May 04

GM’s Rob Peterson: Customers’ Volt stories are key to marketing success

 

A few days ago we gave center stage to GM Spokesman, Rob Peterson, who in his own words described how Chevrolet is marketing the Volt in these first critical months and going forward.

His prelude at the EDTA conference in Washington, D.C. during Earth Week spoke of an over-riding philosophy of “transparency,” and his first point out of four was “Relationships.”

Building on these are points number two and three – which we’ll cover in this segment. Respectively, these were, “The ownership experience,” and, “The amplification of the voices of the customers who are absolutely enthusiastic to drive electric vehicles.”


A deep-hue green image is part of the broader marketing picture. Here a pre-production Volt is shown in front of the GreenHouse, a custom-built 4,000 square-foot carbon neutral house in McLean, Va.

In describing Chevrolet’s deceptively simple strategy, Peterson also indicated GM has clearly assumed a leadership role in the electric vehicle market.

He did not talk about catchy marketing slogans, or slick media spots, but focused on how GM wants to foster authentic grassroots enthusiasm for the Chevrolet Volt.

No doubt advertising and more details are also part of the marketing mix, but following is the broad brush picture that Peterson saw fit to lay out to an audience of industry peers.

For those paying attention, his words were rather generously offered as a template for others to follow as GM has already paved the way since 2007, and all indicators are it is on the right path.

The Ownership Experience

“Last month we went out and surveyed our owners of the Chevrolet Volts that many of them have had for three-four months at a time. We asked them to simply describe in one phrase or one word ‘how do you feel about your Chevrolet Volt?’” Peterson said, “It was obvious that they liked the vehicles quite a bit. They came back [most often] with ‘it’s fun to drive.’ The ownership experience of the electric vehicle is something that most people don’t recognize until they get a chance to actually experience it themselves.”

Peterson mentioned to the audience he hoped they had a chance to sample the Volt at the test drive corral across the street from the convention center.


Creating buzz and excitement that won’t disappoint is the name of the game. Here, Volt Product Specialists chauffeur media around an indoor test track Volts Feb. 9, 2011 at the Chicago Auto Show.

“Having spent a lot of time with customers, media, other stakeholders policy members, you put them in an electric vehicle – their response is almost instantaneous: ‘Wow. What an awesome experience,’ Peterson said in a calm, measured tone, “That is something that we need to continue to foster.”

And if Chevrolet is doing its job right, customer satisfaction should be comprehensive, he said.

“It doesn’t just happen on the drive experience. It has to happen in all elements of the ownership experience – from the charging experience inside the home, to the dealership experience, to the service experience to all elements of the ownership experience moving forward,” he said, “It is key that we deliver on the promises that we set forth. Whether it is the Volt or any other electric vehicle.”

His last statement hinted at a subtle bit of coaching for anyone who would like to succeed in the EV industry.

“Our customer experience shows that it’s fun to drive. One side benefit that we’ve been seeing a lot of late is that our owners are also enjoying the fact that gas prices are actually increasing. Because quite frankly, they’re not going to gas stations. They’re driving past them. And it’s a game to them. You know, how long can they go in between their need for beef jerky to get over to a gas station,” Peterson said, “Right now, with daily charging in the month of March, our customers averaged a thousand miles on a full tank of gas. They were going to gas stations about once every 30 days. And with a nine-gallon tank of gas and $4 per gallon, you’re talking about a gas bill of about $36 per month. That’s a pretty solid cost of ownership and a great ownership experience.”

The Voice of the Customer

“This young lady down in the front down here. That’s Mary Brazell and her father is James; James is a PR dream. Let’s call it that way. He is a retired VP of oil exploration for Texaco. He put his money down on the Chevrolet Volt almost 18 months before we came to market,” Peterson said, “He traveled all the way to Washington, D.C., from his home in Ashville just so he would be one of the first people to have one. He now owns it. He schedules his own events. He’s constantly on the road with his Volt, demonstrating the Volt and electric vehicle technology. In fact Mary told me yesterday that he is scheduled to participate in three Earth Day activities tomorrow and several other activities going along the way.”


About as strong a testimonial as Chevrolet could wish for: James Brazell – a retired oil company executive – gets a closer look at his new 2011 Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle Feb. 25, 2011 in Woodbridge, Va. (Photo by Mark Finkenstaedt for Chevrolet)

He also told of Matt Stehouwer who flew into a snow storm in New York City, then drove his new Volt back through that same storm to his home in Lansing, Mich.

Peterson said they are just two of many such real life tales of satisfied owners it has heard.

“These stories add to the credibility of electric vehicles. It’s their passion, their enthusiasm that will drive what we have right now which is early tech adopters. They’re going to drive the fast followers: that segment of people who don’t want to own the first technology, but quickly want to own the second one and want to be right behind them,” Peterson said, “They’re going to be the credibility that gets those people into that marketplace even sooner. So we have countless stories like this. It’s our job – from Chevrolet and that at the EDTA and the industry – to amplify these voices to make sure that masses hear the story of electric vehicles.”

This is vital, he said …

“So that others can experience what it’s like to drive electrically. What it’s like to drive past the gas station, what it’s like to charge up at your home, what it’s like to experience paying on average 11 cents per kWh or 3 cents per mile, versus 12 cents per mile or even higher,” he said, “These are the ways that we’re going to market the vehicle to the masses.”

Simple and real is the best policy

This policy may sound elementary, and is probably not the first time you heard of customer testimonials, but for Chevrolet it is working. If you do a Google news search, week after week you will find human interest stories around the country about the novel new American extended range electric car called the Volt.

This effort is exactly what GM is attempting to foster. For a company that admits it started with credibility at a low point in 2007, the need to earn the respect of new owners is its first priority in order to continue improving its already growing credibility as fast as possible.


Of course getting Hollywood stars to do a photo-op also never hurts. Eva Rojas (L) and Vanessa Branch are shown on the green carpet of Global Green USA’s 2011 Pre-Oscar Party, Feb. 23, 2011.

Speaking with Peterson in follow-up, he agreed a lot of people are accustomed to not knowing what to believe, but hearing positive stories from real people is plausible.

From what we can ascertain, it is the advertising that money cannot buy that Chevrolet values the most.

And thus far, with numerous awards, positive media recognition, and the voices of real owners, this has not been too difficult. The Volt is the outcome of a billion-dollar project, and it would appear GM has already earned what it says it is now reaping.

The most recent affirmation to this came May 2 from a Chevrolet press release saying that the Volt demo program is drawing new customers to Chevrolet dealers.

These are people who might never have darkened the door of a Chevy dealer, the company said, and now they are walking right in.

The Volt’s slow roll-out of is credited with some rather remarkable ancillary benefits.

“Almost nine of 10 customers who traded in a vehicle as part of their purchase are new to the Chevrolet brand,” said Chevrolet, “That’s why hundreds of Volts that could be sold to individuals are tagged for dealers as demo vehicles, meant for customer exposure to the Volt and to other Chevy products they might otherwise not see.”


Evocative images are part of the plan as well – and this is one photogenic car that emits next to no pollution to obscure the light-blue sky under which it serenely sits.

In the first quarter of this year, 1,210 new Volts were sold. Beyond this, more than 550 dedicated Volt demos have gone to dealers in the initial launch markets of California, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

By year’s end, more than 2,500 U.S. dealers will receive a dedicated Volt demo as Chevrolet rolls out the car to the remaining states.

In short, Chevrolet said it is reviving its sales and reputation with no small thanks to the Volt by creating and meeting great expectations – and that’s a hint for Rob Peterson’s topic number four, which we’ll save for another day.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 4th, 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: 50


  1. 1
    David

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    May 4th, 2011 (6:12 am)

    Another great article Jeff. This is the time of “heavy lifting”, “a brick a day” whatever you want to call it……….these days of summer will be where the foundation of the Volt’s reputation for the next generation of Volts will be laid.


  2. 2
    Xiaowei1

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    May 4th, 2011 (6:18 am)

    If it wasn’t for the left hand drive issue, I’d jump on the next plane to the US and picking up a VOLT to take home… there is no publicity like real life publicity.

    I’ve read lots of negative statements by people who have probably never touched a Volt in many a forum, but every review I’ve read from people who actually own one is glowing. Even if something goes wrong, they always seem to add “I simply love this car”.


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    Michael

     

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    May 4th, 2011 (7:55 am)

    OT, but worth discussing: I was reading that in April for the first time the leaf outsold the volt in a month. The volt also had it’s first decline in sales in a month from 608 to 493. I wonder what the problem why. I would suppose the supply problems related from the earthquake in Japan wouldn’t effect either of the car sales in April but we may see the effects now and moving forward. Any ideas why volt sales are already slowing??
    http://www.plugincars.com/nissan-leaf-sales-overtake-chevy-volt-april-107126.html


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    Kup

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    May 4th, 2011 (8:02 am)

    It’s nice to see Rob “get it”. The people here on this forum are so damn enthusiastic about what GM has done and they have given me such an immense wealth of knowledge about the Volt. That led me to my first visit to a GM dealership ever and eventual ownership of the Volt.

    There is hardly a day that goes by that I don’t talk to somebody (stranger, co-worker, family member, friend) about the Volt. And it is really cool to see somebody that doesn’t quite get what the Volt is and what it can do start understanding what it could mean for them. One of my co-workers (who actually did a lot of the work to get sockets put out in the parking lot so I could plug in at work) said that he didn’t think much about the Volt when he was doing all the work. But after I talked to him more about the car and let him test drive it he came down with a big case of VES.

    I guess the point of it is that GM held up there end of the bargain and I think in order for me to do my part I try to share as much knowledge as I can with people in my circle so that they can understand the Volt. So absolutely I see the Volt owners as being GM’s largest intangible asset when it comes to marketing.

    And, yes, Rob, it is “fun to drive”!


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    Tim Hart

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    May 4th, 2011 (8:35 am)

    As Rob said and I’ve known since day one, the “driving experience” will sell even the cynics. Put Rush Limbaugh in a Volt and the odds are high even he would be won over. For those of us that don’t have one yet, the wait is hard but there is no doubt GM and the Volt are ahead of the pack and are resisting the urge to rush ahead before they are ready. Remember, they are sticking to the timeframe that was talked about from the very beginning for the rollout which is a pretty remarkable achievement.


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    kdawg

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    May 4th, 2011 (8:37 am)

    Maybe its in production, but I have yet to see a commercial featuring actual owners.


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    Kup

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    May 4th, 2011 (8:54 am)

    Somewhat OT: One thing I had been worried about when buying the Volt was the eventual let down of actual ownership. I had followed the Volt for well over a year before putting down a deposit in October 2010 and taking delivery in March. I was somewhat afraid that while I was so psyched to get one that after a while it would be just a commuter car (which it is) and the glow would wear off.

    Six weeks into ownership and I’m reminded everyday that I drive something special as I take my EVSE around with me wherever I go and plug in as much as I can (although work and home is plenty for me).

    Anyway, Lyle, if you happen to be reading this I would love to get your take on this. You put so much time and effort into this site and have been driving the Volt the longest since you got a CAB Volt right off the start. Is it something that still excites you or do you think of it as just a car (an amazing piece of technology to be sure, but still just something that takes you from Point A to Point B). Would love to hear from you!


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    Xiaowei1

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    May 4th, 2011 (9:08 am)

    Kup,

    I am so jealous!


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    Kevin R

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    May 4th, 2011 (9:09 am)

    Michael,

    It’s that most Volts being built right now are being allocated for dealer demos and not filling customer orders so they’re not registering as ‘sold’ vehicles.

    Customers will begin receiving their orders when the 2012′s roll off the line the end of July and into August. They’re still building them like crazy just most are for dealers at this point.


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    kdawg

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    May 4th, 2011 (9:39 am)

    2 more awards for the Volt
    “Alternative Powered Car of Texas”
    “Most Innovative” -Texas Auto Writers Association


  11. 11
    Shock Me

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    May 4th, 2011 (9:43 am)

    I hope this new ethos becomes ingrained in the “new” GM. If they can keep it up they should o quite well. No Volt sightings here in town but I did finally see my first Cruze in person. I wish GM well in this effort.


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    Mark Z

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    May 4th, 2011 (10:12 am)

    Not just fun, but excitement occurs when driving the Volt. Only an electric car can give you the thrill of stopping for a red light with regenerative breaking, lining up at the front with other vehicles, then carefully checking for cross traffic and pedestrians when the light turns green to press the accelerator to the floor in Sport Mode. You experience a silent rocket like thrust while being pushed back in your seat and in a few seconds are at the speed limit far ahead of the other cars behind you. Some have mentioned that it reminds them of how Disneyland’s “Rocket Rods” felt when it was operational in Tomorrowland.

    You can waste fuel and zoom ahead with an ICE vehicle, but the noise and pollution is so 20th Century. The quiet, smooth torque of an EV is truly amazing. Having to use a gas powered car on occasion is now a disappointment. When Volts and EVs are plentiful at the car rental lots, then business trips will have the same fun that you experience at home with the Volt.


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    montgoss

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    May 4th, 2011 (10:46 am)

    “That’s why hundreds of Volts that could be sold to individuals are tagged for dealers as demo vehicles, meant for customer exposure to the Volt and to other Chevy products they might otherwise not see.”

    This annoys and confuses the crap out of me. Who goes in to see a Volt, drives it, and then decides to get a Chevy Cruze instead (or whatever other Chevy)?? I contacted a couple of dealerships about the Volt (either ones they had in stock or about getting on a waiting list). Every dealership put me on some mailing list and sent me spam trying to get me to come look at the other Chevy’s they have in stock. Why?

    One dealership in northern Indiana has a Volt in stock that they’re apparently not allowed to sell and they have no idea when they will get one they can sell. But they still tried to get me to drive up there (over 100 miles away) to test drive the Volt. I’m sure they thought they could convince me to buy some other Chevy since I was there anyways. Cause that’s how my brain works…. ya right!

    I think the demo cars are premature. Sure, once all the early adopters have a Volt, the less trusting buyers will want to test drive a Volt before purchasing. But we’ve got a long ways to go before the early adopters all have their Volt. So, 1/4 of the current production is being diverted away from eager customers like me for some marketing experiment. I would love to buy one of those 2500 Volts! Just let me!


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    DonC

     

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    May 4th, 2011 (10:48 am)

    It’s obvious that PR works much better for innovative new products than advertising, which is much better suited for established products. Put another way, you want advertising for the Cruze and PR for the Volt. My question is whether a great or even good PR campaign is in GM’s corporate DNA at this point. They haven’t really had an innovative product like the Volt for a very long time.

    Hopefully GM will figure out how to execute a PR campaign for a truly innovative product, but so far the results have not been overwhelming. Too much stuff like the Volt dancers for my taste. But Rome wasn’t built in a day so they deserve some slack. They are at least migrating towards a decent PR campaign. In this regard, testimonials remove much of the difficulty surrounding the Volt MPG. Rather than a long explanation it’s a lot easier is someone just says: “I’ve driven 1026 miles and used .24 gallons of gas”. End of story. And Mark Z’s explanation of how an electric drive car compares to the drive of an ICE vehicle goes a long way towards dispelling the myth that the Volt is comparable to a Prius.

    This does not, however, excuse the horrific ads they’ve done for the Volt. If you’re going to spend the resources to do an ad it should actually help sell the car, not be a meaningless time filler. They would have been better off not running the “More Car Than Electric” ads at all.


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    DonC

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    May 4th, 2011 (10:52 am)

    montgoss: This annoys and confuses the crap out of me. Who goes in to see a Volt, drives it, and then decides to get a Chevy Cruze instead (or whatever other Chevy)?? I contacted a couple of dealerships about the Volt (either ones they had in stock or about getting on a waiting list).

    Can’t blame you for being impatient. The Volt is a great ride. Try contacting the Volt Advisor Group. You can get their contact info in the forum. They’re proving to be great at matching buyers with Volts. Also remember that you’re not limited to buying from a local dealer. You can buy it anywhere and get it serviced locally.


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    Sonoma Richard

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    May 4th, 2011 (11:11 am)

    No range anxiety, just “gas” anxiety. We have 3400 miles on our Volt and have used 17.2 gallons. I filled our Caddy the other day for the first time in months and it cost $100.00. It is amazing how quickly one adopts to new situations. I hate going to gas stations now. We have solar so power costs are not an issue.

    We have let several friends drive the Volt and at least two are seriously considering purchasing one.

    AND it is a lot of fun to drive!!!!


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    Noel Park

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    May 4th, 2011 (11:27 am)

    kdawg: Maybe its in production, but I have yet to see a commercial featuring actual owners.

    #6

    I’m ready. What are they waiting for? +1

    Here’s a huge pool of enthusiastic talent, just waiting to be in commercials for FREE, LOL.


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    Noel Park

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    May 4th, 2011 (11:30 am)

    Sonoma Richard: We have 3400 miles on our Volt and have used 17.2 gallons.

    #16

    That’s almost exactly my experience as well. I was trying to get away to get to work this AM and one of my neighbors wanted to know all about the Volt, LOL. That’s exactly what I told him. +1


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    Noel Park

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    May 4th, 2011 (11:34 am)

    Kup: I guess the point of it is that GM held up there end of the bargain

    #4

    Exactly. +1

    When people ask me how I like the car, I always tell them that it does exactly what it was advertised to do. 40 miles AER and 37 (+) mpg on the range extender. I charge at home, drive to work, charge at work, drive home. In a good week, ZERO gas. Works for me.


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    May 4th, 2011 (11:43 am)

    Kevin R: Michael,

    It’s that most Volts being built right now are being allocated for dealer demos and not filling customer orders so they’re not registering as ‘sold’ vehicles.

    Customers will begin receiving their orders when the 2012′s roll off the line the end of July and into August.They’re still building them like crazy just most are for dealers at this point.

    They said that they are making 15,000 units for 2011 model year and have sold only about 1,700 so far and have 2,500 or so allotted for demos so does that means they’ll have over 10,000 units available between now and July when the 2012′s start coming?


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    Number719

     

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    May 4th, 2011 (11:46 am)

    Mark Z: Some have mentioned that it reminds them of how Disneyland’s “Rocket Rods” felt when it was operational in Tomorrowland

    Wow! You’re right! I can’t believe I didn’t think of that myself as I spent WAY too many Friday nights in that impossibly long line waiting to maybe, just maybe, get one ride in before it broke down. Thankfully the Volt is much more reliable than Rocket Rods was!


  22. 22
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    May 4th, 2011 (11:48 am)

    Kup:
    Six weeks into ownership and I’m reminded everyday that I drive something special as I take my EVSE around with me wherever I go and plug in as much as I can (although work and home is plenty for me).

    Anyway, Lyle, if you happen to be reading this I would love to get your take on this.You put so much time and effort into this site and have been driving the Volt the longest since you got a CAB Volt right off the start.Is it something that still excites you or do you think of it as just a car (an amazing piece of technology to be sure, but still just something that takes you from Point A to Point B).Would love to hear from you!

    I can honestly say each and every day I get into and drive my Volt it remains a thrill. The CAB car was somehow different because it wasn’t my own, but I truly love and admire my very own Volt.

    Some of my thrill comes from having been there cheerleading it from the very beginning and being with GM people all the way especially Rob and Tony. I feel there is some of my own blood, sweat and tears in the chassis.

    Also I just love bypassing the use of gasoline and remain passionate about electrification of the automobile. Yesterday I discussed the car for a half hour with a a guy who was dropping of some gardening materials at my house. Today a driver pulled up and stopped me at a traffic light.

    There is great interest in this car out there, and as GM says it sells itself.


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    Tom

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    May 4th, 2011 (11:48 am)

    DonC: They would have been better off not running the “More Car Than Electric” ads at all

    I agree 100%. They were obviously trying to say “our car is better than the LEAF” with those ads and they came up looking petty and shallow in my opinion. The volt is an awesome vehicle and can stand on it’s own without trying to put down another car. That ad really pi$$ed me off, it was unnecessary.


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    May 4th, 2011 (12:24 pm)

    I was hoping this site would have a nice spreadsheet of owners driving stats… like the one Lyle started back in Dec10…. that would be a great selling tool. 100+MPG is a great stat right now!
    I only have a 10 mile commute… my stats would be above 200mpg!


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    nasaman

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    May 4th, 2011 (12:37 pm)

    Lyle: I can honestly say each and every day I get into and drive my Volt it remains a THRILL (emphasis added).

    You’ve driven a Volt (a CAB Volt, then your own) lots longer than anyone I know, Lyle!

    “THRILL” says it all! ….BRAVO!!!

    /Thanks for this comment, Lyle! …I can tell you’ve still got your heart in (as well as your eye on) gm-volt.com!


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    Kup

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    May 4th, 2011 (1:48 pm)

    montgoss,

    I too thought exactly like you and there was no way I would buy something other than a Volt when visiting a dealership. With that said, I changed my mind slightly on this issue after talking to a lot of people about the Volt.

    Some people just can’t afford the Volt but they have heard about it and would like to see what the hype is. If they come into the showroom and drive the Volt and then hear that the Cruze is a very similar platform minus the technology, I can see how some might be tempted to buy it. I do hear that the Cruze is a solid, affordable car and gets pretty good gas mileage to boot. Then they see it starts at almost $20k less than the Volt (after rebate) and I could see how GM could get some sales.

    It will be interesting to see if this line of thinking pans out in the end but I have definitely modified my stance on this since I have spoken to a lot of people that can’t afford the Volt.


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    bitguru

     

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    May 4th, 2011 (1:50 pm)

    btw, in the first photo caption, McLean should have only one ‘a’ in it.


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    Steverino

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    May 4th, 2011 (2:19 pm)

    We will be picking up our Volt in a few weeks. Meanwhile, in preparation I have been testing my wife with common Volt questions (like the ones you see in Volt article comments regarding safety, range, battery charge, costs, etc.) so she will be ready with factual answers. Yesterday she was talking with a few co-workers and my prepping paid off as they started to ask her questions about the car. There are a LOT of misinformed/uninformed people out there. Word-of-mouth from Volt owners has a lot more weight and impact than negative online comments from those with no Volt experience.

    I think a Volt commercial featuring real people with real stories would carry the same kind of weight, but with much broader impact. A story about 1000 miles between fill ups. A story about the outstanding safety (we know of one crash already). A story about the off-the-line torque thrill. A story about the luxury high end sound system, LCD dash, OnStar , etc., A story about the ease of plug’n charge. A story about the sporty ride compared to the owners other car (BMW, etc.). All by real Volt owners with hands on experience.

    Until now, anyone could say any old negative thing they wanted about this car without fear of being wrong. That is getting harder and harder to pull off when actual Volt owners weigh in with facts and actual experiences.


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    MichaelH

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    May 4th, 2011 (2:26 pm)

    Lyle,

    Lyle, good to hear from you. Glad to know your “Volt smile” hasn’t worn off yet. :-)

    I’ve had mine in NM (purchased in Amarillo, TX) since March 25. So, far 2056 miles, 834 EV miles. A lot of longer trips in there, but still only about 30 gallons of gas. Lifetime mileage is 69mpg, and I’m getting about 41 miles AER and about 41mpg in CS mode.


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    Jeff Cobb

     

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    May 4th, 2011 (2:37 pm)

    bitguru,

    I should have caught that. I once lived in McLean, but copied this spelling without checking. Thanks for the heads up. Fixed now.


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    Jeff Cobb

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    May 4th, 2011 (2:48 pm)

    I have the Alexa toolbar installed on my desktop. It shows stories as they filter to the top based on the high number of hits they receive.

    Following, this mainstream media spot on the Volt is currently showing as a high-ranking piece –

    http://money.cnn.com/2011/05/02/autos/volt_1000_miles/index.htm


  32. 32
    Jim I

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    May 4th, 2011 (2:48 pm)

    Tom: They said that they are making 15,000 units for 2011 model year and have sold only about 1,700 so far and have 2,500 or so allotted for demos so does that means they’ll have over 10,000 units available between now and July when the 2012′s start coming?

    Tom:

    Your figure of 15000 units is correct, but not for the 2011 model year. It was 15,000 units for the CALENDAR year of 2011, which will include the 2011 and 2012 model year vehicles.

    We discussed that to death here a while back…..

    NPNS

    Have Outlet – Ready For A Blue Volt In Youngstown, Ohio!!!

    :-)

    PS: Good to hear from you Lyle!!!


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    Jim I

     

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    May 4th, 2011 (2:54 pm)

    OT:

    Here is a story from our local business paper:

    http://business-journal.com/outlook-for-green-vehicles-still-limited-p19099-1.htm

    I wonder how it will hold up if/when gas gets REALLY expensive…..


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    John W Tampa

     

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    May 4th, 2011 (3:06 pm)

    Hey Don C sorry about the mix up yesterday.. 3 days till my electric bike comes.. I’m gonna call it Volt .001


  35. 35
    Jeff Cobb

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    May 4th, 2011 (3:15 pm)

    John W Tampa,

    OT, but interesting: I was contacted the other day by Brammo electric motorcycles CEO, Craig Bramscher, regarding a story on its pending new models – I do not know of any other EV that will use a multi-speed transmission.

    http://www.motorcycle.com/news/brammo-announces-sixspeed-electric-models-90915.html

    The bikes only use a 2.6 kWh battery, so the cost-benefit was seen as worth it to add the complexity, cost and weight of a transmission to these little bikes to get more performance out of them.

    So far, almost every EV maker has said their initial offerings can get by without transmissions because of high inherent torque, but I’ve heard some have looked at CVTs, and other variations, and here’s one company that intends to do it.


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    John W Tampa

     

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    May 4th, 2011 (3:23 pm)

    Jeff Cobb,

    As Steve Carrell said in the 40 year old Virgin. I have a bike bikes bicycle. I’m gonna nerd it up!


  37. 37
    Ron

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    May 4th, 2011 (3:26 pm)

    Since I’m not willing to fly 1500 miles to buy a Volt and won’t see one locally for at least another year, I’ll take comfort in knowing that the first 4,500 miles in my Cruze have been absolutely flawless. It compares favorably with BMW’s, but is priced to compete with Corolla and Civic! The bait-n-switch that got me into a Cruze still made me a very happy customer.


  38. 38
    Jeff Cobb

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    May 4th, 2011 (3:39 pm)

    John W Tampa,
    :) Go for it. I think bikes are great. As we’ve talked here about before, I am all for street riding, but do admit they pose a greater risk. If you get an electric bicycle, beyond helmet and gloves, maybe getting a lightweight, breathable armored shirt is recommended.

    http://www.bohnarmor.com/catalog/proddetail.php?prod=BGSA

    This is so lightweight (I have one), it would not be like wearing a motorcycle jacket – still breathes if you pedal also, and is washable, but has armor on the joints in the event of a spill (at higher speeds you’ll be carrying on an e-bike).


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    Noel Park

     

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    May 4th, 2011 (4:21 pm)

    Jeff Cobb: This is so lightweight (I have one), it would not be like wearing a motorcycle jacket – still breathes if you pedal also, and is washable, but has armor on the joints in the event of a spill (at higher speeds you’ll be carrying on an e-bike).

    #38

    NEAT! I’m really tempted. +1


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    May 4th, 2011 (4:30 pm)

    Noel Park,

    Made in USA too. :)

    Paul English owns the company, and like his name suggests, he is from the UK. Very thoughtful guy. Their spine protectors are among the top three for track racers. Good stuff.


  41. 41
    montgoss

     

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    May 4th, 2011 (4:51 pm)

    Kup,
    Really? Cause I wouldn’t care about the Cruze even if it looked/drove identical to the Volt, but lacked the “technology”. The “platform” makes no difference to me. They could’ve put the Volt tech in one of those stupid, boxy Scions and I’d still be begging to buy it. Maybe I’d pause if they put it in a Smart Car, but that’s about my only limit.

    I want an electric car. Period. I even started to build one myself but gave up, partly because the Volt was coming out… Of course, I also drive 100+ miles some Saturdays and Sundays a couple of times a month. So, until battery tech can accommodate that range at an affordable price, the Volt tech is my best option. Now, if only GM would allow the dealerships to sell me the damn thing (I’ve found two in the state with a Volt in stock who both told me they weren’t allowed to sell it).


  42. 42
    John W (Tampa)

     

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    May 4th, 2011 (5:35 pm)

    Jeff Cobb,

    I just bought a low cost but decently reviewed electric bicycle for 1 2 3 mile trips near my home. I’m excited about it, I’m in good shape but i’m in Florida. It’s hot, I’m lazy. I frequently don’t wanna walk or ride a bike even a mile to the store, when I want exercise I run or play tennis. But I’m hoping with the e bike that’s coming I’ll use if frequently for these short trips. And I figure if I don’t i can resell it for not too much less than I paid.

    If I love it maybe I’ll upgrade to an electric motorcycle someday. Sounds like you are really into them Jeff. I remember you covering a conference or something a while ago.

    Let me ask you a question. If you had to choose one Electric Motorcycle/non dumb looking moped. And keeping the cost in mind, best bargain for the buck. Which bike would you choose?

    I’m curious to see what you come up with.. One bike, that’s it! If you don’t wanna answer don’t worry about it. Just seems like you’re into this.


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    Raymondjram

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    May 4th, 2011 (7:11 pm)

    This is for Corvette Guy – the image of the new Corvette Sting Ray (maybe for its 50th anniversary):
    http://money.cnn.com/2011/05/04/autos/gm_invests_for_next_corvette/index.htm

    I built a scale model of the 1963 model and painted it in Silver. I remember seeing the 1963 car brand new in white at the local Chevrolet dealer, and now I hope I can see this new Sting Ray up close in the near future.

    Raymond


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    May 4th, 2011 (8:04 pm)

    Michael,

    Demo vehicles, and bad journalism. They are still selling all of the vehicles they produce for sale. The sales numbers were lower due to demo vehicles being sent to customers. More people would be aware of this if people reporting on it would do their due diligence.


  45. 45
    Jeff Cobb

     

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    May 4th, 2011 (8:55 pm)

    John W (Tampa),

    For strict transportation, probably the best value for the money will be the Brammo Enertia Plus when they finally get it to market.

    http://www.motorcycle.com/manufacturer/2011-brammo-enertia-plus-preview-90057.html

    Brammo is an Ashland, Ore. based company that sells its Enertia through Best Buy, and a growing dealer network.

    I like the Zeros too, and Zero flew me to Santa Cruz recently to review their new models. They are nice, but you will get more battery from Brammo for less money, and that equates to more range and it’s still a very well put together bike.

    http://www.motorcycle.com/manufacturer/2011-zero-electric-motorcycles-launch-90578.html

    The Enertia Plus will probably give you range of 50-80 miles depending on how you use it. Not meant for highway use really, unless you are talking a couple-mile stretch at 65 mph. Better for around town.

    The Zero S and DS have a 4.4 kWh battery, Brammo is supposed to get a 6.3 kWh and at $8,995, it’s slated to be $1,000 less than the Zero S. All these electric motorcycles are eligible for fed tax credits, and state by state (check their Web sites).

    Both the Enertia Plus and Empulse are delayed. The Enertia Plus should hit the market sooner, maybe in a few months. Brammo has teamed up with a very good battery maker and parts supplier. Zero makes its own batteries and they are 100% non toxic, and good also, but less potent.

    If you want to go the really low-buck route, check out Oakland-based Native Cycles. They can spec you a bike for a lot less, and it still looks like a motorcycle. Based on a Thailand ICE 125cc chassis, but assembled in California as an electric.

    http://www.motorcycle.com/manufacturer/2010-native-s-review-89745.html

    Brammo cuts no corners though. I gave their 3.2 kWh Enertia #1 in the world’s first electric motorcycle shootout I wrote last year.

    http://www.motorcycle.com/manufacturer/2010-ebike-shootout-89839.html

    Zeros are better than they were, and the 2011s are better than the 2010 Brammo Enertia, but I’d still go with the 2011 Brammo Enertia Plus if it was just for transportation.


  46. 46
    CorvetteGuy

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    May 4th, 2011 (9:23 pm)

    Raymondjram: This is for Corvette Guy – the image of the new Corvette Sting Ray (maybe for its 50th anniversary)

    (((::: Oh! You TEASE! :::)))

    Hey, around here I’m the only one that likes the new design Corvette (hopefully they will bring back the ‘Stingray’ name badge)…

    The current model Vette is a JOY to drive, and I’m just talking about the Standard Model and the Grand Sport, [Even I can't take a joyride in a Z-06 or ZR-1]… but I can tell you that when take a ride in one, very few heads will turn except the faithful like myself. The current styling is starting to look very ‘dated’.

    When a Vette passes you by on the freeway, you probably let out a soft yawn. But when an Audi R8 zooms by YOU KNOW something different went by whether you like that kind of styling or not.

    The Corvette is LONG OVERDUE for a styling change. A BIG CHANGE. And, IMHO, the new Stingray Concept is exactly what Chevrolet needs to shake things up.

    For those who can and will spend 60K – 80K – 125K for a sports car, it dang well better turn a few heads… especially the lovely ladies!

    LONG LIVE STINGRAY !!!


  47. 47
    Raymondjram

     

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    May 4th, 2011 (9:54 pm)

    CorvetteGuy,

    I have always been a Corvette fan, but it is out of my range. It is the “Ultimate Dream Car”, especially for an “All American” fan like me. I saw what Chevy is offering for the Chevrolet Century Anniversary, a black Corvette with special labels. That isn’t enough for Chevy’s flagship.

    Well, if GM can’t get the new Sting Ray out for Chevy’s 100th anniversary, at least they can have it out for the Sting Ray’s 50th (1963 – 2013), and call it the C7. It is a very exotic vehicle and deserves to be produced:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1963_Corvette_Sting_Ray.jpg
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corvette_Stingray_%28concept_car%29
    http://www.google.com.pr/search?q=corvette+stingray+concept&hl=en&prmd=ivnsu&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=kwPCTerWFYbKgQeVyuW9Dg&ved=0CC8QsAQ&biw=1024&bih=603

    Now if I can win a local lottery, maybe I can buy that $100,000 C7, and be one more of the old guys who buys his Chevy Corvette when we are too old to pick up young girls with it.

    Raymond


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    EVO

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    May 5th, 2011 (12:22 am)

    Raymondjram,

    The last time I passed a Corvette C6 ZR1, it was weak off the line. Does it have any amount of electric drive yet? Even eAssist would help it. Below third gear, electric is now a must, above third, gas is nice. But by then, you’re at the next stop sign, red light or right angle turn around town, staring at some EV’s butt.

    I will admit that full gasser Corvettes do make nicely aerodymamic interstate highway furniture, if you turn your music up loud and pretend it’s a Harley a mile back making that awful racket.


  49. 49
    Dave K.

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    May 5th, 2011 (5:33 am)

    Yesterday I drove my Volt to work and back (32 miles). Plugged it in for 4 hours. Then drove to my son’s school and back for his IEP (40 miles). Plugged back in for 4 hours and drove to work (16 miles). All gas free.

    Since January 15th I have driven nearly 4000 miles and pumped just $35 into the gasoline tank. A coworker has an SUV that drinks $100 per week in gas. About $5000 per year.

    No Plug, No Sale


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    JohnW Tampa

     

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    May 5th, 2011 (7:48 pm)

    Jeff Cobb,

    Thanks Jeff. I’ll look into all of those!