By on July 28, 2010

With Chevy’s Volt priced at an eye-popping $41k before tax breaks, those tax breaks are now more important than ever. The first 200k Volts will qualify for up to $7,500 in federal credits, but Chevrolet had to be hoping for state incentives on top of the federal credit, especially in the key launch state of California. For a number of reasons though, the Volt doesn’t meet California’s requirements for Advanced Technology-Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles, and will lose out on a $5,000 tax credit that’s available to its cheaper competitor, the Nissan Leaf. As a result, the Leaf will cost Californians who qualify for both full credits about $20k, while the Volt will cost about $33,500. Moreover, the Leaf will have full access to California’s High Occupancy Vehicle lanes while the Volt will not, unless a pending bill before California’s state Senate passes. Together, these developments represent a serious advantage for the Leaf over the Volt in what is almost certain to be the world’s largest market for electric cars in the short-to-medium term. So how did GM let this happen?

Greencarreports‘ John Voelcker says California’s evaporative emissions standards may well have scuttled any attempt at certifying the Volt as an AT-PZEV, and regardless of the actual reason, it’s clear that the Volt’s hybrid drivetrain was a factor. The Volt’s range-extended electric drivetrain concept, which delivers very different results based on driving and charging patterns, is still confusing the EPA’s efficiency testers, and it seems the gas-electric compromise was never going to meet California’s strict standards. According to EVWorld

GM decided in 2007 when it committed to series production of the Volt, to not seek California Air Resources Board AT-PZEV certification. Instead, the decision was made to certify the car in all 50 United States. ARB certification would have required, both GM executives explained, additional testing and since California’s air quality regulators had yet to figure out how to classify the Volt, GM felt it was more important to continue the accelerated development program and get the car out by the Fall of 2010 then wait for ARB to come up with a way to categorize what will be for many drivers essentially an all-electric car, while for other who driver further distances each day, a hybrid.

In other words, because GM rushed the Volt to market, it put its wundercar at a devastating competitive disadvantage in its most crucial market. Luckily for the Volt, California’s fiscal crisis has already largely solved the problem. Facing a budget shortfall in the tens of billions of dollars, California has only funded its plug-in tax rebate by $4m, meaning that if Leaf drivers use all the available funding, only 820 cars would have been subsidized this year. Next year, California is expected to renew the program for only $8m, meaning only about 1,600 plug-in purchases will be covered. GM reckons that, with so little money at stake, it doesn’t need to bother certifying to the California standard until 2012. With more than a few eyeballs still bulging at the Volt’s $41k pricetag, however, GM could probably have used all the help it could possibly get.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

71 Comments on “California Denies Volt AT-PZEV Status, Tax Rebate, HOV Access...”


  • avatar
    Sam P

    I’m no fan of the Volt, but the gas engine for range extending makes it worth the price premium over the Leaf (which is just another range-limited full electric vehicle).

    That having been said, should Nissan put a gas engine in the Leaf for range extension and keep the price point lower than the Volt, adios Volt sales.

    • 0 avatar
      ALB-MAN

      Im not a fan of the volt either. I think that if people want a gas electric vehicle, they would probably just buy a prius for around 20k and if people wanted an electric they would just buy a leaf for around 20k. I dont see an advantage of the volt over a hybrid or a leaf in terms of value and price. I also dont think it looks that good either but people have their own opinions.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      ALB-MAN – Yes. The Volt exists in no-man’s land between the Prius and Leaf. GM is going to have to count on “patriotism” to sell the Volt.

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      srogers – didn’t you mean to write:

      GM is counting on the “patriotism” of Federal and State governments fleet buyers to sell the Volt.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      I’m no fan of the Volt, but the gas engine for range extending makes it worth the price premium over the Leaf (which is just another range-limited full electric vehicle).

      If “range extending” deserves a higher price, shouldn’t the Volt be cheaper than the Prius?

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      “If “range extending” deserves a higher price, shouldn’t the Volt be cheaper than the Prius?”

      http://www.chevrolet.com/pages/open/default/future/volt.do

      I thought the point of the Volt’s price premium was that it could run for up to 40 miles on electric power alone without engaging the internal combustion engine.

      The Prius will go about 0.5 mile in full electric mode.

      http://www.cars.com/toyota/prius/2010/reviews/?revid=54682

      And I’d rather have a VW Jetta TDI over either of these cars for fuel mileage & driving fun.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC

      Re: counting on “patriotism” to sell the Volt, I think you misspelled “future protectionist legislation to sell Government Motors’ baby.” :)

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      should Nissan put a gas engine in the Leaf for range extension and keep the price point lower than the Volt, adios Volt sales.

      Question for the gear-heads: just how cheap could this be done?

      Assume I don’t care about the efficiency that much, and don’t care if I only have a 1-gallon gas tank.

      How much would it weight? How much would it cost?

      I tend to prefer the Leaf, because its range totally meets my daily needs. Even that very small gas tank and engine would 1) efficiently provide heat in winter months, and 2) totally eliminate range anxiety. And it can’t really cost $8000, can it?

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    Sounds about par for CA govt. If they are doing something, it is probably shortsighted and 100% wrong for the long-term.

    • 0 avatar
      sco

      It’s ever so easy to bag on California and California govt esp for individuals who dont live here. The CA govt does however get some (automotive related) things right; as an example, i was able,free of charge, to drop off seven gallons of non-usable gasoline at my local county waste site for appropriate disposal rather than to dump it in the swamp, the drain, the river, the lake, or wherever people lacking such a thoughtful program go to get rid of undisposable materials. More restrictive emission standards also fall into this category. Find a different punching bag

    • 0 avatar
      tirving

      @sco: I live in CA (40 years) and it is going downhill very fast. You mention one stupid green thing that they get right (in your opinion), but that is dwarfed by the mountain of things they get wrong. CA will declare bankruptcy soon (how about a CA deathwatch) and default on its bonds.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The problem that California’s government faces is that it can’t really do anything, not that what it’s doing is wrong.

      It’s a testament to democracy gone stupid: the use of the plebiscite and maladjusted house majority rules encourages the most banal, reactionary and populist legislation will pass, while anything progressive and for the long-term good (but short-term painful) will never, ever see the light of day.

      This is why they get nonsense like “Something in this building is carcinogenic” signs, but can’t implement a rational property tax system.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Except that for the cost of an annual permit I can take my waste oil (and tires) to my local transfer station. In Connecticut garages are required by law to accept waste oil for recycling.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      psar,

      So you believe no politicians can do anything about the spending beyond our means problem. Really?? The core problem is that the state legislature has been controlled by one party for a really long time and the interests supporting that party (unions primarily) continue to run the table Vega$ $tyle.

      This year, CA is $24 billion in the red.

      Those of us that are net payers into the tax system see the waste, or at least those of us paying attention. Here’s 2 examples that came to light in the last week – the city of LA pays junior landscapers 45k salaries plus pension plus benefits. School teachers make less.

      Secondly, the city manager for the City of Bell (within LA limits) was making more than twice what Barak Obama makes annually. 20% of Bell’s population is at or below poverty line. Citizens of Bell spoke up and the manager was pressured to resign. If he’s smart, he ought to leave the state completely.

      CA is screwed twenty ways to Tuesday, and it’s not limited to the state level. We’re leading the race to the bottom, and YES, much of this lays at the feet of the Democratically controlled legislature. For the 3rd or 4th year in a row, they’ve been unable to get the state budget done on time. Republicans share the blame there, primarily due to their ineptitude rather than a desire to see the welfare state grow as the Democrats continue to push for.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      So what’s so special about that? Yesterday, being trash day, I made sure I finally got around to doing the oil change on the Qingqi scooter. Into the Blitz oil change bottle, and off the the local county run transfer station (aka, dump) to be properly disposed of. They’re also able to take (properly) tyres, medical sharps, batteries, oil filters, separate recycling for cans, cardboard, newsprint, mixed paper . . . . . and there’s a recycle tent where you can dump off stuff that’s too valuable to throw away, but you don’t want anymore. I fund my bicycle lust by picking up, fixing and flipping bicycles and exercise equipment.

      Thank you Hanover County, Virginia. Funded totally by my property taxes. All I have to do is prove I live in the county, if asked. No extra charges of any kind.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      So you believe no politicians can do anything about the spending beyond our means problem. Really??

      Yes, I do. Anyone who doesn’t have a political stake in it thinks the same thing, too.

      Any time a government is too crippled by minority-rules or the plebiscite they resort to passing only the stupidest of legislation. Anything controversial is subject to referendum, and what passes is generally “Think of the Children” type nonsense.

      The core problem is that the state legislature has been controlled by one party for a really long time and the interests supporting that party (unions primarily) continue to run the table
      Vega$ $tyle

      If you look at the legislation being passed that isn’t really the case. What is happening is that tough bills to restrict services don’t pass, but neither do the tax increases to pay for them. If they were really as socialist as they’re portrayed, they would have been a lot more progressive about taxation. They’re not, as Prop 13 exemplifies.

      There is, admittedly, a bit of a blue flavour to the idiot “Think of the Children!” laws that are passed, but that’s due to the way the state leans. If it were a red state you’d see less laws like the aforementioned “Carcinogens for Dummies” and more like, well, Texas’ insistence on teaching ID in science class. Both are distraction activities, though, to make it look like their doing something without doing anything at all.

      They aren’t making the hard choices they need to make to get their house in order. Even when the Democrats do propose some kind of fiscal package that makes sense, the Republicans get their panties in a knot about it on ideological ground.

      When I was young I used to think that the separation of executive and legislative branches, as well as upper and lower houses, was a good thing vis a vis the autocratic systems you get under Westminsterian parliaments. I’m not so sure anymore, as the extra layers just add to the partisanship and prevent necessary work from getting done.

    • 0 avatar
      FleetofWheel

      Orwell (or someone)said eventuality the left would come out against free speech. You see this sort of ‘democracy doesn’t work’ frustration now with impatient grand planners wanting to override basic structures of governance.

      Reminds me of comments you see on UK web sites where the Europeans are unaware and then shocked that small population US states have the same number of Senators as large population states. They thought the prez can ratify treaties all by himself. The whole electoral college system gives ‘em fits too.

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      psarhjinian – whatever the issues with the structure of the govt, your notion that Calif gov’t isnt doing anything wrong is absurd.

      I currently pay

      9.3% income tax on all income over ~50K
      9.25% sales tax (~1% to the county)
      10K a year in property tax.

      I reckon I give our fair state $35K-$40K a year. I live in a 1500 square foot house with a family of 4 and drive a 2002 Taurus. I’m paying my “fair share”. There are going to be 27 kids in my sons first grade class, the roads are for crap, and we are closing the parks in our town. I don’t think I am getting my moneys worth from California. I am thankful that the system makes it hard to raise taxes.

      California doesnt need more money via changing prop 13, they need to spend less. Have you ever seen a list of how many agencies, commissions and other govt organizations are funded in california. Its goes on for pages and pages.

      Need to starve the beast.

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      Psar,

      I know you like to look down on “plebiscites” (otherwise known as democracy in action and self determination), but those of us who voice our choices by plebiscites or voting for political candidates are the ones who have to pay for and live under the laws and dictum’s of the ruling class, which you seem to aspire to. You talk all knowingly about “short term pain” for “long term gain”. Well, maybe your side has done poor job of convincing us “plebes” of the wisdom of your position and policies. Or maybe we are smarter than you think and are not buying it. As for Texas, I bet California would love to be in their fiscal position right now, despite them having all the “wrong” policies.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I’m sorry, but no.

      Direct democracy does not work. Even the Founding Fathers of the United States went to some lengths to avoid referendums in favour of a representative republic, and for good reason: it results in, at best, base populism and at worst a tyranny of the majority.

      California’s problem is very much that: the government has abdicated it’s responsibility for governing. Tough decisions are simply not made; they handed over to the plebiscite and defeated, while political creampuffs are what passes of “government”.

      This is something, by the way, that both sides of the political spectrum tend to agree on: right-wing academics have acknowledged that direct democracy is, effectively, a way for people to gorge themselves at the social services trough and avoid paying the bill.

      I know it makes good rhetoric, especially in this era of rabifd anti-intellectualism, and say the opposite—that the people should have a say in every issue—but it just isn’t true.

    • 0 avatar
      thebeelzebubtrigger

      Psar is correct — “direct democracy” is a synonym for mob rule.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    Isn’t the killer application this part “…the Leaf will have full access to California’s High Occupancy Vehicle lanes while the Volt will not, unless a pending bill before California’s state Senate passes.”

    The time savings and VIP feeling that driving in the HOV lane provides has to be a huge pull over the Volt.

    GM better make some donations or whatever it takes to get that fixed in the CA Senate.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    I think there’s a political dimension to California’s standards as well. CARB wants electric vehicles – period – not hybrids. If a car like the all-electric Leaf doesn’t work for you, CARB says that’s too bad. But GM may fix the issue before it really matters. Personally, I can’t see buying an all-electric vehicle with current technology. It might work with my daily commute to the bus stop… but not for weekend and vacation use. And I can’t afford a separate, dedicated weekday-only vehicle at 30K. Or 20K, for that matter.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      The Volt would work as a second car for me because it’s essentially a gas/electric hybrid with a relatively “normal” range on the highway.

      That having been said, I have no place to plug a Volt in (I park in a shared garage with no public power outlets) to get the advantage of running on all electric power around town and using no gas, so the price premium over a regular hybrid would be wasted $$$.

  • avatar

    Both the Leaf and the Volt rely on using someone elses money to get people to buy the car. Nobody in his right mind would by either vehicle without a tax credit to bring the car in line with competing all gas or or hybrid cars.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      If you lease the battery, then

      1. pure-electric cars are cheaper than gasoline cars to purchase. (Electric motors are much simpler than the ICE. And no exhaust system.)

      2. pure-electric cars are cheaper than gasoline to maintain. (No oil changes, no spark plugs.)

      3. pure-electric cars are cheaper on a per-mile basis. The batteries do have a cost, but amortized over their lifetime, cheaper than gas.

      If we still have tax credits for electric cars in the year 2020, something has gone wrong.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Just asking… does anyone know how the Fed and State subsidies are being funded? Are they being sourced from the ubiquitous general fund, or are there specific taxes being collected to fund this subsidy?

    Since governments, Fed and State, are spending waayy too much money, does it not make sense to stop this subsidy for a period of time? Does it not make more sense to see this money go to a more worthy endeavor… say scholarships for the top 10% of performing students who come from families hovering at the poverty line?

    Just sayin….

  • avatar
    Steven02

    I have been reading up on this subject, and seems interesting. It doesn’t look like California denied it as much as GM didn’t apply for it. The reading up on it is a bit odd as well.

    http://blogs.edmunds.com/greencaradvisor/2010/07/chevy-volt-wont-get-californias-3000-phev-credit-or-10-year-battery-warranty.html

    Some people are saying that it would require a 10 year 150,000 mile warranty on the batteries. Which is interesting, because I don’t think the Leaf has this or the 2012 Prius. Also, since it is a plug in, it looks like the credit would be 3000, not 5000.

    Someone one wikipedia posted something else interesting.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Volt

    They say that GM will come out with another package that will comply with AT-PZEV, but it appears to be more expensive.

    So, after this, I am a bit confused. Is the title appropriate if CA didn’t actually deny something that wasn’t applied for, assuming the first article is correct.

  • avatar
    carve

    They should plug the holes and qualify for subsidies by offering different options on the volt.

    There should be an EV option, where the engine, generator, and fuel tank are replaced with extra batteries.

    There should also be a small engine version. 160 hp is such a waste in this application. Just have a 30 hp air-cooled motor that kicks on MUCH sooner and keeps the batteries at ~40% charge.

    Another option would be a through-the-road-hybrid version, where you have a ~50hp gas motor that drives the wheels directly via CVT, as well as the current electric drivetrain. You should be able to start the engine right when you get in the car if you plan on driving a long ways. The engine will provide most of the energy for your trip, and the electric portion will just be used when extra power is needed- accelerating and hill climbing. When you’re on flat sections where you have excess power, the electric motor goes to regen and absorbs power from the driven wheels through the road, with the CVT gearing down to maintain speed. You then save the expense of a seperate generator, and have a MUCH smaller motor. For short trips, the motor wouldn’t kick on until the battery started to get low. Ideally, you’d have the engine kick on at the appropriate states of charge to maximize the service life of the battery. Maybe there’d even be a list of a few common destinitions (e.g. “commute”, Costco, beach) that the car would learn, and it would decide when the most efficient time to kick the engine on would be.

    The last option, in my mind, makes the most economic sense, but any of them seem like they’d be a much better car than the current offering.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      Uh, no.

      When your projected production volume is only 10,000 units in the first year (which it is), and not an earthshaking amount more than that the year after that, it makes absolutely zero sense to engineer and certify more than one single one-size-fits-all version.

      The 1.4 litre range-extender engine in the Volt does not have 160 horsepower. But, it does need to have enough power to sustain highway speed for extended periods everywhere in the country while carrying maximum load, and 30 horsepower is not enough for that.

      And “air-cooled”? Liquid cooling is better for NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) and better for emissions (better temperature control means it can be built with closer internal tolerances). And using the 1.4 litre engine means GM uses an EXISTING production engine rather than engineering and tooling up for an entirely different one.

      If you want a hybrid vehicle in which the engine is capable of driving the wheels directly, buy a Prius, or a Camry hybrid, or a Sonata hybrid. You’ll get no argument from me, that in a situation where the combustion engine is going to be running anyway, you might as well drive the wheels mechanically rather than going through a whole bunch of generating, rectifying, charging, inverting, and motor steps.

      A system that predicts what to do depending on what the driver is going to do with it would either require people to do something different with the car from what they do today (which nobody wants to force them to do, at least not YET), or extrasensory perception on the part of the vehicle …

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      My mistake- I was under the impression that the engine/generator provided about as much power motor. The engine is about 71 hp, which is closer to what I had in mind.

      Still, changing your power from heat to mechanical to electrical then back to mechanical will usually be a more lossy process than going straight from heat to mechanical. It also requires an expensive generator. It also provides less total available power than if the wheels were being powered by the engine AND the motor, reducing performance potential. The only advantages are the engine can run at a constant rpm, and you can charge the battery while you’re not moving (however, the volt only uses a 5% range of charge as a buffer while under engine power, so it is hardly necessary to charge while stationary.)

      My main point is they should minimize the gas portion of the drivetrain as much as possible. Keep it light & simple (hence air-cooled).

      BTW- 30 hp is plenty for a small car to maintain 75 mph on level ground, as well as significantly help out with acceleration. The point is, you would NEVER drive the car around ENTIRELY on the 30 hp.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      A system that predicts what to do depending on what the driver is going to do with it would either require people to do something different with the car from what they do today

      Ten years ago, I would have agreed.

      Today, with in-car nav, not so much.

      And even if I don’t turn it on, the car can likely predict that when I get in the car at 9am I’m going to work, and it will likely be right.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    The fundamental reason GM isn’t getting the Volt approved by California’s Air Resources Board is because the Michigan Congressional delegation doesn’t swing much weight in Sacramento.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Ya know, the hate all things California view would have people bagging on California if the Volt DID qualify for subsidies at least as much as the fact that it doesn’t qualify for subsidies. So, what then exactly is the point?

    Very little of use has ever been accomplished out of hatred or anger.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “In other words, because GM rushed the Volt to market, it put its wundercar at a devastating competitive disadvantage in its most crucial market.”

    Oh give me a break. First the Volt wasn’t rushed to the market, probably a better way to describe the Leaf. Secondly, GM will have a pure EV on the lots at pretty much the same time Nissan does, maybe sooner. Besides, there isn’t enough Volts go around the first year or two anyways so for those of us that don’t live in the state of Calfifornia, this is good news!
    w

    • 0 avatar
      Len_A

      +1

    • 0 avatar
      GarbageMotorsCo.

      “GM will have a pure EV on the lots at pretty much the same time Nissan does, maybe sooner”

      GM has a full EV in the works? The Leaf is slated to be on sale by December, a GM EV will come before this? I’d be very interested in reading about this. Source?

      And the Leaf is the one rushed to market? LOL

  • avatar
    Russycle

    “So how did GM let this happen?” would make a great subtitle for The History of GM: Part Deux.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    “Even when the Democrats do propose some kind of fiscal package that makes sense, the Republicans get their panties in a knot about it on ideological ground.”

    When did the Democrats propose something that makes sense for those of us paying taxes… must’ve missed that. They propose stellar programs for those that don’t pay into the system – true.

    I guess by ideological ground, you must mean the belief that taxes shouldn’t be raised on an already over-taxed population with unemployment just over 12%.

    “If you look at the legislation being passed that isn’t really the case. What is happening is that tough bills to restrict services don’t pass, but neither do the tax increases to pay for them.”

    You’re half right. Tax increases don’t pass, so the Dems have gotten around that by increasing fees on items like cell phone service fees, trash collection fees, car registration fees, increasing per hour charges at meters, park access fees, while at the same time, increasing public contributions for public union retirement funding. We’re turning into the way NJ used to be.

    See, from the left’s perspective in CA, fees are a tool to help further soak the tax base.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      See, from the left’s perspective in CA, fees are a tool to help further soak the tax base.

      Yes, and it’s because they’re too spineless to create an upfront tax. California’s property tax base (and you don’t get a whole lot more progressive a tax than property) is disproportionately low. Flat VATs and property taxes are easy to administer, too, and cost less. But they hard to sugarcoat, which is why they’re not done.

      Fees aren’t a left-wing thing, they’re a cowardly-government thing. There’s all sorts of right-wing governments resorting to feels, tolls and monetized enforcement as well, and for exactly the same reason as California: they’re spineless.

      Politicians do this all the time: swear they won’t increase taxes, but cut services and add fees via the back-door. It’s short-sighted idiocy designed not to do the right thing, but to avoid offending people. It turns government into a game of silly partisanship, and the electorate into a collective bunch of toddlers who want everything but won’t pay for it.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      “Yes, and it’s because they’re too spineless to create an upfront tax.”

      Agreed.

      “Fees aren’t a left-wing thing, they’re a cowardly-government thing.”

      The fee-happy states such as CA, IL, NJ and NY are all bastions of the left leading the charge. When I lived in Arizona and Texas, car registration fees were less than half of what they are in CA.

      “California’s property tax base (and you don’t get a whole lot more progressive a tax than property) is disproportionately low.”

      I paid $7200 in property tax last year and live in a firmly middle class home in a middle class area. Disproportionately low? You sound like a hopeful leftist CA politician.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I defer to the wonder that is Proposition 13.

      Note the point about governments having to be “creative” in order to raise funds. This is what happens when, to use a right-wing aphorism, the pigs get vote on the contents of the trough, never mind that the 2/3 majority required results in a lowest-common-denominator budget.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    Leaf in a HOV lane LA?
    Hope it can do 70 else the natives will get restless and perhaps more.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    This Chevy Volt. At $350 per month with a $2500 down stroke, that makes it look like GM is really pushing the lease on this.

    Think about this for a second. The BMW 3 series has one of the best residuals out there, i.e, resale. So here’s the deal BMW is pushing on the 3 series.

    Take a $38,000 car. Bring $5,000 to your BMW store. Pay $349 for three years with no maintenance costs.

    http://www.bmwusa.com/Standard/Content/FinancialServices/LeaseOfferDetail.aspx?enc=E3S/jpwj1eAQWIbrDfydeg==

    Now, the way a lease works is BMW NA sells the car to the dealer. When you lease the car, the dealer “sells” the car to BMW’s leasing company. Obviously, you don’t own the car.

    So what happens with GMs deal when you lease?

    Take the $42,000 car. Bring your down payment. And who gets the $7500 tax credit? Is it GM’s leasing division? Does GM get the tax credit?

    • 0 avatar
      Disaster

      I’m amazed how stupid people are about leasing. I hear all the time, “BMW’s aren’t that expensive. You can lease a BMW for $350 a month.” Really? Lets do the math. $350 a month. Plus $725 acquisition fee. Plus $350 disposition fee. Plus $3500 down payment. Tires will most likely not make three years so that is another $1000. Final cost, about $18,000 or $505 per month for 3 years…at the end of which you have nothing…zero…zip…start over. Yeah, you drove a BMW, but in the end, you don’t own it (probably wouldn’t want an unreliable BMW after 3 years anyway) and in three years you are back to square one.

    • 0 avatar
      GarbageMotorsCo.

      Same thing applies to the Volt and it’s just a cheap little Econo-box. At least a BMW is enjoyable to drive and has some sense of luxury to command such an astronomical price.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    The Volt seems to be getting more schadenfreude per mile than mpg.

  • avatar
    Mike Kelley

    The same people who want to force us all into electric clown cars want to make electricity unaffordable to anyone without a trust fund. The Sierra Club brags about all the coal-fired plants they have prevented in this country. Feel-good “green” energy sources like wind and solar will cause our utility bills to soar. I have read many articles about alternative energy, and they never want to talk about the cost of the power they generate. The damage to our economy from all these bad decisions on energy will haunt us for a long time.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Well, yes. Doing the right thing costs money.

      If you’re so concerned with the economy and what these feel-good environmentalists want to do, you’d have no problem with a coal plant opening up in your neighbourhood, right? And without emissions controls, because that just impedes profit. Can’t have that.

      Meanwhile, we’ll open a chemical plant as well and just dump waste into the nearest river. After all, that’s the cheapest option.

      What the Sierra Club and similar agencies are trying to do is encourage conservation of energy. Heretical, I know**, but it’s not exactly a bad idea to do it in advance of energy cost spikes.

      ** considering how America got it’s knickers in a twist about Jimmy Carter suggesting people where sweaters and turn the thermostat down, you’d think that wasting energy wasn’t just a right, but a requirement and duty.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Psarhjinian, I have finally decided to ask, just wtf are you doing posting on a car site? You obviously hate cars and anything else that enables people to have a little freedom so why do you come here and spew your hatred of this country and everything else decent. Go to Cuba or North Korea and have a ball, you will fit right in.

      You must assume that when yoour dreams come true that you will be among the elite running things, well you won’t, you’re a useful idiot.

      Go to Daily Kos or someplace like that and lower the average IQ over there for a change. Or get a car and learn to drive so you can discuss that rather than your failed politics.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Mike,

      Who’s forcing you into an electric car? Conpact discs and now downloadable music took over the music mass market, but you can still buy turntables and vinyl. The same will be true with ICE’s for a VERY long time.

      The reason we don’t see wind farms and huge solar arrays on a bigger scale is because they’re very expensive and they don’t yet generate enough power. Poor ROI. Over time, that will likely change, but for now, they’re in limited use.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Mike,

      I’m happy with the balance I’ve struck, but I won’t say that I couldn’t do better, or that there aren’t good reasons not to, or that I wouldn’t write a check for Tesla roadster if my finances allowed it (and if I could fit in the thing…).

      I guess I’ll have to “settle” to a CNG Corvette.

      To use an analogy: I can still enjoy a cup of coffee, yet realize that there’s an impact to doing so and, say, buy fair-trade, use a take-away cup and compost the grinds at home.

      It’s not either/or.

      It’s entirely possible to like cars and not ignore, resent or disbelieve that there’s an impact to doing so. Resorting to the absolutist position does you no favours.

    • 0 avatar
      1996MEdition

      MikeAR – In defense of Psarhjinian, he does seem to know cars very well and has posted some very well thought out, data backed opinions on a lot of matters. TTAC is a pretty open forum for discussion with all viewpoints welcome. If one prefers goosestepping along with the rest of the crowd then this ain’t the site for you.

  • avatar
    Vetteman

    What is totally being missed being a former life long , born and raised californian is the insane cost of electricity forced upon the helpless citizen of California. I don’t see the economics of a car such as the volt working when you are going to plug that thing at night in your garage and add the usage on top of you existing bill. I lived in the Bay area and PG&E uses a very aggresive tiered rate structure. They have a baseline rate that is already high by most other parts of the country that will basically run your tv , frig and a few lights . Once you get above baseline they ramp you up quickly . My last bill for sept 2009 for 1666 kilowatt hours was 499 dollars . Every additional kilowatt hour that you buy is at the 47 cents per rate . I moved to Idaho and the highest rate I pay no matter how much I use is 8 cents . My cost for that same 1666 kilowatt hours up here is 96 dollars. PG&E is absolutley screwing the daylights out of their customers and the california PUC is going right along with it. All the greenies in california better keep working or be wealthy enough to live with the results of their stopping any new infrastucture that will provide electric power to a growing state.

    • 0 avatar
      Disaster

      Wow. It is going to be really expensive to run an electric vehicle in California. How much of that is direct to PG&E and how much is fees and taxes that go back to California. In comparison, my DTE Michigan bill was $402 for 3060 KWH. Used nearly twice as much energy as you, (80% more) and paid 20% less. Idaho is really inexpensive though.

    • 0 avatar
      Contrarian

      Here in New York, (another big-govt success story), our electricity cost is 2nd only to CA (and maybe HI). It is actually twice the price and then some of other states. I’m not sure how much money or greengoodness you’d save with an EV here.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      If you are paying four times the national average for electricity, you probably shouldn’t get an electric car.

      A mile in a 35MPH car at $3.50 per gallon is 10 cents.

      A mile in a 4 mile-per-KilowattHour car at 12¢ per KWh is 3 cents.

  • avatar
    SomeDude

    A bigger problem here is that the $7,500 federal credit doesn’t make any sense. Ok, the way economic theory goes, one driving an EV generates a positive externality (pollution reduction), which needs to be re-paid at the margin (sort of Pigouvian anti-tax). But, suppose I agree not to drive ANY vehicle over the projected lifetime of a modern car and give up my license. If I don’t drive, I’ll be generating no pollution at all and also less congestion. So, by rights, shouldn’t I also qualify for $7,500 at the very least?

  • avatar
    M 1

    Screw California.

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    @Disaster

    “probably wouldn’t want an unreliable BMW after 3 years anyway”

    I have a 2004 BMW 3 series purchased in winter of 2007 as a CPO. It has been far more reliable car than my Acura, and the BMW has twice the miles that the Acura does. From my experience, BMW hate comes from people who can’t afford them, or couldn’t recognize driving dynamics if it bit them in the butt. Of course anyone can get a lemon, but if a person knows just a little bit about car repair, they are quite reasonable to own. This applies only to the E46 and earlier. I would not touch the new ones with a ten foot pole.

  • avatar
    Vetteman

    Does anyone have any data on how many kilowatt hours are needed to do the average overnight recharge. I am thinking a normal 20 to 30 mile commute so a round trip of 40 to 60 miles . If the gas engine comes on then maybe that will be only a topping off proceadure overnight?

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      4 to 5 miles per killowatt-hour is a good approximation. So a 40 mile range would take 8 to 10 KWh.

    • 0 avatar
      Vetteman

      I just checked PG&E rate tariffs and they have dropped them somewhat from last year from the 47 cents area to just over 40 cents per kilowatt hour over 200 percent of baseline . Baseline is pretty low usage so most any family wil have to recharge at the 40 cent marginal rate so that puts us at 8 to 10 cents per mile. That is very close to what it costs for gas for my wifes Lexus GS V6 which gets about 22 city and 33 highway. In the california bay area a plug in electric does not pencil. IMHO

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      If I’m reading the PG&E rate tables right (I very well may not be), baseline looks to be around 600 KWh per month, which is pretty stingy.

      An extra 300KWh per month seems to leave you around the 13 cent mark, if you start around 100% baseline.

      If you do get an electric car, though, you should look into moving into time-of-day billing. That puts your overnight charge under 6 cents, even up to 130%, but it pushes your daytime rates over 30 cents for the summer.

      Ignoring California may have been a wise strategy for GM.

  • avatar
    postjosh

    when did “series hybrid” become “range extender?” i applaud gm for bringing advanced tech to mass market. a series hybrid with lithium batteries is cutting edge. this is exactly why the most experienced car company in electrics, toyota, has held off from those technologies. from a purely economic point of view, you would have to be nuts to buy a volt. let’s hope gm improves the price and performance at a very fast pace or the volt is doomed. how long until a plug-in prius hits the streets? 2012!

  • avatar
    eastcoastcar

    Typical GM. They rush the car and end up looking as stupid as ever. I still remember, as the GM bailout was being discussed in Congress and media, the head of the UAW waxed enthusiastically on TV news that the Tahoe had been given some sort of green excellence award.

    I sure hope that Volt buyers enjoy maintaining a ‘rushed to production car,’ that has not only a gas engine and all those components, plus the electrical system, including that long, heavy battery that costs about $3k to replace. You will know when you see Volts on the road that they are being driven by people with trust funds.

    GM is never going to get a decent car to market. The Chinese and Koreans and Japanese already eclipse, and have been to decades.

    If I drive a Volt, I’m advertising that I have 41k to throw away. And I did this in reality before, when I bought a GM Chevy Citation and watched that car die within about two years. I’ve experience with GM products that are ‘rushed to market.’ I won’t pay to be their beta tester ever again. They can GIVE me a Volt and I will log everything about how it does and not charge them my hourly consulting rate, but I won’t take out a loan to pay 3x the cost of the car (retail loan rates) to debug their product. Yes, I have no respect for GM at all. They make junk with nice paint jobs and crappy components that won’t last. Gee, this used to be what we said about Japanese cars 40 years ago.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States