Buying an electric car is fine, if that works for you. The problem with the electric car is the same it has always been, it is either impractical, or expensive, or usually both at the same time. If you only drive limited milage every day, and your personal transport is all you do, then an electric could make sense, if it was cheap enough. Heck for that you can drive a golf cart, ride a bike or scooter, allow time to walk. The electric usually stops being practical when it is someone's only car. The electric, or even hybrids for that matter, stop making sense also from a personal finance standpoint. Normally the extra cost you will pay to use less gas will never even out with just buying a comparable gas only car. So in the end, the only reason for buying an electric or hybrid is because you either just like spending more money, or you are trying to make some kind of social/environmental statement using the badges on your car.
The Volt doesn't necessarily exist for the purpose of being the lowest-net-cost form of transportation on earth. Like other products in a free market (including boats and sunny day sports cars), it exists to sell to people who want to buy one. The trick for GM is to find enough people who want to buy a Volt at a price at which - over a reasonable time for amortization - GM can make a profit, or at least not lose an unreasonable amount of money on a product which is as much an R&D exercise for GM as it is a cash-generating product line.
And of course, if GM ever should decide that the losses are too much, and give up the effort, they know they will all be burned in effigy as the people who "Killed the Volt".
What makes you think that being a U.S. taxpayer gives you the right to say that? Go to www.DOE.gov and school yourself what the actual benefits of jumping in this band wagon are prior to arrogantly claiming credit. Understand the politics.
As a U.S. taxpayer i say: Thank you GM for risking reputation, capital, and everything you had to jump into this band wagon and lead a revolution. Yes the time is not right but then the time is never right for innovation yet someone needs to step in and take a chance. Even though some aid was given from the U.S. government i doubt that was anything other than Seed money in the form of tax breaks. And i am perfectly OK with the way the USA decides to advance help innovation along so that we as a nation continuously better ourselves.
I think the mpg measurement is not a valuable measurement. To be accurate it should be an energy usage measurement. The electricity was probably generated by burning coal, so the efficiency of the coal burning, conversion and transmission should be considered in the equation.
Cars like the Volt are a PR item, they don't get made to make money, and historically they don't have a long lifesapn because the economics invaribly catch up to it. Someone starts asking, "why are we doing this?" When the CEO is the President, he gets what he wants, for a little while. The Volt is just too costly to be a game changer, and it only changes the game when it can be used as strickly an electric car, so it sufferes from the same issue of practicality. Basically for what my truck cost and the milage it gets, I can drive it for at least 10 years and break even with what it would have cost for a volt that I could only drive on the electric. The Volt is nothing but an expensive toy, like having a boat or a sunny day sports car, affordable only to those that have more money than sense.
If the first car off the line cost $1B, then the 2nd car only cost $ 0.5 B (that's 50% increase in productivity!) With these kind of stat's you can really drive any point home (sorry ;).
A good article, but what it was missing is the production cost side of the argument. What does it cost in material and labor (+ overhead) to manufacture each car. R&D is amortized over the whole company because, as it was noted, the technology is then available for other product lines (and also for tax reasons). GM's retirement liabilities are far more costly than R&D.
Are these cars being sold at less than the cost of production? If not, GM will be fine.
Brian, I agree with your comments - great engineering ain't cheap. However, the infrastructure build-out is already here! Remote charging stations (not at your house) will help, but it isn't essential. I'm at 225 mpg with 18,600 miles on my Volt.
Charles, is the rumors are correct. If it correct they have to answer many questions like why GM is selling Volt at low cost and why they wants to promote more sales without profit and even too in loss. Is there any grant for ecco friendly vehicles from government side? I think they may get some subsidy from government source for each vehicle, which can make up this margin.
Actually people should rejoice and rush to the Chevy Dealers and buy as many VOLTs a they can, after all it is a real bargain !?
Any time anything is on sale for 1/2 the production price people run out and buy 2 or more of what ever it is, even if they do not need it, after all it is a "bargain".
SO why is not VOLT in the same category ? The fact that GM is selling any vehicle at loss should only make it more appealing !
Chrysler does great job with FIAT 500, Daimler with Smart, BMW with MINI and so on, only SUZUKI is not selling the SX4 at "loss", and their sales are minimal, so loss per vehicle seems to work for others quite well.
GM just does not seem to be able to capitalize on it, after all it revealed that it lost $900 per every SATURN ever sold for 26 years (but kept it a secret), now the only totally unprofitable brand is OPEL - and oh yes you can buy the AMPERA OPEL = CHEVY VOLT in Germany without any Government subsidy for about $30,000 more than in USA - so perhaps the "loss per VOLT" guess is not all that far off.............
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