By on March 19, 2008

gmchevyvolt04.jpgAt a special session for bloggers– accessed by TTAC after RF's personal appeal to Maximum Bob– GM Car Czar Bob Lutz said he's "given up on a thirty-thousand dollar Volt." In fact, even priced closer to $40k "we're not going to make a dime on the Volt for years." Lutz dismissed any concerns about profitability, labelling the electric – gas hybrid "an eco-flagship." The new pricing strategy: a tax credit or rebate to get the consumer's out-of-pocket expenses in the "lower thirties." While millionaire bankers and movie stars have flocked to the Prius for its earth-saving cred, the real reason for its strong sales numbers: the price starts in the low twenties. So Lutz' dream– that consumers will pay $35k+ for a grocery-getting Volt– seems a little… futuristic.

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24 Comments on “Volt Birth Watch 34: Lutz Gives Up on a $30K Volt...”

  • avatar

    I would love to start seeing “quote of the day” stuff from executives a Honda, Toyota or even Fiat and Renault. It has become painful to read what Lutz says.

  • avatar

    When will the heads at Gm realize that as long as they continue to put out the nonsense that they call automobiles they’ll get nowhere, and talking equal amounts of excrement does not help.

  • avatar

    i assume by the time the volt is out the next prius will be for sale also/ that could be a killer for GM. if the Prius is 23k and gets nearly the same MPG who is going to spend 40k on a Volt?

    although who knows. in 2-3 years public perception of GM and Toyota could flip flop…and it could be “cool” to be seen in a Chevy

  • avatar

    Well Actually…

    Consider the fact that he is speculating on the price of a future product that is no where near ready for production.

    Consider the fact that said product will need some parts from overseas that will need to be paid with even more ever-falling US dollars than today,

    So lets say they finally roll a Volt out in 2015. Yea, it might really cost $40k then.

  • avatar

    As I have said numerous times this $30,000 or even $40,000 price tagged Volt is a fantasy from Lutz. This car is going to be $50,000 IF and that’s a big if they can get it out by 2010. If it’s after then it will be even more as commodity prices go up. And they still wont be making money at that price. This car is going to be a toal flop if they don’t kill the project before then because they will realize its never going to sell. Why would anyone pay so much more to get less, when you could go to probably half a dozen other car makers to get better performance for less by the time this thing finally does come out.

    I see Lutz is still standing in front of that car that will never be.

  • avatar

    GM needs to figure out that Toyota didn’t whip their butt by building the Prius. They did it with the Corolla, Camry and every other bread and butter product they’ve built for the last +20 years that have been so far above and beyond the comparable GM product that no one gives it a second thought anymore. The Volt is the image car for GM that the Prius is to Toyota, but that GM can’t afford to build.

  • avatar

    The predictions by many are already coming true.
    Do you notice that egg on his face?

    The cost of the battery pack is the killer. How hard is that to see?

    I’m not saying the Volt will never be feasible. In fact, I hope GM will continue to invest patiently. And make it a high volume product by 2020.

  • avatar

    Can we start calling it Death Watch at this point?

  • avatar

    “we’re not going to make a dime on the Volt for years.”

    There that’s better.

    GM, just fix the damn Aveo!

  • avatar

    I’m slightly more optimistic than that, ajla. I think they’ll make it (though later than planned), sell it for a few years at a ridiculously high price, and then drop it and blame everyone but themselves for its failure.

  • avatar

    RF – let’s here more about that personal plea to Maximum Bob himself.

    Did you grease the skids by telling him TTAC honored him with an award and even named the award after him?

  • avatar

    Isn’t the Volt a compact two door coupe?

    The Prius is a midsized (admittedly, just barely) five door hatchback/pseduo sedan that costs ten or fifteen grand less than the Volt will.

    The two seater Insight was a dud, the compact Civic hybrid was a dud, the previous generation compact-sized Prius was a dud, the midsized current generation Prius is a big hit. It’s found the sweet spot between mileage and practicality and price. The Volt is smaller and more expensive. Not going to work.

  • avatar

    ajla: “GM, just fix the damn Aveo!”

    Right! And don’t stop there. Every year, refine the Malibu, Impala, etc. Too much wind noise? Change the seals, or redesign the mirrors or whatever it needs, and give potential customers a reason to take another look. Cheap plastic door trim? Offer leather trim as a $500 option.

    Detroit has this terrible habit of tossing a half-baked model on the market, then letting it languish without improvement until the end of its life. For decades Mopar doors banged back into shins and shoulders because the door stops were absurdly weak. (For all I know, they still are.) Did Chrysler have no one who understood how to design door stops?

  • avatar

    “we’re not going to make a dime on the Volt for years.”

    Aw how cute, it already bears a resemblance to the rest of the family.

  • avatar

    I don’t doubt the volt will sell north of $40K when it comes out. Given the current rate of inflation $25k should be about $40k in 10 years.

  • avatar
    Dangerous Dave

    What a reVOLTing development!

  • avatar

    The Volt is fast becoming the modern day green reincarnation of the Edsel.

  • avatar

    Who knows…maybe they can rebadge a 2001 Prius and call it a 2010 Nova Hybrid… doesn’t Holden have anything up it’s sleave!

  • avatar

    By the time the Volt is launched in 2015, $40,000 may actually be cheap for this car.

  • avatar

    I don’t get it. The idea of the Volt was to take the next gen Cobalt, add a serial hybrid drivetrain and wrap it in sexy styling.

    Assuming the styling doesn’t cost much, and knowing the Cobalt sells for $15K, I was hoping GM could build a serial hybrid drivetrain for $10K, keeping the price at $25K

    Somehow, Toyota managed to bring the Prius at a price premium of $3-5K over conventional cars, and they claim to make money.

    But GM can’t do an analogous engineering feat for less than $20K above the cost of the car. That’s just sad.

  • avatar

    I don’t see why this thing would be so expensive.

    It could be an average car with existing hybrid technology ($4K premium) with a larger battery.

    Where do they get $40K-$50K?

    It could be a Corsa engine with a huge flywheel alternator, feeding an oversized battery with no direct mechanical connection between the gas engine and the electric motor. Some of the EV1 technology (motor & electronics) ought to carry forward.

    I recently read an article about an advanced Li-Po battery pack for ~$9K to carry a small car 50 miles at 50 mph.

    So adding a $10K premium to the price of this thing ought to still keep the price near $30K if it was based on an existing small car. GM ought to sell them near cost so they can pay for the technology and later turn a profit when the technology (research, manhours, tooling) is amortized. Isn’t that a version of what Toyota did with the Prius?

    Aren’t the Prius plug-ins a version of the Prius with a larger battery? Does the Prius engine decouple from the electric motor during battery drive? That is all GM would have to do to make a Volt.

    I see two possiblities – GM made the mistake of starting a whole new vehicle program instead of hybridizing an existing vehicle. That means all new platform, all new interior, all new exterior panels, and possibly all new suspension, etc. Expensive!

    Or they could have taken an existing small car (Aveo, one of the Opels like a Corsa or Astra) and added the hardware to make it a plug-in hybrid.

    The other possibility is that they needed the green wash for the press and the gullible consumer so they put together a customer concept car which proves they have the vision but not the gumption to BUILD the interesting concept cars – and never really planned to build it in the first place. Talk green, sell SUVs.

    Well, I guess there is a third possiblity… Build very expensive rich guy plugin hybrid cars and sell them at a premium like Tesla is doing. Later repackage the platform in less sexy clothes and sell it to the masses (same cost as the $50K version, smaller margin, less appeal so they don’t endanger the expensive version).

    I think they really fear going down the path of desireable small cars or EVs b/c once the consumer gets a taste of them a certain group of those consumers will never go back to the big hulking SUVs that cost $120 a week to operate on gasoline vs the $3 for the EV.

  • avatar

    “I assume by the time the Volt is out the next prius will be for sale also/ that could be a killer for GM.”– yournamehere

    Bit of deja vu here for me. Long time ago, 1989 or 90-ish, I attended a GM dog-and-pony show at which the upcoming Saturn line was ballyhooed.

    The PR flack proudly announced that the company had taken the 1988 Civic as the benchmark for the first Saturns.

    When the vehicles appeared in 1991, (I got to drive an early production model) they had plainly hit the benchmark; they were selling the equivalent of the 3-year old Civic.

    Of course, by then, the Civic had moved on.

    It looks like the Volt/Prius debate may play out the same way.


  • avatar

    The unmentioned Volt failure is styling: GM completely missed the tastes of that market segment. This car would look perfectly at home on any Saturday morning cartoon show. Sure, as a flagship product, they wanted it to look cool as well as be techically advanced. But show a Volt picture to 10 early hybrid adopters (Prius drivers) and 8 of them will likely say “it looks like a dorkmobile and I wouldn’t be seen in it much less buy it.” Not that Prius isn’t a dorkmobile in its own way. But the Prius buyer overlooks that fact because at least the car is understated. You don’t expect some high school kid in sunglasses to hope out of it and say “What’s up, Dude!”

    So to sell many of these Volts, they are going to have to extend its appeal to a new group of potential customers.(a trick that has eluded Toyota so far) I just don’t think that the market for in-your-face styling would put a priority on what a hybrid offers. They get more bang for buck elsewhere.


  • avatar

    The unmentioned Volt failure is styling: GM completely missed the tastes of that market segment. This car would look perfectly at home on any Saturday morning cartoon show

    True, if you’re talking about the concept. But no one knows what the production Volt will look like. When they put the concept in the wind tunnel, it was so aerodynamically challenged that even Lutz said it was more aerodynamic going backwards and they were going to have to come up with a different design. They haven’t released any clue what it’ll look like once it finally hits the street, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it looked quite a bit like whatever the Malibu of that year looks like.

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