By on August 19, 2011

Volt owners gather before their parade down Woodward

Photos courtesy of Cars In Depth

As part of the festivities surrounding the Woodward Dream Cruise, GM organized a parade down Woodward and back up again made up of 50 Chevy Volts driven to the event by their owners, at their own expense, from around the country. As far as car company promotional events go it was fairly low key (I was asked not to publicize the pre-parade reception for the owners) but it was clearly a high priority item for GM. The Volt marketing team was out in force and they brought in NASCAR champions Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, who are racing at Michigan International Speedway this weekend, to wave green flags at the start of the Volt parade. Gordon and Johnson both own Chevy dealerships and they both personally own Chevy Volts. They race for Rick Hendricks, who owns quite a few Chevy (and other GM) stores himself. There were news teams from at least two of the Detroit tv stations and a satellite truck that I believe was used for a national network or cable interview of the NASCAR drivers. GM also brought out a number of pace cars from their private stash of Camaros, Corvettes and even one Chevy SSR that paced races at Indianapolis and Daytona. There was also the ZR1 that set a lap record for production cars at the Nurburgring. Marketing being what it is, the parade also included 2 squadrons of Chevy’s most recent new product, the Camaro convertible and the subcompact Sonic. There were 100 cars in total, one for each year in Chevy’s current centennial.

There were t-shirts and baseball caps for the guests, and the Volt owners each got a nice die cast model of their car, but the Volt owners weren’t there for the swag or for autographs, though they eagerly accepted both. The Volt owners were there because they really, really, really like their cars.

Comments like “the best car I’ve ever owned” were not uncommon. Ear to ear grins were everywhere. These folks were bursting with pride. Sometimes people don’t want to talk to reporters and writers. Not in this case. These people were eager to tell all. I watched more than one Volt owner do more than one tv interview.  Understand, these are early adopters, and a number traveled across the country to buy a Volt and then drove the car home hundreds or thousands of miles after taking delivery. Likewise many drove hundreds of miles to come to this event. The chances of any of them driving to Detroit to complain were pretty small.

The sign on the side of that Volt reads "American Made - Solar Powered".

I don’t like to say I told you so, but I predicted that early adopters of the Volt would love it to pieces and want to tell everyone about it. That’s what early adopters do, isn’t it? There were a fair number of Apple enthusiasts in the crowd. iPhones and iPads aplenty. When I gave one owner my business card, which for this event had TTAC on one side and Cars In Depth, the 3D car culture site, on the other, he showed me his 3D HTC phone. If I were to make a snap judgment, the crowd was mostly white, about equally split male and female, well educated, and seemingly upper middle class. For some this was their first “green” car. One lady from Alabama traded in a Saab 9.5. Others were not new to alternative propulsion. One owner traded in a Prius. He said that his overall gas mileage with the Volt was higher than with the Prius and said that the even with the cost of recharging, it was still cheaper to run than his Toyota hybrid. It was not a homogeneous group of drivers in terms of how they were using there cars. Some were hypermilers, but most said they just drove their cars normally. Some had short commutes and could operate on battery power most of the time, others had 70 mile commutes or took their Volts on long trips. My favorite answer was the guy who had a 40 mile commute but couldn’t charge his car at work. Where does he work? The GM Tech Center in Warren. There are charging stations at the Tech Center, but not near his building and the shuttle buses don’t run on afternoon shift when he works.

With at least 50 Volts in attendance, this may be the largest gathering of privately owned Volts yet.

I asked each of the Volt owners that I spoke to the same questions: Do they hypermile or do they drive normally? How many gallons of gas have they used? What’s their overall gas mileage? What’s their gas mileage when on the range extender?

The satellite truck was for uplinking a network interview with Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson

Most drove normally, but some had short commutes. The champion gas miser had used a total of 2 gallons of liquid fuel since March, but he’s self employed and works at home. Others reported using as little as 8, 22 and 25 gallons of gasoline over months of service. One person said that charging their Volt was costing them about $1 per full charge. I think that most drivers wouldn’t mind paying only $1 to drive 40 miles. At the price of gasoline today, $3.65/gallon, you would have to get something in the neighborhood of 150mpg to get the same fuel cost. It takes about 12Kw-Hrs to completely recharge a Volt to get an idea of the cost based on your local electricity rates.

A Volt owner admires a '63 split-window Corvette

All of the Volt owners reported getting at least 40 miles per charge. One guy said he can sometimes get 50. The Volt owners that used the range extender regularly reported overall gasoline mileage of at least 65 miles per gallon, but many reported much higher numbers, double and quadruple that 65mpg. The reports on gas mileage while on the range extender were impressively uniform. All but one said “42 miles to the gallon”, and the one outlier said “42 to 45 miles per gallon”. One said that it was “consistently 42. 42 miles of range on the battery and 42 mpg on the range extender”. All were pleased with the level of fuel economy when the ICE was running. I asked if there was anything that displeased them, and one owner reported being less than thrilled with the navigation system. That was about the only complaint.

Gordon and Johnson schmooze while waiting for their satellite interview. For all the talk of any feud, the men are in business together. Gordon is a part-owner of Johnson's #48 team. Other than personally winning the championship they share interests.

I did bring up the question of hybrids and EVs being a false economy. One of them, a businessman from Ann Arbor, said that a $40,000 car is a $40,000 car and you don’t buy a car for that much for the purposes of saving money. He said that when his friends raise the issue of the Volt’s (or any hybrid’s, for the matter) false economy, he points out that their $300 smartphone and $120/month data plan for it is costing, not saving, them money. I didn’t get the impression that any of these people were starry-eyed idealists. They also didn’t seem smug, which is nice.

Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, who are Volt owners themselves (and Chevy dealers too) wave green flags to start the parade of Volts.

Obviously, this is not a crowd that is going to be hypercritical of the Volt. There’s a lot of selection and self-selection going on here, so they’re not going to be average drivers, no matter how average their use of the car may or may not be. A few days ago the notion of GM emulating Apple was bandied about. I’d say that most people outside of GM scoffed at the notion. I’ve been around personal computers since the early Altair and Sol days and I remember something from when Apple was rolling out the original Macintosh after the computer they branded as Lisa was a dud in the market. The Lisa was not a bad computer. A solid advance over the Apple IIe, it had some innovations that later became standard issue on Macs and PCs, but the Lisa didn’t sell. Then there was the Macintosh, which had evangelists, literally. Guy Kawasaki was given the title of Chief Evangelist to go out there and spread the good word about the Mac.

Chevy Volts parading on north Woodward Avenue

I think that GM has indeed taken a page from Apple’s book in terms of how they are cultivating the people who are buying the Volt, using them as evangelists for the brand. I mentioned swag above. When people were gathering around Johnson and Gordon to get the NASCAR stars’ autographs, I noticed that a number of them were having some kind of book signed. I asked one of them about it, and they said it had come as part of a thank you package from GM when they took delivery of the car. Obviously it was a gesture, like Hyundai giving away iPads with the Genesis sedan (and Hyundai discontinuing that practice is a different kind of gesture to consumers), but it appears that the gesture was appreciated with these Volt owners. The success of the Volt is an open question that won’t be answered until the dealer network is fully supplied and we see if those dealers sell enough Volts to match the annual production capacity of 60,000 units. I think in the case of the early Volt buyers, GM can rely on them to spread positive things about the car, to be their brand evangelists.

Like every hotel that GM uses for Volt events, the Kingsley Radisson has charging stations. Those are not manufacturer's plates so most likely, a private owner was topping off before the parade.

The Volt is a special case with special attention, special marketing, and a special group of consumers. It’s a cutting edge, high tech product that appeals to both tech geeks and people concerned about the environment so you’re already, again, doing some selection for people that tend to be good evangelists for the products they buy. I don’t know if this kind of marketing would work with more mass market cars like the Cruze, but it is possible. The name that GM gave the event, Volt Homecoming, evokes memories of the two Saturn Homecomings that GM sponsored in Spring Hill, TN. Before the Saturn brand was dissipated through badge engineering and poor product planning, the 1994 and 1999 Saturn Homecomings drew 30,000 and 44,000 people to Spring Hill, respectively. Now those homecomings may just have been part of ad genius Hal Rainey’s overall touchy feely promotional campaign but they do show that you can generate some brand loyalty to a mass market car with something that looks and feels like a personal touch. Meanwhile, based on the Volt owners who attended this event that I spoke to, they have both responded to that personal touch  and are willing to extend it to others on behalf of a car that clearly has charmed them.

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65 Comments on “Chevy Volt: Ask the Men and Women Who Own Them...”


  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    I don’t understand why it costs $40K+. Is it the battery that drives the cost? If they could get it down to $30K sans guvmint cash, I’d be very interested.

    • 0 avatar
      protomech

      The 2001-2003 NHW11 Prius is a good point of comparison, as it was the first model year of the Prius sold in the US.

      Wiki claims Toyota lost money on the preceding NHW10 model (Japan only, from 1997 on) and broken even on the NHW11 Prius. The 2001 NHW11 cost $19,995 on introduction, or $25k in today’s dollars.

      The battery is probably the single most expensive component in the Volt. I don’t know if GM has ever disclosed its battery costs. Speculation is $8k to $12k. GM is losing money on each Volt sold, though noone knows how much.

      http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1052107_gm-confirms-yes-were-losing-money-on-every-volt-we-build

      In 2003 Toyota charged ~$5k for a NHW11 replacement battery ($2200 today btw). I’ll guess Toyota’s initial costs were $2k for the NHW11 battery.

      So Volt’s battery costs GM $6k-10k more than NHW11 Prius (4-6x for 9x the capacity), bringing battery-adjusted costs to $31k-35k in 2011 dollars.

      Consider also the following:

      * NHW11 Prius was on its fourth model year. Volt is still on its first model year. NHW11 sales were 16-25k/year in the US, sales didn’t truly pick up until NHW20 in 2004 (50, 100k, 150k sales/year). Volt is still very limited production, no full US availability until 11/2011.
      * Volt has more up-level trim to “justify” its cost. NHW11 was pretty modest. Trim doesn’t add much to cost but will add some.
      * Volt has a more powerful engine and a more powerful motor, and can dump far more power into the motor. Bigger components = higher costs.
      * 2011 is a different market than 2001. Gas is significantly more expensive, but the economy is also in the toilet. The market for $25k economical cars is larger than the market for $35k economical cars.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Yes, when blogs or magazines print statements like this, it would be nice if their authors had a rudimentary understanding of cost accounting, so that they could use the terms correctly.

        I would certainly hope that GM is not selling the car below its incremental cost (that is, the cost of the materials and labor that go into making each car). That would be “losing money on each car sold,” and would be pretty dumb. Not only that, but GM would continue to lose money, no matter how many of the cars it sold.

        The rest of the “cost” calculations are fuzzy and really depend upon the assumed volume of production. The Volt, no doubt, has very high research and development costs; and like all cars, it has tooling costs. Those are fixed numbers; so whether you say the car is selling “below cost” in that sense depends on the volume of cars sold.

        Perhaps what the GM guy meant is that, assuming GM sells every Volt it can make (at least with current production facilities), it still won’t recoup all of its tooling and R&D costs, along with the incremental costs of making each car. If that’s the case, you could say that every buyer of any other GM vehicle is subsidizing the Volt . . . or you could say that GM hopes that the Volt — or its technology — is sufficiently successful that, eventually those R&D costs will be recovered.

    • 0 avatar
      cirats

      I know little or nothing about the internal finances of automobile companies, but assume that a lot of what goes into pricing a car is making up for all the R&D, tooling, etc., that went into preparing to manufacture it. So it’s not just a question of what it takes GM to make one Volt; rather, it’s largely a question of how much of that entry cost (plus advertising and other overhead) to allocate to each vehicle produced, when you don’t really have that great an idea how many you will eventually sell or over what period of time.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The battery is certainly a large part of the cost. Because of the way the EPA is treating the Volt it’s battery is covered by the 100K “emissions” warranty. So GM is factoring in that they may have to replace a fair number of packs and is building that into the price. The other fact is that you are still having to pay for the ICE and a number of other components that you don’t need with a pure EV.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Thanks a lot for the enlightening on-site reporting. With all the political, philosophical, and editorial baggage the Volt comes with, combined with its glacial start in the market, it can be easy to forget that it isn’t a bad little car in its own right and its good to see the early adopters are loving them and a Volt community has been born. Their ranks will surely swell before long.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    I have preached until blue in the face that encouraging brand cheerleaders is the most effective marketing tool available to a car maker. You can spend $100,000 on a TV commerical that your average guy jsut zips past with his Tivo, or you can spend $50 acutally appreciating a happy customer who will then gladly (and for no additional cost) promote your brand to his or her friends. Which do you think is hte better bang for the buck?

    I have a working hypothesis that Toyota and Honda are dying partially due to failing to appear to the core customers. BMW was lambasted by the core customers after fiascos like the 5GT and run-flat tires. As an Audi fan, I’m slowly watching the same thing happen to them as core fan wants like wagons and stickshifts go the way of the dodo.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      BMW seems to do much better financially without worrying about the enthusiasts who used to be their core customers. Chris Bangle even articulated it about a dozen years ago. He didn’t care about the existing customers provided they could be replaced with people who cared more about fashion and were therefore more likely to replace their cars frequently.

      As noted in the article, Saturn was big on brand cheerleaders. Ultimately, it was no substitute for product. There were happy Saturn customers, but primarily they were happy because they’d previously owned other GM or Ford cars and they liked not feeling as if the dealers were taking advantage of them and laughing behind their backs.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        +1 true but sad the comments about BMW. Time will tell how sustainable that approach is in the long term.

      • 0 avatar
        Jimal

        The Saturn product was doing just fine until Roger Smith retired and his replacement decided that Saturn would be just another division and share in the delights of platform engineering. The L-Series was the first nail in Saturn’s coffin. The Ion was the second, third and fourth nails. The Sky and Astra were nice enough cars but by the time they came along Saturn wasn’t Saturn anymore.

        Had Saturn continued as its own little independent project within GM instead of being turned into another Oldsmobile or Pontiac it wouldn’t have been axed like those divisions.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Saturn could never make a profit on the SL. They spent far too much money on a unique platform and drivetrain that were competitive for a brief period. There was no time to amortize the initial investment in developing the car before it was obsolete and no longer offered a relatively competitive alternative to Corolla and Civic. GM could have kept Saturn unique, maybe even competitive, but there is no indication that it would have ever been anything but a financial draw on the rest of the business. They wrote off billions one year to pretend to make a few million the next year. It wasn’t a good business plan.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Sundowner -

      Great points, I agree with them all. One exception, though: the comment about Audi. While I think that Audi has a very loyal core fan base (myself included), the brand is growing so well and so organically through its other product (eg: non-stick, non-avant) that I think the long-term risk to the company is minimal.

      We enthusiasts can be the best and the worst for a company: we’ll advocate strongly for them, free, but we’ll also demand stuff that the manufacturer simply cannot profitably sell. I’m an avant/wagon fan myself, but the fact is, the numbers don’t bear out the business case for selling, say, an S4 Avant 6-speed here in the US. For all ten people who will buy it, it’s a hard business case to make.

      BMW, on the other hand, is doing its damnedest to dilute and destroy its carefully crafted image and loyal base with product like the GT, softened chassis dynamics and an overall watering down. That said, when you’re the big man on the mountain, there’s really no place to go but down. Audi has nowhere to go but up.

  • avatar
    PaulVincent

    Yes, great car, and G.M’s. stock is at less than $23.00.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Not a fair point given we have a stock market on the brink of bear territory. GM has mirrored F and has followed the same trend lines as the Dow Jones and S&P 500 indexes.

      http://www.bing.com/finance/CompareStocks?q=GM&FORM=DTPFIO#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

  • avatar
    V572625694

    Nice to see Americans who love their American cars, particularly a modestly-priced daily driver.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      …particularly a modestly-priced daily driver.

      If $40K counts as modest then I really need to start making more money.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      $40k is modest?

      I saw my first Volt yesterday. It certainly isn’t a looker with the long nose, short tail, and awkward front air dam. The proportions were so odd in person that I didn’t even notice the side window eye shadow, which is probably the styling feature I most dislike in photos.

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        $40k isn’t a lot of money for a decent brand-new car these days. Especially not when you consider that the actual cost is $32.5k after the rebate. That’s pretty much what you would pay for a well-optioned decent middlebrow kind of car if you bought one off the showroom floor.

      • 0 avatar
        protomech

        True Delta comparison time.

        4 cyl automatic Camry XLE, only way to add leather seats (+$700), navigation (+$1000). $29300 delivered.

        Volt with leather trim (+$1300). $42400 delivered, less $7500 federal rebate resulting in $34900.

        Adjusting for features (largely power seats) leaves a true price delta of $6000 in favor of the Camry.

        Comparing against a Camry Hybrid with the same options ($32000 delivered) is a smaller delta, which after adjusting for features shrinks (this time in favor of the Volt) to $1600 in favor of the Camry.

        The $40k sticker is definitely an eye-opener (and a good talking point for making cheap shots) .. but the rebate covers most of the difference to make the Volt competitive.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        Remember, the tax credit isn’t handed to you the day you pick up the car. You have to file for it as part of your tax return. So, if you buy, it’s a $42k purchase up front – not $32k. Not everyone qualifies for the credit either. An accountant could probably explain it better than I can.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The Volt isn’t a Camry. Considering its Daewoo Lacetti bones, compare it with the Prius and Matrix. $15,000 is a modest price for a new hatchback, but it buys a premium road bicycle. A Volt for list price is as immodestly priced as cars get.

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        All the whining and crying and unapologetic badge snobbery in the world won’t stop the Cruze and it’s platform mates selling in droves, and it won’t stop Hyundai from eating Toyota and Honda’s lunch either. You can scoff at the Volt and Cruze as nothing but rebadged Daewoos if you wish, but it won’t matter to anyone that doesn’t worship at the Toyhonda temple. I think your comparison of the Volt to the Matrix and Prius is pretty absurd, considering that it is far more advanced than either of those vehicles and you know it. The list price for a Volt is more than fair when you consider the technology and capability that you are getting. Meanwhile, you will sit in your Civic and turn up your nose at all those fools in their EV’s with “unproven” technology, all while missing the point entirely.

        Honestly, I think you are just ate up by the fact that neither Honda or Toyota came out with this car first. I bet that if it had an “H” badge glued to the front, you would have been all over it from day one.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        PF,

        You’re just carrying on your track record of being wrong. Why would I want a Volt made by anyone? Did I buy the first mass produced hybrid, the Honda Insight? No. Did I buy the first successful hybrid, the 2nd generation Toyota Prius? No. Did I laugh in some ecofool’s face when he asked if my Civic was a Honda FCX Clarity, the first fuel cell car available to the public? I did. GM isn’t the only company to build cars that appeal to people who don’t understand economics or environmental impact. While it is true that there are certain cars that I only wouldn’t buy because they’re built by GM, like the ZO6, there are plenty of cars I won’t buy no matter who makes them. The Volt, Cruze and 2012 Malibu are prime examples.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I’m pretty sure that was sarcasm.

  • avatar
    ajla

    See if you can negotiate a drag race between the Volt and the ’80 Trans Am Turbo Pace Car.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Solid write up absent of much of the hype or hate for the Volt. A very objective piece that calls a spade a spade while painting a picture of where this can go. The analogy was also well placed. I was very glad the question of real world MPG and battery range was brought up…as noted these are happy enthusiasts.

    A lot of people seem to forget, or want to forget Prius 1.0 in North America was a grossly over priced Toyota Echo with what was at the time an unproven, questionable, overweight, propulsion system packaged in a pretty crappy car. You certainly don’t see anyone proclaiming a decade plus later the loving virtues of the Toyota Echo, or holding it up as a great example like the Tercel (as an example). But that Echo based Prius PROVED the point, and the rest is as they like to say…history.

    Can the Volt capture the same magic? Only time and sales will tell.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      All true! That’s why I find it somewhat awkward to say that Volt owners love their cars. Well, DUH!? Isn’t that a given? Why would people buy a Volt if they won’t love it?

      Flip the coin and look at it from a different perspective and ask “Did the early adopters of the Prius 1.0 not love their Prius? Of course they did! And many continue to love their Prius every time they trade the old one for a new one.

      And when Toyota starts selling the plug-in hybrid Prius cars, will those buyers love their Prius? My guess would be a resounding YES.

      My point is that each vehicle has a loyal following, and so it should be. I’m not convinced that the Volt will be the vehicle of the future, though. I’m more inclined to think that the plug-in Hybrid Prius will outsell the Volt by a wide margin.

      And that brings to mind the question, “What is the target demographic for the Volt?” It sure isn’t Joe Sixpack or Sally Homemaker. They can’t afford it, not now, and not in the future either.

      • 0 avatar
        maribeau

        We had a prius. Guess what? We traded it on the Volt. We both work factory jobs. Not all middle Americans are dumb rednecks as your tone seems to imply. And frankly, there is no comparison. The Volt so outshines the Prius in every way. We were there for the homecoming, our car was in that mass of 50 cars. We were there because we had both, and can testify to the difference and how much better the Volt is in every way. If you have never driven the Volt, you cannot understand. It is appointed well, similar to a cadillac, and has that quick surge of power response you don’t ever get with a Prius. And it handles so much better than the Prius on the road, I feel much safer. The Prius, on wet roadways, was frankly scary. And the Volt is FUN to drive. Add on the fact of the savings (not having to buy gas for 2 months where gas cost was a good $200-$300), and in time, I think the Volt pays for itself, not to mention, I’m not feeding foreign oil czars.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I’m not a candidate for Volt or Prius ownership. I don’t care about the price of gas. Never have. Prefer driving over walking. Consider gas a bargain at any price.

        A couple of months ago I actually did ride in the passenger seat of a Volt while I was on a site-visit to a Chevrolet dealership that was on the market to be sold. That Volt would have sold for more than $45K, less the tax credit, plus tax, registration and title fees, and most Americans cannot afford that. If you can, good for you!

        My relatives interested in buying this Chevrolet dealership we visited do sell the Prius along with other brands and the Prius to this day remains a good seller with a reasonable margin for profit and a very short list of warranty issues. Many of their customers remain loyal Prius owners even after the Volt came on the market and trade their old one for a new one every few years. Scary or not, the Prius still outsells the Volt.

        And as far as feeding foreign oil czars, most of our imported oil is imported from those oil czars Canada and Mexico. Only a very small percentage comes from the Middle East or Venezuela.

        My initial point was that while you may love your Volt now, I bet you loved your Prius years ago before the Volt was even a figment of your wildest imagination. If you didn’t love your Prius, why did you buy it to begin with?

        And I bet you paid a lot less for that Prius when you bought it, saving you enough money to be able to buy that expensive Volt when it finally hit the market years later. Good luck with your Volt.

  • avatar
    tallnikita

    Where I live 1kw=25 cents. $3 for full charge to go 50 miles max.
    And it costs double of a decent Camry.
    Sorry, this makes NO economic sense. What these people should have bought are cargo bicycles.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Where I live (NC) 1KW is 7-9 cents so the math stands up. Also a decent Camry (or other mid-size) would be in the mid $20K, so the Volt is probably 1.5x the cost.
      I agree with APaGttH, the Volt is first generation and will only get better (better range and mpg) and cheaper as time goes by. At least it seems GM has learnt some marketing lessons. Lets see if they can be applied to the other models.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Where can you buy a new Camry for $16K?

    • 0 avatar
      maribeau

      Where I am, it’s 1kw=8 cents. So makes very much sense! We run on electric all month for $29 so far!

      I fail to understand how those who have no experience with it can badmouth something they don’t know. As for the prius, the only reason we got it was for the mileage as we had high miles to travel. We never loved it. It was the first and last toyota we’ll ever buy. And since it cut our gas costs from $400/month down to about $60, that was the main driver.

  • avatar
    NN

    The long term testers at Edmunds also seem to like the Volt quite a bit. And so far, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of massive quality glitches or cars exploding or dying catastrophically. While all the hype continues to go on re: the economics of the Volt, the politics behind it, etc…the car itself seems to quietly be exceeding the expectations of its owners. If that keeps up, it will be a massive achievement for the General.

  • avatar

    Akerson committed to increased production so now they are building for Europe and Cadillac. the car is toast and it’s proud Papa Lutz can enshrine one in his garage next to a GTO and SSR.

    as mentioned previously, GM doesn’t need a Volt, it needs a ReVolt. unfortunately, the VSSM operations show no sign of incorporating anything more imaginative than repeated gimmicks.

    rather than simply eliminating platforms, GM should add one additional platform…extending from the marketing staff window, pointed at the Detroit River.

    NYSE $21.92 per share. hello?

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I must have missed your point. Production is being increased and the volt is being sold overseas. If it sells, then good. Aren`t global cars (fiesta, focus etc) the future?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        It’s in the news today that production is ramping up just as the demand is sated. Perhaps Buickman assumed everyone was aware of stories like this one: http://autos.yahoo.com/news/is-chevy-volt-running-out-of-juice-.html

      • 0 avatar

        point is they are clueless and destined to fail.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        My bad for not seeing today an article on yahoo! I recall reading in the past that GE and other companies (or is that individuals) were going to buy significant numbers of Volts. European sales have also started and I am sure all these combined factors will mean the 16000 planned for this year will be sold. Maybe it will run out of juice next year but for today it seems OK.

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        In that same article, the man in charge of the marketing company said that it was “way too early” to tell if demand for the Volt is really falling or not, so I take that whole thing with a grain of salt. If GM can market the Volt successfully, with focus on its more practical aspects as both an EV and an ICE powered vehicle, then the demand will be there. Nissan has been selling every Leaf it can build and has waiting lists for more. I don’t think they’re going to have a problem selling these things.

        It’s already been accepted as dogma in the holy temple of GM critics that the Volt will fail, so I’m not really surprised that when I see them dredging up any excuse as to why it won’t succeed. Including highly debatable, non-empirical market research.

  • avatar
    PintoFan

    The thing that I think will really work in the Volt’s favor is that it doesn’t require any major compromises from owners in the same way that other EV’s have. It can be driven like a normal car, filled up at any regular service station if need be, and has unlimited range because of this. It is also reasonably spacious, comfortable and refined. So what I’m saying is that you could potentially attract a lot of buyers to this car that wouldn’t otherwise be interested in an EV or other alternative-fuel vehicle, because it doesn’t require the lifestyle compromises that said vehicles used to entail. Everyone talks on here about how $32.5k is a lot of money for a new car, but I don’t think so. That’s still cheaper than most entry-level luxury cars, and about the same as most well-optioned middlebrow cars. It’s not an earth-shattering amount of money to a middle-class or upper-middle class consumer.

  • avatar
    1000songs

    Looks like the GM marketing folks that were behind Saturn have simply dusted off their old game plan for the Volt.

    • 0 avatar
      Patrickj

      It worked reasonably well the first time, and probably would have kept doing so if GM had thought to update the cars and add to the model line before it was too late.

  • avatar
    IronEagle

    Chevy is offering a low milage lease on a new $41,000 MSRP Volt.

    2011 CHEVROLET VOLT
    Low-Mileage Lease for Qualified Lessees
    $350/month 36 month lease.

    $2,500 due at signing (after all offers). Includes security deposit.
    Tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment extra.

    Pretty good deal. If I didn’t pick up a new Regal Turbo for $265 a month i’d look into this.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Yup if you drive enough and especially if you can get your employer to let you charge at work so they get a tax credit I would be easy to save that $85/month vs buying gas. Of course that low mileage lease probably puts you on the wrong side of the break even scale.

  • avatar

    Let’s get real. 4000 (absolute max)Leafs and Volts sold since introduction. In an 11 million unit market. Going nowhere and fast.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      And Volt production prior to this month was at 500 units per month – hard to sell in volume when you don’t build them in volume.

      The real proof comes next year one way or the other. GM’s approach has been super conservative, and so far seems to be working.

    • 0 avatar
      Invalidattitude

      From Green Autoblog:
      “Year-to-date (as of July) sales of the Leaf total 4,806 units in the U.S., compared to 2,870 Chevy Volts.”

      Nissan ahead with more than total 10k sold world wide, its much nearer to a financially credible volume than the Volt.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Well, one thing’s for sure: Nissan couldn’t hold a similar love-feast for Leaf owners!

    If it didn’t cost $30,000+, I’d replace my 10-year old BMW with one of these. The way I drive, I’d probably fire up the ICE in the car about twice a month, even though it would be my daily driver.

    But driving the way I do (an average of a little over 6,000 miles/yr), I wouldn’t live long enough to recoup my investment, even with $4+ gas that I currently have to buy. And, other than the cool factor, there’s no other reason to own the car.

    So, if Chevy can make the Volt “cool” in the way that Toyota was able to make the Prius “cool” (and Honda has failed to do with the Civic, Accord and Insight hybrids), then maybe they’ll have a hit on their hands.

    I’d certainly sooner own one of these than a Leaf, even though the Leaf is cheaper to buy.

  • avatar
    HiFlite999

    The Volt has put Chevy on the world’s hi-tech-seeking radar for the first time in decades. Does it make economic sense to buy one at present? No. Neither do Porsches. So what? A friend of mine went to the Chevy dealer recently specifically to look at a Volt. He left with a new Corvette. Did GM make money on the deal? Yes. Even if they are selling Volts at a loss, I suspect GM is making money from having them to sell.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      I’ve posted this many times before.

      Circa 2005. Customer walks into GM dealership to look at a Corvette. Drives off in a Cobalt SS that GM sells at a loss. This equals fail.

      Circa 2011. Customer walks into GM dealership to look at a Volt. Drives off in a Cruze Eco that GM makes a profit on. This equals win. Given the Volt is sold at a loss, I would rather have 100 customers walk in and 90 of them buy Cruzes any day of the week.

      Right now the Cruze is a halo car, and a damn good one.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    FWIW, I have a $100 smart phone with a $35 plan, so not everybody chooses to spend the most money on the latest technology. Between the Volt or the Leaf, I’d prefer the Leaf because I prefer Nissan over GM, but also because it would better suit my driving needs.

    Here in western PA, I have yet to even see a Volt or a Leaf, and only saw my first Fiat 500 last week.

    The notion of a Volt lovefest seems odd to me. If it’s to foster sales, the best way to do that is lower the price and widen the sales channels.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    “the parade also included 2 squadrons of Chevy’s most recent new product, the Camaro convertible and the subcompact Sonic.”

    So how was the Sonic? I noticed that TTAC has not posted a first drive of the Sonic.

  • avatar
    shaker

    The other, we’ll say 400lb gorilla in the room, is the cost of auto insurance on a $42k car that (by admission) isn’t driven as much because of its appeal as a short-range EV commuter.

    You’re basically paying high insurance rates on a car that’s sitting in the garage much of the time, and THAT’S what going to drive sales downward after the early adopters.

    That said, if I had money to burn I’d own one, as the car itself is all that it was promised to be, and appears to be built with a level of care and dedication previously unseen in a GM product.

    • 0 avatar
      maribeau

      We don’t pay a high rate for insurance and we are not short commuters either. Perhaps it vaies on who your carrier is. We run our volt daily everywhere. Have been to TN, MI and NY and NJ and MD with it and we are from PA.

  • avatar
    AJ

    I’m not in favor of this tax credit. I’d rather the owners spend half the money on a gas powered Civic that gets 39 mpg. Not to mention that when the time comes, the Civic will cost a lot less to recycle.

  • avatar
    axual

    The design and styling of the Volt is ridiculous. Why these companies have to design their electric vehicles to look like an oddball is beyond me.

    Stick a 4 door Corvette body style (or a Malibu) and more people would buy them.

    I just don’t get the design philosophy.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      It’s simple a lot of the market for these cars is for people to make a statement of “hey look at me I’m saving the earth”. So making it on a shared body hurts sales to those people. On the other hand doing like Ford has done with the Fusion, Escape hybirds and Coming Focus EV means lower production and development costs and appeals to those he don’t want to scream look at me.

      • 0 avatar
        maribeau

        Actually, you are very misinformed. The styling is to reduce as much as possible all drag and wind resistance on the car to get as much efficiency out of it as possible while still looking nice. The Volt is the first car (it’s not a hybrid, it’s electric, big difference) of EV’s to look decent.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    “If it didn’t cost $30,000+, I’d replace my 10-year old BMW with one of these.”

    If buying a car were a purely rational decision based on cost of ownership, how does anyone justify buying any luxury make like a BMW? If this were the purchase criteria we’d all be driving Yaris’s, which are frankly just as good as slogging it out in commute rush-hour at 35 mph and much cheaper to own than ANY BMW you could buy new. Yet they sell a lot of them and nobody questions the sanity or intentions of BMW buyers. Heck, the first year depreciation on a 7-series BMW probably exceeds the entire purchase price of a Volt.

  • avatar
    StatisticalDolphin

    DC Bruce -

    “I would certainly hope that GM is not selling the car below its incremental cost (that is, the cost of the materials and labor that go into making each car). That would be “losing money on each car sold,” and would be pretty dumb. Not only that, but GM would continue to lose money, no matter how many of the cars it sold.”

    Not dumb at all really. Ultimately, taxpayers are on the hook for the losses. GM understands this all too well, even though the media circus has moved on and the memory of the masses quickly fades into dull gray pulp.

    “Perhaps what the GM guy meant is that, assuming GM sells every Volt it can make (at least with current production facilities), it still won’t recoup all of its tooling and R&D costs, along with the incremental costs of making each car. If that’s the case, you could say that every buyer of any other GM vehicle is subsidizing the Volt . . . or you could say that GM hopes that the Volt — or its technology — is sufficiently successful that, eventually those R&D costs will be recovered.”

    LOL, no doubt the GM guy meant to say anything other than the fact that the taxpayers are subsidizing this vehicle and this company. No need to stir that hornet’s nest.

    Given the disturbing lack of incentive, the chances of actually making a profit, much less recovering costs seem remote.

    Of course the Volt buyers described in this article are satisfied. They are successful subsidy farmers. What’s to complain about?

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    Almost 900 of them still looking for homes, even with an 1800 dollar price reduction.

    http://www.cars.com/go/search/newBuyIndex.jsp?stkTyp=N&tracktype=newcc&mkId=20053&AmbMkId=20053&AmbMkNm=Chevrolet&make=Chevrolet&AmbMdNm=Volt&model=Volt&mdId=35025&AmbMdId=35025&rd=100000&zc=04567&enableSeo=1

    So HOT! nobody wants to touch them.

  • avatar
    SoapyJohnson

    Of course, Gordon and Johnson won’t take the Volt on the track again, not after February’s Chevrolet Volt 400 disaster … http://placeitonluckydan.com/2011/05/nascar-pulls-plug-on-chevrolet-volt-400/


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