By on May 4, 2015

2016 Chevrolet Volt at NAIAS Detroit

Over the weekend, General Motors announced the 2016 Chevrolet Volt extended-range hybrid car will have a MSRP more than a thousand dollars lower than the current price of the first-generation car. The next Volt will have a base MSRP of $33,995 (including $825 as a destination fee), which GM say is about $1,200 cheaper than the 2015 Volt. With a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 still in place, the new Volt could cost as little as $26,495 before any applicable state-level subsidies.

The Volt will not only be cheaper to buy, it should be less expensive to operate. Range when running in EV mode has been increased by 31 percent to 50 miles. When powered by gasoline it will get 41 miles per gallon on the EPA’s combined traffic cycle. In comparison, the current model is rated at 38 EV miles and 37 mpg. Another economy will be gained by the fact the combustion engine will run on 87 octane gasoline, unlike the first-gen Volt requiring premium fuel.

Now that the first Volt is going away, it’s probably appropriate to perform a postmortem. Has it been a success or a failure?

Introduced as a concept with great fanfare in early 2007 and championed by Bob Lutz as a way of gaining technological and environmental credibility for GM in the face of Toyota’s ascendancy, the Volt took almost four years to get to production. This lead to considerable skepticism, not the least of which was published on TTAC. Those four years spanned the time of GM’s financial crisis, subsequent bankruptcy and bailout by the U.S. government. It’s not much of a guess to say the Volt project survived bankruptcy, while the entire performance-oriented Pontiac did not, probably because of the environmental and alternative energy priorities of the Obama administration. For a while, the Volt was the favorite whipping boy for critics of the administration, particularly those fond of using the term “Government Motors”. It’s died down a bit since.

2016 Chevrolet Volt at NAIAS Detroit

Politics has affected the way people see the Volt, judging its success in ways they wouldn’t necessarily evaluate other automotive enterprises. We saw evidence of this in the way a fire in one crash tested Volt received more attention than the hundreds of thousands of real-world car fires happening every year. The real world isn’t always as binary as the political world can be.

While the Volt hasn’t set any sales records, I can’t bring myself to say that it’s been a failure, even though it’s undoubtedly fallen short of sales predictions made by former GM CEO Dan Akerson. When the Chevrolet Volt went on sale in late 2010, General Motors executives publicly projected sales of 60,000 units a year. Per GoodCarBadCar, through the first four months of this year, Chevy has delivered a grand total of 76,136 Volts in about four and a half years.

2016 Chevrolet Volt at NAIAS Detroit

With sales exceeding 23,000 units in both 2012 and 2013, I’m not going to call the Volt an abject failure, even if it never came within hailing distance of sixty thousand cars a year. Volt customers are certainly happy with their cars, showing unheard of 90 percent loyalty rates. It has no doubt helped GM improve its image with consumers.

I have a neighbor who traded in a Mercedes-Benz on a Volt, then they leased a second one for his wife’s use. Just recently, I noticed a new Cadillac ELR on their driveway. (They are, as my father used to say, “of means.”)

Seventy percent of Volt buyers and lessees have either traded in a non-GM vehicle or bought the car as an addition to the family fleet. The most common trade-in has been the Toyota Prius. However, while the Volt hasn’t been a Lincoln Blackwood level failure, it hasn’t been a roaring success. Sales in 2014 were down about 4,300 units. Since the second-gen car was revealed, year-to-year sales of the Volt have dropped 46 percent in 2015.

2016 Chevrolet Volt at NAIAS Detroit

The other day, in a post nominally about a rental Prius, Jack Baruth pointed out while gasoline may be cheap today, the situation may not be so 20 years hence and there are some pretty strict CAFE standards facing automakers. Hybrids and EVs are not going away. With that perspective, GM has to play the long game and keep working at electrification, including the Voltec platform, whether it hits pie-in-the-sky sales goals or not.

As a car, the Volt is great – perhaps the best engineered car General Motors has ever built. Unfortunately, it’s been overshadowed by bankruptcy and politics. Maybe the second-generation Volt – media willing – can be evaluated on its merits as a car and not a political football.

Photography by Ronnie Schreiber. For more photos of the vehicle in this post, please visit to Cars In Depth.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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196 Comments on “Was the First-Generation Volt a Success or Failure?...”


  • avatar
    RideHeight

    This seems to be The Age of Tenaciously Pursuing Failures and no automaker is immune except perhaps Honda.

    Given the primacy and volatility of oil prices and the nearly-prime time status of alternative power schemes, the manufacturers have been put in a position similar to Admiral Nagumo at Midway; torpedoes and penetrators or incendiary and frag? Easy to be caught with too many options on deck.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      CR-Z?

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        Ouch.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I will say that Honda has been better at reacting when something doesn’t do well in the marketplace. The last Civic was a good example. It took them longer to cull the CR-Z than I thought it would.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Right, but how often do you see the CR-Z being used to argue that Honda is some kind of dismal failure as a company? Not often, I’d say. Every company flops with a product, and the Volt is far from an outright flop sales-wise.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          No one here, not the OP or anyone who replied to this thread said Honda was a dismal failure of a company. I don’t know how you got that.

          The OP stated, with a touch of snark, that only Honda has a history of not hanging on to bad ideas long after the bad idea has revealed itself.

          As others have pointed out the CR-Z was a bad idea, that Honda has insisted on not changing despite the wails on how to make it better. I would certainly call the Crosstour another vehicle that was kept alive far too long, and should have never been built in the first place. The Insight was a disaster – no way to slice it or dice it, and the Ridgeline, while interesting, was also kept alive far too long. Honda is planning to go back into midsize trucks again, but not with a true truck architecture, which US buyers will never warmly embrace.

          None of this makes Honda a “failure.” Honda is wildly successful with a somewhat narrow product line (compared to GM, Ford, FCA, Toyota, Nissan), devoid of any truck or truck like offerings (unlike GM, Ford, FCA, Toyota, Nissan) which American buyers lap up, they don’t throw piles of cash on the hood, dealers don’t deeply discount, they don’t wade into the deep end of the subprime cesspool. They continue to lean largely on, “see the logo, Honda, want to buy it.”

          It is actually rather impressive. But Honda is certainly not free of mistakes from a product stand point, or keeping models alive long after they should have been killed – or should have never seen the light of day in the first place.

          Hey kid, wanna buy a Prius like car that has a worse interior, worse handling, worse mileage, terrible driving dynamics, looks cheap, and is priced almost the same as a Prius? Oh, and if you do the math of buying this over a Honda Civic, the return on investment will take decades? Then we have the car for you – come buy the new Insight…

    • 0 avatar

      Honda hasn’t failed?

      Recent failures: TL (2009 refresh), ILX, RLX, RL, original Accord Hybrid, Insight (both of them), Ridgeline (debatable), CrossTour, CR-Z, 2012 Civic, ZDX.

      Honda, frankly, hasn’t done anything besides its core models (Accord, Civic, Odyssey, CR-V, RDX, MDX) well. It seems to have great issues expanding its product line effectively.

      Painful, since I quite like Honda.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Honda sold over 300,000 2012 Civics. Most of their competitors haven’t had such success from a sedan in decades.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I shouldn’t have said “doesn’t do well in the marketplace.” A better way to put it is, Honda did well reacting to the shortcomings of a new model that some consumers, and publications, did not like. It was still a good vehicle that sold well and was nowhere near being a failure.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      CR-Z?

      Crosstour?

      Ridgeline?

      Insight?

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Car makers are scrambling right now to find any tech that will eke out a little more gas mileage while maintaining performance. Consumers today can choose from:

      •Gas
      •Gas with direct injection
      •Gas with cylinder deactivation
      •Supercharger
      •Turbo(s)
      •3-cylinder
      •Gas supplemented by batteries recharged by braking
      •Plug-in electric
      •Plug-in electric supplemented by a secondary gas engine that goes on only when the batteries go low (Volt)
      •Gas engine with regenerative braking capturing electricity
      •Gas engine AND batteries/electric motors as primary dual propulsion
      •Diesel, usually with a turbo
      •Fuel cells

      I assume there’s going to be a shakeout. There seems to be a lack of clarity right now in the industry itself about which technology makes the most sense. In the meantime, carmakers have to try to be ready somehow for the inevitable future of tougher regulatory hurdles and higher gas prices.

      Short-term, I’d bet hybrids will continue to infiltrate more and more models until they won’t be considered remarkable anymore, while I don’t think diesel will ever win in this country — its problems are too intractable. And the Volt? I admire it as an engineering achievement; it’s the only style of electric vehicle that lets its driver travel with the same confidence as a “regular” gas-engine car that they won’t be stranded. For me, that fear is a deal-breaker for other EV’s.

      Nice column, Ronnie.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        My medium-term guess is that most general passenger vehicles will settle on some sort of hybrid/PHEV drivetrain, with the variations coming in how fast/far they go on electricity alone.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          I just read that the Veyron successor is going the hybrid route – for performance. 0-60 in 2 seconds. So, there are other reasons beyond CAFE for electrification.

    • 0 avatar
      Rnaboz

      Del Sol

    • 0 avatar
      baconpope

      Crosstour? Insight? Pilot? Ridgeline?

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    It’s a failure in the short term. GM never reached their sales goals with the Volt. Things are the same as they ever were, with trucks and SUVs powering the way for GM. If they can build on the technology and get it into a CUV, like yesterday already GM, or other vehicles, then it could be a success.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I’m glad GM stuck to their guns with this. It’s a very important car that’s been marred by politics and a failure of marketing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a commercial for a Chevy Volt…. GM seems to spend more money marketing its trucks which are already ATMs for GM.

    I feel it has to be said that the PHEV tech in this thing would be a real boon and value creator for Cadillac. I still feel the Alpha platform could have been scrapped for a “Super Volt” available in SWB and LWB forms. Something with the drama of the Fisker Karma and the eco cred of a Prius would have done so much more for the brand. Plus as the Model S double motor and the i8 show EVs don’t have to be for eco squares. Huge missed opportunity IMO

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Just recently, I noticed a new Cadillac ELR on their driveway. (They are, as my father used to say, “of means.”)”

    A fool and his money are soon parted.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey, if the ELR is what you like and you plan on keeping it for a long time, it’s a great purchase. Also, they’ve come down quite a bit in price due to the lack of demand. Bob Moore Cadillac, my local dealership, has two of them, both of which are priced under $56,000. At that price, it’s a much more palatable purchase. The lease offerings are probably attractive, too. The only foolish thing would be to trade it in or sell it super-early and take that depreciation hit…since the pre-owned market has determined that the ELR isn’t worth anything near its price as new.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        We can agree to disagree but I don’t think its a great purchase if the intention is long term ownership. A Lexus for that 56K is a much better purchase for such a purpose. The extra clean MY14s sell at the mid 40s with less than 10K otc, and these were the ones priced at 70K. Essentially if we’re going to talk turkey, ELR is a Volt with about 10K more content give or take. When/if ELRs start showing up with more miles they should do 10-15 more than the equivalent Volt. Since Volts do 20s extra clean to clean, I figure ELR is going to be worth around 35s, I’d be shocked to see otherwise at this juncture.

        MY14 Cadillac Mistake, err, ELR.

        04/30/15 PA Regular $44,000 22 Below BLACK EL A No
        01/08/15 ATLANTA Regular $45,800 2,832 Above Silver NON N Yes
        04/02/15 PA Regular $44,250 3,673 Avg BLACK EL A Yes
        02/04/15 SF BAY Lease $44,000 4,436 Below GRAY EL A Yes
        03/20/15 FT LAUD Regular $45,000 5,361 Avg RED EL A Yes
        02/13/15 PA Regular $45,250 5,660 Avg BLACK EL P Yes

        MY14 Chevrolet Volt

        05/01/15 NEVADA Regular $23,250 1,130 Above GRAY 4H A Yes
        04/21/15 ORLANDO Regular $20,500 3,755 Avg BLACK 4H A Yes
        04/16/15 CHICAGO Lease $17,800 7,104 Avg BLACK 4H A Yes
        05/01/15 PA Lease $18,900 7,158 Avg GREY 4H P Yes
        04/17/15 PA Regular $21,200 7,304 Avg BLACK 4H A Yes
        04/14/15 ORLANDO Regular $21,400 11,313 Avg TAUPE 4H A Yes
        04/21/15 RIVRSIDE Lease $23,000 21,001 Above BLACK 4H A No
        04/22/15 MILWAUKE Lease $17,000 28,435 Avg PRIMARY 4H A Yes
        04/17/15 FT LAUD Lease $16,000 47,856 Below BLACK 4H A Yes

  • avatar
    KixStart

    “It’s not much of a guess to say the Volt project survived bankruptcy, while the entire performance-oriented Pontiac did not, probably because of the environmental and alternative energy priorities of the Obama administration.”

    It’s probably a wrong guess. Geithner said Treasury believed the project would lose money and was inclined to kill it but GM told them they needed it for the strategic value and technological halo.

    • 0 avatar
      John R

      I would also add redundancies of, often poor, product across all lines were also a principal driver for Pontiac and Saturn taken out behind the shed. The G8, while admired, was simply too late. A velociraptor who learned to make fire just as the asteriod fell on its head.

      Buick in North America should have been taken out back with them. A success, sure, but at Cadiliac’s detrement.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “Buick in North America should have been taken out back with them. A success, sure, but at Cadiliac’s detrement. [sic]”

        This isn’t accurate in the least. Buick essentially builds better C-P-C product at margin and does it profitably. Cadillac has been a basket case for the better part of thirty years and the schizophrenia has only increased in the past fifteen. Cadillac is unsuccessful for a number of reasons beyond whatever Buick has been selling.

        • 0 avatar

          But with people insisting that Cadillac essentially build luxury cars at Buick prices, where precisely does that leave Buick? The fact that it has a profitable story in China is perhaps the only reason why GM hasn’t already taken it out to the woodshed.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Well that’s the problem isn’t it. Cadillac can’t sell cars for the same price as the Germans or Lexus. People aren’t choosing a ATS over a 3-series if prices are the same. It’s a long game. They don’t have any choice but to discount while they rebuild the brand (again).

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Cadillac went in another direction with some of its product and spent a great deal of money in order to do so. The final product presented is not viewed as a value as it is priced by the market, thus GM resorts to various incentives to move the metal. The Alpha investment is not panning out and probably will never recoup its losses at the current rate. These are all bad moves on the part of the Cadillac division, if GM wants Cadillacs to successfully sell for Mercedes money they had better figure out how to build some real Cadillacs. Folding Buick (and its profitable distribution channel) in favor of Cadillac’s would be an insane move at this point.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Why should Buick go and not Cadillac?

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Cadillac should become a brand with the Escalade and variants thereof, only.

          All R&D that Cadillac has undertaken, and the platforms/technologies derived therefrom, should be transferred to Buick to do with as they see fit.

          Pch101 raised a spot on point last week; GM should have taken advantage of their taxpayer sponsored, prepackaged bankruptcy to cut the # of their dealers from nearly 1,000 to about 250 to 300.

          As things stand, it may turn out that General Motors may still have one too many badges, after all.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            We’ve discussed that before and I agree that’s what should have happened, but it didn’t.

            I do think the brand needs to shrink to maybe four model lines though as I have argued in the past (Escalade and derivatives, SRX and a smaller derivative, large Deville sedan, and something sporty & also a conv like the XLR).

        • 0 avatar
          John R

          Either/or.

          GM doesn’t need a dedicated “near luxury” brand as, where public perception is concenred, Cadillac IS a near luxury brand and continues to be priced as such.

          I don’t relish bringing up the pricing contention as it begets a chicken & egg debate, but if Buick OR Cadillac – not both – were allowed to go and the other be the singular voice from GM to speak to luxury buyers (near or otherwise) it might be fine for the ONE brand to be priced AND percieved as near luxury until perception of the brand is held in higher esteem.

          Also, this would allow Cadillac to address the need of “Lexus ES” of its own for those how can’t cope with the compromises a 3/5-series antagonist requires instead of sending a person to a Buick dealer.

          As it stands they put cart before the horse and now one eats the other.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        No, not at all. There are some people who will not buy a Cadillac but have no issues writing a check for a top of the line Buick. More prestigious than Chevy, not as flashy as a Caddy.

  • avatar
    J.Emerson

    Pontiac should have disappeared at the same time Oldsmobile did, if not earlier.

    For what it’s worth, the Volt has clearly raised the profile of Chevrolet and GM in the eyes of my generation. I wouldn’t doubt that it helped put more than a few millennials in the seats of Sonics and Cruzes.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      And the Cruze is a very nice car.

      But the eco trim, in manual at least, is a very tempting alternative to the Volt. I get 42+ MPG average mileage out of mine without all of the technology risk the Volt represents (my best ever was 48.6 over 15 gallons of gas) at a far lower price compared to first gen Volt. The second gen net price is very tempting (about the same as a Cruze diesel), as it just about equals my total cost over 5 years. If the 50 mile battery run is true real world, it might take months to empty a tank of gas (~25 miles each way commute).

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      It’s a fair point. I think GM legitimately risked being a forgotten automaker by anyone born after 1980. (Certainly I would LIKE to forget my ’98 SOHC Saturn, and I’m sure most of the people who drove a fire-sale G5 or G6 off the lot feel similarly.) At this point, the Volt may be the only GM vehicle identifiable at a glance to a casual Gen-Y observer that isn’t a Tahoe of some sort or a Corvette.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Success.

    Owners of these cars, MANY of whom are conquest purchasers that would have ordinarily purchased FOREIGN nameplates, really like their Volts – this is GM’s toughest task (conquesting foreign vehicle owners), and the Volt did this in a way that extremely few GM vehicles have been able to.

    If the new Volt gets an honest 50 mile range on pure electric power in even very hot or very cold weather, and can be purchased for around 25k with all federal and state subsidies included, it will probably far exceed sales of the prior gen, and be a hit in California (which is important for reasons symbolic and otherwise).

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      GM doesn’t need to win over Volt-like quantities. They need to win over Camry-like quantities.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Interesting argument, since the Prius has never sold in anything even remotely approaching Camry-like volumes.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          Prius sales have reached over 15K/month at times. With $Cheap gas and 4? 5? years on the current model, it’s still shifting 8K/month. They make money on it and it sets the benchmark for fuel economy. It’s a success.

          And then they have Camry-like quantities in… the Camry.

          The Volt is pulling in only a few thousand people from Toyota per year (and I’d like GM to update us on the #1 trade-in… I suspect their claims are out of date) but these are people who are highly motivated to drive electrically and GM is at substantial risk of losing these people back to Toyota or anyone else that gets them some EV miles.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        How many Camry-quality Malibus could they have developed for the cost of the Volt program? I’m guessing a segment busting new one every two years would have been cheaper.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Someone please deliver us from the design trend of “ass-in-the-air” sedans with rear door rooflines you’re guaranteed to smack your skull on.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      Not going to happen in mainstream sedans/coupes. That’s why millions like us are making sedans/coupes niche vehicles. And it’s also why my first question about any car is “Do I have to duck when I enter the driver’s seat?”

      Straight spine at all times or no sale.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      They would have to have the ability to change the law of aerodynamics; since the wedge shape goes back to the early aero cars of the 1980s and sedans have followed coupes with that roofline profile.

      As RideHeight pointed out, your only deliverence is an SUV; which is one reason why they are gaining in popularity while sedans falter.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Foolish to apply coupe proportions to a “sedan”. In coupe form the roofline does not matter in the rear because of the disuse of the backseat. In a sedan, there is a pretty good chance people will want to use the backseat.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          Are the back seats used more in sedans than coupes? Probably so, but in reality, how much are they used at all; like pickup trucks and SUVs, many of them drive around with one or two persons in them.

          Going a step further, how many of those rear seat occupants are adults? If you plan on regularly carrying four adults around; you are better off with an SUV or larger car anyway.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I agree with you, using your logic sedan models should mostly be killed and replaced with coupes and SUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      The tyranny of aero is why cars increasingly have the same silhouette as the gen2 Prius. The Volt body up there is basically what the next Cruze will look like, minus the actual rear hatch.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      Between aerodynamics and trunk capacity, that might be doubtful.

      That said, this new Volt looks like Hyundai was its inspiration.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Failure. No question about it.

    First, let’s look at the car… 4 seats? Tiny cargo space? Premium fuel? Even with premium fuel only 37mpg in CS mode? The only thing it had going for it was *some* EV range, which was a lot less EV range than the principal pluggable competition, the Leaf.

    Second, GM over-promised the bejeezis out of this thing and then underwhelmed on delivery, except on price.

    Third, let’s look at the competition… Toyota also dropped an underwhelming PHEV onto the market but they did it for chump change. They may not be setting the world on fire but they also aren’t setting fire to money. Ford is able to compete with a somewhat less underwhelming vehicle. Both Toyota and Ford leverage their systems into more than one model of car. The Volt highlights GM’s strategic failures of the Lutz years.

    Fourth, let’s look at sales. Peaked at about 3K/month for a very short period of time around the price chop and in decline ever since.

    If you can’t get a decent number of sales with $7500 in tax assistance (and who doesn’t like to legally rob the IRS? Every dollar off one’s taxes is worth two dollars, psychologically), you’ve built a failure. By comparison, the second generation Prius hit about 10K in sales per month 10 years ago with $600 or so in tax considerations (the big tax credit – still less than half what the Volt enjoys didn’t kick in until the G2 had been on the market for over a year). It is possible to build an advanced-tech vehicle that is a relative hit without $7500 in tax help but GM isn’t doing it.

    At the same time, the Leaf is able to sustain higher unit sales, even though the BEV has a relatively short tether and is ill-suited to states with very cold weather. Leaf sales are also in decline, it is true, but it’s probably in part due to the rumor-mongering everybody’s doing about their next pluggable.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with you 100%

      TOO SMALL, TOO EXPENSIVE.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The Prius PHEV has seating for five.

      The Volt outsells it.

      You might consider the possibility that your everyone-loves-a-penalty-seat theory is incorrect.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Basically, BTSR thinks that every American consumer really wants a Chrysler 300, and somehow isn’t swayed when real people actually don’t buy that many 300s.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        PCH:

        Considering the investment GM made in the Volt vs the lackluster effort Toyota put into the PHV, the differential in the tax subsidy and the Volt’s EV range advantage, the Volt should be absolutely whomping the PHV. As it is, cumulative PHV sales are not that far from the Volt’s.

        Something like 23K buyers per year are willing to get past the seating and other limitations. Good for them. Spend a $billion, get 23K buyers/year (with subvented leases, markdowns and other considerations). There’s a winning plan. Not.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          You’re trying to change the subject. Irrespective of the R&D cost, the fifth seat does not drive sales.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            No, it doesn’t “drive” sales, it permits them. It’s a “sanitizer.” People expect it. When they don’t find it, they go, “Whoa! What’s wrong with this car?”

            If the car won’t sell like gangbusters with $7500 in tax credits, it’s a crappy car. The missing seat is part of that problem.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            If the Volt had a fifth seat (i.e. the middle rear seat that everybody hates to sit in), then it would sell just as well as the Prius PHEV.

            Oh, wait a minute. Selling fewer cars would be a bad thing.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            If the Volt had a fifth seat to go with its $7500 rebate and $1.2 billion investment, then maybe it’s sales wouldn’t be an embarrassment.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            It’s funny how the complete absence of evidence that the fifth seat matters does nothing to prevent you from harping on it every time that this car is mentioned.

            Again, the entire PHEV segment performs poorly. You suffer from a forest-trees problem.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            PCH: “It’s funny how the complete absence of evidence that the fifth seat matters…”

            Ford EXP. Pontiac Fiero. Do those ring any bells? Have you ever noticed the thing they had in common? And what sales were like and how long they lasted on the market?

            How is the Smart car doing? The Scion IQ?

            Seats count.

            Do I have direct evidence that the lack of a fifth seat has cost GM a single sale? Aside from the Lyle Dennis situation, no. But, in marketing, we rarely have direct evidence that any particular product attribute is a deal-maker or deal-breaker until we’ve put the product on the market and had some chance to get feedback.

            Even in compact cars, people expect a usable, if uncomfortable fifth seat. And comfort doesn’t enter in to the equation, much, because the owner gets one of the thrones up front.

            FYI – I saw 5 people in a Honda Accord Coupe heading to lunch the other day.

            I am highly confident that the lack of a fifth seat has cost GM sales. GM apparently agrees, because there’s a fifth seat (almost a bad joke as a seat but it’s there) in the 2016.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Aside from having four tires and a roof, what does a two-seat Fiero have in commmon with a Volt?

            You’ve really fallen off of the fanboy cliff on this topic. You’re entitled to like your Prius, but give it a rest.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “Aside from having four tires and a roof, what does a two-seat Fiero have in commmon with a Volt”

            They both failed.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            PCH: “Aside from having four tires and a roof, what does a two-seat Fiero…”

            … and the Ford EXp…

            “… have in commmon with a Volt?”

            Less than 5 seats.

            28: “They both failed.”

            And that.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            You have definitely lost it.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “Ford EXP. Pontiac Fiero. Do those ring any bells?”

            GM sold more than 370k Fieros over a 5 year run to people wanting a 2 seat sports type car. Opinion about the car itself aside, that ain’t bad.

            Anyway, GM offered a host of other models that had more than 2 seats to capture customers who wanted that. The Fiero was offered to capture a different customer, of which it nabbed 370k, that didn’t want more than 2 seats.

  • avatar

    IT WAS A FAILURE.

    If you need GOVERNMENT WELFARE to SELL IT…

    Government by definition is wasteful.
    Government needs not worry about profit/loss – they merely raise taxes on tax payers.

    The Volt was a compact car priced ridiculously because it put forward technology that the average GM buyer of a car that size wasn’t willing to pay.

    In the very beginning dealers were selling volts TO EACH OTHER to soak up the incentives and provide false numbers on sales.

    The government subsidies couldn’t sell this car because:

    #1 ANSWER it was TOO DAMN SMALL – especially when compared to a cheaper Cruze.

    Not to mention the charging equipment being expensive.

    It was a FAILURE and the new one will continue to fail until:

    #1 It’s the size of a Malibu (at least)
    #2 It’s less than $40,000 and the size of a Malibu (at least)

    BIGGER CARS for LESS MONEY = SALES to FAMILIES.

    Simple equation.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      Government welfare: bad for Volts, good for Hellcats. Makes sense.

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      BTS

      Normally I get a kick out of your comments…but to bring up the Government Welfare comment and then go on to praise FCA products is the ultimate in hypocritical. The only reason why you are able to keep you giant hardon over the SRT products is because of a form of Government Welfare…

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I love the “government welfare” rant coming from the world’s number one fan of all things Hemi. No government welfare = no Hellcat.

      And if this is government welfare, what would you call billions in tax subsidies to oil companies that are already making billions in profits?

      (Cheaper gas for the HELLCAT, no doubt…)

    • 0 avatar

      A Volt that’s as big as a Malibu wouldn’t be a Volt, but a Malibu Hybrid. Just as a Camry-sized Prius would be a Camry Hybrid. Besides, you’d think families would be far more receptive to mainstream hybrid CUVs (which no one’s really giving much thought to in the entire segment, domestic or no), given the whole space equation and whatnot.

      As for the “GOVERNMENT WELFARE” argument, that sorta falls flat when you take a good, hard look at what our nation actually spends its money on (HINT: Food stamps and automotive bailouts greatly pale in comparison).

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Financially: Failure
    Technologically: Success
    Success against contemporaries: Partial success.

    Nissan worldwide has sold 158K Leafs, but only 72K in the US since 2010 which the Volt has topped at 76K. Tesla sold 56K worldwide between June 2012 and Dec 2014, but only 37K in the US. Now of course Prius destroys Volt at 1.4 million units between 2011 and 2014 but Prius owns the hybrid segment and had nearly a decade of lead time to own said segment prior to the Volt’s introduction. Additionally in my understanding Volt is an EV with a ICE backup, whereas Prius is the opposite as a hybrid so in my view they are not direct contemporaries. If GM could actually capitalize on Volt’s technology, they might have something here.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nissan_Leaf
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_Model_S
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Prius

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Success, despite absolutely ham-handed marketing.

    This is a long game. It’s a response to regulatory mandates that are in the process of taking more than a decade to fully kick in. By getting the Volt out into the marketplace in quantity before anyone else was able to do so with an extended-range EV, GM has gained the knowledge it needs to refine the technology. We already see that with the second-gen Volt: incremental improvements in price, practicality, and EV range.

    And, on top of that, the product has proven very well engineered. Volts are reliable, versatile, and reasonably satsifying to drive.

    I just hope they get the marketing right this time. They focused so much on MPG in EV mode last time that everyone except car enthusiasts ended up thinking the Volt was a pure BEV. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had where I explain how it actually works and people say “Ohhhhh!” I think a lot of people who would have liked a Volt never thought about buying one.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I think the Volt is a success, but Chevy has grossly over-priced it, thus it has not been a sales success, but surely a technological one, for if the cost was more reasonable, I’d be driving one today rather than my 2012 Impala.

    Over-pricing is nothing new, though, for beginning with the Caprice in 1965, they’re going into Buick territory which doesn’t make sense for a Chevy. The current Impala is doing the same for the LTZ model.

    Price according to what your brand is, otherwise badge it as a Buick or Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I agree the Volt is expensive, but name an electric vehicle that isn’t. I think the Volt has been a huge success. Not in sales, but consider this: When was the last time GM introduced a revolutionary vehicle that didn’t turn out to be a major disaster? The Volt works, and people who own them like them. In my mind it’s gone a long way to restoring GM’s credibility. Of course they can’t sell them at a loss forever, and cheap gas isn’t going to help sales, so they have work to do.

      For some perspective, the first gen Prius was a pretty crappy car, and sales didn’t take off until the second gen arrived.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      If automakers were smart, the first version of a model would be the most expensive, luxurious model. So the Volt would start life as a fantastic, cutting-edge, blingy, rapper-seducing Cadillac Electron. Then a few months later, the Buick version would come out for the wives and girlfriends who take the kiddies to school. Then a stripped, bargain priced version for the first-time car buyers at the Chevy dealer.
      And the new Civic would start out as an Acura (hang on, that would go nowhere…) So the new Cimarron would come out before the Cavalier, instead of vice versa. The new Ford would be a Lincoln first, instead of the Lincoln being a shinier Ford with a different grille. Cheap cars would be the same as the expensive ones, instead of the expensive ones being overpriced cheap ones.

  • avatar
    Featherston

    Isn’t the move away from premium fuel purely a marketing decision? As I understand it, the first-gen called for premium because it has a longer shelf life when sitting unburned in the Volt’s tank. It’s probably not a big deal. I imagine the shelf life isn’t that much longer than that of regular, and the Volt has a neat feature whereby the engine will run at least every once in a blue moon to use the gas before it gets too old.

    I guess it’s the right decision, but it’s always a bit sad to me when marketing trumps engineering.

    Matt Farah has some interesting, and mostly positive, commentary on his leased Volt on his YouTube channel.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      “As I understand it, the first-gen called for premium because it has a longer shelf life when sitting unburned in the Volt’s tank.”

      They like you to think that. If premium cures any kind of shelf-life problem, why do they still have a burn-off mode to prevent gas going stale in the tank? Premium allows for greater compression, which means better combustion efficiency, which got them to a still very mediocre 37MPG in CS mode.

  • avatar

    I think it was a success for GM in that it curried an extremely loyal fan-base, just like the Prius has (albeit smaller). It also demonstrated a technological excellence that the company desperately needed. Obviously it cost a lot of money that wasn’t immediately recouped, but all of those Yukon XL Denalis and Escalades GM sells should offset that.

  • avatar
    walleyeman57

    Failure.

    With the average Volt buyer earning $175K per year, why do we need to offer tax credits for $7500 per car? Better still, with all the whining about income inequality, how does giving wealthy a big tax break help the middle class taxpayers?

    http://www.autoblog.com/2011/10/04/why-the-chevy-volt-is-attracting-wealthy-buyers/

    It does not. Without the federal government supporting this folly it would fail under its own weight.

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      when did $175K classify someone as “wealthy”? In a lot of places that is just comfortable, or very comfortable…but Wealthy…eh.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        The average household income in the US is only about $53k a year. By that measure, $175k a year would be considered quite wealthy as it’s more than triple the average.

        • 0 avatar
          PonchoIndian

          I guess it all depends on where you live.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          All decisions of whether someone is “wealthy” or not should consider relative housing costs and tax burden in the area where the person resides. $175k would let someone live like a king in a small Midwestern town… but not many jobs pay that much there. $175k is barely enough to afford an apartment and a student loan payment in Manhattan or San Francisco… but there are lots of jobs there that pay it.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            In this case we’re talking about aggregate car buyers. As walleyman and the autobolg link explain, an income of 175k is quite wealthy as compared to the incomes of most buyers of cars in the space of the Volt. This doesn’t need to wander into the subjectivity of the word “wealthy” in general.

        • 0 avatar
          PonchoIndian

          Wake up on the wrong side of the bed or is TTAC paying you to be a moderator these days?

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Nope, I just thought you were trying to comment on topic, and tried to explain the context. Apparently you weren’t, and just wanted to point out that 175k wouldn’t be considered wealthy in some narrow demographics. Carry on then.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Ok, wrong side of the bed…

            You mean on topic of actually having nothing to do with the topic? If we’re going to start doing the whole “government handouts” thing at least lets be fair and add the Tesla tax credit, the whole slew of plug in hybrids including Fusion, Accord, Prius…

            So yes, I guess I’m sorry for commenting on what is really an off topic comment to begin with.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        When did “wealth” become so synonymous with “income?”

        Still, it’s absurd to give $7500 tax breaks for cars of questionable value to people with six figure incomes. If I understand correctly, this isn’t even subject to AMT limitations.

        • 0 avatar
          PonchoIndian

          We know you have an attitude regarding the Volt…but would you say the same thing regarding the Tesla, Leaf, Prius plug-in etc…all getting a tax benefit?

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            Yes. Happy now?

            This tax credit is the Feds picking winners. Want gas consumption to decrease? Tax gas. Let a thousand flowers bloom – which would be the marketplace response to expensive gas.

            Want advanced batteries to make their way into the marketplace? Fund materials research.

            Of course, the Volt is extra special in some ways. Much of the particular tax credit awarded to buyers of the Volt doesn’t even benefit GM, which loses money on this thing. It benefits LG, which owns the enabling tech; the battery chemistry and makes it possible for LG to ramp its cell business. Without the tax credit, LG wouldn’t have been able to gamble additional production capacity.

            Meanwhile, American battery developers go under or get sold to China.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Kix
            Wow, was that hard for you?

            I agree with you (mostly) too.

            I disagree that taxing gas would lower consumption, but isn’t really a discussion for here.

            This is the end of the first generation…When did Toyota start making money on the Prius from sales…not from the Japanese government throwing money at the project (not that there is anything wrong with that)? I guess that isn’t really a discussion for this headline either.

            I gotta be careful or Danio will get pissed at me again.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “I gotta be careful or Danio will get pissed at me again.”

            It must be tough going through life when you perceive people pointing out relevant information to you as personal slights.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Danio
            Lighten up dude, I was completely joking with you, no ill intentions meant to be given or were taken.

            I’m glad you edited the Dubai part of your comment out, the PC police might have been all over you for that one.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “With the average Volt buyer earning $175K per year, why do we need to offer tax credits for $7500 per car?”

      Because they’ll actually get to use the whole $7500?

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “…while gasoline may be cheap today, the situation may not be so 20 years hence…”

    Gasoline will be cheap to produce until long after we’re all pushing up daisies. It’s only expensive to the extent that governments tax it excessively, and/or invent phony “externalities” like climate change to justify expensive alternative energy sources.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      If you think climate change is phony, you ought to be able to make a killing by buying up distressed beachfront property in the Outer Banks and the Keys. Funny how no one with that view ever puts their money where their mouth is.

      • 0 avatar
        PonchoIndian

        brave man bringing up the whole climate change BS debate on here. That deserved it’s own blog so I don’t have to get 400 emails of post updates.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        In case you haven’t noticed, land on the coast is still high and getting higher. The amount of times I’ve heard my Grandparents and parents say they wish they had bought land at 4 figure prices in 19XX to sell today for 6 figures would make your head spin.

        So yes I would say a lot of people put their money just there, and so far the only negatives they’ve suffered is heavy land value taxes and the 09 economic downturn.

        I’m not willing to pay a similar amount in taxes for +/- 1 acre as I currently pay for about 100 acres.

  • avatar
    Irn

    Each choice is about the right tool for the job. Recently retired, my wife and I are down to one car, a Gen 2 Prius. While I hate the way the car drives, we live in San Francisco, drive less then 6k miles per year, and when we go on a long road trip my Hertz local edition hooks me up with something more road worthy for under $200/week. I ride my Vespa 250 all over town or my Guzzi when I need some longer road fun, solo. With that said, I would love a full EV, but would put day trips to Napa and Sonoma out of reach 150 mile min range, and renting for spur of the moment sucks. So I’m seriously considering leasing a 2015 Volt. GM is giving them away, under $250/month with little or no down. The way we drive, no maintenance during term of lease, and little or no gas. Yes 1500 back in state tax credits helps, 4 seats fine, hatch good, like the looks of the old one, everyone knows its not a Civic, and in 3 years maybe the Bolt will have a 200 mile range at a price we can afford. So talk me out of this before I head to a Chevy dealer any by my first domestic. I need some help here, other short list car is VW Golf, but given my Toyota addiction and my spending all my self garage time on my two wheelers, VW scares me.

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      Irn

      In the big picture, are you really saving any money when you only drive 6K a year, rent a more comfortable car do drive for distance trips, and generally don’t like what you drive?

      Lets say you get 45mpg average on the Prius you hate..you spend about $400.00 a year in gas. Lets say you get 25mpg in a car you like..you spend $720.00 a year in gas (but could easily spend the $300.00 difference in the cost of renting a comfortable car, that you have to pay for the gas in anyway, to take you longer trips).

      I know a car purchase is a personal thing and I won’t criticize anyone for their choice, but I am intrigued on your choice of a car you don’t like and isn’t really saving you any money.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        If I only drove 6000 miles a year, I’d be towing a Suburban 2500 to work with a V10 Excursion.

        • 0 avatar
          PonchoIndian

          I certainly wouldn’t own my freakin Cruze Eco daily if I did even half of what I do yearly for mileage.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I don’t think I’d get rid of my C-Max if I cut my miles in half. It’s low floor and tall roof make it the best kid toting small vehicle around. I may have not bought it in the first place though.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          And you’d find a parking spot for it on the curb in San Francisco?

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            That’s what the BART is for.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Do people commute inside San Francisco? Isn’t there public transportation?

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            OP said he lived in San Francisco. Parking there consists of curb spots and tiny little garages.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Then I’d just have to make sure I’d get one of those Sierras with Quadrasteer!

            Realistically, if I lived in SF and had access to public transportation for work, I’d buy the biggest car I could fit in my garage since I wouldn’t be using it often.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            You could get a suburban with Quadrasteer, I’m really not sure if the 8.1 was an option with the Quadrasteer burbans. The 6.0 for sure.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Hummer-

            I don’t think there were any Quadsteer SUVs with the 8.1L. As cool as Quadrasteer is, the big beast 496 is almost always the better option.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Given the reasons you cited, I think the Volt makes sense esp over a Golf (EV or otherwise).

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I still don’t get Californians reluctance to buy domestic? I suppose the cars Domestics have sold that generally appealed to west coast shoppers were the crappier ones?

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Technologically it was a success, but fundamentally a failure.

    What is the point of a car like this? To save money by saving gas. It is very expensive compared to a similarly sized Cruze or even a bigger Malibu. The Volt’s cargo space is severely compromised. It’s not a good value and does not save any money.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Not quite. The point of a car like this is to NOT USE gas. The money not spent buying gas is a minor secondary benefit.

      As a car, Volt 1 was a failure. As a technology incubator for GM’s electric drivetrain development, it was a success. It also helped to salve some of the PR wounds left by the end of the EV1 program.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Success.

    I was very much against the Volt from the beginning, partly because I felt GM had no business building a money-losing car while it was in bankruptcy.

    But it’s tough to argue with customer satisfaction, and its sales volume exceeds many other nameplates.

    I couldn’t own one because it’s too small, and I’m still no fan of its dual-fuel requirement. In its favor, it performs much better as an integrated hybrid than BMW’s i3 Rex, which loses substantial power on extended hill climbs to the point of being dangerous. Volts don’t do this.

    Personally, I think the real Volt looks much, much better than the cartoonish concept Volt, and the Gen 2 Volt is even nicer-looking.

  • avatar
    Duaney

    Excellent commentary! Have to give credit to GM in pursuing electric vehicles, in spite of the financial problems, and lower fuel costs. Electric vehicles might end up our only mode of transportation one day, and the first Volt was a very good effort along that road. All automotive companies will have to take a hard look at this eventually whether they want to or not. The critics, go jump in a lake, for you’re looking at the future whether you like it or not. Yes, a big success for GM, even with lousy sales and no profit.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    How to succeed in business in 4 easy steps: 1) Design a technologically advanced small car with a production cost of $50,000+. 2) Put mass-market brand and retail price of $35,000 on car and put it in a showroom next to similarly sized and styled conventional car (Cruze) selling for less than $20,000 with five seats. 3) Sell approximately 25% of projections even with generous federal and state incentives and lose about over $1 billion dollars. 4) Repeat as needed.

    As Alfred Sloan once said: “We are in business to make money” and by the criteria the Volt is an absolute failure despite its technical accomplishments.

  • avatar
    Irn

    I know I’m not really saving in gas money with how little we drive, but with solar cells on my roof, its kind of like sticking it to the man! As far as a Suburban 2500 you see more exotic Italians on four wheels then land yachts unless they are driven my Uber folks who don’t live in town. We have a garage in our 1908 constructed home, don’t even think I could park a Panther in there, so the Suburban no way. Yes there are plenty of folks who commute into town, and drive around town for errands. Even I need to go to Costco every now and then in a larger vehicle then the the Vespa. My wife drove a rented Cruz across country last year with her mom and our daughter and she loved it. So my thinking if GM is going to lease me a nicely equipped Volt at Cruz prices with my Ca tax rebate, why not?

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      Irn,
      heard loud a clear. Please do “stick it to the man”! I was honestly just curious on the “why’s” of the matter.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I was being facetious about the Suburban. Go out and get that money people want to give you for leasing a Volt. I got money from work for buying a hybrid. Someone else is getting that money if you don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Did you take taxpayer subsidies to put solar panels on your roof to go with the tax breaks you’ll take getting a Volt? It sounds like you’re mostly just sticking it to your fellow citizens.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Sir, in your circumstances I’d get a side-car for the Vespa and lease the Volt. Then write interesting stories about the travels with either of them

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    As a tech exercise, this car was a home run.
    As a marketing exercise, definitely less so.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    It’s clearly a money loser. But it was worth doing, anyway. Automakers need to innovate if they wish they stay ahead of the curve, and not every attempt at innovation can be expected to work or gain traction in the marketplace.

    GM did a good job with its PHEV — it has the best selling car in the segment, and even outsells the Prius PHEV. The problem is that the marketplace isn’t particularly excited about PHEVs in general. That may be a technology problem (it was not innovative enough to appeal to the tech crowd) or a marketing problem (those in the tech crowd weren’t provided with the kind of information that would have excited them.) Cars like this need early evangelists if they are to be a financial success.

    Providing two refueling options appears to be part of the problem. Many consumers aren’t pleased by flexibility, but are confused or annoyed by it. The EV fanatics are offended by the gas engine, while the traditionalists are put off by the battery; the diehards on either side can be expected to avoid a car like this.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      It seemed to me that GM hasn’t done all that much to promote it. I saw a few ads when the car debuted. After that, there wasn’t much of anything in the way of advertising or promotion. Perhaps if GM were more competent in the areas of advertising and marketing, the car would have sold better.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        This was the first ad when the car was launched: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VAehO1FK5k

        It’s basically about range anxiety, which is a dumb approach.

        People with range anxiety are not early adopters. Early adopters and “innovators” don’t care about range anxiety. The ad is trying to reach the wrong kind of people, which tells you a lot about the lack of marketing competence at work here.

        The early buyers want innovative solutions to problems. They want geek wizardry, and they don’t fear taking risks with technology — they actually want to take risks because they like to be on the leading edge.

        The same kinds of people who fixate on range anxiety (and I’m one of them) are the very same people who will focus on price. Hint to GM: don’t try to appeal to people like me when launching stuff like this, because you will never make it good enough or cheap enough to make us happy.

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          That makes sense.

          I remember talking to the driver of the first Prius that I ever saw on the road. He was an engineer and a college professor, and for him it was all about the advanced engineering that went into the car.

          • 0 avatar
            ttacgreg

            That is the big draw for me, cutting edge, extreme engineering, particularly powertrains, are my central interest in reading up on any new car model. So my Prius C does not measure up on NVH or acceleration, or smooth soft ride. that is okay. I like basic cars and this one happens to have an amazing and fascinating powertrain that indeed delivers on its promise. Overall average of 57 mpg so far.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The PIP is a joke, way too short of a range to be truly useful and the battery and motor is too underpowered to keep the engine off in many cases where the battery still has a decent SOC. No wonder it doesn’t sell very well. The Volt has a useable range and will keep the ICE off until the battery is depleted. The best of the bunch however are Ford’s Energi cars and Honda’s plug in Accord which give a reasonable compromise between the two extremes. OK EV range and you really have to work at it to make it turn the engine on (on the Ford) with a decent SOC in the battery. Uses the same eCVT as their regular hybrid and the battery pack is small enough to fit into a vehicle that can be had in ICE Hybrid or PHEV versions even if the ICE version of the C-Max is not sold in the US.

      That does not mean that the Energi or plug in Accord cars make financial sense to purchase for other than a few edge cases.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The C-MAX PHEV is even less popular.

        As I noted, the evangelists for these cars care about technology, not about saving money. Those who are focused on saving money are late adopters and laggards/Luddites, and they should be ignored.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          The C-Max Energi is now outselling the PIP, though it is not as popular as the Volt. Of course the C-Max (and Fusion) Energi’s smaller EV range means that the tax credit is half that of the Volt. The Fusion Energy has outsold the C-Max and when you add the two Ford is selling more PHEVs that anyone. All in all Ford’s strategy is paying off. The development costs are being spread out across more volume. Not only are they selling more PHEVs the bulk of the parts are shared with the regular Hybrids.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      PCH: “GM did a good job with its PHEV — it has the best selling car in the segment, and even outsells the Prius PHEV.”

      The car with the biggest tax credit is the best seller. Who would’a’ thunk it?

      After over a decade of watching Prius taillights pull away from them, GM built a desperation play that wouldn’t sell without government aid. That’s not a “good job.”

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        If TMC built the Volt, you’d love it.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          PCH: “If TMC build the Volt, you’d love it.”

          No, I’d be incredibly disappointed, not to mention surprised. TMC has a track record for wringing 50mpg out of a gallon of gas.

          I’d also be surprised to find them putting the equivalent of that completely unsophisticated iron block motor into their “moonshot.”

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Hmm, Volt engine…1.4L 84 Hp 93 lb/ft
            Prius engine 1.5L 76 Hp 85 lb/ft

            The Volt has an unsophisticated engine? Because it has an iron block? Interesting take on it.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Oh wait..I’m sure you’ll correct me, the current Prius is a 1.8L with 98 screaming HP and and 105 lb/ft

            Please point me to the superior sophistication?

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            The Prius engine is an atkinson cycle engine. It makes less power than the otto cycle version in the Corolla but is far more efficient. Since there is an electric motor to do part of the work, the gas engine doesn’t need as high horsepower.

            The volt would get much better charge sustaining fuel economy if it was Atkinson cycle. I think that is what he was pointing toward.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The Prius is attempting to maximize average MPG.

            The Volt is attempting to minimize fuel usage for driving ranges that approximate the average US commute.

            The Prius is a more elegant solution, but it doesn’t address the same question that is addressed by the Volt.

            Apparently, not many people are asking either of these questions. Nobody has bragging rights in this space.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Quentin,
            I’d buy that if the atkinson cycle was something new and sophisticated… There is really nothing more “sophisticated” about using it, it is just a different choice to an end result.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            PCH: “I’d buy that if the atkinson cycle was something new and sophisticated…”

            So, GM can’t even manage to implement the efficiency of something that’s old and routine?

            One can drive a Volt and reduce or eliminate the use of gas, compared to a Prius. However, since GM couldn’t figure out how to deploy an Atkinson cycle engine (and otherwise failed to get the CS mode fuel economy up to a class-leading value), there’s going to be trip cycles where a Volt would use significantly more fuel than a Prius.

            For and MSRP that’s $12K more than a Prius, I expected the whole effort. It only gets 37MPG and wants premium to that that? Well, that blows.

            I also note that GM didn’t even bother trying to lighten the package by using an alloy engine.

            This was a “moonshot,” in GM’s own words, remember? And 50MPG was one of the things El Lutzbo promised. They didn’t make it, didn’t come close, and it appears they didn’t try very hard.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            I’m not trying to quantify sophistication. I’m just saying that is to what he might have been referring. I think that GM would have developed a bespoke engine for the Voltec drivetrain but it was dropped as a compromise to keep cost in check. Good compromise or bad? Who knows. Atkinson cycle is more efficient than Otto, though, and it would have very likely made the Volt more efficient.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Great, now I have statements being attributed to me that I didn’t make.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            It was me, not PCH

            Anyway… Do you know how much weight the iron block cost them vs. the same block in aluminum? 18 pounds…Holy crap, 18 whole pounds. Are you really going to base your whole hate effort on 18 lbs and a little bit of valve timing programing/compression ratio?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Kix

            I’m chuckling at the humor in your post while agreeing with your factual points.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “I think that GM would have developed a bespoke engine for the Voltec drivetrain but it was dropped as a compromise to keep cost in check.”

            Otto cycle engines produce more power, all things being equal. I would presume that GM’s goal was to reduce the size of the gas engine as much as possible for a given amount of power output, with the expectation that the gas engine would not be used much, anyway.

            (Engineers, please feel free to correct that.)

            The goal of the Volt is to use the gas engine as a backup, not to achieve the highest MPG when operating under gas power. If MPG was the end-all, be-all, then a less powerful engine could have been used. (The Volt was originally supposed to use a 1.4-liter turbo, but that plan was dropped in favor of more displacement and horsepower.)

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Sorry PCH,
            sorry I know I’m considered a step down in comment value by the more serious of the B&B…at least you know he’s frothing behind his keyboard trying to get out whatever self serving comments he can just to make his point… can’t even bother to read who it is from

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            PCH
            “Otto cycle engines produce more power, all things being equal. I would presume that GM’s goal was to reduce the size of the gas engine as much as possible for a given amount of power output, with the expectation that the gas engine would not be used much, anyway.

            Yes, this and probably a little bit of cost cutting involve…it was a bad time (believe it or not I am an engineer and even play one at work sometimes)

            @28

            You’ve become overly pessimistic lately, it’s fun but kinda surprising. Did someone piss in your cereal?

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            PI: “Yes, this and probably a little bit of cost cutting involve…it was a bad time (believe it or not I am an engineer and even play one at work sometimes)”

            Cost-cutting at the worst possible time in the worst possible way: a GM hallmark.

            The power of the Otto cycle was unnecessary. Power for the Volt comes from the electric motor, not the ICE. An efficient engine would have been a much better choice. GM, however, doesn’t have such a thing available.

            I had, some years ago, written a list of things that GM should spend a $billion on, instead of the Volt. This goes back to CJ’s question, “How many Camry-quality Malibus could they have developed for the cost of the Volt program?”

            An Atkinson cycle engine was on my list.

            GM goes, with tax support, where nobody else will go because they still can’t go nose-to-nose with the Prius; they don’t have the necessary technology to do it. So, they claim a “win” in a largely unwanted category with a car that sells for less than it costs and hand-wave off comparisons where the car falls short with, “people won’t notice.”

            Well, sure, some people won’t notice or care. There’s a certain, very small, segment of the population that wants, desperately, to drive electrically and this meets some of their needs. But the Leaf, by the numbers, does a better job for many of these people.

            gPI: “[to 28] You’ve become overly pessimistic lately, it’s fun but kinda surprising. Did someone piss in your cereal?”

            This is why you’re counted among the second-raters here. Very free with the insults but they’re always tired and unsophisticated. Try to up your game, will ya?

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Kix,

            It’s not like GM has never had an Atkins cycle engine…

            Did you ever stop to think that the Otto cycle engine might be more efficient for powering a generator (which is what it does in a volt 99% of the time) than the Atkins cycle?

            I wasn’t insulting 28, and to be called a second rater by you is hardly and earth shattering thing…No one, absolutely no one is as good as you are. It would be an interesting day that I let a half ass attempt at an insult from you even make me blink quickly.

  • avatar
    redav

    Was it a success or a failure? Undoubtedly the answer is “Yes.”

    There are many things the Volt was supposed to do. Some of the things it did, others it didn’t, some things it did kind of.

    Was it a sales success? No, not really, but I don’t think it ever needed to be. The 60k/yr was kind of nonsense, so ignore that. But it did sell enough to demand a second iteration. Much was made of the Volt-Leaf competition, and IIRC, the Leaf beat it.

    Was it an image success? Mostly. It seems to have raised the image of GM, but I’m not sure the image of the car itself is that great because many still see it as the new toy tech gizmo novelty instead of a real car. The BMW i3 fits that mold, too. I think the second gen will more successful in this area. Also, GM completely whiffed on communicating what it is to the public, so that part failed.

    Was the technology experiment successful? It depends on how you define it, but I’m going to say yes. It was both a viable, but not optimized, product, and it has spawned useful tech for other products (hybrid Malibu). But it also led to the ELR which is absolutely a failure. GM definitely learned a lot from the Volt.

    Did it prove to be an industry leader? No, not really as no one seems to want to follow. Sure, the i3 has a range extender, and individuals have hacked their EVs to add generators-on-trailers, but who is lining up to release a direct competitor?

    Should regret their decision to stick with the Volt? Absolutely not. Did they execute the program well? I’d give it a passing grade, but not top of the class.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    Technical success, sales failure. So expensive, it should have been a Cadillac, but by trying to be the new-age people’s car it had to be a Chevy. Volt price and Cadillac styling would have sold better, aiming at the early-adopter demographic. It might have even blunted Tesla a bit. The Cadillac ELR, while quite pretty, was overpriced – price it at the Volt, and introduce the Volt later at a lower price, would have been a better strategy.

    But now that the engineering cost is sunk, and with good marketing and pricing, it may very well be a sales success in the second generation. Move forward with what you have.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I believe the ELR’s problem is NOT price, but performance. Lots of cars sell for $75k.

      Pricing the ELR’s MSRP lower would only be a nod to its Volt roots. Today’s discounting to move 100/month is an admission of that, but all this does it point out the embarrassing truth about its performance. The ELR should have been granted a substantial performance increase to justify the price.

  • avatar
    sketch447

    The previous Volt didn’t require premium fuel for its internal combustion engine. GM merely recommended premium because the engine ran relatively infrequently….

    The Volt’s biggest nemesis was its price, and the Cruze Eco. GM never understood that true eco-auto enthusiasts want to do so on a budget. They’ll draft semis on the highway, they’ll throw their cars into neutral going down hills, they’ll hypermile, they’ll pay $15k for the Cruze Eco. But they sure as heck won’t pay $40k for the privilege of saving some fuel….

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    My verdict is still out – I would put it in the failure column unless…

    …the updated hybrid Malibu takes off, as what is being said is the hybrid system is based off of the technology in the Volt.

    On the results of the ELR and Volt Mark 1 sales — fail.

    On the results of building a stable, reliable and safe solution for an electric with a range extender – success.

    If the Volt Mark 2 is more successful, and holds the line on reliability, combined with the upcoming ‘Bu – then I’d call it a draw. Where it goes is more important than where it is.

  • avatar
    Chan

    On its own, the Volt seems to have been a business and product failure.

    But in GM and the wider EV industry’s long term, the Volt may have already played a crucial part in raising public awareness and scaling up the EV supply chain (i.e. lowering costs for the drivetrain).

    I would never have bought the original Volt–it just looked like a rolling gimmick–but the upcoming one looks much more sure of itself and seems to be priced more competitively.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Abject failure.

    Recall what the world looked like around 2006-07 when the Volt was being developed. The economy was on a 6 year tear. The HELOC ATM was running 24 hours a day. Anyone with a pulse could get financing. Oil prices were terrifying with no end in sight. There was no such thing as a high mileage car that wasn’t a chintzy chitbox. A penalty box like the 2nd gen Prius was moving 15K a month at MSRP + MAP.

    This car in that market was a home run. 5 years later with every one of those market conditions long dead, the same car was an outright joke that they could barely give away on $3000 a year charity leases.

    I don’t know how much of the 1.2 billion dollars GM put into the Volt was already sunk by the Lehman collapse but every cent past that date was good money after bad. I knew it, you knew it, they knew it, but they did it anyway.

    The conspiracy theorist in me believes it was to please the fruits and nuts from the California delegation who then made up GM’s board of directors. On the other hand, GM’s history from the oil crisis to the bailout was essentially one continuous facepalm with no outside assistance required.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    It’s the car America deserves, but not the one it needs right now.
    So we’ll hunt it.
    Because it can take it.

  • avatar
    galaxygreymx5

    If you had told anyone even remotely associated with the auto industry in the year 2005 that General Motors would have sold EIGHTY THOUSAND electric cars by the year 2015 you would have been laughed out of the building.

    Ultimately less uptake than planned, but a success.

  • avatar
    wmba

    It is a great engineering success to my mind, but I’m an engineer. This updated one will be even better.

    I cannot for the life of me figure out why so many Americans denigrate their own achievements.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      It’s a little crampy-car. Do we denigrate our pickups or SUVs?

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        “Do we denigrate our pickups or SUVs?”

        Oh my yes, because so many of them are cynical marketing exercises.

        Take Stone Age technology, add a few electric gadgets, stretch to giantistic proportions, add a chrome grille cribbed from a Kenworth, and charge as much as a very-well-equipped luxury sedan.

        At least the Volt required engineering.

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          The American buying public doesn’t denigrate them.

          What’s the purpose of an automobile manufacturer, profit or praise from internet drones?

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Unfortunately wmba the business world is driven by dollars.

      These have failed completely, they can only survive with handouts.

      I can manufacture the best of anything. But to succeed it must sell.

      These don’t sell.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The Volt has never been a success.

    The numbers of Volts sold only because they are heavily subsidised.

    Look at how the Volt faired here in Australia with little in the form of handouts. It failed.

    I do believe the Tesla is marginally more successful. But then again without the welfare that Musk receives it would of never existed.

    These types of vehicles on exist in an artificial market.

    They are failures, each and every one.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      You should stick to rambling on about midsize pickup trucks. Who cares what Australians think? The price mitigates against sales, but that does not diminish in any way the engineering achievement, and that’s a fact.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    Jury is out. By most metrics the Gen 1 Prius was a failure but it paved the way for very successful follow on generations. If the Volt does that then It is a win. I’m not especially optimistic but hopefully I am wrong.

  • avatar
    Alex Mackinnon

    Ronnie, I think its still way to early too tell.

    The sales aren’t all that bad when you consider that the Volt is basically just a test bed. GM needed to find out if how consumers would take a PHEV, how the new systems would last, and what EV drivers needed to make driving convenient. Now they have 73,000 cars on the road feeding them data through OnStar.

    They built a nerdcore halo car with a pretty narrow market appeal and no marketing, then found out what happened. Owners love them, they’re not breaking down and most are returning 200mpg. I also have never heard of anyone’s battery seriously degrading as the Leaf crowd have had to deal with. Technically that’s a huge success. Any engineer who worked on the Volt should be pretty damn proud.

    ——

    Now they need to market them to people who won’t go out of their way to try something new. That’s the big pass/fail. Whatever the Voltec 2 platform spawns will tell all.

    ——

    Most commenters and reviewers miss a big thing affecting EV sales. People need to plan big life choices a few years in advance for an EV. You need a charger. Not every house or apartment has one, or even the potential to have one. Most landlords, property managers and stratas still have no idea what to do about the charger question. The market is starting to demand it though, so answer will come.

    If you could charge a Volt in every parking spot without having to worry about getting a charger hooked up, or how you’re paying for power then I think you would see a lot more sales.

    It’s not a matter of “do I want a Cruze or a Volt?”

    It’s more like
    1) “do I want a Volt?
    2) “do I have a charger location at home?”
    3) “will it be available for the life of the car?”
    4) “do I fit the usage pattern to make it worthwhile?”

    Lots of check boxes that all need to line up. Gas on the other hand is easy, the infrastructure is there, and anybody can get at it. Cities and developers are coming around to make the likelihood of all those boxes being checked a lot higher though.

    Time will tell.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Spot on, Alex. I’m a recent empty nest-er and while I like all kinds of cars, I’ve looked at the Volt a couple of times thinking I could drive that car for 20 years due to it’s construction. However, since I don’t know where I will be in 20 years (a house? an apartment? nursing home? cemetery?) and whether I will have access to charging equipment, keeps me from buying the car.

      Maybe I will get lucky and the charging landscape will change in the next five years. Maybe condos and apartments will have places to charge resident’s cars, like they have garages now.

      Or maybe, just maybe the hybrid-ized Malibu will be sufficient for my needs…

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      >> 2) “do I have a charger location at home?”
      3) “will it be available for the life of the car?”

      That’s a bit of an exaggeration. For Leafs or Volts, you can get a reasonably quick charge with just a 20 amp 120 volt outlet and a portable EVSE. I’ve charged at 2.1 to 2.2 kW which is 2/3rds the max 3.3 kW max rate of the Volt and low end Leafs. For faster charges, some homes are equipped with 240 volt 30 amp dryer outlets in their garages. With a simple adapter and a portable EVSE you can get a 6 kW charge rate. One location I commute to on occasion was able to augment their existing EV charging station by marking off an existing parking location where there was an existing NEMA 14-50 240 volt 50 amp outlet. All I have to do is bring my portable EVSE with me and plug in. Even my own home charging station is simply an outdoor NEMA 14-50 outlet that I plug the portable into.

      With portable EVSEs, the charging barrier isn’t as high. Non-EV publications and writers don’t seem to know about the portables so they aren’t mentioned in reviews. One of these devices and a set of adapters can turn you into an EV road warrior giving you the ability to charge from garage and parking lot maintenance 120 volt outlets to campground RV 240 volt power boxes.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    After reading the comments above I do think many people are disregarding the reality of the Eco Cars.

    If the market was ready for these vehicles they would sell without incentives.

    The market clearly isn’t ready.

    Electric vehicles should be kept on the factory floor, golf courses and hybrids technology used in diesel electric submarines.

    Rechargable devices have mainly been successful with small hand held devices or in situation where it is economically viable to operate larger equipment.

    The normal operating environment for these items have a readily available charging station that isn’t subsidised by the governments, ie, battery chargers.

    Use all of this wasted money to install natural gas pipelines in the world so people use less electricity and heating oil.

    If the money was spent this way a lot more CO2 would be removed from the atmosphere.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex Mackinnon

      Well markets don’t just emerge from nowhere, especially for things with lots of supporting infrastructure.

      Natural gas, while reducing CO2 emissions relative to oil or coal, also won’t do anything to stop global warming. It will just slow it a bit. Renewables and storage will have to be the predominant source of energy generation soon.

      Billions going into battery research has been a huge positive side effect of EV development. Homes will be able to generate solar power and store it for later use because of the same tech making EVs possible. Just look at Tesla’s new home battery storage systems.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      “If the money was spent this way a lot more CO2 would be removed from the atmosphere.”

      Setting up an entire generation of increasing population to become dependent on another fossil fuel, and thus dooming the planet.

      “Sustainable” is the goal – it can be done.

  • avatar
    BobinPgh

    The Volt is a success, in that it sold any copies at all despite that goofy dance routine.

  • avatar
    mechaman

    Success or not, I see more Volts in Chicago than Leafs. You hit the nail on the head right off: politics. GM had to have been working on this as the EV1 protos were coming to their end – and most of my ah, conservative associates turned hypocrite real fast when the bailout went thru; couldn’t say a bad word about GM before that in their presence. Hm, wonder why? One even bought a Kia. I laugh every time I think about it.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I’m not a big GM fan by any means, but I think it’s been a limited success. Expensive to develop, but the 2nd generation will take them further. The technology intrigues me, and perhaps someday I will strongly consider an electric car.

  • avatar
    PonchoIndian

    28
    The Fiero “Failed?”

    It managed to outsell every one of its competitors each year it was in production. How is that a failure?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Fiero’s direct competition was the MR2 and what else?

      By your general logic, since the the Volt outsold the Leaf and Model S in the US, it was a success. Was it a sales success?

      • 0 avatar
        PonchoIndian

        Honda CRX, EXP, LN7

        By what logic do you consider the Fiero a failure?

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          CRX was not a mid engine car, nor was Ford EXP or Merc LN7, nor were any of those three rear wheel drive. What is the comparison criteria to even include them?

          MR2 was the only other mid engine rear wheel drive car I can certainly think of in the period at a somewhat similar price point, and in terms of figures it was outsold by Fiero but unlike Fiero it continued on through MY07. If Fiero were truly a success to GM it would have continued or have been brought back at a later date. Does outselling your primary competition make you a success if you ultimately withdraw from the market after 1.5 generations? Volt outsold the Leaf and Model S but does that make it a success (at least in its first iteration)?

          http://mr2wiki.com/AllModels/WorldwideProductionNumbers

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            There was no good reason to bring up the Fiero. It was just a lame attempt to avoid the obvious, namely that the Volt is the most successful vehicle in the PHEV segment.

            It is even more successful (or least less of a failure) than the Prius PHEV, and some people can’t stomach the thought that such a thing could possibly be true. Zero evidence has been presented that a rear middle seat is important to the segment; the idea that a Fiero or MR2 are relevant to this is ridiculous.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            You’re really going to tell me those cars didn’t compete with each other? All of them being 2 seat affordable sporty cars? So I suppose a Porsche 911 doesn’t compete with a Jaguar F type because the Porsche has the engine behind the rear axle?

            The market for 2 seat cars fell flat on its face. The only car out of that group that stayed around, left, and then returned as a mid engine convertible was the Toyota. They had the ability to keep it alive because it was old globally. The only real successful affordable 2 seat car is the Miata, and that doesn’t exactly light the sales numbers on fire in the US.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            They are competitors like the GTI and FR-S/BRZ are competitors.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Well if were going to go 80s coupes at a price point we’d might as well toss in Mustang/Capri, Camaro/Firebird, whatever FWD L body or K-car crap Chrysler was selling along with Celica, Prelude, 240SX etc. Mid engine aside there is a radical difference between FWD and RWD applications of the period. Did people cross shop any of these models with Fiero? I don’t really know.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            28, good question on the cross shopping…no idea. My guess is that the pony car guys wouldn’t give the any of the 4/6 cyl 2 seaters a look.

            I was just going for 2 seat competition.

            As we’ve seen above, in the sometimes overheated posts, anyone could argue that something is or isn’t a failure based on what they consider a failure to be.

            For the record…the 4cyl Fiero was certain meh…the 6cyl and 88 Formula/GT models were pretty fun cars even when held up against their contemporaries.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            But they didn’t even have the V6 available at launch. The Fiero’s best-selling model year was made up of all Iron Dukes.

            I find the story of the Fiero fascinating. It’s GMs bright red step child. The automotive embodiment of The General’s potential and incompetence. No one destroys their own quite like GM.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          The Fiero was a failure. It was a failure because it encompasses all of the GM buffonery in one, half baked, and hobbled product. The Fiero could have been great, and some of the techniques GM used were new and innovative. It didn’t have a chance because GM didn’t let it.

          I don’t consider the EXP to be a success either. I don’t know anyone who does.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The Fiero was a lousy car. But installing a back seat would not have improved it.

            It was not a bad car because it lacked five seats. There was no good reason to mention it in this discussion. The numbers make it clear that adding a rear center seat is not a recipe for success in the PHEV segment, as there are no winners in the PHEV segment.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Right. The Fiero was bad for other GM related reasons.

      • 0 avatar
        mechaman

        If I outlift you, I win. If I run faster than you, I win. If I outscore you, I win. If I outsell you, I lose?

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        By an analysis of a prime market segment, target candidates for the Fiero might be looking through a different prism.

        In 88 I was in grad school for a second time, and divorced for a couple of years. I looked at old Vettes, sporty looking cars like the Fiero, Mustangs (new and old), and finally figured that although the 88 Thunderbird Turbocoupe put out a lot of peak HP, the SuperCoupe with a 5.0L V8 was too my liking: four seats, leather interior, moonroof, cool wheels stock on the car, 143mph top speed, decent acceleration, decent mileage, trunk room…a combo of things. So I bit for it, and was glad I did.

        Then I met an adjunct professor about my age, and the proud owner of a new Fiero. We got to comparing notes, and he, like me, wanted something unique and “cool” for our midlife crises, only he took a Fiero.

        Both of us being mathematically trained and inclined, we did a side by side compare, after he complained his golf clubs wouldn’t fit in the trunk of the Fiero. Here is the round by round scoring.

        Trunk room: TBird
        Acceleration: TBird
        Mileage: about a draw
        Cost: TBird
        Top Speed: TBird
        zero-sixty: TBird
        quarter mile: TBird
        Comfort: TBird
        “style points”: draw
        innovation: Fiero
        Horsepower: TBird
        Torque: TBird

        We both agreed pretty much on all of these. In fact, he admitted to me that he wished he had looked at the TBird in its SuperCoupe config before he bought the Fiero. He was a nice guy and a good professor, and I actually felt sorry for him, for having painted himself into the corner he was in.

        He wasn’t just looking at two seat sporty cars, and I wasn’t just looking for a DD with four seats and a bit of muscle.

        But given the characteristics of the Bird, compared to the Fiero, the TBird was a far better car. As was the Mustang, though at that time and on that campus, almost every young stud who could afford one drove a Mustang, while the Thunderbird was an eyecatcher. And a car you could drive like a “Red Barchetta”.

        The Fiero, yes to a point, but not so much, and in so many ways.

        And even though I thought the 89+ Thunderbirds didn’t look as good, they shared many of the advantages, while the Fiero, even with the more powerful motor, was just a niche market Triumph TR-7 wannabe, a throwback to a past that wasn’t as good as people were prone to remember.

        So the Fiero competed, if you could call it that, with a lot more than just MR2’s. And got its lunch eaten all over the playground, for the most part.

        A concept, or idea, car, but one that wasn’t anywhere near what it wanted you to believe that it was.

        When a car can be beaten at its game, as well as being spanked in categories it can’t even pretend to, and for a bit less money, it will inevitably fall under its own weight. It was inevitable, and it was just a matter of (not very much) time, before the Fiero went to the “Nice Try” car graveyard in the sky, to be remembered, but usually not that fondly.

        Anecdotal evidence, to be sure, but in this case, the “my Aunt Sally” case is just a microcosm of the field that Fiero stepped onto, and promptly bogged down in.

        • 0 avatar
          PonchoIndian

          Valondo
          Those sport coupes were cool cars. I liked the turbo coupe other than the horrible nvh, easily as bad as the contemporary Quad 4. Had a girlfriend who used to borrow her father’s turbo coupe once in a while, fun car and girl.

          No offense but some of your comparisons may be looked at through rose colored glasses when comparing specs…Unless of course your friend had a base Fiero (not a Formula or GT), in which case only some of your comparison is off.

          Your story does make one point clear, choice and variety are wonderful things in life.

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