Volt Birth Watch 4: Pay No Attention to That Plug Behind the Curtain

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams
volt birth watch 4 pay no attention to that plug behind the curtain

General Motors is considering an unusual program to keep the price of the Chevy Volt within the grasp of the average auto buyer: renting them the battery pack. The Financial Times reports that GM is considering selling the car for the price of a Chevy Malibu, and then charging owners a monthly rental fee for the batteries. Volt chief engineer Frank Weber estimates an average owner would pay about $25/month for gas, compared to $125 for a traditional Malibu. The battery pack would rent for about $100/month giving a similar total operating cost. Oops! Unless we're missing something, Weber forgot the cost of plugging in to recharge the battery. Since the primary reason most people look at any kind of hybrid is lower operating cost, we've got to say this seems like a bone-headed self-defeating marketing idea.

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  • SaturnV SaturnV on Aug 13, 2007

    Time-metered power is what is sold to most large businesses, and some utilities are beginning to roll it out to households. In the interest of efficiency, I'd welcome it's use, but only if the rate which the utility paid you for power you generate (via solar, or whatever) also was priced accordingly. Anyhow my point was first that there is not presently a mechanism to make people want to charge only during 'off-peak' hours, so the assumption that the current power system will handle this gracefully is questionable in my mind. In addition, the electric-only range of most of the solutions proposed so far is such that a significant number of people are likely to want to charge at work, precisely during peak hours in some cases... -S5

  • KixStart KixStart on Aug 14, 2007

    It's difficult to see what GM's thinking. Buy the car and rent a major component to make it useable? People who would rent the component would probably just lease the car, anyway. People who prefer to buy cars aren't going to want to rent a chunk of it to keep it on the road; they like to be done with payments after a few years. If GM's thinking about this to keep the apparent cost of the car down, they're probably out of luck. The Volt, as envisioned (never forgetting that, unlike the Prius, the Volt is vaporware), looks somewhat simpler than a Prius (no PSD or conventional transmission) and, therefore, should be a little less expensive to build. How much more advantage does GM need to make a cost-competitive vehicle? If the rental program is a ploy to insulate the customer from the cost of battery replacement, that's probably doomed to failure, as the Volt won't hit the streets until the battery question is settled with real-world experience (which, so far, appears quite good).

  • Rtz Rtz on Aug 14, 2007

    That's a deal breaker for me. I'll buy the car if the price is right. But I sure won't dole out $100/month for infinity.

  • Chado faxon Chado faxon on Nov 26, 2007

    this is a great innovated idea and i hope it is sucsessfull with more great vehicles to follow. in helping out with the charging of the car couldn't we, for example: say your going to work and instead of finding the shady spot in the parking lot you get the sunniest spot you can find for direct rays. then instead of placing a sun shade in your windshield it is actually a solar panel that plugs into your car while you spend your 8 hours at work. and do the same at home. It may not power the car completely, but it would help whatever, just a thought and idea to help