Consumer Reports: GM's Volt 'doesn't really make a lot of sense'

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Consumer Reports: GM's Volt 'doesn't really make a lot of sense'
David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau
Washington - Consumer Reports offered a harsh initial review of the
Chevrolet Volt, questioning whether General Motors Co.'s flagship vehicle makes economic "sense."The extended-range plug-in electric vehicle is on the cover of the April issue - the influential magazine's annual survey of vehicles - but the GM vehicle comes in for criticism.
"When you are looking at purely dollars and cents, it doesn't really make a lot of sense. The Volt isn't particularly efficient as an electric vehicle and it's not particularly good as a gas vehicle either in terms of fuel economy," said David Champion, the senior director of Consumer Reports auto testing center at a meeting with reporters here. "This is going to be a tough sell to the average consumer."
The magazine said in its testing in Connecticut during a harsh winter, its Volt is getting 25 to 27 miles on electric power alone.
GM spokesman Greg Martin noted that it's been an extremely harsh winter - and as a Volt driver he said he's getting 29-33 miles on electric range. But he noted that in more moderate recent weather, the range jumped to 40 miles on electric range or higher.
Champion believes a hybrid, such as the Toyota Prius, may make more sense for some trips.
"If you drive about 70 miles, a Prius will actually get you more miles per gallon than the Volt does," Champion said.
But GM has noted that most Americans can avoid using gasoline for most regular commuting with the Volt, while its gasoline engine can allow the freedom to travel farther, if needed.
The magazine has put about 2,500 miles on its Volt. It paid $48,700, including a $5,000 markup by a Chevy dealer.
Champion noted the Volt is about twice as expensive as a Prius.
He was said the five hour time to recharge the Volt was "annoying" and was also critical of the power of the Volt heating system.
"You have seat heaters, which keep your body warm, but your feet get cold and your hands get cold," Champion said.
Consumer Reports will release a full road test of the Volt later this year and will update it.
Champion praised the heater on the all-electric Nissan Leaf - which Consumer Reports borrowed from the Japanese automaker -- but said it also got very short ranges in very cold weather.
On one commute, his range in a Leaf was at 43 miles when he turned onto an eight-mile stretch of highway, but it fell from 43 to 16 miles after eight miles at 70 mph.
"If it keeps on going down at this rate, will I get to work," Champion said.
Champion said in an interview he thinks the Volt "will sell the quantity that they want to sell to the people that really want it."
Despite his criticism of the Volt, Champion praised its acceleration and acknowledged that under certain driving cycles, consumers could mostly avoid using gasoline. The magazine noted the Volt is nicely equipped and has a "taut yet supple ride."
But he said there are a lot of trade-offs.
"They are going to live with the compromises the vehicle delivers," Champion said. "When you look at it from a purely logical point of view, it doesn't make an awful lot of sense."
Before Consumer Reports decides whether to recommend the Volt, it needs data from at least 100 subscribers who own one, and a year of reliability data.
snipped-for-privacy@detnews.com
From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110228/AUTO01/102280401/Consumer-Reports--GM 's-Volt-'doesn't-really-make-a-lot-of-sense'
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On 3/1/11 7:47 AM, C. E. White wrote:

http://detnews.com/article/20110228/AUTO01/102280401/Consumer-Reports--GM 's-Volt-'doesn't-really-make-a-lot-of-sense'
Volt, aka "Short Circuit"
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On 01/03/2011 6:14 AM, Jim_Higgins wrote:

And a truly "jolting" experience for the new shareholders...every body went up in the last few months but GM went down....
You can bailout turkeys, but they still be turkeys. I figure you and I didn't, but wonder how many in the group actually bought GM shares?
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On 3/1/2011 2:47 AM, C. E. White wrote:

None of these electric vehicles with gas engines make much sense but they are important because they'll lead the way to a fully electric future. You wouldn't have the Volt without the Japanese Hybrid cars, which from most any way you look at it, are kinda silly.

http://detnews.com/article/20110228/AUTO01/102280401/Consumer-Reports--GM 's-Volt-'doesn't-really-make-a-lot-of-sense'
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I have no interest in a "fully electric future" and certainly no interest in purchasing electric or hybrid vehicles. You can keep 'em.
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On 3/1/2011 11:12 AM, Roger Blake wrote:

In the scheme of things, our personal opinions don't matter much do they?
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On 03/01/2011 05:17 PM, dsi1 wrote:

Or to quote Major Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor) from an episode of ST DS9: "It doesn't matter what you say or what you think. All that matters is what you do." Sincerely,
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They do at least in terms of the directions our own lives take. I can assure you that I will never own an electric or hybrid car. What the rest of you do is your own business, of course.
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On 3/2/2011 3:13 AM, Roger Blake wrote:

Is there any reason that you think that the electric car is a bad idea?
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I see no reason for them.
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wrote:

I can assure you I won't own one either, but perhaps my children or grandchildren will. Right now, they are very expensive toys for people that want to show they are green. One day though, they may become practical and useable by many daily commuters. I just don't see in in my lifetime, which I hope to be at least 20 or 30 more years.
In 1902, many people thought the horseless carriage was just a novelty and man would never fly.
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****** I cant say I will never own one, but I dont want one, dont see the economy of them, and have no intention of buying one.
If push came to shove, I would much rather own a small high tech diesel which could be powered on soybean oil.
Heck, I only stopped riding my bike a couple of years ago when some criminal burglarized my property.
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On 3/2/2011 1:20 PM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

I suspect that this will move faster than you think - at least the potential is there. It all hinges on a battery capacity that's better than what's available today. Once that point in battery development is reached, change will be rapid. Just a guess.
The electric car would seem to be dead simple as far as manufacturing goes - just junk everything connected with the engine, fuel system, ignition system, transmission, exhaust system and keep everything else. My guess is that a electric motor is going to be lighter and simpler and cheaper than a piston engine - a lot cheaper.

If history has taught us anything, it is that technology drives change whether we're ready for it or not. The reality of this world is that the majority of drivers are not piston-lovin' speed-freaking gear-heads. Most folks just want to get in a car and get to where they want to go with a minimum of fuss - they don't give a crap about internal or external combustion or electric or hampster power.
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The geneva motor show 2011 is very much showing off electrical cars and look at this one
http://www.allcarselectric.com/blog/1056092_2011-geneva-motor-show-rolls-royce-phantom-electric-video
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On 3/2/2011 11:01 PM, Bjorn wrote:

http://www.allcarselectric.com/blog/1056092_2011-geneva-motor-show-rolls-royce-phantom-electric-video Pretty impressive - I think I'll pick one up. :-)
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The problem is that this was the state we were in around 1920, when electric cars were very popular for driving around town, but severely limited in range by the lead-acid batteries.
Today battery density is a whole lot better than it was in 1920, but it's still the limiting factor in spite of a whole lot of research.

Right. The fancy stuff is all in the drive electronics and the charge electronics, and electronics have become very cheap. "Anything made of silicon will eventually cost a dime" as an instructor of mine used to say.
The only part that is expensive and difficult with current technology is the battery, but that still remains a big deal.

Sure, but the other thing history has taught us is that most people who make predictions about the future are wrong. So I try to refrain from making predictions, especially when my own money is involved. --scott
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Yes, they are merely status symbols for ecofreaks who want to pretend they are "saving the planet." (Hint to stoopid hippies: "the planet" does not need saving! But I digress...)
Internal combustion is a tried and true, practical method of providing execellent measures of power and range for a vehicle that can be used for a vast array of purposes in a wide range of environments. "Recharging" is easily accomplished in a few minutes at a fueling station.
How far will your electric car go on the freeway on a hot, rainy summer night with the lights, wipers, and air conditioning going? How long does it take to recharge once the batteries run flat? How will you even recharge it at home if you live in an apartment? Can you pull a boat or RV trailer with it? Can you haul a heavy load of tools or parts to a job in the next state with it? How long will the batteries last and how much will they cost to replace?
I am not particularly impressed by hybrids either. All that complex array of technology in a Prius to deliver essentially the same miles per gallon as a 1980 VW Rabbit Diesel. I'm underwhelmed.
Feh. Until a miracle in battery technology or some other type of mobile electrical source comes into play (such as the fictional "Mister Fusion" of "Back to the Future" fame) electric vehicles will remain at best overpriced, short-range, limited-use items suitable if anything only for short inner-city runs and as status symbols that imbecilic enviro-weenies use to make themselves feel good.

Same here.

Oh, I know it is "possible." However it will never be "practical" unless there is a dramatic improvement in battery technology. This has been sought for the last 40 years (at least) and there has been remarkably little progress in that area. It's taken that long to get from "utterly and completely unpractical" to "barely usable in a limited set of circumstances."
We may ultimately get to something that actually has the flexibility and usefulness of an internal-combustion powered vehicle but I do not believe it is likely in my lifetime.
Even if and when such a thing is developed the many millions of gas and diesel powered vehicles will not disappear overnight. Not everyone will be willing or able to go out and buy an expensive new electric vehicle. Unlike other technology-driven items such as computers, cameras, and home entertainment, cars and trucks will remain high-ticket items that, unless one is wealthy, cannot simply be discarded and replaced on a whim.
So to reiterate, yes, I fully expect to still be filling up my gasoline-powered car at a filling station in 20 years time.
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The oil shortage and ever increasing demand is vastly surpassing supply resultin in ever higher prices.
It is more a question if there will be any stations for you to get oil in 20 years time so the situation with electrics will be reversed.
You can charge an electric vehicle anywhere there is electricity and that is most anywhere and you will not need to look for a special station for it.
Most people have electricity at home.
The US has been sleeping while Europe has been planning for this for many years.
Hybrids may have a place in history but even they are too complex and too expensive.
Volt is a hybrid even if it has been branded as an electric.
Electrical vehicles predate the combustion vehicles and they are taking over even if the production capacity is low at the moment and it will take a long time to replace the old technology.
It is really amazing though how much has happened in recent months in this area.
The warning signs have been around for decades but many people are blind and noone is as blind as a man who does not want to see.
Unfortunately for many people the whole system around them is based on driving around every day for everything.
So not only do we need to change all our thinking from oil to electric in our cars we need to get better public transport and rearrange where and how we live and all of that will take time.
It would have been better for the citizens of the US if this would have started sooner and having to do it now when they are forced to do it because the scarcity and price of oil.
Europe has been at it for decades to improve public transport and raised the price of oil with taxes to get people prepared for the future so this price hike coming now is not as much of a problem for us in Europe and just take a look at this years geneva motor show and you will see a lot of electrical cars available.
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Roger Blake wrote:

But, but, but, that Tin Lizzie won't go up that thar muddy path over yonder like my 'ol Nellie. And besides, why should I look around for that expensive gas-o-line fluid when grass and hay is free? Oats is cheap too.

For the Volt as far as you want to go. On all electric, probably about 25-30 miles. Then the IC engine kicks in.

Volt batteries don't go flat. IC engine kicks in before that happens. Recharge to 100% and 25-50 mile range without IC takes 4-5 hours at 220V, 8-12 hours at 110V.
How

You don't buy a Volt unless you can recharge it. Common sense prevails.
Can

You buy a gas guzzler for that. Again, common sense prevails.
Can you haul a heavy load of

Why would you do that? You can do that with a beat up $500 Toyota Corolla. Why pay +$30k for an electric? And yet once again, common sense is victorious.
How long will

8 year, 100K mile warranty for the Volt. Same for the Leaf. Nobody knows what they will cost to replace. The Prius has fostered a battery aftermarket and from my reading a reman can cost as low as $1300, and new costs $2200. Sometimes only a cell module needs replacement. Economy of scale and market forces will rule. How long does the engine in a Camry last? How much will it cost to replace it? Anyway, why do you care about battery cost? You've said you would never buy an electric car.

This is for you then.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rs7XQK5yiM
BTW, for those who want to find the facts, owners are reporting their real world experience. Just google GM Volt experience. I'm waiting for the breakdowns on the side of the road or fires. That's about the only thing that can kill the Volt in the short term.
When one of the "commercial" reviewers starts talking about how you can get better "mileage" with a Prius, note how many miles they are running on IC, and how much they are paying for gas and kwh. I saw one such evaluation that used $2.38 in electric costs though the national average is $1.38. To prove the Prius was better on "mileage." They used the national average gas price - at the time - $2.92. Anybody here paying $2.92 for gas? Pretty shallow article overall. http://autos.yahoo.com/articles/autos_content_landing_pages/1633/hyped-hybrid-the-chevy-volt-gets-average-mileage-for-a-hybrid / Oh, wait. Consumer Reports. Let's be clear. Logic says you buy the Volt to run nearly always electric. That means 25-50 miles a day. If you can't do that, why would you buy it? Doesn't make sense. The real point of the Volt is to not use gas. The IC engine is there for range flexibility and so you don't have to worry about stranding. That's why the GM Volt is selling and Nissan Leaf and Tesla aren't.

Yep, know the feeling. I would shake my head in disgust when I saw people using those brick cell phones and paying $3-400 per month for that crap.

There's been no real incentive to improve batteries to propel cars. Looming $5.00 a gallon gas is now providing the incentive. Paisan, open your eyes. Battery technology has now advanced to where an major automaker is selling all the Volts they can produce. What you or I think or buy means nothing. There's only one real question to be answered. Can GM recover their investment, and make a profit on sales? That's all that counts.
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