2011 Chevrolet Volt
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Late last year, the Internet went wild with the "news" that each Chevrolet Volt that was built cost taxpayers $250,000. That figure was completely untrue, of course, but the question of how much GM is paying to make each Volt is as close to a perennial one as we have 'round these parts when it comes to the new generation of plug-in vehicles. The latest figures, which come to us via "auto industry consultants who spoke with Reuters," suggest that, currently, each Volt costs GM around $80,000, or at least somewhere between $76,000 and $88,000.

That 80k breaks down this way: Each Volt currently has $56,000 in fixed costs – $18,650 in development costs and $37,350 in tooling costs – as well as $24,000 in parts and labor, according to the consultants. With each Volt sold, the $56,000 will drop by a little bit, but it's a slow process. Reuters says GM has invested an estimated $1.2 billion into the Volt program so far and when you divide $1.2 billion by the 21,500 Volts sold in the U.S. so far, you get $56,000. This does not take advertising and marketing costs into account, or the number of Volts (and Opel Amperas) sold overseas. In response, GM issued a statement clarifying just how much Reuters is relying on current sales numbers to get to the $80k number, saying, Reuters' estimate is "grossly wrong." The full statement is available below.

What GM isn't saying is how much, exactly, it costs to make a Volt. But Doug Parks, GM's vice president of global product programs, did admit that the Volt is a losing proposition, financially. He told Reuters, "It's true, we're not making money yet. ... [It] eventually will make money. As the volume comes up and we get into the Gen 2 car, we're going to turn (the losses) around."
Show full PR text
GM Response to Reuters Story on Chevrolet Volt Development Costs

2012-09-10

DETROIT – Reuters' estimate of the current loss per unit for each Volt sold is grossly wrong, in part because the reporters allocated product development costs across the number of Volts sold instead of allocating across the lifetime volume of the program, which is how business operates. The Reuters' numbers become more wrong with each Volt sold.

In addition, our core research into battery cells, battery packs, controls, electric motors, regenerative braking and other technologies has applications across multiple current and future products, which will help spread costs over a much higher volume, thereby reducing manufacturing and purchasing costs. This will eventually lead to profitability for the Volt and future electrified vehicles.

Every investment in technology that GM makes is designed to have a payoff for our customers, to meet future regulatory requirements and add to the bottom line. The Volt is no different, even if it takes longer to become profitable.

GM is at the forefront of the electrification of the automobile because we are developing innovative technologies and building an enthusiastic – and growing – customer base for vehicles like the Volt.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 203 Comments
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sales numbers for the Chevy Volt have been higher than these other notable GM cars: Chevy Caprice Chevy Corvette Cadillac Escalade Buick Regal Buick Lucerne There are a few models of Cadillac that are selling in the low hundreds figure; the DTS, EXT, and STS.. By the same criteria, you could call about 1/6th of GM's lineup a failure and waste of money. You'll never hear the oil industry backed criticism of the Chevy Volt ( and other hybrids/EVs ) mention this. You can look up GM's monthly delivery numbers here, FYI: http://www.gm.com/content/gmcom/home/company/investors/sales-production.content_pages_news_us_en_2012_sep_gmsales.~content~gmcom~home~company~investors~sales-production.html
        Ford Future
        • 5 Months Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        Exactly, why isn't the right wing CRYING for the Corvette to be put down? It guzzles Tons of Exxon Gas.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 5 Months Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        From all the monthly Volt sales numbers i've seen, they have been above 1000 for a very long time, have touched 2,000 per month multiple times. Look up the Escalade EXT's production numbers if you want to know what a sales failure looks like. That vehicle has been around since 2002. It's been selling about 100 units a month for a while now. Yup, GE is an Obama backer. Both candidates are corrupted by corporate influences pretty hard. Obama's received more corporate money this time around though. What i find funny is that both Mitt and Obama have received money from Goldman Sachs. ( source for my info: opensecrets.org )
        Revis Goodworth
        • 5 Months Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        The VaporVolt did not sell that many retail units - what you have are GE fleet sales now being counted into the sales figures in time for the election. GE said it would purchase 10,000 VaporVolts and there haven't been enough sold yet to make that happen - now SUDDENLY we have a HUGE INCREASE in sales. You do the math - time for GE, a major Obama campaign contributor and a company that has avoided paying any taxes last year (!), to come to its Candidate's rescue. You also now stand correct, Government Motors, buttmunch!
          Julius
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Revis Goodworth
          Umm, what? "In July, just 55 — or 3 percent — of [the total of 1,849] Volt sales were to fleets." From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120801/AUTO01/208010415#ixzz266offFdn And even Fox News had to put an "update" to their story saying GE heavily influenced Volt sales: "In fact, initial concerns that the record sales number posted by the Chevy Volt in March was driven by a big fleet purchase from GE(GE) were premature and didn't reflect just how quickly the Volt's fortunes shifted in March". Read more: http://nation.foxnews.com/chevy-volt/2012/04/19/fishy-ge-behind-record-chevy-volt-sales#ixzz266petABg
          mapoftazifosho
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Revis Goodworth
          You're an idiot.
          MTN RANGER
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Revis Goodworth
          Hahaha. The Volt has been in non-vapor status for oh like two years now. Fleet sales have been routinely only 5% of total Volt sales.
      cadetgray
      • 2 Years Ago
      I recall this same story when the Prius was launched. That if Toyota factored in the development costs into the first generation, they would have retailed for about the price of a Rolls Royce.
      Duke Woolworth
      • 2 Years Ago
      Please remember that the development cost and tooling is deductible, either directly or through depreciation, thus much lower cost than amount stated.
        thor.petersen
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Duke Woolworth
        Please learn your econs 101. Depreciation is NO GOOD if you don't make PROFITS to deduct it frorm, and if the VOLT was a separate division it would not make any profits UNTIL EFFING HELL FROZE OVER.
          mycommentemail
          • 5 Months Ago
          @thor.petersen
          Thor, You are a scholar and a gentleman and absolutely correct about the volt, if it were separate division, not making any money. I hope you will join me in complaining about how the paint applied to all of the cars, if it were a separate division, would also be unprofitable. I am also concerned how, if it were a separate division, facilities management for the factories would not be turning a profit. Nor is marketing (if it were a separate division). And you really seem to know your econs 101. Since the Volt has not yet recouped its capital and development costs, well then clearly there cannot be any other profit within the corporation against which to deduct costs. An intellect like yours... please tell me you are considering a run for office. Our country really needs you.
          Spec
          • 5 Months Ago
          @thor.petersen
          Yeah, that is what the said about the Prius too. And the right wing was trumpeting their beloved Hummer at the time. So how are the Hummer and the Prius doing these days? Herp derp.
      sirvixisvexed
      • 2 Years Ago
      Wow, only 24k parts and labor! That's why GM doesn't tell you the ACTUAL cost to make a Volt right now without counting development....people would demand a price reduction. Though it does make one think 'why didn't they take more of a hit to sell twice as many and make up the development costs in roughly the same amount of time, but with much higher sales?' The answer is probably, HOPEFULLY, because they wanted to be slow and get the car perfect without any massive kinks before they went all "volume" on us.
        Spec
        • 5 Months Ago
        @sirvixisvexed
        Yeah, I'd really like to believe that $24K parts & labor number. But unlike all the far-right-wingers crowing over this bogus article, I have critical thinking skills and use them. Even though I wish that $24K value were true, I know that it simply cannot be true based on a breakdown of parts costs. Thus, even though I'd like it to be true, I don't believe it.
          sirvixisvexed
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Spec
          I tend to agree; I have never heard a number that low and have been lovingly reading about the Volt since the concept. And "parts and labor" tends to usually break down to close to a 50/50 breakdown, or more on the labor side, than costs. 12ish thousand in parts? mmmmmm i'll take it with a grain of salt....
          sirvixisvexed
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Spec
          When I wrote "costs" I meant "parts"
      Revis Goodworth
      • 2 Years Ago
      When you build a vehicle you have huge upfront costs and since the VaporVolt took unusually long to develop after having to go back and redo some of its systems after they had problems with the battery range, the VaporVolt has to price in all this cost to the consumer. And since Government Motors cannot really price the VaporVolt that high, they had to settle on a price and to eat some it. This isn't new - Toyota and Ford had high initial investments in their hybrids and both are now making a profit on each unit they sell but weren't in their first few years. What is interesting is that Ford will offer a product, the C-Max Energi, that will be more usable than that wretched VaporVolt and will sell for just under the VaporVolt. Government Motors is about to have its world rocked as a company that has demonstrated it can pull itself out of the ditch is now more vibrant than the rescued POS company. And, it should be noted on a per vehicle basis, Ford is more profitable than Government Motors.
        Spec
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Revis Goodworth
        Ford copied GM's Volt technology . . . and you complement them? LOL.
        Jesse Gurr
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Revis Goodworth
        How did ford copy GM? Ford had a plug in hybrid long before GM did. They built 20 in a test fleet for So Cal Edison to use complete with Lithium batteries and about a 30 mile electric range. This was december 2007, about one year later Chevy announced the Volt in 2008 http://www.autoblog.com/2008/09/08/breaking-2011-chevy-volt-revealed/ http://green.autoblog.com/2007/12/17/evs23-fords-plug-in-escape-hybrid-handover-videos/ Ford had actual products on the road, what did chevy have? almost 3 more years before the Volt came out. Who copied who? Its too bad they couldn't sell them on the market. I guess they will apply what they learned from this to the new C-Max/Fusion hybrid plug-ins.
        montoym
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Revis Goodworth
        The Volt went from Concept to Production in 3yrs which is the industry standard. It's not "unusually long", especially not for a vehicle that is such a differnet creature from everything else GM made at the time. If you think 3yrs is a long time to develop a car, then get ready to be disappointed by a lot of vehicles. Even a vehicle that's just a refresh of a current vehicle (same platform, same general powertrain etc.) still takes a long time to develop.
        ss1591
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Revis Goodworth
        Your post is really annoying to read, you should try and make a point not an opinion when being sarcastic. My Volt has proven to be perfect since I bought it and I am going about 4800 miles between Gas fill ups. The Ford C-Mac is a light weight when compared to the Volt because it will have a electric range of about 20 miles before gas kicks in. If they are introducing a longer range model it may have slipped past me. It is always harder to be the first to introduce a new product I am sure every car maker has bought a Volt or two to strip down and see how it works. Why you think the GM bail out is a big deal really comes as a surprise because every car company has received government assistance at some time. Ford has received local tax credits and employee training compensation many times, all of the Japan auto makers received incentives and tax help and right now France and Italy are bailing out their auto makers to keep them from dying! Even Volkswagen receives help because of stock ownership from cities that have kept others from buying them in hard times. If you think that Ford would do everything the same if they had a do over you are wrong, they have had to pay 20 billion in debt and fight with their workers because they didn't get protection from the bail out.
        mycommentemail
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Revis Goodworth
        Hey laser, did you just reveal your real name? Oops.
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Revis Goodworth
        I'll take on this stupidity one by one... - Re-inventing how a car works does take investment. - "Unusually long" compared to what? The last time a major car company committed resources to create a sensible plug-in hybrid vehicle? It's never been done before. They wrote the playbook. That takes time. - The C-Max Energi is using GM's technology, and get about half of the all-battery range as the Volt. - The C-Max battery system likely cost them quite a bit in development, just like the Volt and Prius. They'll recoup their cash just like the Prius did and Volt will. AND THE FUN FACT EVERYONE IGNORES: The Volt has sold more cars in it's first two years in the US than the Prius did in it's first two years in the US. Look it up.
        montoym
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Revis Goodworth
        The Volt went from Concept to Production in 3yrs which is the industry standard. It's not "unusually long", especially not for a vehicle that is such a differnet creature from everything else GM made at the time. If you think 3yrs is a long time to develop a car, then get ready to be disappointed by a lot of vehicles. Even a vehicle that's just a refresh of a current vehicle (same platform, same general powertrain etc.) still takes a long time to develop.
        taser it
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Revis Goodworth
        Based on the delivery numbers of Ford's C-max today, Ford is losing $40million per C-max energi sold. If we are using the same "math" used to calculate the Volt's cost in the reuters article.
      tump
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm still replacing my mom's older PT Cruiser with a Volt next year because it's exactly perfect for her.
      • 5 Months Ago
      The Cadillac ELR was cruising around Las Vegas a couple days ago. Slated for 2014. It's coming.
      dan1malk
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Volt is a halo car. The success of the unprofitable Volt is actually represented in the killer sales of the profitable Cruze. People come in to see the Volt, leave with a Cruze. This is how Halo cars work people.
        Spec
        • 5 Months Ago
        @dan1malk
        No. The current Volt may be a Halo car but that misses the bigger point. The Voltec technology is critical for GM's long-term product development and will be used in many other GM cars. It is already being used in other cars.
        Spiffster
        • 5 Months Ago
        @dan1malk
        I wanted a Volt, but it wasnt available yet in CO (at the time)... so I got a Cruze and am waiting for the next gen Volt. Love my Cruze though.
        sirvixisvexed
        • 5 Months Ago
        @dan1malk
        The entire "halo car" psychological process is a weak minded process that gets way too much credit and is assumed to have way too much power over people. One should only fault themselves for going to a dealership to look at one car, and then letting that car "make them" buy a different car. "I got a Cruze instead of a Corolla because.....because.....IT'S THE VOLT'S FAULT!"
          Julius
          • 5 Months Ago
          @sirvixisvexed
          No, but I'm sure the Volt got people who would NEVER have set foot in a Chevy dealership to actually LOOK at a Cruze...
        Pinhead
        • 5 Months Ago
        @dan1malk
        Logic is spoken. . . and promptly ignored by the haters. Oh well.
      mikeybyte1
      • 2 Years Ago
      Toyota lost a ton when they created the Prius. There was a lot of speculating over how much they lost on each vehicle. All Toyota would do was acknowledge that yes they were selling it at a loss. As other posters have said, new technology takes a lot of time to recoup. Not just in the auto world but in all products. GM will soon make additional sales with the Cadillac ELR. And the Opel version is selling well. They have always said the Voltech powertrain will find it's way into other vehicles. I have seen quite a few of these on the road, and I am nowhere near a major city. I sat in one at the recent auto show and was very impressed with the build quality. The price is still a turn off for me, but if I were to be in the market to lease a car I would seriously consider it. I can see this type of powertrain evolving over time, with the batteries becoming more efficient and the engine shrinking. Kudos to GM for pushing this technology forward.
        SonataGuy1
        • 5 Months Ago
        @mikeybyte1
        But Toyota was not on welfare like GM is, so when GM is losing money.................we are all losing money. Gillete sells it's razor handles at a loss, but we do not care, no one cares, no one goes on a shaving blog and posts that.................because Gillete is an independent company.
          Spec
          • 5 Months Ago
          @SonataGuy1
          The Volt was developed during the Bush administration long before the bail-outs. It was championed by hard-right climate-change-denier Bob Lutz. The Obama administration car czar actually wanted to kill the program but the GM people insisted it be kept because it was important for the LONG TERM prosperity of GM. Facts!
          mycommentemail
          • 5 Months Ago
          @SonataGuy1
          Yeah, and see how badly those initial years of "loosing money" were on Toyota? Clearly a bad strategy and one we wouldn't want GM to repeat. Especially since, according to you, this is all of our money we are talking about.
          • 5 Months Ago
          @SonataGuy1
          You may not agree with the bailout, but the car was developed way prior to the bailout. Now that the Gov't is a shareholder, you should be cheering the car on. If they stop selling the car tomorrow, they lost money. If they break 74000 sold, they are past the break even point. Do math, son.
          Matt
          • 5 Months Ago
          @SonataGuy1
          SonataGuy1: GM is reporting profits!!! The fact that the Volt is currently a money loser is irrelevant to your argument. Therefore, your statement is completely incorrect, as you are not losing money!!!
          montoym
          • 5 Months Ago
          @SonataGuy1
          Well then tell the Feds to sell their shares and be done with it, then you won't be losing anything any longer. I suspect that's not what you want to happen though.
          Dan Gordon
          • 5 Months Ago
          @SonataGuy1
          SonataGuy1: Welfare? What the hell are you talking about?? I know you're not saying this out of ignorance, but malice. It kills you and your ilk that GM was saved from the vulture capitalists. The fact that GM escaped liquidation and that its name plate wasn't purchased by some venture capital firm like Bain and the workers--or legacy cost, as the business class calls them--weren't given a reduced salary and benefit package is driving people like you insane. It wouldn't surprise me if you are one of those who defends or even advocates for the continuations of the the billions of dollars that flow to that oil companies and military-industrial complex. But GM gets a loan and the government gets a temporary ownership of one of the crown jewel of American manufacturing, you and your ilk rant and rave as if you occupy any moral high ground on this issue. This deep hatred of GM part of a new dangerous trend to see parts of the economy be destroyed so that it can be restructured in favor of the economic elite and the political Right who have developed a level of hostility towards unions that is beyond irrational. Ultimately though, this is a form of economic treason.
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 5 Months Ago
          @SonataGuy1
          Toyota has been given MANY handouts from the Japanese govt in the past.
          mycommentemail
          • 5 Months Ago
          @SonataGuy1
          Except that you don't seem to understand how business works. I already replied to one of your comments below, but here is a summary: Assuming Gillette builds a new factory for some new blades (note: blades, not handles) to the tune of 10 million dollars, the very first blade out of that factory will represent a nearly 10 million dollar loss! Is Gillette losing money on each sale? Of course not. They simply have not recouped their development and capital costs yet. Once they sell enough blades, they will be in the black. The same with any technology that is new. Development and capital costs need to be amortized over time. Simply "dipping" into any particular point in time and calculating whether all development and capital costs have been recouped is something only a "dip-$#!t" would do (or someone with an axe to grind - often the same thing). Just because unit # N hasn't broken even has little bearing to do with whether producing a new product was a wise investment of resources or not. Over time, building a new razor factory might make sense for Gillette. Just like inventing a new hybrid technology might make sense for a car company.
      PeterScott
      • 2 Years Ago
      We don't price other cars this way (or any product). All cars cost major automotive companies hundreds of millions (if not billions) in R&D and Tooling. Those are sunk costs by the time you are running production. The actual product profit magin of the cars is based only on actual production costs, not on sunk costs. Here they only list $24K in parts and labor, and it's selling price is near $40K. That means there is a profit margin on the car. Now as far as the whole program being profitable, that is when you calculate in the R&D and Tooling costs and of course as a new and still low volume product, the program as a whole is not profitable.
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      Reading the comments after the Yahoo! News version of this story is sad. Endless rants of hatred, sillyness, and above-all misinformation: http://news.yahoo.com/insight-gms-volt-ugly-math-low-sales-high-041323264--finance.html What a nasty hit-piece by those authors.
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Spec
        What do you expect? After YouTube, Yahoo News is the dumbest general interest community on the Internet -- a natural result of making 1/3rd of your news coverage about the Kardashians.
        ak47
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Spec
        wow....those people who hate the government's involvement in the market should go live somewhere else...if you hate the govt. so much go live in a place where there is no govt. so that others can live peacefully without hearing their crap all the time
      MAX
      • 2 Years Ago
      There seems to be cottage industry built around lying about GM. I bet if one followed the money it would lead back to Romneys at this point failed campaign.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 5 Months Ago
        @MAX
        What a short memory you have. GM has been a 'political punching bag' since before Obama took office and way before Mitt Romney was ever being considered the republican nominee.
          Spec
          • 5 Months Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          There is no way to rationally analyze Romney's policies. All his campaign gives out is vague contradictory information. One day they say one thing and the next day they say something else. But they never give detailed policy proposals. And they lie . . . proudly claiming "We will not let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers". They talk about cutting taxes, spending more on the military, not cutting social security or medicare, and cutting deficit. The math just doesn't work. So it is impossible to really analyze what they say other than to say it doesn't make sense.
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 5 Months Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          I meant exactly what i wrote, which you did not fully read, indicated by your post. If you REALLY believe that Romney is following the Bush-era playbook, then you have not been paying attention to this election at all. And you were not paying attention in 2000 either. Or perhaps you are talking about the marketing of candidates and not the proposed policies, which is a grave mistake for anyone researching who to vote for commonly does. Luckily we have youtube now, so you can search for 'bush campaign 2000' and see how he contrasts with Romney. Romney does not follow traditional republican lines of thinking ( even though he markets himself as such - his record indicates otherwise. ) Aaahhhh.. more time wasted replying to someone who does not read or pay attention..
          PR
          • 5 Months Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          2WM, What are you trying to say here? Are you saying that it can't be Romney backers behind all the anti-GM propaganda, because those exact same folks were bashing GM before they joined the Romney election campaign? All you have done is to show that Romney is just another hack following the same old Bush-era republic party playbook.
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