Volt Birth Watch 169: The Price Is Wrong

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Having a hard time guessing the value of the Volt showcase? Join the club. Everyone knows what the Volt is by now, namely a four-seat, 230 mpg, extended-range electric sport sedan that’s currently under-budget. But what does that sell for? The closest thing to a consistent answer we’ve heard from GM on this point is zero profit at $40,000 a pop. Which is always quickly followed up with reminders that consumer tax credits will make the crucial difference in transaction prices. But what about those tax credits? EV World‘s Bill Moore relays the following message from an anonymous “former GM executive”

“Assume you will trade in your Prius when the Volt becomes available. The feds will probably put a $20,000 kickback on the price to move them. If they do not, Volt will not make it.”

But consumer-end stimulus isn’t the whole game (although look for the cry to go up soon in congress).Production-end subsidies for everything from an engine plant to battery research are keeping the Volt moving towards the birthing hour. Bloomberg‘s headline couldn’t explain it any better: Obama Battery Grants May Help GM Market Cheaper Electric Cars. GM’s John Lauckner explains:

We’ve already seen significant reductions in the cost of batteries even since the start of the Volt program. At this point, we’re hundreds of dollars below the $1,000 a kwh benchmark

For reference, $1,000 per kwh is the typical current cost for Lithium-ion batteries, according to Southern California Edison’s Electric Transportation Department. But thanks to heavy taxpayer investment in Volt battery suppliers, GM is claiming it can get prices down to $500/kwh in the next 12 to 18 months. Would Toyota VP Irv Miller like to comment on that?

I’ll buy all those batteries that anyone can provide me right now. Our numbers are about three or four times that, so maybe we’re missing something

Well, is he? Ford says the cheapest Li-ions they can find are $700/kwh and are located “in Asia.” Is GM lying or is there some world-class market distortion going on? Pick your poison.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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2 of 22 comments
  • Bunter1 Bunter1 on Oct 21, 2009

    Geotpf-exactly. Toyotas reliability is always held to a higher standard. Hey, that's life at the top. Bunter

  • KarenRei KarenRei on Oct 21, 2009

    "Toyota/Panasonic have invested billions in a massive Li-Ion joint venture. " Exactly. They're way behind everyone else, just now starting to try to catch up on li-ion. But meanwhile, they have a *huge* NiMH infrastructure.

  • Chiefmonkey Bet on it getting 5-10 MPG less than the advertised rating.
  • FreedMike Maybe they will be the Alpine distributors.
  • TheEndlessEnigma The Mitsubishi hate and snark in many of these comments is expected. I really do need to challenge anyone here who bristles at the mention of Mitsu and immediately begins a Tourette's inspired flow of vitriol. Before you rant on about how bad Mitsu's are, get into one and drive it. Surprise surprise, they are good vehicles, it's just kewl and hip to be a lemming and blindly follow the "Mitsubishi Sucks Because Doug DeMuro Told Me So" crowd.
  • EBFlex Remember when they introduced legislation to take natural gas stoves away? Now they want to charge electric trucks with it? If liberals didn’t have double standards they wouldn’t have any at all.
  • Glennbk First, Cadillac no longer has brand cache. And as such, the prices need to drop. Second, reliability. Cadillac doesn't have that either. Dedicate GM funds to re-design the High Value Engines. Third, interiors are too gimmicky. Take a step back and bring back more buttons and less black plasti-chrome. Forth, noise isolation. These are supposed to be luxury cars, but sound like a Malibu inside.