Sep 03

Lutz: Each Volt Factors in the Cost of a Battery Replacement

 

Cutting edge lithium ion battery packs being built for the Volt are expensive. Some experts guess they cost up to $10,000 although certainly GM nor their suppliers are saying what the actual numbers will be.

When one looks at the close to $40,000 price tag for the Volt it is recognized that the pack makes up a significant component of that.

But two packs?

GM vice-chairman Bob Lutz recently told Cars.com that the current battery pack prototypes are “performing flawlessly” even in harsh testing environments. He said however that “longevity is the unanswered question”.

GM has previously said they expect to warranty the Volt batteries for 10 years/150,000 miles. In this new interview Lutz said “We’re being conservative on battery life. For our cost calculations we’re assuming each car will need a replacement during the warranty period.”

Source (Cars.com)

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008 at 11:21 am and is filed under Battery, Financial, Warranty. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 131


  1. 1
    Ziv

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (11:27 am)

    And if by October 2010 they gain confidence that the battery packs will last 200,000 miles or more…
    I thought the price creap was due to the fall of the dollar and unforseen expenses, but if the creap was due in large part to pricing the second battery into the MSRP, we could be looking at around $30,000 again.
    OK, so maybe that is a pipe dream, but I can keep on hoping.
    Just give me a car with a plug!


  2. 2
    Axelay

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (11:29 am)

    This means if the Lithium Ion tech gets cheaper (as Lutz suggests it will) that electric cars could come back down to what is conventional pricing for today’s market.

    Within 5-10 years, the “volt” level vehicle may cost 16-23k, just like the new “Cruze”.


  3. 3
    Mike D

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (11:33 am)

    So whenever they say that a Volt costs 35k to make, that’s counting TWO batteries?


  4. 4
    Estero

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (11:33 am)

    We had previously heard Bob Lutz say “longevity is the unanswered question”. But, to factor a replacement battery pack into the Volt MSRP is quite a shock.

    Some of us had assumed the ongoing battery pack testing would settle that issue before production. I’ll have to think about this revelation before making any further comments.


  5. 5
    Spin

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (11:41 am)

    I’ll trade the warranty for $10,000. Give me a Volt for $30,000 with no warranty and I’ll take my chances.


  6. 6
    Eric C.

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (11:41 am)

    I just hope this isn’t a precursor to another price increase. “Well, we now believe the Volt will be around $50k because now we’re factoring in a battery replacement.” Ugh.


  7. 7
    psklenar

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (11:51 am)

    Maybe they decided it was necessary to plan for two battery packs per 10 year warranty after reading the comments, in the last thread, about folks desperately wanting to mess around with the planned charge/discharge cycles? ;)


  8. 8
    Statik

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (11:55 am)

    Repost of my comments on this topic from last thread that went/is still into moderation…because I don’t feel like typing it out again.
    —————

    Side note: I was just looking at the source link from that photochop of the front end of the Volt I posted.

    http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/2008/09/gm-exec-volt-ba.html

    In it, Lutz says, “We’re being conservative on battery life. For our cost calculations we’re assuming each car will need a replacement during the warranty period.” The Volt will have a 10-year powertrain warranty.”

    Just thinking about that statement, what the heck kind of ‘warranty’ is it if they are costing out a full replacement on every car they sell? At one time the car was ‘under 30K,’ then quickly jumped up to ‘under 40K,’ is this what happened to cause the sudden jump? Did someone say, “let’s not get burned this time with the battery, we’ll price in a replacement?”

    And doesn’t this change the equation on GM’s statement of not making any money, if $10,000 of the cost is not a actual realized cost…or at the very least, it would be reasonable to assume for many cars would not a necessary replacement.

    Also, you have to assume they are costing a pack at today’s value, while they are also assuming a over-ambitious 100% failure rate…probably not allowing for when potential failures might occur.

    If a Volt did need a replacement pack, most replacements (I would think) would come after 7-8 years, and one would have to assume the pack cost would be half to one-third of start up costs.

    (EDIT: My grammar in the reposting of my thoughts)


  9. 9
    Mark Bartosik

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (11:58 am)

    To factor in 100% certainty of a new battery being required sounds silly to me. More likely GM is performing a more complex calculation, and that was not made clear (either by Bob or more likely Cars.com over simplifying a comment by Bob).

    For example, they might allow for a 30% probability of a failure between years 5 and 10. However, the cost of a battery between 2015 and 2020 in today’s money would be more like 50% of the cost now. So allowing 50% * 30% == 15% of the cost of a battery in the price would then be reasonable. However, if the premium for battery replacement that is added to the sale price, and invested for 7.5 years earning 4% interest, it earns about 34% compounded. Thus the 15% could be multiplied by 76%, giving 11%. Or $1100 for a $10,000 battery.

    If the battery costs $10,000 in today’s money, then adding between $1000 and $2000 to the sale price as an “insurance premium” against having to replace the battery some time in the warranty period would be entirely reasonable.

    Allowing a full $10,000 would not be reasonable — then why not sell me the car for $10,000 less, and I’ll buy a spare!

    I hope and think that the probability of failure in years 5 to 10 is less than in my example. There may also be failure modes that simply result in reduced range, but give the battery potential for resale in other applications.

    I think that GM will factor in between $1000 and $2000 into the sale price for battery replacements.


  10. 10
    Gsned57

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (12:00 pm)

    huh, not quite sure what to make of this. Sounds a bit to me like they are taking the greedy path. Let the customer pay for 2 batteries and if the tech lasts as long as we think it will we get to pocket the extra 10K they shelled out.

    Probably not a good idea in terms of PR but I’d rather them take the best buy approach and sell me a volt for $30K and 50,000 mile warrenty on the battery. Then for the unbelievably low price of 10,000$ I can get the extended warranty up to 150,000 miles. That way when I decline the extended warranty I can wait 7 years for my battery to suck and buy the 6,000$ replacement instead of paying upfront for a $10,000 battery that you know is only going to get cheaper over time.

    I know this makes sense for them and it’s because they are rolling out this new battery chemistry so quick, but I don’t like pricing 2 batteries into the cost of the car. I’m sure the 150,000 mile warranty will ease a lot of consumers minds but I don’t want to pay that much for it. JMO


  11. 11
    Statik

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (12:12 pm)

    Random August sales numbers are starting to trickle in:

    Ford -26.6% (SUV sales – 53%)

    “We expect the second half of 2008 will be more challenging than the first half, as weak economic conditions and the consumer credit crunch continues,” said Jim Farley, group vice president of marketing and communications, in a statement.”

    http://biz.yahoo.com/rb/080903/usa_autosales_ford.html

    Nissan +13.6

    I guess the ‘weak economic conditions and consumer credit crunch’ didn’t affect Nissan’s NA consumers.

    http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/080903/clw114.html?.v=57


  12. 12
    Cautious Fan

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (12:12 pm)

    Does the engineering data suggest 100% of the batteries will be replaced? I doubt it. Maybe 10%. I think it’s safe to give the engineers a little bit of credit here. This is GM’s excuse for having such a high price. If GM just wants an excuse to charge early adopters more, fine with me. Electronics industry does this all the time and it helps fund R&D. But GM used these numbers to tell the Gov’t how they needed subsidies to bring the Volt price down. This amounts to a giveaway. This is why I hate subsidies, of all types. They’re facades. GM is going to make out like a bandit on the Volt without needing my tax dollars. I honestly hope they make a killing. This will signal other manufacturers to jump into the market too.


  13. 13
    Rashiid Amul

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (12:13 pm)

    Price: Up, Up, and Awaaaaayyyyyyy.

    I would not be surprised if we are talking about $50K now.


  14. 14
    John

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (12:15 pm)

    Spin Says:
    September 3rd, 2008 at 11:41 am
    I’ll trade the warranty for $10,000. Give me a Volt for $30,000 with no warranty and I’ll take my chances.
    ———————————————————————–

    Talk to your Government. That may be illegal.


  15. 15
    Jim Rowland

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (12:15 pm)

    HHmmm,
    Longevity is the only unknown? That is good news either way, batteries will improve with time so the price could come down as they become more trusting of the battery.


  16. 16
    VancouverJon

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (12:22 pm)

    Everyone, just relax. Longevity is an unknown. They currently have no idea how long the batteries will actually last, how could they? They’ve had the batteries for a few months. So until they have some statistics on the battery’s life, there is no way they can calculate anything. We know it will be under warranty, which is good. Unless they decide to charge us for a full replacement, which is garbage. But they don’t even know what to expect yet. So as we’ve expected all along, their pricing numbers are still complete BS…


  17. 17
    John

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (12:24 pm)

    Eric C. Says:
    September 3rd, 2008 at 11:41 am
    I just hope this isn’t a precursor to another price increase. “Well, we now believe the Volt will be around $50k because now we’re factoring in a battery replacement.” Ugh.
    —————————————————————————-

    I may be wrong to assume English is your native language; but the word “factors” is a verb, and is in the present tense. This implies that the action of “factoring in” has already occurred and is manifest in the Volt as “presently” formed.

    In other words, it does not hint of a “future” price increase, but rather explains the “current price”.

    Get it?


  18. 18
    George B.

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (12:26 pm)

    Covering the cost of replacement batteries is just good business. Look at the mess with Cobasys….9600 batteries replaced at one whack. I don’t believe that the actual cost of two batteries are built in to every vehicle, but something pretty close to that. I DO NOT want to deal with leasing the battery (ala Think!) so I expect GM to take reasonable steps to ensure I don’t have to lay out $7,000-8,000 or more to replace the battery after a few years.


  19. 19
    Cautious Fan

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (12:33 pm)

    Jonathan Rauch did 1 a hour podcast on the economics and business strategies of the Volt. Cool insights.

    http://www.econtalk.org/


  20. 20
    Jackson

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (12:37 pm)

    I agree with Mark Bartosik (#9); I don’t think there can be much doubt that’s the plan. If replacement battieries cost as much (or more) in five years than they do the year the Volt goes on general sale, it and all other Lithium-based EREVs and BEVs are in trouble.

    I think GM is only under the gun if it turns out that there’s some kind of unexpected, general fleet-wide failure mode, 3 years out.

    Given the very real unknowns where longevity is concerned, I would expect that, if anything, initial Volt batteries will be overengineered (perhaps inflating their price). With more experience will come the knowledge of what to enhance for greater longevity, and what may require less-expensive engineering than originally thought (to say nothing of economies of scale by that time).


  21. 21
    Dwayne

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (12:41 pm)

    Why would anyone assume that GM is factoring in $10,000 to replace the battery within ten years. They are likely adding $1000 to $2000 for this purpose. I would think that that is very reasonable given that this car must be a success. Nowhere as GM implied that they were tacking on $10,000 for a second battery – heck they havn’t even said the first battery cost that much!


  22. 22
    Sam Y

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (12:42 pm)

    Hi to my fellow bloggers!

    Looks like some of you are jumping the guns WAY TOO SOON.

    Think about it for a moment. Do you honestly think that GM has the
    audacity to rip us off by adding 100% of the battery replacement cost to the MSRP, and say, “Look at awesome warranty we have!”???

    It’s ridiculous to think this way, knowing that their entire future is at stake! Their whole E-Flex scheme is dependent in whole on Volt’s success or failure. I would guess that may be they have included in the $40K estimate about 75% of the replacement battery cost.
    I don’t think it’s reasonable to think they would include 100% of the cost to replace the battery.

    That being said, hopefully, GM will be more flexible in their pricing.
    Let’s say battery pack cost $10K right now (totally random number, just trying to prove my point). Right now, $40K can be broken down hypothetically into following chunks: $22K for the whole car without the battery; $10K for the battery; $8K for the powertrain warranty (including battery). Hopefully, by the time that GM starts their production line for the VOLT, it will look more like this: $22K for the car minus the battery; $8-9K for the battery; $5-7K for the powertrain warranty, with total in the range between $35K and $38K.
    If we factor in $5K-$7K rebate costs, this car could potentially have MSRP of $28K-$33K!!

    Now, I’m pulling the numbers out of thin air, but so are some of you grumbling that they would not be surprised if the MSRP for VOLT rises above $45K or even $50K. I just thought that I would show as a counter to all these negativity by providing a good scenario.

    Let’s all keep our fingers still crossed, people!
    Keep up the faith =)

    GO VOLT!


  23. 23
    Gary

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (12:50 pm)

    John Says:

    Eric C. Says:
    September 3rd, 2008 at 11:41 am
    I just hope this isn’t a precursor to another price increase. “Well, we now believe the Volt will be around $50k because now we’re factoring in a battery replacement.” Ugh.
    —————————————————————————-

    I may be wrong to assume English is your native language; but the word “factors” is a verb, and is in the present tense. This implies that the action of “factoring in” has already occurred and is manifest in the Volt as “presently” formed.

    In other words, it does not hint of a “future” price increase, but rather explains the “current price”.

    Get it?
    ——————————————–

    This one is really nice. Just so you know John, this type of English is in vogue. I wonder whether you learned English in a school in some foreign country. Cause here, little things like above have become a way of life. Language is a means of communication and in this context, Eric is saying it just fine.


  24. 24
    Sam Y

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (12:56 pm)

    I just thought something else to add. Think about the following scenario (GM, please be flexible!)

    I drive my VOLT for 8 years, and battery needs replacing.
    With a lot of certain choice words being muttered under breath so that my kids don’t hear me, I go to the dealership. They give me a battery replacement for FREE since it was included in as part of the warranty. Now my Volt is good for another 8, hopefully 12 years with more advanced battery pack, due to advance in Li ion tech. In total, I’ll get to drive around for 20 years, whereas I bought the car only assuming I’ll get around 10 years or so.

    If GM’s customer service would keep us as their customer, they’ll look at my records and go “Oh, I noticed that your original warranty cost you $7K. Today, the battery pack costs a lot less (we’ll say $5K) so we will give you $1500 back.” We’ll say $500 was for processing fee/labor fee. Would not that be sweet?

    I know I’m being a super-optimist here, but hopefully GM takes a look at this scenario. Obviously, the point is not to make the most profit, but to make reasonably good profit, while trying not to give a fair price to us, consumers….right GM? *nudge, nudge, wink*

    There, now that I’ve finished rambling for today,
    have a good day people!

    SAM Y.


  25. 25
    Voltme

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (1:07 pm)

    They should offer tiered pricing based on battery warranty (and separate the battery warranty from the powertrain warranty).

    Here’s my suggestion:

    Assuming the battery replacement cost is $15,000, you could purchase the car for…

    $25,000 with a one year battery warranty
    For each year extension, add $1500 to the price of the car. That gives you 10 year warranty for $40,000 or one year for $25,000


  26. 26
    RonR64

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (1:17 pm)

    Everyone read post #9, read it again if you have to. This post nails it. My god, if I was Lutz reading some of these posts might cause me to cancel the whole dang thing.


  27. 27
    Jim in PA

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (1:19 pm)

    Here’s an interesting article on after-market battery add-ons for the Prius.

    http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1838193,00.html?cnn=yes

    Excerpt:” Don’t expect a bargain, though: Conversion kits range anywhere from $5,000 for lead-acid batteries to more than $30,000 for lithium-ion technology.”

    The guy in the article paid $10,000 just to get 20 miles of all-electric range. So if the Volt can conservatively get 40 miles all-electric with a $10,000 battery (a guess on price obviously), then we are getting a deal. Basically, adding up the numbers in the article shows that Toyota in no way offers a price advantage if they tried to accomplish with the Prius what GM shortly will with the Volt. Good news for GM.


  28. 28
    Dave G

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (1:26 pm)

    The Volt is based on the Chevy Cobalt/Cruze platform. The Cobalt has a retail sticker price of $15K. Lutz says the battery costs $10K. This sounds high to me, but let’s run with it. Now figure that the Volt has no transmission, but does have an electric motor, electric HVAC, and other refinements, so add another $3K for that.

    So with no warranty issues, the Volt should cost $28K. With another battery replacement on warranty, that would be $38K, which is just what Wagoner said in has last interview.

    Basically, I agree with #5 Spin. I would seriously consider giving up my battery warranty to get a Volt for $28K. This would be $21-$23K after tax rebates ($23K under McCain, $21K under Obama).

    In any event, this is great news. It verifies the costs that myself and nasaman have been throwing around. It also means that there will be a huge price decrease when GM gets more confidence with battery longevity.

    With this in mind, I’m aiming for 2012 or 2013. By that time, they should know a lot more about the battery. Also, maybe they will have a Volt Sport Wagon by then…


  29. 29
    vincent

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (1:29 pm)

    Sheeeesh Girl Scouts. Factored in is a done deal already.
    As in NOT a price increase.


  30. 30
    Ed M

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (1:33 pm)

    Eric C #6
    Don’t make the price sound worse than it is. I believe the price is two battery packs for $40,000 not two for 50.
    When you look at that great warranty, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Volt would be priced a little higher.
    We need to take a step back and be very thankful that GM is taking a risk and building this car.


  31. 31
    Len

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (1:37 pm)

    We can reasonably assume the batteries will be cheaper and better in 3 years. If they don’t know how long they will last just say so. Warrant them for three years with add on amounts for longer warranty. I would be happy to go for a three year warranty if that dropped the price by $10k.

    I would really like a Volt to cost under $30k.


  32. 32
    Statik

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (1:44 pm)

    GM August sales: -20.4% (…missed it by .4% lol)

    http://biz.yahoo.com/rb/080903/usa_autosales.html?.v=2

    Breakdown by category:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idINN0346734820080903?rpc=44


  33. 33
    DonC

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (1:52 pm)

    GM’s cost estimates for the Volt reminds me of the way the phone companies used to capitalize the air the installers breathed when doing an install. IOW there is a lot of padding. 100% battery replacement when they haven’t had any indication of any failure?

    I’d agree with others that I’d settle for less of a warranty of battery life. That will not be a problem unless you treat the battery harshly. Defects like bad connections would be something different. Wouldn’t be a bad idea to think about a battery pack upgrade in a few years though …


  34. 34
    vincent

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (2:00 pm)

    #33.
    I can understand how you feel.
    Before I manufactured my own products I thought along the same lines.
    You later realize and understand that making a bullet proof product especially when the future of your firm is riding on it. ALL foreseeable costs MUST be included. If GM blows this one they are in HUGE trouble. A rock solid guarantee on the car is needed as is the funding to repair dramas. If a start up battery company blows it…who has to step in…GM. and if they do not you will be the first to trash them.


  35. 35
    Glenn

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (2:06 pm)

    And the NiMH batteries in the Rav4-ev are going strong after 10 years. Something’s fishy here.


  36. 36
    Aspherical

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (2:13 pm)

    What would it take for GM to rid the $10k premium and warranty the battery pack for 10 years?

    I know shortened simulated life tests can only tell the engineers so much, so.. What is the biggest issue? Is it the large operating temperature range and its effect on capacity over its lifetime? Is it the fact that the capacity of Li-ion batteries decrease over time regardless of use? What will it take to prove this isn’t an issue over 10 years? 10 years of testing?


  37. 37
    Jackson

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (2:21 pm)

    I doubt very much that used Volt batteries will become a tradable commodity until well after the design lifetime of the original batteries (regardless of their actual life).

    For one thing, GM (or it’s battery company) will learn a great deal by dissecting the first ones (I even wonder if this warranty isn’t partly a way to insure that the first batteries get back to the manufacturer for this purpose). For another, the numbers won’t be there to support such a market for at least that long.

    Under no circumstance do I anticipate old lithium EV batteries being thrown away in landfills. The materials used in the batteries can be recycled (the likeliest fate of old Volt batteries, IMO), and is another possible revenue enhancer for whoever is making them.

    In earlier threads, many people have suggested that old Volt batteries be sold to electric utilities; if this happens, I think the utilities should have to compete in whatever market develops for them, against Joe Blow who wants a mega-UPS for his business data center, or Suzie Q who wants an at-home power bank for her solar arrays. I strongly suspect that electric utilities will invest in their own large-scale batteries for industrial-level power backup before any used EV battery market emerges.


  38. 38
    noel park

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (2:22 pm)

    We are not going to get our hands on any Volts until at least mid-2011, basically 3 years away at best. Anything can happen, and probably will, in the auto industry in the next 3 years. Somebody used the word “speculation” the other day. No kidding! I submit that we are just talking to ourselves on these pricing issues.

    Tagamet put it as well as anybody, “Let’s just get the Volt’s wheels on the road!” Since I have plagarized it about 100 times, here is my modest proposal. Since we are blogging, and we already have JMHO, IMHO, LOL, ROTFLMAO, PDNFTT, and several others, how about LJGTVWOTR? Saves quite a few keystrokes over time.


  39. 39
    doggydogworld

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (2:23 pm)

    #28 DaveG – 2009 Cobalt with auto and ABS is more like 16.5k. I imagine the Volt will have upgrades (e.g. leather seats) not included in the 16.5k. But you’re still in the ballpark.

    I hope Bob is right, it would explain a lot of the price jump and is VERY good news for Volt pricing down the road.


  40. 40
    MetrologyFirst

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (2:34 pm)

    I am not as concerned about how this affects the Volt’s actual cost. I don’t think it makes much difference. BUT, in a way, this may allow GM to sell more Volts earlier by reducing the statistical guardbanding limits on the “general population” of batteries from the supplier.

    If GM basically assumes it will have to replace a battery within 10yrs, the battery maker does not have to supply GM with batteries at some very small predetermined failure rate (say 0.1%) . The batteries do not need over designed, to be supremely robust, and redundant, all for the purpose of NEVER failing, other than the statistical anomalies. This also would have increased the cost and limit the quantity initially available.

    Now they can relax the functional guardbands, maybe reduce the cost per battery that way, again assuming the battery will be replaced later, perhaps at a much lower cost than the original “bulletproof” battery would have cost. I think it is a plus for GM to take this approach.

    It would be the same as engineering tires to last 150,000 miles, under all conditions, under warantee. That initial tire cost would be exceptionally high (just think of the engineering). It is much cheaper to just say, “OK, we will factor in just replacing them every 75K miles; the tire technology is much cheaper then and the supplier can crank out tires by the millions.

    Would you rather spend an extra $1000 for hard to make “super tires”, or $1000 to replace the less capable ones? It doesn’t matter to you. But it does matter to the tire maker.

    I think GM’s logic is good. We might get more Volts sooner this way.


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (2:36 pm)

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t GM have had time by now to simulate a 10-Year/150,000 mile battery life?

    Shouldn’t the longevity issue be fairly well known by now?


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    Eric C.

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (2:43 pm)

    #17 John.

    LOL. English is my native language, although I sometime question if it is Bob’s. I’ve heard Bob Lutz mis-speak many times before this, and what you deem past tense based on the words that came out of his mouth could very well be a mistake on his part or a feeler to see how everyone reacts.

    There’s also been typos in the headlines of news here and the articles themselves, so I wouldn’t put all your eggs into the analysis of the verb tense. (Note: I’m not trying to be negative about the spelling errors that have been here, just stating what I’ve seen. I love this site and visit it regularly! :-) )


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    Aspherical

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (2:45 pm)

    #40 MetrologyFirst

    “Would you rather spend an extra $1000 for hard to make “super tires”, or $1000 to replace the less capable ones? It doesn’t matter to you. But it does matter to the tire maker.”

    I like the analogy. Lets see if I can sum up your thought process: GM should be testing the battery packs to 5 years of life and basically sell the consumer two lower cost battery packs instead of a more expensive “mega” battery pack that will last 10 years

    I will be fine with that (assuming no additional cost to replace the battery pack). I just wonder if the general public will buy into that. It’s a deviation from the traditional mindset of the entire powertrain unit lasting 10 years or so. Yet, the E-flex powertrain itself is a deviation from traditional thinking…

    Any thoughts on this?


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (2:48 pm)

    The closer we get to $40K … the more I slip away for owning a Volt. I’ll top out at $35K … I want to make a statement with my purchase, and I don’t want that statement to be “look how stupid I am!” 8-)


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (2:52 pm)

    #30 Ed M,

    I’m not trying to make it sound worse than it is, I’m just hoping that the vehicle won’t see any more price increases.

    Can I afford a 40k Volt? Sure. I just don’t want that first public impression to sting their taste for the Volt. I want this car to have a profound impact on GM revenues, and on US dependence on oil.

    IMHO, for this to be done, profits have to be viewed in the long term, not in the short term (i.e. price it lower at first even if you could get the higher price, make the general public believe in your product’s ability to produce an affordable car). The Prius was sold at a loss its first few years, despite inventory being tight. Thanks to their long term approach, they continue to excel and gain market share.


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    Kent

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (3:12 pm)

    Let’s all take a break from the battery price already. We all have a price point as to whether we buy the Volt or not. I’ll buy a Volt for under $30K regardless if that includes one battery or 20.

    And let’s not forget….the Volt is still at least 2 years away!


  47. 47
    Statik

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (3:19 pm)

    #28 noel park

    “Since we are blogging, and we already have JMHO, IMHO, LOL, ROTFLMAO, PDNFTT, and several others, how about LJGTVWOTR? Saves quite a few keystrokes over time.”

    ——–

    You sir have just saved many a innocent 1 and 0 who did not needlessly have to die for that cause.


  48. 48
    Dave G

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (3:23 pm)

    #41 Estero Says: “Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t GM have had time by now to simulate a 10-Year/150,000 mile battery life? Shouldn’t the longevity issue be fairly well known by now?”
    ————————————————————————————–
    No. A lot of the longevity has to do with the charge / discharge rate. If you charge and discharge a lot faster than you would in the vehicle, you won’t get accurate test results.

    It takes 6.5 hours to charge the Volt from a 110 volt AC outlet, half that time using a 220v outlet. So even using 220v, it takes around 3 hours to charge. Then it takes the better part of an hour to discharge in real world conditions. So figure 4 hours for a charge/discharge cycle. Even running 24/7, you still only test 6 charge / discharge cycles per day.

    The Volt probably has around 4000 charge / discharge cycles max over the life of the vehicle. At 6 cycles per day, that would take almost 2 years to test.

    Now they may be able to test the charge / discharge cycles a little faster than this and still get accurate results, but the point is that it will probably take many months to test battery longevity.

    Also note that this doesn’t include any wear the battery receives when the ICE is running, so that could add to the testing time.


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    Koz

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (3:25 pm)

    I posted this on the last thread because it came up in discussion there but it is more appropriate on this thread.

    “Yea, that struck me as pretty big news too. Upon further review, not so much however. They say 10 year powertrain warranty but I’ll bet the battery is a pro-rated warranty, so they are probably building in 1-2 years of value into the cost. It would be nice to have a 5 five year warranty option. $2500 or more savings and I’ld probably opt for it.”


  50. 50
    Arch

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (3:27 pm)

    I do not know if this is a misprint or somebodys slip up. Read the last line of the first paragraph.

    http://www.plentymag.com/features/2008/09/plenty_20.php?page=5

    Take Care
    Arch


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    Murray

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (3:33 pm)

    Nice pull there Arch…. slip up or misprint… it still confirms my hunch

    and with that hunch and my charm … I should expect to get ….

    well, nuthin


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    Terry Hannon

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (3:34 pm)

    LJGTVWOTR.

    I like it! I will start using it now. :-)

    EDIT: On the topic of the battery replacement cost being added to the MSRP. I also think they will do a percentage of the current cost maybe 10-15% not the entire $10,000.


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (3:35 pm)

    I think that if they are going to figure in the price of a 2nd battery pack into the overall initial sale price, they should replace it once if you need it or not. They could even put it in fine print that this is only available to the original purchaser. That way at 9.5 years you get it replaced if it hasn’t already and your good for x-number of extra years since you already paid for it. And GM makes money if the costs of the batteries drops under what they figured into the price.


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    Dave G

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (3:35 pm)

    #45 Eric C. Says: “… profits have to be viewed in the long term, not in the short term (i.e. price it lower at first even if you could get the higher price, make the general public believe in your product’s ability to produce an affordable car). The Prius was sold at a loss its first few years, despite inventory being tight. Thanks to their long term approach, they continue to excel and gain market share.”
    ————————————————————————————–
    I agree.

    However, GM doesn’t have a lot of cash right now, so taking a loss won’t happen without some type of loan guarantees from the U.S. government. Even then it would be tough, given GM’s current financial situation.

    However, the hefty Volt tax credits proposed by both candidates ($5000 by McCain, $7000 by Obama) would have a similar effect to lowering the price of the Volt. That’s probably our best hope at this point.


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (3:36 pm)

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (3:57 pm)

    Sorry, GM, but I will take my Volt without the 2nd battery expense, please. If I do need a new battery at some point, I’ll pony up for it at that time. Or have an insurance policy (aka extended warranty).


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    MetrologyFirst

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (4:01 pm)

    Aspherical @43:

    It also may open up a little the state of charge limits, assuming extra drain will decrease battery life. Maybe help get a little more electric range.

    I think the tire analogy is a good one too. :)

    The battery is the key, the one real unknown, the new technology, more than likely the primary failure component. It seems logical to “relax the specs” on it, make it perhaps easier and cheaper to produce, produce a lot MORE of them (giving us more Volts sooner), and count on replacing the pack at 75-100K miles or 5 years.

    I don’t think this runs counter to GM’s promise. Correct me if I’m wrong. They said it would last to 150,000 miles under warranty. They didn’t really say it wouldn’t have to be replaced (or did they?). The only reason I bring this up is that people are holding GM to its word on the 40 mile range. Apparently holding them to their word is more important than the engineering limitations, to some folks.

    (Perhaps GM should not have promised so much up front and they wouldn’t be hamstrung meeting those commitments. We might even have a cooler, nicer looking Volt if the electric range wasn’t promised at 40 miles and the aero w……………………………. I digress. Sorry……) :)


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (4:09 pm)

    I truly hope that in some fasion this, “We are pricing for two batteries.” has been misunderstood. I couldn’t imagine buying a car and getting charged for two engines. I can see it now. Thank you for your purchase sir, I really hope you don’t need that second engine, especially since you have already paid for it. :-) Weird…

    Also, why does GM have to warranty the battery anyway? Wouldn’t the battery maker give GM a warranty on the battery to begin with? And if that is an issue, why not pro-rate the battery after a certain period the way regular batteries are now. I would suggest something like–5 years free replacement, pro-rated on a percentage basis afterward up to ten years. Sounds much better to me.

    Thoughts?

    Hawk


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    RB

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (4:13 pm)

    #32 Statik —

    Thanks for the sales numbers and especially the links. I don’t fault GM for not foreseeing the oil price increase, but I do fault them for not having a strong lineup of small but nice high-mileage cars to sell when prices rose. It is after all a scenario that others had thought possible. This is what the guys who get paid the big bucks get paid to do, make business plans that allows for contingencies.


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    DonC

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (4:16 pm)

    #34 Vincent – The problem is that unlike the phone company GM has competition. A lot of competition. They have to make calculated gambles in order to price the product at competitive levels. The battery packs aren’t going to be a problem, which was obvious to a lot of people. Lutz keeps saying the batteries, to GM’s surprise, appear completely problem free. Why don’t they just accept that fact? This entire “two battery” stuff seems designed for a political audience more than anything else.

    #41 Estero #48 Dave G – “If you charge and discharge a lot faster than you would in the vehicle, you won’t get accurate test results.”

    Estero seems to be right. If they tested at 1C, which would have to be the starting point, they’d be running through 12 cycles a day. (We’ve seen the test studio for this and know that it does run 24/7). Since the maximum number of cycles over a year would be 375 – 15,000 miles in EV mode of 40 miles — over a month they’d test a year’s cycles. So it would take ten months to test for ten years. They’ve been at it at least this long. Since 1C and 3750 cycles is far beyond what would reasonably be found in practice, at this point they should have thoroughly tested performance. (I doubt they’d test at .25C as you’re suggesting unless the 1C test failed).

    Plus the fact is that GM isn’t the only entity testing the batteries. The manufacturers have already done this. Here is A123 test results out to 7000 cycles:
    http://www.a123systems.com/#/technology/life/lchart1/

    You can find a dozen other companies reporting similar results using slightly different chemistry. And let’s not forget the real life tests by RC hobbyists and Black & Decker customers discharging and recharging at 8C and 6C for 1700 cycles.

    FWIW you can test for longevity using accelerated discharge rates. It’s not exact but the batteries are so far beyond what GM is projecting it shouldn’t matter. A123 has tested out to 7000 cycles and GM is worried about 2000?


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (4:22 pm)

    On the battery warranty (being “charged for two”) the reality of the plan has to be much more as described in post #9 (thanks Mark Bartosik) than each customer literally buying two batteries. Also, Lutz is famous for these statements that are only approximately true (though we are thankful for knowing as much as he tells us).

    In my opinion, GM is taking the right course here. Actual battery lifetime is uncertain, so they are creating a reserve to allow for replacement. There is going to be a distribution of lifetimes, and no one yet knows the average or the variation. Maybe some people will do fine for 10 years with one battery and others will require a new one every three. Maybe it depends more than realized on external factors. Maybe it is pure blind luck.

    Until there is actual data to use, I think that customers will feel much better about the car if they can off-load the $10K replacement risk on to the warranty. In effect, those buying early will have formed a insurance pool, and GM will be backstopping the pool. It also avoids any future headlines about numerous customers being hit by a $10K charge because “all the batteries are failing” as it will be told, even if it is only a minority.

    I’m glad they are thinking ahead, conservatively.


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    Rashiid Amul

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (4:39 pm)

    Arch # 55.

    Interesting article. It seems perfectly logical to me to spread the Volt technology across all lines that GM owns. The logic to not do that, escapes me.


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (4:40 pm)

    Noel.

    LJGTVWOTR !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)


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    DonC

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (4:43 pm)

    #57 MetrologyFirst – Stop drinking the Toyota kool aid about how Li-ion is too expensive and too dangerous and too unreliable! (Only kidding). Just because Toyota needs to come up with reasons for missing the boat doesn’t mean we should accept its rationale for failure.The battery back is going to be fine. It will doubtless not be a failure point.

    FWIW the 40 mile range is at the EOL for the pack, so it should be higher when the pack is new. My guess is that you could run it for 15-20 years depending on your driving needs.


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    Cautious Fan

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (5:01 pm)

    This is GM’s excuse for charging early customers more money, and for asking congress for help. Then when the batteries are shown good through real-life testing (though Lutz said the batteries are the least of his worries), later models will drop in price. Simple pricing strategy to maximize profits. I hope they make a killing on this car and everyone else follows them into the EREV market.


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    noel park

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (5:02 pm)

    #9 Mark Bartosik & #61 RB:

    I agree.

    I’m sure that there is some contingency amount built into the price of every new car to provide for warranty issues. Not everyone needs a new engine or transmission, but maybe 0.1% do. So they add 0.1% of the cost of a new engine to each car. I’m sure that they have statistics going back 50+ years to help them to figure it out. It would be more risky with these batteries, but the same logic applies.

    Toyota warrantied the battery in the Prius for what, 7 years or 100K miles? And they were supposed to cost what, $3500 to replace? If they hadn’t, I doubt if they would have been able to sell them. I’m sure that they were pretty confident, but I would bet that they had something built into the price to cover themselves.

    Anyway, LJGTVWOTR. This will sort itself out before we ever have to make the final purchase decision.

    And thanks to all for your support.


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    mit4

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (5:27 pm)

    This is heading in right direction for a short while…however thing is that, if every car out there becomes EV, then what is going to happen to the supply and demand of the electricity. Where is the extra juice going to come from? By burning more coal, oil? Building more dam with current weather and water situation?.. The amount of electricity we need to power all the EV in US or World in the future as we currently envision will not be satisfied by building a patch of wind or sun farm here and there.

    We are talking about vast area of land used up just to power all the EVs that is going be driven in the morning and evening for people just going to “work”. Remember, Human society requires much electricity for other areas too.

    All questions come down to the nature of the “power source”, whether it is revolutionary or evolutionary one.

    Instead of spending too much energy and dollar on the last end of the chain, more attention must be given to the beginning of the chain: new power source that is already in R&D, drawing board or in some smart person’s head…meaning throw enough darts and hope one will hit the bull’s-eye before it is too late…since, the so-called “point-of-no-return” appears to be approaching soon, if not here yet. Solve the cheap/plentiful power source question first and the car issue can be handled more easily and cheaply.

    And I thing we can do it if we consider the current World situation as live-or-die (if not for us then at least for the our sons and daughters and on and on).

    Remember the Manhattan project?


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (5:43 pm)

    Remember the EV-1 Delco batteries? If the VOLT battery is defective, GM will want to cover themselves. If they find problems in a few years with the packs they are currently testing, they can make corrections and switch out the defective batteries as they did with the EV-1. If the batteries end up being perfect, then the VOLT price will drop and more sales will result.


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    TorsionTec

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (5:44 pm)

    According to these numbers, the price for the Volt without batteries would be < $20K.

    I’d buy that in a flash!!!

    Then lease the batteries, the lease payment would be offset by the savings in gasoline.

    As new battery technologies arrive, perhaps even an ‘EESU’ from ‘EESTOR’, send the batteries back to the leasing company where they can recover costs by selling them to utility companies for load leveling or …


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (5:45 pm)

    If 2 battery packs are requirement over the lifetime of the Volt, it could slow down the acceptance of E-REV by the market since “twice” the number of battery packs will be required.

    I assume that the packs could be repaired, but I would prefer a new pack for replacement.


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    canehdian

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (6:05 pm)

    I’m on the fence on this one.
    It’s (slightly) acceptable if, in 5 years, yo uare offered a replacement battery at the equivalent pricing of that time. So perhaps you could get a 24kWh pack instead of a16kWh for no fee.

    Though really, just warrant the battery for 5 years, If I have to buy a new pack then, I have to buy a new pack, oh well.
    It still saved me $x,000 up front.

    It’s only worth it if the extra value is pro-rated, such as 33% of a pack. Then if your pack fails, you got a new one for 67% off. If your pack lasts the full 10, you didn’t end up overpaying too much, you simply got peace of mind.


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    VancouverJon

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (6:13 pm)

    #67 mit4 – you make a great point, but you are underestimating the potential impact of plug-in cars. Renewable energy does not work on the large scale without energy storage (big hydro doesn’t count here because all viable hydro locations have been developed). I think Denmark is running into problems at less than 20% wind. What do you do when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow? What do you do when there is sun and wind, but no demand? Is a power company going to invest billions in storage (batteries, compressed air, flywheels, etc.) to solve this problem? They can’t afford to.

    If you have a smart grid and tons of plug-ins, you charge people a low fee to dump excess electricity during high supply/low demand and then pay them a premium (which is charged to the end user) when there is high demand/low supply.

    Problem solved and utilities pay nothing for the storage.

    This is exactly why GM promotes smart grid technologies. Even without renewable energy, a smart grid would eliminate the need for a larger infrastructure. Infrastructure is needed for peak demands. If you give incentive for people to charge when demand is low, peak demand is unaffected. This doesn’t promote clean energy, but it means that you wouldn’t need further development to accommodate plug-in cars. And electricity from coal is much cleaner than an ICE in a car.


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    ThombDbhomb

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (6:17 pm)

    LJGTVWOTR!


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    ThombDbhomb

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (6:24 pm)

    #17 John
    As an expert in the English language, undoubtedly you are familiar with “usage.”


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (6:30 pm)

    If the cost of a 2nd pack is factored into the price, then folks should be given a 2nd pack with no additional charge at the end of the warranty period if it didn’t need a replacement during the warranty period (w/GM taking the old one of course, it’s only fair and still has value)


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    Morgan

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (6:41 pm)

    Folks folks folks…..this is how warranties work.

    They have an estimation of how much a battery pack will cost at X time and a Z failure rate. The vendor, depending on the contract terms, picks up some of the replacement cost. I can guarantee you that the cost of a pack in 6 years is a lot lower than what it is now. That is the number that is being tacked on to the Volt price.

    Then you amortize that number over Y number of vehicles.

    Every car, everything you purchase has the warranty built into the price.


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    DonC

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (6:45 pm)

    #19 Cautious Fan – missed your link. Very informative. Hopefully others will take advantage of it. Great cite.


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (6:56 pm)

    I pretty much agree with the majority on this. Two complete battery packs for each car is more than conservative, it’s just about impossible, unless we’re not getting the real story on the batteries. However, I think we getting the real story, so take the replacement battery at 10%, lower the cost and sell 3 or 4 times as many units in the first year. I’m confident that by the time 2010 rolls around, GM could easily sell between 100,000 and 150,000 units in the first year. The excitement of an electric car grows every day. How many people are on the wait list here? Close to 40,000 isn’t it. and we’re still 2 years away.

    GM should go all out, and they’ll Win big time!


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    Schmeltz

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (6:59 pm)

    Rashiid and Noel said:

    “LJGTVWOTR !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ”

    Maybe we need to get a t-shirt with that inscribed on it! LOL


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    Frank B

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (7:05 pm)

    #67

    Electric utilities have a challenge every night keeping the 60HZ at 60HZ because of the lower demands on the system at night. Power companies base their generating capacity for day time usage, by far the heaviest time. Most drivers will be charging at night which will actually help most utilities straighten out their usage curve. So it’s not like we will twice as much generating capacity. For years to come, we won’t any more at all. In 10 years or more, we might need 25% more, but even that is a high amount, probably closer to 19% more.


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (7:21 pm)

    $50,000, I’m out, no leases, take my name off the list. Great idea but 35K is it for me. Good luck GM, My name is not Bill Gates.


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    MDDave

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (7:43 pm)

    Wow… This thread really takes the cake for heaping speculation on top of speculation. We don’t know what the battery will cost; we don’t know how much the tax credit will be; we don’t know what the failure rate or life expectancy of the battery will be; we don’t really even know what the warranty will be; and now people are coming up with crazy schemes by which GM would charge the buyer to cover the cost of replacing the battery during the warranty period in order to divine the total price of the Volt… Impressive.

    Anyway… assuming that GM is, in fact, planning to double charge for the battery just to cover the cost of a possible replacement, that really stretches the concept of a warranty. A warranty is a guarantee that the maker of a product will repair or replace defective parts. If I have to pay for those parts up front regardless of whether or not I ever need them, then it’s not a warranty in my book. Instead, I’d call that a rip-off. And it’s especially bad when you consider that the battery will only be getting cheaper to manufacture as time goes by. So, basically, GM would get to borrow my money interest free, and then keep all of it if their car actually performs the way it is supposed to perform. And even if they do have to replace the battery, it is going to cost less than what I paid them for it… Impressive.

    Even if the battery does fail in say 8 years, how many of you are really going to replace the battery so that you can drive your Volt for another 8 years when a whole bunch of other vehicles with better technology will be out on the market? Frankly, it’s a rare occasion when I see a 16 year-old car that doesn’t look like total crap. Some people seem to think that the Volt will last forever if only the battery would just hold out that long, but I will bet you that most Volts will be falling apart like most cars are after 200,000 miles and 16 years.

    The bottom line is that I’d rather have them give me a 7 year 70,000 mile warranty and not charge me for two batteries. I’ll take my chances and replace the car if necessary.


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (7:44 pm)

    LJGTVWOTR — I love it!


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (7:50 pm)

    I previously posted this in regards to battery warranty and replacement:

    ————————————————————————

    Has anybody here had a problem with their car radio or instrument panel in the recent past?

    GM doesn’t fix these devices at the dealership, but instead uses an exchange program. A reconditioned part is obtained by the dealership and installed in the car, while the old part is sent back to be reconditioned.

    I forsee a similar program for the Volt’s battery pack. With 200 to 300 cells, it is likely that there may be a cell failure here or there. The system is probably going to be configured to bypass these bad cells, and one or two cell failures will not constitute a bad battery pack.

    However, if a significant number of these cells fail, you will be able to make a warranty claim on the battery pack. It is likely that GM will remove your battery pack in exchange for a “reconditioned” battery pack with 100% working cells. Your old pack will be sent to a GM center for overhaul.

    This provides the customer with a 10 yr/150,000 mile battery pack warranty, however, it limits GM’s exposure to repair and overhaul, versus the outright purchase of a new battery pack.

    Given the confidence we’ve seen from Bob Lutz regarding the batteries, I personally don’t see the battery pack warranty as a big problem for GM.

    ——————————————————————————

    I’ve said this before also “We cannot believe much from a pricing standpoint until GM makes an official announcement”.

    We know that many competitors are now looking to produce vehicles similar to the Volt, so I expect a lot of “misinformation” in the next year or two, as GM does not want to make competitive information public.


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (7:58 pm)

    #41 Estero,

    “Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t GM have had time by now to simulate a 10-Year/150,000 mile battery life?
    Shouldn’t the longevity issue be fairly well known by now?”

    ————————————————–

    Hard to believe 84 posts and nobody’s mentioned this yet.

    From BatteryUniversity.com :

    “Aging is a concern with most lithium-ion batteries and many manufacturers remain silent about this issue. Some capacity deterioration is noticeable after one year, whether the battery is in use or not. The battery frequently fails after two or three years. It should be noted that other chemistries also have age-related degenerative effects. This is especially true for nickel-metal-hydride if exposed to high ambient temperatures. At the same time, lithium-ion packs are known to have served for five years in some applications.

    Manufacturers are constantly improving lithium-ion. New and enhanced chemical combinations are introduced every six months or so. With such rapid progress, it is difficult to assess how well the revised battery will age.”

    If I remember correctly, the problem area is the membrane in between the cathode and anode that will chemically break down over time. (could be wrong on this, maybe somebody else can explain it better)

    IMO, this is where GM (and the early vote buyer) are really hanging it out there. I would imagine they’re doing all the charge/discharge, heat, vibration etc.. tests as as fast as they can. But there is no substitute for time. I also would imagine this is the biggest reason why GM wants to keep initial production numbers low and prices high.


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (8:15 pm)

    #35 Glenn

    “And the NiMH batteries in the Rav4-ev are going strong after 10 years. Something’s fishy here.”
    ————————————————–

    This keeps coming up. And probably should keep coming up.

    Have any of the engineering data types with the big calculators (koz, or somebody) done an analysis on how the volt would perform with the equivalent capacity (albeit heavier) NiMH’s ?


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (8:23 pm)

    I wonder what that picture implies ? Is that a A123 rep ?
    Maybe he’s telling GM: “you can have the li-ion battery pack with a stainless cover for $10,000 or the painted black metal for $8,500″.


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (8:42 pm)

    “And the NiMH batteries in the Rav4-ev are going strong after 10 years. Something’s fishy here.
    ————————————————–

    This keeps coming up. And probably should keep coming up.”

    I wonder if that kind of life was expected when that Rav4-ev was built? Is that true of all Rav4-evs, or only some of them (or for that matter, any of them. Anybody want to corroborate or provide citation for the claim)? Does how they’ve been driven have any effect on greater than expected battery life?

    Do we really know what kind of life we’ll get out of this new type of (large, automotive) Lithium Ion battery? I don’t think they’ve been in existance long enough to answer that question (and time is the only measure that counts).

    Edit: Almost forgot:

    LJGTVWOTR!!


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (8:51 pm)

    100,000-Mile Evaluation of the Toyota RAV4 EV

    http://www.evchargernews.com/miscfiles/sce-rav4ev-100k.pdf


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (9:10 pm)

    Here’s some 5 year/ 100,000 mi info on the RAV4 EV:

    100,000-Mile Evaluation of the Toyota RAV4 EV
    Author: Thomas J. Knipe

    http://74.125.45.104/search?q=cache:T4QsMbBl9wcJ:www.evchargernews.com/miscfiles/sce-rav4ev-100k.pdf+rav4+ev+battery+life&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=6&gl=us&client=safari


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (9:17 pm)

    #67, #72

    This has been discussed many times on this site. I think the upshot is, there’s nothing more flexible, when it comes to energy, than electricity. Unshackling transportation from Oil will be at least as important in history as the invention of the internal combustion engine (and large scale petrochemical use) in the first place.

    There are many, many things coming, or which could come, in the years it will take for the electrification of the automobile to really take hold. Yes, new sources of electricity require attention. The good news is that they’re getting it.

    My “wish list” candidates:

    A National superconducting power delivery system (not much happening, there at the moment). This could tie wind farms in the heart of the country to the peak users on the coasts.

    Thorium power (clean Nuclear energy if handled competently, with the bonuses of large domestic reserves and the ability to consume the waste created by conventional reactors; again, not much happening, and we need to get started on the research now).

    These are not getting the attention they should, IMO, but there is plenty of good news, too:

    Large-scale Sodium-Sulfur batteries for utilities (tractor-trailer size batteries large enough to do load leveling at the substation level — and there are already prototypes ‘on the ground’):

    http://www.nextenergynews.com/news1/next-energy-news4.14.08a.html

    Such batteries have to be kept at high temperatures; a proposition that benefits from large size (easier to insulate). By the time used Volt batteries are available in quantities meaningful to a utility, this will have had 10 more years to develop.

    CIGS solar arrays are poised to change the solar energy game with mass-produced, lower cost designs (and they’d produce power at the time of day it’s most needed).

    The observation about coal is correct; it’s much easier to manage pollution from a few big smokestacks than from a gazillion tailpipes.

    I don’t think it will become necessary to use privately owned batteries installed in our road vehicles to level electric utilities’ load fluctuations (at least I hope not — it sounds like some sort of energy Socialism ;-) ).


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (9:41 pm)

    #77 DonC


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (9:42 pm)

    Caucus, that report was based on five vehicles, used on a planned cycle (reading meters) on a regular basis, over five years. That’s a far cry from the chaotic family journeys of a soccer mom over a decade. But even if this can be applied directly to the characteristics of NiMH batteries, what I said is still true: we don’t know what those kinds of results for Lithium Ion will be (structured exactly like the five SoCal vehicles, or the chaos of typical driving).


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (9:42 pm)

    Here is my 2 cents from a engineering perspective…
    A company 1000 times smaller than GM would use a probability of 99.9% called six sigma. This method of measurement is only as accurate as the data used to calculate the confidence level of part meeting expectations. Now, the safety factor is another question. This gives an accurate assumption that if I do fail, then I have this much margin before catastrophic failure. Just as the twin towers could have been built to withstand a B1 bomber, the costs would have been astronomical. So engineers design to just meet expectations and still make money for the manufacturer. The old thought of my warranty goes out at 60K miles and I have failures at 61K miles.
    From a distributor standpoint (GM is not mfg the batteries but reselling) GM will have a certain guarantee form the mfg of the useful life expectancy. GM will not carry the cost of the warranty for this battery, the mfg will honor to replacment to GM.
    Just as my old laptop with a P3 (fastest processor known to most of the world outside of Apple) is now obsolete but you can buy the product for a fraction of the price today. This new Li-Ionbattery maybe obsoleted in just a few years by a different mfg technology such as a capacitor (flux capacitor in Back to the Future movie). This technology would only get better and less expensive just as every electronic piece of equipment has done year after year.
    From a customer prospective, can GM provide the equipment at a price the masses can afford and educate people on its practicality. Just as I have two vehicles, one for traveling with the whole family and another smaller car for just me to travel back and forth to work (32.3 miles exactly round trip). I am not looking to jump Pikes Peek or carry my snowmobile on the roof rack, although I still want a nice touch screen and acoustical sound system .
    Just to and from day in and day out to the desk job from hell to the family all while making the Mideast eat sand and suck oil !!
    GO-VOLT
    Civil Engineering,UT Knoxville, Michael L.


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (9:45 pm)

    #77 DonC

    Don’t spend too much time on the site. They slowly brainwashed me into being a libertarian and free market fan. Check out the Podcast on Iran. Also good ones on monetary policy.


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (9:50 pm)

    #85 Carcus

    Battery University is talking about standard Li-ion cells. Tesla is using those and yes, they have a 5 year life. The A123 nano-phosphate batteries use a different chemistry and will last at least 10 years, probably a lot longer. The manganese spinel chemistry used by LG is sort of a mystery to me but they must be competitive.

    Unlike some suggestions here, chemical reactions are generally predictable so you really don’t have to wait ten years to see how they’ll turn out. The A123 batteries have been extensively used commercially for almost three years and are featured in the KillaCycle, the fastest motorcycle in the world. Similar batteries by Valence are used in the Segway.

    GM has a big challenge with price. As should be clear from what Lutz is saying about battery performance, the batteries are not going to be a big deal.


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (10:08 pm)

    #92 Jackson,

    Hey Jackson, sorry about that. I can’t seem to find the “Chaotic Journey of 100,000 Soccer Moms in RAV4 EV’s” white paper study. All I could manage was a 12 page fairly detailed 5 vehicle study.

    I’ll bet there is some more detailed info on the NiMH’s out there. But based on your response, you’re really not interested. So why even ask?

    As for this part of your post:

    ” we don’t know what those kinds of results for Lithium Ion will be”

    I totally agree.


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (10:19 pm)

    So we should trash Lithium Ion and go with a conspiracy theory about GM’s “fishy” suppression of NiMH, is that what you’re saying, Caucus??

    No, that particular white paper doesn’t exist. Tell me who is making an all NiMH EREV or BEV with the kind of volume which could support such research.

    When you find out why (toxic materials, limited availability, lower energy density), you could have a clue as to why the Rav4-ev belongs to the past, not the future.

    No, I’m not even interested in a conspiracy theory concerning an older technology which has, frankly, had it’s day. Try putting a 40-mile AER capability based on NiMH into a vehicle with a 4-cylinder engine at a reasonable weight and cost and offer it for sale in the tens of thousands — and let us know how well that works for you.

    “And the NiMH batteries in the Rav4-ev are going strong after 10 years. Something’s fishy here.
    ————————————————–

    This keeps coming up. And probably should keep coming up.”


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (10:27 pm)

    I’ll go this far down that road — when some of the electric utilities which will be testing Japanese Lithium Ion vehicles have five years of data and release white papers, lets come back and compare, if this site is still up. Even though I think such a comparison will definitely be moot by that time.


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (10:46 pm)

    97 Jackson,

    Wow, touchy on this subject, huh?


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (10:52 pm)

    Noel@28 et al
    “…Tagamet put it as well as anybody, “Let’s just get the Volt’s wheels on the road!” Since I have plagarized it about 100 times, here is my modest proposal. Since we are blogging, and we already have JMHO, IMHO, LOL, ROTFLMAO, PDNFTT, and several others, how about LJGTVWOTR? Saves quite a few keystrokes over time.”

    I love it! And quite coincidentlty, my initials are</b LJG (Larry Joseph Geguzis – no, I didn’t make that up).
    As always, I’m honored, and I
    love the idea of a T-shirt. I’d make a neat “inside joke”. Until ,of course, the Volt becomes as ubiquitous as we all know it will!
    Be well all,
    Tag

    LJGTVWOTR?


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (10:55 pm)

    I wish we had that editing feature back!
    Be well,
    Tag
    LJGTVWOTR !


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    Dave G

     

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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (11:21 pm)

    With regard to the possibility of using NiMH batteries in the Volt, there are 3 problems:

    1) NiMH batteries are twice as big and twice as heavy as Li/Ion batteries.

    2) NiMH batteries self discharge. For example, if you leave it parked somewhere without a plug, it will discharge in a month or two.

    3) Most importantly, Chevron owns the patents on NiMH, and they won’t allow it to be used in any car that does use gas. Since the Volt doesn’t use gas most of the time, you can bet that Chevron won’t allow it.


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (11:32 pm)

    Some people at this sight obviously aren’t interested in any sort of discussion about the pros AND cons of the volt and it’s technology.

    Some people at this sight don’t even read the topic paragraphs posted for discussion, or they skip over anything that’s not completely volt positive.

    LUTZ said, “longevity is the unanswered question”

    LUTZ said, “…we’re assuming each car will need a replacement during the warranty period.”

    I’M not trashing lithium. I’m attempting to discuss the Volt battery choice and longevity.

    If you can’t talk about the plusses and minuses, the goods and the bads, the different possible options . . .. then what’s the point?

    You just want to sit in a circle, hold hands, and chant GO GM!?, GO
    VOLT!?


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (11:40 pm)

    Bob Lutz: “We’re being conservative on battery life. For our cost calculations we’re assuming each car will need a replacement during the warranty period.”
    —————————————————————————————-
    This does NOT surprise me! In fact, some here may recall that I’ve presented (more than once) compelling evidence that either battery bidder should be able to supply production quantities to GM for not more than about $3,500 each (about 2 months ago). But I’m glad to see Lutz’ explanation of why the Volt MSRP increased so much (for no reason I could understand). Now we know!

    Pricing in a replacement battery also explains how he justified the risk to the GM Board! At long last this dichotomy has been explained!!!


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    Sep 3rd, 2008 (11:58 pm)

    A couple of observations. First of all, we don’t know if the $10k number is true. That is just speculation. Second is they might have factored in the expected price decrease into the cost of the “second battery”. This will skew the numbers for people who are saying they are paying $20k for 2 batteries, or $10k extra for another battery which you might not use in the warranty period. It may be the case you are paying $10k for the first battery and $5k for the second due to expected lower costs. Or it may be the case the $10k number is completely wrong. Too many variables there to know how this affects purchase price.


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    Sep 4th, 2008 (12:45 am)

    #104 nasaman – I don’t think the Volt has an MSRP. They’re talking about costs, and it’s hard to know the cost of 50,000 Volts when the development bill runs somewhere between half a billion and one billion dollars. GM will struggle to make money on each Volt it makes and hopefully it will have the wherewithal to see the process through (Toyota made money on the third or fourth gen Prius, something like that).

    #103 Carcus – it’s hard to talk about the pros and cons of NiMH for the Volt when the energy density is such that they can’t be used. You can use these batteries in a Prius or an Aura but you can’t use them for the Volt with its 40 mile electric range. If energy density didn’t matter then GM could use Enerdel or Altairnano batteries.

    GM is auditioning two different battery chemistries. One of those has been in commercial use for almost three years and has outperformed expectations. You point out the cautionary statements made by Bob Lutz, but he has also said that the batteries have been eerily problem free. It’s not unreasonable to be positive about the batteries, and being positive about them doesn’t suggest a mindless acceptance of a bad idea. Sometimes technology delivers.


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    Sep 4th, 2008 (2:26 am)

    I just hope this isn’t a precursor to another price increase. “Well, we now believe the Volt will be around $50k because now we’re factoring in a battery replacement.” Ugh.

    Typical old fools at GM. They are concerned about their FAT payday, not making a car. Got to keep them in multiple houses and a boat in every harbor.

    They will screw this up and some other car company will give us what we want at the price we want. Per usual. Thanks for screwing the pooch again you old fools at GM. Here is an idea you can send around in a memo, “All old fools quit and let the younger generations run the company before you destroy what little is left.”


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    Sep 4th, 2008 (3:00 am)

    This is not fair. For being US government I would negotiate GM-Volt price when granting subsidy. I would say that lets calculate warrantee price for $ 10 000 battery pack.
    Let’s assume that GM has to replace all batteries after 10 years!!!! In that case average replacement time would be 5 years. I think such assumption would be on safe side after two years of testing in the end of 2010 when car sales start. In 2012 the warranty price shall be modified based on actual data. Let’s get to the figures. Let’s assume that battery price will not go down. Inflation rate would be 2%. Battery price in 2016 would be $ 10 824. Weighted Average Cost of Capital for GM should be no less than 12% (discount rate). Thant means, that today of $ 10 824 (2016) price (or Net Present Value) is $ 6 142. So Max 10 year warrantee price for battery pack shall be no more than $ 6 142.
    But above calculations assume lot of reservations for GM and real opportunity of extra profit– all batteries shall be replaced during 10 years, battery price shall not go down and battery pack price $ 10 000 is rather high, and possibly GM will have long term battery supply contract and price formula including battery warranty settlement. And most important the GM will have real data at the end of 2010 of two years permanent car and battery tests. In case of subsidy GM has to open all books.


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    Sep 4th, 2008 (3:05 am)

    Additionaly when replacing pattery you can recycle it and get back all the metal.


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    Sep 4th, 2008 (5:45 am)

    Tag, 101,

    Are you sure the editing feature is gone?

    Edit: It seems to work just fine. Perhaps it’s your browser?


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    Sep 4th, 2008 (6:24 am)

    Tag,

    I believe the edit feature works with certain browser settings or versions. It works for me on some computers and not others. Hopefully it doesn’t go hand in hand with the browser setting “I’m all yours hackerman”


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    Sep 4th, 2008 (6:31 am)

    It is going to be a long 25 months and 26 days…………….


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    Sep 4th, 2008 (6:53 am)

    Amul and Koz
    Thanks for the heads up. I DID just change my browser settings so I’ll fiddle with them a bit.
    Be well and thanks again,
    Tag


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    Sep 4th, 2008 (6:54 am)

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    Sep 4th, 2008 (7:13 am)

    Here it goes! Price of the volt varing by 50%, battery life varying by 50%, electric range varying, engine being changed out…..just wait, when the “real” volt running on the genset gets 20MPG (instead of the “target” 50MPG) the project will be dead.


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    Sep 4th, 2008 (7:23 am)

    THOM@116 said in part:

    …..just wait, when the “real” volt running on the genset gets 20MPG (instead of the “target” 50MPG) the project will be dead.

    Or 100 mpg on the genset. The point is, noone here knows.
    Be well,
    Tag


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    Sep 4th, 2008 (7:43 am)

    Anyone willing to forfeit a warranty on a brand new product is nuts. There warranty is there for a reason. Because they don’t really KNOW how long it’ll last, unless they’ve already tested the battery for the life of the warranty. Keep optimistic, and remember that warranties are there to protect the company and the consumer.


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    Sep 4th, 2008 (8:22 am)

    I find it Interesting that they are factoring in a 10K battery pack assuming a 100% fail rate. There is a simple sollution. GM could go ahead and charge the additional 10K for the “EXTRA BATTERY”, at year 9 and 11 months replace my old battery and put me a new one. By this time, my car has been paid off for nearly 5 years and I will have a brand new battery that should have another 10 year/150K mile warranty. Basically you get a 20 year / 300K mile warranty for 10K. What about that?

    Pino


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    Sep 4th, 2008 (8:23 am)

    Yeah, I’m touchy. I’m sick and tired of seeing that Rav4-ev brought up here, as though it proved something (usually negative) about the Volt (even though it’s an apples to oranges comparison, at best). I never heard of that @#$% thing before I got to this site: because it was yet another one of those “California only” things which could only survive with heavy ideological support.

    Maybe unshackling transportation from Oil is too big an expectation for just the Volt. If it just unshackles the electric car from the State of California (and all that goes with it) by proving there’s a market in the heartland, it will have opened the door: It and the EVs to come will achieve the larger objective.


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    Sep 4th, 2008 (8:50 am)

    Another interesting ‘behind the curtain’ look at GM’s math. Didn’t they end up replacing all the EV-1 battery packs at one point (maybe 3 years?) – different vehicle, different battery, but GM does have an inhouse lesson.

    I look at this as a positive sign that they are acknowledging that they must MEET and EXCEED consumer expectations on the VOLT. GM has so much at stake on this vehicle that they will cover all contingencies in their planning.

    Also, a look back at recent successful GM product launches will show that they have brought most vehicles to market at starting prices that are well below the ‘pre-launch’ hype. Look at these:

    06 Hummer H3 – pre-launch est high 30′s – actual launch @ $29,995
    06 Cadillac CTS – pre-launch est mid 30′s – actual launch @ $29,900
    08 Chev Malibu – pre-launch est low 20′s – actual launch @ $19,995

    I have faith the VOLT will come to life at a price point that won’t break the bank.


  122. 122
    Jeff M

     

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    Sep 4th, 2008 (9:10 am)

    Dave G regarding weight size of NiMH vs. Li-Ion…. keep in mind that the chemistry/design of the Li-Ion packs going into the Volt are only using 50% of their capacity…. and I could be very well mistaken but the Cobasys NiMH packs in the Rav4-EV (and were in the EV1 and maybe others) use a much bigger range (ie. “deep cycle”) of the raw capacity (90%+)….

    …. bottom line is that they would probably be roughly equiv, or if anything for the same size pack the NiMH could probably give the Volt more than 40 miles/charge.

    But yea, bummer GM sold the patent to Chevron (well technically Texaco 1 week before it was announced Chevron would aquire them).

    More info on the EV1/Rav4EV batteries at http://ev1.org/chevron.htm

    edit: LeoK… the original EV1′s used lead acid batteries, and worse, they were faulty, made by GM’s Delco division. So yea, they replaced them.


  123. 123
    Jim I

     

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    Sep 4th, 2008 (10:13 am)

    This warranty issue has my interest.

    I hear some of you saying “Replace my batteries at nine years, and I am good for another nine”. Do you people regularly really keep your cars for 18+ years? Do you expect the Volt to be reliable and have low cost mainrenance for that long?

    I can understand being concerned about a warranty for 150K miles, but I have never kept a car for more than nine years. My average is about seven years and around 100K miles. At that point, other parts and the body start to become maintenance issues. Plus the interior starts to look shabby. So that is when I start looking at the new cars in the magazines.

    So how about the rest of you?


  124. 124
    noel park

     

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    Sep 4th, 2008 (11:45 am)

    #123 Jim I:

    We bought our Impala SS new in June of 1995. It runs fine and looks good. We have had very few problems with it. It shows 118K miles. Except for what has happened with the price of gas, we would probably drive it another 100K. It is much cheaper to do the maintenance that it is to buy new cars, IMHO.

    Even so, the Volt is going to have to be pretty special to lure my wife out of her beloved SS.

    My 2000 S-10 has 208K miles, also with very few problems. I will drive it until if falls apart, or until Chevy comes up with a light truck which gets better mileage.

    Our 85 Suburban had 430K miles on it when we finally gave it up in 2005 for a more capable tow rig. Granted that it had had one new engine and 3 !@#$%^ 700R transmissions before we finally gave up and put in a Turbo 400. Even so, 430K miles? Not bad.


  125. 125
    Jackson

     

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    Sep 4th, 2008 (1:23 pm)

    Good point, Jim I (long car-replacement-cycle folks excepted), the real question may be — is the warranty transferrable to the next owner (which might be someone on this site’s waiting list, at expected new-Volt pricing)?


  126. 126
    Joe OBrien

     

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    Sep 4th, 2008 (4:12 pm)

    If they make it too expensive, the masses will go elsewhere. By 2010 there will be other electrics available.

    I hope they don’t price it out of reason, but this is all just a guess as we are two years away no matter what.


  127. 127
    Grizzly

     

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    Sep 4th, 2008 (8:13 pm)

    Spin #5

    “I’ll trade the warranty for $10,000. Give me a Volt for $30,000 with no warranty and I’ll take my chances.”

    *** *** ***

    This has been discussed many times on this site. Some, myself included, thought this would be an option because of a potential batt. upgrade in 5 or so years. However, looking at this from GM’s perspective there is also a legal issue in that often in many states there is an implied warranty which GM must honor regardless.


  128. 128
    jim

     

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    Sep 8th, 2008 (2:34 pm)

    Well looks bad for us poor folks, I guess what am saying who killed the electric car…GM…With the high price tag.


  129. 129
    Brian

     

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    Sep 8th, 2008 (10:27 pm)

    They better make these batteries user friendly. I am going to take mine into my house each night out of fear that someone can steal a 10,000 dollar battery. Imagine the black market value of these things?


  130. 130
    Watch Naruto

     

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    Dec 5th, 2009 (5:35 am)

    nice post here mate! It’s great to finally see other people online that think the same way that I do! im gonna save your website in my favorites so i can come back later!


  131. 131
    Dwana Bachorski

     

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    Mar 6th, 2010 (1:38 am)

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