Apr 26

GM’s Tony Posawatz talks about Chevrolet Volt cost reduction

 

Last week at the EDTA conference we had opportunity to sit down with Vehicle Line Director for the Chevrolet Volt, Tony Posawatz, to discuss myriad issues including future cost cutting.

Posawatz said his days start at 5 a.m. and the Chevrolet Volt is keeping him even more busy now that it is in production. When we caught up with him around 6 p.m., he was still on the go, manning the Volt display, energetically engaging visitors and industry peers.

As we were talking, a man came up smiling, shook hands all around, and greeted Posawatz.

He was a leader from Delphi automotive components, Posawatz explained.


Costs for this car will come down, but that doesn’t mean it will be cheapened.

“So, we’re seeking he and his team to develop us a lot of good, highly efficient, low-cost components for the future.” Posawatz said with humor in his voice.

“We’ll get it,” came the reply with a grin.

“See, and he is committed,” Posawatz said to laughter.

As we had already been discussing the car, I could not help but take the bait and open up the broader question.

“Is that how you are going to cut the cost for the Volt,” I asked.

“We have a lot of ways, lot of ways to cut the cost,” Posawatz said.

I replied everyone is curious because a couple weeks ago GM’s Vice President of Global R&D, Alan Taub, stated unequivocally that GM was “on track” to meet a target. So, how would GM get production costs down? Would it consider stripping the Volt, making it cheaper somehow?

“None of that,” Posawatz said, “But I just told the last gentleman: like any new technology, whether it be the $4,000 cell phone, plasma screen TV, you know, computer storage – they all have their costs. It’s no different from the first high-volume battery.”


Tony Posawatz is also co-chairman of EDTA’s board of directors. Manning the booth, he entertained one and all.

In a nutshell, Posawatz said Volt supply contracts were made when GM’s credibility was at a low point. To some, the Volt was possibly another experimental car with no guarantees.

“So some of the original cost we have is cost that is probably higher than it needs to be because the suppliers were either reluctant to enter the business, there was no competition for it, or there was no assured high volume,” Posawatz said, “Some of those things have changed.”

Earlier that day, Posawatz had told a breakout session audience his theme centered around the Bob Dylan lyrics: “The times, they are a-changin.’” While he was referring to GM’s overall involvement in the EV industry, it seemed clear this theme was resonating deeper into contributory aspects, including the Volt’s production cost.

“As we increase our volume, contractual relationships will change with higher volume price comes down,” Posawatz said. “As we resource [battery] cells and they no longer come from Korea, and they are going to come across the state from Holland, Michigan, do you know how much money is reduced?”

After the Holland plant is up and running, he said, a major part of the Volt’s cost will come down, without stripping any quality out of the car. This will happen after GM is sure its domestic plant can reliably produce LG Chem’s “secret recipe” for its batteries.

“So, some time in 2012, we haven’t stated the date, they are on track to build their plant, upgrade their facilities, their capacity,” Posawatz said, “But that’s just one example where I don’t think shipping the cells across state versus from Korea with duties, tariffs, special refrigerant – expensive refrigerant – and temperature control [will cost nearly as much].”


EDTA had a test drive set up for the present, and thus far only Volt. In the background is the convention center where the conference was held.

“Can you put a dollar amount on it,” I asked.

“No, no, we’re staying away from that. Posawatz said. “I know Alan quoted a dollar amount.”

“No, he actually didn’t and he didn’t answer specifically,” I said of a question whether it was a $10,000 target set by GM CEO Dan Akerson.

“Oh, OK,” he said, “I thought he quoted that, but we have thousands of dollars that will come out of the car.”

“’On track’ implies $10,000,” I added, “but he didn’t state it.”

“Well again that’s speculation as to what the ultimate target is, but we feel very good that some of these enablers that I identified and levers that I indicated [will have their effect],” he said, “I challenge people to be able to see if they know where the cost comes out because so much of it is commercial.”

“Another thing,” I replied, “is some are saying even if you do reduce production cost, you’ll just say ‘great, we’ll just keep that as profit,’ and keep selling the car at the same MSRP assuming the market bears that. Would you do that?”

“I think we have a lot of options in the future,” Posawatz said, “I think that the possibility of having a broader price range in the Volt is highly likely including lower price points to start off – especially if you want to have greater volume.”

Would you ever sell the Volt for $35,000,” I asked.

“We’ll see how that all plays out in the future. We don’t make those kinds of pricing decisions now,” he said, “Then again the simple fact is the Volt in 2011 comes with nav[igation] standard. Future cars won’t have nav standard. It comes with the Bose Energy Efficient Sound System standard. It comes with so much stuff loaded into the car; the five years of OnStar.”


Current models are loaded. There will likely be versions made available with fewer options. This plus other cost savings will give Chevrolet the option to price the Volt lower.

“What’s going to change when you get your U.S.-made engine on line,” I asked.

“Not much. Effectively it’s another example of a cost reduction,” he said, because it will be another major component now made in-state, without international shipping fees.

“We feel very, very good about where we’re going, and its not like this is a new plan,” Posawatz said, “This is the plan all along to work the cost out. Some of the contacts were set up frankly because our first year volume was low.”

In his outgoing, engaging manner, Posawatz commented on those who have tried to research GM’s initial Volt production cost.

“This is why we laugh a little about people who claim they know what the cost of the car is,” he said, “OK, that may be the cost for the first 10,000 cars, but it is not [the cost for] the lion’s share of the cars that we will produce at high volume for mass market.”

Our thanks to Tony for taking time to graciously answer questions at the end of a long day.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 26th, 2011 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 60


  1. 1
    Raymondjram

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (6:52 am)

    Great article (again).

    The lowered sale price will convince some fencesitters here in this forum to make the decision to buy the Volt in the near future. I expect to see the first sale price reduction for the 2012 model, since it has very little changes with the 2011 model. The new question is how much would that price reduction be, probably as much as the question ($6,400?). A $10,000 reduction would kill off any competition, as we have read about from other manufacturers who haven’t started production (not counting the Nissan Leaf) and cannot reduce prices yet.

    I am still waiting for the Volt to become available in my market area, and I have not seen any news, either from Chevrolet (GM), or from my dealer in respect to the local Volt offering. I do expect to see the first Volt (maybe a 2012 model) during the annual Motor Trend Car Show, so I can convince my wife and let her see what the Volt looks like up close and from the inside.

    If the 2012 model year production is also limited, I will wait until the 2013 model arrives. This would give me another year to save for the down payment, and by that time GM would have applied another price reduction. So I must spend more on gas (maybe up to $1.25 a liter) and suffer more “Volt envy” until I can finally buy my own Chevy Volt.

    Raymond


  2. 2
    nasaman

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (7:54 am)

    An excellent interview, Jeff! I first met Tony in NYC about 3 years ago and talked one-on-one with him at some length about the Volt —in effect, I did an informal interview with him that I recorded (I still have the recording). He’s a no-nonsense guy as well as a “straight arrow”, and IMHO we can count on what he says.

    The highlights of this interview, to me, are 1) that “In a nutshell, Posawatz said Volt supply contracts were made when GM’s credibility was at a low point. To some, the Volt was possibly another experimental car with no guarantees” and 2) that, although Tony didn’t specifically confirm the $10,000 cost reduction target set by GM CEO Dan Akerson, he didn’t deny it either.

    So in the context of the recent MSRP announcements for Mitsui’s “i”, Coda, Tesla’s model S, etc.,
    if the base 2012 or -13 Volt’s MSRP is ~$31K even our own Capt Jack might decide to buy one.


  3. 3
    Gsned57

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (8:03 am)

    Fantastic news! This is one instance where I’m glad the article focused on contracts and business vs. engineering. It’s great to hear that they aren’t gutting the quality to bring cost down. The last thing GM needs is for these cars to get a bad quality RAP. Even 35,000 is a bit pricey for the car (certainly worth it but still pricey). I’ll be interested to see where the price eventually gets but I think if they could have the entry level model start at $29,999 after incentives they’ll have hit the mark. In my mind that’d be paying an extra $10,000 for the electric drive over a comparable $20,000 ICE model. Again great post and thanks for pushing the $$$ question to GM. Price and availability are the only impediments at this point.


  4. 4
    Rashiid Amul

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (8:06 am)

    From the article
    “As we increase our volume, contractual relationships will change with higher volume price comes down,” Posawatz said. “As we resource [battery] cells and they no longer come from Korea, and they are going to come across the state from Holland, Michigan, do you know how much money is reduced?”

    I would have sworn the battery plant was being built in the same neighborhood at the Hamtramck plant. But I guess when comparing Holland, MI to South Korea, it is the same neigborhood.


  5. 5
    Roy_H

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (8:10 am)

    I believe that Nissan has been selling the LEAF significantly below cost with the view that the cost will come down when they reach full production. GM could not afford to do the same with the Volt but they most certainly will pass on cost reductions because they know that is required to achieve their target production numbers.

    A good point about other manufacturers entering the EV and PHEV market, they will not be as able to charge high initial prices because they will have to compete with established players. Since they are late entrants, they will have to sell first year production at a loss. On the other hand, if they are like Ford, and can buy from the same suppliers as GM, they get the benefits of GM driving down the price of these parts. This is part of the reason Ford has gone with purchasing the same batteries as GM for their Focus EV. The other reason is that GM did major research to establish that these batteries were the most suitable on the market, and Ford did not have to repeat that research. By following in GM’s footsteps Ford can save a LOT of money.


  6. 6
    Mark Z

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (8:16 am)

    This interview has been written in a very personal style that shares the personality and humanity of a very busy GM executive. If there are another seven topics to be read about the conference, then this is another home run in the second inning of the ball game! Way to go, Jeff!

    Cost reductions are challenging when a product is “perfect.” Apple is fortunate to keep prices the same and improve the features. GM plans to remove features and lower the price. I would suggest that the “fully loaded” 2012 Volt have more features than the 2011 model at the same MSRP or less.


  7. 7
    Schmeltz

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (8:19 am)

    Another great article Jeff–Thanks! A Tony Posawatz interview is always a great catch!

    I’ve thought for awhile now that GM could realize some “easy” savings by changing where they source their components such as Tony’s mention of the Holland Michigan battery plant to come on-line. I can also see making some features as options rather than standard such as Nav. and 5 years On-Star. But I wonder if the multiple electric range scenario is being considered such as a 25 mile AER version to start as the base Volt? I personally like the current 40 mile range number but if a shorter AER gets more people buying these cars now, maybe that’s something that should be put on the table.


  8. 8
    MichaelH

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (8:25 am)

    OT, but of general interest. Pardon me for posting a repeat from the end of yesterday’s thread, but I thought people who didn’t see it would be interested.

    Forum member “the 43k” posted this homemade commercial on the forums under the thread “My spoof Volt version of the Chrysler 200 Superbowl ad” (Spoof Eminem – Volt). You really need to watch it (two minutes).

    http://youtu.be/Jb3ywheow-Q

    “This is what we do!” Don’t you love it?


  9. 9
    kdawg

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (8:31 am)

    ““So some of the original cost we have is cost that is probably higher than it needs to be because the suppliers were either reluctant to enter the business, there was no competition for it, or there was no assured high volume,” Posawatz said, “Some of those things have changed.”

    ———–

    In other words, “beat up the vendors”…. typical GM. (sorry, i have personal experience w/this)


  10. 10
    MichaelH

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (8:50 am)

    kdawg: typical GM

    I took Tony’s comments on this more as acknowledging the low perception of GM at the time and the real uncertainty of EV, EVRE, and the Volt, than a comment about the vendors. Remember all the vaporware talk here when GM was trying to forge ahead. JMHO.


  11. 11
    Dan Petit

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (8:51 am)

    Where there can be a cost savings by dropping the expensive sound system, (and assure the same electric range) this ought not be so big of a decision.

    Out here in the aftermarket, when some new driver has installed an eighty-amp-draw sound system, we always have to disconnect it to begin a diagnosis. Always

    99 percent of the time, it has to stay disconnected,
    because it is one kilowatt** of demand,
    which is most of what **only a new electrical system** is capable of. (But not for long at that even!!!)
    New drivers usually are in old cars and trucks. Yet there is this visceral motivation, of course, to go right over there to the customized “ear-blaster” sound system store, and be allowed by the guy who needs to make a two thousand dollar sale that day, to install something that will blow out the automatic transmission, or, if he is very very lucky, to have the PCM and five subprocessors set a dozen codes before that happens.

    But 99 percent of the rest of us do not need to be subjected to deafness.. It really is a no brainer to loose the bose (though it is a fine system, my tin ears have no perceived value for it).

    So, if there is a competition of sorts for quality sound with no brands mentioned, that might be an easy way to cut costs. After all, the luxury is the quietness in the first place, and, high wattage is totally unneeded by 99 percent of us to hear some serene sound if we want it.


  12. 12
    Rashiid Amul

     

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (9:01 am)

    From the article
    I replied everyone is curious because a couple weeks ago GM’s Vice President of Global R&D, Alan Taub, stated unequivocally that GM was “on track” to meet a target. So, how would GM get production costs down? Would it consider stripping the Volt, making it cheaper somehow?

    “None of that,” Posawatz said, “But I just told the last gentleman: like any new technology, whether it be the $4,000 cell phone, plasma screen TV, you know, computer storage – they all have their costs. It’s no different from the first high-volume battery.”

    And then……

    Would you ever sell the Volt for $35,000,” I asked.

    “We’ll see how that all plays out in the future. We don’t make those kinds of pricing decisions now,” he said, “Then again the simple fact is the Volt in 2011 comes with nav[igation] standard. Future cars won’t have nav standard. It comes with the Bose Energy Efficient Sound System standard. It comes with so much stuff loaded into the car; the five years of OnStar.”

    I have a tremendous amount for respect for Tony Posawatz. Like Nasaman, I also spoke with him
    at Voltnation in NYC. But this sounds a little like double-speak. One point he says they will not strip down the car and next point he implies they will.

    I’d say he is being very careful about what he is telling (and not telling) Jeff.
    I guess there is no point to giving away all the secrets. ;)


  13. 13
    Tim Hart

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (9:13 am)

    Thanks for the interview Jeff. Its good to hear a confirmation on GM’s efforts to reduce the cost of future Volts. I’ve never been worried about future Volts having less quality and would prefer a lot less electronic gadgetry than the current car. A sizable cost reduction for a no frills entry model would be what a lot of us would hope for IMHO.


  14. 14
    kdawg

     

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (9:21 am)

    Jeff – good job not letting him off the hook and pushing the questions. I think Tony does give us the most reliable information, so the more you can get out of him the better.

    Interesting how much $ it appears they’ll save from the Holland battery plant. Good news for Ford and other LG customers using those batteries.


  15. 15
    kdawg

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (9:22 am)

    If GM reduces the cost by removing the bells & whistles, what will the price be if I add back the bells & whisltes? Will it be more than $41K? If so, a “price-reduced” Volt, will actually cost me more than the current model.


  16. 16
    Jeff Cobb

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (9:29 am)

    Thanks to everyone who has had positive comments. Much appreciated. -Jeff


  17. 17
    Jeff Cobb

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (9:40 am)

    Rashiid Amul,

    Yes and no. I really doubt he would have said “yes we will cheapen and strip it.” And in fact, this is correct. Lower price can be done by cutting the cost of core components like battery pack and engine, other contract supplied parts, but quality will still be there. Of course he did not lay out all their plans either because he knew I was recording every word. When it comes to reducing costly (now standard) amenities that could really be sold as options, I don’t see that as cheapening the car or stripping it. I see it as cutting out stuff some people will do without. Removing a fancy radio and Nav doesn’t really constitute stripping it either. I doubt you’ll ever see hand crank windows, manual locks, and steel wheels with hub caps on the car. That would be stripped.

    As for the value proposition, think a little further. If GM has $1 billion in the car, and slow production of 10k units this year and 45k units next, plus European sales of less than this, how long do you think it will take to get its money back out? It is still spending lots of money in marketing and promoting the car, and on future R&D.

    They will have to be savvy and look for between the cracks marketing opportunities beyond the sale of the units to leverage profitability. And they are doing that. As it is, the car is a bargain at $41k. I do not know, but would not be surprised to hear GM’s actual cost is very high or higher – regardless of what they let the dealers have them for so they will be motivated to sell, and still make a profit.

    This info could be taken either way: wait and see, or realize what a value GM is offering its early adopters. If you can afford it great. If not, hold on. Either way, I don’t think it’s a bad deal.


  18. 18
    crew

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (9:56 am)

    kdawg, I really don’t think you’re reading much into the article. The cost reductions outlined here are for the battery mostly. Tony touches on the ICE a little, but think a little. Contractual components include the gear set, electric motors/generators, drive line controls and even the console and LCD. 4 items that will not change in appearance but will have significant enough cost reductions to reduce the price of the Volt as equipped today. I certainly understand anyone’s fear that a loaded Volt will cost more than it does today but I don’t think it will.

    Early adopters are ponying up for the car today and are happy to pay the price for a fantastic car and for the shear appreciation that the car even exists on the showroom floor and are rewarded by owning a rare bird. When a lower price point hits the market, the majority of the cars sold will be at the lower end of the MSRP. The high end vehicles just might be sitting on the lots longer than GM wants them to. A loaded Volt will be nice to own but, to me, just doesn’t fit into the GM price, model, division separation structure.

    Now a little speculation for a higher price point car. The European built Ampera can conceivably be an entirely different model, same basic layout, but different enough that it doesn’t share too many components. If the changes are great enough to differentiate the Volt from the Ampera as a different car entirely, then a higher end Volt could be a Buick imported Ampera. And then I can see a higher price point and content value above the current Volt.

    Exciting times coming up. The automotive landscape within GM alone will be almost unrecognizable from what we saw just 2 years ago.


  19. 19
    Rashiid Amul

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (10:27 am)

    Jeff Cobb,

    Well said. Time will tell.
    I just hope they don’t trade quality and reliability for the lower price.


  20. 20
    Jeff Cobb

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (10:33 am)

    Rashiid Amul,

    Thanks. They know they cannot afford to, so I hope and trust they won’t either. After the EV1 PR mistake, GM is doing all it can to make that a distant memory, not have any revisits. Post bankruptcy, this company is on its toes showing it has what it takes. As you say, time will tell, but I’m sure they are more than aware of these realities.


  21. 21
    DonC

     

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (10:39 am)

    kdawg: In other words, “beat up the vendors”…. typical GM. (sorry, i have personal experience w/this)

    Oh yes. Then again if the volumes are a lot better and the risk is less, then at the end of the day getting beaten up may be OK. Hopefully GM has a better relationship with its suppliers than it has had in the past.

    This is a wonderful interview but there isn’t much new information. The cost reductions are: (1) costs beaten out of the suppliers by offering higher volumes; (2) costs taken out of the car by making standard equipment into options; (3) costs saved by producing locally.

    I’d like an upgraded cabin and a greater range (and a faster 0-30 time for you). Maybe they’ll have a Buick version? If they built the Converj and sold it as a Buick I guarantee they’d sell a lot of units. When they killed the Converj they said they couldn’t hit their performance and price targets. I think that was simply wrong. To me Buick has more interesting and younger designs than Cadillac, so maybe that brand is more welcoming to a different type of car.


  22. 22
    Schmeltz

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (11:38 am)

    DonC: Maybe they’ll have a Buick version?

    How ’bout a BUICK ELECTRA?


  23. 23
    Noel Park

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (11:49 am)

    Rashiid Amul: I’d say he is being very careful about what he is telling (and not telling) Jeff.
    I guess there is no point to giving away all the secrets.

    #12

    Well they do obviously have to be very careful what they say. The easy way would be for him to be unavailable at all, or answer “no comment”. So give him credit for taking the risk of being interviewed and putting his foot in his mouth. A great talent of mine BTW, LOL.


  24. 24
    Noel Park

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (11:50 am)

    Tim Hart: I’ve never been worried about future Volts having less quality and would prefer a lot less electronic gadgetry than the current car.

    #13

    Amen. +1


  25. 25
    Noel Park

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (11:52 am)

    kdawg:
    If GM reduces the cost by removing the bells & whistles, what will the price be if I add back the bells & whisltes?Will it be more than $41K?If so, a “price-reduced” Volt, will actually cost me more than the current model.

    #15

    That’s a rhetorical question, right? Do you even have to ask, LOL?


  26. 26
    Noel Park

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (11:55 am)

    Jeff Cobb: This info could be taken either way: wait and see, or realize what a value GM is offering its early adopters. If you can afford it great. If not, hold on. Either way, I don’t think it’s a bad deal.

    #17

    That’s the most positive statement I’ve heard in quite awhile. Thanks. +1


  27. 27
    Noel Park

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (11:58 am)

    crew: Exciting times coming up. The automotive landscape within GM alone will be almost unrecognizable from what we saw just 2 years ago.

    #18

    True that. +1

    Every time I look at my Volt I wonder what we will be seeing 10 years from today. The Volt is such a leap forward that it makes me realize that almost anything is possible.


  28. 28
    CaptJackSparrow

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (12:00 pm)

    kdawg: In other words, “beat up the vendors”

    YES!!!!

    +1, I’d give you more but can’t.
    The Vendors are always the first ones to get hit with demands for cost reduction, sometimes with threats of going elsewhere.

    Just ask LG Chem. They have already been asked about cost reductions, even before the Volt was on the road.


  29. 29
    CaptJackSparrow

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (12:13 pm)

    Dan Petit: It really is a no brainer to loose the bose….

    +1 !!!!!

    I don’t need that schtuff either. The center console screen could go too……

    Warning: Broken record….

    No Power Windows
    No Power Adjust Seats
    No Power Side view mirrors
    No Power Sunroof (Actually No Sunroof at all!!)
    No Power Door Locks
    No Power Trunk lock
    No Radio (Remember that fiasco? – Get an iPod)
    No Heated Seats
    No GPS (My Phone has one and it WORKs!)
    No OnStar!!! Yuk, Phoey!

    KISS!

    /cost AND weight reduction…..


  30. 30
    kdawg

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (12:20 pm)

    CaptJackSparrow,

    GM will go to all of its vendors and get bids, it will then cut 10% off the lowest bid and say this is the “target price”. If there are still more than 2 bidders, GM will do an online reverse-auction and the lowest bidder wins. The winning bidder is either selling at cost praying for no problems, or selling below cost just hoping to get a foot in the door with GM (pour soul), or hoping to make up losses via change orders. Sometimes a vendor can still squeeze a profit, but those are typically the “minority vendors” which GM is requires its suppliers to use, and can charge more.

    I’d rather see engineering/mfg process changes to reduce the Volt’s cost, rather than putting the suppliers out of business, thus forcing outsourcing to poverty-stricken nations. The battery is more of a special (and public) case, but I can imagine all of the other Volt parts going through the above process.


  31. 31
    BLIND GUY

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (12:33 pm)

    Yes, I would like the ability to choose if I want a base line model or fully loaded or something in between. Some of us would also like some choices for AER; keeping in mind that having a battery smaller than 16 kwh will lower tax credit eligibility amounts. I certainly hope GM is talking with other battery companies like Planner and DBM so that when game changing batteries are proven, GM won’t be left behind. Also, if that new Shockwave Disc engine is affordable and practical; it might make a great range extender engine IMHO. Finally, a lower price tag would be great to have while tax credits are still available; which is when many opportunistic people would want to buy an EV.


  32. 32
    N Riley

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (12:36 pm)

    Great report, Jeff. And some really good comments from all of you. I will give you all a +1 vote.


  33. 33
    CaptJackSparrow

     

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (12:40 pm)

    kdawg: hoping to make up losses via change orders.

    lol…
    That reminds of a product way back in my mfgring years on a Govt contract. The Govt asked if we could not paint the product so we charged them for the “Change Order” despite the fact that we’d use no paint nor pay the paint booth peeps to tool up to paint. Then they asked us if we could not put the company logo, name and model number on the product “just in case it got into the wrong hands…”. So we charged them for that too. Then they asked if the products can be shipped without the end caps to the RF SMA connectors, they got tired of them building up and throwing them away. So we charged them for that was well. They made a few other changes as well. In the end, they actually paid more than the initial bid while we did less.


  34. 34
    nasaman

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (12:44 pm)

    OT breaking news: Both Volt & Leaf have achieved the highest possible ratings for front, side, rear and rollover protection. There was no damage to either car’s battery; in fact the added battery weight for both was said to be an advantage in terms of both better handling and better energy absorption. Both were named Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) ‘Top Safety Picks’.


  35. 35
    larry4pyro

     

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (12:51 pm)

    It sounds as if the interior equipment in the 2012 base Volt will be reduced and instead be available as options.

    The public has become accoustomed to the $41K price, now if GM could reduce the MSRP to $35K I think many will consider it a bargin, or at least reasonable.


  36. 36
    CaptJackSparrow

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (1:03 pm)

    nasaman: OT breaking news: Both Volt & Leaf have achieved the highest possible ratings for front, side, rear and rollover protection. There was no damage to either car’s battery; in fact the added battery weight for both was said to be an advantage in terms of both better handling and better energy absorption. Both were named Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) ‘Top Safety Picks’.

    I hope that translates to cheaper insurance. :-)


  37. 37
    Noel Park

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (1:10 pm)

    N Riley: Great report, Jeff. And some really good comments from all of you. I will give you all a +1 vote.

    #32

    Same to you and more of it, LOL. +1


  38. 38
    kdawg

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (2:10 pm)

    BLIND GUY: I certainly hope GM is talking with other battery companies like Planner and DBM so that when game changing batteries are proven, GM won’t be left behind.

    I believe GM is testing something like 300 different battery technologies in its battery test center. I think they are on top of most what’s out there.


  39. 39
    Jason M. Hendler

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (2:40 pm)

    Jeff,

    Another great article. I read your replies yesterday, and a long article to start, with subsequent articles expounding on the first IS the “best of both worlds”.

    Again, great article.


  40. 40
    JohnK

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (2:47 pm)

    kdawg: In other words, “beat up the vendors”…. typical GM. (sorry, i have personal experience w/this)

    I too have personal experience with this and it goes both ways. In this case it goes against GM during the startup of the Volt. When volume goes up (120,000 units in 2012?) then it will benefit both GM and the suppliers. When costs have to be squeezed more and more yes it “flows downhill”, but that will be years in the future.


  41. 41
    Jeff Cobb

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (2:49 pm)

    Jason M. Hendler:
    Jeff,

    Another great article.I read your replies yesterday, and a long article to start, with subsequent articles expounding on the first IS the “best of both worlds”.

    Again, great article.

    Thanks, much appreciated. I have maybe a couple more I could do, but that’s all I’ll hint at for now. :)


  42. 42
    JohnK

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (2:49 pm)

    CaptJackSparrow: I hope that translates to cheaper insurance.

    Yes it does. My insurance sales person thought it quite odd that a new high-end car would be less than a 10 year old mini-van, but it was. Now we know why.


  43. 43
    Kent

     

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (3:08 pm)

    Off Topic….

    I just got my production number for a 2012 Volt and have placed my order with SPX for a free charger and I also qualify for the $1,200 tax credit. Has anyone here already gone through this process (I’m sure someone has!)? Can you please tell me what I can expect for the final cost of installing this free charger?

    Thanks!!!


  44. 44
    George S. Bower

     

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (3:12 pm)

    Interesting that the batteries need to be in a climate controlled atmosphere to make the trip….I guess it’s obvious but something I had not considered. So not only do you save the cost of shipping the batteries you save the cost of the A/C systems plus the cost of the energy to keep them cool.


  45. 45
    kdawg

     

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (3:19 pm)

    Kent: Off Topic….
    I just got my production number for a 2012 Volt and have placed my order with SPX for a free charger and I also qualify for the $1,200 tax credit. Has anyone here already gone through this process (I’m sure someone has!)? Can you please tell me what I can expect for the final cost of installing this free charger?
    Thanks!!!

    I haven’t, but since you brought up the charger, has anyone installed one on the outside of their home? They are outdoor rated, but I was curious if anyone had any problems doing this and how it held up to the weather?


  46. 46
    Noel Park

     

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (3:20 pm)

    JohnK: Yes it does. My insurance sales person thought it quite odd that a new high-end car would be less than a 10 year old mini-van, but it was. Now we know why.

    #42

    Yeah, I was pleasantly surprised as well. A bit more than my Cobalt, but a lot less than I expected. +1


  47. 47
    Noel Park

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (3:26 pm)

    Kent: Has anyone here already gone through this process (I’m sure someone has!)? Can you please tell me what I can expect for the final cost of installing this free charger?

    #43

    After I talked to their approved electrical contractor it was clear to me that the $1200 wasn’t going to cover the installation. I canceled it and went with the Voltec unit even though I had to pay for it. The “free” unit is rated at 40 amps so that it can charge BEVs. The Volt only needs a 20 amp circuit, which I had already. They were talking about new conduits, bigger wires, yada, yada, yada. I just punted. Others here have reported the same. Find out how much the installation is going to cost before you pass the point of no return is my advice.


  48. 48
    David Murray

     

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (3:43 pm)

    Keep in mind that most manufacturers are reluctant to talk about cost reductions of future products. After all, if you knew the price would drop by $10,000 in 6 months, would you buy one now or wait 6 months? GM would rather sell what they have now at the price they are asking, and drop the price when they are ready.


  49. 49
    MichaelH

     

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (4:46 pm)

    kdawg: I haven’t, but since you brought up the charger, has anyone installed one on the outside of their home? They are outdoor rated, but I was curious if anyone had any problems doing this and how it held up to the weather?

    I did. It was no problem. I did have to use weather resistant conduit connections. It’s been up since March 10th with absolutely no problems.

    1zn54km.jpg


  50. 50
    Kent

     

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (5:24 pm)

    MichaelH,

    Is yours the Voltec unit or the freebie from SPX (I’m not sure what the difference is)? Would you mind sharing how much this unit cost and what was the cost of installation?


  51. 51
    MichaelH

     

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (5:46 pm)

    Kent:
    MichaelH,
    Is yours the Voltec unit or the freebie from SPX (I’m not sure what the difference is)?Would you mind sharing how much this unit cost and what was the cost of installation?

    This is the Voltec Charging Station purchased through SPX. It cost $490 plus tax and shipping. Total price to my door was $540. If you decide to get one and do it yourself, there are a couple little tips that will help you.

    I did everything myself except the final connections. I hired a licensed electrician to get the permit and call in the inspector. 3 hours of his time (don’t ask), the permit cost, and some “overhead” (don’t ask about that either), came to about $350. I probably spent about $300 in parts and supplies. The lines go from the breaker box in the back of the house to the front of the house by way of the basement ceiling. Probably about 35 feet.

    If you look carefully below the Voltec, you will see a dedicated 120V duplex GFCI that was part of the installation. So those parts and supplies costs include a 240V line and a 120V line. If you could look even more carefully you would see the little “this outlet reserved for Volt” outlet covers that I got from Tagamet. :-)


  52. 52
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    Apr 26th, 2011 (6:03 pm)

    MichaelH,

    That’s pretty cool. Not sure where you live if you will ever see snow. I’m wondering if I can put a pole up so that I dont have to attach it to my house. I could run the 220 line under the ground. But this is if I even get the 220V charger. 120V charging overnight would work just fine.


  53. 53
    Kent

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (6:18 pm)

    Noel Park,

    Noel,

    What’s the difference between the “free” unit and the Voltec unit? According to MichaelH above (#51), the Voltec unit is from SPX so it should also be the “free” unit.


  54. 54
    Noel Park

     

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (6:56 pm)

    Kent: What’s the difference between the “free” unit and the Voltec unit? According to MichaelH above (#51), the Voltec unit is from SPX so it should also be the “free” unit.

    #53

    The “free” unit is different from the Voltec. I think that it is made by Coulomb. It is rated at 40 amps so that it can charge both Volts and BEVs such as the Leaf. It has some kind of a feedback loop so that they can monitor your usage, which is why the DOE is subsidizing it AFAIK. SPX sells both. Go figure. If you aren’t confused enough yet, just keep working on this charging unit issue and you will be, LOL.


  55. 55
    Noel Park

     

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (7:02 pm)

    A bit OT, but our local NPR station had an interesting feature this afternoon on the “Prius shortage” in SoCal. Apparently, at least partly due to the tsunami, they can’t keep up with demand at the moment. They interviewed 2 dealers who said that they were buying every used Prius they could find and urging customers to turn in leased cars early so that they could have something on their lots. They said that the NADA used car pricing guide showed that the price of used Prii had gone up 30% since the first of the year.

    Window of opportunity for GM? “Churn out the Volts!” How about adding a shift at Hamtramck, LOL?


  56. 56
    MichaelH

     

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (7:11 pm)

    kdawg,
    That would be a definite yes about snow. Northern New Mexico in the mountains. 12/17/2010
    The Voltec Charge station is on the wall in front of where the Diamante is parked in the lower picture. It is partially protected by an eve. There is an internal gasket, so you can mount it on a pole outside if you want to. I know someone mounted one on a pole inside of a garage.

    Front of house:
    2exsbja.jpg

    Driveway:
    xfzur9.jpg


  57. 57
    MichaelH

     

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (7:14 pm)

    Kent:
    Noel Park,
    Noel,
    What’s the difference between the “free” unit and the Voltec unit? According to MichaelH above (#51), the Voltec unit is from SPX so it should also be the “free” unit.

    Go to this link:

    https://www.homecharging.spx.com/volt/Display.aspx?id=6&menu=2

    The Voltec is the first unit. The next two have incentive programs, i.e., “free charger” if you live in the right place, etc.


  58. 58
    Eco_Turbo

     

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (9:33 pm)

    George S. Bower: Interesting that the batteries need to be in a climate controlled atmosphere to make the trip…

    Maybe we could use those ships to send aged western (eastern) beef back to Korea.


  59. 59
    kdawg

     

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (9:47 pm)

    Noel Park: A bit OT, but our local NPR station had an interesting feature this afternoon on the “Prius shortage” in SoCal. Apparently, at least partly due to the tsunami, they can’t keep up with demand at the moment. They interviewed 2 dealers who said that they were buying every used Prius they could find and urging customers to turn in leased cars early so that they could have something on their lots. They said that the NADA used car pricing guide showed that the price of used Prii had gone up 30% since the first of the year.
    Window of opportunity for GM? “Churn out the Volts!” How about adding a shift at Hamtramck, LOL?

    I was actually working on a similiar problem earlier today. Our parent company in Japan is having trouble getting materials so they are looking at us (and other divisions around the world) to provide them. Imagine that… shipping something TO Japan.


  60. 60
    ClarksonCote

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    Apr 26th, 2011 (10:01 pm)

    Just a guess, but I’d be willing to bet GM’s target for cost reduction is $7500, for when that tax credit goes away. ;)

    Just keep the Volts coming!

    join thE REVolution