By on April 9, 2015

A Volt from the blue...

“When someone thinks of an electric vehicle, they don’t think of Chevrolet; they think Toyota or Tesla.”

-Jamaal McCoy, general manager of Findlay Chevrolet in Las Vegas, quoted by the Wall Street Journal.

When the Chevrolet Volt launched at the start of the decade, the plan was to sell 70,000 units annually, with talk of selling as many as 120,000 units in later years. Now, the Volt is ending product of its first generation with roughly 70,000 units total finding their way off the showroom lots.

The next Volt will be a more advanced car, with a better drivetrain and seating for 5. From a qualitative perspective, the Volt is now better positioned to suceed in the marketplace. Unfortunately, it is being introduced in the midst of record low energy prices, and a market that is heavily favoring trucks and SUVs – the kind of vehicles that the Volt was intended to displace in America’s auto market.

 

 

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123 Comments on “Quote Of The Day: Chevrolet Volt, One Generation On...”


  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    I’d say it differently:

    “When someone thinks of a well designed, high quality vehicle, they don’t think of Chevrolet…”

    • 0 avatar
      e30gator

      I beg to differ. The 90’s are over. If you actually pay attention what’s going on in the marketplace and read the reviews, modern GM cars are as good or better than a lot of the Japanese competition. In fact, If given a choice between a Prius or a Volt, I’d take the Volt hands down. It doesn’t feel nearly as cheap and plasticy as the Prius.

      • 0 avatar
        DevilsRotary86

        I don’t know. I had an ’09 Cobalt that, while it was a nice enough car, had horrible build quality and workmanship. And then there is Davefromcalgary’s recent woes with his Verano Turbo. And there was a reader ride review about an ATS detailing issues with the HVAC system that are simply unacceptable in any vehicle sold under a luxury brand. I fear that there is still plenty of “old GM” left around stinking up the place.

        • 0 avatar
          e30gator

          The Cobalt was in its final year of production and a relic from another era in ’09. The Sonic and the Cruze are light years ahead in terms of refinement and quality, and quite honestly, they’re probably even better than a Corolla these days.

          Hell, the review right here on TTAC says this about it: “Buick has created a car that I not only rank above the Acura TSX and Audi A3 for overall performance and value, but also because it was also truly fun to drive and live with.”

          Indeed, Buick actually outsells both Acura and Audi in the US.

          The problem with GM is not the quality of their new products, but that they still have an image problem in the same way that Hyundai still does.

          • 0 avatar
            DevilsRotary86

            Too bad for them that I would never consider either the Cruze or the Sonic. I don’t buy 4-door cars. Just don’t, would even consider one. And for all the Cobalt’s faults in 2-door form it did look good. And it’s not that it was a “relic from another era”, my gripe with it was quality and workmanship. I kept taking it for warranty service because a ground lug was loose, an airbag connector was not pushed in all the way, or a clip wasn’t installed right. It just gave me the impression that whoever assembled it just didn’t care. I am not expecting leather and wood here, but I would like it to be assembled well. After that experience, I am reluctant to buy another GM product again.

            And I know what the reviews say, and that’s great. GM can design a good car, I don’t deny that. But again the comments from davefromcalgary and the reader ride review about the Verano Turbo and ATS respectively have given me cause to doubt their build quality. At this point, I will not be rushing to a GM dealer.

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            Is there a defense for the ’12 Malibu or current Traverse/Envoy etc? Cheap bits, poor build quality. The target keeps moving, and GM keeps straggling….

          • 0 avatar
            duffman13

            >Sonic and the Cruze

            For all the good press they get, I found both of them to be resoundingly mediocre in the instances where I’ve actually driven them.

            My brother-in-law has a Sonic and while it’s better than what it replaced (the Aveo was terrible) I still don’t think it holds up to the rental Fiesta I’ve had or the Fit, and the Versa is a hell of a package in the same segment for the price.

            Likewise with the Cruze – It may be good, but is it as good as the Mazda 3 or the Focus? No. I haven’t been in a new Corolla or Civic past 2011 for comparison, but you’re fighting significant market inertia trying to get past them too. The only things that I’ll say it categorically beats in its segment is the Dart and the Sentra.

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            “The problem with GM is not the quality of their new products, but that they still have an image problem in the same way that Hyundai still does.”

            And there is the issue. I will grant that the quality gap between Jaman and Detroit is minimal nowdays and in some cases maybe Detroit even produces the better car, albeit again, minimally better.

            So if I am dropping tens of thousands of dollars why would I gamble? From the buyer perspective I say “Maybe detroit iron has gotten better, but the Japanese stuff has been good for my entire life. All things equal folks choose the import.

            I think what Detroit needs is an era of “Fat Engineering”. They need to build cars that are significantly better than the competition for many years. 300k durability and class leading fuel economy in every model. With the modern state of the industry however that won’t be easy (to do it and make money anyway) and it would have to be a sustained effort really geared towards my kids versus me. A decade is a long time, but it took 30-40 years for the Big 3 to ruin thier reputations. It is going to take that long to get it back.

            Also, what is quality? Once you move past cars breaking down early in ownership, rattles, and the low hanging fruit that existed sometime through the late 90’s or so, it gets a bit muddled. Infotainment functionality, soft touch plastics, and things like that come to mind and the difference between great and truly awful in that realm is nowhere close to say, an 80’s Olds Diesel versus an 80’s Accord. A truly wretched car nowdays is still a pretty reliable appliance. It just may not pair so well with your phone and while that is annoying it is not going to turn off a generation of buyers for 30 years in the manner that someone who purchased a Chevy Citation would be turned off.

            So it is going to be very slow going to erase that reputation and stop imports from being the default choice. That is the bed they made.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            “The Cobalt was in its final year of production and a relic from another era in ’09.”

            If so, they had 4 or 5 years to practice building it and there’d be no excuse for poor build quality.

            “[T]they still have an image problem in the same way that Hyundai still does.”

            I don’t think Hyundai has such an image problem. They back their car with a 10/100 warranty and people like that. GM claimed that their 5/100 was just as good, nobody believed them, and recent stories indicate they’re planning to back off the 100 part.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        e30gator, Chevrolet build quality has become better in a market where being assembled well is considered the norm. They have also improved the appearance of their interiors from disposable plastic toy level to not that bad. What I notice is Chevrolets are a little heavier, probably because they don’t have the budget to use much high strength steel. My theory is Chevrolet has to cut the quality of their materials to pay for legacy benefit costs.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        What people *think* about Chevrolet largely depends on, well, cars that aren’t this generation.

        (And you might be, figuratively, the only person on Earth who’d go for a Volt over a Prius.

        70,000 in four years, with all the hype, AND the EV tax breaks?

        Toyota sold 16,000 Prius-family vehicles *last month*.

        Sure, some of that is doubtless pure reputation effects… but a lot of it ain’t.)

      • 0 avatar
        RogerB34

        Why would you make the Volt vs Prius decision based on cheap and plastic?
        Technology difference doesn’t matter?

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The future will be the judge of GM’s current vehicles. A 1993 Seville STS was pretty awesome between brand new and 30 months old.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        “In fact, If given a choice between a Prius or a Volt, I’d take the Volt hands down. It doesn’t feel nearly as cheap and plasticy as the Prius.”

        There is a reason the Volts best customers are former Prius owners. And all of them talk about how much better the Volt is to drive than a Prius.

        But you can’t compare the 2 because they are completely different vehicles. The best way to put it is a Prius is an ICE with electric assist, the Volt is an EV with gas assist.

        • 0 avatar
          Speed3

          I used to think idiot drivers just chose Priuses because of some idiot groupthink.

          Then I rented a Prius (the most current version), and GODDAMN that thing drives pretty bad. It is cheap and plastiky as hell. I’d even go to say that the Nissan Altima with its CVT that drives like garbage is better.

          Sure it gets amazing MPG but dont forget how bad of a driving experience it really is. I’m guessing Toyota enginered about 5K out of the cost via cheap materials and a lazy driving dynamics.

          Turns out its the vehicle, not the drivers.

          • 0 avatar
            healthy skeptic

            @Speed3

            I did a BMW CCA high performance driving session about a year ago, and the only vehicles they wouldn’t allow to participate besides trucks and SUVs (center of gravity too high) were Priuses. They said the Prius simply has way too many electronic nannies, which leads me to think it must be un-drivable without them. The nannies certainly aren’t there to tame excessive high performance.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            I have had Prius as a loaner when my Atima Hybrid was being serviced. The Prius technology is outstanding, and the mileage was a solid 10 or more mpg better than the Altima. Yet, given the choice, I’d keep the Altima even though I lose out on the HOV lane exemption and that says a lot considering the ride home is consistently 2 hours. Why? Because the second gen Prius handles horribly. It leans , squeals, and offers zero enjoyment behind the wheel. And that has noting to do with the hybrid drivetrain. It is fast enough and faster than it should be considering the mileage. It also has a lousy stereo and rotten seats, though the Altima seats are pretty bad as well. The interior is noisy and austere. Materials are not that bad in either car, though Nissan put the good stuff up high and it prgressivly gets cheaper as you go lower down in the cockpit. All in all, I’d rather spend the three hours a day that I am forced to in the Altima, no questions asked. Simply put, the Altima feels like a sports car in comparison. Why they can’t offer a “F41” suspension upgrade in the Prius is beyond me.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          “But you can’t compare the 2 because they are completely different vehicles.”

          And they’re $12,000 apart.

    • 0 avatar
      Mr. K

      I think that’s really unfair. The subcompacts are damm good (spark and Sonic), the compact and mid size are just run of the mill, I’ll grant you.

      The Impala is a wonderful car period and it’s only because GM wants to force people to go Buick/Caddy that it’s bereft of an AWD option – a silly decision IMO.

      Argue all you want, GM pick ups and SUV’s are the best – sure some say ford a few say MoPar, but they are all VERY good.

      The CUV’s are mid pack (Equinox and Traverse), or just fine (trax). The vans need help – either an obsolete design or a rebadged datsun.

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      I also think it’s unfair. My wife just got back from a week on travel, and absolutely raved about the Cruze she rented. Her daily driver is a recent Audi. She’s far from an enthusiast, but was really impressed with just about every aspect of the car. I think this goes back to the recent discussion that there really aren’t many awful cars anymore.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        … I think this goes back to the recent discussion that there really aren’t many awful cars anymore…

        This.

        That isn’t to say there aren’t uncompetitive cars in each segment.

        The Malibu is uncompetitive in its class. Woefully. But it isn’t a “bad” car.

        The Yaris is uncompetitive in its class. But it isn’t a “bad” car.

        The Edge is uncompetitive in its class. But it isn’t a “bad” CUV.

        The Armada is uncompetitive in its class. But it isn’t a “bad” BOF SUV.

        The Tundra is uncompetitive in its class. But it is by no means a bad pickup.

        The 370Z is uncompetitive in its class, but it sure is still darn fun to drive.

        The CR-Z is uncompetitive in its niche – woefully. But it still isn’t a bad car.

        The Scion iQ is uncompetitive in its class. But it isn’t a bad car.

        Etc, etc, etc.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          Yeah.

          I mean, I’m down on GM in general.

          But none of them seem to be real *stinkers*, that I can tell (except maybe the ELR, but hey… I’ll never SEE one!).

          If I was in the market for such a thing I’d look real hard at an SS before buying a Genesis V8.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Even the ELR is fundamentally a pretty nice car, it just has a really silly pricetag, and some really appalling marketing. It looks nice, has a fantastic interior, and by all accounts is fine to drive in a non-enthusiastic way.

            I too think GM has a lot of issues, but they are issues of direction these days, not overall product quality. Anyone who thinks Toyota still builds cars the way they did 25 years ago obviously has not been in one lately, and the same goes for GM.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            >> Even the ELR is fundamentally a pretty nice car,

            The ELR has that absurdly pathetic 3.3-kW on-board charger that has no place on a premium vehicle. To put that in perspective, my Leaf L2 charges at 6.6-kW and 2.1 to 2.2-kW when it charges at level 1 on a 120v 20 amp circuit with an adjustable EVSE. So, the ELR level 2 charges just a little faster than my Leaf can charge at Level 1. Even the KIA Soul has 6.6-kW capability. My Level 2 charger is capable of 12-kW with my current setup, so even my Leaf is using just 55% of my EVSEs capability.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Kind of irrelevant, given you don’t actually NEED to charge an ELR to go somewhere, and I assume it has a much smaller battery than a Leaf anyway.

            I would want a really fast charger too if the alternative is walking.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            >> Kind of irrelevant, given you don’t actually NEED to charge an ELR to go somewhere

            True, that’s the way you’d think it would be, but that’s not the way it is in the trenches. Volt owners I know (and see at the charging stations) want to charge every opportunity they can and you frequently find them on Level 2 stations – very slowly charging. Perusing PlugShare logs, you frequently find them listed as well.

            Once, a Volt owner tried to unplug my Leaf at an L2 charging station early into it’s charge and left a note complaining that the Leaf locked the charging plug while charging (it releases once it’s done). This Volt owner was so desperate to avoid gas, they tried to unplug a dedicated EV early into it’s charge. A few days after this incident, I was able to get a private charging location elsewhere in the facility. After I stopped using the spot, you’d see that Volt hogging the station for the entire day slowly charging to get it’s relatively meager whatever miles range.

            I don’t blame them for public charging. I’d want to run electric as much as possible too. Bumping the ELRs charger to 6.6-kW so that it charges as fast as a KIA Soul (or i3 Rex or 500e) wouldn’t have cost much, but they chose to take the cheap route instead.

      • 0 avatar
        stevelovescars

        I had a Cruze rental just a few weeks ago and was likewise quite impressed. It was very comfortable, quiet, and the interior was very nice (black leather with cloth on the dash). I think it’s one of the nicest compact cars out there. Would I BUY one? Not sure, I tend to go for more interesting vehicles, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to someone looking for a car like that.

        I think the next gen Volt should do well. The first one had some funky design issues in the interior. The Prius isn’t nearly as appealing to me but it is undoubtedly a more practical car to live with on a daily basis than a 1st gen Volt and that probably swayed a lot of buyers. To the dealer’s point, whether these people ever even shopped the Volt is another question.

    • 0 avatar
      STRATOS

      First generation GM junk experiment now dead, will be replaced with 2nd generation junk.

    • 0 avatar

      Small modification:
      “When someone thinks of a well designed, high quality vehicle, they don’t think of Chevrolet or Nissan…”

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Just as I feel Prius should become it’s own brand, I think Volt should too. This thing is as much a “Chevy” as is a Corvette (which also needs its own brand IMO).

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The Volt is intended to be a brand builder and to pave the way for PHEV draintrains across the GM lineup.

      Turning it into its own brand would be a good idea if the intent was to build a PHEV niche, but the concept won’t pay for itself over the long run if consumers continue to see it as a niche. Toyota has obtained this benefit from hybrids by keeping Prius as a nameplate — the consumer now associates hybrids with the Toyota brand, not just one particular car.

    • 0 avatar

      No, the Corvette is about all that’s left of Chevrolet. Most of these other things that wear the bow tie are not Chevys. Chevys have (Chevy) personalities, like the now-defunct Caprices.

      David (born less than half a day before the first Corvette rolled off the line)

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    I think of Nissan and Tesla. Does Toyota even sell an electric car outside of compliance vehicles?

    I worked for a Tier II supplier to the Volt, or E-Flex platform as it was called internally. For such a low volume product, it got a TON of attention and scrutiny. Any hiccup in program timing was basically all hands on deck.

    At the time we started working on EFlex, we had just recently launched the RT program (Chrysler minivans). Not an unimportant program by any means. RT got maybe 1/2 the attention of the EFlex, and the RT actual production was 10x the pie-in-the-sky volume we quoted on the EFlex.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    Have had my ’14 Volt for 15 months now, with 12,000 mostly (90%) electric miles on it. Like it way more than I thought I would. It is certainly competitive with the various Prii, and drives like the very good compact car that it is. (The Opel DNA is clearly discernible.)
    I too have a dim view of American build quality, but the Volt is world-class competitive in this area. I have had zero defects or problems requiring a trip to the dealer. The brake pads make no dust (that regenerative braking does a lot of the work) and should last forever.
    It is an incredible piece of engineering a tribute to the many talented people in the GM organization.
    Quibbles are few: some interior trim panels buzz or rattle, but the rest of the car is well screwed together. The car is very quiet, but this seems to make the road noise seem more prevalent than the DB meter would suggest. I look forward to examining the new model.
    BTW, those electric miles were generated by my roof-top solar. So yes, the best things in life are free.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      ” I look forward to examining the new model.” Does anyone know when that will come to be?

      Like I commented yesterday, they’re shutting down production of the Volt 1.0 to clear out that 7-month supply parked on the distributor lots.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The 16 Volt’s 5th seat is a joke, but I like its looks and its alleged performance is better than the 11-15 Volt.

      As a Leaf driver, I’ll kindly point out that unless those solar panels were a gift to you, that power isn’t free. With the cheap electricity I have (and northern latitude), solar has no reasonable ROI.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        In New Mexico, PNM, one of the electric power providers is in deep kim-chee with their expansion into solar and wind production.

        EPA mandates made it impossible to keep two coal-fired power plants operating but the costs of the solar farms and wind farms is not providing an ROI and PNM’s shortfall is more than 16%.

        So, they are petitioning the NM Regulators for a massive rate increase to offset PNM’s losses, an increase which some industry analysts say will almost double the current rates.

        Solar is not free. Somebody had to pick up the tab. And with so many poor people in NM already not able to pay their Electric bill, or their natural-Gas bill, this does not look good.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          HDC,

          The same is true in other parts of the US and also in the UK, Germany, Spain and, I imagine, anywhere else in the world where fiscally irresponsible and scientifically illiterate governments try large-scale substitution of solar and/or wind for hydrocarbons and nuclear. It does not and cannot work. They are niche applications and always will be, due to the basic problem of energy density.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            thelaine, since I moved into town, I don’t have an AC generator for this house, so I may have to invest in a (fixed/non-mobile) 22KW natgas-fueled AC generator to offset the increased cost.

            The way we get billed here is, the more residential KWh we use, the more the corresponding ancillary charges for delivery, infrastructure, admin, etc go up correspondingly, in tiers.

            Right now I’m on tier 2 with my cost being 1/3 solar, 1/3 wind, and 1/3 conventional&nuclear generation.

            The cost of solar and wind is twice that of conventional/nuclear, but I can’t reduce my allocations. I can choose more solar and wind, but why would I?, unless I was some greend!ck environmentalist ultra libtard. (Which I’m not!)

            OTOH, natgas infrastructure, delivery, etc is a fixed cost every month, like ~$35, and the GasCo passes along the cost of the gas without making a profit. Clearly the fuel of choice there!!!

            And even when my wife and I will be out of the US for months on end in the future, we must still pay minimum charges even if we use no electricity or gas or water. Es la ley!

          • 0 avatar
            GiddyHitch

            “The cost of solar and wind is twice that of conventional/nuclear, but I can’t reduce my allocations. I can choose more solar and wind, but why would I?, unless I was some greend!ck environmentalist ultra libtard. (Which I’m not!)”

            Good choice. It’s not like your grandchildren will need fresh air to breathe or clean water to drink. And even if they do, screw ’em!

        • 0 avatar
          Mr. K

          highdesertcat said:

          …EPA mandates made it impossible to keep two coal-fired power plants operating…

          Any idea how old those plants are? In general the coal plants closing are >50 years old and in this case PNM is rebuilding two of the four units to include modern technology including pollution controls…

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Mr. K. they were 2 of the San Juan’s coal-fired powerplants but I don’t know all the details.

            The case number on the docket is 14-00332-UT, Public Service Company of New Mexico before the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.

            I don’t know how old the shuttered plants were, but they can’t be very old because until just recently, NM imported most of its electricity from Arizona (Palos Verdes Nuclear @ Tonopah) and The Texas Electrical Grid out of Amarillo and El Paso, TX.

            And in the entire state of NM there reside just ~2 million residents, both American born and illegal aliens.

            My understanding is that the retrofitting of even relatively new coal-fired plants is greater than the anticipated life-span of 50 years.

            All I know for sure is that my electrical rates will go up on Jan 1 , 2016. For sure!

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            And maybe your grandkids rate of respitory problems will go down…just for starters. Maybe all such subsidies should be scrutinized…not just renewables but the absolute give aways that big oil has on public lands. But the conservative douche$ like James Inhofe in control the exact opposite will likely happen.

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            Interesting, I drive by a coal plant every time I drive up to Louisville that is being expanded and modified. It is an older plant having come online in 1972. It was slated to close, but somewhere existed a business case to have it conform to the new regs in spite of the cost. Granted it is likely cheaper to source Coal in central Kentucky then where you are, but still, obviously not impossible.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            mkirk, the air pollution that wafts up from “South of the Border down Mexico way” is far, far worse than anything any US coal-fired power plant could spew out.

            The air pollution around El Paso, TX, sometimes is so bad you can see it floating above the city from 45 miles north on US54.

            The pollution is not generated in El Paso. It is generated in and outside of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico (a sovereign country) and enters the Jet Stream for even distribution all over the mid and Eastern portion of the US.

            In Mexico not only do they burn coal, coal oil, refinery waste, used engine oil and the likes, but also old tires.

            It’s pretty nasty, but it is happening in a foreign country, with the pollution spreading itself north and eastward across the US.

            One thing I would like to see more of in NM because we have so much oil and natural gas, and that is to see that resource utlized more. Right now the oil cos are flaring off the natural gas into the atmosphere instead of using it to generate heat or steam to generate electricity.

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            @HDC…I can buy that. Seems like electricity should be generated with the local resources where possible. You have natural gas so it should be used. Kentucky has coal.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        “The 16 Volt’s 5th seat is a joke,”

        It’s not a joke, it’s made for a kid or a kid in a car seat. Sorry no one rides 5 adults in a car the size of a Volt. There is no reason that seat needs to be any better than it is. They didn’t change the layout of the battery pack, honestly what did you expect?

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          What did I expect?

          I expected a 5th seat where the occupant can actually put their feet on the floor, as with most cars.

          This one is occupied by a tunnel topped with a cup holder. Chevy’s response to this criticism of Volt 1.0 is pretty lame.

          I ride 5 adults in my Leaf fairly often.

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            I agree the cup holder was a dumb idea. If you ride 5 adults in your Leaf often your a big exception to the rule. For the other 99.9% of potential buyers the 5th seat does what it needs to do.

    • 0 avatar

      Do people in the US have a favourable view of Opel? Or do many even know what they are? My general view (from Denmark) is that they are strangely under-rated. I see them as a lot more German than Fords (though I don’t criticise Ford’s transnational character per se).

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Opel hasn’t been in the US for four decades. I would presume that most Americans have no opinion of them at all.

        • 0 avatar

          I knew about Opel’s long absence but wondered more
          about what TTACers thought. The Catera might not have helped things. As an Opel it was well viewed. Car Magazine praised the ride quality and the police loved them. Late models are really handsome.

      • 0 avatar
        Felix Hoenikker

        Opel has not been sold under it’s own name in the US since 1976. The brand was sold in Buick stores until it was discontinued here. The first new car I bought was a 1975 Opel Manta. It was considered 90% of a BMW for 2/3 of the price by the buff books at the time. It was far more advanced than the competitive domestic or Japanese brands at the time.
        Since sometime in the 90’s GM has sold rebadged opels as Cadillacs or Buicks.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        richard, there are a number of Opel products (like Safira and others) in my area but that is because there is a huge contingent of German Air Force and German Army military stationed here for rotating three year tours, and they bring their Opels with them from Germany.

        But for much of US, Opel is not a well-known nameplate, although we sometimes see tourists/travelers driving Opels with Canadian plates pass through this area to see the wonders of nature in the desert, like White Sands National Monument, or the man-made wonder of Trinity-site where the very first atom-bomb was detonated (less than 100km from my house).

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          No Opel in Canada since the 1970s either. Maybe somebody is putting Opel badges on their Saturn Astra or Buick Regal.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            HH, some of those people traveling in Opels with Canadian plates could be “resident alien” Germans, visiting Canada for an extended period of times, like several months.

            Some also bring their German RVs to travel across North America with. Others just a car.

            Resident aliens in New Mexico also have to get NM tags on their vehicles, like the German military has to, or their parents or family like uncles, aunts, cousins, that come to visit and stay with them for an extended length of time, if they bring their cars from Germany.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          I second the “Germans” thing, if only because, unlike Canadians, Germans have this strange obsession with the American Southwest.

          I notice it every time I’m at e.g. The Grand Canyon or any other NP in the Southwest.

          People speaking German everywhere.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Yup, “strange obsession with the American Southwest” no doubt popularized by Karl May’s books about Winnetou.

            When my mom wanted me to learn German as part of my “mixed European” heritage, Karl May’s books, in the German language, were my primer.

            Worked!

      • 0 avatar
        Speed3

        I saw a beautiful early 70s baby blue vintage Opel Kadett Combi wagon parked on the Streets of San Francisco in my neighborhood. Made me a little wet.

        You’ll see a lot of vintage European cars there like Citreons, Peugeots, Fiats and Alfas, in addition to Saabs and Volvos. I doubt most people outside of enthusiasts know of Opel, but Americans are familiar with Buick (GM – I see what you did there).

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        @ Richard – I think most Americans have no opinion.

        I agree with your “strangely under-rated” view. 15 years ago, three friends and I had a rental Vectra B five-door in Spain. It served us very well. Thanks to well maintained, largely empty toll roads and extremely lax speed limit enforcement, we cruised at triple digit (mph) speeds during much of our intercity driving. I recall that Clarkson (granted, he’s even less objective than most auto scribes) disliked the Vectra B, which is consistent with our notion of Opel’s being underrated.

        • 0 avatar

          Clarkson’s review of the Vectra B was criminal. Sure, it wasn’t an exciting car but it was intelligently designed for a particular and useful role. He failed to ask if the car did well what it was intended to do and instead damned it for not being the kind of car he prefers. As it was, the Vectra developed the Vectra A theme and provided a reliable means of stress-free Autobahn driving. Clarkson put a joke, the means, over the ends, an objective review. It was comedy and showbusines, not journalism.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      “The brake pads make no dust (that regenerative braking does a lot of the work) and should last forever.”

      Shouldn’t that be more or less true of every electric/hybrid, for the same reason?

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Gen 2 certainly looks better. Personally I feel if they made a wagon they’d get all the gold, attracting the old Volvo crowd that looks for discreet statements.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Toyota is closely associated with hybrids, not with EVs.

    Tesla has done an outstanding job of building its brand, but it is occupying a narrow niche that leaves it without a Plan B. At some point, the market will begin to fathom that the lack of profitability is a problem; aside from being acquired, its best hope is to create a viable battery business that can carry the car business.

  • avatar
    cartunez

    This is the best vehicle other than their trucks in term of fit and finish that GM makes.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I drove a Volt about two months ago. Unfortunately, its battery was depleted and all the driving I did was in range extending mode. I haven’t seen any of the reviews comment on it, but the Volt can barely get out of its own way in range extending mode and the noises it makes are less than pleasant.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The Volt is a plug-in hybrid. But when you say ‘hybrid’, people think of Toyota.

    Toyota basically doesn’t make an EV, so his statement shows how misinformed he is. The RAV4 EV was a short run effort powered by… Tesla.

    Tesla is the name that comes to mind first, then maybe Nissan. Tesla has the glamor, but Nissan has the volume.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      The Volt is an extended range EV. A hybrid implies a battery recharged by the engine, which the Volt does NOT do. Thought this was hashed out four years ago, but memories are short and understanding slight.

      And then there was all this Tesla gloriousness from three weeks ago?

      http://www.hybridcars.com/toyotas-rav4-ev-recalled-due-tesla-supplied-component/

      Toyota received these motors and batteries from Tesla as part payment for Tesla taking over the Fremont factory.

      And that wasn’t the first complaint either. This is an owner’s report from two years ago. Scroll down to the last section. Ludicrous and incredible.

      http://insideevs.com/will-toyota-cancel-the-rav4-ev/

      When I think of Tesla, I think of a company led by a blowhard always promising more than he delivers But that’s just me.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        That last line could describe Bob Lutz and his handling of the Volt. The Volt isn’t a bad car… but there was quite a gulf between what Maximum Bob promised and what he delivered.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        “The Volt is an extended range EV. A hybrid implies a battery recharged by the engine, which the Volt does NOT do. Thought this was hashed out four years ago, but memories are short and understanding slight.”

        “A battery recharged by the engine” is exactly what GM says the Volt does; that’s what “range extender” means; using the engine as a genset.

        (Did you mean “hybrid implies the engine drives the wheels as well as charging the motor”?

        That’s what I presume, being as that’s what most people think it means, and makes more sense.

        Like the Volt does, according to Edmunds?

        http://www.mlive.com/auto/index.ssf/2010/10/is_the_chevrolet_volt_a_true_e.html

        “The 4ET50 is, however, in fact directly bolted to the 1.4-liter, four-cylinder Ecotec internal combustion engine. When the Volt’s lithium-ion battery pack runs down, clutches in the 4ET50 engage and the Ecotec engine is lashed to the generator to produce the electric power necessary to drive the car. However under certain circumstances — speeds near or above 70 mph — in fact the engine will directly drive the front wheels in conjunction with the electric motors.”

        If the gas engine is geared to the front wheels, that doesn’t sound like anything but a (very limited use case!) hybrid to me.)

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        Exactly. The Volt NEVER needs its gas engine to motivate it when the battery has a sufficient charge. Throw it in sport mode, mash the throttle to the firewall and hold it there all the way to its 100 MPH limit and NEVER, and I mean NEVER, will the ice fire up to help accelerate the car if there is sufficient charge in the battery. That is why it is an extended range EV and not a Hybrid.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          Unless it can toss it’s engine out at the side of the road and pick it up later – it’s still a hybrid. An extended range EV that extends it’s range with something other than a battery or electricity is still a hybrid. I think the SAE proposed definitions (last time I looked) put EREVs as a subset of PHEVs, which was a subset of electrified vehicles. Maybe someone with access to the standard can look it up.

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            My point is the Volt doesn’t need its ICE to help move it unless the battery is depleted. Which can’t be said of the Prius, PIP , Ford Cmax and every other car on the market called a “Hybrid.”

            It is and always has been in a class by itself. It is an EV with gas assist. Everything else is an ICE with electric assist.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        The Volt does use the ICE to recharge the battery, no not to a full SOC but it does still charge the battery in the same fashion as other cars marketed as Hybrids. It just has such a large capacity battery that there is not the need or really the conditions to charge it to a full SOC.

  • avatar
    mikedt

    If they could have priced (non-tax rebate prices) a Volt even close to the cost of a Prius they would have achieved those sales numbers.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Not really. The Volt is still a dual-fuel vehicle, and a Level 2 home charger is the best way to own the car. That presents a hassle problem, and a secondary cost/installation problem for many buyers.

      Most people prefer the simplicity of just using gas, coupled with the reliability of a Toyota.

      I think Nissan was more modest with its sales projections for the Leaf, but its limited range, cold/hot sensitivity, depreciation, and the home charger issue are obstacles many buyers don’t want to bother with. Even still, it has outsold the Volt (barely), at least for now.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        The biggest exception most people I know have with the Volt is the lack of that fifth seat. Personally, that wouldn’t be an issue for me, but for some it’s really a big deal.

        As far as the Leaf goes, Nissan has steadily improved the car over the years and has certainly mitigated many (but not all) of the problems – including the temp sensitivity issue by changing the battery chemistry on newer cars. I think B mode helps a lot if you can master it’s use in traffic, and the 6.6-kW on-board charger really speeds up L2 charges. Level 3 charging stations are expanding with new ChargePoint and EvGo expansion programs. Over 9,500 miles since September and sub-zero F temps didn’t keep it from making 50 mile non-stop trips, so I really haven’t been limited.

  • avatar
    Bob Loblaw2

    I need a volt that actually carries stuff. How about a Volt in the HHR-Cargo edition?

  • avatar
    thelaine

    I am a little surprised to see GM stay committed to this vehicle. They tend to lurch from one thing to another. I think the Volt will eventually sell in much greater numbers and its technology will spread to other GM vehicles. Whether the Volt program will ever make money, I wouldn’t know.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The Volt isn’t a bad car, and it’s politically valuable to GM. I expect the Volt nameplate to be around for a very long time.

    • 0 avatar
      Mr. K

      GM knows that in the future it will be easier to sell an electric vehicle then an IC vehicle.

      For most urban and many suburban customers an electric vehicle will suit them just fine once they get used to the differences.

      The Volt buys them the technology for both electric vehicles as well as hybrids that will sell well when the oil market stabilizes ain in a few years.

      2.75 a gallon premium is nice, but I know it’s not going to last and when it goes back to 4.50 the 99 Lincoln must go.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      Didn’t Toyota originally make little or nothing on the Prius for the first few years, until it finally found its legs in the marketplace?

      I think the Volt and its underlying technologies are still a good long-term bet for GM. The Volt certainly isn’t seen as a flop or a lemon. The tech will continue to improve, and can gradually be extended to other product lines.

  • avatar
    carguy

    This is probably more of a testament to GMs misplaced optimism that their first gen product could somehow take on the 3rd generation technology of their competitors.

    The first gen Prius didn’t sell well but Toyota stuck with it and eventually produced a very popular product. If GM wants to get this right they need to understand that you don’t create perfection in a single development cycle.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Judge and jury still out with the Malibu plans now announced.

    If GM can build a Malibu that was the 2008+ version good (compared to it’s 2008 contemporaries), had a useable backseat, and a trunk, and the Volt drive train can get it to 48 MPG, AND it doesn’t cost a ridiculous premium to get there – extension of the platform amortizes the investment cost.

    Surprised no one has mentioned the $75,000 elephant in the room and the abject failure the ELR is.

    Surprised that he says when people thing electric they think Toyota when Toyota has killed off the Tesla partnership derived previous gen RAV-4, and has a very limited plug-in hybrid with the Prius.

    If anything – when I think electric I think Tesla and Nissan

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    I work in one of the towers in downtown Toronto and my co-worker just last week cut a corner too tight resulting in a grand in damage to his Volt’s passenger side rear door in one of the underground garages.

    That’s all I have to add about the Chevrolet Volt.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Just got back from LA. I’m from Alberta, land of the Bro’ Truck, and was astonished at the number of smaller cars and especially electric and hybrid cars I saw in California. THere were a fair number of Volts, but the Tesla and Fisker far outsell it in my freeway straw-poll. The Prius is just about every 3rd car on the road it seems. I now believe the electric car is viable and will only get better (for warmer climates anyway).

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I just started a new job, and my organization has a few Volts in the fleet. My coworkers, who aren’t really car people, had no idea how it worked (most seemed to think it was a regular hybrid, or a full electric car). GM doesn’t seem to have worked all that hard to promote it (although, hybrids in general don’t seem that successful in Canada, perhaps because we already buy smaller, more efficient cars out of necessity).

    It also still seems baffling that the Volt requires premium fuel if the generator is just a plain Ecotec derivative.

    • 0 avatar
      colin42

      This is true. Many people who ask me about my Volt think it’s pure electric. I even had one guy argue with me that a Volt wouldn’t work for him due the the limited range of ~40 miles. Even though I pointed out the gas engine, he still continued with the same argument.

      More and more people are realizing the benefit of a used Volt (for ~$15K) as a Commuter car. We have EV chargers at one work location for 2 year, in the past 6 months the number of Volts using them has increased from 3 to 7. These have typically been brought by people living ~35 miles away.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        WOW, talk about stupidity. That’s just scary. What would you know about how it(Volt) works, you only own right?……LOL

        You do bring up a good point. Even after almost 4 years most people still have no idea what the Volt is and how it works. Shame on GM.

  • avatar
    Rday

    all cars are definitely getting better. but with all the key/ignition problems that gm covered up for many years I don’t think that smart people take GM seriously anymore. People that don ‘t read car magazines or newspapers/tv news just are out to lunch as smart consumers. So GM has a car/truck for people like this…bottom feeders we used to call them.
    My buddy just bought a new GMC pickup loaded. for the last week he has been trying to find out why over 50 mph he experiencing terrible read end noise/vibration and the dealer is clueless and helpless evidently as far as knowing what to do. Should have bought a toyota… But he wants to be patriot and wants to buy american even if it is made in mexico or canada. Some people like Jerry have much more money than common sense but you can’t tell him anything. So he will have to put up with all the bullshit and excuses/run around that GM is famous for. Sometimes you actually get what you deserve.

    I just bought a Dodge Promaster and like it. but the electronics are primitive and simple….lacking in many functions. Toyota or Honda would never have turned out a product so cheap and backward. Still like the van but if Toyota ever builds one and I will one of their first buyers,
    I just know that no matter what toyota or honda builds they will stand behind it and make sure it is fixed/corrected quickly and kindly.
    nuff said.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      That is funny, of course the electronics are primitive and lacking in many functions it is a commercial vehicle. The vast majority of the buyers are not the ones that drive them so they don’t want and won’t pay for many if any frills. So the mfg has no incentive to offer frills.

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      Rday

      What an way to call a very large number of people stupid. Do you really think that Honda or Toyota would build something like the Promaster (a work van am I right?) and load it up with high tech stuff?

      It’s not like Honda or Toyota would hide people getting killed by exploding airbags or stuck accelerator pedals for years would they? Oh wait, they did. They would never have to recall (quietly) a whole generation of pickup truck because the frames were disolving prematurely…oh wait they did. They would never have expensive hybrid powertrain/battery problems..oh wait.

      Get with the program man and stop being a jerk.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    Chevrolet recommends premium fuel for the Volt if will be stored in the tank for an extended period as when the driver will be using electric mode moat of the time. It’s not about the octane, it’s the additives.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      That’s BS. They included a fuel burn-off cycle so that gas would be never be dangerously stale, anyway, so why require premium fuel?

      The real reason was to allow increased compression ratio and efficiency in an otherwise completely unsophisticated engine; otherwise the CS mode fuel economy would suck worse than it already does.

      My chemical engineering friends assure me that there’s no substantial difference in shelf life between different octane ratings.

      • 0 avatar
        PonchoIndian

        you have friends? Was wondering when you were going to put in your 1/2 a cent.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          Yes, I do have friends. You can add that to the long list of things about me that you envy.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Kix
            Witty, I’m impressed. Nicely done. Happy Friday!
            PS. I don’t envy you at all on any level.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            I take that back, there is one and one thing only I envy about you…

            It is your ability to get any kind of joy and excitement out of driving the turd of a Corolla and claim that you find it even remotely exciting to drive… I either envy your ability to lie to the world and think it’s truth, or you ability to actually get driving pleasure out of the most boring appliance on the planet. Either way I want what you’re smoking, or drinking or popping..

  • avatar
    dwford

    The problem withe the Volt is, #1 it’s ugly, #2, it only seats 4, #3 its expensive. Then it came out it was intended to be a leapfrog technology, but the tech was duplicated pretty rapidly by Ford with multiple models, by the Prius plug in, etc.. GM never extended the tech throughout its lineup (how many hybrids does Toyota/Lexus make?). The new Volt solves many of these problems, but GM has lost the first mover advantage.

    GM has a long history of skipping the mainstream design that they could easily nail for moonshots that miss. The Volt is merely one of them.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      Sorry but Ford or Toy doesn’t make anything like the Volt. Give me a PIP with a fully charged battery and I’ll have it firing up its ICE before I reach the end of my block. I’ll do the same with a Ford. And the 2nd Gen Voltec was designed so that it can easily run like a traditional hybrid. So saying GM hasn’t leveraged the Volt technology to other models is false. It just took a little while. The new Malibu will offer the best, most efficient hybrid system on the market.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        The Malibu will use Volt parts, but not Volt functionality.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Yes the PIP will fire up its ICE if you put the pedal down too far or actually want to do freeway speeds. The Energi vehicles and the plug in Accord on the other hand do work like the Volt as a pure EV until the battery is depleted, although with a lower pure EV top speed for the Fords and less pure EV range.

        The Malibu will not offer the most efficient hybrid system in the world that title belongs to the Accord for now and the foreseeable future. Best we will have to see, Ford and Toyota to a lesser extent have the systems proven to be durable over the long run which I believe is a large factor in being the “best”. Honda has the best drive train tech but a poor track record with their battery durability. Of course the Accord may change that but until we see them with 200K + on their battery packs we will have to wait before crowning them the overall best.

        Yes Ford beats Toyota in overall hybrid system durability at this point. Look up the gov’t auctions and you’ll find many Pruis with “bad main battery pack” w/o that many miles on them while the Escape hybrids of a similar age have more miles and I have never seen one listed with a “bad main battery pack”.

  • avatar
    hoosierintexas

    My wife and I had a 2012 Ram 1500 LoneStar edition that was a good truck but not great. Our commute needs changed and so did our income so we switched to a 2014 Silverado crew LTZ. This was one of those cases where we should have taken a longer test drive and not to listen to a salesman. The 5.3 engine is nice, the interior is much improved, the fit and finish are great and interior noise level was super quiet. Two things killed it after owning it for 6 months: the Chevy MyLink is awful. It is slow to respond and is also not very intuitive. But the nail in the coffin was the transmission. It is geared way too aggressively for fuel mileage, and it had many dead spots where it would hesitate to accelerate at the worst possible times, notably when trying to merge into Houston traffic. A software update did not help and even though I noticed it on the test drive, I was told it would improve after learning our driving habits. A quick Google search confirmed that it is a known issue.
    Needless to say, I now have a 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie crew sitting in the driveway. Chevy and GM have made great strides, but they are not there quite yet.

  • avatar
    SV

    “From a qualitative perspective, the Volt is now better positioned to suceed in the marketplace. Unfortunately, it is being introduced in the midst of record low energy prices, and a market that is heavily favoring trucks and SUVs – the kind of vehicles that the Volt was intended to displace in America’s auto market.”

    Meaning what, exactly? That GM shouldn’t have renewed the Volt because gas prices are low? I mean, gas prices will be low forever, right?

    They make trucks and SUVs too, you know. LOTS of them. Even when demand is low, they should keep the gas misers fresh, because you never know when gas prices will go back up again. I think GM learned that lesson pretty clearly when, if you recall, they went bankrupt.

    (also – record low energy prices? Assuming, given the automotive context, you mean oil specifically? because it’s only cheap in the context of the last 5 years or so; historically speaking, it’s still pretty pricey, even when taking inflation into account).

  • avatar
    craiger

    My dad was a GM man, and I was too for many years. I’m not anti GM. I’m a stock holder actually. One thing I’ve noticed is that people often make excuses for a previous gen of a particular GM car, and also say that the newer ones are better. Fair enough. But they always seem to be a generation behind the competition.

    That being said, I rented an Impala last year, and what a wonderful car it is. I wouldn’t mind owning one at all. And just to prove my bona fides, I’ve owned an E39 and a Cayman.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Honestly, I do think GM when I think Electric. I worked for a Saturn Dealership when the impact was available and one came through once. It was so different than anything out there that it made an impression. Granted, that largely only serves to show my age…I am sure I am in the minority.

    But yes, Toyota=Hybrid, Nissan=Frontier (Only because I climb in one every day), Honda=Prelude (again, early impression) and if I had to pick a modern make that = electric I’ll go Tesla.

  • avatar
    stodge

    I looked at buying a Volt not long ago. I think it’s a great vehicle – I love the extended range, as opposed to a full electric car like the Leaf. But for me the driver’s seat was horrible and there wasn’t enough rear leg room. The seat felt like something below a Cruze, which for a car costing over CAN$30k is unacceptable. The interior plastics feel and look cheap, although I could probably live with that. But the seats killed it for me. Otherwise I would have bought one. I’ve looked at and sat in many GM vehicles (driven some) and I always get the impression that the bean counters were allowed to cut too many corners when they should have been told to keep out of the cookie jar. GM has improved I think, but there are still hints of the old GM hanging on for dear life.

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    I’m going on my 2nd year with my Volt. It is not a perfect car, but it is very, very good for what I need: commute 66km total a day with free charging at work. 3 tanks of gas in two years /34,000 kms of commuting: in 2 years it used less gas than my 200cc KTM dirtbike used in one summer.
    Bus service would cost $7,50 and take 1.5 hr each way. Bicycling/walking would add probably 10 years to my life expectancy provided I did not get hit by a car/truck at 3am when leaving for work.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Poor Volt can’t catch a break. It was introduced during Carmageddon, now the gen 2 is coming when gas prices are incredibly low. At least GM will sell plenty of Suburbans.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Volt 2, if it lives up to the hype, is what Volt 1 should have been.

    – Nominal seating for 5 (although the 5th seat is, arguably, a bad joke).
    – 40+ MPG in CS mode on regular gas (still, the Prius PHV gets 50).
    – Probably lower cost.
    – Good looking (tastes differ but that’s my opinion).

    They’ve lightened it up, reconsidered the battery engineering, ditched the crappy iron block Family Zero (selected because it was cheap and available) in favor of something more sophisticated and generally improved it in many ways.

    The tragedy here is that Volt 2 may be what Volt 1 *could* have been. Andrew Farah (I think) was heard at the introduction to say, “this time, we ran it through the whole process [of design and engineering].” Last time, they were just scrambling in response to El Lutzbo’s dicktates. The car was designed from the top down on a paper napkin and it shows. In spite of the “moonshot” declaration, GM didn’t put key resources into this car to make it a real winner from the get-go. It was pretty obvious what was going to happen when one of the key people, Frank Weber, bailed before launch and went to BMW.

  • avatar
    lostindecoland

    Have a volt. It’s as quiet as my old lexus. My old pruis averaged 45 mpg, the volt – 60 mpg even with the considerable long distance driving that I do. The volt is very comfortable on long trim trips; unlike the prius. It handles better than the prius. Yes the looks are rather mundane but overall it is one of the few cars that I can recommend as an every day driver without reservations.

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