By on May 6, 2019

2019 Chevrolet Volt rear

February 15th was a sad day, even for those who hate cars. On that day, General Motors’ Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant produced the last Chevrolet Volt — a green car born at the dawn of a new era that didn’t take off exactly as envisioned.

In the truck-loving land of (relatively) cheap gasoline, electric vehicles are only just now eating up more than 1 percent of the market, thanks mainly to the Tesla Model 3 and what ownership of said vehicle says about your lifestyle and viewpoints. Plug-in hybrids are struggling, however, and the most famous of them all is now dead. A victim of falling sales, though your author would be curious to learn the model’s margin.

Despite offering the most practical combination of conventional gas-powered driving and electric ability, many claim the Volt’s failure was one of marketing, not engineering.

First off, while electric vehicles were all the rage in the waning days of Obama’s first term, the novelty didn’t rub off on everyone. Minus the limited (and pricey) Tesla Roadster, electric vehicle ownership, be it a Nissan Leaf or Ford Focus Electric, meant renting a car for road trips out of town. How does 76 miles of driving distance sound, under ideal circumstances?

Suffice it to say that battery capacity was limited, range anxiety was widespread, and the majority of the driving public wasn’t even close to making the switch. Which is why GM’s preferred descriptor for the Volt — a “range-extended electric vehicle” — may have been a poor choice when dealing with a fearful public and a fledgling segment. Even recent studies show that modern drivers in first-world countries remain confused by terms like “electrified.”

Many don’t know that a plug-in hybrid actually has an engine that powers the vehicle most of the time. To this not-insignificant swath of the population, the mere presence of the words “plug” and “electric” means one thing — that the vehicle is, in fact, fully electric, and might leave them stranded on the side of the road in a remote corner of the countryside where those unsolved murders happened four years ago.

Speaking to Automotive News, Michael Harley, managing editor of Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book, said, “Overall, marketing and advertising for the Volt needed to focus on education as much as it did traditional selling. A lack of a proper customer perception played a very large role in the demise of the Chevrolet Volt.”

Unlike early PHEVs, the Volt offered a healthy electric range designed to get the average commuter to work and back without the need to fire up the onboard inline-four generator. The second-generation model improved upon its predecessor’s range. Considering its price and size, the Volt remains the best bet for a driver who wants to travel most of his or her miles electrically, while maintaining the capacity for go-anywhere road trips. It’s too bad it’s gone.

The general consensus is that GM played up the Volt’s electric side too prominently in its early days, leading to assumptions about its ability — something the automaker admitted in the recent past. Other factors exist, sure. For a Chevrolet hatchback, the Volt started off pricey, though subsequent MSRP haircuts brought its starting price to a more palatable level. Content is another thing. The Volt only gained a power driver’s seat for its final, truncated 2019 model year. Then there’s the basic worry that a complex powertrain might go haywire, boosting long-term costs.

Still, it cannot be argued that the public was totally on the same page as GM’s marketing folks.

“The problem with PHEVs is it’s a mouthful, and people still aren’t sure what a PHEV is,” said Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing at Edmunds. “Nobody’s been able to figure out how to talk about a plug-in hybrid, and I think that’s because we started on the wrong foot.”

Everything GM did to cover up the fact that the Volt was, at its core, a hybrid, worked against the model’s sales. The onboard generator wasn’t a 1.4-liter (later 1.5-liter) four-cylinder — it was a “range-extender.” While an electric motor did propel the Volt all of the time, the backup generator received short thrift. The release of a fully electric Chevrolet with a similar name for 2017 didn’t help alleviate confusion. Quite the opposite.

2019 Chevrolet Volt gauges

Educating the public on new things can be difficult, but effective communication is always possible. There’s also the choice of not mentioning electricity at all.

For its upcoming Aviator and Corsair plug-in hybrids, Lincoln is choosing to avoid mentioning the word “hybrid” altogether. As Automotive News reports, the two crossovers don “Grand Touring” labelling, playing up the models’ range-topping opulence and additional power (in the Aviator, at least — no power specs exist for the Corsair) instead of its electrified alter ego.

We’re trying to be really transparent for our customers,” said Mark Grueber, Ford’s consumer marketing manager. “We’re focused on delivering the attributes they care about and marketing it in a way that speaks to their priorities instead of making it more like a science project.”

[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC, General Motors]

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115 Comments on “Chevrolet Volt Postmortem: How Not to Market a Car With a Gasoline Engine...”


  • avatar
    vvk

    The biggest problem with this car is its incredibly tight interior. It would have been a much better seller if it at least matched the Cruze in interior space.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      ^^^ This.

      The biggest competitor was the Cruze Eco sitting next to it on the showroom floor (Volt Mk 1).

      The interior was tight, especially on the Mk 1 Volt, and massive reluctance to offer a CUV style body, even if it was in a wagon configuration limited the market. My guess is a more CUV look would have hurt range, eMPG and MPG so it ended up on the cutting room floor.

      The development wasn’t for not, the technology now appears in a number of vehicles and the Bolt.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        The Volt prototypes displayed at car shows were striking examples of the long hood and short deck styling tradition. Many people thought it looked both futuristic and conventionally attractive. Then the production Volt showed up as a cramped Prius copy. At least GM learned from its mistake of making the future androgynous and boring when they designed the Bolt…

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          “At least GM learned from its mistake of making the future androgynous and boring when they designed the Bolt…”

          — To my eye, the Bolt is far more boring… It emphasizes ‘City Car’ purpose.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Are you familiar with sarcasm?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “Are you familiar with sarcasm?”
            — In a world that lives in literalism, if you don’t make it clear you’re being sarcastic, I’m force to assume it’s literal. Why? Because there really are people who think the Bolt is a good-looking car.

    • 0 avatar
      redgolf

      vvk – that’s it! the tight room , not so much in the front, but that back seat, horrendous ! I went and drove a 2011 and loved it until I climbed in the back seat behind the driver, ouch!,ugh!, help! Man I thought , they could’ve put a few more inches in here.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Yup. It was a 2+2 in that you had to be 4 yrs old or younger to fit in the tight quarters of the rear seat.

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      yes, I rode in a co workers Volt and was astounded at how small the back seat space was and how cramped the car felt overall.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    It’s a shame, this was the ideal powertrain concept for “America’s” electric car.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      The pricing of the Volt, even with the taxpayer-funded tax-credit subsidy, put it out of reach for more than 80% of the driving population.

      That’s why Rivian will be HUGE success. Rivian products will be functional AND partially funded by Ford money and sales of FoMoCo versions.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        Rivian’s own website says their trucks will start at $70K.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          jack4x. I know, but that will change when the first ones will actually get delivered for purchase by individual buyers.

          Fleet sales may remain around $70K if those buyers ask for extras.

          For $70K you can buy TWO Tacomas, which was also the problem in case of the Volt where you could buy TWO Cruze sedans for the price of one Volt.

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            I’ll believe it when I see it.

            Somewhere in the $40s is the sweet spot for full sized pickups, that’s a LOT of costs to take out.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            With ATP for the 2019 Silverado 4dr 4×4 5.3L LT around $42K, Rivian must price in that vicinity, because MOST of the half-tons in MY area are used as daily drivers, grocery-getters and Mom-taxis, the vast majority with less than 100 miles/total per day.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @IBx1: Ideal concept, perhaps. But not the ideal implementation. They tried to make it too techy and as a result, produced a far weaker car than they could have.

  • avatar
    Big Wheel

    Bob Lutz just weighed in on this very subject in the current issue of Road & Track.

  • avatar
    salmonmigration

    Want it to appeal to tree-huggers? Don’t saddle it with a brand most Americans associate with coal-rolling C/K-3500 brodozers and straight-piped Camaros.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      How ’bout something new, like Rivian?

    • 0 avatar
      Hank

      Similarly, educate the automotively-ignorant* talking heads on conservative radio who constantly politicized it as the “Obama Car” during the bailout, even though it was designed and engineered in the Bush era. In my red state, that make it an absolute pariah.

      * Not a political comment on my part, just a reality. Multiple big-name radio/tv political personalities blasted woefully uninformed ideas about the Volt, its origin, and how it worked.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        ” the “Obama Car” during the bailout”

        Not being political here but that’s when the BIG GREEN WEENIE began to rear its ugly head in the US automotive world.

        Whatever happened to all those gov’t agencies buying fleets of Hybrid vehicles? None in MY GSA area.

        I am sooooooo thankful that the US automotive world that I know and love is making a comeback during the current administration.

        With Anadarko up for grabs, oil drilling at an all-time high, EPA-mandates being rolled back, what’s not to love!?

        • 0 avatar
          R Henry

          In 2006, I was doing a sales call at the motor pool service center at Vandenberg Air Force base in California. As I was meeting with the Fleet Manager, out the window we saw three fully loaded auto transporters arriving– carrying 18 new Pontiac G6 sedans.

          The Fleet manager did a face palm. He told me that his fleet is already too large for demand…he had a number of General Purpose vehicles in his fleet that were 3 years old and had fewer than 5000 miles on them.

          He did not order/request the new G6s, but was told to Receive them regardless of need.

          Anybody who has done biz with Uncle Sam knows that big PO’s get cut at the end of the fiscal year (to fully deplete the departmental budget–to ensure an increase the following year)…and it appears GM got a big one….or was it 50?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            R Henry, it’s comical how that works. In 2006 the US gov’t already knew that GM was in deep kaka and was sending PO’s their way under preferential treatment authority of the GSA to buy only GM vehicles.

            Way back when, a long time ago when I was on active duty, when AMC was in deep quicksand, the gov’t purchased hundreds if not thousands of AMC vehicles for their fleets.

            Didn’t help. AMC was on a downward spiral and nothing could stop that crash.

            Worst vehicles in the history of automotive production, AMC!

            At least at that time the US gov’t allowed AMC to die without interceding, unlike with GM’s 2009 bailouts, handouts and nationalization.

    • 0 avatar
      MoparRocker74

      Brodozers and muscle cars is what the D3 does best. How about plowing the road of any obstacles so they can simply supply their customers with what they WANT to buy from those marqes? There isn’t enough demand for eco-cars for more than 2-3 brands to get in on that game. Whenever gub-mint tries to manipulate markets it’s always a disaster.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I thought the powertrain for the Volt was actually ideal, given the years it was created in. No range anxiety because of the gas generator but can also plug-in was the best of both worlds. A good transition vehicle until the days (stop laughing!) of a nationwide and standard electric charging system is put in place.

  • avatar
    roverv8i

    How about plain old fuel economy. It was great as a commuter car, especially if you work somewhere that provides charging stations (I’m in Kentucky so no you don’t have to be on the coasts to find that.) However it’s long range fuel economy was nothing to write home about. So, if you called it a hybrid then you would have to deal with the opposite problem of it being compared with a Prius, etc. The point being, it’s hard to market something that has no direct competitor. It’s gas mileage was lower than a hybrid. It’s electric range greater than most if not all other plugin hybrids but the others had better fuel economy. In other word it had a specific use case that made it the better choice. Otherwise you might as well go with one of the competitors.

    My commute can easily be on electric with only 15 miles of range then I can recharge at work and go home on electric. Then when I head out on a longer trip I will get a lot better fuel economy from a competitor. The extra electric range does not really help me as I am almost always driving to work or over 180 miles one way on the weekend. There is a sweet spot for certain people but once your trip becomes longer than that the other choices are better.

    I don’t disagree that a certain segment of the population is clueless about this stuff but the segment that is clued in can probably do the math and see that it may not really be worth it for them. There are people where I work that have them and the person I know lives over one county so the extra range works for him as he uses up most or slightly past the range and recharges at work. With a bit of number crunching I believe you could draw two circles around your place of work that represents the payoff region of the car. Closer in you could go full electric if you don’t need the range and further out you would go with competing plugin hybrid because of the gas mileage.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      How about plain old fuel economy.

      This is how they should have marketed it. Your average buyer doesn’t even know how many cylinders are under the hood. They just know HP and MPG. So tell people it gets basically unlimited MPG if you only drive whatever the battery can provide. Then remind them the average commute is within that range.

      Maybe GM did this, but I don’t remember any advertising related to the Volt which just proves they didn’t do a good job here. The biggest thing I remember about the Volt was how disconnected the production car and concept was. But in GM’s defense that’s pretty much every car produced in the last 20 years.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I honestly didn’t know the Volt was a hybrid for years.

    Marketing was one of its problems but its main issue was it was too small and too expensive. It should have been a midsizer.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The Volt has/had a few things going against it:

    1. A dual-fuel car means the consumer has to be aware of keeping *both* fuels going. Granted, for some this meant getting gas only once a quarter, but nevertheless this car was not a true hybrid or true electric.

    2. Educating consumers… Well, that’s a tall order. It’s another reason why BEVs are slow sellers. People are not swayed by ‘ideal powertrain’ arguments or by being told what they “need”. Rationality does not apply to vehicle purchases, with the F-150 being Exhibit A.

    3. Small interior. The Volt is really small inside. My Leaf 1.0 was much more roomy.

    4. MPG/MPGe/Range confusion. Explaining EV range followed by gas range is confusing since it requires so many footnotes. See #2 above.

    5. Cadillac ELR. The Voltec platform didn’t scale well in this application. Price wasn’t the problem here; lots of people pay $80k for a Cadillac. Performance didn’t match the price, the car was tiny inside, and how many Cadillac drivers wanted to deal with plugs?

    6. Charging. As with EVs, having a home charger is an obstacle of mythical proportions. It’s actually quite simple, but it does become another sales obstacle.

    7. Nissan Leaf. The Volt and Leaf were released in the same month, with sharply divided fan bases, and each vehicle had its pros and cons. The Leaf is simpler; the Volt has more utility. But for people seeking an alternate to a pure hybrid, these cars beat each other up in the market.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      8. Questionable payback. The Volt shined in EV mode, and drivers would boast about how little fuel they used. But if you use almost gas, then a BEV makes more sense if it’s to be a second car anyway. And on the highway, the Volt’s 32 mpg is no better than a midsize car, erasing its benefits as an electrified car in that scenario.

      9. BEVs now have a lot more range. Plug-in ICE hybrids just don’t make sense except for a very narrow market.

      • 0 avatar
        jh26036

        What? 32mpg? Do you own one because I do. The G2 Volt will do 39-40mpg no problem even at 75mph. This is coming from someone in Boston, not flyover flat country. The Prius Prime will do better but I still prefer the driving experience of the Volt over the Prime and the extra range. Not only it will do my commute all EV, also my weekend can be done with majority EV minus a few trips out of state every now and then.

        Interior room is what caused this car to fail. The backseats are super cramped but it’s working okay with my family of 3. We are small people.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          The Gen 1 Volt was widely reported to get about 32 mpg highway.

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            “What? 32mpg? Do you own one because I do. The G2 Volt will do 39-40mpg no problem even at 75mph.”

            @ 65 MPH with the AC on my 2013 Volt will do 42-44 MPG all day long on the highway……. easy!

            And unlike a 2013 Leaf, ZERO EV range loss. In fact by 2023 my Volt will go farther on a charge the a 2013 Leaf…….LOL

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      > Small interior. The Volt is really small inside. My Leaf 1.0 was much more roomy.

      Leaf is much roomier! However, in driving experience the Volt is like a Mercedes and the Leaf is like a Versa (with lower center of gravity.)

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    “Despite offering the most practical combination of conventional gas-powered driving and electric ability, many claim the Volt’s failure was one of marketing, not engineering.”

    — I’m one of those who disagree; I said almost from the beginning that it was an over-engineered piece of junk and the market has proven me correct. GM made far too many costly mistakes in the designing of the original drivetrain, starting with the idea that it needed both an electric and a mechanical drivetrain and adding to that the attempt at a custom 3-cylinder charging engine when they had so many small fours to choose from (and finally adopted) before release and then chose an engine size too small to maintain a running charge after going roughly ¾ of the battery-only range on a too-small battery. Nearly everything in the drivetrain was over-engineered and under-designed. Volt 2.0 was notably better but like so many efforts before it (remember the Fiero?) the first version killed all successor versions.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    I think most of us here can agree that GM has done many dumb or stupid things, enough to fill a book. And that’s excluding pre-bankruptcy GM.

    Even so, are the leaders of GM really stupid? Sometimes smart people do dumb things.

    I don’t ever recall seeing a Volt commercial in the past 5-6 years, if ever.

    Why?

    Perhaps, GM lost money on every one. Perhaps, the cost of the battery pack and whatever other technical wizardry the car needed was too high.

    Why sell more? The more you sell, the more you make.

    I say, the Volt had ONE very important customer. Uncle Sam.

    “Save us, so we can bring this technology to market”. The Volt helped save GM. Mission accomplished.

    Now, if y’all think that Rivian, a new start-up, will price trucks like Silverados or F-150s and make a profit…let me introduce you to Tesla.

    At the end of the day, regardless of how many dumb things GM and Ford (and Chrysler and Honda and the Koreans and Mercedes and BMW) do, they are experienced car companies. Unless there is a gamechanging technology (like some magic force field that eliminates the need for wheeled vehicles), the Teslas and Rivians are not going to be making and selling cars ‘ordinary people’ can afford.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      The Volt’s design and engineering stage is what set the model back so far; they wasted hundreds of millions on several aspects of the design, most notable of which are the transmission it carried and the custom 3-banger it never carried.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      What you overlook, Tom, is that the Tesla cars DO make a profit, even though the company spends its money faster than it earns it.

    • 0 avatar
      la834

      > I don’t ever recall seeing a Volt commercial in the past 5-6 years, if ever.

      > Why?

      I don’t ever recall seeing a Tesla commercial either…..

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “I say, the Volt had ONE very important customer. Uncle Sam.

      “Save us, so we can bring this technology to market”. The Volt helped save GM. Mission accomplished.”

      WRONG!!!!!!!!!

      The government wanted to kill the Volt and GM had to beg them to keep it.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    …why sell more? The more Volts you sell, the more money you lose.

    I dont’ think GM really wanted to sell many Volts. They wanted to SAY they sold Volts. Marketing gimmick.

    • 0 avatar
      Robotdawn

      Yep. People keep saying GM needs to make SUV electrics. I figure one of the reasons they don’t is because they really don’t want to sell these cars. More sales more losses.

      Maybe now they are getting close to break-even. Maybe.

      And of course now they lose their tax credit, which makes no sense. Get rid of it for everyone or have it for everyone. No reason Kia/Hyundai should reap the benefits of Tesla, Nissan and GMs hard work.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    The Volt: A solution to a problem no one was asking.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      91 octane is $4.45/gallon in So. Cal. The problem exists.

      • 0 avatar
        Roader

        91 octane is less than $3/gallon in the rest of the country, which suggests that the problem is California.

        • 0 avatar
          ahintofpepperjack

          False. 91 Octane is $3.43 today in Minnesota. It’s $.70 more a gallon than regular. The #1 reason I won’t own a car that takes premium anymore.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Eh regular about $2.70 here in New Mexico and premium about $3.05.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            1) Memorial Day approaches.
            2) Gas prices go up.
            You can set your watch by it.

          • 0 avatar
            Roader

            To paraphrase James Carville, “It’s the taxes, stupid.” 91 Octane is $2.75 today in Oklahoma. Combined Fed/State/Local taxes:

            CA: 71.89¢
            MN: 47.00¢
            OK: 34.40¢

            I seem to recall CA having some expensive gasoline formulation requirements too.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Some of that might be infrastructure-related.

            Urban freeways cost an insane amount of money to build and maintain, and California has a lot more freeways than Oklahoma does. Their gas formulations might be different because California has smog problems, and Oklahoma doesn’t. Minnesota’s taxes might be higher because of higher winter maintenance costs.

            Good case of “what works for one state may not work for another.”

          • 0 avatar
            Roader

            Gasoline taxes might be related to the overall condition of state finances, too. That is, the fiscally healthiest states don’t need the gasoline tax revenue as much as the fiscally unhealthiest:

            https://www.mercatus.org/statefiscalrankings

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            That too.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Premium gas prices near me (per Gas Buddy dot com)

            Discount stores:
            Xtreme $3.15
            Valero $3.30
            Carrol. $3.19

            Convenience stores and truck stops:
            Wawa: $3.21
            Flying J: $3.33
            Royal Farms: $3.25

            Name Brand:
            Mobil: $3.53
            Shell: $3.41
            Exxon: $3.45
            Sunoco: $3.65

            Those are all in my part of Maryland. In Pennsylvania the prices are about 20¢ higher for Premium. Sure, there will be some places that are cheaper but around me at least, Premium is nowhere at less than $3.00 per gallon.

          • 0 avatar
            Roader

            Pennsylvania has the highest state+local gas prices in the nation: average is 77.10¢ per gallon. Maryland is 14th highest @ 53.70¢. It’s not surprising that premium is over $3/gallon in either of those states. Next door in Virginia though gasoline taxes are less than 40¢ per gallon and Gas Buddy shows quite a few stations there selling premium for less than $3/gallon.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            To a good extent, Roader, the gas tax is somewhat irrelevant since you have to pay the local taxes no matter where you fill up. The point is that Premium gas prices exceed $3/gallon in many states and obviously exceeds $4/gallon in California. Even mid-grade gas tends to bracket that $3/gal mark around me, typically running from $2.95 to $3.15 depending on whether you’re buying name brand or a more generalized location. I still remember paying almost $75 for a tank of gas in my JKU Jeep Wrangler some years back; at least we’re not to that point… yet.

          • 0 avatar
            Roader

            Vulpine, I hear you, but realize that it’s not just the local sales tax that bites. Many if not most localities have a gasoline excise tax in addition to their local sales tax. And all states have state gasoline excise taxes plus state sales tax. That’s the main reason why gasoline prices vary so much from state to state, although I imagine a big chunk of CA’s price differential is the special formulations the state mandates.

            Same with other stuff like alcohol and weed. Where I live you pay 2.9% state sales tax plus an additional 15% state marijuana excise tax, plus a 1.1% local sales tax plus an additional 10% local marijuana excise tax. I’ve heard you can save a chunk of change buying it on the black market.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Roader: “Vulpine, I hear you, but realize that it’s not just the local sales tax that bites.”

            Roader, you’re reading things into my comment that I did not say. I won’t argue that sales taxes have an effect but as you say, there are far more taxes involved, not even including what the oil companies and individual gas stations choose to add for profit. My point is that fuel prices are going up and it’s not just due to taxes that they are doing so.

            Relatively high-wealth communities will see arbitrary fuel prices significantly higher than others while high-demand areas will see higher prices than low-demand areas. Just in my direct area alone, I see as much as a 20¢ differential in each grade of gas between same-brand stations (for instance, WaWa or Royal Farms) due to their placement and average traffic. An isolated station where the next nearest may be 3-5 miles away has a higher price across the board over one that’s realizing competition from six to eight stations within a half-mile radius. Profit taking where they can by either undercutting competition or taking advantage of its isolation.

            There is no single answer to the problem, though it seems everybody wants one. The closest thing we have to a single answer is through following the price of oil itself, which has seen a notable rise over the last 5 months and could continue, especially due to many countries’ outright ban of fracking technology recently. Of course, Argentina’s political issues aren’t making things any better as their relative removal from the global oil market means other countries can up their prices without much fear of competition. Don’t forget, the high prices of the mid-’00s came from near $100/barrel oil pricing, which also made fracking and oil-sands sources economical.

            Again, the overall point is not that taxes are raising gasoline prices but rather that other factors are doing so to the point that we could well be headed towards a U.S. average price approaching $4.00 per gallon and states like California even exceeding $5.00 per gallon fairly soon. Removing state gasoline taxes for infrastructure maintenance could competitively balance the per-gallon pricing but now new taxes would have to be implemented–hopefully more inclusive to non-fuel-using vehicles–to pay for such maintenance and improvements. I could suggest a registration tax that accommodates real-world mileage by each vehicle rather than a flat tax increase. It would serve almost exactly the same percentages of road use as the gasoline tax but force high-efficiency vehicles such as hybrids and BEVs into parity with gas and diesel vehicles on a per-mile basis.

        • 0 avatar
          Roader

          Vulpine, I don’t think we have any argument. The poster said that we need electric cars because s/he is paying $4.45/gal for premium in So. Cal. I just pointed out that premium is $3.

          My point is that we shouldn’t jump to electric cars just because a particular state is stuck with really high gas prices. In my state electric cars are mostly powered by coal.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            It’s the conclusions you drew from said poster’s statement that I disagree with. While yes, clearly the gas price is high due to taxes, etc, the intent of the statement was the fact that gas prices are rising and likely to affect every ICE-driving American to a similar extent. Electrifying by means of effective hybridization, fuel cell adoption or BEVs will save the consumer money on fuel costs, especially after the higher cost of the vehicle is balanced by those savings in the course of 1, 2 or maybe 4 years, depending on how much you drive. At the moment, BEVs also gain the advantage of not paying any kind of fuel tax (road mileage tax, as it were,) making the savings even greater when you go fully battery-electric.

          • 0 avatar
            Roader

            And again, aside from So. Cal., real gasoline prices aren’t high. Adjusted for inflation gasoline today @$3/gallon is the same price it was in the 1930s. I have nothing against BEVs, hybrids, or hydrogen or whatever. If people want them they’ll buy them. But with relatively cheap gasoline it’s going to be a hard sell. My guess is that we’ll see natgas ICE/electric hybrids long before large scale adoption of BEVs or hydrogen.

            The United States became the world’s largest oil producer last year, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia. And while oil prices are fungible, being the largest supplier certainly reduces the possibility of supply shocks like we’ve had since the 1970s.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “And again, aside from So. Cal., real gasoline prices aren’t high. Adjusted for inflation gasoline today @$3/gallon is the same price it was in the 1930s.”
            — Incorrect, as you cannot “adjust for inflation” when the median household income hasn’t increased even $1 in the last 40 years. Gas prices in the ’70s were around 75¢/ gallon and we are now paying roughly 4x that much today and car prices have increased by almost 7x as much. Yet, and here’s the funny thing, computer prices have FALLEN roughly 50% in that same time period, if not more. Adjusting for inflation by the amount you portend suggests that the MEDIAN salary should be in excess of $120K today, to make that gas price ‘inflation adjusted”.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Since you’re having a hard time understanding inflation, allow me to point out that the US median household income in 1979 was $16,530. When people say there has been no income growth since puppeteers convinced married women to work and opened our southern border, they are talking about incomes adjusted for inflation. Gas is cheap. Nothing people do to save gas is as economical as using gas the way we did a decade ago was. Nobody is as smart as free markets, least of all people who seek to control them.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Todd, believe what you will, just know that I won’t agree.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Believe what I will? I got that number from the 1979 US Census. It isn’t a matter of belief. Socialism is a matter of belief that has killed over one hundred million people and is just warming up. If you pretend that Nazis weren’t just socialists who lost militarily instead of lasting long enough to starve, socialists are still worse than Nazis by ten-fold and counting.

          • 0 avatar
            Roader

            Sure you can adjust for inflation. I think I got the math right but you may want to double check:

            In 1970 the average wage was $4/hour and the average price for gas was 36¢/gallon, so it took us 5.4 minutes of work to buy a gallon of gas. ((0.36/4)*60)

            Today it’s $24/hour and $2.89/gallon so it takes us 7.2 minutes of work to buy a gallon of gas.

            But that 1970 gas price was right before the Arab oil embargo so it was still pretty cheap. By 1980 average hourly wage crept up to $7.50/hour, gas to $1.19/gallon, which meant we worked 9.5 minutes to buy a gallon of gas.

            From what I can tell real gas prices today are sitting right at their 80-year historical average in terms of consumer purchasing power.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @Todd; Nazis and Fascists are not and never were ‘socialists’. Quit referencing an old canard that is not or never has been true.

            According to ex US Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, and chief U.S. prosecutor at Nuremberg, “[T]he industrialists…became so enthusiastic that they set about to raise three million Reichsmarks to strengthen and confirm the Nazi Party in power.”

            https://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/Military_Law/pdf/Law-Reports_Vol-10.pdf

            There is a far more ideological difference between fascists, and socialists than between Republicans and Democrats.

            And of course the Nazi’s engaged in armed confrontations with communists and social democrat supporters.

            Mao was also not a ‘socialist’.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @ToddAtlas: Thank you for making my point for me.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Arthur, you’ve spilled the water your were trying to carry. I already said socialists are ten times worse than Nazis even if you insist on pretending that people who had a command economy, played identity politics to divide and concur, valued nature over man, and rejected God’s supremacy were nationalist first and socialist second. You are worse than a Nazi. I reject all efforts to harness envy and avarice to achieve power.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            In 1970 I was still in high school and gas prices were 25¢ per gallon. My first job was working in a carpet mill as a common laborer making $2.50/hour. Driving back and forth to work (60-mile round trip) cost me $1 per day.

            After graduation, I went to work in a different factory with union representation making $6.50/hour and gas prices had risen to over 50¢ per gallon. After working that job for almost four years, I was able to buy a “personal luxury” car for $5200 off the showroom floor.

            Today, the average hourly wage is less than $10/hour, NOT $24/hour, with that higher number approximating what a UAW starter wage will be and not a common laborer’s pay. If the pay scales were what you claim, there would be no outrage over the fact that minimum wage is only $7.50/hour, with shortened hours forcing the average single-job worker to make less than $15,000/year before taxes. Even in 1990 as a SKILLED aviation electronics worker, I considered myself lucky to make $20K per year.

            Fuel prices are significantly higher than they were in 1979 and even in 1990 and wages have not kept up. For many people, even with a ten-gallon tank in so many modern cars, it still costs half a day to fill the tank and when you’re one of those driving a 20-30-40-year-old car just to get to work, you’re spending a whole day’s wages just to fill that tank, especially since that old vehicle’s fuel economy is almost certainly nowhere near as good as when new. (Heck, I remember co-workers boasting they got all of 5 miles per gallon from their car!)

            And don’t forget, Roader, that 10 years ago, the average fuel price was $3.50/gallon or higher, depending on grade, and people were paying nearly $100 to fill up their tanks on most pickups and large cars. Then remember that pickups are now the most popular vehicle type in the US, only barely averaging over 20mpg today and about 25% better than their 10-year-old brethren’s 15mpg unladen economy.

            And keep in mind that older people remember those lower prices because their income today is only little better than it was when they were working for a living and they still have to pay for their homes, taxes, transportation, food, etc. Not all of them have a huge savings or inheritance or windfall to pay their way through retirement. What if, for example, you had NO Social Security income after you retire and whatever retirement you did have added up to only $700/month? Could YOU live on that and still be able to afford gas to drive where and when you needed?

          • 0 avatar
            Roader

            “Today, the average hourly wage is less than $10/hour, NOT $24/hour, with that higher number approximating what a UAW starter wage will be and not a common laborer’s pay.”

            The BLS has April 2019 private average hourly earnings at $27.77. Heck, the fast food joints around me are having a hard time hiring part time high school kids at $15/hour.

            https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t19.htm

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Roader: The fast-food joints around me are not even PAYING $15/hour and the state is pending legislation to require a minimum wage of $15/hour because of it–plus tips, where applicable.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    The problem here is that the majority of people just don’t want greenie-mobiles. When you weigh out cost/benefit ot just doesn’t pencil out to ‘go green’ if you actually want to save money. That leaves a fanatical dedication to signal virtues as the only motivation and at that point if your name isn’t Tesla or Prius, you’re pretty much toast.

    There’s literally ZERO material benefit to spending the big money it takes to go electric(ish) when about $13K buys a Mirage that’s capable of nearly 50 mpg hwy. Parking at the EV station at work with the half dozen or so eco-warriors at work means nothing to me. Hell, I’d prefer to steer well clear of that set, as it were.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      “Parking at the EV station at work with the half dozen or so eco-warriors at work means nothing to me.”

      If you park your truly economical Mirage, or any other ICE car in the EV Station, you will now be labeled a “”Gashole” by some Ritchy Rich Tesla fanboi and subject to a ticket in some “enlightened” jurisdictions.

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        FWIW, Tesla fanbois aren’t exactly liked within the EV community, either. For starters, Tesla has a proprietary plug but come with an adapter, so Teslas can charge at the normal J-1772 plug stations, but other EVs can’t charge at a Tesla 240v charger (Tesla calls them High-Power Wall Chargers or HPWC; they’re not the DC-only Superchargers).

        Then, it takes a long time for a depleted Tesla to recharge at 240v. If it’s done charging, Tesla owners conveniently lock the plug so no one else can get a charge.

        That is, of course, even if the Tesla owner felt like plugging it in in the first place. Most times, entitled Tesla owners simply park in an EV spot simply because it’s in a preferred location. Their logic is, it’s an EV spot, they have an EV, and they get to park there, whether they’re charging or not.

        It’s normally the bottom-feeder Model 3 seen performing these anti-social behaviors, but you’ll occasionally see the pricier ‘S’ or ‘X’ doing it, as well.

        The bottom line is that Teslas seem to have taken over the butthead mantle from what was once the province of BMW drivers.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          ” entitled Tesla owners simply park in an EV spot simply because it’s in a preferred location”

          Yeah, it’s a problem. In my own personal experience in the last year, ICEing has been rare, but I’ve run into the plenty of Teslas, one I3, and a plugin Prius occupying charging spots without even plugging in. In my state, they could be towed. In all of those situations, there were plenty of other charging spots, but that might not always be the case. At least Tesla has an “idling” charge at their superchargers. Once tactic that I’ll try if I ever need to is repeatedly trigger sentry mode until the owner shows up to move it.

          For me, once I have “200+” mile range, I can avoid public charging. It’s rare that I drive more than 200 miles in a day, so I could live almost exclusively on home charging. That way, I can totally avoid any public charging issues. Even more important, I’m not going to occupy a charging space if I don’t need it.

          “Teslas seem to have taken over the butthead mantle from what was once the province of BMW drivers.”

          I think that title has been spread out between multiple makes and vehicle types. It’s an equal opportunity affliction.

          “other EVs can’t charge at a Tesla 240v charger ”

          There is an adapter, but there are plenty of J1772 chargers so it isn’t an issue for me on my non-Tesla. Tesla has been putting CCS plugs on their European cars and I’d like to see that here.

        • 0 avatar
          vvk

          > The bottom line is that Teslas seem to have taken over the butthead mantle from what was once the province of BMW drivers.

          I think Honda/Acura drivers are the worst personally. High aggression low skill.

        • 0 avatar
          rudiger

          Until signage is employed that flatly states, “Only Charging Vehicles, Two Hours Maximum, Violators Subject to Citation and Towing”, well, Teslas and their ilk are going to suck-up preferred parking spots, even if they’re not going to charge. Or, if they do plug-in, it could be an all day affair.

          I actually spoke to a Bolt driver about this once. Her response: “But I’ve got an electric vehicle and can park here”. I replied, “Yeah, but you’re not charging and state law says you could get a ticket”. She then went on to say that non-EVs park there all the time. I told her, “That’s right. and they weren’t charging, either. Do you want to be like them?”. She said, “Of course not” and left.

          The next time I passed that charger, what looked like the same Bolt was there, but it was plugged-in.

        • 0 avatar
          R Henry

          It’s ironic that a “bottom feeder” Model 3 is actually a very expensive car. I have never spent that much on a car, and never will…even though I could afford to. In today’s dollars, I won’t spend more than $30k on a very quickly depreciating asset like a car. In fact, I would be much more likely to spend $20,000 to purchase a very nice, well depreciated 4 year old car.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Ah, so if you want a car that gets good fuel economy, even if that makes no sense, that’s virtue signaling. But if Mopar here wants something with a big honkin’ V-8, even if that makes no sense, that’s not virtue signaling.

      Newsflash…it’s ALL virtue signaling. The only difference is what virtue you want to signal.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        Perfectly stated good sir. Automobile marketers have done a VERY good job of attaching all sorts of cultural baggage and associations to their products.

        I am amazed how Subaru has such a loyal following of eco-lefties who view themselves as outdoorsy….while Subaru produces cars that are generally less fuel efficient than their competitors. That is a fantastic slight of hand, that one!

        Obviously, Tesla has staked out a VERY specific place in the market. Arrive anywhere in a Tesla, and people will ascribe any number of preconceptions about you.

        The BMW/Audi crowd is well defined, while the MB crowd is similar, but different.

        Toyota people are not CAR people, but they won’t by a Mitsubishi either–yuck!

        Ride a Harley?….you better have a leather jacket and a do-rag to go with it!…and some Marlboros.

        Truly, if nothing else, American marketers know how to do it!

      • 0 avatar
        Lee in MD

        COTD. I swear the hypocrisy of the fossil fuel Luddites here on TTAC has gotten as bad or worse than the fanbois on electrek and CleanTechnica. When automotive powertrain architectures and the customers who buy them are reviled with the religious fervor of a fanatic, it says more about the infantile state of the commenter than it does about the powertrain, it’s customers, or the company that developed it.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          When did someone who would prefer a conventionally powered car become a “Luddite,” precisely?

          Physician, heal thyself.

        • 0 avatar
          Hydromatic

          Some people have strong opinions, Lee. Perhaps you should learn how to get over yourself.

          • 0 avatar
            Lee in MD

            The Luddite remark was directed to those, and only those, who cast aspersions on purchasers of “greenie” vehicles as pompous virtue signalling schmucks. Similarly, the fanbois remark was directed at the BEV wankers who cast aspersions on anyone purchasing a conventionally powered car as a planet crushing jerk. A pox on both their houses. They both destroy useful dialog on the pros and cons of different vehicle powertrains. Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough in that regard?

  • avatar
    R Henry

    A failure of Marketing at Chevy? Nah, dat would nevah happen.

    –Mahk

  • avatar
    arthurk45

    The success of the Volt depended upon continued wildly expensive batteries, which eliminated any fully electrics as affordable – the early Tesla cars had relatively small battery packs that still cost $45,000. This was a reasonable gamble – nobody knew how fast battery prices would get reduced. The gamble simply didn’t pay off. At its inception, the Volt was by far the best method of driving electric. Owners rarely filled up the gas tank except when travelling, and there was no crying need to locate a charge station.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    I understood Volts limitations and I was really considering a slightly used one since their value drops like a rock, but my employer wasn’t keep on me having it plugged in. My drive to work is 48 miles so I could go on electric one way for sure. Charge it up in 8 hours then come back again on electric. The back seat was terrible but this was going to be a commuter car. Not being able to charge at work and the mpg when engine is on killed it for me. In any case, this kind of arrangement generator/battery/electric motor is the only hybrid I would ever entertain, well, unless AOC forces us all in electric vehicles in a few years

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    “A lack of a proper customer perception played a very large role in the demise of the Chevrolet Volt.”

    GM barely tried to market the Volt, instead allowing Conservative media to do it for them as a political football. It was a mirror of how the Democrats barely marketed the ACA/Obamabare during the same time frame.

    It’s amazingly sad how GM never leveraged the Voltec tech into a more popular compact CUV style instead of quietly introducing a barely improved and less distinctive 2nd generation and an overpriced Cadillac version in an even less desirable coupe body style.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “It’s amazingly sad how GM never leveraged the Voltec tech into a more popular compact CUV style instead of quietly introducing a barely improved and less distinctive 2nd generation and an overpriced Cadillac version in an even less desirable coupe body style.”

      Many, including myself wonder why GM didn’t put the Voltec into a CUV chassis. I disagree with you saying the 2nd Gen was barely improved. GM did an excellent job IMO of improving both the EV range and ICE gas mileage on the 2nd Gen Volt.

  • avatar
    la834

    Lincoln isn’t alone in de-emphasizing hybridness – FCA was smart to dub the Jeep/Ram mild hybrid system “eTorque” instead of anything “hybrid” which for most buyers calls to mind a Prius. Truck and Jeep buyers care more about torque than fuel economy (or low emissions); I wonder how many eTorque buyers don’t even realize they’re driving a hybrid.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Another factor which may have had an impact on the Volt’s demise I haven’t seen mentioned is competition. The 2011 Volt was arguably a better car than the vaunted Toyota Prius. Many comparison tests between the Leaf, Volt, and Prius gave the nod to the Volt. Indeed, after driving a Volt, it was actually difficult to believe it was a car from the same company that spit out crap like the Cavalier.

    But unlike those early days when the Volt was the only PHEV in town, there are now several other PHEVs that operate in a similar (if not exactly the same) manner as the Volt. The closest one in price and demographic focus seems to be the Honda Clarity. It’s larger (the size of a Ford Fusion), has a longer range, and the price is effectively equivalent to the Volt. I wouldn’t be surprised if this played a big part in the drop-off in sales, not to mention that I don’t think GM EVs are eligible for the big $7500 federal income tax credit anymore (I believe it’s down to $3750).

    As ‘has’ been mentioned, though, is the big jump in BEV range. I think most BEVs now have a range of well over 200 miles on a single charge. That goes a long way to bringing them into the mainstream, even if a long-distance vacation is essentially still out of the question.

    Even then, the Volt was no picnic on a long-distrance drive. IIRC, the range of a Volt before needing a gas fill-up was only something like 275 miles. And, as noted, the Volt was quite cramped inside. I don’t know the range of the current Volt but if it’s not significantly greater than, say, the Bolt, well…

    Compare that with the Pacifica minivan PHEV which has a range of over 500 miles before needing to stop to refuel.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      2nd gen Volt gets 367 miles with gas, 420 with electric.

      It’s rated at 53 miles electric and we’ve been seeing around 65 before the battery is depleted.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        “it’s rated at 53 miles electric and we’ve been seeing around 65 before the battery is depleted.”

        That’s amazing but I’m not surprised as my 2013 consistently pulls 45-47 electric miles in the summer running the AC, and then a minimum of 40MPG on gas.

  • avatar
    s_a_p

    Im hoping it wasnt just me, but to me the name volt got it all wrong. The Chevy Volt to me screams full electric drivetrain. The Chevy Bolt sounds more like something that is a hybrid, since I equate a lightning bolt as a short term event. Either way, naming them so closely confused me even though I regularly read the auto tabloids. I generally tune out Chevrolet anyway as the Real people commercials just got on my nerves, while the styling department seems intent on making the ugliest vehicles conceived by man.

  • avatar
    random1

    Marketing for sure, but also the automotive press swooned over the Prius and somehow painted the Volt as an “impure” electric, since it had a full ICE mode. I agree it’s the right drivetrain for the US, and really should’ve been a small success, if not a huge hit. Also, Chevy dealers aren’t interested in selling Bolts/Volts. I was in the market for a small second car, around town stuff, etc., and I went to check out the Bolt. Salesman unclear on the difference between Volt and Bolt, then checks with manager and informs me that they don’t have either in stock. Too bad I say, and walk out. He comes running out to the car to tell me he does indeed have a Bolt for me to test drive. I just left, I don’t understand what they were trying to do. I came in to check a compact car, did they think they’d upsell me a Suburban? Bizarre.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    Some key points have already been hit on this:

    Home charging is painfully slow with the 110 charger. We had a 220 plug installed and a charger from a 3rd party installed inside of the garage. It’s out of the way and the car is charged in 2 hours…it’s not Tesla fast but it’s fast enough for our usage. There’s a stigma of “home chargers” when ours is in fact portable for when we move. The outlet stays but the charger comes with.

    Not enough marketing. Although when it was announced that GM was killing the Volt, every single one within a 40 mile radius was spoken for.

    Not enough support for public charging at the moment. There’s chargers but have been finding some that don’t work at all or information in accurate. One weekend we found one that was buried in a parking garage basement and that was using Google. Nothing built into the car to point towards pubic charging stations.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “it’s rated at 53 miles electric and we’ve been seeing around 65 before the battery is depleted.”

      That’s amazing but I’m not surprised as my 2013 consistently pulls 45-47 electric miles in the summer running the AC, and then a minimum of 40MPG on gas.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “Home charging is painfully slow with the 110 charger.”

      Not really. I’ve been charging mine for over 3 years on the 110VAC charger. A big PITA with the Volt is it defaults to an 8 AMP charge, which I agree is painfully slow. So you have to go and manually set it to the 12 amp mode every time you charge. Mine’s always fully charged ready to go in the morning when it’s time to leave for work.

      • 0 avatar
        jh26036

        I am unsure of the 1G Volts but in the 2G Volts, you can set the location of your home and it’ll default to 12a. The downside, it resets itself every 3 months.

        Like you, I do L1 charging at home for 2 years 4 months now, 87% EV miles. Not really an issue at all. Charge overnight, full the next day.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    Powertrain anxiety and charging options seem to me to loom large along with the interior size complaint.

    I didn’t realize there were third-party portable chargers out there which will essentially plug into a dryer outlet and charge in 2 hours. If the Volt had shipped with something like that it might have helped a lot.

    The question of long term durability of the Volt drivetrain has to have scared some people away, too. From a cursory google, GM was offering a fairly decent warranty on the battery but I’d never heard about it.

    Our family would do fairly well with something like a Volt for my work commute and a 3-row SUV for trips, but I’m still leery of the eventual repair bill…

    I really don’t understand why this wasn’t launched with more emphasis on the ability to go anywhere there’s a highway and GM standing behind the warranty.

    If this hadn’t launched at a time when GM was shedding brands it may have been better to have launched as a subbrand like the first Auroras were.

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      Durability of the battery has not been an issue from what I’ve seen, no shortage of high mileage first generations rolling around. The highest 1G Volt is something like 400k miles now with this dude commuting 200+ miles a day.

      As for home charging, GM might not like this, but the factory G2 portable charger provided with the car is actually capable of L2 charging but they don’t advertise it that way. Several electrical engineering nerds have taken it apart and have thoroughly test and can support 240V charging with just an adapter you can buy for $60. If that doesn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy, you can buy a off-brand Amazon L2 charger for $200-300 depending on the length of cord you need.

  • avatar
    Lee in MD

    I’m not sure the consumer confusion aspect was as large an issue as this article implies. My eco-minded wife drives 50-100 miles a day for work as a visiting Physical Therapist and wanted to go electric after her 9yo Camry Hybrid rapidly fell apart at 140K miles (so much for the vaunted Camry). She really wanted a Tesla but in 2016 the only choices a mere mortal could afford were the Nissan Leaf or the Gen 2 Volt. After I explained the battery degradation and winter range issues on the Leaf and explained that the Volt would go 50-60 miles on electricity and then get hybrid-like fuel economy on gas with zero range anxiety that’s all she cared to know. In the Volt’s favor was also the Leaf’s fugly factor, but ultimately it was the battery range that ruled the Leaf out. Two and a half years and 55K miles later with the Volt she’s done 80% of her miles on electricity (plugs it in nightly to the L2 charger I installed in our garage) and greatly enjoys the acceleration and handling compared to her old boatlike Camry. Her only complaint? You guessed it. The cramped interior.

  • avatar
    FAHRVERGNUGEN

    Why cannot the charging systems be made so that one simply drives over a pad, and silver brushes come down and make contact, and get their charge on either side of a slot (OK I got carried away HO, HO).

    Don’t care about the rear seat; I could go with a package shelf and be happy. If/as needed, She Who Must Be Obeyed has her Jeep.

    Just looked at a webcarfinder and found a 2017 Premier w under 20k miles for HALF of the original sticker. Never even considered this car. Now I’m intrigued.

  • avatar
    Wodehouse

    I never cared for the interior and exterior design of either generations of Volt, but, I really liked the Cadillac version. I came really close to replacing my CTS coupe with an ELR, but, just couldn’t justify the ridiculous asking price of $82K the dealer wanted.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Agree that the marketing of the Volt sucked. But let’s call a spade a spade. The Volt was expensive and never once did it enjoy a time when gas prices where going up/spiking and the US public was nervous about filling the tanks of their SUV’s to where they started dumping them like hot cakes and getting into smaller more fuel efficient vehicles.

    Gas was under $2 a gallon in MN when I picked up my 2013 in the spring of 2016 for dirt. It’s been bullet proof since and still looks like a new car and drives like a million bucks. The way it drives in EV mode is why I bought it.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    GM core competencies:
    a) Lobbying
    b) Safety Engineering
    c) HVAC
    d) Automatic Transmissions

    *Not* on this list – Marketing, Labor Relations…

    The more I think about it, a) might be the key to the whole thing.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    “Many don’t know that a plug-in hybrid actually has an engine that powers the vehicle most of the time,” says Steph.

    Except that’s…wrong.

    That’s not how the Volt works.

    The Volt’s engine doesn’t come on at all until the battery is exhausted. Not even under full throttle. And with 53 miles of electric range — more than the average American drives per day — the typical Volt owner may go months before the gas engine fires up. The Volt *will* toodle through *most* commutes without using gas at all. It’s electric car with a backup plan.

    For that matter, it’s not how other PHEVs work.

    Other PHEVs are just a standard hybrid with a bigger battery swapped in and a plug tacked on. They generally have up to three dozen miles of electric range, and can stay in all-electric mode if you stay under half-throttle (asking for more power kicks on the gas engine to help power the car.) So they *can* toodle through *many* commutes without using gas.

    The oddball out there is the BMW i3 REx. Like the Volt, the i3 REx is “an electric car with a backup plan.” But while the Volt delivers 100% power regardless of whether it’s running on gas or electricity and can go hundreds of miles on every tank of gas, the little Bimmer has only 36 horsepower from its gas engine and 1.5 gallons in its tank, so it’s safer to consider its range extender a limp-home mode than a road-trip companion.

    Basically, Steph’s description is accurate for one kind of car: a standard hybrid car without a plug. By definition, not a plug-in hybrid.

    I hate being nitpicky like this. But the pattern is clear at this point: as soon as electrification comes into the picture, TTAC’s writers a) can’t keep their politics out of it and b) can’t get their facts straight. As a longtime TTAC fan, I find it really disappointing.

  • avatar
    hifi

    The Volt does not rely on the ICE “most of the time.” The misinformation within this article highlights the general lack of understanding that most people have with the variety of electric options on the market. It can be confusing, and sometimes it takes people a while for the technology to become clear. My aunt and uncle joined me on a 120 mile road trip in my Model X. Though they knew it was a Tesla, they asked when we were going to “stop for gas.” Then after I explained that we weren’t, the questions became all about how we were going to charge the car and what would happen if we got stuck in traffic. They were amazed with the fact that we could do the entire trip without the need to stop, visit three wineries throughout the day, have plenty of reserve in the “tank” and I would “refuel” the car in my garage after arriving while we ate dinner. The reality is, full EVs are much easier to understand than those with hybrid drivetrains and range extender engines.


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