Report: So, that Chevy Volt still isn’t doing too hot, is it?

posted at 1:21 pm on September 10, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

Dear federal government,

Why do you hate green energy?

Oh, yes — you bet your bottom dollar that I am in earnest. When, time and again, the evidence unfailingly indicates that the federal government meddling in some economic sector only serves to convolute it with bureaucratic inefficiencies and encumber it with non-market signals, why does the government ever think it’s a good idea to be in the business of hand-picking economic winners and losers? Why am I supposed to believe that the profit motive is somehow far more ignoble than the political motive, when in reality, the only way the profit motive is rewarded is when it provides something that people actually want to buy, because it actually works. Political motives can reap benefits through fiat, and encourage businesses, investors, and resources to rent-seek, chasing subsidies and political favor, rather than focusing their energies on producing a viable product.

With that in mind, why do the feds continually feel the need to stick their fingers into everything, most notably of late by fancying themselves green venture capitalists? If there are good technologies out there that can provide consumers with workable alternatives, the market will provide, and coddling infant technologies out of their fledgling stages before they’re ready has only serves to provide us with a bunch of environmentally-and-financially costly wind energy that nobody wants to buy and more Department of Energy-sponsored ailing-or-failing solar panel manufacturers than should have ever been allowed to exist. If they really want renewable energies to succeed, maybe that should consider — oh, I don’t know — just butting the heck out.

Ah, here’s yet another case in point, of which the federal government never seems to tire of offering: Reuters just released essentially a cost vs. benefit rundown of Government Motors’, oops, I mean General Motors’ Chevy Volt sales and operations. …I find myself discouraged:

Nearly two years after the introduction of the path-breaking plug-in hybrid, GM is still losing as much as $49,000 on each Volt it builds, according to estimates provided to Reuters by industry analysts and manufacturing experts.

Cheap Volt lease offers meant to drive more customers to Chevy showrooms this summer may have pushed that loss even higher. There are some Americans paying just $5,050 to drive around for two years in a vehicle that cost as much as $89,000 to produce. …

GM’s basic problem is that “the Volt is over-engineered and over-priced,” said Dennis Virag, president of the Michigan-based Automotive Consulting Group. …

Some are put off by the technical challenges of ownership, mainly related to charging the battery. Plug-in hybrids such as the Volt still take hours to fully charge the batteries – a process that can be speeded up a bit with the installation of a $2,000 commercial-grade charger in the garage. …

“I don’t see how General Motors will ever get its money back on that vehicle,” countered Sandy Munro, president of Michigan-based Munro & Associates, which performs detailed tear-down analyses of vehicles and components for global manufacturers and the U.S. government.

It currently costs GM “at least” $75,000 to build the Volt, including development costs, Munro said. That’s nearly twice the base price of the Volt before a $7,500 federal tax credit provided as part of President Barack Obama’s green energy policy.

The Obama administration, you’ll remember, orchestrated a $50 billion rescue from bankruptcy for GM in 2009, and has dedicated more than $5 billion in subsidies for the sake of green-car development — and let’s not forget the implicit costs of all of those arbitrary emissions standards they’ve been oh-so-magnanimously implementing. And yet, here we are, still providing subsidies to one of the least efficient alternative vehicles out there — and the technical challenges of ownership are so daunting, dealerships are having to practically give them away. If GM can come up with a car that sells itself (their Nissan Leaf, apparently, is doing better than the Volt, and Toyota’s Prius is in its third generation and doing just fine), then great — that’s awesome, more power to ‘em if consumers judge it to be a good substitute to a traditional vehicle. But something about the Chevy Volt is clearly not working, and the Obama administration’s green-energy whimsy is only helping them to keep up the charade.

The federal government’s abilities to stand in the way of free-market competition, a.k.a. innovation and progress, are really quite miraculous.


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Taxes for Clunkers.

Shy Guy on September 10, 2012 at 1:23 PM

They are losing $49,000 on each car, well then, they better produce more cars because that $49,000 is going to workers and the union, so it is basically flowing back into this economy…this is a good thing—-according to liberals.

right2bright on September 10, 2012 at 1:23 PM

What do you mean “not doing too hot” Erika? The Volt is on fire!

NapaConservative on September 10, 2012 at 1:24 PM

Meh, not doing too hot is quite an improvement for the volt.

RINO in Name Only on September 10, 2012 at 1:24 PM

So, that Chevy Volt still isn’t doing too hot, is it?

The Volt gets pretty hot when it sets itself on fire.

RadClown on September 10, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Your caption for the photo –

Huh. That’s an — er — unique business model you’ve got there.

isn’t really true. Solyndra followed pretty much the same model, didn’t they?

Mitoch55 on September 10, 2012 at 1:27 PM

Chevy Volt?

That’s a great car right? Have you seen how toned her arms are?

He has such a great family. Have you seen how photogenic they are?

I’m sorry what was the question?

Yahoo News Voter on hearing about the Volt story.

PappyD61 on September 10, 2012 at 1:28 PM

Cheap Volt lease offers meant to drive more customers to Chevy showrooms this summer may have pushed that loss even higher. There are some Americans paying just $5,050 to drive around for two years in a vehicle that cost as much as $89,000 to produce. …

…G R E A T…!!!…doing the same thing that “saved GM” before!

KOOLAID2 on September 10, 2012 at 1:29 PM

There was an old gag about a business that lost money on every sale but made it up in volume. I always thought it was just a joke.

topdog on September 10, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Here’s an idea, GM: Admit defeat, partner with Toyota and sell a rebadged Prius, a car which is turning a profit for its automaker and selling like gangbusters, mainly because it’s got, oh, 10-odd years of development and market testing under its belt, rather than the gov’t-mandated crash program you rammed through.

You’d never do such a thing? Might I humbly remind you of the Geo (later Chevy) Prizm? It was by all accounts a very nice car.

Spannerhead on September 10, 2012 at 1:30 PM

But something about the Chevy Volt is clearly not working, and the Obama administration’s green-energy whimsy is only helping them to keep up the charade.

So, what you’re saying is that government shouldn’t get involved in the private sector? But, it’s so innovative.
////////////

Bitter Clinger on September 10, 2012 at 1:31 PM

The Obama administration, you’ll remember, orchestrated a $50 billion rescue from bankruptcy for GM in 2009, and has dedicated more than $5 billion in subsidies for the sake of green-car development

Here is their business model. Costs are other people’s money, and sales are their own. Works fine as long as you have friends in high places. However, they are likely to get a rude awakening in January 2013.

jwolf on September 10, 2012 at 1:32 PM

This is slightly OT, but has anyone seen the latest Volt TV commercial?

IIRC, the background is entirely white, a Volt is parked and several liberal losers are shown in succession, grinning from ear to ear and babbling about how great their Volt is.

Never gave a wedgie when I was in school, but gosh I’d like to try it on one of them.

(I wonder how much that ad campaign cost us.)

RedCrow on September 10, 2012 at 1:32 PM

When can we see a Romney ad featuring this stunning success of American automobile industry, its organized workforce, and its godfather Barry-O?

Archivarix on September 10, 2012 at 1:33 PM

What a well run organization you have there postoffice, amtrack, fannie mae, er GM! And next on board medcare. YEAH!!

HoustonRight on September 10, 2012 at 1:34 PM

I’m sorry, but the Volt has to be one of the uglier cars I’ve seen. Forget the cost and the supposed technophobia, it’s an ugly car to me. I saw a Mitsubishi i in person at the Illinois State Fair and if it wasn’t a straight electric car I would probably actually think about buying one. I liked the interior and the overall design. Mitsubishi needs to make it a hybrid and they would probably do better. I have a 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer and I love it.

MobileVideoEngineer on September 10, 2012 at 1:35 PM

It did burst out on fire a couple of times.

bayview on September 10, 2012 at 1:35 PM

Saw another Volt ad yesterday. I wanted to throw rocks at my TV.

22044 on September 10, 2012 at 1:36 PM

But something about the Chevy Volt is clearly not working, and the Obama administration’s green-energy whimsy is only helping them to keep up the charade.

Pish and tosh Erika! Didn’t you see how Solyndra went on to become one of the most successful green-energy companies evah only after Obama got involved?

What?

Trafalgar on September 10, 2012 at 1:38 PM

If I wanted – I could get a Nissan Leaf for under $30K. Better car for a lot less money.

22044 on September 10, 2012 at 1:38 PM

It currently costs GM “at least” $75,000 to build the Volt, including development costs, Munro said. That’s nearly twice the base price of the Volt before a $7,500 federal tax credit provided as part of President Barack Obama’s green energy policy.

To point this out again, this model cannot work without magical step 3.

1. Make the new light bulb.

2. Sell the new light bulb at a loss. No one will buy the new bulb while the old bulb is cheaper, so subsidize the consumer until an infrastructure has been built out for making, selling, consuming, and disposing of the new light bulb. When the world had sufficiently adapted itself to the new bulb,

3. Make the old light bulb illegal.

Again, if you have no plans to drop the hammer and implement 3, don’t use this creepy model. And — just a little conspiracy theory for those that enjoy it — if anyone actually sees 1 and 2 going on, he or she should probably be looking for 3.

Axe on September 10, 2012 at 1:39 PM

Hopefully, the Volt will be able to burn ethanol blended gasoline in the auxillary engine to complete the green circle. I wonder if the owner’s manual warns against this as does the manual for other cars.

a capella on September 10, 2012 at 1:39 PM

So what if GM is losing money on every Volt. They’ll make it up on volume.

Winning!

Curtiss on September 10, 2012 at 1:39 PM

Saw another Volt ad yesterday. I wanted to throw rocks at my TV.

22044 on September 10, 2012 at 1:36 PM

When I see a Volt on the road (and it’s only been 3 or 4 times), I pity the driver.

It’s the same sort of pity reserved for Smart Car drivers.

The Prius has a liberal/hippie stigma, but at least you can say its drivers have a grain of sense.

Volt drivers = Completely gone.

Spannerhead on September 10, 2012 at 1:39 PM

Rebrand as a portable toaster and you’re in business.

Lost in Jersey on September 10, 2012 at 1:40 PM

The federal government’s abilities to stand in the way of free-market competition, a.k.a. innovation and progress, are really quite miraculous.

Le sigh.

petefrt on September 10, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Can just see the CEO at a Board of Directors meeting: “We are not losing as much money right now, because we are not selling very many Volts.”

Who would INTENTIONALLY produce something that cost more to make than they can possible get from the sale? Oh, the government. That’s right.

DuctTapeMyBrain on September 10, 2012 at 1:42 PM

But something about the Chevy Volt is clearly not working…

Yeah, it’s called allowing the United Auto Workers union to run the management of GM.

powerpickle on September 10, 2012 at 1:42 PM

I thought they were going to make up the difference in volume sales……..

er./

ted c on September 10, 2012 at 1:43 PM

When I see a Volt on the road (and it’s only been 3 or 4 times), I pity the driver.

It’s the same sort of pity reserved for Smart Car drivers.

The Prius has a liberal/hippie stigma, but at least you can say its drivers have a grain of sense.

Volt drivers = Completely gone.

Spannerhead on September 10, 2012 at 1:39 PM

Whenever I see a Volt I just put it off as they are the type of person that has more money than sense, but after reading this article earlier this morning I guess I need to change that thinking. If you can get one for $200 a month, then it simply means they have no sense and like ugly cars.

MobileVideoEngineer on September 10, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Rebrand as a portable toaster and you’re in business.

Lost in Jersey on September 10, 2012 at 1:40 PM

i see what you did there….+++

ted c on September 10, 2012 at 1:44 PM

blink on September 10, 2012 at 1:45 PM

Last I heard, if you factor in the R&D, each Volt cost GM over $200,000. Each Volt sold reduces this number of course. Given that no significant numbers of these were sold, I doubt it’d moved much. Certainly not down to $49,000.

I bet any theoretical losses GM takes are absorbed thru some subsidy that no one is aware of.

lorien1973 on September 10, 2012 at 1:47 PM

I thought they were going to make up the difference in volume sales……..

er./

ted c on September 10, 2012 at 1:43 PM

-1,000 * 1 = loss,

– but! –

-1,000 * 1,000,000 = profit.

New math rocks. :) Screw HA lunchtime — I’m going to go grab my calculator and make myself rich.

Axe on September 10, 2012 at 1:47 PM

Same old, same old

Schadenfreude on September 10, 2012 at 1:49 PM

— and let’s not forget the implicit costs of all of those arbitrary emissions standards they’ve been oh-so-magnanimously implementing.

When our air is already plenty clean and the only thing those regulations are doing is chasing this fairy tale carbon emissions windmill. I give the greenies props, they were unable to destroy industry with their attacks on carbon monoxide and other emissions, they finally had to go after the product of perfect combustion, they couldn’t go after the water part, so they are going after the carbon dioxide part. Our air was perfectly good and clean 20 years ago, it has not gotten worse, thus we should declare victory and eliminate any additional regulations implemented since Clinton’s era.

Interesting anecdote, one of the students at our son’s high school is a foreign exchange student. When that student landed in town, he looked up and said, “Wow, your sky is blue!”. Yeah, he’s from that wonderland that the Obama administration admires so much: China.

AZfederalist on September 10, 2012 at 1:50 PM

GM should have introduced a low-end electric car for people that were truly interested in saving fuel costs.

I think GM failed here, in part, due to its marketing.

Remember those GM Volt ads? Everyone of them showed the driving going somewhere, being forced into a tedious conversation with someone – who was mocking his car in a polite way. “You can’t use the restroom till you buy gas!” or “I thought your car needed gas, why are you at the gas station?”

I felt sorry for the Volt owner in each of those commercials. Why would I buy a car, so I could be pestered by people? It sold the car, not as a car – but as a lifestyle choice. No other car is sold this way. Until hybrid/electric is given second status to the usual car stuff (power/safety/features), they’ll never catch on.

I also think it failed, in large part, because a huge swath of this country simply will not purchase a Government Motors car. When my lease ran out, the wife wanted something else and I said – sure, but no GM brands.

lorien1973 on September 10, 2012 at 1:51 PM

GM is still losing as much as $49,000 on each Volt it builds

Sounds like they’re using the “Solyndra model” in hopes of gaining “market share”.

That worked out so well, didn’t it?

GarandFan on September 10, 2012 at 1:52 PM

Some are put off by the technical challenges of ownership, mainly related to charging the battery. Plug-in hybrids such as the Volt still take hours to fully charge the batteries – a process that can be speeded up a bit with the installation of a $2,000 commercial-grade charger in the garage. …

So people who think the iphone is the greatest evah can’t learn how to plug up a car?

I mean the car was DESIGNED to be PLUGGED UP, right?

Or does the writer mean that people realize that when the Volt is plugged up you cant drive it? And by normal plug (110v/15amp) that means you cant drive the thing for 16hrs.

To me the only real surprise is that Chevy isn’t selling a 2nd battery pack as a convenience item??? Charge one, drive one.
heh, heh.

orbitalair on September 10, 2012 at 1:54 PM

It’s the same sort of pity reserved for Smart Car drivers.

Spannerhead on September 10, 2012 at 1:39 PM

I just drive by, point and laugh.

Anybody see the American Top Gear episode with the Smart Car? Hilarious

AZfederalist on September 10, 2012 at 1:55 PM

3. Make the old light bulb illegal.

Axe on September 10, 2012 at 1:39 PM

Thuggery works, too.

“Buy a Volt or we’ll shove a used Saturn up Uranus.”

The Rogue Tomato on September 10, 2012 at 1:56 PM

A) the media tells you what to think.

B) The Government OWNS you. (They also OWN GM)

A+B=Quit worrying about the Volt, it’s not your business to worry about such things, STFD, STFU and eat your potato…

SWalker on September 10, 2012 at 1:57 PM

So if I buy one, the discount I am getting is being paid for by American taxpayer? Is that our fair share? So the 99% is paying for it, not the 1%? Gee whiz this socialism sure is goofy. Let’s vote out the leadership now.

jake49 on September 10, 2012 at 1:58 PM

To be fair, I’m quite sure that $49,000 isn’t the Variable Cost of building each Volt.

The problem is probably that they haven’t sold very many Volts, therefore the Fixed Cost per unit is still too high.

So, I doubt GM loses more money by selling more Volts. Each Volt sold probably helps them reduce that loss.

blink on September 10, 2012 at 1:45 PM

This is so and a pretty basic assumption in the industry. However, I swear I read a while back that the Volt was never intended to be a high volume car.
Given the high, fixed cost of development for this car, there never was a plan to make $ on it. The only question is how much do they lose. That ‘taint forward.

Jabberwock on September 10, 2012 at 2:00 PM

So if I buy one, the discount I am getting is being paid for by American taxpayer? Is that our fair share? So the 99% is paying for it, not the 1%? Gee whiz this socialism sure is goofy. Let’s vote out the leadership now.

jake49 on September 10, 2012 at 1:58 PM

Sorry comrade, only one vote per paying customer, and you already used yours to vote the Marxist-in-Chief into power.

SWalker on September 10, 2012 at 2:00 PM

If I wanted – I could get a Nissan Leaf for under $30K. Better car for a lot less money.

22044 on September 10, 2012 at 1:38 PM

I could buy a lot of GAS for $30,000.!

orbitalair on September 10, 2012 at 2:01 PM

To me the only real surprise is that Chevy isn’t selling a 2nd battery pack as a convenience item??? Charge one, drive one.
heh, heh.

orbitalair on September 10, 2012 at 1:54 PM

That would make more sense if the battery weren’t shaped around the very structure of the car, and thus absolutely impossible to remove.

I just drive by, point and laugh.

Anybody see the American Top Gear episode with the Smart Car? Hilarious

AZfederalist on September 10, 2012 at 1:55 PM

No, but I did see the Top Gear UK episode where they tested the Nissan Leaf and Peugeot iOn (Season 17, episode 6; watch it on Netflix streaming). Good stuff, and interesting conclusions.

Spannerhead on September 10, 2012 at 2:01 PM

There was an old gag about a business that lost money on every sale but made it up in volume. I always thought it was just a joke.

topdog on September 10, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Well, to be “fair” (Which I’m generally not) they’re rolling development costs into these cars; and doing so based on the number they sold through August 2012.

Those are one-time, one-off, up-front costs… they COULD be “made up in volume”.

If they started producing and selling say 25,000 units per month for the next 2-3 years they could get the price down to a break even proposition… probably (I’d have to sit down and really do the math, and I don’t have all the data to do that).

Of course when you sell 3,000 units in a 6 month period and your best month on record is 2,500 units (maybe, with a lot of government purchasing to boost your quarterly numbers for the election)… you’re not going to get the volume to help defray the development costs.

One year after it’s release the (to pick one of my first cars) Ford Fairmont probably didn’t make money based on the math and numbers they’re using here.

But the Fairmont was certainly on pace to cover it’s costs and it’s startup costs well before the Volt will (i.e. before “Never”).

gekkobear on September 10, 2012 at 2:03 PM

Anybody see the American Top Gear episode with the Smart Car? Hilarious

AZfederalist on September 10, 2012 at 1:55 PM

Watch the one with the Tesla car. Also hilarious.

After it runs out of juice they push it up to a windmill…

Clarkson says he could walk to Edinborough before the thing charged back up…

orbitalair on September 10, 2012 at 2:03 PM

When you’re selling dog food, no matter how good the marketing campaign, the dogs have to eat the food. Except for Obama, who will simply eat the dogs.

Curtiss on September 10, 2012 at 2:04 PM

When I see an advertisment with some poor scmuck who is supposed to be a Volt owner I say…………..SUCKER!!!!!!!!!!!

logicman_1998 on September 10, 2012 at 2:05 PM

That would make more sense if the battery weren’t shaped around the very structure of the car, and thus absolutely impossible to remove.

Spannerhead on September 10, 2012 at 2:01 PM

Ha! Thats why eh?

Who was making their e-car around a “skateboard” chassis where the battery packs could be easily swapped?

orbitalair on September 10, 2012 at 2:05 PM

I could buy a lot of GAS for $30,000.!

orbitalair on September 10, 2012 at 2:01 PM

Even better… :)

I actually think electric cars would be cool, so that’s why I referenced the Leaf. Innovations in technology – when funded by private R&D and built with care, should be encouraged. It’s too bad that electric cars have a bad reputation because all we hear about is the Volt.

22044 on September 10, 2012 at 2:09 PM

That would make more sense if the battery weren’t shaped around the very structure of the car, and thus absolutely impossible to remove.

Spannerhead on September 10, 2012 at 2:01 PM

That, and what is the cost of a replacement battery? Something on the order of $10K. That’s a heck of a cost in order to have units you can swap, even if that were possible.

AZfederalist on September 10, 2012 at 2:11 PM

orbitalair on September 10, 2012 at 2:05 PM

22044 on September 10, 2012 at 2:09 PM

Can’t find any video of (UK) Top Gear’s GM’s hydrogen fuel cell chassis. I can’t remember what they call that project?

Axe on September 10, 2012 at 2:15 PM

That, and what is the cost of a replacement battery? Something on the order of $10K. That’s a heck of a cost in order to have units you can swap, even if that were possible.

AZfederalist on September 10, 2012 at 2:11 PM

If you’re going to go EV, the “universal + interchangable power pack” concept makes a lot of sense, but then you need infrastructure, at which point you might as well go for something like hydrogen or CNG.

In any case, it’s much better to let the market sort these things out. They can, and they will.

Spannerhead on September 10, 2012 at 2:17 PM

That, and what is the cost of a replacement battery? Something on the order of $10K. That’s a heck of a cost in order to have units you can swap, even if that were possible.

AZfederalist on September 10, 2012 at 2:11 PM

And that’s another problem with the Volt–besides its propensity to burst into flames. The life of the battery is less than ten years. A replacement, IIRC, is close to your estimate, around $7k.

RedCrow on September 10, 2012 at 2:17 PM

Can’t find any video of (UK) Top Gear’s GM’s hydrogen fuel cell chassis. I can’t remember what they call that project?

Axe on September 10, 2012 at 2:15 PM

Hint: It’s not GM.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZvyYvbXjEM

Spannerhead on September 10, 2012 at 2:18 PM

This the same business model that Solyndra used:

1. Enter a market where the product costs $3.
2. Make a product that costs $12.
3. Sell the product for $6.

1. Enter a market where the product costs $30,000.
2. Make a product that costs $96,000.
3. Sell the product for $42,000.

And both business models relied on government subsidies as a feature.

Wile B. Obama
Economic Super Genius
Have OPM Will Invest!

jukin3 on September 10, 2012 at 2:20 PM

In any case, it’s much better to let the market sort these things out. They can, and they will.

Spannerhead on September 10, 2012 at 2:17 PM

Yup. As it is with these government “standards” (CAFE, I think it’s called?), their proclamations that cars get x miles per gallon only causes lighter materials to be used, and smaller vehicles to be designed.

It’s going to get a lot of people killed. Where will the politicians be when the verdict comes in?

RedCrow on September 10, 2012 at 2:21 PM

One more post destroyed by HOT AIR auto refresh.

Steveangell on September 10, 2012 at 2:21 PM

I get that it might not be politically popular, but saying we saved GM is the biggest lie ever.

GM owes billions of dollars, is on the verge of another bankruptcy, and saw earnings drop 40% last quearter. Again, if I was Romney, I would make the argument that Obama made GM worse. Romney’s plan would have actually saved GM, Obama’s plan favored unions, while leading GM onto a path of a 2nd bankruptcy.

milcus on September 10, 2012 at 2:23 PM

And what percentage of Volt sales are to US Government agencies?

albill on September 10, 2012 at 2:27 PM

Lithium Ion batteries are the key to Green Energy. We are not there.

But we are making huge advances in them because they are so widely used. A Korean company might have recently made a breakthrough. They have found a way to make the anode many times more efficient and work throughout the battery. What that means is you can recharge a battery in seconds instead of hours. This should work on any size battery but is still a few years out. In an automobile it would mean that you could stop and recharge your battery in about the same time you would pump gas into your car. Now those charging stations may take another three years to perfect but still we will get to a piratical solution without government interference.

But what makes me mad is Natural Gas in the form of CNG. There was a CNG station near where I lived 30 years ago. They were making CNG vehicles back then. It is a fairly easy conversion. Electricity has to be generated more and more that is done from Natural Gas. We should just skip that process for cars and let them just run on Natural Gas. We have that technology but the Government will not allow it. It is now happening for Semis but it should already power nearly every car in America. Far cheaper and far cleaner no imports needed. Far cleaner than electric cars that actually burn coal for 50% of their power more if the efficiency loss is computed.

Steveangell on September 10, 2012 at 2:31 PM

Hint: It’s not GM.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZvyYvbXjEM

Spannerhead on September 10, 2012 at 2:18 PM

That’s not it. I mean, not the car I was thinking about. I guess I have to give up. I know it’s a skateboard, it’s a fuel cell, the body wasn’t the body I’m seeing on “GM Sequel” searches — and there was really no point to any of this except that it was pretty amazing, and people into the cars of tomorrow! would (maybe) have liked the video.

Since all the moving parts on skates are flat, the body is completely open — a flat floor, no humps, no dash or firewall. You can find pics online, but in the Top Gear video, you can see what it’s like to drive around in one.

Pointless. Pretty cool. Abandoning.

Axe on September 10, 2012 at 2:31 PM

Btw, I think the Volt is a very poorly positioned car. GM should have introduced a low-end electric car for people that were truly interested in saving fuel costs. The Volt attempted to be everything for everyone, and that stupidly drove the price far too high.

I still think the future for electric cars can be good for a certain percentage of the market.

blink on September 10, 2012 at 1:47 PM

I think you’re 100% right. Sometimes you’ve got to open the food truck first before you can go the whole sheebang and buy that restaurant in Times Square. One thing that bugs me about big companies is how they’re never willing to sell a product somewhere until they can sell a product everywhere, and they waste so much money getting up to speed with new rebirths (a.k.a. Nokia) that when something goes wrong (ahem, Nokia, GM), it really goes wrong and there’s not a lot of room to maneuver. It’s like a quarterback who does nothing but get himself pushed back into the red every drive and then throw Hail Marys. Stupid game plan.

JoseQuinones on September 10, 2012 at 2:32 PM

And what percentage of Volt sales are to US Government agencies?

albill on September 10, 2012 at 2:27 PM

About 80%. GovMotors overall sales in North America is about 72% to the government(s) or to pumping up dealers inventories which at at 7 months. You will not see a single new Ford in any government carpools. Not even the military ones.

jukin3 on September 10, 2012 at 2:35 PM

No mention of the fact it most likely will still derive it’s power from a coal powered electric plant.

ButterflyDragon on September 10, 2012 at 2:35 PM

I get that it might not be politically popular, but saying we saved GM is the biggest lie ever.

GM owes billions of dollars, is on the verge of another bankruptcy, and saw earnings drop 40% last quearter. Again, if I was Romney, I would make the argument that Obama made GM worse. Romney’s plan would have actually saved GM, Obama’s plan favored unions, while leading GM onto a path of a 2nd bankruptcy.

milcus on September 10, 2012 at 2:23 PM

Exactly!!

Obama didn’t “save” GM. Obama saved the UAW.

ButterflyDragon on September 10, 2012 at 2:38 PM

But something about the Chevy Volt is clearly not working, and the Obama administration’s green-energy whimsy is only helping them to keep up the charade.

The connection that you’re drawing between the Volt and federal government is a complete illusion. Before the bailout, GM had embarked on a far more ambitious and even more costly alternative fuel strategy based on fuel cell technology. In other words, the post-bailout GM has scaled back it’s clean energy R&D budget.

As for the Volt itself, the executive championing the product as an anti-Obama conservative. The only thing that the Nissan Leaf has proven is that consumers are willing to purchase a 100% electric vehicle that will turn into a brick if driven too far from a recharging station.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/boblutz/2012/02/13/rights-incendiary-talk-on-chevy-volt-will-burn-u-s-workers/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/boblutz/2012/03/12/the-chevy-volt-bill-oreilly-and-the-postmans-butt/

Toyota lost money on the Prius for the first few years of production. Your grocery store loses money on the turkey they sell you for Thanksgiving. It’s not whether this or that individual product is profitable, it’s whether the enterprise as a whole is.

There’s a phrase you sometimes hear around the car biz: “buggy whip manufacturers”. When the automobile was first introduced, those in the horse business disregarded it. They didn’t realize they weren’t in the horse business, but rather the transportation business. You never want to be a buggy whip manufacturer ignoring that your world is about to be turned upside down. It’s easy to laugh at GM’s Segways on steroids, the EN-V urban transportation pods, but if companies don’t want to be left behind, they have to do some blue sky research, even if those research projects aren’t profitable or even practical at this time.

All of the major car companies have advanced research programs that don’t generate any revenue within any reasonable time frame. Most car companies produce fleets of test cars that end up being crushed, like GM’s original electric car, the EV1.

Then there are the “compliance” cars that companies build just to satisfy the California Air Resources Board. They lose money on those cars so they can turn a profit selling their other products in CA.

So the fact that GM doesn’t make money on the Volt is not in and of itself a matter of concern. The fact that Akerson and his team are botching the rollout of the new Malibu is far more disturbing. The “D segment” is the heart of the market, that’s where the Camry and Accord and Sonata and Fusion and Altima and and and… duke it out. Those cars each sell in the hundreds of thousands of units per year.

A successful launch of the new Malibu is much more important to GM’s health than how many Volts they sell.

It’s true that in a free market economy, companies embark on costly R&D and product development projects even when there’s no payoff in sight. It’s the cost of doing business in a rapidly changing world.

bayam on September 10, 2012 at 2:39 PM

Here’s an idea, GM: Admit defeat, partner with Toyota and sell a rebadged Prius, a car which is turning a profit for its automaker and selling like gangbusters, mainly because it’s got, oh, 10-odd years of development and market testing under its belt, rather than the gov’t-mandated crash program you rammed through.

You’d never do such a thing? Might I humbly remind you of the Geo (later Chevy) Prizm? It was by all accounts a very nice car.

Spannerhead on September 10, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Actually, the Prius is a “loss leader.” Not nearly as bad as the Volt, but Toyota uses it to establish their green bona fides, so they sell their profitable cars even to lefties who need more than a Prius. The part of the business model GM needs to follow is their employee contracts.

PastorJon on September 10, 2012 at 2:44 PM

Again, if I was Romney, I would make the argument that Obama made GM worse. Romney’s plan would have actually saved GM, Obama’s plan favored unions, while leading GM onto a path of a 2nd bankruptcy.

milcus on September 10, 2012 at 2:23 PM

Exactly!!

Obama didn’t “save” GM. Obama saved the UAW.

ButterflyDragon on September 10, 2012 at 2:38 PM

But Romney did make an argument.

Romney argued Obama did the right thing except he took too long to do the right thing. Obama wasted 20 billion coming to the decision to enrich the UAW and screw the Bond Holders destroying 250 years of law in the process and making it far harder for all businesses to get Bonds from now on.

Romney = Obama.

Steveangell on September 10, 2012 at 2:44 PM

The Volt will prove to be Chevy’s Edsel. That they’ve managed to continue production this long is an indication of the amount of government pressure being applied.

joated on September 10, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Here’s an idea, GM: Admit defeat, partner with Toyota and sell a rebadged Prius, a car which is turning a profit for its automaker and selling like gangbusters, mainly because it’s got, oh, 10-odd years of development and market testing under its belt, rather than the gov’t-mandated crash program you rammed through.

You’d never do such a thing? Might I humbly remind you of the Geo (later Chevy) Prizm? It was by all accounts a very nice car.

Spannerhead on September 10, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Actually, the Prius is a “loss leader.” Not nearly as bad as the Volt, but Toyota uses it to establish their green bona fides, so they sell their profitable cars even to lefties who need more than a Prius. The part of the business model GM needs to follow is their employee contracts.

PastorJon on September 10, 2012 at 2:44 PM

They make money on the Camry Hybrid. My dad loves his and my Brother in Law just bought one too. It is large enough for a family. The Prius is too small for most people. The trunk is tiny.

Steveangell on September 10, 2012 at 2:48 PM

That’s some rant you got there, Erika. You felt so strongly that you went on for awhile longer than you usually do and, of course, every word is justified. Unfortunately, none of the idiocy you observe and industry analysts decry is going away anytime soon, if ever.

One election won’t fix deep stupidity, no matter how hard Romney and Ryan work after winning. There are days when you wonder how in hell we ended up at the top of the food chain.

MTF on September 10, 2012 at 2:51 PM

I’m sorry, but the Volt has to be one of the uglier cars I’ve seen. Forget the cost and the supposed technophobia, it’s an ugly car to me. I saw a Mitsubishi i in person at the Illinois State Fair and if it wasn’t a straight electric car I would probably actually think about buying one. I liked the interior and the overall design. Mitsubishi needs to make it a hybrid and they would probably do better. I have a 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer and I love it.

MobileVideoEngineer on September 10, 2012 at 1:35 PM

One of the keys to the Volt IS the distinctive ugliness. If you look at the psychology of a typical Volt owner, a very wealthy liberal elitist, they are buying it as a boast of their moral superiority over the rest of us. If the electric Volt is indistinguishable from a regular GM car, say a Fusion, buyers with that demographic are lost.

slickwillie2001 on September 10, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Make that a Cruze.

slickwillie2001 on September 10, 2012 at 3:10 PM

It’s not really news that car companies lose money on first generation cars that introduce new technology. Toyota lost money on the first generation Prius too. Buried in the Reuters article (which was very well done, btw) is the fact that the non-GM car most frequently traded in on the Volt is in fact the Prius. Considering that the Volt is significantly more expensive than the Prius even after the Volt’s $7,500 tax credit, that’s a significant metric.

I haven’t spoken to a Volt owner who isn’t 100% thrilled with the car. The reviews of the Volt as a car, not as a political football, have been uniformly positive. No, it isn’t a fire hazard. A single crash tested Volt caught fire three weeks after the test. If they crash tested gasoline and diesel cars in the same state as they tested the Volt, fully fueled, there’d be fires every day of testing. Gasoline cars have their gas tanks emptied and their starter batteries disconnected prior to the crash tests. The Volt was fully charged.

Like Bob Lutz, I’m disappointed when my fellow conservatives tee off on the Volt when they do it unfairly. Does it make sense for their to be a tax credit? No. Is it a very cool car with very well developed and sophisticated technology? Absolutely.

rokemronnie on September 10, 2012 at 3:11 PM

A+B=Quit worrying about the Volt, it’s not your business to worry about such things, STFD, STFU and eat your potato…

SWalker on September 10, 2012 at 1:57 PM

Oh. Well, now that you’ve explained it so clearly………..

And, thank you very much for my daily potato (but it looks a lot like a turnip).

Solaratov on September 10, 2012 at 3:12 PM

I also think it failed, in large part, because a huge swath of this country simply will not purchase a Government Motors car. When my lease ran out, the wife wanted something else and I said – sure, but no GM brands.

lorien1973 on September 10, 2012 at 1:51 PM

EXACTLY!! …And with good reason!!

When our Dodge Caravan (which we love) recently needed service for the dashboard computer, we had to wait nearly TWO MONTHS (with our van sitting idle and useless) before a top-rated dealer service organization was successful in obtaining the proper part. It turned out that they had to bypass the “official” parts supply chain because the “official” parts chain was no longer able to properly place and track spare part orders. And they had to talk the company bureaucracy (which includes the perverse government influences) into approving their every move outside the “official” chain.

We discovered that this situation arose because the same arbitrary government action which closed hundreds of GM and Chrysler dealerships across the country (and stole billions in assets from legitimate stockholders) also destroyed the service parts chain. Consequently we can no longer consider either GM or (sadly) Chrysler products for a new vehicle until these organizations are completely free of government control and have been rebuilt into viable private companies dedicated to serving the needs of their customers and other legitimate stakeholders.

landlines on September 10, 2012 at 3:14 PM

The Electricians tried to drive a Chevy Volt up the Mount Washington Auto Road here in New Hampshire earlier this year. It couldn’t make it to the top (8 miles) on its electric power alone.

It’s been kept hush-hush by the Democrat Media, but recently an electric car did make it all the way up under its own electric power alone.

It was a Ford.

Del Dolemonte on September 10, 2012 at 3:22 PM

What do you mean “not doing too hot” Erika? The Volt is on fire!

NapaConservative on September 10, 2012 at 1:24 PM

Yeah, don’t they have a problem with exploding batteries?

nazo311 on September 10, 2012 at 3:25 PM

The reviews of the Volt as a car, not as a political football, have been uniformly positive.

rokemronnie on September 10, 2012 at 3:11 PM

Really?

http://www.caranddriver.com/comparisons/2011-chevrolet-volt-vs-2011-chevrolet-cruze-eco-comparison-test

Spannerhead on September 10, 2012 at 3:25 PM

Romney = Obama.

Steveangell on September 10, 2012 at 2:44 PM

You’re a pathetic idiot. Get stuffed.

And you constantly whine and snivel; and never have anything different to say – no matter what the subject is.
Do you really think, at this point, that anyone doesn’t know – or care – that you don’t like Romney? You’re an ass.
You don’t like Romney? Don’t vote for Romney. It’s that simple and nobody will. Vote for the fascist clown if you want. No one cares what you do…or say.
All you are is a petulant little snot. Go away.

Solaratov on September 10, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Hint: It’s not GM.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZvyYvbXjEM

Spannerhead on September 10, 2012 at 2:18 PM

WRONG It is the debacle known as the GM Hy Wyre

Besides the obvious waste of opportunity and wealth, these stupid projects are chasing a solution TO A HOAX.

tom daschle concerned on September 10, 2012 at 3:35 PM

I haven’t spoken to a Volt owner who isn’t 100% thrilled with the car.

rokemronnie on September 10, 2012 at 3:11 PM

I haven’t seen one that is happy.

tom daschle concerned on September 10, 2012 at 3:36 PM

I also think it failed, in large part, because a huge swath of this country simply will not purchase a Government Motors car. When my lease ran out, the wife wanted something else and I said – sure, but no GM brands.

lorien1973 on September 10, 2012 at 1:51 PM

I agree, but I have to say that the real problem is the greedy UAW. I won’t do business with ANY greedy-UAW company, sorry Ford. The best thing you can do for the US auto industry is buy a ‘foreign’ car made in the USA by non-union workers.

Bonus: The domestic content of that ‘foreign’ car might even be more than that of the greedy-UAW built car.

slickwillie2001 on September 10, 2012 at 3:39 PM

. You will not see a single new Ford in any government carpools. Not even the military ones.

jukin3 on September 10, 2012 at 2:35 PM

So, what is the military buying? Do they just buy gas and diesel models from GM and Chrysler – and omit Ford because they didn’t take a “bailout”?

Solaratov on September 10, 2012 at 3:40 PM

Well, there is this:

http://news.consumerreports.org/cars/2011/12/2011-car-owner-satisfaction-chevrolet-volt-narrowly-edges-out-dodge-challenger-porsche-911.html

But of course it’s impossible to separate the politics out of the satisfaction rating.

Spannerhead on September 10, 2012 at 3:40 PM

WRONG It is the debacle known as the GM Hy Wyre

Besides the obvious waste of opportunity and wealth, these stupid projects are chasing a solution TO A HOAX.

tom daschle concerned on September 10, 2012 at 3:35 PM

That’s it!

That’s glass (that’s transparent material of some kind) where the front grill would go. I wish it had a wider shot of the interior, but the video is more interested in the Commander Sulu controls.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qow9r5yhhBo

Axe on September 10, 2012 at 3:47 PM

WRONG It is the debacle known as the GM Hy Wyre

Besides the obvious waste of opportunity and wealth, these stupid projects are chasing a solution TO A HOAX.

tom daschle concerned on September 10, 2012 at 3:35 PM

I stand corrected. Hadn’t even heard of the Hy-wire. Probably a good thing.

Why is it that so many alternative-energy cars also feature a degree of automation, i.e. self-driving? “Let’s take the steering wheel out of the driver’s hands (’cause you know, driving is such a chore) while we’re helping him save the planet!”

Spannerhead on September 10, 2012 at 3:52 PM

I still think the pinnacle of a fuel efficient car is the Honda CRX-HF(half-kidding). I’m trying to find one that is in decent shape to purchase as a commuter car.

tom daschle concerned on September 10, 2012 at 3:57 PM

Same old, same old
Schadenfreude on September 10, 2012 at 1:49 PM
-
I hadn’t seen this one. He has all the resources, speechwriters, and technology this nation has to offer and he regurgitates the same old speeches like a hairball.

diogenes on September 10, 2012 at 3:59 PM

If GM can come up with a car that sells itself (their Nissan Leaf, apparently, is doing better than the Volt, and Toyota’s Prius is in its third generation and doing just fine), then great — that’s awesome, more power to ‘em if consumers judge it to be a good substitute to a traditional vehicle.

Shouldn’t it be “the Nissan Leaf” instead of “their Nissan Leaf?” The way it reads now it implies that GM manufactures the Nissan Leaf.

taxidrvrfor4 on September 10, 2012 at 4:14 PM

Solaratov on September 10, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Saul Alinsky Troll alert

Steveangell on September 10, 2012 at 6:04 PM

You have to buy the Volt to find out what is in it.

Dollayo on September 10, 2012 at 8:12 PM

Spannerhead on September 10, 2012 at 3:40 PM

I disagree that Consumer Reports is a credible source…especially regarding their ratings. CR was politicized decades ago, and their test and evaluation criteria are highly slanted toward “politically correct” outcomes and features. Once in a while you can take their raw data (stripping away all evaluations and interpretations) and make use of it. But IMHO, they should change the name to “Political Reports”, as they quit caring about real consumers long ago.

Giving favorable ratings to an auto (or ANY form of transportation) with a 35 mile range? GET REAL!!! QED

landlines on September 11, 2012 at 1:58 PM

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