Edmunds Makes Worst-Case Assumptions in Chevy Volt Assessment

By · March 13, 2011

Plugging Chevy Volt

Edmunds.com posted efficiency and cost-per-mile numbers on the Chevy Volt, but didn't charge the car as much as they could have.

Note from Brad Berman, PluginCars.com Editor: The volume of exciting electric car news is accelerating. Some of the headlines are very encouraging, but other stories—getting just as much play—are not much more than EV buzz for buzz sake. So, I asked Chelsea to help us sort out the wheat from the chaff by pointing out a handful of stories that deserve some attention. Take it away, Chelsea...

1

Edmunds.com posted an update on their Volt efficiency experiences and there are some flaws—some worse than others. Those flaws produced results suggesting that the Toyota Prius and Ford Fusion Hybrid are cheaper than the Volt on a cost-per-mile basis.

Their low-end mileage numbers are the worst I've seen so far in SoCal, which leads me to wonder if they were achieved while testing the governor. But "your mileage may vary" is a cliché for a reason, so I don't mind the variation so much as I'd have liked to see them detail the conditions under which those figures were achieved. The percentage of EV miles has a big impact, and is lower than most Volt drivers will experience. It reflects their actual driving patterns, but it seems someone's got a longer than average commute, which would have been appropriate to point out. They also specifically didn't charge the vehicle as much as they might have—some with longer-than-average commutes might be happier in a pure EV or a hybrid (depending on the specific commute), but others would simply charge at both home and the office, as a few of my fellow Volt Customer Advisory Board members did.

But the most problematic aspect is the assumptions in electricity costs. The national average numbers are high—most of the industry assumes a 10-11cents/kWh average—but the biggest issue is a CA-specific one: while each major utility in this state has one or more EV rates, almost none of the journalists evaluating these plug-in cars are going to be using it. This means that their electricity costs are inherently going to be artificially high, and not representative of what those who actually lease or buy cars can expect.

It's not the car's fault that the journalist consumes enough electricity in his home to automatically be on a higher-cost tiered rate—and therefore the electricity that the vehicle consumes will be billed at that higher rate, but that's how it reads in this evaluation. I spent a month on the same rate that they're using with the Volt I was testing, and paid a fraction of what they did because my home usage was lower to begin with. But I still recognized that an EV rate would be even better; I couldn't get the lowest cost option, but switched to one in the middle.

Obviously it doesn't make sense for these guys to switch when they only have the car for some number of days, but the recent rash of stories about high electricity rates in California for EVs is based largely in the lack of acknowledgment that the journalists' charging costs are not the norm.

All of these things boil down to one core point—and it's the same basic problem that made the recent Consumer Reports piece about the Volt such a wreck. It's not fair to take one pessimistic (or optimistic) experience and suggest that it's what everyone should expect, let alone condemn the vehicle or technology based on that one experience as Consumer Reports did. It's also especially true when someone's only using the car for a couple of days at a time or when it's clear that driving patterns differ from the expected mainstream driver, as with Edmunds. It's not that these experiences aren't valid or shouldn't be published. They absolutely should. But they should be accompanied by enough details that a reader can easily determine how his usage and costs might differ.

2

Fisker has made a series of, um..."ambitious" statements this week, on the heels of giving its first test-drives to select press outlets. First, there was the announcement of a Karma variant coming to Frankfurt. Then came news that the company wants to deliver 7,000 vehicles in 2011, even though the date for first deliveries has now quietly slipped to summer? Seven-thousand vehicles is not far off from how many LEAFs Nissan is likely to deliver in the U.S. this year, and nearly 50 percent more than the total Tesla Model S volume that Tesla is aiming at in the same timeframe next year.

Finally, Fisker has assessed their space needs in the old Wilmington Saturn plant that will be used to build their next model, the Nina. Having decided that they will only need a fraction of the total space, Fisker wants to build cars for other automakers. But after running nearly two years late and more than 20 percent over initial price targets, I can't help but think they need to focus on doing what they've said they would before announcing anything more. And I continue to find it strangely curious that Tesla has received a media beating on some of these same fronts, but Fisker remains relatively un-questioned by the press. It’s one of several double standards in the industry these days.

3

Truth is stranger than fiction: Renault's already bizarre espionage story is now looking like a hoax, and the COO may take the fall for letting the company get caught up in it.

4

BYD's mired in some suspicion of their own as allegations of product plagiarism come via none other than Wikileaks. For many, this isn't a huge surprise coming from a Chinese automaker, but in combination with abysmal sales and sketchy product quality, it doesn't inspire confidence around BYD— or Chinese vehicles, for that matter—in the U.S. market. And that Daimler admits to knowing about all of this when they made the choice to partner says a lot about how desperate they are too, when it comes to being in the EV space.

5

"My two cents" this week are a few steps outside my usual posting wheelhouse, but as folks who work and advocate in this field, sometimes we need a reminder about the human aspect of our efforts. That's been particularly apparent to me lately.

Comments

· Norbert (not verified) · 6 years ago

Other things I noticed in the Edmunds article are that they included the January numbers with the lower electric use, even though this was due to "breaking in the gas engine" (not every reader pays attention to these details). And for the Volt, they used "real" mpg, while on the hybrids they use EPA estimates of mpg, probably another 10% difference or so. (Several commenters point out that the numbers used for cost of electricity are unusually high, not using the usually much cheaper off-peak numbers etc.)

· · 6 years ago

Your absolutely right, Norbert- there were a number of other points in the article that I could have picked on but didn't, due to length. I do give them credit for at least noting the engine break-in period, but it's hardly fair to include that data in computing the averages. And the apples to oranges mpg comparisons is just plain wrong.

· JeffU (not verified) · 6 years ago

Maybe we need EV qualified reporters.
Since becoming a Volt owner a very funny thing has happening that didn't happen when I had the EV1. I'm encountering a lot of inexperienced plugin car "experts". People, some reporters, that talk as if they already know everything about plugin EVs. So now when I here those noises coming out of the hole in their face I ask them how long they've owned an EV. The answer to my smart-ass leading question is always, "Oh I don't have an EV" or "Oh,I've never driven an EV". So I guess now that plugin cars are available with more on the way, everybody is an expert. So I think, at least for reporters, they should be required to prove their credibly with some sort of license. So I can ask; "Do you have a license?" I know, silly. But in reference to those Edmunds and CR stories I have to always point out; "WHO WOULD BUY A $41K PLUGIN CAR AND NOT PLUG IT IN AS MUCH AS THEY CAN TO USE THE LEAST AMOUNT OF GAS?!" A non-owner.

The fix is that I point those people, reporters and the people that want to believe the Consumer Reports BS story to the Chevy Volt Owners FB and other blogs. They contain real usage stories from real Chevy Volt owners. I haven't seen ONE unsatisfied owner and all are touting their extremely high gas milage. I know this is a problem that will solve it's self as more and more Volt owners tell their stories. But we need more and more Volt owners to have those stories. GM could help a lot more in this area. Just put Volt owners on TV!

The Volt is a little hard for some to understand. The math and all. But the ones who have driven my car seem to get it as I explain it. Most go off and order the car or figure when they can order the car.

So I comment and comment often.

P.S. Sadly I had to buy gas for the first time after 2 months at 2350 miles. But I only bought 4 gallons cause that will last me a long time.

· Dave p (not verified) · 6 years ago

Thanks Chels for the interesting insights as usual!

One thing that is lost on the EV savvy crowd is the general driving public does not understand EV rates and such. Those in the know need to recognize the huge knowledge gap and patiently work to eliminate it. The media is reflecting the general public - use this to see the general publics view.

The complaining is getting old - try to patiently and respectfully educate.

· DennisLeeMiles.com (not verified) · 6 years ago

After reading this post I am reminded of the definition we used to use for "EXPERT" not too many years ago.

Definition: EX PERT, An "EX" is a used to be or former participant in life's activities. A "PERT" is a diminutive of the word "SPURT" which is a tiny stream under pressure of little more than a drop or drip of fluid. All together the two syllables then give us,
" EXPERT ==> A FORMER DRIP UNDER PRESSURE."

· · 6 years ago

Interesting point Dave, and for the most part I'm with you on the "patiently and respectfully educate" front, especially with consumers. I'm known for the general "meet people where they are" approach. However, I disagree that media outlets- especially those known for automotive journalism- don't know better. The very reason consumers turn to them is because they assume an Edmunds or a Consumer Reports knows more than the average consumer and will provide truly educated and experienced advice. This means that even with new technology, it's the responsibility of these outlets to educate themselves about things like EV rates and point out how those options will affect the user experience. In the case of Edmunds, I've personally had some interaction with another of their journalists who's been testing the Volt (Karl Brauer) on this exact issue- so this isn't a matter of not knowing better. But they make more headlines being contrarian...and then it becomes our responsibility to point out which stories can be trusted as good advice. I don't mean "complaining" about every story that isn't rosy- not all of them will be. But readers need to understand the methodology behind them and why it may not represent what their experience will be.

FWIW, I also hold the automakers and other stakeholders somewhat responsible for some of these poor media stories, particularly those that end up faulting the vehicle for not getting the "advertised" range, which is always an optimal number. Car companies need to get better at under-promising and over-delivering on things like range and charging times, and being clear about what real-world expectations are compared to EPA labels, etc.

· · 6 years ago

I've always found it curious that in nearly every article regarding plug-ins, the writer tends to focus primarily on the ROI. To these writers plug-ins are ONLY about the economics. To them it's unacceptable for a consumer to just simply want to own a LEAF or Volt or other plug-in for any other reason beyond it's reduced fuel costs. Little or no mention of the plug-ins acceleration, quietness, handling, utility, high tech features, etc. Yet the absurdity of GM stuffing a 556 HP and 551 lb-ft. of torque Corvette engine into a Cadillac station wagon seems very reasonable to this crowd. By the way, Consumers Reports has lost their credibility in product evaluation over the years and never had any credibility with auto evaluations.

· · 6 years ago

Yes, I get into a lot of conversations about the same thing. There's an assumption that those who buy EVs are much more pragmatic than other car buyers, and are governed by calculators over emotion in all cases. Or, it's totally the opposite, and they're a bunch of nutty tree-huggers who buy $100k Teslas. Very little in the middle. And either way, it tends to be used as "evidence" that only early adopters will pay the incremental cost, where mainstream buyers will only buy EVs if they cost less than gas cars.

With those people, I usually call upon the example of a Yukon not being the most economical way to get a pick-up truck, and yet folks buy those. And it certainly isn't the early adopters doing it. Vehicles are an emotional purchase, regardless of the drivetrain. That doesn't mean economics don't matter, but they're not the only factor.

· George Parrott (not verified) · 6 years ago

And we simply cannot sustain an addiction to oil; it is of finite and diminishing supply. Further, for many of us living in places like California, there are additional air quality issues with the internal combustion engine. Though both of my knees have seen surgery and I am sadly not running any more, for 30+ years my fitness activity was running. I regularly trained at 100+ miles a week and for 28 years NEVER used my car to even go to work, as I ran the 7 miles or so each way. Those years brought me a great appreciation of "air quality," and there were and still are days here in Sacramento where it is not recommended to do any "outside exercise" and small children should stay inside. MOST of that compromised air quality comes from our addiction to the car and the use of fuel oil to drive. EVs will help us move toward a tomorrow where those children might still.....play outdoors.

· Rob (not verified) · 6 years ago

Thank you Chelsea for this article and for your candidness. And more than this, thank you for continuing to be our true leading advocate for all things EV. We must continue to remember that in all this wonderful goodness of the EV experience that we enjoy, this is all still relying upon the auto industry to help bring the EV to the mainstream. I'm not wishing to bash the auto industry but they what they are and that is habitually misinforming, misleading gargantuan corporations whose agendas rarely mirror that of their intended target markets. I am quickly reminded of the old childhood tale of the Scorpion and the Toad. It's simply what they do.

For those of us who are pouring our lives into this new endeavor, for whatever may be our motivations, we believe in the final vision of the EV and all that it brings in the positive. We must be mindful of what is their weaknesses as well and work to improve/correct those. The EV is not perfected and it is incumbent upon those of us who stay true to this purpose and cause and to help bring forth the truth to the general public, even when it is painful to say and/or hear.

Chelsea, you have done so brilliantly with your replying to the recent "dilemmas" of Renault, BYD, Fisker and Tesla. We are merely at the beginning of this great wave of new technology and industry. I look forward to each new passing day regardless of whether it brings good or bad news because it simply reveals that EVs are coming into their own. At last.

Cheers!

· JJ - from Canada (not verified) · 6 years ago

@JeffU... or other Volt owners...

I was wondering about the heater in the Volt.
Is it like a hairdryer with heating elements and a blower?
or do they use the heat from the coolant (does it use coolant?)

Does it have heated seats?
Would heated seats use less power than elements and a blower?

Even for ICE cars, I don't know why they never had an electric element heater to defrost a frozen windshield instead of having to wait 5 - 10 minutes for the car to warm up when I'd be parked on the street.
I can drive away if I'm frozen but not if my windshield is frozen -
I can't see where I'm going till the windshield is defrosted !

· Chris T. (not verified) · 6 years ago

Ford had (has?) an "instant clear" windshield coating that uses electric resistance heating. It has been around for decades. The main drawback is that it uses a lot of power: they had special 80 amp alternators in those vehicles instead of the usual (40 amp) size.

Obviously defroster wires, a la back windows, would also work, but nobody seems to like them. :-)

· · 6 years ago

The Volt has a heated seat option (comes with leather seats, but not with cloth), and they both use less energy than the heater in most cases and keep the driver and passenger warmer. I swore by those bad boys...

EV1 had a heated windshield because while it used more energy than some accessories, it was more efficient than a traditional defroster. It also worked brilliantly. I wish the Volt had it too- the regular defroster in the Volt worked as you'd expect, but it would have been nice to avoid the air blowing around the cabin at the same time. For some reason, turning it on also triggers the regular climate control vents in the dash, unlike a regular ICE car.

· JJ - from Canada (not verified) · 6 years ago

Thanks for the heating options info Chelsea and Chris.

Heated seats: yes
Heat blowing on the windshield: shared
but I don't want the heat to go through the cabin vents,
I want it to blast onto the windshield to defrost it so I can go.

But if it uses electric elements than that would be instant heat.
Not like ICE cars that you have to wait 5 to 10 minutes idling before I can drive away which wastes my time and gas and pollutes.

I agree Chris... I don't want to look through a bunch of wires while I drive.

· AZ Cowboy (not verified) · 6 years ago

Chelsea,

I'm a big fan of IC cars. They are cool. I've modified them and rebuilt them. I love them. They have been a big part of my life and I am guessing they will always find application in my lifetime.

There are some things I don't like about EV's at this point. They are fair weather (at least compared to IC cars). They are small. Their range is short. They are not yet designed to tow.

That said I am super excited and mostly optimistic about the future of EV's. I especially like what Chevy has done...created a EV that won't leave you stranded if you run the AC too much or miscalculate the mileage. I think the Volt will go a long ways towards the introduction of EV's for the masses.

If battery technology makes decent strides there could be an EV in the majority of garages in 20 years. This has real potential of becoming the most disruptive technology in the first half of this century.

I'm not real excitable by most technologies or environmental causes but I am about this one because it is simple and direct (and I think HUGE!).

The thing is, when I share this vision of the future I get polite but indifferent reactions. Most people that know me seemed genuinely surprised that I would get excited by such a thing.

Do you encounter this? Why don't people (even smart ones) seem to get it?

· · 6 years ago

@AZ Cowboy,
I'm right with you. There's nothing wrong with IC cars as there is nothing wrong with horses, however, the EV is definitely a better option for the future in many cases. The trick will be to get them being manufactured in mass production so that the prices drop. Fortunately, this seems to be happening today.
I'll happily tell you that none of your concerns have anything to do with the electric drivetrain. Mine is all weather as much as any 2wd vehicle is (and I drove 2wd vehicles in the snow when I lived in snow country). My car also goes 200 miles without recharging - far more than I need for normal days.
The other issues (small, and towing) are simply because the traditional auto manufacturers refuse to adopt EVs and refuse to put an electric drivetrain into any of their mainstream vehicles. Hopefully, this will change over time. In the meantime, warn any Ferraris who may want to take me on at a stoplight that its a losing game for them since there are EVs in the supercar class today.
The next generation of EVs can be charged in minutes, not hours so even long trips will be feasible in them.

· JJ - from Canada (not verified) · 6 years ago

AZ Cowboy... I get the same reaction.
As soon as I talk about electric cars they all say it's far away in the future, the power plants won't handle the electrical demand, and about the range (yet they don't drive outside the city).

I like EV's because in the DVD Who killed the electric car?
they showed all the parts we won't have to get fixed and replaced.
From oil changes to exhaust systems.

· · 6 years ago

AZ Cowboy,

I'm known for my right foot, so between that and my geek side, I've a certain "appreciation" for many gas cars too.

I tend not to focus on trying to replace all gas cars with plug-in cars, and more on trying to get people to recognize the "right tool for the job" potential. Today, EVs are great for commuting and recreational running around, and there are plug-in hybrids that can be someone's "only" car for those that need it. The reason we don't have really long range, or towing capacity, or really large EVs isn't because it's not technically feasible, or because automakers refuse to embrace the idea. The issue is cost, mainly of batteries. That cost will come down, and we'll see OEMs dip toes into all of those waters- as Toyota is with the new RAV4 EV, Ford is with the Energi, and GM will with the SRX (or whatever that turns out to be.) Part of the issue is convincing automakers that there's a market for such things, and the Duramax crowd isn't exactly clamoring for it yet. We'll get there, but in the meantime I don't pretend that EVs are good for things they aren't. Your timeframe of a couple decades for these to really hit mass adoption in the classic auto industry sense is a good one.

I get the apathy all the time too, or cynicism. A lot of this comes from folks who just don't think it's "real" yet. A lot changes when they get to see one in the flesh; even better if there's a ride/drive involved. Seeing your neighbor use one makes a difference, etc. And sometimes it's a matter of finding out what matters to them (convenience, performance, environment, security, etc.) and tailoring the discussion some.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 6 years ago

Sorry guys and gals, but I'm still not sold on the Volt.

(A) I think it's been over hyped (remember the 230mpg ad).
(B) Costs too much for the average Joe to buy. Prius was sold at a loss, but still in the mid $20,000 range. And don't talk about rebates either. They eventually go away.
(C) Reliability is unknown. Let's face GM isn't really known for reliablity in general.
(D) Weight. Does the car really have to weigh in at almost 3,800lbs.? The Prius weighs in at around 3,050lbs.
(E) Exactly how many companies have places for their employees to plug in their car? I'm betting it's very few.
(F) The Volt is ONLY a game changer for GM, not the rest of the world.
(G) 40 mile EV range ONLY if you don't use your accessories, heat, A/C and drive very responsibly. That applies to the Leaf also.

Now I'm not against EV's, plug in's or hybrids since I do own a Prius myself, but I just think that the Volt is a niche vehicle and that for all the hype there's still a lot of lingering issues that prevent this from really being a break out car.

· Justin Lamb (not verified) · 6 years ago

The Volt is a great car! I test drove it the other day and that thing can go! It was like driving a BMW, but with no torgue lag. It was so fun to drive. The Volt is at a great price after the rebates. Responding to the "anonymous" above me, I don't think the rebates will die out quickly. Unlike fourteen years ago, I think the U.S. is really into electric cars now. They seem very serious about getting more on the road for they are setting up a lot of EV stations. Also, (it's kinda funny) it seems like different states are competing on who can get the most EV's on the road! Also, GM is very reliable now. Their reliability has risen 85% in the past five years! Comparing the Volt to the Prius is unfair. Unfair to the Prius! After all the rebates, the Volt is less than the Prius 5, and being inside both cars; THE VOLT IS SO MUCH NICER!! Also being heavier is not all that bad. The Volt feels solid!! Its also way sportier than the Prius and, well, I just like it so much more. I don't mean to dis the person above me in any way, believe me I am an environmentalist, and I love the Prius. Just the Volt is a more fun, appealing, and environmentally friendly car! Writing this essay makes me want to test drive the Volt again! Haha. I put my name on the waiting list and mine will be delivered in September! So excited!!

· JJ - from Canada (not verified) · 6 years ago

Chelsea... another way to show that EV's can do the job, is if the government uses them in their fleet vehicles.
Police cars that idle a lot, parking ticket personel, city vehicles, post office trucks etc.
-----------------------------------
Thanks for sharing that Justin.

· · 6 years ago

Absolutely, JJ- both public and private fleets. I love the fact that GE is buying 25,000 plug-ins, and that SCE is still using old RAV4 EVs to do meter reading.

I agree with Justin too that the Prius and the Volt are really different vehicles. But aside from the things he mentioned, the advantage of the Volt that I like the most over the Prius (or other PHEVs so far) is the ability to go days or weeks at a time using no gas at all. Even the plug-in version of the Prius will always use gas at highway speeds.

· JJ - from Canada (not verified) · 6 years ago

What kind of plug ins are GE buying? Volts? 25 000 that a good sale.

Not an expert but it seems that the Volt is simpler (less parts than a hybrid) so it would make the car more reliable which is what I look for.
ICE cars have too many sensors and ignition parts + gas pumps etc etc that can go wrong.
I'm tired of getting my ICE car problems misdiagnosed and fixed.
A mini van Volt would be quite attractive.

The "Experienced EV Driver Compares Prius, Mini E and His New Chevy Volt" article on this site was good too.
(Good night - it's a bit late where I am)

· Anonymous (not verified) · 6 years ago

@ Justin--

--Well the rebates won't die out soon because GM can only make about 25,000 Volts a year. Wait didn't production just halt because of the Volt's transmission parts being made in Japan?
--How many states is the Volt sold in and where are ALL these EV stations being set up?
--GM is more reliable than before. I'll give you that, but they were way at the bottom before and they're still in the middle of the pack.
--Don't compare a rebated product to a product that has no rebates. Sticker price to sticker price the Volt is still more expensive than the Prius. And I don't believe there is a price on the Prius V yet, so how can you compare them?
--Being heavier IS bad. Again power to weight and talk to Lotus about light cars if YOU think being heavy is fine.

--Please don't take any of the reply comments to heart. I'm not here to pick a fight.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 6 years ago

@Chelsea & JJ--

What would you two have said about the U.S. government if after they spent $50 billion to bailout GM they would have bought hybrid cars from Toyota or Honda? My guess is you two and MANY others would have been PO'd. I believe they only bought them to support GM.

Although the Prius is a mid-size car and the Volt a compact I don't agree that they are that different. Both are hybrids. Both consume gas and electricity, but just in different ways. Both were built for fuel efficiency. GM is attempting to take a swing at the "king of green" the Prius. When the 2012 plug-in Prius comes to the U.S. it'll be even closer competition. I still have to give the nod to Prius. It's a very reliable car and has a powerful brand image with 3,000,000 of them having been sold worldwide since it came out over a decade ago.

Remember when it comes to fuel efficiency for each automaker (GM vs. Toyota) Toyota has a more fuel efficient line up than GM and that's what's going to draw more customers as gas prices keep climbing.

My 2nd gen Prius currently is averaging 46.4 mpg. I'm very happy with it and look forward to the day (not for a few years yet) when I decide to buy a plug-in Prius.

In the end even though I'm no longer a fan of GM, their foray into the hybrid market is a good thing and LONG, LONG over due. I remember back in around the year 2000 everybody thought it was great that GM spent billions on Hummer while Toyota spent billions on Prius. I bet GM wishes they could have spent their money a little more wisely.

· · 6 years ago

Anonymous,

I may be in the minority, but I'd want the government to purchase the best vehicles, regardless of who made them- though since this administration's priority is a million plug-ins on the road by 2015, a plug should be the minimum point of entry where it's feasible. Where it's not, the Prius would be among several great gas-only hybrid choices.

However they're each classed, the Prius and the Volt are basically the same size from a user perspective. And I don't have an issue with the Prius- I give Toyota credit for having done it in the first place, and congratulate them for their success. No other automaker in the world would get away with flogging what is basically a 10-yr old car as if it was still the newest, hottest thing, but good on them for getting away with it. And I don't dispute that Toyota probably has a more fuel efficient line-up overall. So does Honda and probably others- but that's also irrelevant to the discussion we've been having here.

But I don't agree that gas-only hybrids and plug-in hybrids are the same thing. Certainly not when comparing to the Volt, which is the most-electrified PHEV we're going to see in the next several years. Even the Prius PHV, by comparison, is the least electrified PHEV we're going to see come to market in that same timeframe. And while you're right that GM's return is long overdue, Toyota has basically made itself the "GM of hybrids" in giving up the huge timing lead it had, and doing such a minimally electrified version of the Prius when they finally agreed to make it a plug-in. I've driven it, and it's a solid car. Current gas-Prius drivers will love it. More EV-minded folks will be disappointed in the lack of range. I'm curious to see the pricing, but no matter what, they'll sell a bunch of them simply because it's a Toyota and not a GM. But that doesn't make it a better car; it makes Toyota better at marketing.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 6 years ago

Chelsea,

I agree with you 100%. I would want the government to choose the best vehicle for the job also, but it would be a political slap in the face to GM if the government, after bailing GM out, chose to go with the Prius, Fusion or some other hybrid car. The gov't would be saying, "We'll bail you out to the tune of $50 billion, but we don't think your Volt is good enough for us." A lot of taxpayers would throw a fit. As far as 1 million plug ins by 2015. I believe that is a pipe dream. Unless GM and Toyota kick it into super duper ultra high gear in the next 4 years there's no way we'll hit that mark. It's the same kind of lofty goals this administration set for doubling the exports of this country in the next 4 years. Both are virtually impossible targets made to score political points. The idea is good, but reality is much different.

I think hybrids should be the minimum point of entry with plug in and EV's filling in the mid and top tiers. Maybe you can confirm this, but from my understanding the plug in Prius is more efficient in the 0-13 mile range, then the Volt beats the Prius from 13-100 mile range and then after that the Prius is again more fuel efficient.

I do take issue to your comment "No other automaker in the world would get away with flogging what is basically a 10-yr old car as if it was still the newest, hottest thing, but good on them for getting away with it." GM's been doing this with the Corvette and Camaro for decades. As well as Ford with the Mustang. Or maybe I just took your comment out of context. :-) As far as line up fuel efficiency. I would think it matters because CAFE standards matter. CAFE standards will financially penalize GM more so than Toyota according to an article in the NYTimes. Maybe you know something different?

The "GM of hybrids"? Haha... The Prius is a very successful model. It's reliable, fuel efficient, has tons of options (increasing the base price) and has a starting price that many Americans can afford without rebates. I understand your viewpoint regarding "(Toyota) giving up the huge timing lead it had", but on the flip side look how long it took for any of it's competitors to come up with something close. Not exact, but close. Each generation of the Prius (three so far) has been bigger, more powerful and more fuel efficient. I think more EV minded folks will lean more towards the Leaf and IMO the Leaf range and time to recharge is too little (range) and too much (recharge time) for people to want to make the purchase without keeping a second car on hand. But the Leaf is a whole other conversation.

So yes Toyota will sell a bunch, but it's exactly because it's a solid car that performs well and is fuel efficient with a price tag that's easier to swallow. Toyota built this brand from the ground up with one purpose in mind. To be the greenest even when gas prices were low. It succeeded while other automakers were building gas guzzling vehicles and pursuing the horsepower wars. Kudos to Toyota for having the foresight to do this.

BTW I enjoy the back and forth conversation. And I'm in no way bashing your view point.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 6 years ago

Will someone comment on this aspect of Volt: Although GM provides a 100,000 mile warranty, when selling the car, it's battery is worn down and maybe shot. If it lasts 5-7 years, the owner has the shell of a very used, perhaps unsellable car.

Question: What will replacement batteries cost?
Question: How much will Volts depreciate given this problem?
Question: Who would buy a used Volt if they have to pay maybe ten thousand dollars to replace the battery?

I hope readers understand I am NOT trying to undermine Volt. I think it's a grand car and am seriously thinking of buying. I simply want answers--has anybody thought about these questions? Please reply and put my mind at ease.

· · 6 years ago

@Anonymous, The short answer is that nobody really knows the answers to your questions yet. That's a risk with being an early adopter, hence many people are leasing Volts (and pure EVs such as the LEAF as well).

I've seen estimates of battery prices in the $500 per kWh range. That would make the 16 kWh battery pack cost about $8000, although the Volt battery pack may be larger and only 16 kWh is usable. I'm not sure about that. It is possible that battery pack prices will come down and technology will improve as the volume of production increases. Also, the old battery packs will have some residual value; plans are to use them for electrical storage applications where maximum capacity is not necessary. After that they would have recycle value.

How much Volts will depreciate remains to be seen. Even a regular ICE car depreciates substantially the day one drives it off the new car lot. I would expect that depreciation of a Volt would increase substantially as one gets closer to the 8 year/100,000 mile battery pack warranty limit. Unless battery pack prices have dropped considerably by then.

Who would buy a used Volt? Perhaps someone who got it at a substantial discount and considered the cost of putting in a new battery pack in a few years as part of the purchase price. Same as with buying an older used car that will likely need repairs soon. It is much cheaper to repair an old car than to buy a new one, in most cases. Similarly, it will likely be much cheaper to buy a used Volt and replace the battery pack than to buy a new one.

I think that the used market for EVs could be "interesting" for those who want an EV but are on a tight budget.

Those who are worried by resale value could lease the vehicle. The downside of leasing is that one pays all that money and ends up with nothing. The upside is that by then there could be many more EV and PHEV options to consider. I'm wrestling with this problem myself, although I am only interested in a pure EV.

· · 6 years ago

The Volt has a 8 year battery warranty.

And unlike the Prius you will be able to drive the Volt when the battery is below 70% the point that the warranty guarrantees.

Reports that I've read from every day Volt drivers are well above the "government" sticker mpg.
Seems the 230mpg is more accurate than the posted mpgs. The mpgs I've seen are 100mpg and more... people with a commute around 20 miles will be well above 100mpg.

Yes .. that's TWICE the highest MPG just last year.

I drove the EV1 for two days in LA... and test drove the Volt twice.
The EV1 may have been a little faster... but the Volt has a much better ride and is more room. If you put the Volt battery in the EV1 .. that would be a fantastic sports car...because it is so much lighter than the EV1 battery... the performance of the EV1 would be much better... the EV1 was a demonstration car...very high end and cost over $100K to make... the VOLT is much better and feasible technology... and it is a turning point car that is generating thousands of EV smiles.. that will turn into millions very soon.

· Michael (not verified) · 6 years ago

@ Chelsea

"The reason we don't have really long range, or towing capacity, or really large EVs isn't because it's not technically feasible, or because automakers refuse to embrace the idea."

I disagree with you here. Batteries are the wrong tool for the job in some situations, and they end up being too heavy (loss of payload), and too expensive (not affordable).

· · 6 years ago

@Michael,
You may not that Chelsea mentioned the "too expensive" aspect. As for the 'too heavy' aspect you mention, I agree that sometimes some tool isn't the right one for some jobs, however, I believe that you are wrong if you think that battery power isn't the right thing for larger vehicles or towing capacity. Towing capacity and high torque, something that large vehicles need, is, pound per pound, better with an electric motor than an ICE.
Long range is definitely a limitation of the battery (compared with ICE) because of weight and cost today.

· Michael (not verified) · 6 years ago

@ex-EV1 Driver
"I believe that you are wrong if you think that battery power isn't the right thing for larger vehicles or towing capacity."

I am, huh? You're living in fantasy land if you think you are going to tow a fifth wheel any distance at all with a battery powered vehicle.

It's unfortunate that some (not all) of the proponents of BEV, in their fervor, make outlandish statements, and lose all credibility for everybody. This is the type of thing that really turns the public off. The whole corporate conspiracy thing is really getting old, and people just don't buy it.

· · 6 years ago

@Michael,
I think I agreed with you on the distance issue. A battery's energy storage capability is much less than gasoline or diesel's.
The torque to do the towing is a different matter. For your 5th wheel, I suspect that a well-built Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) or ordinary hybrid (HEV) would be great. Your ICE could be smaller and more efficient if you have an electric drivetrain big enough to handle startup and hill climbing.
Without an electric drivetrain, you'll be towing your 5th wheel at 35 mph up the steep grades since you're ICE is so significantly underpowered. The hybrid would give you much better performance than you have today with slightly better fuel economy.
I agree that I don't see a pure EV option for long-haul vehicles such as an RV or Semi for a long while. An EV with enough battery to tow your 5th wheel 100 miles on a charge would probably cost about $25K and not be worth the price considering that would be pathetically short range for what most people use 5th wheels for.
If you're one of those people who can't afford another vehicle for commuting so you need to use your truck to commute, a PHEV might help you a lot. You could drive on electricity for your daily commute with relatively good energy economy yet have the ICE for your long trips.
Regarding your accusation that I live in fantasy land: I don't think I live there but if I did . . .
My electric RV fantasy would have you towing an EV behind an ICE RV with a connection to couple the EV into your engine computer. This would allow your EV to act as a helper to help push your RV during start up or when climbing steep grades. You could then use the EV to run around when your RV is parked at a campsite and as your commuter car at home. If you were in a campsite without electrical hookups, your EV could serve as a silent generator to provide you with electricity all night long.

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