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The Chevy Jolt

General Motors doesn't have any money to play around with these days, but new CEO Fritz Henderson is willing to let at least one vehicle program's fiduciary requirements slide. Even though Henderson said recently that all GM models will need to "pay the rent," the money-losing Chevrolet Volt program will not be held to that standard. Apparently, the Volt is kind of like that really cool, constantly broke college roommate that never got kicked out because he had the best music.

No one at GM ever said that the first-gen Volts would make money, but Troy Clarke, president of GM's North American operations, recently told Automotive News (subs req'd) that the second-generation vehicles might also be a red entry on the books. Of course, "as we get a chance to change the generations of technology, we'll lose less and less," he said, adding that, "It's not our intention to lose money forever." Well, that's something.

  • Tony Posawatz
  • Bob Lutz
  • Bob Boniface
  • Bob Boniface
  • Frank Weber
  • Frank Weber
  • Tony Posawatz
  • Andrew Farah
  • Andrew Farah

[Source: Automotive News (subs req'd)]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 39 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      The Volt is overweight and underpowered. If they removed all the electronics and batteries the remaining car would be about the right weight for that class, and the hypothetical GM "Gas" would have similar fuel economy, better performance and far lower R&D and production costs. On strictly economic grounds, the Volt should have been killed a long time ago.

      Of course it is not about economics or engineering, but politics. GM (or more strictly speaking the UAW) can now basically milk the taxpayer for billions without having to submit to the dicipline of the market. Of the Detroit Three, only Ford apears to be able to survive, but if billions of investment dollars are vacuumed up by Washington to give to their competitors, then Ford will not be able to survive either.
        • 4 Months Ago
        What you're describing is the planned Chevy Cruze, it shares the basic platform and gas engine with the Volt. Sharing the platform and engine means savings on development costs for both vehicles. While the Cruze will be much less expensive, it can't run on electricity, about 1/4 the cost of running on gasoline, and while the fuel economy will be good (est. 36 mpg), it will be less than the Volt running in gas hybrid mode (est. 50 mpg).
      • 6 Years Ago
      The principle lies in the end game. Chevy always expected a loss in Volt's early years. The question is now that a new benevolent owner with bottomless pockets has realigned incentives, how does that change the company’s strategy? If our government deems the Volt a valuable “symbol” and removes the negative feedback loop (failure/loss), we essentially have Fannie and Freddie lite. This is just one small example of how large government intervention “crowds out” ingenuity.

      Granted, I am making the assumption the Volt will eventually fail. But if a better and more efficient plug-in vehicle is not afforded the same luxuries as the inferior GM car simply because the private market is subject to the incentive of failure, you can see how a little nudge from our government can send ripples across an entire industry. This is what happens every time our public servants wade into the private waters. It’s just that they keep telling us they’ll do it better this time.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Sebastion,

      Unfortunately for you you are a minority of minorities (you might already know this?). Your basing your purchase on CO2 emissions and the survival of GM. While a small minority of people consider one or both of these issues (about ~.000003%) most will opt for a cheaper alternative with better value. I think the biggest problem with the "greencar" movement is that 99.99% of the people do not care about it and the .01% of loud mouths that do support it are forcing an artificial dynamic on the market through government intervention
      • 6 Years Ago
      I say turn the Auto companies into employee owned firms. Let them invest all their pension funds into the firms, buy out investors and run the companies. They would quickly change work rules, labor rates and pension plans to save jobs. They could then run the plants profitably and then reinvest in a modified pension fund and healthcare.

      • 6 Years Ago
      Sebastian,

      The title and the tone of what you've written is disappointing. Surely, as someone who knows a lot more about what this car represents, you should adopt a lot less glib and mocking tone. I've own a Toyota and two Fords in over 12 years of driving. But as soon as I heard about the Volt, I knew it would be my next car.

      As someone who is concerned about our society's extremely high carbon emission, I believe GM's Chevy Volt represents an important, bold step in combating CO2 emission.

      I hope all bloggers of this wonderful site will resist the urge the joining the ugly piling on GM, especially at this critical juncture when the survival of the company is hanging in the balance.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Toyota has hybrids galore on their lots not selling. Can't make a profit when you don't sell. Right now all hybrids are not selling. Supposedly it took 10 years of work/development to get Toyota to a little bit of profit last year with hybrids and that was when gas was over $4 a gallon. 10 years, not a good ROI for most businesses. Consider that most people do not want to wait 4-7 years, depending on gas prices, to make up their initial investment in a hybrid.

      Even the LA Times says they are dying out in sales....

      http://www.latimes.com/news/science/environment/la-fi-hybrid17-2009mar17,0,1930594.story
        • 4 Months Ago
        Um, all car sales are down, not just hybrids. And while hybrid sales may be down 25%, the auto industry as a whole is down 40%, and some gas guzzling SVU sales are down over 60% The percentage of car sales that are hybrids have acually increased slightly. The only new car division doing even better are sub-compact cars with a low price tag and good fuel economy.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "Apparently, the Volt is kind of like that really cool, constantly broke college roommate that never got kicked out because he had the best music."

      Actually the Volt is like that really smart but really poor college student going to school on a full financial scholarship, but who will go on to start a successful company and donate millions back to the college as an Alumni. Thats why its called an investment.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You got the full financial scholarship part right.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I should have known that Obama would nationalize the auto industry, and force it to create the People's Car. You know, the Volkswagen, as you would say in 'Austrian.'

      I see a pattern here.

      Next up, a stimulus-funded Autobahn, an Olympics where a white guy stuns the world by running faster than the Master Race guy, a little Night and Fog, and then on to the final solution.

      No, I'm not depressed.
        • 4 Months Ago
        You need some history lessons. GM started the Volt project back in 2006, shortly after Tesla Motors stunned the automotive world with the first electric Roadster engineering prototypes, and Obama wasn't in office then. GM hastily assembled a concept that was shown in the 2007 Detroit auto show, and Bush was still in the White House. So, no, Obama COULDN'T have "force it to creat the Peoples Car". Even now, after GM and Chrysler practically sold themselves to the Government in a desperate bid to forstall bankruptcy, the Government still isn't dictating which cars should be made, only that they get good fuel economy and are safe - the same requirements the Government puts on all auto makers.

        The US "Autobahn" was started in the 1950's under the Eisenhower administration, and has been growing under every president since, including all the conservatives like Nixon, Reagan, and Bush Sr and Jr. We know it today as "the Interstate Freeway System.

        I see a pattern in your post, trying to defame our current president with innuendo, wild hyperbole and outright lies.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Even though they will lose money on every car they sell they will make up for it in volume... ...and taxpayer funded bailouts.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why not just get cities to make it legal to drive Segways on their streets, then give everybody a Segway with the Porkulus money? It puts out even more smug than a hybrid, since it's 100% electric.


      • 6 Years Ago
      It appears GM's overhead is so high, they can't recoup their R&D cost for any new products. I believe that's why they are concentrating on selling warmed over or modified existing autos, including muscle cars, SUVs and Pick Ups. In order to reduce their debts and overhead, to move their Volt to mass production and make a profit, they may have to go through some form of bankruptcy
      harlanx6
      • 6 Years Ago
      GM is quickly running out of options. When leadership was imperative, they were doing without, and now it's too late. After chapter 11, we can hope for a new beginning.
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