By on August 13, 2009

Autoblog—nope. Can’t do it. Not allowed. TTAC’s Best and Brightest have forbidden me from flaming AOL’s . . . uh . . . website. So I’ll just point out that the off-camera comments are largely supportive and wonder why AB’s crack team weren’t allowed behind the wheel of GM’s Hail Mary plug-in hybrid. I mean, there are plenty of prototypes plying the highway (at something less than 230 mpg, presumably). Oh, and as our ever-vigilant former Managing Editor Justin Berkowitz points out, who knew the Volt was not a quint-essential conveyance? [NB: Sarcasm Alert] Less prosaically, “That’s going to piss people off.”

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44 Comments on “Volt Birth Watch 158: Volt a Four-Seater?...”


  • avatar
    dwford

    Who DIDN’T know the Volt was a 4 seater. The car has been public for quite some time.

  • avatar

    But can you really seat 5 in a Prius? Just asking, since I’ve never actually tried. But at the Volt’s asking price, you can almost put 10 people into a Prius.

  • avatar
    rnc

    The only thing I look for in the articles about the Volt is whether anyone has seen it in range extending mode yet and still the answer is no.

  • avatar

    It’s another perception gap thing. The Volt costs $45k, looks like a car that should cost $25k. Cars that play in the same physical/perceptual space (Fusion, Camry, Altima, Malibu, etc) have 3 sets of seat belts in the back. It’s not like you’ll often get 3 people back there, but that’s what people expect to see. They want to hook the baby seat to the LATCH anchors in the middle.

    Personally, I don’t care. I’m not going to buy one anyway. But it doesn’t matter if the car runs on electricity, gas, diesel, or angel farts – for $45k, people are going to want to feel like they’re riding in an expensive car. I’m not seeing that level of polish inside that car.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    it’s a ‘PPO’ car

    no doubt production will see a standard bench seat

    still… i’m not seeing anything worth $45k there

  • avatar
    Rspaight

    A Camry Hybrid will definitely seat five (been there, done that). I suspect a Fusion or Altima Hybrid would, too. (Or a Malibu, though that’s barely a hybrid.)

    But I don’t see how the Volt could be anything other than a four-seater with the batteries stored down the middle of the floor.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Four seater from the first concept. Battery is in a large central tunnel.

    Sajeev, five in a Prius is ok, not great. Back seat room is similar to a Corolla, with more leg room.

  • avatar
    Fromes

    From what I can tell the Volt is smaller then a Fusion, so it’s not like you can expect to seat 5 in it any way, none the less for the price of the thing you can get a BMW 335i, unless gas goes to 5.50 a gallon I dont see a reason for buying this car

  • avatar

    Looks more like 12k to me, 15 if they do a really good job on it. Your dog might feel a bit claustrophobic back there. I think those Aussie cops who took the bike from the little girl should be forced to sit in the back seat of one of those for a week.

    Still, it’s actually cute. If the batteries don’t weigh it down too much, it might be fun to drive.

  • avatar

    Seriously people. Justin and I knew the Volt’s a four-seater. We both encountered the Volt for the first time at the NY Auto Show. Our first [mutual] impression: it’s a lot friggin’ smaller than we thought. And no, we’re not in love. His picture just hides a nasty stain that’s lyin’ there.

  • avatar
    FishTank

    If I may comment on the outer design… I don’t know why anyone would think the previous design iteration of this car was nicer than this one. Looking back at that old one, it looks positively mule-like and already outdated. Design is subjective, of course, but I’m liking the outer design of this car more and more.

    Sorry for the interruption. And yes, I doubt the majority of consumers thought this was a four seater.

  • avatar
    210delray

    Definitely can fit five adults in a Prius. My son in NYC has one, and we’ve done it many times (son, his wife, my other son, my wife, and me). None of us is obese, however, and usually the two women sit in back.

    Regarding LATCH anchors, most cars lack them in the center rear seat — you have to use the seat belt in that case.

  • avatar
    AG

    Oh dear Lord, its got Aztec-butt!

  • avatar
    twotone

    “…who knew the Volt was a quad-only conveyance?” So, the Volt only starts and runs IF there are four people seating in it? This must be where the 230 MPG figure comes from — it gets 230 PASSENGER MILES PER GALLON.

  • avatar
    beken

    From seeing this video, 2 things came to mind. The interior looks smaller than a MINI’s interior and the car looks an awful lot like a shrunken Aztek.

    I hope that interior, especially the center stack, is pre-production.

  • avatar

    twotone

    Tough room. Text amended.

  • avatar
    BDB

    That video looks smushed down from widescreen, which makes the Volt have Aztek butt. Notice the other cars in the video seem to have awkward proportions, too.

  • avatar
    M1EK


    Regarding LATCH anchors, most cars lack them in the center rear seat — you have to use the seat belt in that case.

    Uh, no, most people just use the closest one on either side then.

  • avatar
    Rday

    I don’t think the VOlt looks bad. It kinda reminds me of a prius. But I don’t trust GM’s mileage claims either. Having been a GM customer for many years, I don’t think I will be going back ever again for more abuse.

  • avatar
    Kyle Schellenberg

    Regarding LATCH anchors, most cars lack them in the center rear seat — you have to use the seat belt in that case.

    Uh, no, most people just use the closest one on either side then.

    We have a CR-V and there are no LATCH anchors in the middle position. The lack of indentation in the middle seat creates an uneven surface that is narrower than the baby seat so we pretty much had to pick a side to mount it.

  • avatar

    So what’s GM gonna do? Place a cashier’s check for 15K under every driver’s seat?

  • avatar
    paul_y

    Midsize cars, while nominally having five seat belts, are never really accomodating for even three skinny people in the back. It just doesn’t work. Making the Volt prototypes (what, you think this will ever be more than vaporware?) four seaters isn’t that big a deal.

  • avatar
    M1EK

    You’re forgetting kids. 3 in the back works fine, as long as you can get the right car seat combination.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    It looks nifty. Don’t like the counter colour body panels though. Overall it looks like a thoughtful job that would work quite nicely at >$25K US.

    At $45K? Not a chance in hell. Pity. This is really what GM needs for a homerun.

  • avatar
    stuki

    5 in a Prius works. Not well, if all five are normal sized adults, but it works.

    Why is this so much more expensive than a Prius? Is it 20,000 extra in batteries in there? Or cooling for the batteries? Or what is it? Hope for Chevy’s sake this thing really does contain some unique, and valuable, technology when it comes out. And that this tech can be used across a broader spectrum of cars as well.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    I tell you what though, the exterior at least is beginning to grow on me. I didn’t care much for the show car, but this looks pretty good. Whether it will still look fresh when it hits the showroom is another question. There will be people out there willing to pay the $45k to be the first on their block to own one… if it works.

  • avatar
    lahru

    This has fail written all over it. Plain and simple. $40k? Come on!

    So if 95% of the public buy vehicles based on the monthly payment and this thing costs $800.00 a month for 60 months?

    Any fool can see the edge of the cliff on this one.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    And no, we’re not in love. His picture just hides a nasty stain that’s lyin’ there.…

    Does that mean the Volt has a 10cc engine? Which is supposedly the volume of an average condom…

  • avatar
    Lokkii

    +1 for this comment -

    “…for $45k, people are going to want to feel like they’re riding in an expensive car. I’m not seeing that level of polish inside that car.”

    Sorry folks – I just can’t see this car as a success. You’ll have the usual crusaders and true believers at first, but the required combination of green soul and must-buy-American constitutes a pretty small portion of the population… particularly when you start adding that they can

    a. afford a $40K car.
    b. Can get by with a small $40k Car
    c. Can get by with the limitations of an electric car such
    *as plugging in nightly,
    *don’t really need A/C,
    *limited practical range.

    Seriously – outside Hollywood stars, who do you see as the typical buyer?

    This car is a $40K commuter car which can only justify its price because it makes a statement – but the only visual statement is “cheap car”. Not good..

  • avatar
    onerareviper

    For $40K (number I heard), it’s a TOUGH sell. Why? Well let’s bust out the calculator. Even if you use electric only (and let’s just assume electric is free – for now), that will save you $900 per year over another 40 MPG hybrid. ‘Assuming’ you drive 12,000 miles a year and gas cost $3.00 a gallon. Now let’s add in the cost of electric. From the figures I’ve seen, average electric charge cost would be .03 cents a mile. So 12,000 * .03 = $360. Therefore, $900 – $360. Electric only saves you $540 a year. This is the best case scenario.

    Looking at some other hybrids (Fusion/Camry/Prius), the average cost is $25,000 (give or take). $15,000 less than a Volt. So assuming your saving $540 bucks for every 12,000 miles traveled (best case), how many miles would you have to travel to make up that $15,000? Divide $540 by 12,000 miles, and it shows you save .045 cents per mile travelled in a Volt. Therefore, you would need to log 333,345 miles to make up the $15,000. Wow! That’s a REALLY tough sell for anyone with a calculator plus some math skills. Hopefully my quick calculations are correct ;)

    Of course this is assuming the Volt doesn’t bring some luxury or ride quality that the others don’t. From the looks of it, I’m not seeing it… So it’s going to come down to the calculator, which isn’t good for GM. That being said, if they can bring this technology into a more affordable package, well then we have something big…

  • avatar
    GS650G

    40K for this thing?

    You have got to be kidding.

    I don’t care of it saves baby seals from certain death I’m not driving or riding in one. I wouldn’t even want to be hit by this thing.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    I’m not speaking as an expert when I’m saying this (otherwise I’d write an editorial), but I think:

    EVs like the Volt won’t work in the U.S. for quite some time. It’s different in the rest of the world. Look at Europe where you have $7+ gas, and household 220V. Or look at China, where the government wants clean-air urban motoring and will prevent mass ICE mobility if it can.

    So, the U.S. will be a bystander on this. Too bad, I think, because I still believe the future is electric.

  • avatar
    onerareviper

    Martin Schwoerer :
    So, the U.S. will be a bystander on this. Too bad, I think, because I still believe the future is electric.

    Martin,

    Maybe, maybe not. But the reality is most Americans can not afford $40K-$45K for a new car. At least a car that sells in large volume. Now if most Americans can not afford this car, and when the price is even higher due to export fees/taxes/etc., how is the rest of the world going to fare? That is the problem, not the concept of electric transportation.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    onerareviper, thanks for your remark, allow me to elucidate. The business case for EVs has several elements.

    - Ubiquitous charging facilities
    - high prices for gasoline
    - financing from car-maker banks which imply that capital costs are lower than the cost savings through driving electric
    - urban restrictions for ICE cars
    - financing from electric utilities
    - progressively lower battery costs
    - efficient range-extender technology
    - government subsidies for consumers

    The U.S. doesn’t have the first four factors and I am sceptical about the fifth.

    Some countries will have all eight factors in the foreseeable future. They will be the ones that win the electric game. The more elements you have, the sooner there will be a mass market, and the sooner there will be profitable manufacturers.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    @ Martin Schwoerer

    Good summary. Might I add another; an automaker that can afford the cost for future iterations and wide deployment of the tech.

    I don’t believe that to be GM.

    With ~$7500 in up front subsidy, GM’s claims they can sell the predicted 10,000 production in the entire US market are most likely true.

    They can’t afford Version 2 however, or ramp to hundreds of thousands production because they’re be bleeding like a Sarah Palin thanksgiving Turkey interview.

  • avatar
    onerareviper

    Martin,

    I agree with everything you stated, as you seem to have studied this issue. I just don’t think it will happen in mass quantities with a 40-45K vehicle. That being said, I’m sure the future will bring cheaper alternatives as you state (whether thru subsidies or reduced cost). Matter of fact, I was just reading about an ‘electric only’ car called the Nissan Leaf. Supposed to get 100 miles per charge and cost mid 20′s. That seems more reasonable (price wise), although after those 100 miles you need a charge. That poses a problem for many US buyers. I suspect 5 years from now many of these problems will be history. By them who knows what the alternatives to gasoline will be….

  • avatar
    rnc

    By them who knows what the alternatives to gasoline will be….

    Diesel (derived from NG best case) and LNG would make the most sense from a environmental, infrastructure (most of the US has gas lines running where the stations could convert to Liquid or could be transported) and technological (converting FI or DI engines to run on LNG is pretty straight forward) point of view. Plus (+) we have a large domestic supply. But there is way too much power and monies (lobbying) and jobs (votes) tied to the current infrastructure and system to allow.

  • avatar
    thingsabove

    How can a tiny company like Tesla make such a fantastic EV car for $49k while years and years of GM development turns out this dud-of-a-ride for $40k?

  • avatar
    lewissalem

    Black plastic unpainted door handles ain’t gonna fly on a 40k car.

  • avatar
    davey49

    Why “*don’t really need A/C,” are you saying it doesn’t have AC?
    Doubt the Volt will be priced anywhere near $45K

  • avatar
    davey49

    “How can a tiny company like Tesla make such a fantastic EV car for $49k while years and years of GM development turns out this dud-of-a-ride for $40k?”

    Does the $49K Tesla actually exist?
    Funny how the Volt is a dud 2 years before it’s released.

  • avatar
    thingsabove


    It’s as real as the Dolt.

  • avatar
    wsn

    # Martin Schwoerer :
    August 14th, 2009 at 2:53 am

    So, the U.S. will be a bystander on this. Too bad, I think, because I still believe the future is electric.

    —————————————-

    Actually, no.

    The future is electric, that most of us agree. But the US won’t be a bystander.

    As of now, the Prius is a very successful $25k gas-electric car in the US.

    5 years down the road, the Prius (or Insight) will be a successful $25k long range plug-in car in the US.

    15 years down the road, the Prius (or equivalent) will be a successful $25k pure electric car.

    Nothing wrong with electric cars, and we will be there. Just not from GM, not at $40k.


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