By on September 22, 2009

Side effects may include dry mouth, high retail price, hallucinations... (courtesy:bdblog.com)

Ever since Bob Lutz walked down from Mt. Lithium with the Volt’s Ten Specifications, the most potentially expensive and critical one was that the battery pack would have a ten year/100k mile warranty. No longer. Gm-volt.com reports that in a survey of potential Volt buyers, a number of Volt parameters were spelled out, in order to gauge how charged up they (still) are. The battery is described as having an eight year/100,000 mile warranty. That’s really going to help the economics, especially in light of a related announcement where the Father of the Volt preaches: “The Volt technology is very exciting, but costs will have to come down before it can become generalized . . . and US fuel prices will have to rise to world levels, meaning $5 or $6 per gallon.” Exciting indeed, despite being unprofitable for its maker, and un-economical for its buyers. One last detail: the survey also calls out the Volt’s price at “$32,000 to $38,000, after a $7,500 tax credit ($39,500–$45,500 MSRP).

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21 Comments on “Volt Birth Watch 166: Diminished (Battery) Expectations...”


  • avatar
    KixStart

    There’s other ugly hints in recent Volt announcements and questions answered by GM execs (although sometimes evasively and reluctantly). Look for fuel economy after the battery has run down to be under 40mpg. Possibly well under 40mpg.

    Although the car makes little to no sense no matter how much you waterboard the economic analysis, at an announced 2011 production volume of 10K units, however, and that’s 10K units per year, it will sell out and GM can declare “victory.”

    While they’re doing that, Toyota will probably sell about 200K Priuses in the US. Plus a bunch of other stuff. At a profit.

  • avatar
    alfred p. sloan

    hmm, another GM warranty backed-off.

    too bad, I actually want the volt to succeed. Petroleum is too valuable to burn as a motor fuel, we need it to make adult toys instead.

  • avatar
    threeer

    I’m still having a hard time reconcilling the $32k price tag (oh, that’s AFTER the $7500 credit?)…sure, there will be some (early adopters) that will just HAVE to have the latest and (not so) greatest. But for that kind of coin, there are about a gazillion better alternatives for those who are interested in helping along the environment.

  • avatar
    rnc

    There is one hope, the government replacing fleets and “deciding” to buy hybrids, PHEVs and EVs (I’m sure CryCo can shove a battery in something quickly) and large corporations being “encouraged” through tax exemptions, etc. to replace thier fleets with the same (with tiering to encourage adoption of desired type).

  • avatar
    gslippy

    If gasoline rose to $6/gallon, GM’s SUV business would die in a minute, and people would be stealing Priuses from showrooms by night. And the Volt still won’t sell.

    The customers will still have to front the $40k and then wait to receive their $7500 kickback.

    It is extremely difficult to predict the life of a lithium ion battery, but GM’s design is an attempt to harness the many variables in order to do that. This homework should have been done before they mentioned the 10-year warranty.

    Hey wait, maybe GM should revive the 60-day return guarantee for when the Volt arrives.

  • avatar
    BDB

    My biggest (and most realistic) hope from the Volt exercise is that there is really good technology that comes out of it and eventually trickles down, even if the car itself is a commercial failure. I don’t have a problem with the government subsidizing tech research (it does it all the time, anyway, that’s basically what the entire space program is).

  • avatar
    KixStart

    threer: “… there are about a gazillion better alternatives for those who are interested in helping along the environment.”

    Absolutely. Buy a $23K Prius or even just some other small car instead and you have $9500 left over from the Volt you didn’t buy to insulate your house, upgrade your furnace, buy a bike for short trips…

    The $7500 tax credit is a travesty. There are so many better ways to reduce oil consumption or reduce GHGs that are actually worth the tax dollars.

    rnc: “(with tiering to encourage adoption of desired type).”

    Actually, the Volt tax credit is the top end of a tiered credit. And it’s available to all comers.

    Somehow, I can’t see Toyota leaving $3500-$4500 or so of “Federal Marketing Support” on the table. They can add battery capacity to their vehicle quickly and inexpensively whenever they like the economics and projected lifespan of the batteries available.

    An electrified but shorter-range and likely much cheaper Prius would steal sales from the Volt. Why buy a $40K vehicle with a 40-mile battery if you only drive 12 to 20 miles/day? Why invest in 40 miles of overkill? And it strikes me as likely that people with green tendencies don’t have the long commute that the Volt addresses with 40 miles of range. I’d bet the people who are most interested in the Volt as a means of reducing CO2 emissions could make good use of a 12-20 mile vehicle.

    Especially if the Volt doesn’t do better than 39mpg in charge-depleted mode. The range of trips for which a 40-mile-AER/39mpg Volt “wins” in reducing CO2 footprint (or gas consumption) will be relatively narrow when compared to a 12-20-mile-AER/50mpg Prius.

  • avatar
    carve

    I wonder how bad the battery has to be before it’s warranted. My six year old lithium ion camera battery only holds about 1/3 of the charge it used to, and thats pretty common for lithium batteries. I’ll bet your range has to drop to something like 1/2 of normal before they warranty it.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    If gasoline rose to $6 a gallon I’d predict a swift, and possibly violent, removal of some of our government leaders and rightfully so.

  • avatar
    sutski

    Great post Kixstart. Byebye non-electric producers. Hello new grid, new power projects, new US plug-in hybrids from Fisker and tesla etal. new green America. Quick Hurry though !!

    You have Geely Automotive and BYD to go up against, not Toyota or Honda by the way.

    Full electric is really nearly here from the far east. The plug in Prius surely is do-able already, they must be just milking the 200,000k a year “normal” technology sales while they have a unique hybrid product.

    I am also sure there is a pent up demand of millions of potential electric drivers waiting to go and not wanting to spend $50,000+ now on a gas guzzler if a new better tech is on the imminent horizon.

    I am also sure there is a pent up demand for $100,000 luxury electric/hybrid cars also waiting to pounce on the first viable Audi, M5 or Jag XJ beater.

    50 miles all electric ? Mmmmmm Yes please.

  • avatar
    Lokkii

    +1 Kixstart

    Why buy a $40K vehicle with a 40-mile battery if you only drive 12 to 20 miles/day?

    This is the fundamental question that I can’t get past.

    Essentially if you’re driving 12 miles a day and costs go to zero, you’re saving somewhere around $1000 a year at best.

    You could buy a Honda Fit et al for $15000 and get 27 mpg city…

    I just don’t get the whole Volt thing. Even at $32K. Particularly noting that if you ever want to go over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s, you’re going to need another car.

  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    reclusive_in_nature wrote:

    If gasoline rose to $6 a gallon I’d predict a swift, and possibly violent, removal of some of our government leaders and rightfully so.

    Why? Is it some sort of birthright of Americans to pay less for gas than the rest of the world?

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    Prosperous western countries will only have to make small changes in behavior to accomodate gas at $6 per gallon. Admittedly that’ll mean fewer 3 ton SUVs with gas engines in suburban driveways, but replacements already exist to provide most of the functionality that most people need with less fuel usage.

    To my mind we won’t see substantial changes in societal behavior until oil reaches $300 per barrel, which will equate to more than $6 per gallon and will impact almost ALL industries. Flying is the big one, but cost of goods, especially food, is another.

  • avatar
    charly

    and un-economic for its buyers.

    Uneconomic for its American buyers. My guess is that it will kick the Prius from the most sold car list in the Netherlands

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Charly: “My guess is that it will kick the Prius from the most sold car list in the Netherlands.”

    Not gonna happen. GM’s plan is to build a mere 10K of these things in 2011. The allocation for the Netherlands, if they get any at all, will be in the low double digits.

    Toyota’s on pace to build 1/2 milion Priuses this year. GM is producing Volts in Fisker and Tesla quantities. With the overhead of a GM-sized company. This is not a winning plan.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    The Volt is vapor ware. The actual product is all but certain to disappoint. Will GM never learn to keep its mouth shut until the product is actually fully developed?

    “Why? Is it some sort of birthright of Americans to pay less for gas than the rest of the world?”

    The reason much of the world (not all) pays more at the pump is that in those countries the citizens have accepted multiple dollar-per-gallon equivalent fuel taxes.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    Why? Is it some sort of birthright of Americans to pay less for gas than the rest of the world?

    Not quite our birthright as much as it’s our choice. Maybe one day we’ll live in a “utopia” where our esteemed leaders can tell us how much we can have and how much we pay for it all the while forcing us into underpowered penalty boxes we don’t really want. Until then we’d like our gas cheap thank-you-very-much. The best thing about democracy is if our elected officials want to continue being elected officials they’ll INNOVATE and come with ways to provide said cheap gasoline.

    For those of you who really want $6 dollar a gallon gasoline please feel free to save up the difference between $6 a gallon and whatever you’re paying for a gallon of gasoline and mail the sum to the government agency of your choice. I’m so sure if you lead by that example others will follow….

    Or maybe it’s easier to bitch and whine about it and hope some great “leader” fucks everyone over in the name of “the common good”?

  • avatar
    d002

    The price is irrelevant because most will be leased out to government, council and big business fleets with a buy back price.

    As soon as the world economy stops crashing, oil prices will be back to the over $100 bbl price it was before.

    With the government effectively paying for this program, Gm would be stupid not to do this program.

  • avatar
    WildBill

    reclusive_in_nature, good response. The reason there will be trouble is because the clowns in DC have allowed the greenies to dictate that there will be no drilling for readily available petro resources (ANWR, coastal, etc.) and no new refineries will be built to handle such new output. Yes, it could be a limited help but the average Joe isn’t going to see it that way… some politicians are gonna fry for it. Drill here, drill now!

  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    reclusive_in_nature wrote:

    Not quite our birthright as much as it’s our choice. Maybe one day we’ll live in a “utopia” where our esteemed leaders can tell us how much we can have and how much we pay for it all the while forcing us into underpowered penalty boxes we don’t really want. Until then we’d like our gas cheap thank-you-very-much.

    I knew I should have ix-nayed the word birthright, so as not to provoke partisan responses. In my utopia really critical issues transcend ideology. But to use your word–”choice”– I don’t think cheap gas is a good one.

    How I see it is that the world will continue to need petroleum indefinitely, even if its use in cars and trucks could be 100% supplanted tomorrow. There are many applications for which there are no conceivable replacements whatsoever (air travel, for one) So if we can replace the use of oil in vehicle transport, I think we should. After all, drill all you want and wherever you want, but some day the oil’s going to run out. There were only so many dinosaurs ;-) And whatever your take on the environmental or climate impact of fossil fuels, reducing their combustion isn’t going to make things worse.

    However, none of the potential replacements that are on the table today are particularly attractive. Present technologies would require painful adjustments, so our weaning off of gasoline could take a long time. During that period, the only practical way to accelerate the development of alternatives is to increase the price of fuel via taxation. As Greg Locock said, in prosperous countries we can easily withstand $6.00 gas with a barely perceptible hit to our standard of living. In my view, that makes it good public policy to tax oil. Even if government doesn’t use the added revenue to fund research, at least it incentivizes private efforts.

    I’m far from being a “Greenie”, or a Chicken Little alarmist, or even in general an advocate of government intervention … but as the meme goes, since I’m a Canadian who sees the logic of a single-payer healthcare system, I’m a Socialist. Ironically, I think my views are genuinely conservative. To wit: when I consider the obscene mountain of debt that we’re leaving our children–a true failure of political leadership on our watch– I just don’t think we ought to dump this problem on them too. We can at least get started.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    ZekeToronto – EXACTLY on ALL points.


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