal purposes, I am amused by the personal/human charateristics that folks come up with as justification for corporate product decisions. While I can say that I have spent no time in major auto manufacturer board rooms, I do have a perspective from other board rooms. The major subjects are 'making money' or related to making money [or in the case of young companies/startups, 'getting money', making the VCs happy, or making payroll]. Major expenditures, like tooling a new product line [like the Volt], are always met with 'can we modify an existing product?' and one or more projections/risk/reward analysis.
The only part of Political Correctness that manufacturers care about is how it will translate into sales. I guess that it is possible in the Govt Motors case that the Feds 'helped them' with some advice.
I just saw that commercial recently as well and found it so interesting that they played up the BMW (I didn't notice it was the i8) and not the stars of the movie (Tom Cruise was found or mentioned) or the fact that it was a movie trailer. You would have thought they have played up the EV angle more prominently, however.
To TimJones: Wow...you get the heads-up reader award. Here's an item from BMW's press release: "The BMW i8 Conceptn is also the successor to the BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics car featured in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol staring Tom Cruise to be released in December..."
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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