Aug 14

What Will it Cost To Drive a Chevy Volt?

 

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Clearly, there are several reason why people want a Chevy Volt. Aside from environmental concerns which are quite important, other leading motivators are to avoid oil and gas consumption. This to assuage security and cost factors. A lot of GM-Volt.com visitors also seem to be unhappy about giving money to the Middle East.
People are also troubled by the high and rising cost of oil and gas, and the coming (or already here) Peak Oil Crisis.We have been led to believe that the plug-in electric hybrid (PHEV) will go a long way to protect us from this financial burden. GM and others have been quoted as saying it will cost the equivalent of 60 cents/gallon to power the Volt from your home electricity, in particular if that electricity is delivered in the off-peak hours.

A recent study from Berkeley suggests using a PHEV might actually increase usage costs.

Aside from the potential upfront cost increase of buying a high-tech car with an expensive lithium-ion battery, I wondered how driving a Chevy Volt might affect my pocket. So, I decided to do some simple calculations, and post the result here.

First, the Chevy Volt battery pack is specified to be able to store 16 KWH of power.

Second, according to my electric bill, I pay 10.77 cents per KWH for electric supply plus 5.8 cents per KWH for electric delivery. This totals to 16.5 cents per KWH.

Next, to fully charge the Volt’s 16 KWH battery, I will have to supply it with 16 KWH of energy. This will cost me 16.5 cents X 16 KWH = $2.64.

Thus, it will cost me $2.64 to fully charge the Volt’s battery, that energy will allow the car to travel 40 miles.

So in conclusion, it will cost me $2.64 to travel 40 miles, which is roughly the cost of a gallon of gas, in a car that gets 40 mpg.

If gas prices stay the same or go lower, it seems driving a Volt will be a financial wash.

Keep in mind, I live in New York and use O&R for electricity. I placed a call to them and inquired about the situation. It turns out I do not have a time-cycled meter, but could get one installed for free. This more advanced meter would cost me an additional $8.00 per month. Once installed, I would have to pay only 1.16 cents per KWH in the hours from 1AM to 9AM for electric delivery as opposed to my current rate of 5.8 cents per KWH. I could charge the Volt overnight. Electric supply, however, would remain at 10.77 cents per KWH. O&R buys their electric direct from the grid and that 10.77 cents fluctuates per the supplier. It can be as low as 5 cents but has been as high as 12 cents per KWH. In my case the power is derived from the Atlantic Coast line.
Using these new numbers, my cost for 40 miles of electric driving would be 1.16 cents + 10.77 cents = 11.93 cents X 16 = $1.91 for 40 miles electric driving. That is a bit better than current gasoline, but not 60 cents equivalent.

Of course generating one’s own power with solar and/or wind would be great, but there are high upfront costs too.

I suppose I may be paying some of the higher rates in the nation. It would be of great interest to hear from others.

Look at your most recent electric bill. Take the total of electric charges (do not include oil or gas). Divide that be the total KWH used in that billing cycle. Post that value along with your state and electric company in the forum here.

We’ll tally it up and report back.

[UPDATE: GM tells us the battery will be discharged to 50% when the generator starts.  Therefore it will only require 8 KWH to drive 40 miles, cutting all the above calculations in 1/2]

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 14th, 2007 at 7:53 pm and is filed under Financial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 70


  1. 1
    Nancy

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    Aug 14th, 2007 (8:10 pm)

    That is still cheaper than gas in Los Angeles, California. I pay about $3.60 cents per gallon right now.


  2. 2
    canehdian

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    Aug 14th, 2007 (8:43 pm)

    I had done this math lik last month ;) (I had originally done it to see equivalent MPG of this car to a regular car)
    I’m in Ontario, and pay (we have a two tiered system, so much for the first chunk, and a higher rate for the second chunk, I am using the higher rates) 6.2cents /kWh and all the other crap fees making it closer to 10 cents/kWh.
    (So, I used a nice round number, 10, to calculate it.
    16 kWh pack x $0.10/kWh = $1.60
    The pack is estimated 65km/charge, so
    $1.60/65 gives me 2.46 cents/km (lets say 2.5)
    Current gas prices have been around $1/L
    so that gives me about 40km for that dollar (using the 2.5c/km of electric) or 2.5 L/100km (94 MPG)

    Based on a 40 MPG car, I would be getting 5.88 L/100k at $1 per litre for gas.
    That’s 42.5 c/ L equivalent in gas. (less than half the current cost.
    Right now, I drive a sunfire, and get about 30 mpg. That’s 7.84 L/100k @ $1/L or 31.9 c/L
    So I’d be spending about 1/3 less in ‘raw energy’ costs with the volt than with a sunfire (in electric-only mode, at least)

    For your american perspective:
    $1/L CDN = 4.02 / gal USD
    42.5 c/ L CDN = $1.70/ gal USD
    31.9 c/ L CDN = $1.28/gal USD

    As far as I’m concerned, its always going to be a savings. Even if gas prices drop, by that time, solar and wind energy will be cheaper and more widely available for use by consumers, so i could get “free” energy.

    P.S. I probably made an error in my math somewhere, so I’ll apologize ahead of time. However, I still think it will always be a lower cost solution. (at least for me, with my rates.)
    If/When they implement the peak metering system in our town, the savings would most likely be more profound.


  3. 3
    Kim G

     

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    Aug 14th, 2007 (9:17 pm)

    I think the environment is priceless and if it does cost more to have an electrical vehicle I feel the environment is worth it. If we don\\\’t have an environment it doesn\\\’t matter how much money anyone has saved or made.


  4. 4
    Mark Bartosik

     

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    Aug 14th, 2007 (9:19 pm)

    Easy calculation:
    $0.00 because I’ve already installed enough excess solar power to run a Volt for my annual 8000 miles. However, since I’ve not had the solar power for a year now I’m estimating production and use figures.

    Some utilities also offer discounts for customers that install heat pumps about $0.03/Kwh discount here.

    With heat pump discount the last time I had a bill over $6 a month, I paid 5c for delivery and 9c for power (14c total).

    So that’s like $2.24 / gallon for a 40 mpg car, gas here is about $3.00 / gallon currently.

    Without heat pump discount is it about 17c or $2.72 / gallon.

    The highest rate was about 20c about 1 year ago. That’s about $3.20 per gallon.

    There is no time of use metering available here :-( But our Congressman is pushing for it.

    Now is it fair to compare with a 40 mpg car?

    A conventional compact size car might get 30 to 35 mpg, but a traditional hybrid might get 50 mpg. So comparing with a 40 mpg car appears fair to me.

    Personally if it was equivalent to $10 per gallon I’d still buy it. I used to pay about $7.50 per gallon in England, so $3.00 per gallon in USA is dirt cheap.


  5. 5
    Mark Bartosik

     

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    Aug 14th, 2007 (9:31 pm)

    The Volt will have 16KWh battery, but how far will it let the charge level drop?

    If it will only let the charge drop to 4KWh (my number), then daily electric usage (from home supply) would be more like 12KWh max. This would affect $ / gallon calculation.

    Averaging the 16KWh over 40 miles seems fair to me.


  6. 6
    kent beuchert

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    Aug 14th, 2007 (9:45 pm)

    Your main error is in assuming that you
    would require 16 kWhr to travel 40 miles.
    One can expect a 3200 pound EV to get roughly 4 to 4.5 miles per kWhr.
    For a car that weighs about 3200 pounds, the normal requiremnt would be for around 10 kWhrs to travel 40 miles. I believe that only 10 of those 16 kWhrs is available for the vehicle to use in order to restrain the depth of discharge. NAtional average electrical rate is 8.4 cents per kWhr, but
    varies from around 15 for California, New York and Hawaii, to 5 for Indiana.
    3200 pound EVs thus typically require roughly 1.5 to 2 cents per mile for electricity, national average. California supposedly (according to the Tesla Co) has 5 cents per kwhr nighttime rate. Most 3200 pound gasoline cars get 30 MPG highway, 20 MPG combined, for a per mile cost of around 15 cents combined/10 cents highway for $3 gas.
    I would recommend contacting an A123 Systems engineer and try to learn exactly what the per mile Kwhr rate is for the VOLT. Or Denise Gray. She would know, probably down to the decimal. The Tesla Company claims 1 cent per mile for their car, using 5 cent per kWhr electricty.


  7. 7
    bobbyg

     

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    Aug 14th, 2007 (9:47 pm)

    According to testimony of Milton Copulos before the Senate Foreign Relations committee in March 2006, the cost of securing the US oil supply equals $3 for every gallon of gasoline pumped in the US. Also we are rapidly approaching a time when we have a permanent and growing world wide oil shortage with gasoline spiking to over $6 a gallon. How popular will the Volt be when everyone else is lined up at the filling station for hours?


  8. 8
    Brian

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    Aug 14th, 2007 (9:48 pm)

    Mark brings up a good point. Is the 40 mile range of the Volt based on a complete discharge (i.e. 100% – 0%) or a typical partial discharge (80%-20% or so)? And similarly, is the 16 kWh figure based on the complete discharge or the partial discharge?

    The reason I ask is because typically a battery is never completely charged or discharged. This would damage the battery too much, and also the charge time would be much longer than 6 hours.

    If the range is quoted for a partial discharge, and the 16 kWh is the capacity of the pack, not just the amount needed for a partial discharge (which I think is likely), then you would actually be getting 40 miles on about 9.6 kWh of energy.

    I don’t know the answer, but certainly it would tend to skew the numbers in favor of PHEVs if my scenario is correct.


  9. 9
    Jonathan Cassidy

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    Aug 14th, 2007 (9:52 pm)

    This is leaving out the benefit of coasting and breaking regen to the battery. At this time I am loosing electric to nowhere because once each week I top out the small battery in my Prius. It would be nice to have a larger battery to dump the regen power into.
    All the other cars have no regen.


  10. 10
    Brian

     

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    Aug 14th, 2007 (9:53 pm)

    .085 here in lowa. so 1.36 per charge. but i only drive 20 miles a day round trip. so half a charge per day for me, adding up to .68 cents per day.

    i like it, no i love it.

    i estimate about 3-4 dollars per day in gasoline.

    go gm volt.

    vote ron paul 2008


  11. 11
    Mark Bartosik

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    Aug 14th, 2007 (9:54 pm)

    Lies dam lies and statistics?

    Whenever there is a debate it does appear that people quote the numbers most favorable. That’s just human nature.

    So when I look at the figures quoted:

    http://www.chevrolet.com/pop/electriccar/2007/40miles_en.jsp

    They assume 40 miles driven 365 days (14460 miles)
    Let’s assume that a full 16KWh is used per day.
    16KWh x 365 = 5840KWh per year.
    They recogn 500 gallons of gas saved, so comparing with about 29 mpg.
    At their assumed $2.40 per gallon 500 gallons per year is $1200 per year.
    They save saving of $900, and thus electric cost $300.
    So it is $300 for 5840KWh.
    That’s $0.05 / KWh.

    The cost of $0.05 / KWh is about the whole sale cost of coal generated electricity excluding delivery costs.

    You might be able to get a power and delivery cost / KWh down that low somewhere at off peak hours, but I doubt that it is a good average.

    I guess we will see what people post here.


  12. 12
    Brian

     

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    Aug 14th, 2007 (9:56 pm)

    By the way, here are my electricity costs from my last bill (Los Angeles, CA)

    Delivery: $45.03 for 610 kWh = $0.0738/kWh
    Generation: $55.08 for 610 kWh = $0.0903/kWh

    Total = 16.4 cents/kWh


  13. 13
    Mark Bartosik

     

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    Aug 14th, 2007 (9:58 pm)

    It is not just about pay back time is it?

    Many people ask me what the payback time of my solar system is.

    I have a few of replies:
    1) What’s the payback time of your car?
    2) What’s the payback time of your shirt?
    3) What’s the payback time of ….. ?
    4) About 10 to 20 years depending on assumptions.

    My point is that we make decisions not just on payback time. We decide on many things, often is it something that we want?

    I think that a lot of people will just want the Volt, but not enough to make it a success without there being some sensible payback time.


  14. 14
    Ron Erickso

     

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    Aug 14th, 2007 (10:45 pm)

    My electrical rate is $0.064 per KWH. Calculating the mileage the way you suggest would be $1.02 per 40 miles or $0.0256 per mile! Sign me up, I\’ll take it!


  15. 15
    Jason

     

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    Aug 14th, 2007 (10:52 pm)

    Having recently gotten my own electric vehicle on the road I set out to answer the same question, my conclusion is here: http://whyidriveelectric.blogspot.com/. My summary being that I pay less than 30% of what I would pay for gas. I use about 14kw a day for my 30 mile commute (measured at the plug using a Kill-a-watt meter), and in the state of Washington electricity in our area goes for 6 cents per KWH (3 cents for energy, 3 cents for delivery) for a total of about 84 cents for 30 miles (find me a gas car that can do 90 MPG and we’d have a car that was nearly as cheap to drive :) )

    I second what the others said about pack energy capacity not being the right metric to base calculations on, you would never run your pack to zero.


  16. 16
    Matt986

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    Aug 14th, 2007 (11:13 pm)

    Jonathan – all of Honda’s hybrids incorporated regenerative braking. AFAIK, GM’s hybrids will do so as well. If you’re talking about regular ICE cars, yeah, there’s nowhere to put energy back into the system.

    Regenerative braking in the Volt will definitely capture energy, but it will be a VERY small fraction of the energy in a full charge. In fact, I think it would be better if the E-Flex system incorporated some supercapacitors that would be charged by the regenerative braking, and used upon accelerating, or as a ‘boost’ to the current provided by the battery.

    One thing we also need to consider in addition to our cost per kWh, is losses in charging.

    I remember reading about the Altair Nano battery pack that was quick charged in 10 minutes, and calculated that the charge efficiency was only ~83%. That means only 83% of the energy consumed was actually stored… the rest gets lost as heat. I do think this reduction in efficiency is probably in large part attributed to the MASSIVE amount of current being pushed… more current means more heat loss. I think slower charging at lower currents will end up being more efficient, but that’s a question the experts will have to answer.

    Currently, I pay $0.1375 / kWh, which is the energy and delivery charge (my power co doesn’t break it down), so I figure about $2.20 for a full charge. I also live 2.1 miles from where I work, so I could go two weeks on a charge. Cost of ownership would be relatively low for me. I’d burn practically NO gas all year. (save for when I drive the Boxster on weekends!)

    Even if it cost me as much per mile, or a little more to drive a Volt, I’d rather do that. I’m not a tree hugger, and I really don’t buy into man made global warming, so I dig the Volt for the technology and the potential energy independence. Combine the Volt with cost effective solar cells and home power storage, and eventually we could all drive our Volts for practically nothing.


  17. 17
    Paul

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    Aug 14th, 2007 (11:20 pm)

    Other than choice of battery technology — if GM were to use Panasonic ES-95 NiMH batteries currently in use in the 300 Toyota RAV4 EV’s in private ownership across the US, the VOLT could be on the road in Spring 2008 — my greatest concern is over the presence or absence of regenerative braking. Early engineering specs show there will be no regenerative braking. Were regenerative braking available, the in-town mileage might be substantially better than the highway mileage.


  18. 18
    Satyajit

     

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (12:05 am)

    Same as Nancy, we in Northers Calif. also pay upward to $3.30/gallon. Also by most estimates, crude oil being a finite resource, gar prices will go upward in future. Whereas institutional electricity generation has many renewable sources that delvelopers are looking at. Consequently, in the long run, electricity costs are not likely to rise at the same pace as gas.


  19. 19
    ug

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (1:14 am)

    Anyone who thinks the math for gas vs. electricity will stay the same 3 years when the Volt debuts is insane. Everybody’s got to get their heads out of the sand and take a look at the statistics. Short-term fluctations in gas prices are meanignless. Most major oil fields are in decline including in Mexico, one of our biggest oil sources. We could be over $100/barrel of oil in a matter of months and there have been several articles musing on that prospect in the last few days.


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    David

     

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (7:11 am)

    You could always run a wire from your neighbor’s electrical meter and charge the Volt up for free.

    Regardless, I agree with Kim G that the environment is priceless. For those who do not believe that Global Warming is as bad as what many believe then I would say, it’s not not a bad idea to reduce oil consumption and raising CO2 levels anyways, right?

    Another factor to consider is that if this technology catches on, which I cannot imagine it would not, then perhaps everyone will start driving EVs further reducing the cost of the batteries. Of course, perhaps the trend will cause an increase in the cost of grid power and a reduced cost for gas.


  21. 21
    Phil Easler

     

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (7:47 am)

    Not sure about the two tier electrical utility system. Seems like a rip off. I pay 7.5 cent per KWatt in NC. I believe the Th!nk City uses around 200watts/mile, that would make it cost 1.5 cent per mile. In comparison a 30mpg car @ 2.75gallon is over 9 cents per mile. The watts per mile for the Volt, probably have not been determined/released yet.
    Phil


  22. 22
    Ziv

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (8:43 am)

    I hate to exhibit my ignorance so plainly, but if the Volt has a 16 kWH battery, and it is only charged up to 90% capacity (14.4 kWH) and only drained to 20% capacity (3.2 kWH) to avoid damaging the battery by cycling too deeply, then 14.4 – 3.2 = 11.2 and 40 miles into 11.2 kWH is 11.2/40 or 0.280 kWH or 280 watt hours per mile of range, which is just 40% more than what Phil gets in his smaller Think City electric car. This makes the Volt come out slightly more expensive than a Think City, at about 2.1 cents a mile, while a 30 mpg car costs about 10 cents a mile at $3 a gallon, which is fairly reasonable.
    The Volt does have regenerative braking, link below. The compact (?) Volt will cost 2.1 cents a mile vs. 9 cents a mile for a subcompact that is capable of getting 30 mpg. (My Rav4 is lucky to get 22 mpg combined during my commuting and it isn’t a big vehicle)
    Plus the benefits of regenerative braking…
    Sorry about making unwarranted assumptions regarding the levels to which a battery can be charged and discharged without damaging it, I had to start somewhere.

    http://www.gm-volt.com/2007/02/28/volt-has-regenerative-braking/


  23. 23
    Mike G.

     

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (9:16 am)

    Imagine the cost saving when you can buy one electric motor and have it last practically your entire car driving life. 150,000 miles for an ice engine is the norm now. Electric motors could easily move that up 10 fold.


  24. 24
    scott766

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (10:16 am)

    I can’t help to wonder what the electric companys will do once people start using EV’s. My guess is rates will start to go up. Chalk it up to supply and demand.


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    Estero

     

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (10:17 am)

    I live in Florida and the power company is Florida Power & Light. They have a 2-tier rate system:

    Fuel: 1st 1000 kWh = $0.052950
    > 1000 kWh = $0.062950

    Non-fuel: 1st 1000 kWh = $0.041530
    > 1000 kWh = $0.051850

    This calucales to be:

    1st 1000 kWh = 09.45 cents
    > 1000 kWh = 11.48 cents

    Considering our home used 1429 kWh this past month, I would have to figure the cost of charging the Volt batteries at the higher rate. Thus,

    11.48 cents * 16 kWh = $1.84

    This assumes the batteries were at full discharge and they were then charged to 100%.

    If, on the other hand, the batteries requires only 75% of the total 16 kWh, then,

    11.48 cents * 12 kWh = $1.38


  26. 26
    Dave

     

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (11:16 am)

    I don’t believe we can simply multiply by 16 to get the cost of driving 40 miles.
    Yes, the battery is rated at 16 KW/Hr, but I’m pretty sure the generator will kick in before the battery get’s to 0, otherwise there would be no power to start the internal combustion engine. Also, since battery capacity wears with age, and since there are probably many other design safety margins, I wouldn’t be surpised if 40 miles only corresponds to half the battery rating.
    But here’s the real point: We need energy choice. We have none now. If consumers had 2 options, I suspect both would be more competitive. At the very least, we could stop supporting terrorists with huge oil profits.


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    storm connors

     

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (12:25 pm)

    I wish GM would start producing Volts ASAP using the best technology available now instead of issuing the bogus “if the battery technology becomes available” notices. GM realizes this will be a niche market, but I don’t think they realize how immense the niche is.

    I believe they are making a huge marketing error (again) by letting others be first to market.

    Too bad “we will produce it if” can’t be replaced with “we will produce it.” GM has a lot of trust to recover.


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    Oil Jihadi

     

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (1:22 pm)

    Some people would buy one even if it meant paying a lot more per mile, JUST to keep our money out of the hands of the middle east.

    Join the Jihad against Oil http://www.oiljihad.org


  29. 29
    Steven B

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (2:07 pm)

    From my perspective, I think that GM is not at all expecting to sell to a niche market in the classic sense. It seems that the Volt is intended to be a truly mass-market endeavor, even more than the Prius. It seems to be a mass-market halo car that wil redeem the company for past mistakes and be a centerpiece of the $30k performance compact market. I could be wrong, but I think it will be provided as an alternative to everything in that range from the Prius to the Corolla, Civic, Focus, as well as midsized performance car. As we all know, the Volt combines economy with performance, as well as eco-consciouness and high-technology. I don’t think it is intended for a niche market the size of the Insight. More like a niche market the size of the Camry. You know, people who drive cars.


  30. 30
    Lyle

     

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (2:11 pm)

    I agree with you Steve B. This is by no means meant to be a niche car. GM hopes to sell millions of these, that is a quote.


  31. 31
    Vincent

     

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (2:17 pm)

    Look here, it’s a chart with the cost of electricity accross north america.

    NY and Los angeles are the more expensive city.

    http://www.hydroquebec.com/residentiel/comparaison/index.html

    By luck, I live in montreal, so to fill up my Volt will be very cheap!


  32. 32
    Estero

     

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (2:34 pm)

    Dave said: “since battery capacity wears with age…”. That is a fact with traditional batteries, but what about those A123Systems batteries? I thought I read somewhere where their batteries could be fully discharged and then recharged to 100% time and again.


  33. 33
    Chris S

     

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (2:59 pm)

    Undoubtedly environmental benefits are my number one concern. My employer has solar powered recharge stations as an incentive to employees to be environmentally conscious.

    My neighbors and all those who live on the streets I drive will appreciate a silent car passing by versus the internal combustion engine that is frequently less silent.


  34. 34
    hkuebitz

     

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (4:15 pm)

    My employment is 18 miles away and your 40 mile round trip commuter VOLT would be perfect except that I would never need the gasoline/electric generator component. Is GM going to make this less expensive electric only model ? I hope GM does because I am sure other auto manufactures will because there seems to be a definite need for it..


  35. 35
    storm connors

     

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (4:49 pm)

    GM has no way to evaluate the market for an all electric car. They don’t believe that there are enough people who will buy it. Unfortunately, they have used their interpretation of the EV1 market to justify the belief. The fact that the reason people didn’t buy the EV1 was that there were none available is passed over. GM understands their current dinosaur based business (sort of) but new ideas are hard to get through rheir bureaucracy.

    You would think the builders of the Corvette and the Hummer would have a better appreciation of niche markets.


  36. 36
    John W.

     

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (5:09 pm)

    In Salisbury, Md. we drive 66 miles every day. It could be charged at work, as the company would love the PR. That would mean that this car will work for me. My electric bill, after the math, would cost $2.29 to charge this car X five days per week ($11.45). As it is, we now pay about $40 per week for gas. Either way, this is one cool looking car! I\\\’d buy it, even if it took rocket fuel. Saving fossil fuel is just a bonus.


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    charles watson

     

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (6:09 pm)

    For me money is not the whole issue. keeping our money out of the mideast is a big thing with me. Also no more waiting in line at a gas station. And as we all know it would take very little to interrupt the gas flow from the mideast. Then what?


  38. 38
    Drake

     

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (7:21 pm)

    Gas costs a _lot_ more than $3.00/gallon. Your tax dollars are paying for two carrier groups to be off the coast of Iran right now. How much do you think that costs? What about the $billions we just gave to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt in military aid? Why don’t we give such massive amount of military aid to African nations? Because there is no oil there.

    Fact: without oil our economy dies and our way of life goes the way of the dinosaur.

    I don’t care if buying a Volt will result in me paying _more_ for transportation (though I don’t believe it will). I am in this for the future of the world. This technology is _that_ monumental.


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    Estero

     

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (7:31 pm)

    hkuebitz said: “My employment is 18 miles away and your 40 mile round trip commuter VOLT would be perfect except that I would never need the gasoline/electric generator component…”

    What about situations when you need to make a side trip going to/from work? Or, what about a traffic jam?


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    R. Santos

     

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    Aug 15th, 2007 (7:46 pm)

    No payback here. I live in New York City and I pay about $80 per month in elec in my Apt (summer, less in winter months)I am not complaining, I love the fact that it keeps my beers cold in the frig and power my AC and everything else in my home and in the near future I will plug my Volt. How much I will save…I don\’t really care, I know it will be less than going to Exxon/Mobil, BP and on. But the reason I want the Volt is because I like it. I want it. I love it. And yes, it seems to make sense to me in saving the environment for my children\’s children. My payback is that with my Volt those mid east countries can keep their oil.


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    John FK

     

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    Aug 16th, 2007 (12:37 am)

    I realize, of course, you are playing the devil’s advocate but this article ignores the economies of scale and future IR&D that will lessen the costs of owning an electric car.

    It also ignores future healthier people whose health care needs will be lessened by a cleaner environment.

    And finally it ignores the effect the electric car will have on people who seek true energy independence by motivating them to install solar panels, wind mills, and other renewable energy sources in their homes. This will further improve the environment and health as well as ultimately save more money.

    I know I will more seriously consider solar panels and such measures more seriously when I own an electric car. The more businesses I can avoid having to pay in perpetuity for a service or commodity the easier it will be for me to maintain independence.

    The electric car will be a strong motivating factor into transforming our country for the better in many ways that we are not even considering yet. I, for one, look forward to it.


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    hkuebitz

     

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    Aug 16th, 2007 (10:35 am)

    Estero: The average family usually has two cars; the all electric VOLT would be the commuter car only. In traffic, an all electric VOLT will not be idling and not be using any energy. Of course at night, a small head light will be necessary. I just want GM to be successful. The $50,000.00 EV1 and the $30,000.00 VOLT is not going to make it but a $10,000.00 Honda will.


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    hkuebitz

     

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    Aug 16th, 2007 (10:42 am)

    I wished I could reference this fact that “approximately 75% of commuters live within 15 or so miles from their employment” and the VOLT with its 40 mile round trip capability would be perfect. But its $30,000 price tag is definitely going to discourage most potential buyers especially if one believes that the expense of the gasoline/generator component won’t or very seldom be used. I want GM to be successful and a heavy player in the future. With the scarcity of gasoline looming, (please check out this link: http://www.oilcrashmovie.com/ ) cars will be changing. If GM will not make appropriate cars for the future, some other company will. Did you see the video “WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR” ? I did, and it seemed that GM did not give the EV1($50,000.00) a fair and real chance of catch on. Also, I might be mistaken but the EV1 could only be leased, not sold. GM took the heavy handed move to forcibly drag back all their EV1s so they could be crushed utterly out of existence. Never the less, I hope that there will be a GM electric commuter car in my future.

    Sincerely, H. Kuebitz


  44. 44
    Bill

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    Aug 16th, 2007 (11:31 am)

    You will not being paying your highest tiered rate to recharge this car overnight.

    Already, it is often much cheaper for businesses to install a HVAC that makes a big block of ice overnight to be used the next day.

    In those systems the price differential is HUGE – e.g. 3 cents/kWh night vs. 12 cents/kWh day.

    If PHEVs like the Volt sell in quantity you will have the option of a separate time of use meter installed for overnight charging.

    I doubt you’d pay much over 5 cents/kWh.

    Once you arrive at work, you can plug in and have your car recharged well before peak demand hits for the day.

    State regulators will force that on utilities that don’t voluntarily offer it.


  45. 45
    Darren

     

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    Aug 16th, 2007 (12:59 pm)

    A lot of talk about the equivalent mileage the VOLT vs ICE vehicles. Unfortunately these are all based on how much it would cost to charge the VOLT vs traveling the equivalent 65km (40mi) in a car using an ICE. This is dependent on the price of electricity and the efficiency baseline chosen.

    I thought it would be interesting to compare the energy efficiency of the VOLT. I looked up the energy density of gasoline (listed here http://xtronics.com/reference/energy_density.htm ). Gasoline has an energy density of 9.7kWh/L.
    Assuming worst case, the VOLT will travel 65km on it’s 16kWh battery.

    16kWh/9.7kWh/L = 1.65L

    Calculating the mileage:

    1.65L/(65km/100)=2.54L/100km
    or
    90.96 MPG.

    So in terms of energy efficiency the VOLT is delivers.

    I also was interested in seeing how much electricity would have to cost to make the volt more expensive to drive than a 50MPG car.

    Of course this is entirely dependant on the cost of gas so I used the peak price I had to pay here in Vancouver ($1.20CAD/L or $4.13USD/GAL).

    My electricity would have to cost more than $0.225 CAD/kWh to make the volt more expensive to drive than a car getting 50MPG.

    However, it was mentioned before and I agree that they payback isn’t what’s going back into my wallet. The payback is the reduction of my carbon footprint and dependence on foreign oil while driving a car that doesn’t look like a suppository.

    Anyone interested in the results cal go here:

    http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=p7rCpfT7GnytjXzmpU3Q3cQ

    to see the worksheet.

    Cheers


  46. 46
    hkuebitz

     

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    Aug 16th, 2007 (1:40 pm)

    Darren, Your figures are very interesting but I am concerned and worried about something even more important and that is the survival of GM and their strategy to deal with the future. It is well accepted that petroleum availability will diminish, gasoline prices will increase, other car makers are becoming hotly competitive and GM has to choose well to survive. I think with their Lithium Battery they might bring to market an electric only car first at a very reasonable price and take their market back…


  47. 47
    Estero

     

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    Aug 16th, 2007 (4:49 pm)

    hkuebitz said: … I think with their (GM’s)Lithium Battery they might bring to market an electric only car first at a very reasonable price and take their market back…

    Sorry, but it does not make sense to bring an electric only car first. The research and engineering challenge is the battery system. Recharging the battery employs well developed and state of the art technology. So, once you solve the battery problem, the rest of it is a no-brainer!


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    RB

     

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    Aug 16th, 2007 (6:47 pm)

    Here in central North Carolina our last month’s bill showed $0.086 per KWH as the charge to us, from Duke Energy, all costs and taxes included.

    As relates to the Volt, it actually does not matter very much, so long as the cost of electricity is comparable to that of gasoline for a trip of similar length. All the estimates seem to make that so. If operational costs are cheaper, that is a nice plus, offsetting somewhat the likely strange maintenace issues that will arise in such a new vehicle. We want a stylish car with reasonable performance that does not require gas to operate.


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    Lyle

     

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    Aug 17th, 2007 (9:53 am)

    Thanks for all the interesting comments.

    I put together a summary of the findings. Get to it be going here:

    http://www.gm-volt.com/2007/08/16/cost-of-driving-the-volt/


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    dave

     

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    Aug 21st, 2007 (7:37 am)

    Why haven’t calculations involved cost of military operations to secure oil? What about additional funding for EPA, acid rain deforestation, etc., etc. Electricity is the future. Operational costs? No oil change, spark plugs, air filters, on and on.
    Make my Volt with todays NiMH batteries, don’t wait for Lithium.


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    stormc

     

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    Aug 21st, 2007 (9:31 am)

    Amen Dave. Too bad the folks at GM are missing the point. Perfect is the enemy of the good. Instead of pushing to get a good PIH on the market quickly, they have chosen to set their production schedule based on when a battery miracle occurs.

    The niche markets willing to buy a PIH now is so large that their problem would be producing enough vehicles to meet the demand. If, as someone pointed out, their goal is to build a car for “everyone” that could be version 2 or 3. Instead, it looks like they will piddle away their lead and let Toyota or Ford be first to market.

    Somehow, the people running GM don’t seem to have any sense of urgency. Why aren’t they testing the market by accepting deposits? A few million $ coming in should convince the corporate foot draggers that there is a market here.

    Perhaps there is a reason that GM is staring into bankrupcy.


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    JR

     

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    Oct 15th, 2007 (6:04 am)

    Hey Darren – Any interest in posting that spreadsheet so people can get their own copy? If you’re interested, within Google spreadsheets, go to the SHARE tab and check the “Allow anyone to view” option… then share that link… Anyone clicking on that new link will join into a collaborative viewing of your original (might even stir up some interesting in-spreadsheet chat!) and then be able to use the FILE/COPY SPREADSHEET command to get their own with all your formulas… but they won’t be able to edit your original.
    Thanks!


  53. 53
    Robert Ackerlind

     

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    Oct 30th, 2007 (1:45 pm)

    Publishing false figures tells me you don’t really want to sell the volt!


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    DJQ

     

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    Nov 12th, 2007 (8:35 am)

    Don’t forget the $0.45 or so of tax on gas. If pullins take off, they will have to offset this loss. Precisely how? Maybe taping into the onboard computer annually to figure out gas vs. electrical consumpution?


  55. 55
    Chris P

     

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    Nov 18th, 2007 (9:01 pm)

    Amazing how so many people could be suckered by GM AGAIN.

    You have all failed to take account of the storage cost of the battery.

    The cost per kwh stored is well over 10 cents a kwh.

    No battery manufacturer ever publishes the simple answer to:-

    Cost of battery/ no of cycles x capacity used.


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    David

     

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    Dec 10th, 2007 (10:36 pm)

    Chris P, #55: This blog has been out for over 4 months and your first posting to it seems more like a midless attack on GM and nothing else.


  57. 57
    BlackSun

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    Dec 10th, 2007 (10:57 pm)

    Anyone who thinks the price of gas will be lower in 2011 needs to have their head examined. Even if world production remained stable (which it probably won’t), soaring demand is bound to push prices well above current levels. (Just check China and India’s auto sales figures). Plus, once the U.S. gets with the program on climate change, carbon taxes will add substantially to fuel cost.

    Significant relief from the worldwide liquid fuel crunch probably won’t come before the middle to end of the next decade (with sustainable biofuels finally ramping up to meet demand). I’d be shocked if we don’t see $6.00/gallon gas by 2011, and it could go to $10.00 or more after that–before cheaper biofuels take over.

    Those are the numbers people should be using when they’re talking about Volt cost/benefit analysis.


  58. 58
    David

     

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    Dec 11th, 2007 (8:16 am)

    I somehow remember someone stating that the cost would be something like 2 1/2 cents per mile driven using the Volt.

    Does anyone else remember this or have I been mixing my meds again?

    Regardless, even if the electrical cost works out to be $1.91 for the first 40 miles the reduced CO2 makes it worth while.


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    dustin F.

     

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    Dec 12th, 2007 (2:58 am)

    I agree with Mark earlier. Buying this car will only be step one in my plans. I’d like to invest the money in solar panels: even if i don’t have the money to buy enough solar to power the entire home, I can buy panels big enoug to at least power the car each day.


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    Storm Connors

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    Dec 14th, 2007 (11:28 am)

    RE: #57 Blacksun.
    Don’t expect biofuel to make a significant dent in petroleum use. Producing alcohol from corn ends up using about as energy as available from the product- in some cases more! In any event, when you run the numbers there just isn’t enough agricultural capability replace a high percentage of the petroleum burned.


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    Domenic Herring

     

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    Dec 18th, 2007 (8:15 pm)

    perrier ritling squali brilliolette thurify tragedize vasculum receptitious
    Ronix Industries
    http://www.clinicofchampions.com


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    fake consultant

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    Jun 22nd, 2008 (8:38 pm)

    me not so smart, but doesn’t this mean…

    “Thus, it will cost me $2.64 to fully charge the Volt’s battery, that energy will allow the car to travel 40 miles.

    So in conclusion, it will cost me $2.64 to travel 40 miles, which is roughly the cost of a gallon of gas, in a car that gets 40 mpg.”

    …that it costs you $.06/mile to drive the volt and $.10/mile (based on $4.00 gas) to drive the 40 mpg gas car?

    again, me not so smart, but ain’t that a 40% savings…and won’t the actual savings be greater considering the deep discharge issue?


  63. 63
    Ron Erickson

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    Jun 23rd, 2008 (10:09 am)

    I calculated the cost using 8 kwh to go 40 miles. My May 2008 electric bill average rate is $.0662 per kwh. 8 kwh X $.0662 = $0.5296 to go 40 miles! That’s $0.01324 per mile for energy cost!

    My SUV at best gets 17 miles per gal. Mid range gas is currently $3.79 per gal. $3.79 per gal divided by 17 miles per gal = $0.223 per miles.

    Comparing the Volt cost at $0.01324 per mile to the SUV cost at $0.223 per mile, the SUV energy cost is 16 times that of the Volt!

    Move my name up on the Volt waiting list. I want the first one!


  64. 64
    Ron Erickson

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    Jun 23rd, 2008 (11:44 am)

    I drive an average of 14000 miles per year or about 40 miles per day. My SUV at 17 miles per gal and gas at $3.79 per gal. = $3121 per year for gas.

    The same 14000 miles per year or 40 miles per day of electricity for the Volt would cost 14000 miles X $0.01324 = $185 per year for energy for the Volt!

    Ummmm Let’s see…… SUV = $3121 per year… Volt = $185 per year

    100,000 miles at 14,000 miles per year = 7.14 years.

    7.14 years X ($3121per year -$185 per year) = $20,845 Savings!

    The current fleet of gasoline powered cars are as obsolete as horse powered buggies! I want the first Volt!


  65. 65
    Fholieepoo kdienls

     

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    Oct 9th, 2008 (10:38 am)

    wat did u doe to me webset fu?


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    H

     

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    Oct 9th, 2008 (12:21 pm)

    The adjoining web-site describes an all electric conversion and sounds very rosy, so, why doesn’t GM make an all electric model ?? I think most people are just waiting for a inexpensive commuter model because approx 70% of employees live within 20 miles of their work place. That is what I am waiting for. The VOLT will be the family car for longer trips..


  67. 67
    Jonathan B

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    Nov 7th, 2008 (2:03 pm)

    I find it interesting how oil has been defined as evil in this country. Most American’s love nature and love the environment, but don’t want to destroy our economy on the junk science of global warming. As we continue to see the average temperatures drop, these views on global warming will change. However, I hope the GM VOLT does well, however it still hasn’t solved the issue most Americans have. Most people who need an energy efficient car do not have 40k to throw down. Heck, many American’s can’t afford to replace the car they already own!! I drive a Jeep, is the government going to tell me that I cannot drive my jeep anymore by forcing gas prices even higher then they were this summer? I take my motorcycle as much as I can during warm weather, but when is it going to get too expensive to even ride that?? Hybrid technology is already running into problems due to the cost and limited life of the batteries. I believe dropping the internal combustion engine in place of something less practical is a disservice to science and technology. Hydrogen is the key, and we should be putting all of our efforts towards that technology. I guess many of you on the east and west coast don’t go on road trips? 40 miles won’t get you very far. Also, don’t forget our planes require fuel for their jet engines.


  68. 68
    Bill Groves

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    Nov 11th, 2008 (4:14 pm)

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the volt is DOA unless the price of gas is much higher than today. Why else would gm have such a distant target date.
    The cost of mechanical energy at the wheels of a car is about 15cents per kwh with gas at $2.25/gallon.
    Here in MA electricity is 18 cents per kwh at my house.
    Given, The charging process is not 100% efficient and given
    The conversion to mechanical energy via the electric motor from the battery is not 100% efficient, then
    I would estimate the cost to me of getting my expensive electricity to the wheels of a VOLT to be more than 25 cents per kwh after the inefficiencies of charging the batteries and running the electric motor.
    SO, 15cents vs 25 cents gasoline wins…… Gas wins. And a Honda Civic hybrid will probably cost 30 to 50 percent less than the VOLT.
    Secondly and more importantly if Toyota or Honda adapts their hybrids to a bigger battery to go some distanse before the gas motor must run, they will cream the VOLT, since they use the motor to drive the wheels so the cost of mechanical energy for them is more like 15 cents per kwh (at $2.25 per gallon). They will run the gas motor when gas is cheap.
    Thirdly, if we bail out GM with direct injection of cash, that will not spur the production of a single car. I suggest the government should allow a $2000 tax credit to buy a us manufactured auto in order to spur production, to keep the wheels turning so to speak. More workers working is what is needed to support gm’s hurting retire benefit plan. Also it might be pointed out that there is generally more than $2000 of sales and excise taxes on a new vehicle, so spurring production is much better than just spending the money. If the cars are not built, the tax shortfall from these sales and excise tax will be felt elsewhere at the state level and require more goverment subsidy. What a mess.


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    Benjamine

     

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    May 16th, 2009 (8:27 pm)

    dam! Dis blog rocks!! i just love it.. iT sure does makes me feel ALIVE!!!!


  70. 70
    Richard

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    Aug 11th, 2009 (10:38 pm)

    I fly electric models with lithion ion batteries. You are supposed to take them out of models when charging and charge them in a fire proof case. If they are damaged in a crash, they need to be placed in a fire proof case and watched closely. Lithium ion batteries store a lot of energy, and burn VERY hot and VERY fast. Don’t really want to be sitting on a huge one of those after a crash, or have them charging unsupervised in my garage while I sleep. They will make the Pinto look safe. That being said, I do agree that they are the future, but we are YEARS away from being cost effective and safe. The VOLT is probably going to be the equivalent of a $16K car for $40K (in terms of ride, power, interior quality) – that buys a LOT of gas.