By on December 18, 2013

2013 Chevrolet Volt Exterior-002

Prior to stepping down as CEO of General Motors, Dan Akerson made a few mentions about an EV similar to the Volt that would possess a 200-mile range on a single charge with an on-board generator that could run on gas, diesel or natural gas. He also hoped the car would sell for around $30,000.

What wasn’t reported, however, was that Akerson wanted this car to be GM’s moon shot in order to surprise the competition, namely Tesla with their proposed $30,000 Model E, set to debut in showrooms as early as 2016. With the upcoming Cadillac ELR helping to bring more EVs to the road (along with the funds to develop the Volt Mk. II), GM could end up planting their flag next to the Chinese telescope left behind in the Bay of Rainbows. Only time will tell, and with 2016 approaching, there is little of it to waste.

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112 Comments on “Chevy’s Next Volt Shooting For 200-Mile Range, $30k Price Tag...”


  • avatar

    If they pull this of it WILL be groundbreaking. Imagine Tesla trying to keep up with GM while wasting money trying to own its own dealer network.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      What do you mean, “Tesla trying to keep up with GM”? Tesla already has a 200+ mile range and they’re already actively working on a $30K model. The former GM CEO specifically claimed he “hoped” the car would sell for about $30K. This sounds far more like GM is trying to catch up to Tesla.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        My reaction: 200 mile range, that all, would not get you very far in many places in Australia.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          The car doesn’t have to be for everyone.

          The existing Volt would work pretty well for my driving pattern, which is highly bimodal. I live in the American Midwest, and I either drive < 5 miles or about 500 miles. Being able to do my daily drive on electric is a big win.

          Alas, I haven't bought one due hitters about spending new-car money. Also, the Volt isn't ideal for hauling lots of young children around. But I keep having to talk myself out of getting one. :-)

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          With everyone pulling out of Australia because its small market doesn’t justify production there, I’m sure they aren’t terribly concerned that this car’s range doesn’t get you far across that contintent.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @redav,
            Toyota does build a Camry Hybrid here, it is Australian specific strangely.
            http://www.toyota.com.au/camry/specifications/hybrid-luxury
            No Hybrids and EV’s are very small beer here.

      • 0 avatar

        $30,000 model? Where did you get that info from cause this is the first I’ve ever heard of it.

        The Chevy Volt is unlimited range because of the gasoline generator. I doubt I’ll ever be in the market for an EV, but if I was, I’d prefer a VOLT to a Model S simply because of the easy refueling ability in a pinch where there are no sockets around.

        Thing is, I’d rather have a DIESEL or a DIESEL EV Hybrid.

        I just can’t be bothered with this EV stuff… Call me when they have a plug-in 4-door CTS.

    • 0 avatar
      cartunez

      If GM can pull this off it will be great. I like the current Volt just wish they had better color selection and about 4 more inches of leg room in the backseat. A combined 400+ mile range however they make it work would definitely ensure my dollar vote.

  • avatar

    Tesla is a $100K vehicle with a 200 mile range and a sparse dealer network. If GM was trying to keep up with Tesla Tesla would be the car company making a couple of billion each quarter instead of losing money.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Tesla IS a $65K vehicle with a 200 mile range–and who cares about dealer network? You get 300 mile range for that extra $25K and enhanced performance at the $100K mark.

      Tesla is also building cars as fast as they can–and they’re not exactly LOSING money.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Tesla has lost money every single quarter using generally accepted accounting practices, especially when it comes to selling cars. A good chunk of their money is made selling regulatory credits, which are basically a handout to them from a government who is playing favoratism with their products.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Tesla did post a profit during 1Q2013, on a GAAP basis. But that was largely the result of a one-time event that produced paper gains, as well as due to a reduction in R&D.

          Otherwise, the company has been producing red ink. The company is not profitable, despite what may be believed by some of those who post here.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      You can also get a $20k Chevy that can go as far as and get better mileage than a $100k Mercedes. You can find far more dealers selling them too.

      Sometimes it isn’t just about the price.

  • avatar
    mcs

    Hopefully Danny boy isn’t counting on the Envia battery…

    http://gigaom.com/2013/12/03/court-documents-reveal-doe-backed-envia-isnt-the-breakthrough-battery-startup-it-appeared/

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      There was an interesting comment in The Street about Akerson’s claim.

      http://www.thestreet.com/story/12155208/1/new-details-on-gms-coming-war-with-tesla.html?kval=dontmiss

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        TheStreet is thinking along the same lines I am.

        Where’s the breakthrough that makes this possible? It’s not just a question of the cost of the current battery, which will only slowly decline over time, it’s the bulk and mass of it as well. We need something radically different in battery chemistry.

        If there was some miracle battery that solves these problems coming along, which would perhaps be available at some reasonable cost in 2016-2018, it would already be on the market in applications which were less sensitive to cost (for the military and in any high-value compact electronic equipment, like an iPhone).

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          The trouble is that breakthroughs can’t be planned. Management seems to think you can put it on a timeline, but you really can’t.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            In this case, it sounds like a matter of overpromising and underdelivering.

            It won’t be possible to make it happen simply by shouting at the workers to get it done. The technology doesn’t exist now, nor will it exist within the specified timeframe.

          • 0 avatar
            Richard Chen

            Doesn’t sound good at all: http://qz.com/158373/envia-the-mysterious-story-of-the-battery-startup-that-promised-gm-a-200-mile-electric-car/

  • avatar

    Tesla is clearly losing money with a few profitable quarters due to energy credits and accounting gimmicks. To compare Tesla at 20K or so units a year to GM at 9 million unit sales in a year is like comparing a lit match to Haley’s comet. This doesn’t mean Tesla is doomed to fail. It means you should keep your feet on the ground and maintain some perspective.

    GM is also building vehicles as fast as they can all over the world. GM,Toyota, Ford, or VW will build more vehicles in a day than Tesla builds in a year. That’s the reality. If Tesla hopes to get there they have a long way to go.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      So you’re now comparing a relative start-up that’s only about 5 years old to a 100-year-old megacorp.

      Consider this: Elon Musk is significantly richer than any previous GM executive AND has brought more new technology into this world than General Motors did during the same time period.

      Your comparison is like comparing Microsoft to Apple: one has a huge market, with cheap products; the other has a small market, but market-defining products.

      At the moment, Tesla simply can’t build more than 20K or so vehicles in a year–they’re selling them as fast as they can make them. They’re not stockpiling them in dealer lots the way GM does. Meanwhile, despite having a HUGE dealer network, GM has only sold maybe 100K or so Volts since its introduction–if that many. That really doesn’t say much for a car that cost billions in R&D.

      • 0 avatar

        RE: “Your comparison is like comparing Microsoft to Apple:”

        Actually, comparing Tesla and GM has NOTHING in common with a MS and Apple comparison. BOTH Apple and MS are consistently profitable. So is GM. Tesla? Not so much.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      As far as I understand, Tesla has not had an actual profitable quarter. The difference in whether or not they turned a profit last Q2 seems to be whether they count the entire sum of the payments of the cars they leased as income or not. Apparently generally accepted accounting practices don’t typically count lease revenues this way.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        If an auto company or dealership didn’t make money off of a lease, they simply wouldn’t do it. Even lease income is money coming in, after all.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Tesla is producing losses. This is a matter of record in the financial statements, easily found in various places online.

          For Tesla, the leases are a crap shoot because it was necessary to guarantee the residuals in order to secure the leasing program. If the residuals fail to match the projections, then the company is going to have some serious problems when the lessees return their cars.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            If I remember correctly, Musk guaranteed the “lease” residuals against his personal finances. I think it was being marketed as a lease, but it was really a finance + guaranteed buyback program.

            No banker would take the risk, but he was willing to take the risk. I’m sure he stacked the deck every way he could, but it’s off the company books.

            He may win or lose that bet, but I wouldn’t play poker with that guy. I don’t want to take a side on whether that bet is going to work out, but let’s just say he’s far from risk averse.

            A $30k car with a 200 mile electric range is appealing. I bet GM and Tesla are looking at the same predictions. This kind of competition means I win!

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            If the residuals prove to be a problem, then the lessors will inclined to bail out due to the risk, irrespective of the guaranties. And Tesla can’t afford to lose the customer base that wants to lease.

      • 0 avatar
        Onus

        A lease shouldn’t count the entire sum of the payments. Heck the payments are in the future and putting them all at one time is over estimating there income.

        Though the car would count as an asset on their books since they own leased cars. I would think the asset value would be reduced as payments came in.

        Mind you i don’t know much about leasing when it comes to accounting.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          In Tesla’s case, it isn’t actually a lease, but a loan/ repurchase program that is structured to resemble a lease. The owner makes payments, but then gets to walk away from the car after three years with the residual value guaranteed.

          So in 2016, Tesla is going to start getting cars coming back, and it will need to resell those cars. If the resale value is less than what is owed to Wells Fargo or US Bank, then that difference will become Tesla’s problem.

          • 0 avatar

            I think you will find that in states where the sales tax is on the monthly lease payment, it IS a lease and in states where the tax is on the difference, it is a “balloon.”

          • 0 avatar

            The big reason for the lease is to achieve a reasonable monthly payment. The impact of capital reduction on a short term lease is much greater on a lease than on a conventional retail finance contract. AND the available incentives are capital reductions. For example, a VOLT for $40K isn’t so attractive, but a VOLT for $299./mo is. Chevrolet has done a really crappy job of marketing the VOLT. The lease payment on it is quite compelling. If one takes the $299./mo. and subtracts the gasoline cost they won’t be spending, the VOLT lease payment quite cheap. The VOLT lease also capitalizes on the unique impact of cap cost reduction on a lease.

          • 0 avatar

            Elon Musk’s residual value guarantee is another method of forcing sales. Instead of providing an up front rebate, which looks like paying customers to take his cars off his hands, he provides the enhanced residual to lower the monthly payment. AND when the vehicle doesn’t resale equal to the residual, Tesla has to cough up the difference to the lease lender. That is seen as better than offering up front rebates BUT it is, in fact, essentially the same thing. IF anyone reasonably thought the Model S was going to be worth the amount pegged, Musk wouldn’t have to personally guarantee the amounts. He would simply buy residual value insurance.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      You’re pretty good with the straw men.

      Tesla isn’t ‘trying to get there’, ie, to be like GM. They’re just trying to make interesting EVs while becoming profitable doing so.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        They’re trying to change the world, too.

        I get the sense from watching Musk that he’s trying to gamble his fortune on changing the world in such a way that he uses it up about the time he retires.

        In other words, he’s a crazy mofo with an agenda, a fortune, and a negative personal IRR.

        I’ll get my popcorn. This is gonna be entertaining!

  • avatar

    Who cares about a dealer network? Any automotive OEM hoping to do enough volume to become mass market and achieve economy of scale.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      >> Who cares about a dealer network?
      Exactly. The goal may be to eventually sell to a larger OEM. It should be a bit easier without a dealer network to complicate the deal.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Tesla seems to be doing fairly well at that, for being such a small company.

      By the way, how about hitting the “Reply” button on the right, rather than the one at the bottom? It ensures we’re maintaining a direct conversation rather than scattering it all over the forum.

  • avatar

    RE: “The goal may be to eventually sell to a larger OEM. It should be a bit easier without a dealer network to complicate the deal.”

    I don’t see how having a franchise dealer network would complicate any deal to sell Tesla out to a larger OEM. I do think it is more likely, if Tesla can stay viable, for them to sell out their factory owned sales points to franchise operators. At some point they could need the cash. There isn’t any way any of the truly large OEMs would consider buying out their dealer networks even if they could. It is simply not possible to compete on a global scale while owning your own sales outlets. The capital numbers aren’t even comprehensible.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      The same was said about Apple and their computer products. Apple stores now net more income per square foot than any other ‘brick-and-mortar’ store. You simply cannot use what has gone before as an absolute. True, it is POSSIBLE that Tesla will eventually revert to ‘conventional’ methods, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

  • avatar

    RE: “So you’re now comparing a relative start-up that’s only about 5 years old to a 100-year-old megacorp.”

    YES, that’s exactly what I’m doing, although GM is actually on a few years old and Tesla IS a start up.

    RE: “Consider this: Elon Musk is significantly richer than any previous GM executive AND has brought more new technology into this world than General Motors did during the same time period.”

    WTF does that have to do with anything? GM execs are employees. Musk is an entrepreneur.

    RE: “At the moment, Tesla simply can’t build more than 20K or so vehicles in a year–they’re selling them as fast as they can make them.”

    And when they become a big boy car company, you can take a victory lap. Until then, like you say, they are a start up playing catch up to the big boys. Tesla is trying to employ new technology to become a viable car company. The others are already viable car companies phasing in new technology. There’s a big difference. We’ll call Tesla a “success” after they accomplish a lot more than they have.

    They’re not stockpiling them in dealer lots the way GM does. Meanwhile, despite having a HUGE dealer network, GM has only sold maybe 100K or so Volts since its introduction–if that many. That really doesn’t say much for a car that cost billions in R&D.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      The “big difference” is that the Big Boys rely on conventional auto sales and are literally developing EVs due to Federal mandate. Tesla isn’t even trying to build a conventional car where it would be in direct competition with them. Rather, the others are suddenly having to try and catch up to Tesla’s already-demonstrated capabilities in order to remain viable when they’re forced to make more zero-emissions vehicles. We already have one state in this nation where they mandate a minimum percentage of vehicles sold by any given brand must be ZE; or pay a fine. Tesla is 100% Zero Emissions.

      General Motors as a corporation started back around 1930 or so (I could look up the exact year, but don’t feel like it.). Tesla as a corporation started back in ’05. That gives GM a 70-year head start and Chevrolet as a brand is over 100 years old. GM has effectively 100 years of inertia carrying them on–though with their abandonment of two of their legacy brands they’ve lost a lot of that momentum. Meanwhile, it appears Tesla sells almost as many Model S cars as Chevy sells Volts in any one year. As I understand it, the Volt has now been on the open market for 3 years and has only JUST approached 65,000 sales. The Model S sold 20,000 in just its first year. Tesla’s doing well enough that they’re introducing a second model within a year and a third less than two years later with already plans for a fourth, different model by ’20. If the company were failing, they’d be struggling just to hold onto what they already have, much less working on expanding both production and infrastructure.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        ” Tesla is 100% Zero Emissions”

        Yes, and I hear that they only use electricity to recharge that has exclusively been generated at power stations fueled by pixie dust and rose petals, with zero emissions as well. Gotta love Musk.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          Quite a few EV owners also install solar panels. There’s a photo gallery of Rav4-EV owners (somewhere – can’t find the link) and about half had their SPV panels in the picture. Some pictures didn’t feature enough of the house to see the roof and it’s likely some of those people had SPV.

          Now, they use the grid to time-shift their electricity, so to speak, but the net effect is they generally produce enough electricity to fuel their cars.

          Around here, it’s possible to contract for “100% wind power.” When it’s not windy, you get something else but they use your money to install more wind generation, so the net effect is more renewables. Perfect? No. Fewer GHGs, net? Yes.

          • 0 avatar

            Here in LV many new houses are built with solar panels on the roof and an EV charge station in the garage. When producing more electricity than using, the meter runs backwards. These houses generally buy no power from the grid and, in fact, generate credits. This makes a lot of sense to me.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          @wmba,

          Fueling an electric car in a coal-fired part.of the country has roughly the same CO2 emissions as a Prius. Not bad.

          But an EV is also agnostic about the source of energy. It trades two nearly impossible geopolitical energy problems for one nearly impossible geopolitical energy problem. That’s a win, in my book. Also, I’d never driven a conventional car that can run on nuclear power until I drove the Leaf…. :-)

        • 0 avatar

          Good one! :) But solar panels in sunny climes do make Tesla “Zero Emissions.”

          I still have my doubts about batteries in cold climates just as I have doubts about diesel in the same.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          It is accurate to say that EVs are zero emissions.

          But it would be a mistake to confuse “zero emissions” with “non polluting.” EVs are cleaner than regular vehicles, but no manufactured good that uses energy can be completely clean. Some EV fans seem to be willing or able to acknowledge that.

      • 0 avatar

        RE: “If the company were failing, they’d be struggling just to hold onto what they already have, much less working on expanding both production and infrastructure.”

        Never said Tesla is failing. But until they actual start making consistent profits they are money losers, regardless of some anecdotal “successes.” Its the “start up” that’s chasing viable car companies. If Tesla becomes viable, we’ll all know it. You won’t have to try to make obtuse claims to prove it.

  • avatar

    Regarding lease revenues: Tesla sells a vehicle to the bank who leases it directly to the lessee, so Tesla’s profit is booked at time of sale. The accounting for the lease is the bank’s responsibility. HOWEVER, since Tesla is guaranteeing the residual for the leases, they should most likely reserve a LARGE amount for potential lease end loss. HOWEVER they might not do that if they think showing profits will bolster their stock value. They aren’t yet in a profit position to employ tax deferral strategies like a big boy car company.

  • avatar

    RE: The Reply button on this blog – It is REALLY a pain in the ass to have to scroll through scores of posts looking for the specific one to reply to. There is so much junk and gratuitous advertising and graphics the site is really slow to respond even on a PC with 8 gig of RAM AND a high zoot video card. Other blogs allow you to respond directly from the email. Frankly, that’s where I spend the majority of my time. The TTAC site is severely limiting. Maybe they’ll figure it out.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Too bad. This is the last time I respond directly to each separate comment of yours. If you comment on one of MY replies, I will respond in MY thread where the conversation belongs.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      >> There is so much junk and gratuitous advertising and graphics the site is really slow to respond even on a PC with 8 gig of RAM AND a high zoot video card

      I just took some times with a stopwatch and it takes me about 6 seconds to load the site completely (ads running) and less than 12 seconds to load this post up and scroll to the bottom. This is on an ancient Intel® Core™2 Duo CPU T9600 2.8 gHz and a craptastic Intel® GM45 Express graphics chipset with only 4 gig of memory. It’s a 6 year old laptop I use for web surfing.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      That’s actually sounds like a nice piece of hardware, however Windows Vista and its successors use up too much memory (as do many browsers anymore). My new Precision (Core i7 Quad/16gb DDR3) using a tuned image is idling at 2.8GB, subtract the 600MB Firefox version 4,567 chews up in 80 tabs that’s still 2.2GB for Windows 7, its peripheral programs, SSMS (226MB), and Outlook (78MB). Windows XP Gold (the original version) required 128MB RAM to boot and could chug along reasonably well with about 256MB, 512MB was perfect. While the two systems are apples and oranges, MS would have been wise to aim for basic capacity of 512MB at most (as opposed to the 1GB I believe is recommended). If you want your hardware to fly, a Linux distro is worth a look.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      “RE: The Reply button on this blog – It is REALLY a pain in the ass to have to scroll through scores of posts looking for the specific one to reply to.”

      Lame. Almost all the rest of us manage it.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      ruggles, from Dec 18th @ 8:36 am – - –

      Here is a suggestion that may help you:

      1) Even though the most recent replies are placed lower down in order on the “response tree”, you can ameliorate the addressing problem by using the handle of the person you want to address;

      2) In addition, if multiple exchanges have already occurred with some people in common, then use BOTH their handle and the date/time “stamp” to further identify your addressee. See example to you in the header above.

      —————–

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks. Some days I’m working multiple blogs, including my own. Linked in is set up much better for my kind of blog day and I lose patience with the bulky and clunky nature of this site even though the subject matter is something I’m interested in.

        • 0 avatar
          NMGOM

          Hi again ruggles, Dec19th, 10:49 am – -

          Well, please hang in there and continue your contributions here. I’m sure I am not alone in appreciating your input.

          I have complained to TTAC about two things in particular:
          1) Wrap-around problems with lower-level responses;
          2) Not being able to include “.jpg” or “.pdf” attachments.

          I’m sure our colleagues on the site here could come up with other complaints as well, but, for the most part, things are fairly robust and have been reliable…

          ————-

  • avatar

    RE: “Otherwise, the company has been producing red ink. The company is not profitable, despite what may be believed by some of those of post here.”

    So true. But I’m still rooting for them. I’m just keeping my feet on the ground as I’ve seen a host of auto industry start ups fail over the decades. Despite the fact that GM brought the first plug in hybrid to market, Tesla has more to fear from Toyota IMHO. But since Toyota is an investor in Tesla, it might keep Toyota from producing competitive vehicles that could under price Tesla and cause them a lot of damage in the marketplace. We’ll see how it all develops.

    • 0 avatar
      BigOlds

      I’d be willing to bet that if Tesla really takes off, Toyota will end up with a controlling stake or even outright ownership. It’s a typical play when a big company wants access to something that may take off (in this case, electrics) but doesn’t want to go all-in early on.

      If that’s Toyota’s strategy, then it won’t make sense for them to develop products in direct competition to Tesla’s.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I like Tesla. But I’m just a bit worried that once one of the big boys decides it’s profitable to play at Tesla’s game, Tesla will get wiped off of the market. I think, once Tesla eventually ends up having products with which to directly compete, it needs to establish itself in consumers’ minds as the go-to company for electric vehicles. “Oh, sure…you can go buy an electric Chevy or Nissan, but remember: we’re the experts.” Even if that isn’t necessarily true, a campaign like that may go a long way. Plus, Tesla has an advantage in that a lot of people are disgusted with the stigma of Detroit cars in general, and will avoid them like a plague. An American car that’s built in California, though, is a solution for them. Tesla has another advantage in that other automakers are so huge, it’s difficult for them to move quickly (like trying to do a U-turn in the Titanic), whereas Tesla is lean and fast.

    Of course, Tesla needs some way to support those customers, or at least sell them cars in their home states. I know I’d travel to another state far away just to purchase a car, but not everyone would…

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “I’m just a bit worried that once one of the big boys decides it’s profitable to play at Tesla’s game, Tesla will get wiped off of the market.”

      I wouldn’t worry too much. It hasn’t been profitable so far, and automakers have been wary of EVs because they don’t have much profit potential.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Tesla is expanding; they have service centers in many states–though admittedly not all. They also deliver to your door, not something the other brands do readily. They also bring service right to your door, which is not something any of the other brands do–period. Granted, this is likely to change over time, but for now they offer a very exclusive service.

      Tesla is moving fast for a startup; faster even than Saturn when GM decided to experiment with ‘something different’. GM should have kept Saturn–their owners are some of the most loyal on the road. Their cars EARNED that loyalty.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        “GM should have kept Saturn–their owners are some of the most loyal on the road. Their cars EARNED that loyalty.”

        Not to mention that their dealerships were some of the highest-rated in the nation, even besting certain foreign luxury brands…

      • 0 avatar

        There was a time when DeLorean was expanding. Same with Qvale Mangusta and host of others. You’ve provided their service brochure. Nice job. 20K per year. Chevrolet – 5 million per year. Tesla, not profitable. Chevrolet, yes.

        RE: “Tesla is moving fast for a startup; faster even than Saturn when GM decided to experiment with ‘something different.

        Not even close

        RE: “GM should have kept Saturn–their owners are some of the most loyal on the road.”

        Both of them?

        RE: “Their cars EARNED that loyalty.”

        The cars had raspy engines and rated poorly in all objective studies. Their resale was truly unexceptional. The best Saturns were the Sky and the Aura. Tesla is what it is, a start up trying to keep pace with the established brands. When Tesla is established, we’ll all know it. They have a LONG way to go but feel free to buy their stock.

  • avatar

    RE: “Plus, Tesla has an advantage in that a lot of people are disgusted with the stigma of Detroit cars in general, and will avoid them like a plague.”

    Actually, “Detroit cars” are doing quite well, but its the transplants Tesla needs to worry about.

    RE: “An American car that’s built in California, though, is a solution for them. Tesla has another advantage in that other automakers are so huge, it’s difficult for them to move quickly (like trying to do a U-turn in the Titanic), whereas Tesla is lean and fast.”

    Its an advantage in some cases, and a disadvantage in others. All things equal, an auto OEM would like to have a fortress balance sheet, a substantial dealer network of profitable dealers, substantial ongoing sales to achieve economy of scale, and ongoing profits and positive cash flow.

  • avatar

    RE: “I wouldn’t worry too much. It hasn’t been profitable so far, and automakers have been wary of EVs because they don’t have much profit potential.”

    YES, but the auto OEMs need EVs, Hybrids, and whatever else they can use to increase their CAFE OR they face monetary penalties. They also fear being left at the train station after the train has already left. Playing catch up is tough. We now see Subaru coming to market with a new hybrid. Yet, the VOLT languishes even though it makes more sense than any straight EV. Its lease price is quite low and throwing in the fact one doesn’t need to refuel the ICE much in normal use, its current failure is a mystery to me. I suspect plug in hybrids of the next generation will be much more successful.

  • avatar

    http://wardsauto.com/vehicle-test-drives/xv-crosstrek-impressive-hybrid-entrance-subaru?NL=WAW-04&Issue=WAW-04_20131218_WAW-04_180&YM_RID=ruggles%40msn.com&YM_MID=1439889&sfvc4enews=42&cl=article_5

    Subaru’s new XV CrossTrek

  • avatar

    RE: “If an auto company or dealership didn’t make money off of a lease, they simply wouldn’t do it. Even lease income is money coming in, after all.”

    The lease income goes to the lessor, which is NOT the OEM. The OEM makes its money selling the vehicle to the dealer, who makes the profit selling the vehicle to the lessor (bank).

    In Tesla’s case, they make their money selling to Wells Forgo, or whomever. Wells makes the money on the lease. Tesla guarantees the residuals, which is a liability.

    • 0 avatar

      RE: “The same was said about Apple and their computer products. Apple stores now net more income per square foot than any other ‘brick-and-mortar’ store.”

      I suggest you wait until that happens with Tesla before taking a victory lap.

      RE: “You simply cannot use what has gone before as an absolute.”

      You simply cannot use what you hope will happen as an absolute.

      RE: “True, it is POSSIBLE that Tesla will eventually revert to ‘conventional’ methods, but I’ll believe it when I see it.”

      I suggest you reserve judgment until things actually play out.

      • 0 avatar

        RE: “A lease shouldn’t count the entire sum of the payments. Heck the payments are in the future and putting them all at one time is over estimating there income.”

        That’s why the profit on the car sale from the OEM or dealer to the lender is booked as profit…. because it is. But the lease is booked by the bank. The title is in their name and they get the depreciation. In the case of Tesla, you have a fledgling company guaranteeing the residuals. I’d like to see those bank agreements as I’m sure Wells Fargo is in a senior position in the worst case scenario. This is the kind of risky business Tesla has had to engage in to keep its volume rolling. A conventional OEM is a different scenario. A lessor can buy actual insurance for those residuals. ALG doesn’t insure residuals, in case someone wants to know. There aren’t many insurance companies that do. Its possible the Tesla residual is partially insured, but certainly NOT the whole thing.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    So, it’s not unlike a BMW i3 w/range extender, but made of steel, double the battery range, but at 30% off. While I’m dreaming, it has a rear bench seat, right?

    Uh, okay. Wake me up when it happens.

  • avatar

    RE: “General Motors as a corporation started back around 1930 or so (I could look up the exact year, but don’t feel like it.””

    As a matter of record, the GM that was created “back in the day” is now referred to as “old corp.” The new GM bought many of the assets of the old GM INCLUDING name and some of the brand names. It is a completely new corporation as of 2009. I think Tesla is older than that as a corporation.

    If your point is that legacy car companies have been around for a while, that is well known by all. Is there another point that is salient?

    I repeat, take the victory lap AFTER Tesla has become a major player. 20K units per year and hopes and expectations by true believers does not make a real car company. 20K units a year is a pimple on the ass of an elephant.

  • avatar

    RE: “Meanwhile, it appears Tesla sells almost as many Model S cars as Chevy sells Volts in any one year.”

    Which proves Tesla has sold more cars than the slowest selling brand at GM. It also proves that GM is diversified while Tesla is relying on EVs only. 20K a year is all one needs to know. They have a LONG way to go.

  • avatar

    RE: “Tesla’s doing well enough that they’re introducing a second model within a year and a third less than two years later with already plans for a fourth, different model by ’20. If the company were failing, they’d be struggling just to hold onto what they already have, much less working on expanding both production and infrastructure.”

    Tesla’s doing well enough to have survived and make money in a quarter or two. Call it was it is, not what you hope it will be.

    Newt Gingrich has a plan to colonize the moon. You can’t write checks or pay dividends on big plans.

  • avatar

    RE: GM plans –

    http://www.newspressusa.com/public/ViewPressRelease.aspx?pr=38499&pr_ref=3840

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      ruggles – - – -

      My, my. You certainly have been active here on this topic. Good for you. I enjoy the passion.

      But when anybody’s EV can give us at least a 400-mile range (like a decent automobile); a 5-minute recharging time; a nice engine sound; a 12-year service life without deterioration; and a $25,000 price tag, let me know. Otherwise, this technology is just for drippy-eyed liberals who spend their unhappy lives hugging trees…

      —————

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Why would GM add a generator to a 200-mile EV? Not gonna happen, especially for $30k.

    Incidentally, my Leaf has driven 11k EV miles without a generator. I have ICEs for other stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      BMW charges $4K for their range extender, a 2 cylinder engine + 2 gallon fuel tank. For a long road trip, another vehicle makes a lot more sense and IIRC BMW will loan you that vehicle.

  • avatar

    RE: “The “big difference” is that the Big Boys rely on conventional auto sales and are literally developing EVs due to Federal mandate.”

    The big difference is that the Big Boys are able to rely on technology that people buy in HUGE numbers while using those profits to develop EVs while Tesla has to start from scratch and hope their technology is adopted and not trumped by a Big Boy’s new technology. Tesla has done some imaginative things, beginning with the laptop batteries in the floorboard. Its anyone’s guess if they can continue to stay ahead of the curve…. the key word being “guess.” In the meantime, the Big Boys are generating profits and cash flow while Tesla is depending on stock sales more than vehicle sales for capital for ongoing product development. You decide which is better.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Bottom line: If GM and Tesla provided nearly identical products to the market for the same price, which would most buyers choose?

    I’d wager 10:1 or greater would choose GM, maybe more — mainly due to the dealer network, but also due to trust and “going concern” issues about where the company will be in a decade. If accurate, that would also mean that GM could easily outsell Tesla even with a more expensive product. Like it or not, GM probably isn’t going anywhere (Barra-ing a major catastrophe).

  • avatar

    RE:”GM should have kept Saturn–their owners are some of the most loyal on the road. Their cars EARNED that loyalty.”

    Not to mention that their dealerships were some of the highest-rated in the nation, even besting certain foreign luxury brands…”

    This goes to show that loyalty to a product that loses money is still a loser. The Saturn dealerships were profitable in the beginning because the cars were priced well under market. As time passed, the profitable Saturn dealers weren’t profitable because of the new Saturns. The had to become savvy used vehicle operators to survive. What GM should have kept was the Saturn brand but stocked with exciting and ever new vehicles. What they had was a dealer network where pricing margin could be controlled. It seems consumers LIKE price fixing, which Saturn could do legally because of the way they granted franchises. No more.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      The concept of Saturn was dead in 2002 when it became generic GM and effectively replaced Oldsmobile in the hierarchy. Now could GM have used the unique way the dealerships were set up to move generic GM products at a set price as you alluded too? I suppose, but if you could get a Vue for a set price of X, why would you visit the competing the Chevy/Pontiac dealership for the equivalent and go through the normal rig-amoral?

      • 0 avatar

        RE: “Now could GM have used the unique way the dealerships were set up to move generic GM products at a set price as you alluded too? I suppose, but if you could get a Vue for a set price of X, why would you visit the competing the Chevy/Pontiac dealership for the equivalent and go through the normal rig-amoral?”

        Why visit a competitive VUE dealership? For the chance to get a better deal. Most people jump at the opportunity. Those who have the experience of dealing with real customers in a negotiating environment are the ones who best understand consumer behaviour. If you only know the auto business from a consumer perspective I suggest you try the opposite for a while. It will completely change your perspective.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I don’t understand the new car business very well, but if you ran a Chevrolet or a BPG dealer and the Saturn dealer down the road was selling the same product as you with a set price, how would you feel as that general manager? I imagine such a subject was debated inside of RenCen when they were quietly killing Saturn in 2002, as they elected to drop the set pricing as you pointed out instead of keeping the previous pricing scheme in place.

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    No wonder he said that while stepping DOWN. I drive a Volt. I know what it can and can’t do. Unless the current state of technology OR the laws of physics change Dan would have to chose 2 out of 3:

    1) 200-mile range
    2) on-board generator @ gas, diesel or natural gas
    3) sell for around $30,000

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    When the Volt was first announced, it was supposed to have an ICE just to charge the battery when it got too weak so it would still be able to power the electric motor, then it was announced that the ICE would be driving the wheels when the battery to too weak, this surely increased the cost of building and selling the car I’m sure.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Probably not much. If you had a serial EV, you’d have two electric units, one motor and one generator. This setup wraps the two into the ECV, which Toyota can squeeze into the manufacturing cost for a $19K car. GM may have an additional clutch or something but, still, it shouldn’t be a huge burden.

      The loss from serial EV (mechanical to electrical to mechanical) puts a big hit on fuel economy, so mechanically linked drive can be worth it.

      • 0 avatar
        galaxygreymx5

        Can be worth it, but Honda just showed that a primarily serial setup in the Accord Hybrid is extremely efficient and provides EPA City ratings that make the Volt’s system blush.

        Honda has what is essentially a Volt drivetrain minus the big battery and a single mode where the engine can clutch to the drive wheels for steady cruising. Simpler, presumably cheaper, excellent efficiency. GM’s setup was working with what they had on the shelf (2Mode).

  • avatar
    galaxygreymx5

    I don’t think this Akerson dream machine is as far-off as everyone thinks.

    The Volt’s battery chemistry was locked in as of 2009. The EV honchos (Musk, Ghosn, et al) have made it pretty clear that energy density is increasing at about 5-7% per year. Presumably the chemistry that LG submitted to GM in the running for the Volt was tried and true given the relative lack of interest in EV battery development in 2007, when the Volt idea was born. So let’s pick 2007 as the year that LG had finalized the chemistry for the Volt’s pack.

    This gives us six years that have passed with more money thrown at Li-ion EV battery development than ever, probably exponentially so every year. We also have more data from 150,000 plug-in cars now on the road in the US actually using these things (ask Nissan about Arizona…).

    So at a 5% improvement in energy density for a price point every year, we should have about 35% more energy density for a dollar value in batteries approved today for production in 2016 than we do in current-generation EVs. Based on this assumption, the Volt’s exact battery size and weight would stay the same while energy storage would increase from 16.5 kWh to 22.3 kWh.

    Furthermore, even Volts with high mileage (highest recorded on Voltstats.net right now is about 120,000) have virtually no degradation in usable battery capacity. GM only allowed about 10.2 kWh out of 16.5 kWh to be used initially to ensure longevity (along with a robust thermal management system). They’ve opened up that window twice, once for the 2013 model (10.9 kWh usable) and the ELR (11.9 kWh usable) as they’ve seen how well the packs are holding up.

    So ignoring everything else about the Volt, let’s say our new hypothetical 2013 chemistry allows 18 kWh usable out of 22.3 kWh total capacity. This would allow 65 miles of EPA range in the existing car.

    Of course the new Delta platform is coming out, designed from scratch to be fitted with Volt bits instead of the current car where they’re all shoehorned in. It’s not unrealistic to think that:

    1) The car will be substantially lighter than the current porker.
    2) The car will have more appropriate accommodations for battery placement and size. Multiple pack-size options, pancake instead of T-shaped, etc..
    3) The car will support various methods of improving EV usage out of the box (DC quick charging, properly-integrated onboard charging [the current unit is stuffed behind the bumper cover], support for a heat pump, etc.).

    Then keep in mind that the Volt was a bit of a kludge design in 2007 using off-the-shelf stuff wherever possible due to financial constraints. The power split device/transaxle is essentially a modified GM Two-Mode hybrid unit. The engine is a de-turboed 1.4L iron-block from the Cruze. The main drive motor was a Japanese unit. This kind of stuff goes on and on.

    Increased battery energy density, new packaging options, lower curb weight, the Spark EV’s highly efficient in-house drive motor, Opel’s little aluminum 3 cyl engine, true serial drive configuration, a heat pump, and numerous other improvements certainly mean a 100 mile EV range Volt with better extended-range MPG are not anywhere near “moonshot” status. This is all possible at a palatable price for the next generation car.

    A 200 mile EV with a tiny optional range extender (like the i3) certainly isn’t unfathomable either. If Barra pulls the trigger, this is totally doable.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      “Presumably the chemistry that LG submitted to GM in the running for the Volt was tried and true given the relative lack of interest in EV battery development in 2007,”

      Bzzzt. Battery development has been intense for decades. EVs are only one application for batteries. Cell phones, laptops, tablets, gazillions of devices are all looking for more stored energy, more charge cycles, lower cost, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        galaxygreymx5

        Of course, but large-format prismatic cells with automotive-grade tolerances are kind of a new thing here.

        Consumer electronics cells need to put out very low specific power and have to last about three years, while being in pretty predictable temperature ranges. They can shut off for thermal reasons and not kill their users. They don’t have to be t-boned by a drunk soccer mom in an Expedition. They don’t need to accept 3C bursts of regenerative power dozens of times per day.

        Automotive-grade anything is a different world, just like aircraft-grade. Big money towards developing 150,000 mile, crashworthy, temperature-managed, large-format EV batteries is a very new phenomenon.

        I’d wager that big improvements in automotive-specific targets have been made since chemistry for the Leaf and Volt packs was frozen in 2007-2009.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          Define “big,” timeframe for the delivery in a production EV and then we’ll talk stakes. Batteries haven’t moved that far ahead. If they had anything that’s going to be in a vehicle in 2016/2017 is going to be out there already in a cost-insensitive, demand-intensive application.

          The batteries on all the charts I’ve seen are incremental improvements over what is svailable today and many of them don’t have mass manufacturing processes, yet. You are not going to be surprised by anything available in the next few years. And that is not good enough to make the Akerson-mobile a reality.

          Of course, if the Volt 2.0 that Akerson’s talking about is going to be the 2016 equivalent of the ’07 Volt concept, then, yeah, he can do it. Put a swoopy body out there, run a couple of starter motors off 12V lead-acid batteries so the thing can move under it’s own power, put up a sign that says, “200 miles! Range Extender! 50MPG! Nicely under $30K!” and job done. Gee, almost exactly like the ’07 Volt concept. Except more EV range.

          Then, in 2020 or so, GM can again impress the world by underdelivering.

          Further, as Carlson Fan points out, below, the car Akerson proposes doesn’t even make sense. If it’s going to have a range-extender, why does it need 200 miles of EV range? That was the genius of the Volt… drive electrically MOST of the time. The implementation and cost leave much to be desired but the idea is a good one.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          I found an example applicaiton where better battery chemistry would be in use today, aside from the military: RC helicopters. They’re expensive, anyway, so an expensive battery wouldn’t be a deterrent. They use Li-ions.

          The trajectory on Li-ion batteries was chemistry first, then the work on cost and making them suitable for autos later.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    The Volt doesn’t need a 200 mile EV range. GM needs to drive cost out of it, get rid of the battery down the middle of the back seat, improve CS mode to 50 vs 40 MPG. Another 10-20 miles of EV range would be nice but anything more than that is pointless.

    Akerson sounds like he is talking out of his you know what more than anything. If he thinks the Volt needs a 200 mile range he really has no clue behind the most basic premise of what the Volt is supposed to be/do.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Tom Worobec, hosting “AutoNews Now”, just reported (this afternoon) that despite all the EV “hoopla” (my term), that by 2040, 78% of all vehicles on the road will STILL use gasoline-only ICE’s. (An Energy Department Report).

    See link:
    http://www.autonews.com/article/20131218/VIDEO/312189999/autonews-now-safety-mandate-coming?cciid=email-autonews-annow&r=4225F9661801A4X#axzz2neQrdiN5

    My comment to him was this:

    “Of the remaining 22% of vehicles that won’t be powered by the very perfected and adaptable gasoline ICE, how many will use natural gas (CH4)? If an estimated half of those (11%) will be, that leaves only 11% that would distributed among EV, Hybrid, H2, and diesel. Is that right?”

    No answer yet.

    ———————–


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