• Jan 24, 2011
Was General Motors caught by surprise with the success of the Chevrolet Volt or is this a case of lowered expectations? According to two people "familiar with the matter" who spoke to Bloomberg, the number of Volts that GM wants to build in 2012 is now, wait for it, 120,000 units. Just six weeks ago, the number we heard for 2012 production was 45,000, up from a previous prediction of 30,000 units. Also, Bloomberg writes, GM might try to make 25,000 Volts this year instead of the 10,000 we previously heard would be produced in 2011.

In December, GM North America President Mark Reuss said that there is a limited number of battery cells that vendor LG Chem can produce for GM. Not sure how (or if) this problem has been solved, but Bloomberg writes that GM is trying to get all the Volt's suppliers to increase their output so GM can make enough Volts to meet demand. One analyst believes that GM will be able to sell every Volt it makes as long as the $7,500 federal tax credit is available. The first 200,000 Volts GM sells will qualify for the credit, so it might run out in 2013 if these new production numbers pan out.

[Source: Bloomberg]


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  • 59 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      They're loosing money on every Volt they sell... but they'll make up for it in volume. It must be nice to be too big to fail.
        • 3 Years Ago
        My understanding is that GM is basically selling the Volt "at cost", which is why it's comparatively expensive.
        • 3 Years Ago
        The corporate image has value too. The Prius gave Toyota a huge, undeserved "green" image. Car-ignorant people were slamming GM for Escalade and Hummer (and killing the EV1), while praising Toyota, without realizing Toyota created the large luxury SUV segment in the first place. The Volt is a car GM has to have, even if they lose money on it.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Or maybe they know something you don't.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I wonder if the economies of scale might kick in sooner, and that the percentage of the battery that GM feels is needed as a buffer might not decline faster, than has been imagined. If the electric intent parts drop 50%, which is doable, after their production numbers go from scores of pieces a month to thousands, we could see a noticeable drop relatively soon. Or rather, GM could see a growth of their profit margin.
      And if GM finds that they can improve the AER slightly, to a number closer to 40 miles for most drivers, while reducing the total pack size from 16 kWh to 14 kWh because the pack management system will allow a greater percentage use of the pack while still delivering 8 year performance... I can definitely see GM tweaking the software so that it uses 11.5 kWh instead of the current 10.4 kWh in order to get a more reliably consistent 40 miles of AER. Even if 10% of the Volts need to have GM drop a re-furb pack in at 7 years, the increase in the AER will make the Volt an even stronger product. And what will a 14 kWh re-furb pack cost in 6 years? A new one would cost about half of what it costs now, or less. A re-furb would be even less. I would be overjoyed to have a nearly new pack 7 years after I bought my Volt...
        • 3 Years Ago
        Ra Conteur:
        To me that means that GM would loose 80% of their market for the Volt if folk can get a 20 mile EV range at a significant cost saving and rustle up a way to get a charge at work.
        It's nice to have a longer EV range, but not at any price.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Sir Vix:

        Please do provide links. I've been to a lot of presentations on Li-Ion battery performance, including one presented by the head of the GM Volt battery program, showed the half-life of the battery charge capacity being 5-7 years tops. There was a lot of pressure to increase this duration.

        The major problem to battery charge capacity lifespan was the the minute the battery chemicals were combined at the factory, the lifespan slowly began to shrink. No matter how carefully the batteries were charged you couldn't prolong the battery life because of reactions in the cell.

        By the way, neither the Leaf nor the Prius use 100% discharge, both vehicles use ~50% of their battery capacity, per Nissan and Toyota talks I've been to.
        • 3 Years Ago
        David Martin:

        First of all it really isn’t your place to tell people not to post; this is rude and uncalled for. Yes, I have read your articles. You might want to re-read them yourself. Here is a quote from YOUR Nissan article:

        “Once no longer useful in hybrids or electric vehicles BECAUSE THEIR STORAGE CAPACITY HAS DROPPED BELOW ACCEPTABLE LEVELS, the batteries still can be recycled for use in stationary systems ranging from emergency back-up power to storage of solar and wind-generated electricity.”

        This is exactly what GM told me and exactly what I said in my last post. If you look at the link I sent, Nissan clearly says on its own website their batteries will last 5-10 years of automotive use. The batteries will be replaced before the useful life of the car is over.

        As for Toshiba, I am not dismissing them completely, just pointing out that I haven't seen independent data and reserve the right for future judgment. I see lots of presentations from battery companies about their great new technologies. When we have them tested, the vast majority of them never life up to their promises. Also Toshiba does not have a history of supplying batteries to the auto industry. Most of the companies supplying the first gen of lithium ion EV batteries have been major players (10%+ marketshare) in both Li-Ion and the auto industry for well over a decade. Automakers have gotten burned when sourcing batteries without extensive testing, just google search Cobasys recall.

        Toyota and Nissan spent 8 years fleet testing their suppliers Li-Ion batteries and working with the suppliers to improve the quality of their batteries to meet automotive standard. Toshiba just signed a deal with Honda to begin testing their batteries in Dec, but has not committed to production, and likely won't for a few more years, if at all. Don’t forget all the companies that signed up to work with A123, including GM and Chrysler. After extensive testing, both companies decided to use other suppliers. Likewise BYD, (a larger player in the Li-Ion market than Toshiba and a major auto OEM in China) has had to delay their vehicle launch do to battery problems.
        • 3 Years Ago
        David Martin:
        Like I said, the SCiB batteries I've seen real data on did not have sufficient energy density. Toshiba's new batteries may be great, or they may not be. You really can't take most suppliers word on performance specs. You need to test them yourself or have them tested by a third party.

        Regardless on how good Toshiba's batteries are, none of the announced EV/PHEVs are using them yet. Nissan's battery is based on technology developed by Sony (LiMn), which I know does have shelf-life issues. Even Nissan’s own website says: “The battery will have a lifespan for automotive use of 5-10 years under normal use. We are still working to define all variables that will impact battery performance.”
        http://www.nissanusa.com/leaf-electric-car/faq/list/technology

        I've talked with GM battery people about battery repurposing. A significant number of customer's batteries will need to be replaced while the car is still under warranty. [The Volt offers minimum warranty allowed under CARB rules, which is still 8 yr 100k miles.] Since this extremely pricey for the OEM to do, and since the battery is not completely useless when it is no longer useful as an EV battery, the OEM will resell the reclaimed battery to lower warranty claims.

        These programs are not about reusing batteries that will outlast the car, but instead about lowering warranty costs of batteries that didn't quite live the entire warranty period. Once the vehicle is out of warranty the OEM doesn't car what happens to your car or your battery. You're on the hook for the full price of the new battery.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Chris M:
        The Prius plug-in will hammer the Volt in charge sustaining mode in any case, so unless your journey patterns are a pretty perfect match for the Volt's 40 mile electric range then I doubt you will be saving a substantial amount of fuel.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Volt's 40M AER was designed to meet the statistical 80% of North American commutes round trip. Given that most EV owners will likely petition employers to install a few charge ports (it's green) - that could effectively become 80M AER with a full charge at work.

        Present Volt owners report commutes of up to 35M one way - recharge during work - and return 35M. EV owners have bought the cars to use the electric mode and have designed their trip plans around the AER. Except for the weekend outing or trip to gramma's - in which case the EREV kicks in for the additional mileage.
        • 3 Years Ago
        To add to your statement, Imagine what a Volt would be worth with a just-installed referb pack at 7 or 8 years? The volt (and others like it) will probably hold its value stronger than most cars we've ever seen.

        ..."will allow a greater percentage use of the pack while still delivering 8 year performance."

        Just a reminder: The WARRANTY is 8 years, not the expected life. AGAIN: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GO GET A NEW BATTERY AFTER EIGHT YEARS!!! Report after report (though admittedly i cannot provide you with links to sources) has stated that most volts will have 80ish% total life left after 8 years. Instead of reduced AER, the car will first use a greater fill and empty range for the battery. After maybe 13 years of ownership, most volts drivers will then be seeing about 70-80% of their original AER. Meaning real world featherfoot drivers (nothing dangerous like drafting or pulse and glide) will still be able to top 40 AER miles with volts that are above 10, even 15 years old.

        So when your volt is 15 years old, and you are getting 35 AER miles on a good day, and 18 on a really bad day, THEN get a new battery. So i'm not worried about what they will cost in 8 years, more like fifteen! And by then, they'll be sick cheap. You will probably be able to throw 40, 80, or even 120 mile batteries inside. A new 40 mile battery will be like the bottom of the barrel option. Then keep it another 15 years. BAM!

        If I had an air cooled 100% charge and discharge rate leaf i'd be worried in 8 years! ouch!
        • 3 Years Ago
        DB:
        If you have a more thorough read of the links I provided you will see that both Toshiba and SK Energy, and presumably Nissan since they are planning on re-purposing the battery, are clearly all happy that not only do their batteries have long cycle life but long calender life.
        You will also see in the Toshiba link that they have upped the SCiB to 20Ah for EV use, and so have hit 100Wh/kg for production in 2011, and have 150Wh/kg in their sights.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Raconteur, Volt owners are reporting a good bit more than UP TO 35 miles AER. They are getting around 30 to 50 miles of all electric range, but most are getting around 33 to 40 miles using minimal AC or heat, which is pretty good. Open the windows, drive gently, leave the AC off, and you can get nearly 50 miles all electric.
        If you get stuck in a snow storm and use the heat and don't move for a substantial amount of time you can get as little as 25 miles all electric. But that is a huge difference from what most people are seeing with their Volts.
        That having been said, GM has to improve the AER slightly, and it wouldn't hurt to improve the CS city mode mpg by 3 or 4 mpg as well.
        • 3 Years Ago
        DB,
        You seem to have your preconceptions which data will not change. I took some little effort to compile the data you requested and you did not do me the courtesy of even reading it properly.
        Clearly you were intent only on arguing your own case, in which case perhaps you would go to the trouble of compiling some checkable data instead of vaguely referring to some conference you have been to somewhere.
        You then have the temerity to pooh-pooh links to the battery manufacturer's specs, on the grounds that more trust should be put in your unfounded opinions presumably, or rather your opinions based apparently on something GM once said to you.If you don't consider the manufacturer's specifications to be good enough information on performance, exactly what information from what source were you requesting?
        It is perfectly plain from the links I have given that the manufacturers feel that their calender life is likely to be well in excess of it's useful life in cars in Nissan's case, and the life of the vehicle in the case of Toshiba and Hyundai.
        As for not knowing which manufacturers are to use the Toshiba battery they are only just starting production of their batteries so that is hardly to be expected.
        If you actually did nay research before forming an opinion though you would find that a couple of manufacturers have said that Toshiba's batteries were part of their plans.
        In future please do not waste forum members time by asking for information which you have no intention of taking on board.
        • 3 Years Ago
        David Martin:

        Thanks,
        I've seen the SCiB batteries before and I am interested to find out more. The SCiB batteries I’ve seen had much lower energy density that would be necessary for automotive batteries. I suspect the lower energy density also lowers the rate of chemical reactions, thus prolonging the battery.

        Also cycle-life does not necessarily relate to shelf-life. Li-Ion batteries’ charge capacity will still degrade even if never cycled. Cycling just increases the rate of degradation.

        Li-Polymer is a completely different family of battery that Li-Ion, so I don’t know if the same holds true. Likewise, I’m told Li-S, Li-Air, and solid electrolyte batteries all hold promise of the shelf-life front, but I haven’t seen the data yet.

        The fact the Nissan/Toyota/GM are planning a recycling strategies for their Li-Ion batteries but not for the current NiMH (which, with the exception of Cobasys NiMHs, almost always outlast the warranty) indicates to me that they are trying to reduce the costs of batteries replaced under warranty, even if it is a fraction of total vehicles shipped. (OEMs rarely care about reducing out-of-warranty costs)

        I know that as of a year and a half ago GM was still desperate for partners who could get to help extend their battery's usable life to ten years. If you know someone who can help I’m sure they’d be interested.

        One question I have, is if you have your batteries replaced after the warranty expires, who gets the $$ from batteries getting recycled? You, the OEM, or the dealers?
        • 3 Years Ago
        DB,
        I think that the information you were looking at was in respect of some chemistries only, and certainly does not apply, for instance, to the SCiB Toshiba do:
        'In contrast, 6,000 cycles of SCiBTM service life means about 20 years. This is to say that the life of a battery is longer than that of an automobile itself.'

        http://e2af.com/interview/091006.shtml

        Or to the batteries from SK energy Hyundai is to use for it's hybrid:
        'Hyundai engineers say that the lithium-polymer batteries can tolerate tens of thousands of charge cycles, without having to use a liquid-cooling system. According to W. C Yang, president of the Hyundai R&D Center, the Sonata Hybrid batteries should supply "300,000 miles with less than 10 percent reduction in performance … that's purely from an engineering point of view, not a warranty point of view." Hyundai currently offers a 100,000 mile/10 year powertrain warranty in the U.S. market. '

        http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/reviews/hybrid-electric/2011-hyundai-sonata-hybrid-test-drive?click=pm_latest

        Or in fact in spite of it's much lower cycle life than the above technologies, does Nissan seem to expect significant calender life problems with it's batteries:
        'Once no longer useful in hybrids or electric vehicles because their storage capacity has dropped below acceptable levels, the batteries still can be recycled for use in stationary systems ranging from emergency back-up power to storage of solar and wind-generated electricity.

        Creating an after-automotive market and value for the batteries would allow automakers such as Nissan - which is building its own batteries for its upcoming EVs - to factor the recycled value into the cost of manufacturing hybrid and all-electric cars and trucks with rechargeable batteries. '

        http://blogs.edmunds.com/greencaradvisor/2009/10/nissan-sumitomo-to-recycle-li-ion-batteries-say-resale-value-will-help-cut-costs.html

        I hope you find the links interesting.
        • 3 Years Ago
        There could be an advantage to reducing battery size even if they didn't change the percentage of capacity used. The reduction in weight could slightly improve efficiency, both in EV mode and "Charge Sustaining" mode. Granted, the electric range would be less, but the price would also be less, making it an easier sell, particularly to customers with relatively short commutes.

        I suspect a lot of potential customers would be willing to accept reduced power and performance and a 12 mile EV range in exchange for knocking $9K off the price. Sort of like what Toyota will be offering with the Plug-in Prius next year.
      • 3 Years Ago
      After the $7,500 credit runs out, perhaps the government should offer progressively lower subsidies - $5,000, then $2,500, then $1,000, to match the automakers' ability to cost reduce their products.

      This would maintain the momentum of the sales of these vehicles, so that demand doesn't suddenly fall off the cliff after the 200,000th unit. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't mind if the government took the existing pool of money, and spread it out over a large number of vehicles, using a decaying value as unit quantities increased. Maybe they could cover 500,000 units, using an exponential decay curve, or a simpler "Rule of 78" approach.
        • 3 Years Ago
        People are voting Fanboy Toyota down because he makes no sense.

        His article looks at cars which cost $40k, but ignores the $7.5k tax credit, along with other potential tax credits / rebates / incentives by state / local / employers. The article should compare volume of $33k cars, or perhaps $30k cars.

        When you talk about 120,000 cars, that's about 1% of a 12M US new car market in which GM's average transaction price (without rebates) is over $31k. On average, if a buyer has any extra incentives, they are probably looking at a net price which is generally similar to GM's $31k average transaction price.

        If GM doesn't have to compete on price, they won't, and they shouldn't. GM car buyers can get up to 200k credits total, which would take them into 2013. If Levin gets the bump, that'll be 500k credits for GM cars, which would probably cover the entire 1st generation of Volt sales, and much of the gen 2 cars as well.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Totally agreed.

        Tho if the revenues could be protected, an extra penny of gas tax goes a very long way toward next-gen subsidies, rail, maintenance, etc.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I'm not sure why everyone has voted down FT, because the article he posted does make some EXTREMELY valid points.

        Yes, automakers are all aware that gas prices are set to rise.
        However, it's still a very hard sell for the Volt when the Prius has all the existing brand equity and can be had for $10,000 less, and with such a competitive crop of subcompacts squeaking out 40 mpg without any hybrid help at a mere fraction of the Volt's MSRP.

        Will the Volt sell well? I think so. 120,000 units well? I find it a stretch at best.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I'm rather confused by GM's plans here if only because they've mostly sold off to corporate fleets to date. Are they planning on making these for fleets? I just don't see there being this much retail demand, it's not like there's a proven case for 120,000 units per year.
        • 3 Years Ago
        "After the $7,500 credit runs out, perhaps the government should offer progressively lower subsidies"

        "The first 200,000 Volts GM sells will qualify for the credit"

        200,000 x $7,500 = $1.5 billion. I think thats more than enough subsidy for this car.
        • 3 Years Ago
        FT, I'm not quite sure how someone could look themselves in a mirror or sleep at night with all the lies you tell.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @FoolTard: um, what the heck are you talking about?

        The Volt is selling just fine, as far as I'm aware - what data do you have to show a 60+ day supply of them on lots? Or even a 15-day supply? Wishful thinking doesn't count here, BTW.

        As for price / volume, the Volt is a $41k - $7.5k = $33k car. But nobody wanted to do the numbers on cars with an average transaction price of $33k? Or how about cars leasing for $350/month? Wouldn't prove your point, eh?

        Come back when you're able to post about things actually happening in the real world, not in Toyota fairyland.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Huh? The first 1000-odd Volts sold to date have gone to private, retail buyers, not fleet.
        • 3 Years Ago
        John H, at 1,000 a month (with dealers having a very hard time unloading Volts even though you typically have pent up demand when a car is first introduced) you can see the problem with GM's prediction.

        Fact is they are counting on more GE type fleet buyers and rental companies (they have already begun dumping Volts on rental fleets).

        Others see that this is just a dream of GM's (likely trying to create and illusion that there's a lot of demand for the car despite the fact that they are languishing on dealer lots already). This article shows how ridiculous GM's plan to increase production is:

        120,000 Volts a year? Not so fast

        http://www.autonews.com/article/20110124/BLOG06/110129935/-1

        LOS ANGELES -- General Motors Co. CEO Dan Akerson thinks he can make history. But it looks more like he's going to repeat it.

        On Friday, Bloomberg, citing sources familiar with GM's plans, reported that the automaker intends to produce 120,000 Chevrolet Volts a year starting in 2012, after a ramp-up of about 25,000 units this year.

        The optimistic 2012 figure doubles the original forecast of 60,000 units, while the 2011 figure jumped from an original forecast of 10,000 units.

        In a world where Camrys and Accords do 400,000 units in a good year, 120,000 Volts should be easy, right?

        Wrong.

        I had the analysts at TrueCar create a Venn diagram. Pool A represented vehicles with a transaction price of more than $41,000, which includes the Volt. Pool B represented vehicles that sold more than 120,000 units last year.

        Guess how many nameplates fit in the intersection?

        None.

        Full prices coming

        Well, there's an asterisk there. The Ford F-series pickup squeaks over the $41,000 mark if you include its heavy-duty variants, and Ford sells loads of them.

        Sure, the Volt gets a federal tax credit that knocks the price down about $7,500. But that's only for the first 200,000 units sold. Which means that, sometime in 2013, should GM hit the Volt's sales target, the car will revert to its full price of $41,000.

        Look at how many Priuses Toyota sells a year. It has sold more than 120,000 units just three times, when the market was booming and gasoline prices were high. And it has taken 10 years for Toyota to make Prius the Kleenex of hybrids. How much brand equity does the Volt have? Zero. And Prius transacts in the mid-$20,000s.

        Rare earth

        Akerson hopes to bring the Volt's price down anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000, basically making up for the tax credit once it's exhausted. But in a vehicle dependent on rare-earth elements, whose price is likely only to increase, the quest seems quixotic.

        GM's goal conjures up memories of the 2003 Detroit auto show, when GM said it would offer hybrid powertrains in 1 million vehicles a year by 2007. Whatever happened to that plan?







      • 3 Years Ago
      Expert - You are incorrect.

      It is a Tax Credit, not a Deduction, however it is not a "Refundable Tax Credit" Like the housing tax credit was.

      A deduction lowers the amount of money that you owe taxes on, A credit reduces the Tax you owe dollar for dollar, a refundable Tax credit reduces the tax you owe dollar for dollar and refunds you the difference.

      So yes to take full advantage of the $7500 you need to Owe that much taxes (keep in mind you will probably get back anything withheld throughout the year then) OR you need a lease agreement where the Leasor gets the Tax credit, and you pay the lower monthly payment with the tax credit figured in.
        • 3 Years Ago
        From all the reports I have read, I think you are correct. It's not a deduction, but it's also not refundable. That said, from previous calculations, I think anyone who can afford a Volt has close to or more than $7.5k in tax liability (Income ~$45k single, ~$56k jointly).
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's good to see GM rising up again!
      • 3 Years Ago
      I would rather support making Version 2 production to 120 k with

      1) Change on range extender engine ( should target 60 mpg on CS Mode)
      2) Change of 4 seater to 5 seater ( may be battery design )
      3) A version 2 of Battery which can offer more EV range ( say 60 miles - just by use of new materials )
      4) Price down to 30 k ( I know GM will some times sell on 30k on loss but this should be like atleast 33k with profit for GM )
        • 3 Years Ago
        @David:

        I see the gen 1 Volt as a simply that - a gen 1 vehicle. Recall the 1st gen Prius and the 1st gen Insight - both completely forgettable vehicles which paved the way for better gen 2 and gen 3 vehicles. If GM's gambit works, we'll see this with the gen 2 Volt & siblings, sooner rather than later.

        As far as EREV goes, this won't go away for a general-use EV until the EV charging infrastructure is in place nationally. That's going to be decades from now, I think. If you look back at the old pictures of people driving, they carried full tool sets, cooking & camping because the country didn't have a consistent infrastructure of mechanics, restaurants & motels for many years.

        Progressively smaller packs, based on actual usage data are the way to cut weight and cost here. With EREV technology, I can see the next gen goal of depleting 95+% of the pack 95+% of the time - minimizing "wasted" battery pack weight & capacity. Of course this gets away from the dogmatic "NO GAS" mantra, to a more practical "minimal gas" usage.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Actually it will be quite easy to increase AER as well as CS MPG. By simply shedding a lot of unneeded weight in the vehicle which GM has already stated they're working on could increase AER range by several miles, add in the ability to use more of the battery and reaching 50 miles of AER by the 2012 model is quite doable.

        By shedding the weight it should also increase the MPG in cs mode slightly but a new, dedicated engine will have to be developed in order to substantially increase this number, which the likelihood of that happening is actually quite high with GM moving the Voltec drive train to multiple platforms.

        The great thing about the Volt is it's already a major step forward yet it has tons of room for improvments.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @John H:
        There is nothing wrong with the idea of a plug-in hybrid, but I am not keen on GM's implementation of it.
        I think they have made poor choices, and the Prius with it's lower EV range and the Hyundai plug in with it's likely 20 mile EV range will are far more cost effective options, and they will perform better when on the ICE engine.
        Ultimately the greater simplicity of pure EVs may edge them ahead of hybrids with their better flexibility, but how soon depends not only on battery costs and infrastructure but fuel prices.
        If petrol hits $5/gallon in the US then electric becomes very attractive.
        For places like the UK though a 20 mile EV range will cover most running around, and at current costs the Volt's 40 miles is overkill.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Not very likely with foreseeable technology.

        1. 60 mpg in CS mode would mean a much smaller engine, and vastly-reduced performance, but this is doable.

        2. that battery pack is huge, and using the central tunnel allows GM to do a good job with 4 seats, versus a bad job with 5. Potentially, the 5th could be a central car seat only.

        3. if a magic battery existed, GM would use it to make the pack smaller and lighter, not offer more range. The ICE is the extra range. Pointless suggestion. If anything, GM might cut the pack to a 20 or 30-mile range in future versions.

        4. Price down to $30k simply won't happen with the complexity of the drivetrain and the cost of the battery. At least not in the next few years - 5 years from now, a Volt-like vehicle would be possible at that price point, because the tooling & technology will have been amortized over enough vehicles, and the batteries, etc. will be available as mass-production quantities.
        • 3 Years Ago
        John H,
        I would agree. I see the Volt as a fundamentally flawed design which it is very difficult to take cost out of.
        It needs Volt II to do much about it.
        The easiest way to take out cost would be by reducing the battery pack size and range, but the none too good mpg of the engine preclude that if they are to stay in competition with the Prius plug-in.
        The series hybrid design of it doesn't make cutting it down easy either.
        About the only stand-alone cost reduction I can see which might work would be the substitution of the Toshiba SCiB batteries, when the 100Wh/kg ones become available later in the year.
        This would allow substantial downsizing of the battery pack in terms of kwh as they have a very high SOC and wonderful cycle life, so the battery would not have to be 16kwh but might be able to be 10kwh or so, and would still easily last 8 years or 150,000 miles.
        • 3 Years Ago
        John H:
        The less than stellar charge sustaining performance of the Volt means that they can't really reduce the EV range much, as if they do the contrast with the Prius plug in and likely Hyundai will become even more painfully obvious, whilst the price won't be reduced enough to match them.
        Unless petrol prices in the US hit something like $6-7/gallon even for longer distance drivers it is difficult to see how the longer EV range of the Volt covers it's extra costs.
        Of course, leasing confuses the issue a bit, and it is unclear how the price of the Volt reflects costs, as an unknown proportion of it is courtesy of the taxpayer.
        If petrol hits prices in the US which begin to make the price of the Volt make sense, I think they will make more people move nearer to work then finance a very expensive car to travel long distances at less cost in petrol.

        In my view we have not seen the half of the fall in the economy from the financial crisis yet.
        I hate to think what a rise in interest rates would do to the car market in the US and Europe.
        Expensive cars would take a hit, that's for sure.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Thanks for the insightful views

        My views in these cases are

        1) more CS mode mpg - they need to use a engine which is design an engine for generator in mind . It will be really possible on some other stuff like weight reduction etc etc. The cc of ICE doesn't have anything to do with power because most time its driven only by electric motor. The time its supports drive is its mostly acting as a torque supplier. so 1 ltr or a 660cc engine is really possible to drive volt without any performance impact.



        2) The T shape battery is good but its a design from 1990s (EV1 ), EV1 was designed to be a roadster , using that directly on a sedan design is the problem. I am sure alternative designs are possible ( look at Leaf it carries more battery than Volt but capable of having 5 seats . Another design of interest will be of Model S

        3) There are a lot new chemistry out. Ex the current GM using one is some what patented 9 years back. So there are a lot new stuff out but yes it will have to be in testing and GM should be knowing better on this.

        4) Bringing to 30k price - instead of reducing battery size, another option may be putting a CS mode only car and call it Malibu hybrid ( now by using volt specialized components it can hit a 50 mpg if option1 is implemented ).

        The same can be used in Equinox also to have a 45+ mpg crossover.

        By scaling , the cost reduces and using same platform for 3 , all other parts than battery will be mass produced and cost will be reduced. Making it a global platform the cost can be further reduced.

        The best stuff i read recently is "When Steve jobs showed iphone in CES, - Nokia, RIM etc called immediate meetings and 99% said iphone is not going to take off because its battery will be gone in short time and all times they talked on this, all mangers said "It will never take off" . Because of this attitude all left back and now following apple". So GM still have lot chances to improve on voltec (like iphone versions).




        • 3 Years Ago
        Unquestionably, GM created a vehicle here that does too much. But they wanted to push the envelope, and I'm glad they did so - it's a big jump in technology that should pay dividends down the road.

        The US is a vastly bigger place than the UK or Japan, so the bigger pack makes some sense as insurance against future capability. The Chevy might have a smaller 30-mile pack and simpler design, the Vauxhall version might have a much smaller battery for UK distances, while the Opel is tweaked for higher speeds, and the Buick the best NVH isolation.

        Thing is, it takes real-world data to figure out how to best segment things, and that data is somewhat lacking. As data become available, I'm sure we'll see usage profiled more carefully for the next gen Chevy, Buick, Opel, Vauxhall & GMC vehicles.

        Should be interesting!
        • 3 Years Ago
        Unni, I like all your ideas, but they would be very hard to achieve.
        1) Increasing the CS mode city mpg by 15% to around 43 mpg will be really hard to achieve, even if you get a smaller, more efficient genset. Maybe a slicker aero version of the Volt could increase the hwy mpg 15% from 39-40 up to 45 mpg, but it would be nearly impossible to do short term.
        2) 4 seater to 5 seater simply can't happen with the config of the battery pack so that one is not going to happen for 2 or 3 years at least. Especially since you want:
        3) Increasing the city AER to 60 miles. Ain't gonna happen. It would be stupid to make an EREV that carries all the weight needed to get 60 miles of AER. A reliable 40 miles of AER even if you use the heater would be worth pursuing though. And that would mean most of us would get 50+ miles AER on days we didn't use much AC or heat.
        4) The price is the crux of the matter, they need to get the price down asap. It sounds like they are making a small profit at $40,280 MSRP. And that is with all the electric intent parts priced when the OEM's were making a couple dozen a month. Now that they are ordering thousands a month the price will be coming down. How much, though, is the question.

        I think GM has to make evolutionary changes to the revolutionary Volt. Increase the AER slightly to alleviate the griping about their not reaching their stated goals of 40 miles all electric most of the time. And then increase the all important city CS mpg so that they are noticeably over 42 mpg. Yeah, I know that the whole idea is that the Volt doesn't use the CS mode that often if you have a 40+ real world AER. But the fact is that perception is just as important as the facts early in the game. And GM has to increase their AER and their city mpg in CS mode.
      • 3 Years Ago
      GM's proclamations about what they "could" do or "want" to do or are "thinking about" doing are directly related to their lobbying to get $14.4 Billion from the DOE. There are far more in requests than there are in available funds in the AVTM program and GM is requesting the majority of the funds in the program-- more more money than they repaid the treasury from the IPO. If they do not get their full request, you can assume that many of their "wants" will not be funded.

      http://green.autoblog.com/2011/01/24/most-advanced-technology-vehicles-manufacturing-loan-program-at/

      • 3 Years Ago
      I say they should do it if they drop their price.
      If they dont, they wont be able to sell 120k units in one year at $40k+.
      Most people cant take advantage of the tax credit... you have to owe that much in that year to be able to deduct it. At least thats my understanding.


        • 3 Years Ago
        Expert,

        I hope your correct. That would be great news.
        • 3 Years Ago
        It's a tax credit, not a tax deduction. If you don't have $7500 in taxes you get the rest back as a refund.
        • 3 Years Ago
        With financing, can't you directly apply the tax credit to the purchase?
        • 3 Years Ago
        Drop the price?

        GM is already losing money on every Volt they sell. They can't cut the cost of manufacturing significantly. Everything outside of the drive-train is already based on a high-volume economy-car platform. The batteries will cost less as volume go up, but by that time the $7,500 credit will run, so it'll be a wash.

        The Volt is a fundamentally expensive vehicle. It has two nearly complete drive-trains - an ICE (complete with all its peripheral hardware - emissions, fuel, and cooling systems) and a BEV (complete with all its peripheral hardware - a large battery, charger, controllers). Twice the hardware, twice the complexity, twice the cost!
      electronx16
      • 3 Years Ago
      From the Bloomberg article:

      "It may not build that many if parts aren’t available or demand isn’t strong enough, said the people, who didn’t want to be named because the plans are private"

      and

      "Randy Fox, a GM spokesman, declined to comment on production plans. He said he didn’t know how many people have ordered a Volt or how long they will have to wait."

      Guess what's really going on here is some serious hyping of the Volt by GM's Dan Akerson and it's really not clear yet if this pricey double drivetrain engineering folly is really going to be successful.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @electronx16
        If it is not clear whether it will be successful then why do you call it a 'folly'?

      • 3 Years Ago
      This claim of a huge increase in production is very ambitious and beneficial to the general consumer who wants to support PHEV technology. However, this is just a statement and their production rates will really depend on the companies that supply the electric drive train components.

      Regarding the current price, I feel that it is reasonable considering how new the technology is. As well, the tax credits help to lower the cost.

      ------------------------------------------------------
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      • 3 Years Ago
      I think our government should tax foreign mfrs just like they tax our cars. What do you think the price of a CHEVY VOLT will be in Japan. They will put a $20,000 tariff on it while we stupid Americans give them $7500 per car.

      I think the US government should think globally and put a tax similar to the tax they put on our cars.... see how many Camrys sell in the US for $45,000 like a Chevy Malibu costs in Japan. We should use this money to lower the National Debt. And leveling the playing field for GM and FORD will result in many new job hires. Also the additional revenues will fund more research for batteries and other sources of energy for the volt and other cars like it.



      • 3 Years Ago
      I think GM is aware of the likely trend in oil prices.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Yeah, I think they really want to move this drivetrain along into mainstream production. Get the volume up, reduce component costs, get more experience with it, and then start moving it into other body styles.

        I think the cross-over & mini-van sector would love a Voltec drivetrain. Let the soccer mom do all her daily errands with electricity but still be able to drive the car to grandma who lives two hours away.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Spec,
        On reflection this announcement seems to have more to do with GM's plans to screw another $14bn out of the Government than any sudden enthusiasm for electric mobility.
        Some folk moan about the subsidy to Nissan, which has got around $1.4 bn to build a factory and is actually leading in electric mobility.
        Most of the rest of the $25bn has been diverted into an excuse to give funds to the big 3, allegedly US, manufacturers, with the supposed fuel efficiency money providing light cover.
        I really can't see the Volt I as suitable for large scale production without massive individual subsidies, more Government money.
        Volt II may be a different matter.
        • 3 Years Ago
        How exactly would GM 'screw' money out of the government? The subsidy only applies to sales, so unless people buy the Volt, no subsidies go out. Building 120k Volts and leaving them to rot in a field doesn't get GM any money.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Absolutely. If you assume that GM has no political pull, and they can't get the legislators to change the rules to favour them as needed. Perhaps you did not notice the strange lag in disbursement of the $25bn of advanced vehicle funds, which were earmarked for companies which were solvent.
        Oddly, the lag may mean the odd few billion for GM, which of course has nothing to do with political pull.
        However, I am not American, so have not followed the matter closely, so perhaps I have misunderstood what is happening, which externally seems to be a political rather than economic.
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