By on February 12, 2008

volt-shortcut.jpgAccording to, GM spokesman Dee Allen says his employer can't re-engineer the forthcoming plug-in electric – gas Chevrolet Volt's windshield wipers, audio system and other parasitic electrical components in time for their hoped-for 2010 deadline. So they'll just install a work-around. The first-generation Volt will feature expensive "redundant" systems for these components in hopes they won't drain the batteries faster than the propulsion system. While Allen didn't specify how these redundant systems would work, he admitted they would drive the price of the Volt "higher than expected." But don't worry: GM's engineers are working diligently to solve the problem and "the second generation will be more refined." Given GM's bent for five to seven-year product cycles, the engineers should have plenty of time to solve the issue before the second generation comes out. But, still, you have to wonder… if they're cutting corners on the secondary systems to rush the Volt into production, what shortcuts are they taking in mission critical primary systems? 

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18 Comments on “Volt Birthwatch 28: Taking the Easy Way Out...”

  • avatar


    what shortcuts are they taking in mission critical primary systems?

    I’m sure the beta testers I mean first customers will get to fine that out once it rolls out in 2011 or 12 or 13.

    Or GM will keep announcing surprises like this and their “fixes” and in the end they will sell a $75,000 over glorified hybrid (Malibu).

    A realistic deadline would keep them from looking stupid like this and they could actually address all the problems and come out with a great car.

  • avatar

    Didn’t you hear? They’re going to put in an alternate power supply for the first gen Volts. It’s called pedolocomotion. Apparently, since they can’t get their electric motor ready in time for 2010 production, they’re just going to cut a hole in the floor, and have the driver use his/her feet, like Fred Flinstone. Think of the gas savings!

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t touch one of those things with a ten-foot pole. Is the first generation even going to run? Will GM be around to offer a second generation, with its $40 billion/year losses?

  • avatar

    FTA: “The first Chevy Volt electric cars scheduled to reach showrooms in late 2010 will probably cost about $35,000 US in the United States, not the $30,000 US General Motors had hoped.”

    $35k-is that with or without the battery?

  • avatar

    $35k-is that with or without the battery?

    Good question. And Bob Lutz has said it could be as high as $40k when it finally appears.

  • avatar

    Hey, this is the company that spent millions making the Astra US-ready but couldn’t figure out how to program a clock to read out in North American standard time!

  • avatar

    jthorner :
    February 12th, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Hey, this is the company that spent millions making the Astra US-ready but couldn’t figure out how to program a clock to read out in North American standard time!

    And They also couldn’t retrofit a cup holder into the darn thing.

    They also couldn’t bring a decent, Euro-spec drivetrain to the table (the Astra’s drivetrain is identical to that in the base Cobalt, correct?).

    The Astra’s native market (Germany) is even a LHD market.

    What did they spend millions on, again?

  • avatar

    I’ll wait for the second generation one, then.

  • avatar

    If the general doesn’t go back the the option checklist they’ll be missing a big chunk of their market. There are alot of electric car buyers out there that just want the “miliage”. If I would buy an electric car i’d be insulted if it had a radio and electric heater/ac and most other devices. And its not a matter of not using them because thats weight. Electric cars have to be stripped down for range! (Ironicaly.. Gas cars do too… but bigger fuel tanks are cheaper than better batts.) If they make them 3 wheeled it could class as a motorcycle and bypass the safty stuff right?

  • avatar

    A 50-mile range battery costs about $5000.

    How big is the first Volt run going to be? They could easily stay within a healthy early-adopter envelope, even if the windshield wipers and radio are too taxing.

    Remember, people line up to buy hybrids at tremendous premiums relative to their gas savings.

  • avatar

    $35K? Why am I going to want this very marginal improvement over the $22K Prius?

    If one is buying an advanced-technology vehicle to avoid CO2 emissions, why would anyone want this very marginal improvement over the $22K Prius when buying the Prius leaves one with $13K towards solar panels or a windmill?

  • avatar

    The guy who wrote the article for doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about:

    To wit:

    “In gasoline-powered vehicles, windshield wiper motors are powered directly off the engine.”
    Hilarious. With a driveshaft? In reality the battery power the wipers when the car is stopped, and when running the engine indirectly powers the wipers via the generator with the battery acting as a filter and storage medium.

    “Audio systems have become enormous power hogs in recent years, with consumers demanding seven or nine-speaker sound in their cars, powered by 200-watt and even 500-watt amplifiers”.

    So put in a modest OEM type 40W system. Use a class-D amplifier that is 90%+ efficient. All technology available today. This ain’t gonna be a vehicle that can support 500W audio systems. Even an idiot should be able to understand that basic premise.

    Technical people really shouldn’t talk to reporters. They screw it up every single time.

    So to the author – Let GM sweat the electronic details. They’ll make sure the car goes when you push the pedal on the right.

  • avatar

    Regardless of how the windshield wipers are driven, I have some doubts about selling these things for $35k, or even $30k. If I can get a Prius for $26k, and can get 45 MPG, and can buy gas for $3.00, that means I can go 60k miles before I get to the price of the Volt at $30k. Actually farther considering the cost of the $4k I’ll dribble out for gas with the Prius instead of all at once with the Volt.

    And I’m betting that a 2nd generation Prius might stack up pretty well against the 1st gen Volt, assuming GM ever sells the first one.

    At some point, my guess is after Honda and Toyota announce their next-gen hybrids, and maybe even plug-ins, I expect GM to quietly fold their plug-in tent while mumbling some excuses. They don’t compete in the small hybrid market at all, and their idea of a competitor to the Civic is the Cobalt. Why should we expect them to deliver with the Volt?

  • avatar

    Frantz: If I would buy an electric car i’d be insulted if it had a radio and electric heater/ac and most other devices.

    Thats a joke right? People up north with colder climates usually like to drive to work with heat rather than be cold. And people in the south, you know where it gets hot like A/C to cool off a 120 deg interior during the summer. And radio gives them something to listen to since this thing wont even have an engine sound. If the car doesn’t have features people have come to expect in cars they wont buy it they will buy something else, like a Prius that has those features AND gets good mileage.

    They’ll make sure the car goes when you push the pedal on the right.

    If it goes anything like my Cadillac it will buck and resist, turn off at lights, die on onramps and leave you stranded on family vacations. And that’s with a V8, can’t wait to try out this all new cost cut powerplant.

  • avatar

    I think I’ll even pass on the 2nd generation one. But call me in 2025 for sure. Promise!

  • avatar

    Soooooo…GM can have the worlds most advanced hybrid on the road (though proto one has yet to roll under it’s own power) in 2010 but they can’t sort out the problems with the electrical auxiliary systems by then?

    Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez, why do I feel skeptical?

    Gotta’ love the General.


  • avatar

    The cupholders will be fab.

  • avatar

    I got it! Rechargeable AA batteries in the dash! That’s how you can power the radio and wipers.

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