GM has not been secretive about how important gas prices in late 2010 will be on the price of the Chevy Volt. During a webchat this week, GM vice chairman Bob Lutz said again that higher gas prices are needed for the Volt to become "generalized." Specifically, he said:
Part of the reason, of course, is the high cost of the lithium-ion battery in the Volt. In Frankfurt this week, Toyota was singing a similar tune about costs, but from the other side. The tremendous expense of advanced battery packs will delay mass market acceptance of pure electric vehicles until 2020, Toyota execs told CBS.The Volt technology is very exciting, but costs will have to come down before it can become generalized, and U.S. fuel prices will have to rise to world levels, meaning $5 or $6 per gallon.
The cost premium is certainly not a new topic on these pages, but it's interesting to see the world's biggest automakers both throw a bit of a damper on EV and plug-ins during an auto show that was so prominently about plug-in vehicles. Is this just sensible caution or something else?