Volt Birth Watch 168: Shakedown Cruise, In More Ways Than One

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

I know these Volt Birth Watches are polarizing. So if you’re a Volt booster, look away now. ‘Cause I’m about to excoriate GM for attempting to keep the cloak of invisibility around its taxpayer-funded plug-in electric – gas hybrid Hail Mary Chevy Volt. Now I’m fully aware that any such criticism may spark (so to speak) charges of editorial hypocrisy. Although TTAC has no “party line” on any given subject, its main voices have consistently taken GM to task for boasting about the Volt—-when they should have just shut the f up, built the thing, tested it and THEN unleashed their PR campaign. This despite (or because of) the fact that the Volt eventually became GM’s poster child for its “Save Detroit, Save The Economy” campaign, that eventually led to the automaker’s nationalization (in case you’d forgotten). GM’s claims for the Volt’s completely untried technology—in terms of performance, reliability, price, profit, mpg (230 city!), this, that and the other thing—have done the company no favors, aside from the salutatory effect on environmentalists’ hope for change. But here’s the thing: GM crossed the e-Rubicon a long time ago. It’s time to tell its “investors” exactly what we’re paying for, or kill the goddamn thing and spend the money turning “May the Best Car Win” from a sad, pathetic, delusional joke to walking the talk. Ahem. Wired. Volt “shakedown cruise.” Irony? Absolutely. Insight (joke)? Nope. More GM lies and deception . . .

GM has always promised the Volt’s 16 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery will provide a range of 40 miles, and Farrah says the prototypes are in that ballpark. “Pre-production (vehicles) still have some improvements to make,” he said. “I myself have not personally gone 40 miles on a charge, but I’ve come close. I don’t see any problems getting to 40.”

So what about GM’s claim that the Volt gets 230 mpg in the city when the engine is driving the generator? And what kind of mileage are they getting on the highway? Farrah isn’t saying.

“We’re working on hitting all the targets we’ve set up, but I’m not going to get into specific numbers, because we’re still looking at the data,” he said.

The crew filled the cars’ gas tanks on Tuesday and topped them off Wednesday. Farrah said “we’re still targeting 300 miles on a tank of fuel.” That doesn’t mean much without knowing how big the tank is, something GM isn’t disclosing yet.

We’re still looking at the data? Is that the engineering equivalent of “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain?” And I’m a little confused. Is that 300 miles AFTER the I-can-just-about-see-it 40 miles on electric power? Or total? At what speed? Grade? Temperature? Passenger load?

Come clean guys (so to speak). It’s not like you have to hide this information from Toyota, lest they decide plug-in serial hybrids are WAY better than their Synergy Drive. And this is my money you’re pissing away, now.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Daanii2 Daanii2 on Oct 16, 2009
    I’m sure glad they stole US technology Paice brought a patent lawsuit against Toyota, not a trade secret lawsuit. Paice won a jury verdict in Marshall, Texas that Toyota had infringed its patents, not that it had stolen any technology. I'm a patent attorney. I've looked at Paice's patents. I've talked with Alex Severinsky. And I've looked at Toyota's Synergy Drive technology. I think the jury in the Eastern District of Texas was wrong about patent infringement.
  • Yankinwaoz Yankinwaoz on Oct 16, 2009

    Eastern Texas is notorious for patent lawsuits. Anyone who wants to file a patent infringement claim files there, despite the fact that neither the plaintiff or defendant are based there. In the IT industry, almost all of the dubious patent infringement claims that have been upheld by a court have come from this courthouse. Many are so obviously wrong that a monkey could see through them. Yet, they somehow get upheld. There is something very wrong going on there.

  • El scotto The days of "Be American, buy America" are long gone. Then there's the mental gymnastics of "is a Subaru made in Lafayette, IN more American than something from gm or Ford made in Mexico?" Lastly, it gets down to people's wallets; something cheap on Amazon or Temu will outsell its costlier American-made item. Price not Patriotism sells most items. One caveat: any US candidate should have all of his/her goods made in the USA.
  • FreedMike Well, here's my roster of car purchases since 1981: Three VWsTwo Mazdas (one being a Mercury Tracer, full disclosure)One AudiOne FordOne BuickOne HondaOne Volvo I think I hear Lee Greenwood in the background... In all seriousness, I'd have bought more American cars had they made more of the kinds of cars I like (smaller, performance-oriented).
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X I'll gladly support the least "woke" and the most Japanese auto company out there.
  • Jmo2 I just got an email from the dealership where I bought my car and it looks like everything has $5k on the hood.
  • Lou_BC I suspect that since the global pandemic, dealerships have preferred to stay with the "if you want it, we will order it" business model. They just need some demo models on hand and some shiny bits to catch the impulse buyer. Profits are higher and risks lower this way.