Gas consumption is way down - bad economy (no job - don't have to drive to work) bad credit (no shopping trips) no savings (no vacation trips) - if one is not driving much, the ROI on a high-priced Hybrid or all-electric vehicle stretches way out.
It's all cheerleading to move investment dollars. The house (market) needs marks (indie investors, consumers, etc) to get their percentages. Average NYSE trading volume is way down - anything that is remotely novel is pumped like crazy. Trying to create positive buzz about products with fundamental flaws (technical or market) to prod investors into getting back into the market.
At the end of the day, we have a noble concept (a more efficient vehicle reducing oil dependence) being hamstrung by corporate / political / financial favors, that the taxpayer is stuck picking up the tab for. The bondholders who got the shaft are just another poke in the eye.
The Volt's problems run far deeper than cost, although that is perhaps the most visible shortcoming. It is representative of the intractable mess that business in this country has become. For those of us that design products without government largesse, that have to succeed on their own merit, it's rather offensive.
Tony, I concur. I think GM should take a page out of the Toyota handbook of how to launch a new product in a competitive market....witness the Lexus launch many years ago. At that time, the luxury market segment was owned by Mercedez & BMW for the most part. Toyota designed and developed a Lexus car/brand that equaled the German brands in quality and performance, then here is the brilliant part, they deliberatly priced it well UNDER their competitors for 5 years, even though they lost money on every car sold. The strategy was to woo their target market away from Mercedes & BMW by making it price attractive. Once people bought and drove the Lexus, the word got out that it indeed rivaled the German makes for quality, ride, comfort & performance. People converted in droves. After 5 years or so, their prices started creeping up to almost the same level, but by then the brand was established. The Toyota strategy, since verified, was a willingness to sell at a loss for 5 years in order to penetrate the market, and it worked. GM should do the same thing.
This is my opinion but based on a manufacture in the US for the past 30 years, and innovating a product, product line, and creating an industry that did not exist. Sounds like a mouthful and a plan right? Very wrong. Sitting here today after three decades in my industry I could pretty much make this reality sound any way I like and none of you would know any better, but I would...
The EV is not new by no means in most any form, and it has been fighting the same fight for many decades, cost and distance, or in the R/C industry cost and run time. It was same problem for my industry for over 20 years until the better source of power was trickled into our grasps at an affordable price, LYPo's. Yep, the computer industry pretty much started it,then the cell phone industry made them a viable "little package", but hear me out MR. President, GM, and those involved, OVER-TIME!
I am an advocate that you CAN NOT Rush Progress no matter how much money you throw into the R&D pot. Progress is a work of time, and over time knowledge is gained and what once were problems are eventually solved and at a continous rate, hence the very meaning of the word.
I innovated R/C gas model boating in 1981, something that didn't exist, and though it was dabbled with a decade or so prior, there wasn't sufficient product and or the availablilty to sustain a viable product much less a market. Just like the Volt, there were a couple of attempts to manufacture a gas model boat similar in nature in the 1960's, but since the engine tech didn't exist, and there was only one to choose from, and that was pretty crude, and radio controlled systems were pretty new with loads of problems and extremely high price tags, the boats boasted a price tag of over $2000.00+ dollars in 1968. Think about what that money looked like compared to today, some 35 years ago.
Now add the fact that no one knew anything about this new and great way of model boating, and the current industry of the day was based on glow-fuel model aircraft engines converted, limited to a small fraction of modelers at best, and to those of whom were financially and mechanically able to be involved. Can you imagine how tough it would be to convince the markeplace to make this type of purchase?
This brings me to point. There is no doubt in my mind that electric EV's and even model boats as big as the one's we manufacture will more than likely do-away with the combustion engine over the next century or so. Yes, and in order for this to become reality we have to get the public on board, no pun intended.
There are so many similarities here that paralleled my business such as; Getting people to accept a new concept, out advertising those in the current industry that did everything possible to make my concept look bad, but most important, make the product available affordable! I can not stress the last point of importance enough.
Sure it costs more to innovate and manufacture on a lesser level, but the cost of time outweights the enevitable if the product as good as it may be fails because a market could not be established, again... GM and the rest know the formula for selling car models but this is different. An EV is not easy to sell on design or body style alone. The consumer has to feel that hey. it's worth trying something new, even though it differs from the norm, and if the product is affordable to where the customer feels safe with the investment, and then it performs as stated, (don't forget to mention the con's, can't have all pro's) only then will you see the EV market come to life and begin to progress into a viable industry.
The irony of it will be, when after those with the biggest balls and willingness to invest and even sell at a low profit, or even break-even level, and responsible for this new and growing market, those that strongly opposed the whole concept in the beginning will become competitiors. I know only to well, but that's their right, and that my friends in progress.
For my President, Mr. O and those involved, who tried so hard to finance the reality of usable solor cells at our expense. There may come a day my friend that society will have a chuckle when looking back at the primitive mortals of which we are today, as they are watching TV in their solar powered home. We can keep it to a chuckle rather than all out laughter if we don't provide more dumb history for them to read. Let's do things smart and right for a change and finance on a realistic level, with the right innovators at hand, allowing progress to continue and not under martial law, with time limits. You yourself should know first hand you can not force people to make change, no pun intended there either.
Simply put, if you want the Chevy Volt and those like it to sell, LOWER THE PRICE, and make me willing to take the chance as well as the hassles of a new innovation. By the way if you do do this, the results will be faster progression, leading to smaller and more powerful battery sources, speed controls, and motors, and becoming more affordable to launch my products and business into the EV marketplace, just like the cell phones put the model aircraft industry on the map with the fastest growing industry on it's way to replacing fuel burning engines.
But what do I know, I'm just a model boat builder.
Good luck, and I hope I don't have to wait another 20 years to write this letter again.
After working in the battery industry and on EVs - the safety issue in EVs still should not be deemed a lower priority. I worked in a battery company whose batteries were the only ones which survived EV testing in Europe - unfortunately the company has now moved to China [due to politics].
When we refer to batteries in EVs, we are talking about batteries with a very high Energy density - basically we are packing lots of energy in a small space - and the energy density is increasing! The energy eventually has to go somewhere..
Asides from overheating - there should be all kinds of safety nets in which a person/technician does not get shocked [such as fast discharge of capacitance]!
I don't believe EVs address all these issues - from what I have seen, EVs are still immature - and basically they are research projects.
Actually, Beth, I think the automotive industry is taking lessons from the consumer electronics industry. When considering the price of the Volt (and Leaf and Prius) you have to look at the target market. These are early adopters. In consumer electronics you need to have a presence in the market to establish credibility. I think this is what the car companies are doing. The Volt and Prius are reasonably prectical since they use a gasoline engine to supplement the electric. These are all first generation products. They are certianly not the answer.
A good example from the consumer electronics industry is the flat panel TV. We just got a fairly large one for under $1K. It was also the latest technology. We paid well over twice that several years ago for two much smaller flat screen TV's. We got those smaller models becuase we did not watch much and did not want to shell out $4K for a larger one. At those high prices, the market was limited for the large models and projection type TVs were still around for the larger formats. They were not that good. The interesting thing to note is that we bought the TV to watch the occasional movie at home, and so the kids could use it with their game console. We don't have cable and do not watch broadcast TV. We would never have bought the early models because of the cost vs utility equation. Of course, if others had not been willing to pay the price, the technology would have been a lot slower to develop.
I think we are seeing the same type of thing in the automotive industry.
@PghEE -- No he meant $25.00 per Volt, per the article analysis. The Government loaned the money for the Volt's gas cap. That's all. Oh yeah, it was a loan, not a grant. Once paid back w/ interest, the Government pays nothing.
Fifty-six-year-old Pasquale Russo has been doing metalwork for more than 30 years in a tiny southern Italy village. Many craftsmen like him brought with them fabrication skills when they came from the Old World to America.
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