By on May 22, 2008

gmchevyvolt01.jpgGM's Vice-Chairman has (characteristically) been all over the map about the Volt's price. The Winner of TTAC's Bob Lutz Award has pegged the plug-in electric – gas hybrid's eventual sticker at everything from "around $30k" to $48k to $2.99 plus tax (just kidding; what's the bet there won't be any tax). And now Maximum Bob's boss has finally added his two bits on the Volt's msrp. In an interview with Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine, GM Chairman Rick Wagoner threw down the gauntlet. "GM has a clear goal: we want to bring the Volt to the market in 2010 at a price of less than $30,000." Want. Not will. But wait there's more! Wagoner also says that "unlike Toyota, we want to make money on the Volt from the beginning. And the obstacles to that are reducing the price of the batteries and convincing the consumer of the advantages of the Volt." Profit? As in sell the Volt for more than it costs to make, from the get-go? Toyota didn't make a dime on the Prius for many years (the exact margins are unknown). Will Wagoner even be around to eat his words? Place your bets here.

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26 Comments on “Volt Birth Watch 50: $30k by 2010...”

  • avatar

    Good luck to them and may General Motors survive long enough to make detractors (such as myself) eat plenty of crow. I’ll take mine with teriyaki sauce.

    Now, had they used the “supercar initiative” put forward (along with plenty of OUR taxpayer funds) back in the Clinton presidency, and actually brought out a “pre-Volt” hybrid by the end of his presidency, we’d have had efficient Prius competitors built by GM (and Ford and Chrysler, since they were all part of the same initiative/tax money grab) 7 years ago. Or, maybe 5, taking realistic situations such as needing to tool up plants, into account.

    Gee, that’d have been right after 9/11. You know, when the General and others decided they’d spur the economy along by dropping prices on SUVs and trucks, instead….

  • avatar

    2010, huh?

    Should be a slow year for product introductions…

  • avatar

    Well – good luck there GM. Remember back in 1999 when the Prius and Insight debuted – GM and Ford each took their press conferences and announced they would be the “green” manufacturer by 2003? Anyone remember that? Fast foward 9 years and GM has to pathetic hybrid systems (one is a half baked supersized alternator the other a $10k system that gets only 20% better mpg mounted on a gas guzzler suv). Ford though did the smart thing and license Toyota’s technology to give us the Escape. But neither met their promises – nor has anyone ever held them accountable.

    Yep $30k Volt 2010…or 2011 or $40k…or whatever.

  • avatar

    There’s that 2010 reference again. All the manufacturers are going to blow their wads in 2010 and then how long will it be before we see anything new? 2020?

    We haven’t heard a lot for Mr. Lutz lately – they tell him to quiet down or what?

  • avatar

    More weasel words from GM:

    “GM has a clear goal: we want to bring the Volt to the market in 2010 at a price of less than $30,000.”

    Since when has GM ever really worried about their goals? Who pays the price when this doesn’t happen?

    I think Lutz’s comments give us better insight into the real struggles GM is facing with this project.

  • avatar

    I’d just write a short “No way,” but the Volt is, conceptually, simpler than a Prius. Except for the battery, are any of the parts really more expensive than some similar part in a regular car?

    Oh, hell… No way. That’s my prediction. If I’m wrong, I’ll dine at Kentucky Fried Crow.

  • avatar

    That should have read: “GM has a clear goal: say anything to stop consumers from moving to another brand while GM figures out what the heck is going on.”

  • avatar

    jaje: Ford though did the smart thing and license Toyota’s technology to give us the Escape.

    That’s not an accurate summary of what happened. Ford designed the system on their own. Some parts they created ended up being similar to Toyota’s, so they licensed those components to avoid legal wrangling.

    And, as the courts decided, Toyota was using technology in its HSD without license, so now they have to pay up to an American company.

  • avatar

    GO GM!!! if any of the big three deserve to survive, it is GM.

    GM has successfully increased quality (Malibu, Lambdas), made desirable vehicles (G8 GT, CTS, Malibu, Vue, etc) and has CLEARLY made great strides towards an extremely efficient vehicle like the Prius (Volt).

  • avatar

    To keep it below $30K they will likely have to “decontent” it to bare bones. Can you say “seats optional”? ;)

  • avatar

    Well…Rick did use the word “want” rather than the more imperative “will”.
    Of course they “want” to do these things.
    What car maker (OK not Bugatti) wouldn’t?
    “Will” is rather a different thing.
    Weasel words anyone?

    And as for both Bob and Rick consulting each other neither, apparentlly, talks with Mark Verbrugge heading the Mat & Test Labs. He wants 3/4 years with the batteries first.
    Do the math Rick.

    Profitable from day one?
    Shoot Rick, show us you know how to make a profit on ANY car. Please.

    Maybe he’s jealous that Bob got an award named for him.

    The independant evaluation of battery technology I have seen (one example-Elton Cairns, chemical eng., Berkeley) is pretty darn skeptical (his estimate, technology doable by 2010, affordability notgonnahappen).

    Has either of those characters (Rick & Bob)ever been involved in developing a car brefore?
    Just curious.

    Love these guys. Amazing.


  • avatar

    Hey look, they’ve already had the EV1. Think about it. It came our when nary a thought about the current economy was a forethought. They cracked a green market when nobody, (read Japanese), even knew there was a green market.

    All they had to do was rebody THAT technology and call it good. But no! They thought they could do better. All the Foroeign makers would do is hype a “NEW and IMPROVED’ and re-bodied an older P.O.S. Then the media would get a chubby.

    So, my hats off to them and I wish them good luck.

    Now, where would they be IF Congress got off their butts and actually funded a Hydrogen infrastructure? Producing a FULL Hydrogen car, that’s where.

    And it’s all in OUR backyard…

  • avatar

    Yep,”want” not “will.”

    In my experience they come in 10 percent over goal. So maybe $33,000?

  • avatar

    Does that include the price of the batteries?

  • avatar

    “at a price of less than $30,000”

    Easy and I’d love to be in on the project. Analyze every last component of the vehicle.

    Where is the steel being purchased from? At the lowest cost? Are the correct gauges of steel being used? Where do you buy your bolts from? How about the windows in the vehicle? If they were of any other size or thickness, would the price be any different? Are all the brakes and suspension components off the shelf items or are they items that are already in use and proven in different vehicles? Best prices for those components?

    Is it cheaper to paint the plain steel or make the body out of polished aluminum or stainless steel?

    Did you get the best deal on the wheels and tires? I really doubt those exclusive tire contracts give the best price. Ever notice how all(or most of) one car makers vehicles will all have the same brand of tires. Are Goodyears generally the lowest priced tire?

    The thing that gets me the most about OEM built cars is all the custom and propitiatory parts used in the wiring. All those unique connectors and the complexity of the wiring harness.

    I’d love to see a breakdown of an OEM parts price list. Have you looked at the size and complexity of the massive dash in your personal vehicle. What’s a ballpark amount on that item? Consider the dash in a 1960 – 1980’s car and the simplicity of it.

    It’s easier to make something complex and expensive then to make something low cost and simple.

    Clean, simple, and elegant. When you see it for the first time, it’s genius.

    Just as clean as it gets:

    And there are better and cleaner examples then that one.

    This is how a Honda should look under the hood from the factory:

    Pop the hood in your personal Honda and see if it’s looking clean and simple like that.

    Less is better. Do more with less. Do it all with the least.

    Those low priced cars in India set the benchmark on the price of a car. Buy one of those, analyze what sucks, and replace it with something that doesn’t. The price isn’t going to increase by a magnitude of 10.

    Granted; I’ve only seen pictures of those cars. A small steel unibody, interior, small, weak motor, tiny wheels/tires/brakes.

    I guess the step up from that car is something like an Aveo.

    What sucks about the Aveo? Are we up to a Cobalt now? What sucks about the Cobalt? I don’t even know what a step up from that is. Price is too high, no power, performance, economy. Nothing. It doesn’t excel at anything. That is the fundamental problem with nearly every car being made today. That is why Civic’s and Camry’s are primary vehicles. Reliable and dependable. I bet nearly every owner of one of those cars at one time owned a lower cost domestic that gave them nothing but problems and cost them lots of money in repairs and drove them to purchase the more expensive Honda or Toyota.

    Hybrid Cobalts and Aveo’s? Diesel models? Electric models? Models that get insane mpg because of extreme aeromods and whatever else it takes? High performance models that will leave everything else in the dust?

    Any of that is exciting. The models sitting on dealer lots are anything but exciting. They will go out of business because they don’t build things people desire to own.

    It’s like walking into a clothing store and not seeing anything you like and walking out without buying anything. Didn’t have anything I wanted so I didn’t buy. Destined to go out of business just as soon as they burn through their money.

  • avatar

    GO GM!!! if any of the big three deserve to survive, it is GM

    GO GM!!! if any of the big three deserve to DIE, it is GM

  • avatar

    This is a joke, please tell me this is a BIG joke. They haven’t been able to build a profitable small car in how many decades, and those are standard 50 y/o engineering parts bin cars. The Volt is filled with tons of complexity, all kinds of new materials and methods AND an unrealistic timeline. Plus all the cost associated to building the car are skyrocketing as I type this. Do they think the price of steel, aluminum, plastics, glass, and the energy required to run the assembly line will drop by huge margins over the next 18 months, if they do they are some of the dumbest people on the planet.

    Like I have said a bunch of times, the Volt is going to be a $50-60,000 car unless they can start build Cobalts at a profit and sell them for $8,000. The only way this car will cost under $30,000 is if the American taxpayers pick up the other $20,000 in cost for each one they sell. I would gladly eat my words but I’m not too worried about that happening.

    GO GM!!! if any of the big three deserve to DIE, it is GM
    I second that, maybe the lieing and manipulation will finally stop.

  • avatar

    Interesting announcement, but I can’t help but wonder why they try to make such promises. Do they want consumers to stick with their current cars for 2 more years in anticipation? It seems to me that they would be more interested in moving what they already have on the market.

  • avatar

    Rick: Do they want consumers to stick with their current cars for 2 more years in anticipation? It seems to me that they would be more interested in moving what they already have on the market.

    I think those market segments do not overlap strongly, so I doubt those buyers would walk into GM dealerships in droves and buy a Cobalt or a Malibu had they not waited for the Volt. Most likely they will buy the 2009 Prius if Volt does not hold their interest long enough.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    ” … unlike Toyota, we want to make money on the Volt from the beginning … ”

    Ah, good one Rick … beating your chest about how Toyota is a bunch of screw ups and your team is going to do it right. How long have you been in charge of GM Rick? Have you kicked Toyota’s butt at anything yet?

  • avatar

    Instead of building the Volt to launch that new power-train platform; just put the gas/electric setup in existing models. This year.

    We’ve got a battery pack, electric motor, and a gas powered generator. It ain’t rocket science.

    Nothing to it, let’s do it.

  • avatar

    I’m guessing the only easy part about the Volt project will be when the bean counters go in and make everything cheap (especially the interior). From what I hear, GM’s been really good at that for some time.

  • avatar

    peoplewatching04: make everything cheap (especially the interior). From what I hear, GM’s been really good at that for some time

    Surprisingly, the Malibu’s interior is quite decent for the price.

  • avatar

    This is from GM’s Department of Fiction, I assume? At least they’re turning out new product.

  • avatar

    An interesting aspect of this thread is the lack of Volt “true believers” going “rah, rah”.

    Is this so unbelievable that even they can’t get pumped up about it?



    PS-Redbarchetta-“I second that, maybe the lieing and manipulation will finally stop.” Amen.

    Would love to see them succeed but they are not choosing a path that seems to include that option.

  • avatar

    Maybe since he was talking to a person From Germany he meant 30k Euros? That is pretty close to 48k US Dollars on conversion.

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