By on April 19, 2015

2012 Chevrolet Volt

The first three months of 2015 marked the lowest-volume quarter of U.S. Chevrolet Volt sales since the summer of 2011, when Volt production was just ramping up.

Volt volume in January of this year, more specifically, fell to the lowest level since August 2011. With only 542 sales in the first month of 2015, Volt sales were down 41%.

February sales then tumbled 43%. Most recently, March 2015 volume slid below 1000 units for the third time in three months, tumbling 57% to just 639 units, just the fourth time in 38 months that GM has sold fewer than 1000 Volts in the span of a month. 

Are fuel prices to blame, or the fact that the next, improved Volt has already been revealed? Both may be contributing factors in the most recent months, but a straightforward drop in demand, from low to lower, is the more appropriate response. Volt volume was in decline long before the latest fuel price decline.

Chevrolet Volt sales chart quarterlyVolt sales peaked during the car’s second full year on the market, 2012, before beginning a steady decline that saw monthly volume decrease on a year-over-year basis in 18 of 25 months, including each of the last eight months. Initial expectations called for approximately 40,000 annual Volt sales in the United States. GM hasn’t yet come within 16,000 units of matching that goal.

One thing is certain: there are Volts to be had. The drop to only 1874 first-quarter sales in 2015 occurred despite the fact that GM had, according to Automotive News, a 56-day supply at the beginning of January, a 192-day supply at the start of February, and a 159-day supply when March began.

The Volt was America’s 67th-best-selling car in 2012 but fell to the 70th position in 2013, before falling to 78th in calendar year 2014. Through the first-quarter of 2015, the Volt is now America’s 99th-best-selling car.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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173 Comments on “Chart Of The Day: The Chevrolet Volt’s Long And Harsh Decline...”


  • avatar
    dwford

    The Volt is another typical GM “moonshot” project. Intended to leapfrog the competition, it arrives late, does less than promised, is expensive, of limited utility, and has questionable styling.And the competition quickly arrived with cars of similar tech (though lower electric only miles), but better utility and styling. The new Volt looks miles better – if a bit too much like a Kia Forte, has better utility, better performance, etc. Again, typical GM – fix the problem after the brand has been damaged.

    • 0 avatar
      Mr. Orange

      What mainstream brand doesn’t have moonshots?

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        GM has a history of trying to leapfrog the competition with something amazing instead of just developing a competitive vehicle in the vein of the competition. Instead of just developing a solid Prius competitor, they went for the Volt which missed the market. They did the same thing with the dustbuster minivans. Instead of just doing a competent van, they went for a plastic van and futuristic styling. People didn’t like them. There have been plenty of examples.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “does less than promised”

      I don’t know where you’re getting that from.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The Volt was supposed to combine 40 miles of electric range with 50 mpg in range extension mode. I suspect that’s where he’s getting that from.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          The 50 mpg figure cited by GM included the period of gas-free operation. The Volt will obviously do much better than that in some cases and worse than others, depending upon how much of the drive is electric-only.

          The EPA developed MPGe in attempt to come up with a standard that could be used to make comparisons. There is no particularly good way to provide good data when the use of gas can vary between zero and a lot.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            “The 50 mpg figure cited by GM included the period of gas-free operation.”

            No, GM’s initial claims were quite clear about that; 50mpg after the battery had been depleted and the car was in range-extending mode.

            They were claiming 50/50/600, nicely under $30K. Well, El Lutzbo was. Engineering probably cringed every time he opened his mouth. And then he bailed out before they could under-deliver.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            And the less said about the 230MPG debacle, the better.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The early concept was supposed to have a 3-cylinder 1.0-liter turbo. The car ended up with a 4-cylinder 1.4-liter naturally aspirated motor. You seem to be confusing the early concept with the actual car, which was released based on claims of a 35-mile average electric-only range, followed by 344 miles on a 9.3 gallon tank (average 37 mpg) that allegedly could get as much as 50 mpg.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            PCH101 has the right of it here. The original concept was to have a custom engine to power the generator and Chevy wasted millions… supposedly hundreds of millions, trying to make the concept engine work. When that failed, they fell back to an off-the-shelf engine that was grossly underpowered for the need along with mechanicals they shouldn’t have even attempted.

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            I never once heard GM promise 50 MPG in charge sustaining mode with the Volt. I heard Andrew Farrah say that was the boogie, but that spec was an unknown until they finally unveiled it. As was the price. The CS MPG in the Volt really isn’t important in the same way that it is with a car like the Prius that is constantly running it’s primary (ICE engine) power source.

    • 0 avatar
      colin42

      What other car does what the Volt does better or for less money? The Ford C-Max Energi get half the electric range for similar money. The rear leg room is better but the trunk space is just as small. The Prius plugin gets 12 miles range and costs more!

      The simple truth is that Volts are a bargain on the used market and even new can be at steep discounts.

      • 0 avatar

        When a car is a bargain on the used market and new ones are being sold at steep discounts, that means that it was overpriced to begin with.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        “The simple truth is that Volts are a bargain on the used market and even new can be at steep discounts.”

        Agreed. And it has the best engineered battery pack. When I’m looking at used one I have no worries about degraded battery performance over the long haul.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        Hold on.
        Not sure this is truthful or where you are getting the information.
        I think the government giving away a $7K tax credit brings the Volt price down to $27. The C max, without tax credits, starts at $24. The Cmax Energy starts at $31…still lower than the Volt IF not government money (our money) was given towards it.
        Now as for cargo carrying capacities…I don’t know, Volt is listed by GM at 10.6 CuFt while the C Max is 24 and 19 behind 2nd sets.
        So…I dunno, seems like it is not that equal.

        • 0 avatar
          colin42

          So Trailertrash – you’re telling me that the MRSP of the Volt is higher than the C-max, so the Volt is more expensive, however the C-max doesn’t get the full EV tax credit. You may live in a world where you’d reject tax money on the table due a held principle that you disagree with the credit, but I’m happy to take whatever discounts or credits I’m initial to without breaking the law.

          As for the cargo space – you’re correct the Energi has more total room but most of that additional is above the cargo cover vs the volt

          The C-max does come with a better interior, leather seats, and a 5th seat. If these are of more value than an additional 15 miles extra range then great, but for me as a commuter car the Volt’s extra range was a no brainer.

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            you simply asked a question as to what car offers more…and so I answered.
            If now, you want to say cargo space should only count below seat level or that the MSRP isn’t what it really is because there is a gov payout or that the extra MPG is worth more than other competitive benefits…OK.
            You can set you question/answer rules, and change these, as you wish.
            Was just sayin…

            And I accept the gov handouts and rules like I do any other rules. But these are examples of our insane, lobby/money/ driven/voter pandering driven government society manipulating mistakes. (Whew!)
            I take whatever tax deductions I am allowed…knowing full well and sober of mind many of them are totally unfair and unjust, giving me advantages others are not allowed.
            Legal, yes, but unjust.

        • 0 avatar

          As someone who had to pay just over $3000 to Uncle Sam,the $7,500 rebate is not quite $7,500

    • 0 avatar
      Krivka

      It is the only logical choice out there as a plug in that can actually be driven on a trip. There are almost zero complaints form people who own them. The interior is a bit crazy, but that issue is being taken care of in the next iteration.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        The Ford Energi vehicles are plug-ins that can actually be driven on a trip. Yes their pure EV range is roughly half that of the Volt but that smaller battery does allow for more interior room.

        • 0 avatar
          Carlson Fan

          The Ford Energi is not a full on EV in battery mode like the Volt is either. Drive with traffic on the freeway during your morning commute and your burning gas. The Volt doesn’t come with any speed or acceleration restrictions.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      Who killed the Electric Car? Consumers they do not want them. An automotive dead end

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    The Volt is what I’ve said all along–an over-engineered piece of junk. When taking many of the different technologies used separately, Chevrolet wasted money on the engine and the drive system most specifically. Most here have forgotten (and interestingly the news and review articles are long gone) that Chevy spent millions trying to develop a three-cylinder booster engine to drive the generator, only to abandon the idea and go with an off-the-shelft available I-4. Then they had to design in some sort of weird transmission that let’s the engine mechanically drive the car once the battery drops below usable levels–made worse by the fact that they didn’t even start the engine until it was down to about 30% capacity. Very little of that has changed in the last 3+ years.

    I’ll grant that the ’17 Volt simply has to be better; they’ve had time to analyze their mistakes and fix them. But will they fix the real issues, or try to force the existing problems to work as originally intended? Doubling the battery-only range is a great idea and they’ve already put a stronger engine in for the generator, but will they keep that transmission? Why? It’s added weight that serves a very limited and almost useless purpose. It would perform far better and reduce costs if it stayed all-electric drive and simply got rid of the wasteful mechanicals. Come on! This is 100-year-old technology we’re talking about here, not some 21st century miracle!

    • 0 avatar
      Whittaker

      All true.
      But considering that GM’s perpetual existence is assured by the Govt, not much of a concern to the suits.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        I knew it was only a matter of time before somebody used some variation of “Government Motors” or the O-word in this thread.

        People seem chronically unable to divorce themselves from the thinking taught to them by a certain fair and balanced network and evaluate the Volt on its own merits as a device. It is, as Krivka said above, the only plug-in car that can be logically driven on a trip. For a great many Americans, that makes the Volt the only viable option among plug-in cars. And this is worthless…because you disagree with the government’s decision to save a million middle-class jobs by bailing out its maker 7 years ago?

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          “you disagree with the government’s decision to save a million middle-class jobs by bailing out its maker 7 years ago?”

          tonycd, that is still a big thing with people who did not get bailed out and who lost their job, their home, their lives, their everything.

          A million jobs saved and 25 million jobs lost…

          I believe bailouts, handouts and nationalization are great as long as they are fair and equitable, applying equally to all.

          When the government decides selectively who succeeds and who fails, who lives and who dies, it is no longer a government “Of the people, For the People, and By the People.”

          Clearly, 7 years ago, ours was a government for the UAW.

          Same facts, man, but different people interpret those facts differently.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      “Then they had to design in some sort of weird transmission that let’s the engine mechanically drive the car once the battery drops below usable levels–made worse by the fact that they didn’t even start the engine until it was down to about 30% capacity. Very little of that has changed in the last 3+ years.”

      All this shows is:

      You haven’t a clue how the drivetrain works, because your statement is rubbish. Which makes the rest of your rant ridiculous.

      “The Volt is what I’ve said all along–an over-engineered piece of junk.”

      And who the hell are you? A well-known automotive engineer? Obviously not. Just some over-opiniated twit.

      Here’s an exercise for you. If you deign to reply, explain how the Volt’s system actually works and we’ll see if you can get it right.

      I’m not going to waste my time writing it out. That’s the usual response from denigrators on this site – they try to make people put in a lot of work to prove the opposite of the rubbish they post.

      Let’s turn that on its head this time – you prove you understand and show us the magnificence of your mind.

      Otherwise, poppycock.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Nothing like a little straw man attack when you can’t argue with facts.

        “Here’s an exercise for you. If you deign to reply, explain how the Volt’s system actually works and we’ll see if you can get it right.”
        — Right by whose standard, yours, or actual facts?

        * We all know the car runs roughly 30-40 miles on battery alone. The battery itself is rated for about 50-55 miles maximum without the range extending engine. This means the engine starts when there’s about 30% battery capacity remaining. This, by the way, is pretty common knowledge.

        * We also know that the electric performance of the car is relatively unchanged while the engine is running and there is still usable charge in the battery. Depending on conditions, you might never drain that battery below 5%.

        * However, there are enough reports of total battery drain that we discover that performance falls through the floor once drained–that the 75-85 hp engine (might be slightly more) engine was a dog once it had to drive the car through the backup transmission in ‘limp mode’ and that some few owners were nearly involved in wrecks when the car slowed drastically on a grade. It is, by the way, one reason Chevy added a ‘Hill Country’ setting to the controls to start the engine sooner and run it at a higher rpm to try and avoid that total drain condition–which of course means that your electric-only range is cut another 25% while fuel usage goes up. This is also why they added 20hp to the engine in the ’15 model to run the generator more strongly and reduce the need for the mechanical link. It also means the car has roughly 100-105 horses in the event you’re still forced into ‘limp mode’ and don’t slow down quite as drastically as a result.

        • 0 avatar

          “Right by whose standard, yours, or actual facts?”

          How about giving us a simple explanation of how the Voltec drivetrain works? For extra credit you can explain how it’s different from the system Ford and Toyota use and from Honda’s current Accord hybrid.

          There is no “backup transmission”. The planetary gearbox used in the Volt was part of the design from the outset. The Volt drivetrain integrates a combustion engine with two electric motors in a planetary gear setup. That’s the way it was designed in the first place, an offshoot of GM’s Two-Mode Hybrid system, with most of the same engineers cited on the related patents.

          The Toyota and Ford hybrids also use a planetary gear setup, but GM’s innovation was being able to operate in serial hybrid mode, using the ICE to generate electricity to power the traction motor.

          As for the Volt being an “over engineered piece of junk”, I’m not sure that one can over engineer something, let along create junk from the process. Based on the 90%+ satisfaction rates, numbers generally unheard of in the industry, I’d say that GM sweated the details well. The battery management system is better than in any other EV made.

          I have a neighbor who is of enough means that he and his family can drive luxury cars. They used to have E Class Mercedes-Benzes. He leased a Volt and liked it so much they leased another for his wife. The other day I noticed a new Cadillac ELR on their drive. Both Volts were there so I guess one of their kids is driving one of them now.

          While the Volt program can be criticized, they got the car’s engineering right.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            The point, Ronnie, is that the Volt shouldn’t NEED that, as the concept is far more complex and expensive than necessary. The engine should have absolutely no mechanical connection to the wheels and quite honestly putting two (really, two?) electric motors in the transmission is insanity!

            Diesel/electric locomotives use a single engine feeding nothing but a generator–a pair of them really. One generator does nothing but power the motors on the axles while the other provides filtered power to all the control circuitry and in-cab equipment. With minor variations, this is true of all Diesel/electric locomotives that have run for now over 80 years. Modern ones use a lot more computer control for the greatest efficiency, but NONE of them put direct, mechanical engine power to the rails. Why does this car?

            Yes, I understand the Prius. Toyota’s also not noted for building locomotives, either. General Electromotive used to be a division of General Motors before GM sold it off. So to design a car that was originally conceived to carry a custom 3-cylinder engine and perform screwy mechanicals so that the tiny engine can serve as a backup to the electric motors that are themselves stupidly located and you can see why I call it an over-engineered piece of junk. The Volt could have easily been $10K cheaper by simplifying the electric drive.

          • 0 avatar

            Two electric motors are all the rage right now. Mitsubishi and Tesla both utilize dual electric motors.

            Your choice of the word insanity is kinda appropriate. The Tesla top performance mode in the P85D is called insane mode.

          • 0 avatar
            LectroByte

            Seems like you all are wanting to debate parallel vs serial hybrid drive trains. If the battery is flat, why not cut out the middleman and apply power directly to the forehead, I mean drive wheels? Seems more efficient. This probably explains why the gasoline mode mileage of the Volt is so bad.

            And in a parallel hybrid setup, the gasoline engine and electric motor can be smaller than they might otherwise have been since they can work together when maximum acceleration is needed. This probably explains why the range of the plug-in Prius is so short, I’m guessing the Prius battery pack is much smaller, and the drivetrain is more similar to the non-plug-in version.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “Two electric motors are all the rage right now. Mitsubishi and Tesla both utilize dual electric motors.”

            True, JPWhite; but neither Tesla nor Mitsubishi put them in a transmission housing. Tesla specifically puts them on separate axles and Mitsu puts them on the wheels themselves (which, by the way, is how Toyota places their motors). For Chevy’s concept to make any sense, it would have been much smarter to use a single, larger motor pushing the mechanicals rather than two smaller ones. If one of those motors dies for any reason, the repair would be as prohibitively expensive as a transmission repair itself.

        • 0 avatar
          Alex Mackinnon

          Limp mode isn’t that big of a deal actually. I forgot to hit mountain mode once in the last 18 months I’ve had my Volt.

          It managed a pretty steady 90 km/h up a 7% grade for about 1000m of vertical going over a mountain pass. At that speed it’s still faster than any aircooled VW, Smart cars or any of the severly anemic malaise cars from the 80s. Limp mode kicked in about halfway up starting at 0 charge. As soon as the plateau was reached it was back up to 125km/h. This is crossing the Coquihalla in BC, one of the steepest freeway segments in North America.

          In the end, that was user error on my part. Repeat with mountain mode enabled 20 minutes ahead of time and the car held a steady 125 km/h starting with 0 charge.

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            88 km/h is 55 MPH. Pretty good limp mode up a 7% grade. I guarantee you Vulpine’s homely little Fiat 500 wouldn’t have been able to keep up with you at that speed. His Jeep either.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        “You haven’t a clue how the drivetrain works, because your statement is rubbish. Which makes the rest of your rant ridiculous.”

        I was thinking the same thing. I actually have no idea WTF he is even talking about!…..LOL

        • 0 avatar
          Kevin

          Yep, he’s totally clueless. The ICE does not, in any way, drive the wheels of the Volt. It was never planned to. A 3 second Google search reveals that.

          Just another dude trolling a car he doesn’t like.

          • 0 avatar

            Sorry Kevin. The Volt’s ICE engine does participate mechanically in the motive force of the vehicle through the planetary gears. This occurs when the car is at high cruising speeds in charge sustaining mode. Motor trend describes it as such

            “However of particular interest, when going above 70 mph in charge sustaining mode, and the generator gets coupled to the drivetrain, the gas engine participates in the motive force. GM says the engine never drives the wheels all by itself, but will participate in this particular situation in the name of efficiency, which is improved by 10 to 15 percent.”

            Gen II Volt does not have the 70mph cutoff, it makes the decision when to add ICE engine motive forces dynamically.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    This is the typical trajectory of any niche-interest car. Most everybody who wants one gets one in the first year or two, and sales after that are a trickle of people who weren’t ready to buy/lease at the model’s introduction.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      The Volt was never intended to be a niche-interest car. The Volt was supposed to be the “Volkswagen” or “People’s car” of and in America.

      And it could have been, had it not been priced out of the reach of anyone paying less than $7500 in income tax to the Feds.

      The concept was sound; it was unique in its drive train (similar to diesel-electric locomotives from GE utilizing electric motor drive) and could have had mass-appeal had not at the same time electric-rates gone up and the price of gas down.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Price certainly was a problem. Also, despite GM believing they were selling it as a mass market car, I believe the message the public heard was instead that is was an exotic, specialized car. The styling screamed “tech experiment” instead of “practical.” The exterior was supposed to stand out, and the interior looked like an iPod. Salesmen in my company were given Volts, and they adamantly rejected them. (I don’t think the Volt was a good choice for them because they drive well in excess of the EV range every day.) Special parking spots at the executive office were reserved for them, but I don’t think they ever installed chargers, and since they were company cars, I know no salesman would be motivated to install anything in their home.

        However, I think a lot of things will be sorted out with the second gen model. I think they followed the Prius example of being ‘out there’ on the first gen to get as much attention as possible, then really push for popular sales with the second.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          redav, one of my brothers was an early adopter. Bought a Leaf. Didn’t work out, even in NYC (Manhattan/Battery Park).

          PEVs are just not catching on with Joe Sixpack and Sally Homemaker, and price is one of the reasons, plus the fact that many who want to own a PEV don’t pay more than $7500 in Federal taxes to qualify for the tax subsidy.

          But the Toyota Prius line seems to be doing better than the others. I wonder why that is?

      • 0 avatar
        clivesl

        Could you please cite anyone at GM ever saying that the Volt was supposed to be a “peoples car”?

        My lord, you people are just making stuff up now…

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          clivesl, it certainly was the hope of the current administration that more people would accept the Volt as the “People’s car.”

          Even the POTUS was out there selling the Volt during the early days of his tenure. Stated that the US government would acquire a fleet of Volts. Hey, how did that ever work out?

          GM never could say anything about their cars because they were a dead company, bailed out by the US tax payers and wholly owned by the US government.

          Hence Government Motors.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    You have to put this into context. The entire PHEV market has turned out to be a bust. The Volt is the most successful entrant in a segment that isn’t particularly successful — it even outsells the Prius plug-in.

    It would seem that the technological gains over a standard hybrid were not substantial enough to attract the attention of the tech/gadget-geek crowd that helped to create momentum for the Prius in the last decade.

    • 0 avatar

      GM has a knack for entering markets for vehicles nobody actually wants. Maybe they can make a version that comes with a tent, or with a back roof that rolls down.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        When GM started development of the Volt, the Prius broke US annual sales of 100k units. At the time, it was well known that Toyota was developing a Prius PHEV. In this case, GM was not being unreasonable.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          PCH: “At the time, it was well known that Toyota was developing a Prius PHEV. In this case, GM was not being unreasonable.”

          What was not so well known, at least not at GM, was that Toyota wasn’t going to build a $40K Prius PHEV that only seated 4, had minimal cargo space, wanted premium and only got 37mpg when the battery was depleted.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The Volt outsells the Prius PHEV.

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            “The Volt outsells the Prius PHEV.”

            Whoops!

            The PIP is a joke as an EV anyways. I can make that thing burn gas in 10 yards even with a fully charged battery. Nothing more than your regular ICE biased Prius with a bigger battery.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            “The Volt outsells the Prius PHV.”

            Is that an actual accomplishment? The Volt gets $5K more in tax credits than the PHV.

            I’m perfectly willing to admit, the Prius PHV is not an impressive PHEV. Even so, it would meet my needs and wallet better than the Volt.

            Further, it’s built as a regular Prius with a small bit of optional equipment. Their investment in the thing is miniscule and it gets them a foothold in the PHEV segment without generating losses. How is this not actually a win for Toyota?

            We can expect the next version to have more powerful electric motors to amp the EV operation but it will still be a Prius, get Prius economies of scale, get Prius “CS Mode” fuel economy and still have a lower MSRP than the Volt. There will be additional market interest in the next version.

            And the fith seat will be usable, as opposed to the joke fifth seat in the 2016 Volt.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            If you’re going to snipe about the Volt and make unfavorable comparisons to the Prius PHEV, then you have some ‘splainin’ to do as the marketplace is somewhat more interested in the former than the latter.

            As I’ve noted, neither one of them is a home run, so upholding the TMC product as some sort of business role model doesn’t lend credibility to your position.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            PCH: “… you have some ‘splainin’ to do as the marketplace is somewhat more interested in the former than the latter.”

            Principally by virtue of the bigger bribe. If these things were competing on MSRP alone, the Volt would be in even more serious trouble.

            Further, if you want to consider the global marketplace, I don’t know what the typical incentive structure is in Europe but, last I checked, Toyota was still able to sell the Prius PHV there, whereas GM had just plain given up.

            PCH: “As I’ve noted, neither one of them is a home run, so upholding the TMC product as some sort of business role model doesn’t lend credibility to your position.”

            As a business model, burning a few tens of $millions to develop an intentionally niche product is a far better plan than burning a $billion to develop an unintentionally niche product.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Well, I would hope that the Prius cost less to develop, since it was just a modest evolution of an existing product. The original hybrid cost $1 billion to develop, and it took some time to recoup the cost.

            I suspect that you would be far more upbeat about the Volt if it wore a Toyota badge. And I say that as one who has a great deal of respect for TMC’s business acumen and little good to say about GM’s.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            PCH: “I suspect that you would be far more upbeat about the Volt…”

            if:

            – It held 5.
            – It had decent cargo space.
            – It got 45+mpg in CS mode.
            – They hadn’t built a car that they could not possibly sell without major tax assistance.
            – Still, I’d overlook that if they had managed to routinely sell 5K/month with the assistance.
            – El Lutzbo hadn’t flapped his gums about how wonderful it and GM (and by extension, El Lutzbo) were and how clueless Toyota was for 4 solid years before underwhelming me with it.

            PCH: “The original hybrid cost $1 billion to develop, and it took some time to recoup the cost.”

            And, for that effort, they have HSD drivetrains in cars that range in size and capability from the Prius C to the Highlander hybrid (tows 3500lbs) and sell hundreds of thousands per year.

            GM almost certainly sank more than a $billion in development into the “hybrid” vehicles they developed prior to the Volt and probably lost more money where unit cost exceeded unit revenue.

            When GM started to build the Volt, I thought it was a mistake. GM clearly needed better variable valve timing and lift, an Atkinson cycle engine, an HSD-like hybrid system, lighter cars, better space utilization, better reliability and a host of other improvements. The Volt has – maaaayyyybeeee – gotten them close to a system that maaaayyyy, someday, be able to compete with HSD on a head-to-head basis.

            Instead, they went for a moonshot that was really no moonshot at all.

            Close to twenty years after the introduction of the Prius, GM has not shown that they can make one thin dime on anything like the Prius.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            You’re absolutely fixated on the seating capacity. Which is funny, since there is no evidence that this actually matters to the marketplace.

            It should obvious that the Prius PHEV’s configuration is not a hit. There are no fantastic role models in this segment.

            As I noted, the PHEV problem is not one of practicalities. Early adopters have other priorities, which none of the OEM’s seem to have targeted.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            PCH: “You’re absolutely fixated on the seating capacity. Which is funny, since there is no evidence that this actually matters to the marketplace.”

            I refer you to the case of Volt Cheerleader Number 1 – Lyle Dennis – who started GM-Volt.com and, eventually, returned his Volt for a 5-place PHEV from Ford.

            Alternatively, you tell me why a unique and, to hear so many Volt fans tell it, highly desirable, immensely satisfying vehicle that sticks it to Big Oil and claws money back from the clutches of the Evil IRS, which nets out to about $27.5K (or less, given the givebacks GM so frequently lays on the hood) can’t sell 5K/month. Go look at how other cars selling for $27.5K do and compare their monthly sales to the Volt.

            The Lexus ES nets out for a lot more and sells 4-5K/month. The Lexus ES hybrid is even more expensive and they move, last I checked, over 1K/month.

            By the way, seat count is one of the things I mentioned. I don’t know why you fixated on that. Of course, seat count is really just one aspect of a more general idea, “utility,” but it’s the easiest to evaluate.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            So this Lyle Dennis dude supposedly proves your point by switching from the most popular PHEV in the US to #4.

            Are you actually thinking about this stuff before you post it? Not only do you want to rely on an anecdote — he’s one guy — but it actually goes against your point.

            The Volt leads what there is of the PHEV segment. It’s hard to argue with a straight face that the C-MAX better appeals to the marketplace when it sells fewer copies.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            PCH: “So this Lyle Dennis dude supposedly proves your point by switching from the most popular PHEV in the US to #4. Are you actually thinking about this stuff before you post it? Not only do you want to rely on an anecdote — he’s one guy — but it actually goes against your point.”

            Look him up. His defection is not just anectdote, it’s news.

            PCH: “The Volt leads what there is of the PHEV segment.”

            Only if you fail to consider the entire world and ignore the fact that, in the US, it carries the biggest tax credit. It isn’t leading, it’s getting towed across the finish line by Uncle Sam.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I see that this is one of those bizarro Australian-style threads in which 2.5% is higher than 10% and the car that is in fourth place is more popular than the one in first place.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            PCH: “I see that this is one of those bizarro Australian-style threads in which 2.5% is higher than 10% and the car that is in fourth place is more popular than the one in first place.”

            Not at all. It’s one of those bizzarro Austrailian-style threads where 4 is as good as 5, 37 is as good as 50 and nobody cares about an extra $5K in tax credits.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            It’s just odd that you’re so fixated on the Volt when it outsells all of its rivals, including the one that you prefer. A more cogent analysis would note that none of them sell well, but I suppose that acknowledging that would quickly torpedo your much-repeated back seat theory.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Actually, GM has a knack for creating cars a lot of people want…

        Then pricing them two steps above what those people can afford.

    • 0 avatar
      Dirk Stigler

      Yep. You have to also understand that the Volt was always just a me-too Prius, developed independently at huge cost, which is why when it finally hit the market it came with a 30% price premium over the Toyota product, while fighting GM’s quality and reliability reputation. That a lot of otherwise-incisive people successful enough to afford one actually did so is a testament to the power of the automotive and technology media hype machines.

  • avatar

    #1 It’s too small inside – needs to be AT LEAST the size of a Malibu.

    #2 It’s too expensive for its size – when I could just buy a Cruze

    #3 The Liberal, Greener, Tree Hugger Agenda will continue to crash and burn and I’ll be there with a supercharged V8 to put the final nails in their coffin.

    The FREE MARKET ALWAYS WORKS (do not confuse “free market” with Crony Capitalism).

    If it was such a great car, people would choose it over the next car. But it’s not.

    No matter how much welfare subsidy you throw at it.

    If those MORONS at GM had simply built a PHEV Malibu (and Impala) and offered you a wall-charger for your garage FREE with every purchase…their install base would be so much higher.

    But oh – you wanna do it your way?

    FAIL then.

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      Macro economics: oil failed to climb as we expected it would. The #1 reason to buy this car didn’t materialize as expected.

    • 0 avatar
      colin42

      If those MORONS at GM had simply built a PHEV Malibu (and Impala) and offered you a wall-charger for your garage FREE with every purchase…their install base would be so much higher.

      So just like Ford did with the Energi Fusion? They’ve hardly run away with sales vs the Volt.

      http://evobsession.com/nissan-leaf-tesla-model-s-bmw-i3-continue-their-dominance-us-electric-car-sales-update/

      • 0 avatar

        BECAUSE THE FORD CARS ARE BORING

        • 0 avatar
          Charliej

          BTSR, you are boring too. Your bragging is enough to make most people puke. And I will be glad to stayout of your way. I try to avoid the insane at all times. Why don’t you go back to your imaginary world where some one actually cares what cars you own. By the way, if you have to depend on which cars you own for respect or admiration, you deserve none of either.

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        colin. The Volt may or may not have been a huge success. But, the car is brilliant in its engineering and design. Yes, over priced a bit. But, one hell of a car. The i3 is basically a waste. But, it is successful due its name. Just like most BMW’s. Bright and shiny. But, POS.

        • 0 avatar
          colin42

          Agree about the Volt. That’s why I drive one and I’m planning on replacing it with another when my lease expires

          • 0 avatar

            colin42

            You are the one of the few people who bought one.

            CONGRATULATIONS.

            But when you see me in your rear-view…STAY OUT OF MY LANE or you’ll end up eating smoke and pebbles.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            >> But when you see me in your rear-view…STAY OUT OF MY LANE or you’ll end up eating smoke and pebbles.

            Hopefully you’ll extend the same the same courtesy to Tesla drivers and get out of the way when they’re in your rear-view.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Early adopters don’t care about Malibus or Impalas.

        GM should have targeted the tech geek market with a space age look, a cool trademarked name for the drivetrain and all of the latest in connectivity. This should have been regarded primarily as a technology product, not transportation.

        • 0 avatar

          Though most of you either don’t see it or won’t admit it, the reason the MODEL S succeeded where the Fisker Karma failed is MERELY due to the interior space.

          The Karma was actually a more practical car if it hadn’t been so tight inside – thanks to the gasoline backup.

          The Karma immediately took criticism upon release for being ridiculously cramped.

          RELEASE A reasonably priced MALIBU and IMPALA SIZED PHEV and you’ll sell.

          Why am I shouting?

          To get it through their BANKRUPT heads.

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          “This should have been regarded primarily as a technology product, not transportation”

          The Volt would have made a very good Saab.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    New GM = old GM.

    Embrace the suck.

    They will only abandon it after they spend a mint, get it right, sales improve, and it develops a loyal customer base.

    Newest CEO will cancel it and move in a new direction with an all new algae powered Smolt.

    • 0 avatar

      Put me in charge of GM and we’ll turn out nothing but awesomeness.

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        I love the 300 and Charger. But, if the price of gas goes up to $4.50-5.00/gallon. FCA will sink again.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          VW16v, speaking of gas at $4.50-5.00/gallon… In my area, some gas stations were faced with sudden death because of the low gas prices so they raised the retail sell-price of all grades of gasoline at their pumps. They figured most people would pay.

          But there are a couple of gas stations who continue to sell at prices .10, .20, .30 cents per gallon lower, and that’s where most of the buyers go now to wait in long lines for an open pump.

          • 0 avatar
            VW16v

            Highdesertcat, Gas stations make almost nothing on gas even at $4.50 a gallon. The main profits come from inside store sales.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            VW16v, all the gas stations in my area feature inside stores, like an Allsups, or a 7/11, or a grocery store, even a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

            Even the dedicated Shell, Standard and Fina stations have restaurants, or fast food, etc as part of their appeal. But they are much higher in price as well.

            Still, I have found that in my area Bradley’s does the most business, and it is because of the lowest prices on gasoline.

            It probably is to attract more walk-in traffic for inside-store sales. They’ve got damn good pricing too, like 2 loaves of bread for $1.50, or gallon Milk for $2.00.

            This one place across the street is a huge Lowe’s grocery store, with a Sushi bar and restaurant, Liqueur store and Phillips gas station with car wash, and they match the lowest prices of their Bradley competitor across the street.

          • 0 avatar
            shaker

            “It probably is to attract more walk-in traffic for inside-store sales. They’ve got damn good pricing too, like 2 loaves of bread for $1.50, or gallon Milk for $2.00.”

            The wheat in the bread, the milk, and the gas in the car – all subsidized by the government (to some degree).

            Buy a Volt, and complete the circle! :-)

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            shaker, I’m just not an EV kinda guy.

            My druthers are a V8-powered full-size truck, a V8-powered full-size SUV, and as an aberation in my better judgement, two V6-powered mid-size SUVs and a V6-powered 1989 Camry sedan.

            But I think there is a place for all things EV in someone else’s life – just not in my life.

          • 0 avatar
            shaker

            HDC: I drove plenty of gas hogs in the 70’s, but the oil embargo, long gas lines convinced me that we’re far too dependent on fossil fuels, and I’ve had nothing but V6’s, and lately, 4cyl’s.

            I’d love a Volt (more to set an example that it can be done), but even with the subsidy, I can’t justify the purchase economically. (I may buy a used EV in a few years for putzing around the ‘burbs)

            Would love to see where most commuting is done efficiently, leaving us the option of plenty of fuel for the (often necessary in this big country) weekend rides and pickups.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @BTSR:
        That’s that’s the kind of thinking that drove GM in to barkruptcy. Their product portfolio was heavy on SUVs and trucks (with V8s under the hood), and very weak in small cars worth owning – they’d basically ceded those segments to the Japanese.

        Then the world changed faster than their product cycle, and they were left with nothing good to sell.

        Gas prices are low again, but would you bet a billion product development dollars that they’ll still me low in 5 years?

        If it were me, I’d met half a billion on the price going down, half a billion on gas prices going up, and sell whichever one the market wants in 5 years. Extra awesome bonus points if some of that billion can be bet on both sides (flexible manufacturing). But GM bet the the farm on trucks and SUVs — they were right four times out of 5, then they were munkrupt and had to be nationalized….

        As they say in business school, sell both sunscreen AND umbrellas to protect yourself from countercyclical demand.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    To bad because the Volt is probably one of the best American made cars today. I have two friends with Volt’s and they have had absolutely no issues. They also get over 700mpg to a gallon due they plug in at work and at home. The main problem with the Volt is the right wing Anti-American views of an American product. A quality American product that is built with UAW workers just pisses people off. Yes, the Government Motors is also a great Anti-American line. But, if those some fools researched Toyota and how the Japanese government has subsidies Toyota they may or may not have a different opinion. Bottom line if this car with the engineering and quality had a Toyota name on the vehicle it would have much better sales.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      The Volt failed because of right wing anti-Americans and the Corvette/Silverado/Sierra/Yukon/Escalade succeeded because of left wing patriots.

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        If Toyota made something compatible to the Corvette, Silverado, Sierra, Yukon, and Escalade. You could have a point. It would be nice to see a graft of Tundra owners and their political views. A real poll, and not just a select few on one or two sites. The majority of this sites contributors are clearly Japanese bias.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          Where Toyota competes with GM, it has mostly been winning since the 1970s.

          There have always been endless and varied excuses and denial. The invariable line is “The x and y are doing well and when the z comes out, it will be a game changer.” Nope, the game is the same.

          I would say the left and right and middle all embraced Toyota a long time ago. The votes are in

        • 0 avatar
          MrGreenMan

          Where you are correct is that the big Toyota SUVs are not in the same league (per the American market; individual choice may vary) as the giant BOF SUVs from General Motors. I don’t like the Silverado, but the Suburban and its nearby relatives are, indeed, a thing of beauty. It is not something I would drive, but I sure enjoy them as taxis more than Towncars. GM probably needs to bring some design back to America in other categories, because they often lose in American segments where they outsource to Germany or Korea.

      • 0 avatar
        Da Coyote

        Let’s keep politics outta this, OK? GM has excellent engineers, but their management is right out of the “I flunked engineering, so got a management degree instead” school.

        And Ford was not much better, and Chrysler was much worse.

        The reason Detroit is a third world ghost town has a lot more to do with inept management and unions than it has to do with any politics. If you want great examples of socialized management, you can always drive a Yugo or a Skoda.

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      You live in an interesting world about the intersection of politics and acceptability of traditional American brands. Polk and Gallop say that, after being in the upper Midwest, Republican is the predictor for driving domestic.

      http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jun/30/americans-voting-with-their-wheels-study-finds/?feat=home_headlines

      Perhaps it’s because the Volt was specifically a moonshot for a different demographic that it is so disliked by the political right – and, come on, the Volt was supposed to be the coastal Limousine Liberal’s domestic alternative to the Pious Prius – whereas the lowly Chevy Cruze was, for a time, impossible to get a test drive in the most Republican leaning counties of Michigan for six months after it went on sale? Chevrolet should have used some of that good will that had been built up for a decade with both Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity pitching their products before the bail-out, but they really did try to reposition themselves politically. Better the Volt is the symbol of that than the Chevy brand itself.

      Given that they are more than happy to buy those American products built by UAW labor, that can’t be as existential a hatred as you think. If anybody thinks about it anymore, they probably just want to see American ingenuity produce a world-class product without having to beg for government handouts, and it’s a little embarrassing to see the UAW workers paraded on Detroit news after being caught smoking and drinking during their lunch breaks. Everybody knows that UAW has met with economic reality and is losing it; at some point the Tier Two half-a-humans will revolt and turn on the Tier One you-owe-us crowd, but that really is your internal fight.

      I shopped a Volt, as I shopped a lot of things. I disliked it because it was a small car, and, although it got off the line fast, it felt like it topped out quickly, and the 9 second 0-60 figure suggests I had the right impression. I simply liked the Ford C-Max better. Then I had a change of heart and they were able to fix my previous GM vehicle. Perhaps they can fix both of my complaints with the Bolt.

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        “If anybody thinks about it anymore, they probably just want to see American ingenuity produce a world-class product without having to beg for government handouts, and it’s a little embarrassing to see the UAW workers paraded on Detroit news after being caught smoking and drinking during their lunch breaks.”

        Isolated issues are always pointed out by the anti-UAW speakers. Issues like that can be found in every environment. I work in the health care industry and we are always looking out for the RN that is drunk or on drugs. Yes, it can happen in almost any industry. CRNA’s anesthesia RN’s are some of the highest users of iv drugs.

        Whining about a few drunks that happen to belong to the UAW simply proves my point. Some people dislike American made products due to their ignorance of the UAW and how it helped create the middle class. Which also pisses a lot of people off.

        • 0 avatar
          shaker

          I think what PO’s the Right about the UAW more than anything is that most UAW members are actually quite conservative on most issues, but have to vote with the party that will defend their right to exist.

          And, don’t forget that the only reason that there are “middle-class” jobs at all in this country is that the non-union shops are compelled to offer competitive wages/benefits, much to the chagrin of their shareholders (who want ALL of the money).

          • 0 avatar
            clivesl

            I will say that as someone who lives in the epicenter of liberal elitism (SF Bay Area, FTW) that the Volt has put Chevy’s in the driveway of a class of people that haven’t looked at American vehicles in decades.

            If these 90% satisfaction scores I’m hearing are accurate, then the Volt has done a pretty good job of cracking a market that GM said goodbye to in the 70’s.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    I think PHEVs will become more popular once the Euro luxury brands enter the market in a big way, which will happen as a consequence of the Euro regulations on EV only mode in cities. Battery costs will come down and packaging will improve to the point where cargo space is not compromised.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      Add complex unproven technology to a German car- what could possibly go wrong?

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Good point! An avid fan of the M-B E350 4-matic, a friend of mine was so tired of having to take it to the dealer for warranty “adjustments” that after two years he switched to a Buick Enclave.

        Not my first choice because it is a GM product. Not his first choice either. The only reason he did not buy the Jeep Grand Cherokee was because the FCA dealer was too proud of it to offer any kind of incentive for him to buy it, offering to sell it to him for 5% OVER MSRP!!!

        The Buick dealer put a massive amount of money on the hood and made the sale. Time will tell how that works out for him.

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    1. Gas prices went down. This made the value proposition even worse.
    2. More expensive than a Prius, but does not qualify for the huge subsidies for something like a Tesla (not just fed and state money, but selling EV tax credits).
    3. Other than saving gas, nothing special. Tesla has good performance that appeals to eco-plutocrats. Tesla was smart enough to market to the 1%.

    My paranoid “tin foil” opinion: this car was to help get fed bail-out. Yes I know it was started before bail-out, but GM (and Farago) knew at least five years in advance it was going under and was going to need some bailout.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      Except the problem with that paranoid delusion is that the government wanted to ax the Volt program and GM had to beg them to keep it. The Volt had absolutely zero to do with the government decision to bailout GM.

  • avatar
    colin42

    In my experience there are 3 type of Volt haters

    1. Those that still (6 years later) have a chip on their shoulder about GM’s bailout

    2. Those who think the Volt is a pure EV, and for who suffer range anxiety

    3. Those who think we should all drive Helcats because we all need 600 HP to make it through McDonalds drive through.

    The Volt is a unique car which certain has faults but delivers the best compromise of a pure EV and hybrid. Sales are down due to lower gas price and a new model coming soon. This is great for me as my Volt lease is up at the end of the year and there will be bargains to had.

    • 0 avatar
      Sobro

      I don’t think the problem is Volt haters. I think the problem is the Volt don’t-give-a-damners. Much like all of those brown diesel wagon don’t-give-a-damners.

      • 0 avatar
        LectroByte

        Yeah, I don’t know any Volt haters. A lot of folks just aren’t interested in hybrids or electric cars. And it seems like when the Volt came out, GM could barely do a regular hybrid right, so you can understand the skepticism on something even more complex, and iirc, it was about double the price of a Prius, which had already been around for 10 years or so.

      • 0 avatar
        MrGreenMan

        It is a don’t-give-a-damn situation. It needs a differentiator. The C-Max and Prius V have gone in the direction of the larger people mover. The Prius-C gives you the suffering-for-our-beliefs version of a hybrid. The Volt concept had some style and presence that did not translate well. The batteries, of course, cut into storage.

        So, there are lots of directions that they could go to try to stand out more – they really tried the range anxiety marketing angle, and there just weren’t that many people who were interested in an all-electric car but feared the short range to actually plunk down money. Tesla has at least said – let’s start with luxury and performance. Toyota needs no differentiator as they are the default everyone differentiates from, but their Lexus hybrids have failed to set the world afire.

        I think they should go a little bit more in the performance direction. The CR-Z was slagged rightly for writing a check it could not deliver, so the affordable performance hybrid niche is still open (no idea how big it is).

        But, right now, who cares – it’s a me-too to the Prius even though we know at bottom the tech is different, it isn’t sufficiently differentiated, and so they sit and rot on the dealer lots.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      You need 600hp to enjoy the McDonalds experience. Volt plus McDonalds is insult to injury.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Sorry colin. I don’t fit any of your three types. I clearly state my complaints above and by no means do I consider it the best compromise of a pure EV vs hybrid; a 4,000hp diesel/electric locomotive is the best compromise–not that over-engineered piece of junk carrying the Chevy badge.

      What’s worse, GM used to build those diesel/electric locomotives, so it’s not like they didn’t have prior art and experience.

      • 0 avatar
        colin42

        Last time I checked, diesel electric locomotives weren’t hybrids. They were electric drive without any electrical energy storage. Beside an EMD is a pig to parallel park.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          I gather you haven’t heard of the “Green Goat” locomotive used for yard service. But that’s beside the point. The simple fact is that for all of that mechanical horsepower, railroad locomotives do not uses secondary gearing to send that horsepower to the rails; it’s all electric right down to the axles.

          • 0 avatar
            Kevin

            As is the Volt. You are completely, absolutely, and conclusively clueless about how the Chevy Volt works. The gas engine does not drive the wheels. It generates power for the electric motor. Sound familiar?

            Please, for the love of everything holy, do some research before you ever open your mouth about something you clearly know nothing about.

          • 0 avatar

            Hello again Kevin.

            “However of particular interest, when going above 70 mph in charge sustaining mode, and the generator gets coupled to the drivetrain, the gas engine participates in the motive force. GM says the engine never drives the wheels all by itself, but will participate in this particular situation in the name of efficiency, which is improved by 10 to 15 percent.”

            Source: motortrend.

  • avatar
    northshorerealtr

    Here’s the other thing–GM has done a lousy job of marketing the Volt. When was the last time you saw an ad for one? As car folks, we have perhaps a better grasp of what the Volt offers, but the average buyer is pretty much clueless about the car.
    EV mode? Check. Extended range? Check. Range anxiety issues answered? Generally check. Reasonable priced (in comparison to other cars of like size–not necessarily EV?) Maybe–if someone explains tax credits, and operating costs. (Is your friendly Chevy salesperson doing that?)
    Bottom line for me is a failure to beat consumers over the head and educate ’em enough to understand what the Volt is and isn’t. That kind of knowledge doesn’t happen with a fold out insert that happens the first couple of weeks after introduction, and then disappears.

    • 0 avatar
      meefer

      +1 I own a Volt (mostly for the carpool lane access) and almost every single conversation I’ve had about it involve some form of range anxiety or surprise that it doesn’t work exactly like a Prius. The only commercial I’ve ever seen didn’t explain anything about the drivetrain at all.

      My only complaint is that I need a bit more range to cover my commute (105 miles) but to get more range would involve a pure EV and I don’t have exclusive access to a charging station at work.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    The 2015 Volt was a significant improvement over the earlier version.
    Many miss the fact that Volt is a unique hybrid in that it does not have a mechanical drive train when beyond battery and battery/engine range. It operates similar to diesel locomotives with the engine and generator directly powering the electric drive motor.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      You’re only half right. Unfortunately it still has a mechanical connection to the wheels for when that battery ultimately does die. That’s one reason why the added more than 20 horses to the engine itself.

      • 0 avatar
        HiFlite999

        Completely wrong. (But you do not care). *Especially* when the battery has reached it’s minimum state-of-charge, MG1, the starter/generator is running mostly as a pure generator to drive the MG2 motor with the main battery as a buffer.

        The *only* time there is a quasi-mechanical connection is during a steady cruise when the battery is at the minimum SOC and the MG1 generator output can exceed the demand from MG2. In that case, MG1 is clutched to a part of MG2 thus providing a mechanical link between the gas engine and the wheels amounting to about 10%-15% of the total torque required. Unlike with a normal hybrid, the electric motor (MG2) *always* powering the wheels.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    The Volt’s problem is being a car meant to save money that itself is very expensive (for what it is).

    I think Consumer Reports or someone did a comparo a while back between a Volt and a Cruze (similar interior space). The end result was that it would take the Volt like 17 years to break even with the Cruze. Even though the Volt might have slightly cheaper operating costs, that overhead is simply too high.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Early adopters don’t buy alternative vehicles in order to save money.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        Volt early adopters are woefully thin on the ground.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          As I noted, GM did a poor job of positioning its PHEV to appeal to early adopters. (Then again, so has everyone else.)

          Early adopters don’t care about price or practicality. They do care about being on the leading edge of technology. but the Volt does not seem to be much more than a minor tweak of a standard hybrid.

          Early adopters want to feel as if they are in tune with innovation. Appealing to pragmatic late adopters is a losing game until the technology is cheap, popular and proven.

          • 0 avatar
            HiFlite999

            “but the Volt does not seem to be much more than a minor tweak of a standard hybrid.”

            I’ll agree that it seems so. It seemed so to me before I owned a Volt. In my use pattern, 50% of my *miles* are on the highway with the engine ‘extending’ the electric range. However, ~90% of my *time* is on on pure electric around town, due to the 40 mile range battery capacity – still much higher than any other PHEV. IMO, electric drive is the most important *luxury* option since the introduction of air-conditioning. It transforms the driving experience. No one would try to sell Vipers based on saving money. Yet, why do all reviews of EVs bring up saving money? Some might, others, might not. Why does anyone buy a Viper over a Corolla? The driving experience. Same with the Volt over a Cruze – yet that choice seems somehow mysterious.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “Yet, why do all reviews of EVs bring up saving money?”

            Political conservatives have a tendency to be uninterested in or even hostile to saving energy unless it saves money. (There is research that backs this up.)

            Likewise, they also presume that those who would save energy for non-monetary reasons are strictly motivated by ecology or politics.

            What they don’t get is that technology enthusiasts like to use technology to create change. You don’t reach those people by talking about money or negatives (such as avoiding “range anxiety”) but with positive messaging about the benefits of tech.

            The people who care the most about range anxiety are the same people who are most unlikely to buy the car in the first place. Targeting them at this stage of the game is just a waste of time — they won’t buy it, anyway.

            (Incidentally, I am one of those people. In most cases, I am a classic late adopter who wants to buy proven stuff that is affordable and at least fairly reliable, not to be a beta tester. Making a PHEV with me as the target market would be a waste of resources.)

        • 0 avatar
          clivesl

          Yeah, but look where they live. The Volt has done an admirable job of getting Chevy on the radar of people that looked at an American car since their Grandparents had one.

          You see quite few Volts on the ground around here. My store’s parking garage has three or four regulars (still fewer than the Teslas though).

          The point is, you can do all the comparos you want, the people that are buying/leasing Volts are never going to be caught dead in a Cruze, they will buy another Corolla or Civic.

  • avatar

    What GM did wrong, (and commented on their mistake at the time) was announcing the next version of the Volt and how much better it was going to be. This improved model was announced over a year ago!!

    Great way to kill short term sales of the current model. They succeeded with a dead center hit on their own foot.

    Expect to see the same from the Nissan LEAF. Now it is confirmed that the Gen 2 LEAF will have double the range, sale of the current LEAF will dwindle more and more as the release of the new LEAF gets closer. Thank GM’s announcement of the Bolt for that. The bolt was successful in getting other manufacturers to announce “me too” future models.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      GM is always doing that. You’d think they’d learn.

      I expect Nissan will ramp down production so they don’t get stuck with piles of Leaf I’s.

    • 0 avatar
      clivesl

      Honestly, this might have something to do with the fact that these cars appeal to geeks as much as car guys. It’s probably far harder to keep your new car model a secret than it is a phone.

      Maybe the thinking is to get out ahead of the inevitable leaks and control the narrative. That’s what I’d do, you can’t keep products secret anymore.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    If a car is worth anything, it would stand on its own.
    Would YOU buy this without the 7K incentive from us taxpayers?
    Is this car worth 34 thousand?
    Not to me.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Not me either. I’m not a fan of EVs but I do think they should be available for those who want to buy one, albeit without the taxpayer subsidy.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        I love people that complain about EV subsidies but yet have no problem pumping a gallon of gas into their vehicle. The word hypocrite comes to mind.

        So you think you’re getting a good deal on a tank of gasoline these days? You wouldn’t think so if all the oil industry tax subsidies received from the federal and state governments and other costs that went into producing that gallon of gasoline were included in the pump price.

        Such external costs push the true price of gasoline as high as $15.14 a gallon, according to a new report released by the International Centre for Technology Assessment.

        “In reality, the external costs of using our cars are much higher than we may realize,” the Washington-based research group said in its report.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          If there weren’t people naive enough to believe externality reports, there wouldn’t be any money to be made making them up. Subsidies for oil companies are called deducted expenses when the rest of the business universe utilizes them. Somehow there are sectors of the public that have been kept so ignorant that they buy into this false narrative of subsidies. Oil is the only reason we can afford to sustain such chumps.

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            Yo, California soft! I can do this all day. Who’s the chump?

            It’s fairly unclear just how much the government pays out in subsidies, but Doug Koplow of Earth Track has done his best to conduct solid analysis. The results, to say the least, are not surprising.

            The oil and gas industry currently receive $41 billion annually (adjusted for inflation). This accounts for 52% of federal subsidies to the energy industry given out by our government.
            Coal receives $8 billion annually, this brings the fossil fuel subsidies to roughly two-thirds of all energy sector federal subsidies.
            Nuclear energy, although no new plants have been built in decades, account for $9 billion annually. This goes towards currently running plants and waste management. The simple fact is that nuclear power cannot succeed without subsidies.
            Ethanol gets $6 billion, that’s not even accounting for the waste of food and rising food prices.
            Renewable energy gets about $6 billion annually as well. You can count on this number increasing in the coming years.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            You really don’t take hints about ‘subsidies.’ Here’s an article that can make you a better person, or at least less inclined to expose your limitations:

            http://www.forbes.com/sites/energysource/2012/04/25/the-surprising-reason-that-oil-subsidies-persist-even-liberals-love-them/

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Excellent article CJ. Gracias.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Carlson Fan, CJinSD is right.

          But the bottom line remains that a person is either FOR EVs and subsidies, or that person is AGAINST them. There really is no middle ground when it comes to EVs and subsidies. You’re either a believer or you’re not. No one is subsidizing any of my vehicles.

          What I see as the greatest factor determining sales of EVs is that they are priced out of range of the vast majority of Americans, even those who want them but do not pay more than $7500 in Federal taxes and thus cannot benefit from the tax subsidy.

          A poker-playing buddy of mine wanted to buy a Volt but recently bought a Hybrid Camry instead. And he was a Chevy kinda guy.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      Where was all of the wailing and gnashing of teeth when the Prius was being subsidized?

      Arguably the most successful hybrid in history received a big boost from Uncle Sam.

      The result? Less dependance on foreign oil, I would think.

      Which was the primary goal of the subsidies to begin with.

      Which is also why GM is even risking the Gen 2 (much improved) Volt – the first 1-2 years of sales (depending on the market) will still be eligible for the federal tax rebate.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        “Where was all of the wailing and gnashing of teeth when the Prius was being subsidized?”

        When your a Toyota cheerleader you tend to conveniently forget those little facts.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        shaker: “Where was all of the wailing and gnashing of teeth when the Prius was being subsidized?”

        Achieving 100K/year in the US with a subsidy that worked out to a $600 reduction in taxes? Don’t make me laugh.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    The Volt was developed to ensure the government would bail out GM, which they would not have done if all GM made was gas guzzling trucks and SUVS. GM never expected to make a profit on the Volt, and indeed they lose thousands of dollars on every unit they sell, but the losses can be classified as a PR budget for favorable government treatment. They might have improved the financial situation if they had created the Cadillac Volt instead of Chevy – put $1,000 worth of nicer interior and some Art and Science design cues and sell it for $50,000 – I doubt the volume would have been any less and they would have made much more per unit.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      You might want to check your calendar. The Volt concept was introduced at the Detroit Auto Show in 2007.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        You don’t think management at GM was thinking bailout in 2007? Furthermore, the concept could have stayed a concept, but they knew they needed to put serious effort into it if they were to get government help.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          I was hoping that it would be obvious to you that a car that was debuted in January 2007 was dreamed up some time before that.

          The Volt idea was being kicked around two years earlier. As I noted, it was playing catchup with Toyota, which was beginning to gain traction with the Prius and which was working on an PHEV.

          Meanwhile, it might pay to remember that Bob Lutz had run a battery company.

          If GM management thought that the company was headed for failure, then it would have been run differently than it was. Mulally behaved like a CEO in crisis mode; judging from his actions, Rick Wagoner had no clue (which is why the automotive task force showed him the door when the bailout became necessary in 2009.)

        • 0 avatar

          The Volt concept was introduced to the public two years before the bailouts, with substantial R&D having already been done before that. I believe that the patents wire filed for in 2006, but I’ll have to check. Talk of bailouts became serious in late ’08. Leapfrogging Toyota in terms of technology and consumer respect had more to do with the program in ’07 than sucking up to Washington.

          It’s possible that later on, the Volt program lived because the people in charge of the bailout were predisposed towards green cars.

          In any case, every large car company in the world is developing hybrid drives and most sell hybrid vehicles. GM has to keep some irons in that fire.

  • avatar

    another good car with bad marketing. GM engineers should unite with hourly labor to oust Steve Hill asap. that is only the first step to fixing GM sales and share. low hanging fruit is the easiest to pick.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “another good car with bad marketing.”

      Ha! You used to rip on the Volt all the time. And now you’ve changed your tune. Probably finally drove one, or have talked to an owner or two. Yes no one understands the marketing or lack-of with the Volt.

  • avatar
    RS

    GM didn’t do anything vastly better or worse than other plug-in hybrids. Hybrids wont’ be popular until their economics are right. The drivers that would benefit the most from them can’t afford them. Until then they will all remain boutique vehicles that even greenies won’t buy in numbers. Their sales prove that economics trump everything – even environmental concerns.

    The technical/economic environment these were conceived under has changed. Hybrids need huge improvements in price and performance to be viable with current conditions. Higher MPG’s from everything else for sale isn’t helping them and neither is the vast amounts of oil production from new production technology. But higher MPG’s from everything else is the better and more effective goal then a few expensive hybrids.

    In many ways, hybrid technology has been awesome, but also worked against them. As electronic power steering, start/stop and other hybrid tech gets economically applied to non-hybrid vehicles, their improved MPG’s keeps raising the bar against hybrid vehicle economics.

    • 0 avatar
      clivesl

      “Hybrids need huge improvements in price and performance to be viable with current conditions”

      They really don’t. 80% of Americans commute less than 20 miles each way. Something with the current Volt’s specs, albeit with legit seating for five and some cargo space would be the perfect vehicle for the vast majority of people today.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Looks to me like a combination of a niche market becoming saturated, much lower gasoline prices, and very bad winter weather in parts of the U.S. The weather will get better. The other stuff won’t.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    Who would purchase a Volt or any Ford hybrid or plug in hybrid? Answer … only someone who is biased to purchase a Detroit nameplate. The Toyota hybrid and plug in hybrid are superior to the Detroit products at a lower price. That is the problem with the Volt, and the Ford hybrid line.

    • 0 avatar

      The Toyota and Ford hybrid systems work almost identically. Both parties agree that they developed them independently and they have legal agreements in place to avoid patent litigation because the systems are so similar.

      You asked who would buy a Volt over an import? I have a neighbor who switched from Mercedes-Benz products to one, then two Volts and he recently added a Cadillac ELR.

    • 0 avatar
      STS_Endeavour

      Toyota Camry hybrid starting price is $26,790, while Ford Fusion hybrid starting price is $25,990. Lexus ES300h starting price is $40,580, while Lincoln mkZ hybrid starting price is $35,190. Only the Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid has a price advantage over the Ford C Max Energi (Toyota $29,990 vs Ford $31,770). Prices from Ford, Lexus, Lincoln, and Toyota websites.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Seating only 4 and the tight quarters were psychological killers. Range anxiety isn’t relevant if you leave this car parked any time you take the family to grandma’s for the weekend.

    If you drive high mileage, you are running on the not-so-efficient regen mode with regularity. If you drive like 20 miles each way (ideal conditions), you just don’t spend much on gas in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      azulR

      I looked very seriously at getting a Volt back at the end of 2012. It was really only after repeatedly trying the back seats that I somewhat reluctantly gave up on the idea.

      The second generation Prius was a big success because as well as any eco-conscious fuel sipping it may have had, it was also a very practical car. I have vague memories that when the Volt came out there were GM marketing types talking about how the intended customers were tech savvy early adopters who would be showing it off to their friends but with an implication by omission that boring things like practicality weren’t part of the brief.

      I have a 15 year old son who is now 6 foot 2. There is no way that he would fit in the back of a Volt without being totally scrunched up, so I feel a mix of vindication for skipping on getting the Volt and annoyance at GM for getting much of the tech right while ignoring what it takes to make a reasonable car. There was no need to compromise rear headroom so much for the sake of what the designers must have thought was style (though the Volt is by no means the only offender here).

      As an example of ignoring practicalities, with the two rear seat backs up, there’s a gap between them where anything loose rolling around in the hatchback trunk can roll through the gap under braking. It’s a trivial oversight but the distraction could even be dangerous. Can you imagine a manufacturer like Volvo letting a design like that out into the world?

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I brought up the idea of looking into Volt since there are some good deals out there, but the idea was shot down because of the lack of the fifth seat. It would be interesting to see marketing data as to how big of a factor that fifth seat issue is with consumers.

  • avatar
    baggins

    A friend of mine has a Volt. He got it to get carpool lane access here in Calif.

    I rode it once, and my overall impression was – cramped. It felt very very cramped.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Every GM car of that era is rather cramped for it’s size; that has a lot to do with Bob Lutz and his team’s styling preferences (aggressive tumblehome, cockpit seating, gun-slit windows) than with the Volt in particular.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I was a huge critic of the Volt when it came out, but not so much now. Getting a Leaf changed my opinion on the Volt, I suppose. I don’t consider the Volt to be a failure, although it has probably lost GM money.

    As long as the Volt has a gas tank, it’s a hybrid. Don’t bother with the technicalities of how it operates; consumers know it’s a hybrid. As a result, its sales have suffered recently due to cheap gas. The Prius has experienced a recent downturn lately.

    Pure EVs are a simpler sell – everybody understands a 1-fuel vehicle and how to figure its range. The Volt story is just too hard to explain to most people.

  • avatar
    clivesl

    Ooh, TV Spot

    Open, interior of a darkened garage. A 2016 Chevy Volt sits with its charger obviously unplugged. The door opens and the lights come on, artfully displaying the Volt and a young couple with an obviously sick baby.

    Wife – OH no, I forgot to plug in the car after running to the store today.

    Cut to husband and wife inside of the luxuriously appointed Volt.

    Husband (pressing start) – Sweetie it doesn’t matter, that’s why we went with the Volt, it’s more than electric.

    Narrator as the the family drives away into the night.

    “The All New 2016 Chevrolet Volt, it’s more than Electric”

    I have also have one for 20 somethings and a road trip.

  • avatar
    mfennell

    The simple answer is that GM is not interested in selling too many of the current Volts. Every “old” Volt sold is one fewer tax credit buyers are eligible for when the revamped 2016 model comes out.

    GM has hyped the next one plenty. The 2016 is supposedly better in every measurable way. 50 mile EV range, better fuel economy on cheaper gas, bigger, lighter, cheaper to buy, cheaper to manufacture. The drivetrain is 100lbs lighter (!). The battery has more capacity while being smaller, simpler (1/3 fewer cells), and 30lbs lighter.

    Outside the insular little world of Internet commentary, GM built a lot of good will with the Volt. I leased an early one and it was a great car. All my car nut friends agreed, much to their surprise.


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