Volt Birth Watch 151: 30mpg+ During ICE Operation

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
volt birth watch 151 30mpg during ice operation

Jon Lauckner, New GM’s Vice President of Global Program Management, picked up the FastLane webchat-a-phone and confirmed that he can’t confirm a final price for its tire-squawking (true story!) Hail Mary hybrid. This despite the fact that the Volt—or at least a small squad of hand-built prototypes—is due at the Chevy showroom—or at least down at the steps of Congress for the next ’round of bailout hearings—by the end of 2010. “Hi Dan,” Lauckner says, greeting the e-interrogator daring GM to whip out its sticker. “We typically do not lock in on pricing until about 3-6 months prior to start of production. The reason is primarily so we have an opportunity to take a look at the market, competitors and other factors. So stay tuned.” So to speak, ’cause that issue ain’t sorted out neither . . .

[Comment From Lev Blekher]

How does GM decide where to draw the line between maximizing the main purpose of the Volt even it it means unfamiliar characteristics (engine revving at stops), and making it friendly to the average consumer by decreasing it’s potential slightly, in favor of more comfortable feel (engine revs match speed, etc.) Thanks.

[Reply from Lauckner]

That is something we will decide during the development phase we’re in right now when we finalize the calibration of the engine in various conditions. We want to avoid unfamiliar characteristics to the maximum possible extent – we want the Volt to behave just like a normal automobile.

Maximum extent possible? Do I detect a bit of Where’s Jeff (i.e., Wiggle room)? But we have some new information! Lauckner says the Volt will be a thrifty, refined little thing, even when the EV-only mode is depleted.

I think most customers will be surprised at the refinement of the ICE. It will operate at several RPM points (not roaring) and the charge sustaining fuel economy (gas engine on) will be much more than 30 mpg.

Whoa! Dude! Where’s my plug-in hybrid electric/gas car?

Join the conversation
2 of 28 comments
  • Campisi Campisi on Jul 24, 2009
    …and if you’re doing such a commute there’s an awfully large penalty toting the heavy engine around while you do it! Without the ICE, for either a weight saving, or packaging changes, or more battery what would be the range? 60miles? 100miles? Would that have provided a product with potentially a greater audience??? No, because people would still worry about the one or two really long trips they may take that year, or how long they would be stuck somewhere charging if they overestimated their remaining range. You have to remember that the main problem with a limited range in a BEV is that once that range hits zero you will have to spend many hours recharging the batteries. In a regular car, it isn't a big deal, since it only takes a minute or two to pump some gas into the tank. That is the purpose of the range extender in the Volt: it essentially allows your electric car to be "recharged" in a few minutes at a gas station. Most days of the year, no gasoline will be burned in daily driving, but for those times when the electric range isn't enough that gasoline engine is always there as an insurance policy.
  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Jul 24, 2009
    No, I don’t understand it. For the sake of having a differentiated “Wundercar”, they’ve gone down a technically poor route rather than getting a proper hybrid to work. You know, the sort of energy pro/con compromise math that Toyota did. I don't think this is a technically poor solution, just one that's been exceedingly badly marketed. The Volt works out quite well---better than the Prius---if the primary use of the vehicle is urban and/or commuting. The Prius works well as a general-purpose vehicle. Further long the curve you have small-displacement turbodiesels if you're planning thousand-kilometer stretches frequently. Different needs, different tools. Again, the Volt falls down because of GM's incompetence, corporate ADHD and general marketing cluelessness. Part of why the Prius does so very well is how perfectly Toyota has pitched it: just pricey and nice enough so that people will pay the money, just cheap enough to avoid being a niche-market toy for the rich. When Bob Lutz was originally shooting his mouth off about the Volt's price, it was being positioned similarly; it's since crept up dangerously close to the niche toy level while the compromises have built up. That, combined with buyer fatigue and let-down, is going to make this car a hard sell. I think that, if they had wanted to be smart, they ought to have kept their cards closer to their chest. The problem is that they just can't seem to resist whipping up their fanbase and the less-critical-thinking members of the media.
  • Bullnuke It may be awhile before these show up on US shores. The MV Fremantle Highway has just started demo/reconstruction in Rotterdam after the large fire when transporting its last shipment of electric Porsche products.
  • Fie on Fiasler Big, fast and thirsty does not equal good. True luxury is not cobbled together by the UAW.
  • Inside Looking Out I see it as gladiator races - only one survives in virtual world.
  • Crown They need to put the EcoDiesel back in the Grand Cherokee. I have a 2018 and it has been the most reliable vehicle I ever owned. 69,000 miles and only needed tires, and regular oil and fuel filter changes.
  • El scotto Y'all are overthinking this. Find some young hard-charging DA seeking the TV limelight to lock this kid up. Heck, have John Boehner come up from Cincy to help the young DA get his political career going. Better yet, have the young DA spin this as hard as he or she can; I'm the candidate for Law and Order, I defied our go-easy office and leadership to get this identified criminal locked up. Oh this could be spun more than a hyper active kid's top.Now I'd do some consulting work for Little Kings Original Cream Ale and Skyline Chili.