Posts tagged “Chevy Volt”
Before the Chevy Volt (a plug-in hybrid) went on sale, Volt Chief Engineer Andrew Farah openly acknowledged that the extreme temperatures found in the Southwest have the potential to permanently reduce the battery pack’s capacity to store energy:
“The Volt may not be right for everyone. If you live in the Southwest, depending on how you use your car, the Volt might not be right for you.”
So what is a manufacturer to do if a given customer’s driving habits consistently exposes his or her battery pack to excessively high temperatures in a place like Tucson, or charges it five times a day, or maybe applies a blowtorch to it? As it turns out, the answer depends on what the warranty says, not so much on what the owner’s manual warns you not to do.
We see this week news that Tesla is having trouble meeting it’s loan repayment schedule, and faces a need to raise more money on the markets. Combined with this week’s pronouncement from the chief of Toyota against electric cars and lackluster sales of GM’s Volt that have forced the company to reduce production, it seems there are more troubles ahead for electric-driven cars.
I believe this shows that pure electric cars are not yet ready for the consumer market. They are both too expensive, and they don’t meet the needs of consumers for range and performance.
Tesla and Fisker, in particular face consumer challenges that the traditional car makers do not face. As a start-up, they have to convince customers that they can both make a reliable car, and their small dealer network will be able to maintain the cars when they need servicing and repair. (See more: CBO: Electric Cars Will Flop, Despite $7.5 Billion in Subsidies)
The US government provides a tax credit of up to $7500 for purchasers of electric or plug-in hybrid cars. But, for cars that range in price from about $35,000 for the Leaf, to $45,000 for the Volt, to $57,000 for the baseline Tesla Model S, that does not drive the price down to a place where it would be competitive with high efficiency traditional gasoline-driven cars, or even hybrids, which are probably the source of the most competition.
The problem, in short, is that the battery-only cars (Leaf, Tesla, Fisker) are inferior cars at a higher price point.
In an effort to spur on sales of its Volt, General Motors (GM) is now offering a full 25 percent discount on every one of the electric cars that sells in the United States.
Priced at $39,995, the Volt has seen sales pick up as of late, with a monthly record achieved by GM in August. With the thinking that Americans are willing to make their entrance into the electric vehicle market when prices allow for it, the company is banking on this latest discount to increase both the sales and popularity of their flagship electric vehicle. (See also: Will Range Anxiety Impact Electric Car Sales?)
The thinking behind producing a car that is destined to be sold at such a loss is GM’s attempt to infiltrate what it obviously sees as a lucrative future market as the world transitions to the use of alternative fuel sources, according to analysts, but many doubt the automaker’s ability to ever make money with the Volt.
Last week, in my post about the new Better Place electric vehicle company, I wrote that I was concerned that the electric vehicle “economic model cannot work in places like the U.S. where prices are lower, spaces are bigger, and there is not as much [government] support.”
I really do think that there’s not yet a good reason to buy an electric vehicle here in the U.S. yet. Though gas prices are approaching a nationwide average of $4.00 (it was $3.94 this week), I still don’t think that’s high enough to justify the extra cost. For instance, a Chevrolet Volt costs $40,000 (plus a $7,500 tax credit), while the Cruze, which is basically the same car with a 138 hp gasoline powered engine, costs only $17,000. Even at $4 per gallon, it’s hard to make those numbers match up. Across the Atlantic, though, where gas prices are higher and there are higher sales taxes on traditional cars, it can make more sense.
The following guest post is from Victor Sequeira. Mr. Sequeira is Principal of VerisNRG LLC, a Houston based energy consultancy. He can be reached at victorseq [at] comcast [dot] net —————————— Can GM’s Volt Provide a Jolt to the Electric Car Industry? I remember my first trip to Bentonville, Arkansas to visit the WalMart corporate headquarters. As I looked at the offices of all the vendors who sell to WalMart, I remember thinking “being the world’s biggest retailer has its advantages.” So it is with the development of the electric car (EV). We root for companies like Tesla but, to move the market in a substantive way, you need to be big. Most Americans have watched General Motors in recent… Continue»
I have always liked the concept of electric cars. I could imagine a future in which fleets of electric cars are being charged by electricity from clean sources, and where the impact of peak oil won’t be especially burdensome. In a story I did last year covering a newly-released report on electric cars, the advantages of electric cars were given as: 1. Electric cars improve the security of vehicle energy supply by avoiding liquid fuels that are often imported from hostile or politically volatile countries and are being discovered at a slower rate than they are being depleted. 2. Electric cars offer much improved air quality in cities. 3. Electric cars offer drastically reduced traffic noise. 4. Electric cars offer… Continue»
In 2009 and 2010 we should see a lot of hybrids and fully electric cars hitting the roads. I spent a little time this weekend reviewing the potential offerings. Here is where some of the more frequently-mentioned offerings stand. 1. The Aptera 2e The Aptera 2e This is probably the most unusual offering. I first mentioned the Aptera in a story last year, and the roll-out is still on target for Q4 of this year. It is a 3-wheeled vehicle, made of light-weight composites. The shape is very aerodynamic to minimize wind resistance. The batteries recharge in 8 hours, and the car reportedly has a range of 100 miles. The cost is going to be in the range of $30,000,… Continue»
The Dodge Circuit Electric Vehicle Regular readers know that I am hopeful that electric cars can start to become one of our transportation options in the next few years. There are several reasons for this. First and foremost, it is because there are so many different options for making electricity. We currently make it primarily from coal and nuclear power, but over time renewable electricity production is expected to grow sharply. The car performs the same way whether the electricity comes from coal, natural gas, wind, geothermal, or solar power. The second major factor behind my desire to see us move toward electric transportation is that the efficiencies of electric motors are much higher than for gasoline engines. In an… Continue»
Move over, Chevy Volt. You have some very serious competition: Toyota Will Offer a Plug-In Hybrid by 2010 DETROIT — The Toyota Motor Corporation, which leads the world’s automakers in sales of hybrid-electric vehicles, announced Sunday night that it would build its first plug-in hybrid by 2010. The move puts Toyota in direct competition with General Motors, which has announced plans to sell its own plug-in hybrid vehicle, the Chevrolet Volt, sometime around 2010. Katsuaki Watanabe, the president of Toyota, announced the company’s plans at the Detroit auto show as part of a series of environmental steps. Mr. Watanabe said Toyota, best known for its Prius hybrid car, would develop a fleet of plug-in hybrids that run on lithium-ion batteries,… Continue»