Volt Birth Watch 136: NRFB?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
volt birth watch 136 nrfb

Well, you didn’t really expect the Presidential Task Force on Automobiles (PTFOA) to highlight and delete GM’s electric/gas Hail Mary Chevy Volt without a bit of bailout-scented blowback, did you? As TTAC hath foretold since the artist once known as the world’s most profitable corporation latched onto Uncle Sam’s bounteous breasts, GM’s now a political football. While the PTFOA correctly identified the Volt as a four-wheeled turkey—expensive, unproven and late— its green-tinged supporters are legion. Bloomberg’s “person” provides the heads-up that the PTFOA’s death knell was actually a call to arms for those who resurrect the electric car.

The administration’s concerns about the Volt were offset by its belief that GM needs cleaner, fuel-efficient vehicles to succeed in the long term, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the task force’s deliberations are private. GM’s problems may mean the company won’t meet its timetables for producing and selling the Volt though, the person said.

I call bullshit. This is a perfect example of the media making a logical assumption, and then assigning the prognostication to a non-existent, unidentified source. I’m surprised that Bloomberg went down this route; it’s been a signature of The Wall Street Journal‘s Motown bailout coverage. Remember their “person” who predicted a GM–Chrysler merger? (That was us too, but we labeled it as pure speculation.)

As for the Volt’s future non-termination, not so B.S. In fact, the plug-in hybrid is a rolling litmus test. There is no business case for this car; GM doesn’t have the time to amortize its development under federal sponsorship. I hope. But it is exactly the sort of hope-mobile Barack Obama has been plugging (so to speak) since he traded in his Chrysler 300 for a Ford Escape Hybrid.

Definitely one to watch.

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2 of 11 comments
  • Greg Locock Greg Locock on Apr 06, 2009

    Production is due to start in late 2010. That means they'll want to start some sort of accelerated build mid 2010, add 3 months stuffing around, gives you march 2010, and it takes 6-9 months to build a big production tool. That means that if they are serious about that date the orders for long-lead production tooling (big chunks of steel for bumper skins, IP, and external body panels) should be being placed around now, or preferably 6 months ago. These are the big-bucks commitments for a conventional program that tell you if the program is on time. The June 2009 proto build should be off soft tooling and will not be suitable for making saleable units. Then overlay the new powertrain, electronics and batteries on that timing.

  • Amca Amca on Apr 06, 2009

    I disagree: there is a business cases for the Volt. But it's a case for a patient, deep-pocketed corporation. And that's not GM these days. The business case is that indeed, there are forces that are making an electric vehicle more appealing both to buyers, and to auto-makers. To buyers, because people believe in green-ness, whatever its practical merits, and they'll pay for it. And to automakers, because of CAFE standards, and the need to project green-ness. So kuddos to GM for throwing its hat into the ring and being willing to step up and lose buckets of money establishing itself as the premier maker of plug-in hybrids. Years down the road, this will pay off in a superior market position in the plug-in business, and the more immediate halo effect it will offer their other cars. But GM can't afford it. They can't, in their current delicate condition afford to lose money on a car for 5-10 years, while the costs come down. So yes, there's a business case. But not for GM. That won't, however, stop the Obama administration from making darned sure there's an American leader in the green race.

  • MaintenanceCosts TX 550h+ will go on the test-drive list for our next car. I'm sure it won't be as nice to drive as an X5 PHEV, but it will also likely be $15k cheaper for comparable equipment and have more cargo space.
  • 2ACL If I'm going to battle 30-year-old BMW problems, then the car had better be representative of their greatest hits. I hear the M42 is a decent motor, but it just doesn't personify BMW excellence of the period. Also did some digging in the seller's other posts to try and determine the transmission type. . . https://www.bimmerfest.com/threads/m42b18-1994-318is-misfire-hopefully-remedied.1443915/page-2#post-13810336"Test drive was magnificent, for an automatic, it eventually gets up to speed." Free-revving four + four-speed slushbox = definite pass.
  • SCE to AUX This is good news, as long as the Tesla plug can deliver the kind of power needed in the future. I'm not sure that's a settled matter.
  • SCE to AUX Hyundai/Kia/Genesis, if we're talking mfrs of consequence in the EV space.But to their credit, they've tried to remain distinct from the Tesla approach to everything. They've been quick to respond to the Biden IRA domestic content stuff for EVs (by building more US plants), so maybe they'll jump on this NACS bandwagon.
  • FreedMike I guess it's good to hear they finally made the third row livable - the one on the old RX was a joke - but, man, is this generic-looking.