By on March 13, 2012

The repeated stoppages of the Volt production triggered rumors that GM might discontinue the Volt altogether.

Dan Akerson himself had to come to the rescue of the embattled plug-in. Saying that “we are not backing away from this product,” Akerson promised more advertising and less volume. So far, so good.

Then, Akerson did something really bad. Surprisingly, Akerson used Toyota as a benchmark and reportedly said that “Toyota sold about the same amount of Prius in its first year as the Volt in its first year.”

Utter nonsense.

It gets worse.

In the first year, the Volt sold half of what the Prius had sold in the first year. And that in a market twice the size.

It gets worse.

In the first year, the Volt sold half of what the Prius had sold in the first year. And that at a time when gasoline did cost twice as much as when the Prius was launched.

If Akerson would know more about cars, then he would not have to tell lies. He also would know that Toyota had been terribly unhappy about the initial sales of the Prius. What should give Akerson further pause are rumors from Toyota that sales of the plug-in hybrid version of the Prius, launched in Japan in January, are not going well. There are no numbers available, but all I am hearing is that the Aqua/Prius C compact hybrid is selling like hotcakes, while the plug-in Prius is collecting dust. Again from what I am hearing, people balk at the price. The regular Prius in the G trim costs 2,520,000 yen ($30,000) in Japan. The G-trim Prius plug-in hybrid costs 3,400,000 yen ($41,000). All prices including tax.

People seem to shun the plug-in, and instead go for the Prius, or its smaller sibling the Prius c. That one costs 1,850,000 yen ($22,000) in the G trim. The Prius is Japan’s best-selling car, the Aqua / Prius C has become Japan’s third-best-selling car right out of the gate. Price is a big driver of the success of a car. Price is the biggest problem of the Volt. Even with a generous (and unsustainable) subsidy, it is way too expensive. The example of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid proves an old adage in the business: People may swear up and down that no price is too high when it comes to the environment. Once in the showroom, they buy the car that makes sense.

Oh, and back to Akerson. I know how to get him out of this. He should say he was misquoted. He should say he meant calendar year. Launched in December 1997, the Prius sold 323 in that month and year. Launched in December 2010, the Volt sold 326 in that month and year. I know, it’s a lame excuse, but it beats being called a liar.

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140 Comments on “Dan Akerson Says First Year Sales Of Volt As Good As Prius, Grows Long Nose...”


  • avatar

    Or could he have meant the Prius sold about the same number in the US market in its first year? What were the sales numbers on the Prius in the US in its introductory year anyway?

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      That is what I’m thinking. A little Googling came with a number of approx. 5,600 Priuses sold in the U.S. in 2000, the first year the car was available here in the states.

      • 0 avatar

        Akerson’s claim is refuted.

        Nobody needs to refute what someone thinks Akerson could have meant.

        That red herring stinks.

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        Bertel, where did Akerson say that he meant global sales and not U.S. sales? Aren’t you the one reading more into his statement in order to find extra meaning?

      • 0 avatar
        philadlj

        Prius U.S. Sales

        Aug-Dec 2000 – 5,562
        2001 (first full year) – 15,556
        2002 – 20,119

        Volt U.S. Sales
        2011 (first full year) – 7,671
        2012 (estimate based on first two months) – 9,756

      • 0 avatar
        Downtown Dan

        @Jimal– From reading the actual quote, I’m almost certain that’s exactly what Akerson meant. Compare US Market to US Market (which, by the way, was bigger when the Prius was introduced than it is now).

        I realize there is more to this article than purely evaluating sales figures, but really, Bertel makes a bunch of comparisons of two entirely different car markets, in two entirely different sets of macroeconomic conditions.

        I’m pretty new to this site, and I’m struggling mightily to understand all the GM haterade from some of the staff writers here. Akerson’s comparison seems reasonable to me; Bertel’s, not so much.

      • 0 avatar

        Akerson said “Toyota sold about the same amount of Prius in its first year as the Volt in its first year.”

        The first year of the Prius was 1998 in Japan, the first year of the Volt was 2011 in the U.S. If Akerson meant something different, he should have said it.

        Also, the first recorded sales U.S. month of the Prius was July 2000. Sales Prius U.S. July 2000 through June 2001: 12,968, data according to Automotive News.

      • 0 avatar
        Volts On Fire

        Perhaps Akerson should have been more specific in his comments, then, but he wasn’t. So he’s been rightly caught in a blatant falsehood.

        As usual, the GM apologists are eager to rush to this dottering fool’s rescue. I don’t know which is more pitiful.

        The facts are these: In its first year of sales in the only market the car was available in, the Prius sold more vehicles than the Volt did under the same conditions. That’s despite the fact the US auto market is exponentially larger than Japan’s, and there’s much greater understanding and appreciation for hybrid cars in 2012.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Yeah, that’s the way I read it too. First year of sales, regardless of location, is first year of sales – Japan for Prius and US for Volt.

        I did read somewhere that the Prius at its introduction was ‘revolutionary’ in concept and execution. The Volt, OTOH, was ‘evolutionary’ in that the Prius was ahead of the Volt in concept and execution. The concept is the same but how each one provides locomotion is slightly different.

        But regardless of who’s on first, I believe that all of these EVs of any persuasion and from any manufacturer, should be available to whoever wants to buy one. I just don’t believe in a taxpayer-funded subsidy or tax-credit for any of them.

        I read on another board a post from a lady who owns a Volt and she wrote that she drives it on the gasoline engine-generator most of the time since she has no way to plug it in where she lives. She does at her place of employment. Her only complaint is being forced to pay for Premium gas.

        Seems to me she would have done better buying a Cruze, and save a lot of money in the process.

      • 0 avatar
        Jimal

        I see your red herring and raise you a straw man. Unless you know, through clarification straight from the source, that he was referring to first year sales in Japan and not first year sales in the U.S., then your conclusion carries no more weight than mine.

        Why would Akerson compare sales from different markets?

      • 0 avatar
        Oren Weizman

        Number one on the list of suspected David Icke’s lizard people for me, along with Baruch and his Kermit the frog Audon’t

      • 0 avatar
        KitaIkki

        Not to mention Prius didn’t come with a $7500 tax subsidy …

      • 0 avatar
        TireIrony

        Upon reading Akerson’s statement, I immediately inferred the US market, since that’s where the Volt is being sold. Then I dug through Bertel’s slash-and-burn statistics romp and didn’t find the one number that seems most relevant.

        This “article” is far more blatantly opportunistic and misleading than the Akerson comment upon which is based.

        Volt is not the shiniest penny, but this nasty twisted opinion piece is a far better example of what’s not right in America today.

        Please do better in the future.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        You are interpreting his statement, Bertel. I am pretty sure that he meant US market. Did he say US market? No. But when you put those numbers together, it matches up with what he said. I guess it is a problem because his statement wasn’t…

        In the year 2000, when Toyota introduced the Prius in the US, US sales of the Prius were about what the Volt sold in the US during its first year on sale.

        But, if you want more refuting, why are your gas prices in US dollars and not a Yen comparison? If you are going to say how much more expensive oil is now, it would be good to know what it was for Toyota in 1998 for Japan. Exchange rates change, you should know this considering the amount of articles you write about it.

    • 0 avatar
      PintoFan

      Shhh. Don’t take the less controversial (and more likely correct) route. That makes for boring blog posts.

    • 0 avatar
      jeoff

      Bertel were you lying yesterday when you wrote: “Want to save gas? Don’t buy American.”?–
      This was untrue (at least for Ford, and arguably for GM)
      Looking at the data from true car from 11 manufacturers showed Ford’s small cars MPG only trailed Toyota. Ford’s mid-sized cars trailed VW, Toyota and Hyundai in MPG. Its trucks were the most fuel efficient. Ford’s buyers skew more toward mid-sized cars and trucks, but you chose to interpret the data in a way to impugn the fuel efficiency of Ford’s automobiles.
      It is Mr. Ackerson’s job to put a positive light on his (disappointing) product. If there is a way to positively compare the Volt to Prius, he will find it. So, he compares first year sales in the US of the Volt to the Prius. It is spin. It is part of his job.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Maybe GM can look up how many hybrids Porsche sold when he invented them 100 years ago.

  • avatar
    threeer

    I guess 10,000 units (or so) can be considered a rounding error…

    • 0 avatar

      It just struck me: We’ve all been talking about unit sales. Companies report quarterly results first and foremost in dollars. Keeping in mind that the average Volt sticker is $44,000 and the average Prius sticker is a lot less, perhaps $25,000, and was less in the many years before, well, Volt sales in dollars isn’t what it seems when you’re counting units.

  • avatar
    highrpm

    Bottom line is that the Volt is not competitive.

    I can’t see Akerson’s speech winning any Volt sales or convincing any folks to buy the Volt.

    In fact, his propaganda piece will probably alienate a few customer that were on the fence regarding the Gov’t Motors bailout fiasco since it’s obvious that this company is not truthful.

    • 0 avatar
      MBsam

      That’s a leading statement. The Volt really doesn’t have ANY direct competition right now. This is more of a matter of perhaps GM building something there isn’t a direct market for and/or consumers not being informed of the product well enough.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The Volt has dozens of competitors, whether the field of play be energy consumption, price, running costs, capabilities, or political statement. That’s why they don’t sell. There are too many superior alternatives for practically any set of priorities.

      • 0 avatar
        highrpm

        The Volt is basically another +$40k vehicle that competes with other +$40k vehicles.

        To potential bybrid buyers, it’s basically a competitor to the Prius, built by a company known for producing low-quality vehicles, yet priced more than $10k higher than the Prius.

        The vehicle is not competitive with other $40k vehicles (Audis, BMWs, Lexi, etc.). It’s not price competitive with the Prius.

  • avatar
    Volts On Fire

    GM can line up all the “spin” and outright lies about the Volt it wants. Publications like TTAC – and the free market – will continue knocking them all down.

  • avatar

    So, why didn’t GM mark up their pickup trucks and SUVs, and transfer the subsidy to Volt? Obviously it would depress the sales of trucks while helping Volt. How bit would be the impact on the top line? Would the impact be offset by some kind of CAFE compliance incentives?

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I’ll keep saying it…

    In a market where there are competitive, affordable, economy cars, an expensive economy car like the Volt will see sales DECREASE as gas prices INCREASE, because consumers have less income to spend on a car to save a little gas.

    People wishing for $5 or $10 gas mistakenly think that only the cost of operating their car will go up, but forget that everything else will become more expensive also. GM made this mistake early on, saying that the Volt was designed for a market with $5/gallon.

    • 0 avatar

      You should be our next Treasury Secretary. Or maybe Fed Chairman.

      There’s more economic sense in those two paragraphs than I’ve seen out of Wash DC in yearrrrs.

      Anyone who lived thru the horror movie we like to call “the end of the ’70s” remembers the the 20% inflation, brought on by skyrocketing gasoline prices. Since virtually everything we touch involves oil, it only makes sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      I’ve been wondering about this myself – if gas skyrockets in price, won’t that reduce middle-class spending power? If people aren’t buying the Volt now, they will be less inclined to do so when the gas companies are pick-pocketing them by another dollar a gallon.

      GM has the Volt priced at what? $41,000? If the price had been $31,000, less the credit of $7,500 for a total purchase price of $23,500, that would have cost GM $76 million based on the information provided above (courtesy of Philadlj). That’s what, the advertising budget for the Volt?

      At $23,500, I would have one in my driveway, because at that price it makes economic sense to replace my pick-up with the Volt. I would probably only be filling it with gas two or three times a year.

      I think GM grossly miscalculated the amount of customers who were willing to lease, let alone outright purchase a Volt. At $41,000 it should have been dressed up as a Cadillac, not a Chevrolet.

  • avatar
    Dynasty

    I think the real problem with Volt sales is GM’s reputation for lack of quality and where that line intersects with what most people would pay the Volt.

    What if the Volt, 99% identical, minus the Chevy bowtie had a Toyota logo on it? I bet it would be selling really well.

    Then everybody who hates the Volt would be asking, “Why doesn’t GM build something like this? Incompetent GM misses out again.”

    It is not that the Volt is a failure, the failure is GM’s history of building cars that trail far behind the competition in most metrics.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      The lack of sales of the plug-in Prius seem to contradict your theory.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      “What if the Volt, 99% identical, minus the Chevy bowtie had a Toyota logo on it? I bet it would be selling really well. ”

      I bet it won’t sell well. Otherwise Toyota would have done it for real.

      Offering the Prius at $26k or the Prius c at $19k is true engineering feat. However, offering something like the Volt at $40+k using bailout money isn’t. When the budget is that big, everyone (like Toyota, Nissan, Chrysler, Kia, Tata, Chinese WuLing) can do it if it made money sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I was thinking the same thing, Dynasty, but at that price point it needs an Audi badge. Swoop up the exterior a little and people would be gushing over it…and wondering why American companies aren’t capable of innovation.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    It is not Akerson with the long nose. The truth is: “Chevy Volt’s First Year of Sales Trump Those of Original Prius”
    http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2012/01/chevrolet-volts-first-year-sales-trump-original-prius.html

    This is a misrepresentation comparing Japanese first sales to US first year sales, the facts Akerson referred to.

    Prius first year sales in the United States amounted to 5,600 units, well behind Volt’s 7,600.
    In addition, the American market of 2000 was much larger than today, 17.8million in 2000, versus 11.7million last year.

    The real truth is that Volt’s first year U.S. market share is about double what Prius captured in its first year here.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Did you read the article? What did you do with what it contained? How do you retain your talking points and block out reality? What purpose does it serve?

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        Not use it as a grindstone for a political axe?

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        Yes, I read the article. That’s why I fact checked Akerson’s statement. He is telling the truth.

        It is an irrelevent point to compare Prius first year sales in Japan to Volt’s first year sales here, particularly when calling someone who is citing the real sales figures for Prius first year in America a liar.

        Volt’s first model year market share in America is double Prius first year here. The points about oil prices, valid or not, only obfuscate reality. Prius was not a barnburner when it was launched here either. That is the truth whether you want to believe it or not.

      • 0 avatar
        highrpm

        When the first Prius was first released, the hybrid technology was brand new and folks were wary of its reliability. Also, gasoline cost $1 per gallon so there was no incentive to buy a fuel efficient vehicle. The big SUVs were king back then.

        Fast forward to today, and hybrid technology is accepted as being efficient and reliable. Gasoline is expensive. It seems that Toyota did the heavy lifting in getting the US to accept the technology back in its early days, so the Volt should be a home run product by now.

        Any way you slice it, the Volt is a failure. Why would sales improve? In the case of the Prius, its sales increased because gas went up and folks started to realize that the hybrid tech worked. What is the case for increased Volt sales?

        It’s built by the company that took the bailout. It does not have a history of reliability. It may catch on fire.

        @doctors olds and others that are making an argument in favor of the Volt, do you own a Volt? Why not?

      • 0 avatar

        I recommend not using Fox news as source for sales data. See above for full first year U.S. sales data. In any case, we are talking first year of introduction, which was …. see above.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @highrpm- I am a retired GM Powertrain engineer and have come to really like Volt since test driving one. I thought Volt was out of the price range I want to spend- have an ’11 Regal $237/month lease car, and ’08 Sierra with payments for a few more years. I have come to appreciate that the Volt $349 lease would actually save me money compared to the Regal at 26MPG overall with mostly in town driving. I prefer a little roomier car than Volt(Prius C is a great package!) but it will be on our list when the Regal lease is up.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        “The points about oil prices, valid or not, only obfuscate reality.”

        Right. As in the price of umbrellas increases when it rains only obfuscates reality. Or not.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        @doctor olds “I am a retired GM Powertrain engineer and have come to really like Volt since test driving one.”

        Now I really understand why GM went bankrupt. They need better engineers!

        This may be too late for you, since you are retired already. But the key to engineering excellence is about cost controlling. When you price your product at 50% more than your competition, you need serious justification (which, buyers don’t see in the Volt).

      • 0 avatar

        “Volt’s first model year market share in America is double Prius first year here.”

        Are you only looking at the first 4 months of Prius sales? The first 12 months it sold 12,968 units.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @Praxis- Yes, I used Prius 5,600 sales in an almost 17M year vs Volt’s 7,600 in last years 11.7Million volume. It is not a fair comparison, I will have to admit, with Prius only available for part of the year.

        I swear I read that Toyota only produced 8,600 Prius in its first year. I thought it was on Wikipedia, though that actually shows first years sales of 3,000 in Japan. The age old problem of model year vs calendar year comparisons.
        This link shows current Hybrid, Plug-in Electric and Diesel sales in December.
        http://www.hybridcars.com/news/december-2011-dashboard-sales-still-climbing-35093.html
        Volt was the leading plug in by a wide margin and ranks well compared to most on the hybrid list.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Well, I’m farthest from being a Volt fanboy, but I think Dr. Olds has a point. Since the context of Akerson’s discussion was the U.S. market, it seems likely that he was referring to 1st year Prius sales in the U.S. market. Frankly, a comparison between first year sales of the Prius in Japan and first year sales of the Volt is just about meaningless. Not to state the obvious, they are two very different markets. So, I think a fair reading of Akerson’s comment was that he was referring to Prius sales in the U.S.

      That said, the author of the linked article certainly needs remedial math and/or remedial English. A 24% shortfall in projected sales is more than “just a little bit.”

      To me, the frightening thing about the Volt is that either no one at GM realized that the Volt — regardless of its green cred — was simply not competitive at a $40,000 price point or, knowing that, no one was willing to say: “we need to send this one back to the kitchen for more baking until we get it right.” Instead, what we have is a company looking for a political solution — an even bigger direct subsidy than the one already offered — to, ahem, bail them out.

      Haven’t we seen this behavior before?

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        The competitors, Leaf and Focus EV are about the same price as Volt, and they can’t be reasonably driven to the next town without an overnight stay.
        The subsidies you decry are available for every manufacturer of alternative technology vehicles, including Prius.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        @Dr. Olds — I decry the subsidies no matter who gets them, especially for vehicles manufactured outside the U.S.

        And, to continue on the chauvinist theme, I think both the Chevy Cruze and the Ford Focus offer better value for most people. That is, if you want an American-made compact (and the Volt is quite compact) that is nicely appointed inside, the Focus Titanium and the equivalent Cruze are just as “nice” and prices under $30,000. Both cars appear to outperform the Volt on fuel economy, once it has exhausted its battery and, IIRC, at least the Focus accelerates faster at speeds over 40 mph.

        In short, the Volt, like the Leaf and the more exotic electrics, is an expensive toy for early adopters and not a mass-market product, at this price level.

        The way I drive, the Volt would be the perfect car for me. I could probably go weeks without ever lighting off the gasoline engine. But the problem is, for someone who drives as little as I do (~6,000 miles/yr.), the cost of fuel is a very small portion of the cost of ownership of the vehicle. So, I’m not going to buy a vehicle based on its fuel economy. By contrast, someone who drives a lot and for whom the cost of fuel is a significant part of the cost of vehicle ownership is going to get more benefit from a hybrid or even a fuel-efficient ICE-only powered car.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @DCBruce- My political nature is to agree with your stance on subsidies. I wish GM could build what people demand, but that was distorted by the advent of CAFE decades ago and now the upcoming 56MPG standard. If government wants to force the technology, I want to see them help defray the startup costs for the car makers.
        At your 500 miles a month, assuming all of your use would be plugin electric,and your rates are similar to mine, Volt would cost you about $22/month.

        The value this represents depends on the gas mileage you are getting now. With 50MPG at $4/gallon, your cost would be $40/month. An average mid size sedan achieving 25MPG overall would cost you $80/month. I see an EV as ideal for someone who tyically drives less than 40 miles between opportunities to recharge. Volt’s cost will not rise with gas price. At $5/gallon, an average 25 MPG midsize sedan would cost roughly $78 more than Volt with your 500 mile a month schedule.
        You are certainly right that much lower cost, reasonably high mileage cars like Cruze Eco could be a better value proposition. It all depends on how you will use the car.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      “This is a misrepresentation comparing Japanese first sales to US first year sales, the facts Akerson referred to. ”

      No, he didn’t specify the location. So by default that location would be planet earth.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        wsn- See it any way your your narrow view allows. What Akerson said is incontrovertibly true. You have to create your own definition to make it false.
        Yeah, I single handedly brought GM down, btw.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    This kinda sneaked by:

    An American Auto Bailout – For France?
    …In other words, General Motors essentially just dumped more than $400 million of taxpayer assets on junk bonds…..An analysis by auto industry consultants IHS said it is “somewhat baffling that GM is willing to get involved in an alliance that it frankly does not need for size or complexity, while still avoiding any public plan to rationalise its European production, cut costs, or deal with labour rates.”…..
    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/03/an-american-auto-bailout-for-france/

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Government Motors. Obama doesn’t want the EU to collapse before the election. GM is still one of Obama’s tentacles, and he is still more interested in destroying the US’ chances of surviving his presidency than anything else.

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        Just out of curiosity, do you honestly believe that anything you have predicted thus far in regards to Obama’s reelection will come true?

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        The EU not collapsing prior to the election I think is spot on, but the rest of your comment could be construed as unsubstantiated.

        Whether you like the man or not, his administration has committed some of the most egregious errors we’ve seen in fifty years (Egypt, passing on Iranian uprising in 2009, ABM shield withdrawal, the recent SALT Treaty, Fast and Furious, Obamacare, Solyndra, Rod Blagojevich scandal, and now Syria). Please do you own research and I think you’ll find everything I listed was well within his watch, unlike some of the auto/wall st bailout and other various economic problems which did occur prior to his taking office.

        There is quite a bit of wealth and power restructuring happening in the United States and the world, the way I see it whether its global Communism, NWO, mythical Greek gods, Fate, chance, greed, human nature, or the will of the Lord… something is pushing it. This administration is seemingly complacent with this restructuring, or at the very least, incompetent enough to not have American best interests at heart.

        Don’t be polarized by right/left politics, look at the facts and draw your own conclusions.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Obama’s actions and inactions make perfect sense when you view them with my perspective of his objectives.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        Well put CJ.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    Bertel, you should have found out what he meant before you called the man a liar. That would only seem to be reasonable journalistic etiquette. Your whole spiel may be fun, but it certainly doesn’t prove your premise that Akerson lied.

    • 0 avatar

      Since when do I have to ask people what they REALLY wanted to say when they said something? I am not here to put words into the mouths of people. Nor should you.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        Bertel, you have the shoe on the wrong foot. It is you putting words in Akerson’s mouth. You could have done what a resonable person would do, and check the facts to which he referred. If you want to turn the topic to how the Japanese accepted Toyota’s new technology in 1997, that is fine. Just don’t call the other guy a liar when what he said is factually accurate.

      • 0 avatar
        Downtown Dan

        “Since when do I have to ask people what they REALLY wanted to say when they said something?”

        Brotherman, that’s literally the definition of journalism– investigating events and not taking everything at face value.

      • 0 avatar
        Volts On Fire

        Journalism is about investigating events… and not misquoting your sources. However, it’s up to the source to say what they wanted to say.

        If they don’t, or if they otherwise misspeak, the onus to correct the source is emphatically NOT on the journalist. It sets a dangerous precedent when reporters interpret what a source “meant.”

      • 0 avatar
        Jimal

        I would think that if you are given a statement that you believe to be innaccurate, you should ask for clarification before assigning intent (lying) to said statement. Journalists do this as a course of business. Commentators, particularly political or industry commentators, who present opinions as much as facts, also should, but as long as long as it is part of an opinion piece, it probably isn’t as critical, as long as it is clear that the piece is an opinion piece and not reported as fact.

      • 0 avatar
        Downtown Dan

        ^ +1 on this, Jimal and doctor olds. Couldn’t have said it better myself. The issue is not misquoting or misattribution– the issue is a lack of willingness to investigate. If you see a shady-sounding claim trotted out, by all means go ahead and print the exact quote, but please do everything in your power to ascertain context before you attempt an interpretation.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        Before you accuse Bertel of not investigating, please investigate the facts yourself.

        As stated on this very page:
        “Also, the first recorded sales U.S. month of the Prius was July 2000. Sales Prius U.S. July 2001 through June 2001: 12,968, data according to Automotive News.”

        So, even if the context was limited to US sales, Akerson still lied.

      • 0 avatar
        Downtown Dan

        @wsn: this statistic seems to be in dispute here, but if it’s true, it would provide a perfectly reasonable refutation of Akerson’s comments. But it went unmentioned in the article, and was not the basis for Bertel’s “Akerson is a liar” screed.

        We all have our opinions on Akerson, the Volt, the bailouts, plug-in hybrids, etc, and we should be willing to listen to all those points of view. But this sort of “ooh, I gotcha!” garbage really, truly turns people off. I like this community; from now on, I’ll just learn not to click on articles with Bertel’s name in the byline.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      He’s either a liar or clueless about the company he helms. No matter how you slice it, in Japan or America, the Prius outsold the Volt in its first full year on the market. Factor in the wildly different economic and market conditions in 1998 (or 2000, whatever) and its no contest; the Prius did quite well considering it was a revolutionary concept that debuted in an era of cheap gas and big SUVs.

      After dismissing the Prius for years, GM debuts a car that’s, at best, an evolution of existing hybrid tech and tries to use he Prius’ numbers as an excuse for the Volt being seemingly nailed to the showroom floor? Hilarious.

      The attempts by doctor olds and others to deflect and misinterpret the data in blind support of the home team are outright embarrassing. You might actually have a shred of credibility if you didn’t jump through so many ridiculous hoops to defend GM or attack anyone who criticizes the company.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @from a buick 6- Facts are facts. Sales of the first model year Volt in the U.S. are more thant Prius’ first year here.
        That doesn’t equate to Volt is a hot seller! It is calling Akerson a liar that I find fault with. Data proves the fact that Prius captured half the market share of Volt in its first year. The whole point Akerson was making is that the low volumes Volt is starting up with are similar to much less complex Prius in its first year.

        As far as technology, Volt is clearly the leader, the basis for informed choices by those who really do understand to name it car of the year here and in Europe. Toyota is two years behind with their Prius plugin, which apparently are not gaining much acceptance in Japan.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        @ doctor olds: But those aren’t the facts. Just because you keep repeating it doesn’t make it true.

        The Prius sold 12,968 units in its first 12 months. The Volt sold 7,600. This has been stated repeatedly. Your absolutely inability acknowledge this is stunning.

        “As far as technology, Volt is clearly the leader, the basis for informed choices by those who really do understand to name it car of the year here and in Europe. Toyota is two years behind with their Prius plugin, which apparently are not gaining much acceptance in Japan.”

        Thanks for once again validating every stereotype I hold about GM engineers, executives and PR hacks. I’m glad to see that decades of being spanked by competitors and a massive bankruptcy hasn’t cured you of the unwavering belief that GM is still better than everyone else.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @FromaBuick6- They sure are facts. When did Toyota change over to the 2001 MY Prius (I’ll bet you will find that it was after they produced 8,600 US Market 2000 MY cars).

        I will agree that this is not really meaningful, but am confronting the claim that Akerson lied. He did not, unless you choose your own alternative constraints around the statement.

        I understand that you not only can tell what a lousy car the Volt is without bothering with real data or even test driving one. It is not much of a surprise for you to presume to know the nature and capabilities of people you have never met.

        GM spanked by competitors? GM is by far the most popular carmaker in the U.S. and the world. Other than that they aren’t all that much.
        Do they do everything better than anyone else? No. I never say that. There have been plenty of mistakes and failures.

        Is Volt the most innovative car on the planet. No doubt, whether you want to accept or not.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        There was no 2000 model Prius. It debuted in the U.S. in June 2000 as a 2001 model. They sold ~5600 in calendar year 2000 and ~13,000 in the first 12 months.

        Like you said, facts are facts.

        “I understand that you not only can tell what a lousy car the Volt is without bothering with real data or even test driving one. It is not much of a surprise for you to presume to know the nature and capabilities of people you have never met.”

        I never said the Volt was a lousy car. How do you know I haven’t driven one? Who’s presuming now?

        “Is Volt the most innovative car on the planet. No doubt, whether you want to accept or not.”

        Now I just feel like I’m being had. Are you a real person, or is this some kind of elaborate prank? Surely an actual engineer doesn’t make such baseless, subjective statements.

        As an engineer, it truly frightens me that people with your mindset are responsible for designing millions of vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @FromaBuick6- So Akerson can be criticized for comparing a partial year for Toyota with a full year for Volt. Fair enough. That does not make it a lie. It may be spin, but is not a lie.
        I was apparently wrong about Prius coming here as a 2000MY and stand corrected.

        WRT-Volt innovation:
        The automotive press agrees with me and demonstrated it with the COTY awards here and in Europe as well as Ward’s recognizing the Voltec drivetrain in their best powertrains list among a long list of awards. It is the first reasonably practical EV and still the only one except perhaps for Fisker. Even a 300 mile battery range that is being claimed for Tesla eliminates getting across country very quickly with an an overnight charge after about 1/2 day’s drive.

        You yourself wrote some time ago that you did not need to drive the car to know that it was not good. Can’t remember your exact words, or the post we were commenting on. I was surprised you would write such a statement without some shame, if you re-read your own words. It seems obvious you have still not driven one, but I will stand corrected if that is not accurate.

  • avatar
    forraymond

    Journalistic etiquette? This is the internet, there is little integrity, let alone etiquette here.

    Back in the day, when articles were presented as opinion, rather than fact, it was more palatable – and it was still anti-GM.

    I think it all comes down to hatred of Unions. And that hatred comes form 40 years of negative corporate press coverage trying to destroy the institutions that created power for the middle class – the bane of the wealthy worldwide.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Nah, hatred of unions comes from other things, but not this. This comes from a storied history of GM CEO’s mis-stating facts, mileage figures, profits and other objective facts. Remember the Volt and the 230 mpg sign? It’s that, multiplied by 50.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        Some Volt owners are reporting 250MPG plus. I suppose they are liars, too.

      • 0 avatar

        As long as I don’t head out of town on a road-trip, I’ve been averaging 314 MPG on my Volt. Obviously, once I go on those 1,000 mile (or more) road trips, I get only 35-36 MPG. But when I keep away from doing those, I’m easily well over 250 MPG, in my case 314 MPG and rising slightly with greater availability of chargers around the nearby towns.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Yes, the 230 mpg is false, even if it’s Jay Leno
        http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/19/jay-lenos-chevy-volt-still-has-original-tank-of-gas-11-000-mil/

        You can’t simply ignore fuel, even if it’s ethanol, CNG, electricity, or unicorn farts.

    • 0 avatar
      28-cars-later

      Interesting point on unions. I hail from Pittsburgh PA, famous for its steel unions and being a melting pot of diverse workers all seeking the American dream. I am also the son of a union Postal employee, former steelworker, and Vietnam Vet. My father from an early age sought to stimulate my interest in computers, which I eventually went to school for and am now a software developer. I see things from a purely economic standpoint, and in my view what we have as unions in America must be struck down and dismantled. Why? Simple economics… when Pittsburgh was the steel capital of the world, workers could demand very good wages and companies could afford to pay them and still gross large profits. Guess what, in the 70s Pittsburgh started to lose the edge to foreign steel and by 1983 the mills were finished. Its was a Ponzi scheme which only worked when there is money coming in the funnel. My own father who was a mill worker in the 70s explained to me how the unions bled dry the industry here… and see that’s the problem. Much like the mafia, they want their cut of the revenue, or they break your legs so to speak. Reality doesn’t much set in with their demands or goals. In 1979, GM had something like 40% of the US auto market, and could afford to pay its benefits and above market wages. By 1990 I think it was around 20%, and I don’t think its been above that since. So long term even as a well run healthy company (which GM was not) how can you afford a cost/benefit structure which stemmed from when you had double the market share? Even if there were adjustments over the years in the company’s favor, its still more than they could afford. Here in Pittsburgh there is another failed agency (Port Authority) who is often in the news for their bloated benefits. The union reps often say things like ‘our workers earned them’, and have a ‘too bad you owe us’ attitude. Many of these retired workers started when Pittsburgh was a much larger city requiring more public transit… wikipedia states in 1960 the city population was 600,000, in 2010 its 305,000. A system which now services half the population as it did fifty years ago, and takes in at least half the revenue, is supposed to finance the retirement of someone whose total benefits were calculated when it was twice the size… not going to work well. But even if there are people inside and outside the unions who see this, I think they feel powerless to challenge the bureaucracy which has perpetuated throughout the last sixty or seventy years. See and I think that’s what people associate with unions, this nonnegotiable ‘gimmie gimmie’ thug mentality.

      Our country is no longer at the forefront of the world, and is facing competition from all sides. Pensions, lifetime healthcare, fixed wages with guaranteed pay increases, these are unsustainable. This is why long term unions no longer work in our society. If someone came to me tomorrow and promised me the moon if I’d join a ‘computer union’, I’d spit in their face.

  • avatar

    If my information is correct, the first year the Prius was sold in the U.S., Toyota sold 5,600 of them. If you disregard the fact that the Volt started selling in December 2010, so you do what’s reasonable and count calendar 2011, that’s 7,621 units, or more than the 5,600 Prius units. It appears that Akerson was accurate in his statement. The author of this article needs to apologize! Can you imagine the outcry if Rush Limbaugh had made a statement like this, calling a someone a liar?? People would be calling for a boycott. Gloria Allred would be filing lawsuits.

    • 0 avatar

      The first year of the Prius was 1998 in Japan, the first year of the Volt was 2011 in the U.S. If Akerson meant something different, he should have said it.

      The first recorded sales U.S. month of the Prius was July 2000. Sales Prius U.S. July 2001 through June 2001: 12,968, data according to Automotive News.

      If someone has to apologize, then the apologists.

      • 0 avatar
        Jimal

        Bertel, you and this site have officially lost me with this dismissive attitude toward something that could have been so easily be clarified. Unless of course you didn’t want it clarified…

        Don’t worry; I’ll see my own way out.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        +1

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        Jimal, Interesting that you are assigning responsibility to someone who interpreted Akerson’s statement one way, but not the way you did. Shouldn’t you instead assign that responsibility to Akerson, who perhaps chose to communicate in the way he did?

        After all, this isn’t the first time GM miscommunicated something about their own products. “We paid back our loans. Early.” “230 mpg.” Those 2 are my favorites, although there were lots to choose from.

  • avatar

    There is something called “reasonable interpretation.” If I say that there are 7 million people in the world, most people would understand that I really meant to day 7 billion. If I say that yesterday it was raining cats and dogs, someone shouldn’t call me a liar because I fail to produce evidence of scores of dead cats and dogs covering the ground. It was obvious to any fair-minded person that what Akerson had in mind was not comparing the sales in a geography where the Volt is not sold, but rather in the relevant market where both models are sold. Take a chill-pill.

  • avatar
    bryanska

    “… free to pursue a life of religious fulfillment.”

  • avatar
    mike978

    Moving on from the sterile argument of did Akerson mean global or US sales of the Prius – arguments on both sides. I was taken by Bertel’s comments about the Japanese lack of sales for the Prius plug-in. If verfied by sales data (both in Japan and the US when available) then that tells us the consumers are not willing to spend >$30K on any plug-in regardless of make. Will be interesting to see how the Fusion and Accord fare since they will probably be above that price threshold when they come out in due course.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Perhaps the hard sell here is the advantage of the plug-in hybrid, which I will admit I don’t quite understand the point of plugging in when you have generating capacity on board. Perhaps the psychology of the power cord is coming into play?

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @jimal- Plug in cost of operation for Volt is 1/2 that of a 50mpg vehicle with $4 gas. Volt is first electric, which is the desirable operating mode, with the hybrid feature to extend range.
        In range extending mode, Volt only gets 40mpg on premium, much higher cost per mile than under plug in power.

    • 0 avatar
      Prado

      Yes, That’s the real story here. Plug in hybrids have little to no market acceptance. They just do not make economic sense. With the Prius, you can recoupe your costs in a few years and the more you drive every day the more you save. With Plug-ins the more you drive, the less you save.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @Prado- You have to drive a Prius over 80 miles a day to achieve lower operating costs than a Volt, assuming one full charge giving 35 miles and the rest extended range. If you can plug the Volt in during the day, you can get about 80 miles a day for half the cost of the best Prius with $4 gas. That represents a little more than $3 a day in savings, or $90/month. The Volt leases for $349/month. What does a Prius lease for? Besides the fuel cost advantage, Volt gets to 60 and through the quarter TWO SECONDS quicker than Toyota’s 2012 Prius plug in, and is nearly a second quicker 0-60 than 2012 Prius.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    B.S.
    B.S.
    B.S.
    B.S.

    But it does result in more page views-Good work.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    The Emperor Volt has no clothes; I’m surprised at how many people here applaud his new outfit.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    @jkross22- GM planned and did produce 10,000 2011 Volts. That compares with 8,600 2000MY Prius produced for the US in its first model year here, btw.
    It is now selling well against the closest competitor, Nissan Leaf here in America. I don’t know how many are even available for Europe yet, perhaps someone else knows sales number and government green incentives for such tech.
    I wasn’t all that thrilled with the Volt concept or production car until I drove one. It impressed me as a very nice car. What really sold me was actually looking at my own electric rate and learning that I could drive most of the time for my personal schedule on plug in power at a cost equivalent to roughly a 100 mpg car with $4 gas. As gas goes up the plug in cost advantage rises.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      >>@ GM planned and did produce 10,000 2011 Volts

      Except the problem is that they couldn’t sell 10,000. Produce all you want, but it’s sales that counts.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        You are right, as of last month they had only sold 9,623 of the 10,142 2011 MY Volts. They may well all gone by now.

        My only point is that Volt is intentionally low volume to start out. It may prove to be slow selling forever, but it is a little early in the game to tell. My local Chevy dealer has 3 of them now, hardly a glut at the retail outlet level.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        They did better than Nissan and the Leaf, which only hit 50% of the 2011 target.

      • 0 avatar

        In fairness to Nissan, Leaf production was constrained in 2011 as a result of the Japanese earthquake. The Leaf was not offered nationwide in the U.S. until early 2012. Likewise, though, the Volt wasn’t offered nationwide for most (or all?) of 2011 either. Production for Europe started allegedly only on February 6, 2012, so those deliveries are starting to happen right now, supposedly.

  • avatar
    PintoFan

    In all honesty, the shrillness and petty fact-dodging on the Volt by TTAC in general is starting to mirror the Saab hate campaign more than anything else.

    I wouldn’t have minded if you had questioned the accuracy of Akerson’s statement, by asking whether he was referring to U.S. or global sales; that’s completely fair. But simply calling him a liar without bothering to do due diligence is a blatantly obvious agenda-pumping maneuver.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      If by hate campaign you mean that TTAC said Saab’s days were numbered and they were, then it is about the same. It is the same in that you slander the messenger when you don’t like the message.

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        It didn’t bother me when TTAC said that Saab’s days were numbered. What bothered me was the incessant crapping on Saab fans for no particular reason, and the attempt to pick a fight with an enthusiast forum in order to gain pageviews. The comments fight that Bertel picked with the Saabsunited mod was both petty and churlish, and it exposed TTAC’s Saab obsession as little more than an ego trip for one angst-ridden man. It was an embarrassment to this site more than anything else- it completely undercut the stated purpose of this blog, which is to provide objective, no-BS reporting about cars. Purposefully distorting the record on the Volt does not accomplish that mission, and it only damages the credibility of the site in the long run.

        I will say though, when TTAC got that exclusive interview with Bob Lutz after the protracted campaign against Saab, it suddenly made a whole lot more sense.

      • 0 avatar
        EchoChamberJDM

        Saabs United is a shill for Victor Muller, he is trying to keep the hype alive so he can bleed the company dry. He collected over $15M in salary for running a company into the ground, they he allgedly tried to save. TTAC is doing everyone a favor by presenting the real story on Saab.

        Oh yeah, regarding the Volt vs Prius…how much did GM spend to launch Volt? My hunch is about 10x as much as Toyota spent on Prius when it launched in the US.

  • avatar
    TheHammer

    Typical MSRP of a Volt is in the mid $40,000 range. How could any car expect to be high volume at that price point? And of course BS spin will slant against Volt. What would anyone expect?

    • 0 avatar
      Volts On Fire

      The better question would be: how did GM ever expect the sales volume to be as high as it has repeatedly proclaimed? Had GM instead issued measured expectations from the start about the Volt, things would be different:

      “We think the Volt represents a significant leap forward in hybrid technology, and that it will provide clear benefits for those who typically limit their daily commute to 40 miles. While we feel these buyers will respond quite favorably to the Volt, and the federal government is offering a strong incentive for them to adopt this technology, the truth is no one knows yet how the market will respond, so we won’t forecast anticipated sales figures for the first full year of sales.”

      There. Was that so hard? But instead, we got “230 MPG!” and “10,000 sales!”

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @Volts On Fire- Well written. Isn’t that what GM did say?

        PaloAltoView- reports 314MPH Itreally all depends on how you want to count, and the 230 figure came from the initial government proposal.

        Volt’s first model year sales are 10,142. They are all shipped, sold from a GM perspective. No doubt GM would like to have had dealers sell all of them out before year end, but the statement is factual none the less.

      • 0 avatar

        The Volt’s theoretical maximum MPG is based on the fact that it needs to consume at least approximately 2 gallons per year — consider running it 5-15 minutes every 45 days, and it shouldn’t be more than 2 gallons, I think. Anyway, if you drive 12,000 miles per year, and your trips are short enough (35 miles on average) so you can charge between these stops, your maximim MPG will be 6,000. The fact that I get 314 is hardly a novelty. Many Volt owners are reporting well above 314, although I haven’t seen anyone yet that’s come close to hitting 6,000 MPG. I think the highest one I saw was somewhere close to 1,000 or 1,500 MPG.

  • avatar
    Juniper

    That’s OK all those prii in Japan were gov’t subsidized fleet sales anyway

    • 0 avatar
      Lokki

      Really? My brother-in-law in Japan just bought one a few months ago. I’ll have to tell him to go get his subsidy. Can I tell him to call you if he has any questions?

  • avatar
    John

    I’m not surprised Toyota has had trouble selling an expensive plug-in hybrid in the domestic market this year. Electricity at the plug has been an iffy thing on Honshu for the past year.

  • avatar
    Mark45

    If the Japanese market liked the Prius so much why did the sales drop for 4 years in a row after the first year?

    Copy and paste not working well.

    According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Prius

    Prius sales in Japan

    1998 17,700
    1999 15,200
    2000 12,500
    2001 11,000
    2002 6,000

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Where to begin. As others pointed out, and I’m no fan of Akerson, it is pretty obvious he meant US launch versus US launch.

    First, your example of energy costs strictly on the price per barrel of oil is disingenuous. If you’re trying to build an argument that Akerson lied because he was comparing a Japanese 1998 launch versus a US 2011 launch. Then lets be real about fuel costs. According to tradingeconomics.com, using World Bank historicals, the average pump price for gasoline was in non-inflation, adjusted to the US dollar, $1.02 per liter. That comes out to $3.86 a gallon (equivalent US gasoline price was $1.03 a gallon). The average pump price for US gasoline in 2011 was lower – $3.52 per gallon according to the US Energy Information Association.

    So, the Prius entered the market with a real consumer in the wallet higher price per gallon then the Volt did, not even factoring for inflation to have a more even comparison ($3.86 a gallon in 1998 hurts a lot more than $3.86 a gallon in 2011).

    The high price of gasoline in Japan, which when we adjust for inflation would be the equivalent of $5.33 US in 2011 dollars certainly helped the sales. But lets really call it for what it was. The Japanese government was handing out tax breaks that would make the most liberal politician blush.

    Full waiver of all sales taxes (higher in Japan). Plus additional incentives and rebates that put the Prius at a price of $16,000 US (in 1998 dollars) for consumers, and $15,000 US for business.

    According to EV World’s interview with Toyota’s Mark Amstock – despite all that largess – the Prius was 40% fleet in sales its first year. But wait, it gets worse. In the same September 29, 1999 interview with Mark Amstock of Toyota, the cost to build a 1998 Prius was estimated to be – $35,000 to $40,000 per unit. If we go with the lowest cost per unit of $35,000 and adjust to 2011 for inflation, that puts unit cost at $48, 299.79. Per Prius. Yet the selling price after incentives from the government was $16,000 (about $22,000 when we adjust for inflation). Never mind that the unit cost is more than a Volt even after adjusting for inflation.

    If we adjust the $3.86 price per gallon in Japan in 1998 to 2011 for a fair comparison launch to launch (since that is your argument), gasoline, adjusting for inflation, in Japan, was $5.33 a gallon, the Prius, after a pile of government handouts, was about $22,000, in inflation adjusted dollars and that is with no sales taxes (waived), and a whopping 40% of the units sold went to fleet.

    Sources for information listed through my post – inflation data collected from adjustforinflation.com using their online calculator. Because all dollars are US equivalent used the US inflation model.

    So now lets get back to reality.

    I’m quite sure that if gasoline was $5.33 a gallon average in 2011 in the United States, and the state governments were waiving all sales taxes, and the federal government was in cooperation with the states providing incentives to drop the cost of a Volt to $22,000 – I’m pretty sure the Volt would become a much easier sale (and for that matter do you think that Nissan would have struggled to sell 10K Leaves, lets not forget they cut their target in half).

    You tortured a quote and data points to build a strawman argument, at best, an unwarranted attack at worst.

    • 0 avatar
      galaxygreymx5

      Thank you for taking the time to put this together, APaGttH.

      This is the truth about Volt launch vs. Prius launch. It’s very obvious Akerson meant US vs. US launches.

      Bertel, you’re better than this and it’s frustrating because I very much enjoy reading most of your posts.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      @ APaGttH:

      C’mon man. You should realize that those pesky facts you presented will be completely ignored by the anti GM/anti Volt crowd here at TTAC.

      I mean, its completely different if Japan (or any other country) subsidizes their industry. But if the US gov’t does, its the end of the world. And especially if it is GM that is on the receiving end.

      GM could design, build, make a profit on a turbo diesel manual wagon Volt, that goes 100 miles on electric before the turbo diesel turns on, has the styling of a Maseratti Quattroporte, driving dynamics of 3 series bimmer, the performance of a Corvette, rides like an S Class Mercedes, an interior better than the best Audis, corolla reliability, and price-tag of $22,995 and still the anti GM crowd would find some sort of a fault with it, and GM.

      All that being said, it is preposterous to assume Akerson was comparing two separate markets, and especially one the Volt is not even on sale in….. But I guess that kind of logic gets in the way of sensationalism, and the need for clicks. But it is sort of fun (annoying after awhile) reading the anti GM peanut gallery getting their panties in a ruffle.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I think a comparison with the Corvette would have worked better.

    There had been sports cars for years, but this was the first real one from GM. The St. Louis plant in ’54 had a 10000 unit capacity but Chevy only sold about 3600 of them.

    Early year sales remained way below target, the Thunderbird showed up and promptly murdered the Chevy in sales, and the killing of the Corvette seemed certain.

    Instead GM went to work on the car. They made it better, increased its credibility, and today it’s one of the most well-known vehicles in the world.

    I’m sure if there were internet car forums in 1955, the Corvette would have been the topic of plenty of editorials and jokes.

    The US politics surrounding the Volt don’t match well with either the history Prius or Corvette though.

  • avatar
    ktm

    I see tha doctor olds takes from Akerson’s failure to clarify his statements. It must be a GM thing.

    I do not have a horse in this race regarding one vehicle or another; it just irks me when a supposed engineer can’t seem to do basic comparitive evaluations.

    The Chevrolet Volt went on sale in the US in mid-December 2010 and it had a full year for sales (January 2011 to December 2011). The first Prius went on sale in the US in July 2001, and therefore only had 6 months of sales for its first year.

    At the bare minium you could have extrapolated….as an “engineer” you should know that term….an additional 6 months of sales data based on the previous months. Or you could, you know, actually use a complete annual record as the basis of your statements.

    So, doctor olds, you seem to like facts…..how about actually stating some?

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    I am just defending against the allegation that Akerson lied. If you want to label it spin or ‘puffing’, I would not have as much of an argument. The term ‘lie’ is the offense. It all depends on how you frame the data. “Figures don’t lie, but liars can figure.”

  • avatar
    PaulVincent

    Comparing a full year first year sales the Volt had 49% of the Prius sales.

  • avatar
    JREwing

    Honestly, if GM would simply shut the **** up about sales figures and keep making improvements to the vehicle, we wouldn’t have this damn sideshow going on.

    The Volt is an impressive vehicle, and impressively flawed in some ways. But it’s not vaporware like a Fisker, the irrational choice that anything by Tesla is, or the “why bother” of GM’s mild-hybrid tech.

    GM needed to build this vehicle, whether or not they eventually turn a profit on it. They need to quit being the sophomore trying to prove they’re bigger than Toyota and merely execute.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    I have to agree with all the naysayers who cast doubts on Bertel’s excellent research by reinterpreting Akerson’s quote. How are we to know he wasn’t comparing Volt vs. Prius sales in Myanmar? Or Uganda? Or on February 29th of their second year?

    This just proves TTACs anti-GM bias all over again.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Oohh, oohh! Caption contest!

    ‘I am not a crook…’

  • avatar
    Junebug

    I thought I would be the last guy to ever, ever consider anything but a “normal” regular car, you know, none of that hybrid stuff for me. I currently own a 2008 GTI that has been very relieable, fun and gets 28-29 mpg. But, when I started thinking about moving to something bigger, more comfortable, something that runs on regular gas and oil filters don’t cost 15 bucks (that still gripes my arse) I looked at a Camry Hybrid. Ok, I can feel the rolling eyes, the OMG it’s boring, it’s not this,that whatever….Fine, when you pay for my ride, then you can dictate what I buy. But there comes a time whem middle age grabs you by the short hairs and those old ruptured dics start acting up too often, when a nice smooth ride is a treat. Maybe I’ve become my dad? nah – he was a Buick man!

    So why Toyota and not GM, really? You have to ask?

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Ttac has it’s crosshairs on the biggest and the best. Rightfully so they the easist to pick on. Not newsworthy blogs like this just highlight GM is not in the backseat to Asian manufacturers. Sales are there to back it up too.

  • avatar
    Constitution First

    Even though it’s smaller, the latest version of the Toyota Prius is under $20K, that’s $12.5K with the current incentive or $10K with the proposed $10K incentive. At that price, Chevy won’t be able to give volts away.

    That’s what happens when Øbummer buys union votes with taxpayer money to promote a bogus green energy policy most people disagree with. For example, how much money did he give Toyota? Not a dime, why? Toyota has no unions. Let the market decide, not unions, not greenies, not politicians, only the customer who pays the bills.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Prius C gets no incentives that I know of. The plug-in Prius doesn’t get all of the 7500 incentive (I think its 2,500). So what exactly are you referring to?

  • avatar
    Lokki

    I have to say that this is IMHO a tempest in a teapot. Bertel has indeed over-reacted to a throw-away remark by a CEO who probably heard the remark from someone at a meeting and seized on it as a talking point -without any actual detailed knowledge of the context of the remark beyond the raw numbers. If someone had called him on it on the spot, he’d have stumbled and turned to his staff. Anyone who has done staff work for one of these guys knows how that is. To lie requires intent to deceive. To misinform only requires ignorance. I used to just hold my breath and wait everytime my boss spoke in public. Unless he was throughly briefed (read trained and drilled) he might come out with any damned thing.

    I would tend to dismiss this as puffery, and frankly irrelevant. The circumstances of the two rollouts vary too much to be comparable, and even if they somehow were, what useful knowledge could you gleam from it? One might say that it shows that one or two years of saales data tell you nothing about the long term viability of a car in the marketplace. Some see sales grow from nothing (Corvette) and others see good initial sales vanish (Vega). Ain’t tellin’ till you roll those dice for a few more model years.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    This parsing stuff is fun and all, but it would be more helpful to address with the substance of Akerson’s comments.

    Akerson is saying that the Prius had a slow US launch. He’s right — it took years before the Prius ever hit the sort of volumes that would be considered to be mainstream for a compact car that lacks luxury branding.

    The substantive question to ask is whether this is a good comparison, i.e. whether the Volt will ever achieve the sort of sales volume in the US that the Prius eventually did.

    For a variety of reasons, I expect that the answer to this will prove to be “no”. But that’s going to be difficult to talk about if SOP is going to be to denounce Akerson as being sort of conniving liar, when perhaps he should be just taken to task for being unduly optimistic.


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