Watashi: I'll be curious to see where the Prius PHV comes in price-wise. If it comes in under $30K, then it will probably grab some of the Volt's market share. It only offers 13 miles of pure electric operation, but when people have to reach for their wallets at the dealership, that price difference means a lot.
Good point, Watashi. The BP problem could have been solved with decent oversight. Now, popular opinion is going against this form of drilling. With oversight and safe practices, a large portion of risk could be reduced.
I concur - There are risks, as BP was so kind to illustrate for us, but the issue quickly becomes sensationalized and makes rational debate almost impossible. In that climate, policy makers find it easier to do nothing.
The gulf thing really gets me though; we could extract it more safely than our adversaries to the south, but by not drilling we have the same risk of spill without getting any oil in return.
Good point, Brentlim. The Tesla buy would also support a new automaker. I'd like to see Tesla become a real factor in the auto industry just to show the industry is not a closed shop. Nice to see that a new idea can still make its way into the market.
Don't forget the massive oil reserves in Alaska, off the east coast, and the Gulf of Mexico that are essentially off limits to us. Although, Cuba and China are having no issues drilling off of Florida. These are areas that don't cost as much to extract as the oil shales.
@Beth: You have to be careful pushing a product out before it is ready. Not only the reputation of your company is on the line, but the reputation of the technology itself.
GM perceived a market window for an EV back when they did the EV1. Its subsequent failure set them back over a decade before trying the electric thing again. Only now do we see anyone even attempting to bring an EV to market.
I think Toyota had the right idea with the Prius. They put out a car that was only marginally better than a conventional drive train, in certain circumstances, but it began to socialize the technology. Hybrids are still not that competitive with gasoline and diesel cars designed for efficiency (unless you do a lot of city driving). But they have become widely adopted as a status symbol for those who have the money and want to show they care about the environment.
The problem for GM is that Toyota owns that small market segment. It will be very hard to turn a profit with a little slice of that market unless it expands dramatically; and at the current price point, it will be almost impossible.
Re: Tesla doing a better job solving the range anxiety problem
I need to disagree. In the Tesla, you get 160 miles and then you simply are out of energy. In charged Volt you get about 40 miles from the battery but then it switches to generating electricity from gasoline, using a built in generator that runs at constant speed for efficiency, whcih GM calls the "range extender". The Volt can use the existing infrastructure (gas stations) and drive clear across the country before recharging, if necessary. THAT is what gets rid of range anxiety. Tesla's 160 mile range does not get rid of it. Try driving one from NYC to Boston (about 300 miles). At the 160 mile mark you are in the middle of nowhere, certainly no where to recharge. A Volt can make it all the way easily, using gasoline (at about 40mpg) most of the way.
I believe the issue is NOT Volt versus Tesla, but Chevy versus Cadillac !
Volt is a nice car, and I do like driving it (but only test drives at Volt promo or a car owned by one of our customers) but I do NOT need it, and thus no matter what the price I am not in a market for it.
However if it was a Volt Cadillac, I doubt that anyone would care to discuss the "COST" - while you can buy a Chevy with any and almost all features that you can have on a Cadillac for far less; still thousands of people buy Cady every year.
Same goes for Lexus v Toyota; Infinity v. Nissan; Acura v. Honda or Lincoln v. Ford.
Simply making very expensive Chevy seems to only work if it is a Corvette but not when it is a Volt.
So the Failure of GM marketing is the "brand" positioning, that is unless they plan to have the entry price to Chevy be at "premium".
There are customers for BMW, Mercedes, and even Maybach - while none of them make any "financial" sense if compared solely on "Cost per Mile" to comparable vehicles of other brands that are made in greater volume.
Some people even buy FIAT 500 when for thousands less they could have had bigger, safer and more fuel efficiant car - so PRICE alone, if the car is unique really does not matter that much.
But the BRAND image sure seems to have big effect, just look at MINI versus any other small car that also can be had for thousands less.
Points well made on the Volt. Pricing is deffinitely the concern slowing the Volt going mainstream. For those that can afford the $40K price tag, why not consider the Tesla Model S? for another $10K you can get 160 miles instead of a 40 mile range. Plus, the Model S seats up to 7 instead of just 4. The price is still in the luxury class, but Tesla is doing a much better job of solving the range anxiety problem.
As energy efficiency becomes more and more a concern for makers of electronics devices, researchers are coming up with new ways to harvest energy from sound vibration, footsteps, and even electromagnetic fields in the air.
The government wants to study your brain, and DARPA wants to use similar information to give robots true autonomy beyond any artificial intelligence developed to date. Sound like science fiction? It's not.
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