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

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
volt birth watch 168 shakedown cruise in more ways than one

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.

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2 of 21 comments
  • 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.

  • Chuck Norton And guys are having wide spread issues with the 10 speed transmission with the HP numbers out of the factory......
  • Zerofoo "Hyundais just got better and better during the 1990s, though, and memories of those shoddy Excels faded."Never. A friend had an early 90s Hyundai Excel as his college beater. One day he decided that the last tank of gas he bought was worth more than the car. He drove it to empty and then he and his fraternity brothers pushed it into the woods and left it there.
  • Kwik_Shift There are no new Renegades for sale within my geographic circle of up to 85 kms. Looks like the artificial shortage game. They bring one in, 10 buyers line up for it, $10,000 over MSRP. Yeah. Like with a lot of new cars.
  • Ribbedroof In Oklahoma, no less!
  • Ribbedroof Have one in the shop for minor front collision repairs right now,I've seen more of these in the comments than in the 30 years I've been in collision repair.