Volt Birth Watch 152: GM Still Dancing in the Dark

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

TTAC commentator Kixstart writes:

Once again, GM has dodged the question on the Volt’s ultimate flat-can fuel economy. From their FastLane Blog, a CoverItLive session with Bob Boniface, I read the following exchange:

[Comment From David]

Hi Bob, Can you give us an approximate number of how many mpg the volt will achieve after the battery runs out?

2:04 Bob Boniface: When battery is depleted you should expect several hundred more miles running on engine generator.

I imagine several people immediately pounded away on their keyboards with “How big is the gas tank?” But that question was never selected and the answer never offered.

The message from a few days’ ago ( as blogged on TTAC): “over 30mpg.” On an earlier CoverItLive session on FastLane, I noted that someone had asked, very specifically, about extended range fuel economy after battery depletion. He was cheerily told that GM expected the Volt to get an EPA score “in the triple digits,” which clearly includes the battery charge. I’ve seen the question asked clearly, elsewhere, and ignored.

When is GM going to stop dancing around and just answer the damned question? GM and the fanboys over on GM-Volt like to talk about how “open” GM has been about the Volt development process. But some of the most important items are buried in layers of obfuscation. As usual.

Robert Farago
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  • Seabrjim Seabrjim on Jul 29, 2009

    gslippy- well put. After almost 3 years of hype, hairsplitting, and armchair quarterbacking, you hit the nail on the head. GM cant make this work, so getting answers from them is like talking to a US Fidelis rep on the phone. It costs almost twice the competition, Wont be as reliable, (Prius seems to have a very good track record, headlamps excluded) and may not have a company to back it up by the time it launches in 2010. Not to mention everyone else has been out of the starting blocks for almost a decade and GM is still in the locker room.

  • Charly Charly on Jul 29, 2009

    gslippy, most cars don't have a payback. Buying a cheap, small car and rentng a truck for those times you want to tow the boat is cheaper too.

  • Countryboy Countryboy on Jul 30, 2009

    With regard to paypack, the VOLT i hardly alone in this criticism. The same is true for most alternative energy solutions - as they exist today. But the so called payback schedules continually get modfied to reflect changing energy costs, rebates, incentives etc. I have many customers who install solar PV farms, and even though they are ALL corporations whose only bottom line is the bottom line, many purchase these solutions for a variety of reasons. Truth is, in most cases, the ROI on solar PV is 20 years or more, and there are very few corporations that engage in 20 yr cap-ex anything. Many of them are trailblazing and making certain statements with regard to their commitment to future energy solutions. Sure, they could wait for the panels to drop another 50% (which they will), and the inverters to be available at Home Depot (which they will), but they're doing it now. And you have to admire and respect that. First people bitch that GM killed the electric car, and then they bitch if if they actualy try to MASS PRODUCE a mostly electric car. Am I the only one that hopes it works reasonably well, and wishes the company well in that effort? The comparison to a PRIUS or some car you own for 10 years is totally unfair. When you can compare it to at least ONE other similar vehicle from at least one other major auto manufacturer, then we've got a fair test. Until then, it is uniquelly unique. And good for them for making the effort. Lastly, trying to "imagine" the driving situations and typical use is useless. Like many emerging technologies, what you will see in the future is how a vehicle like this will be used in ways that weren't imagined, or the run of the mill typical applications. I'm not nearly as pessimistic as most of the others that this is some sort of futile lost cause, and doomed to fail. But I'll be happy to borrow that crystal ball since I have a few future decisions to make. I for one don't mind a little happy talk, even from a GM. The mood of the blogs and the country in is generally pesimistic and melancholy. I think a little more can-do and optimism is in high demand these days.

  • FreedMike FreedMike on Jul 30, 2009

    You know what this carping about the Volt reminds me of? The whole media buildup to "Waterworld" a few years back - the first movie that was sunk NOT by its own virtues or vices, but by media coverage of its cost. And it was sunk before it was even released, before anyone had seen it. You remember that movie, don't you? It's the one with Kevin Costner that kept costing more and more. And as its cost climbed, the media harped more and more on the escalating cost. Floating sets! Fired directors! Ballooning costs! Impending doom! So, when the movie came out, what happened? Well, as it turns out, it wasn't Citizen Kane, but it wasn't half bad either. It was actually pretty easy to see where all the money the media carped on was spent. But the movie didn't do well - not because it was bad (the Transformers movies, with a combined IQ of 6, topped $300 million), but because the media convinced the moviegoing public that it sucked simply because it was over budget. And now we have the same people doing the same thing with this poor car, the Volt. No one's driven it, not one has been produced, yet people are upset because GM can't predict its exact fuel economy...even though it's not fully developed! And why are the naysayers doing this? Far as I can tell, it's the same reason why the entertainment media trashed "Waterworld" before a frame of it was shown on a screen - they want to show people how fucking smart they are. That way, when the movie - or, in this case, the Volt - bombed, they can pat themselves on the back and say "we told you so." Of course, these are mainly the same people who said that GM should have declared bankruptcy years ago, then trashed it for declaring bankruptcy, but I digress. How about this as a alternative approach: let's see how good this car is in the real world, and THEN trash it if it deserves it. With tens of billions of dollars of OUR money at stake here, withholding judgment until the product hits the street isn't cheerleading - it's the intelligent thing to do. Or do we WANT our money to go down the toilet? You tell me, folks.