Aug 03

After a necessarily slow July, Chevrolet Volt sales poised to significantly increase

 

Having listened to GM explain the Volt’s cautious roll out all year, and most recently its reduced July sales, it has been reminiscent of hearing doctors making positive predictions for an injured star ball player – who just recovered from surgery.

More to the point, this week GM’s spokespeople preemptively contacted media prior to official July sales results explaining only one hundred Volt sales were expected. As it turned out, Chevrolet beat their number with 125 Volts sold in July.

In getting this background context delivered ahead of time, it was been kind of like hearing, “The kid has just started walking, but he’ll be out running for the end zone before you know it” … or something along those lines.


More Volts are being made, including for export, such as this one in old Shanghai.

It is all understandable though. Considering the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant was shut down for upgrades for four weeks until earlier this month, Chevrolet wanted everyone to know the Volt had been down for the count, but indicators are it is just waiting to rebound with a new lease on life.

The bottom line, GM said, is it was all planned – and the positive news is demand has been relatively high.

“Volt sales are exactly as we expected as we shut down production in June and July to revamp the plant to increase Volt production in 2012,” said GM spokesperson Michelle Bunker. “We are ‘virtually sold out’ – only about 100 2011 Volts are left in stock – or one per every six dealers.”

Chevrolet built 3,975 Volts for the 2011 model year, she said, with about 550 of these being assigned as dealer demos. To date, 3,200 have sold, and 125 are being used for internal uses, such as for engineering, marketing, training and media sampling – speaking of which, GM-Volt is (finally) supposed to have one of these remaining 2011 media Volts trucked down to Pennsylvania from New York on Aug. 11 for a one-week review. I am looking forward to it …

As for regular waiting consumers in selling markets, on average, Bunker said, including time required to prep for delivery, this year Volts spent about 13 days in the dealership before being taken by a new customer.

And the really good news for Volt enthusiasts is the kid will soon be out running for the touchdown, er, that is, the Volt will soon be selling in far higher volumes.

“As a result of the plant upgrades, planned Volt and Ampera production capacity this year will increase to 16,000 units. In 2012, global production capacity is expected to be 60,000 vehicles with an estimated 45,000 to be delivered in the United States,” Bunker said.


Coming soon: More Volts to fill up those Chevy solar charging stations.

Bunker said since June 10, dealers nationwide were able to enter orders for 2012s, and it is hoped increased availability will ameliorate the up-till-now situation whereby dealers have been asking for more than Chevrolet was able to deliver.

“Our dealers have requested allocation four to seven times the numbers which were available each month since launch,” she said, which put in a positive light meant, “Each month we were able to see demand from our participating dealers.”

Gaining stride

So, we have been hearing of limited supply, but strong demand all year. Last week Volt Line Director, Tony Posawatz conceded GM underestimated Volt demand, but the question is what will it take to catch up to real automotive industry level sales numbering in the thousands and tens of thousands, instead of hundreds?

A snapshot of Chevrolet aggregate numbers illustrates this point.

In brief, July marked the 11th straight month of retail gains and they are being driven by fuel-efficient vehicles.

Overall, Chevrolet sold 149,005 vehicles in July, for a 6-percent increase over the same month a year ago. Looking at just retail sales, Chevrolet reported a 9-percent increase in July.

Chevrolet noted the 32-mpg Equinox increased 73 percent, and its retail sales were up by 75 percent – this also marked the 11th consecutive month of gains for this compact crossover.

Calendar year to date, Equinox total sales are up 47 percent and retail sales are up 59 percent, Chevrolet said, noting this accomplishment as “significantly outpacing its top competitors, the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV-4, and Honda CR-V.”

Chevrolet also observed that Edmunds.com recently named the 2011 Chevrolet Equinox the Lowest Annual True Cost to Own® SUV between $25,000 and $35,000, based on projected ownership costs over a five-year period, assuming 15,000 miles driven per year.”

Driving toward a Voltec future

Now that the Detroit-Hamtramck plant is upgraded, and poised to deliver 5,000 Volts and Amperas per month by January, supply will no longer be the reason given for lack of Volt sales. Or will it?

GM has said it is unwilling to divulge whether it could or would increase mid-year production even further if demand rises beyond capacity again.


Voltec MPV5 concept.

In the mean time, we are waiting to see what new Voltec-based model is next to spread the appeal for this new kind of powertrain. Increasing variety for a public that GM said has been demanding fuel efficiency for almost a year straight would appear to be a wise decision.

Any guesses as to what will be next? Will GM launch just one new Voltec model? Two? More?

What is the smartest thing GM could do to increase Voltec proliferation without realizing its fear of spreading itself too thin?

Do you think if GM went wild like some enthusiasts might like, and churned out more models it could over do it? Strategically, is it better for GM to keep a number of people waiting, rather than over-meeting demand and risking large numbers remaining unsold?

And for that matter, we know the readers of this site love the Volt, but think like a business: how much demand is really out there? GM plans on producing 60,000 Volts worldwide for calendar year 2012 and has made no announcements of other Voltec-based models. If it worked on improved marketing to really draw in all the new customers possible, how many Volts, or Voltec-based derivatives could it sell per year?

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 3rd, 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: 94


  1. 1
    Eco_Turbo

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (6:38 am)

    At $3.50 a gallon, gas costs exactly the same as it did in the early 70s (with inflation), GM needs to emphasize the performance of electrically accelerated cars. That’s what other types of cars can’t deliver at any price.


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    Adarondax

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (7:43 am)

    Last year at this time gas was $2.80 a gallon. Now it’s $3.90 a gallon, a 40% increase. How much will it increase next year? The transition away from gas has begun. In 10 years it will be a third-world fuel. The $7500 tax credit supports demand for the Volt. As more people experience the Volt demand will increase. Additional models or platforms before the Volt is considered a mainstream vehicle will cannibalize its sales. What is the cost of a Volt in 1970 dollars?


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    DonC

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (7:58 am)

    The performance of electric cars is appealing, and knowing that you can survive without gas is another positive, but it’s also true that the costs of running EVs is amazingly low. Because of an advantageous TOU (time of use) rate plan we managed to fuel two cars which travelled 1750 miles for nothing — actually ended up with a credit. But even if we had to pay at the standard rated it would only have cost slightly more than $40. That’s less than we used to pay to fuel one of the cars for a week. Even better is knowing that what small amounts we are paying is helping our neighbors keep down the cost of their domestically produced electricity rather going to some OPEC country like Iran or Venezuela.

    As for the question posed about GM overdoing it, yes I think they could in the short term, though that it hardly much of a concern given battery pack availability. However, the bigger issue is that GM needs a path to producing 500,000 units a year, which seems to be the minimum needed to bring down production costs significantly. One model is not going to get to that number even if sold in Europe and Asia under different nameplates. My guess is that they need a minimum of three models. The next obvious model is a CUV. After that it’s not so clear since there isn’t another large category that would be appropriate. Maybe a subcompact all electric?

    PS: Viridian Joule is a nice color. Great picture of it.


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    JeremyK

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (8:06 am)

    I’ve had a deposit down a Volt since last Aug. and would have probably been driving one by the end of this month..but I cancelled my order. I really need something more along the lines of the MPV5 and it’s frustrating to have to wait, but I can’t rationalize such an expensive purchase if it doesn’t check ALL the boxes. I need something just a bit more utilitarian. AWD would be nice too GM, if you’re listening. I don’t think the current Cruze-based platform can support AWD, but here’s hoping for Gen II.


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    Tim Hart

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (8:28 am)

    I hope the increased production capacity means I’ll get ours quicker! I placed the order about a week ago and haven’t got a call from a volt advisor yet. The dealer said 10-12 weeks was what it would take for delivery. Has anybody who has ordered a 2012 Volt recently got any feedback yet on delivery dates or lease details? I can’t wait to finally see this great car in our garage!


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    Rashiid Amul

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (8:50 am)

    Eco_Turbo: At $3.50 a gallon, gas costs exactly the same as it did in the early 70s (with inflation), GM needs to emphasize the performance of electrically accelerated cars. That’s what other types of cars can’t deliver at any price.

    People don’t view gas prices from an inflationary stand point.
    They just know it is $3.90 a gallon and don’t like it.


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    Roy_H

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (8:51 am)

    So 2000 per month for the rest of the year, and then an increase to 5000 per month. I am sure GM is doing the best they can, but it still seems like an agonizingly slow ramp up.

    I could be over optimistic, but I believe we will see that CUV version this coming spring.
    Oh, and it has to be able to tow a small trailer. Listening GM?


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    gwmort

     

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (9:11 am)

    I don’t think we’ll see a new production voltec model for at least 3 years. I think they’ll want to see the demand for the used Volts after the leases are up to gauge broader consumer appeal.


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    muv66

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (9:13 am)

    GM has established itself as a leader in electric vehicles by putting out a highly refined EREV right out of the gate. I feel GM needs to develop additional vehicles with Voltec and all-electric drive trains to keep on top of the electric car race. It will accelerate the technology, push the competition and bring down the cost of batteries and other electric components. (Mine was ordered June 29th and can’t get here soon enough!)


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    Shawn Marshall

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (10:59 am)

    (click to show comment)


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    davidbrannon

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (11:00 am)

    Well, stories like this running on Drudge http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/chevy-volt-still-not-selling_581956.html may not be accurate…but it’s something Chevy and all of us will have to deal with. I think the only counter to this is to support the product by purchasing. Hope the Volt is still in production when I trade-in my 83K mile honda.


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    Room_A113

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (11:04 am)

    JeremyK,

    JeremyK,

    I know exactly what you’re saying. I actually walked away from making a deal on my Volt because I needed something more the size of my Equinox. But since I only occasionally used my SUV’s side (moving furniture and such), my friends with SUV’s and pickups offered to let me use theirs in such an event, so I ended up buying the Volt. Interestingly, after four months of Votl ownership I haven’t had to borrow anyone’s SUV/pickup. The Volt hatchback area is actually quite large with the seats down.

    As for AWD, I have driven the Volt in some pretty slippery conditions and I have to say the the traction control is better than any other car I have driven. I’m not sure if that’s because an electric motor is much easier to modulate than thousands of small explosions (an ICE), but the Volt’s traction control is so good that unless you want to do some serious off-roading, an AWD MPV5 would be overkill.


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    EVO

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (11:18 am)

    Sol’n is obvious. Put eassist or greater e-drive on everything immediately. Keep raising the price of the Cruze until number of monthly Cruze and Volt sales are equal. Use the profits from that approach to lower the price of the Volt until Volt sales dominate Cruze sales the way Cruze sales dominate Volt sales now. That would take about 5 years to complete a full electric paradihm shift to get large scale in place while still making a profit.


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    stuart22

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (11:29 am)

    Well the first thing GM needs to do is to expand sales to cover all of North America and Europe. Let’s not forget our Aussie brethren too, my grandfather was one. It’s too early to worry about spreading oneself thin.

    As this task moves along, GM must always keep an eye on ways to cut costs that won’t diminish build quality or product reliability & life. One of the main keys to ensure they won’t be spreading themselves too thin is to be able to drop the MSRP and make Voltec more affordable to the average buyer.

    I think before expanding Voltec into different bodies, GM should first expand the Volt lineup into a tiered sort of setup — have a more basic model stripped of expensive accessories; also include a performance oriented model capable of sub-6 sec. 0-60mph times & with wheels, tires and suspension tweaked towards that goal.

    Once availability becomes widespread and demand builds, then bringing out new Voltec body styles and even Buick and Cadillac versions will be far easier to justify.


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    Mark Z

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (11:35 am)

    GM must get the Volt into every Chevrolet showroom before adding other E-REV models. Get every buyer to test drive one, no matter what they are purchasing. As the experience of smooth, powerful electric torque is remembered, they will know what vehicle they want in the future.


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    Noel Park

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (12:07 pm)

    Mark Z: GM must get the Volt into every Chevrolet showroom before adding other E-REV models.

    #15

    I agree. +1

    It costs a TON of money to develop another vehicle. Let’s get this one ramped up and see how it really sells before we push another big pile of chips into the pot. Maybe, if they make 60K in 2012 and sell them all, then it will be time to start thinking bigger.


  17. 17
    Noel Park

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (12:09 pm)

    Adarondax: Additional models or platforms before the Volt is considered a mainstream vehicle will cannibalize its sales.

    #2

    I agree. +1

    You have to walk before you can run. Or maybe I should say that you have to crawl before you can walk, LOL.


  18. 18
    jeffhre

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (12:10 pm)

    “GM may have underestimated demand.” How many would have been sold this year if every customer worldwide that wanted one could get one? 50,000, 75,000, 120,000?

    Look at the amount of media buzz generated when Volts were trickled out in six US markets with low allocations per dealer. As Volts arrived media reps told Volt buyers, we want to have you on the local news tonight. Imagine the frenzy created if they were widely available.

    With increased volumes, the price could reflect anticipated sale volumes. The 2012 price is 39,995 and it could easily be imagined at 36,995 to reflect the higher volumes.

    Imagine if GM actually had a marketing and sales plan that matched the opening of more markets, the volume of increased sales and massive buzz created by Volts flying off the lots.

    Yes it would have required a larger investment. And suppliers would have to take a very different path to reach such volumes. LG Chem would have to come up with much more product, but with tens of thousands more projected sales, GM would be in the position to ask for it. And get A123 involved if battery availability is a constraint. I know from many, many comments here that I have not been the only one thinking this way about Volt sales potential…

    Oh well, it was a nice daydream anyway, now back to the real world. And headlines like this..

    “Chevy Volt Sales Fail

    By Mark Modica”


  19. 19
    Madness

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (12:44 pm)

    This guy needs some feedback: http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/chevy-volt-still-not-selling_581956.html; too bad you can’t comment on his blog. 1) I know the Volt has been getting people in the door and driving Cruze sales. 2) At the Volt test drive events, they typically make you drive a Cruze too, before the Volt. 3) Wasn’t GM retooling in July, so the volumes were not there in the market? 4) Let’s face it, the Volt is expensive, and in a down economy, people are going to either not be buying cars or buying cheaper cars. I would like to know how many Volts are really available right now, on showroom floors?


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    CorvetteGuy

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (1:15 pm)

    I responded to the guy from The Weekly Standard. I’m having trouble posting my reply here.


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    CorvetteGuy

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (1:18 pm)

    Mr. Last,

    I would like to respond to your mildly sarcastic observation that the Chevrolet VOLT is “Still Not Selling”.

    As the Intenet Sales Manager for Singh Chevrolet in Southern California, I can only speak for our dealership. I don’t know what the total sales figures were for the 2011 model year for all of Chevrolet, but at our dealership we took 22 orders for the VOLT starting back from October of 2010 until June 1st of 2011.

    We were originally given an allocation of 8 units. Because of our successful launch compared to other SoCal Dealers, we were given an additional 2 units. So in total, we delivered 10. 3 of the 22 orders cancelled from giving up on the long wait, and 2 more orders cancelled after their order actually arrived and they decided the price was a bit more than they could handle. The remaining 7 were ‘rolled over’ to 2012 orders and are in production now. And, I have personally spoken to those customers who assure me they will wait no matter how long it takes to get one.

    If you were told that the VOLT isn’t selling because “we can’t keep enough cars on the lot”, I have to agree that is a valid reason for slower sales. There is a saying in our business: “You can’t sell groceries from empty shelves.” The inquiring customers who walk onto our lot are very interested in the VOLT. As one of two “Certified Chevy VOLT Specialists” at our dealership I personally give 1 to 2 demonstrations and test drives each day. When I’m done there are only 2 questions remaining: What’s the price? How soon can I get one?

    The Chevrolet VOLT is the most expensive “Sedan” that Chevy offers right now. (Had the VOLT been given a Cadillac badge instead, it would have been a ‘cheap Caddy’) So, if the answer to the first question doesn’t bother the buyer, then the answer to the second question is what gives them pause.

    The excitement at the prospect of owning the latest and greatest technology, and the prospect of using as little as one-tenth the amount of gas that a Toyota Prius uses in a month, quickly goes away when I tell them the wait is at least 120 days or more.

    The Chevrolet VOLT is a superior design in Hybrid Car drivetrains, and in my personal opinion, the EREV (Extended Range Electric Vehicle) drivetrain also known as “Voltec” is the best and only way that automakers will succeed in meeting the new CAFE Mileage Standards that the Obama Administration just announced.

    If you do not understand how the VOLT system, which gets 25 to 50 miles ‘All-Electric-Range’ plus about 40 miles-per-gallon from its on-board generator which adds another 370-plus miles driving range, is giving VOLT owners a lifetime average of 120-plus miles-per-gallon-combined, (about 1000 miles between fill-ups) I invite you visit my dealership for a complete demonstration-explanation-test drive. Or, just visit our website.

    :)


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    Schmeltz

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (1:32 pm)

    The question of “What is actual demand” is always the million dollar question. I would speculate that 60,000 Volts / year production is not over doing it. They first need to focus on getting the Volt to every dealer that’s qualified and motivated to sell it on this continent. That should be priority one. Because when the machine is there for people to actually see and drive, that’s a whole different ball game than looking at a picture in a magazine and saying “I’m buying that!”.

    Priority two should be to promptly be getting at least two other variants on the Voltec platform available. Here’s what I would do…

    Cadillac Converj – Top teir obviously.
    Buick Crossover – middle teir but approximately priced the same as the Volt
    Chevrolet Volt – stay as the EREV benchmark that it is

    Priority three should be getting the gen. 2 Voltec platform perfected and available for purchase sooner rather than later. Vehicle price needs to come down substantially for the technology to catch on. And beyond that, GM would be wise to have a plug-in hybrid version of their Equinox and Malibu to firm up their line-up. This is wishlist stuff of course, but to me, if you’re going to talk the talk, you got to walk the walk too. In other words, if GM wants to preach the gospel of fuel efficiency, then they need to be in the front with bar-none the most fuel efficient line-up of vehicles in the land. Lead, not follow.


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    jeffhre

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (2:01 pm)

    Schmeltz: The question of “What is actual demand” is always the million dollar question. I would speculate that 60,000 Volts / year production is not over doing it. They first need to focus on getting the Volt to every dealer that’s qualified and motivated to sell it on this continent. That should be priority one.

    CorvetteGuy: We were originally given an allocation of 8 units. Because of our successful launch compared to other SoCal Dealers, we were given an additional 2 units. So in total, we delivered 10. 3 of the 22 orders cancelled from giving up on the long wait, and 2 more orders cancelled after their order actually arrived and they decided the price was a bit more than they could handle. The remaining 7 were ‘rolled over’ to 2012 orders and are in production now.

    Madness: This guy needs some feedback: http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/chevy-volt-still-not-selling_581956.html; too bad you can’t comment on his blog.

    Interesting how his only citation is, drum roll please, Mark Modica.


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    Zod

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (2:04 pm)

    I cannot wait for 5000/month production simply to (hopefully) put an end to the endless “Volt sales terrible” type articles that come out at the beginning of every month.

    When sales numbers go back up next month, it will be a great litmus test for whether these writers are biased or just incompetent. The incompetent will basically eat some crow with stories like “Volt sales rebound” or “Volt sales soaring”. Alas, most are simply biased and will either stay silent or, more likely, continue to try and deride the volt by comparing sales to the Cruze or something more mainstream.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (2:07 pm)

    “Any guesses as to what will be next? Will GM launch just one new Voltec model? Two? More?”

    Seems like the quickest, easiest move would be the production of left-drive Amperas to sell in the US as Buick Electras. Since this is essentially the same car under the skin (and the production capability for the car already exists), I don’t see sales of one as necessarily undermining sales of the other. The combined sales would be, in essence, for the same vehicle. I could see this Buick vehicle coming out as soon as the 2013 model year (late 2012).

    Honestly, I don’t see a genuinely different Voltec model appearing for another four or five years. Even if Volt/Ampera sales hit a truly unbelievable pitch, it will still be more lucrative to build capacity for, and lower costs of, these first vehicles than it will be to engineer whole new models. Remember that GM is still a recovering company in a highly stressed market.

    Look for truly new models (of around the same size/weight) by Gen 2, Gen 2.5; and in new size/segment categories by Gen 3.


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    James

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (2:14 pm)

    The Prius was a homerun success. It bred a Prius Plug In, Prius V and upcoming Prius C derivitive. History tells us the first Prius’ birth was also more of a dribble than a launch – doesn’t all logic say that using history as a lesson – GM needs to get off the schneid and just get units out there so customers can buy them see them and make other hybrid owners envious ( and curious )?

    In my opinion, GM really fell down out of the gate with the Volt, business-wise. The slow roll out has confused the public, and made us all wonder why the tons of TV ads but nothing in the dealership to back them up. The only thing to prove Voltec is the platform to beat is sales. GM can lag behind as Hyundai is well under way already promoting it’s soon-to-be Prius fighter, and eat the skyrocketing Korean company’s dust as their plug in variant rolls out in 2013, or they can lead.

    Leading will mean producing Volt in numbers that will meet and slightly exceed demand and stop using it as bait to lure folks into the showroom to buy a Cruze. From what I’ve seen the new Malibu will flop pretty soundly – as it brings nothing new to the table and some pretty weird fake wood on the steering wheel and console – a bloated Cruze who’se “mild hybrid” version brings 2-3 mpg less than a Ford Fusion hybrid that’s been out for 2+ years! Leading means introducing an PHEV Orlando variant ala: MPV5, matching and exceeding what Ford is doing with it’s C-Max Energi plug in.

    GM – pump out those battery packs and keep the mojo. The competition’s hoofbeats are getting louder and louder – Volt proves nothing as an excercise. Cruze , Malibu and Equinox are not “game changers” and 50+ mpg C.A.F.E. standards loom ahead.

    PUMP OUT THE VOLTECS! ,

    James


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    Zod

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (2:31 pm)

    From what I’ve seen the new Malibu will flop pretty soundly – as it brings nothing new to the table and some pretty weird fake wood on the steering wheel and console – a bloated Cruze who’se “mild hybrid” version brings 2-3 mpg less than a Ford Fusion hybrid that’s been out for 2+ years! Leading means introducing an PHEV Orlando variant ala: MPV5, matching and exceeding what Ford is doing with it’s C-Max Energi plug in.

    GM – pump out those battery packs and keep the mojo. The competition’s hoofbeats are getting louder and louder – Volt proves nothing as an excercise. Cruze and Equinox are not “game changers”.

    I think it’s far too early to deem the 2013 Malibu a failure. I would have never thought the current Malibu platform would be as popular as it is. And for some reason, faux wood is seemingly back in style (much to my chagrin), as many companies are doing it now.

    And while the Cruze and Equinox are not “game changers”, they are great (and successful) steps in the right direction, i.e. getting the world fleet MPG up! Most people can’t afford the premium of a hybrid (much less a volt), so these efficient standard cars are great options.


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    kdawg

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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (2:31 pm)

    Mark Modica = Intelligence Fail


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (2:39 pm)

    Zod: I cannot wait for 5000/month production simply to (hopefully) put an end to the endless “Volt sales terrible” type articles that come out at the beginning of every month.When sales numbers go back up next month, it will be a great litmus test for whether these writers are biased or just incompetent. The incompetent will basically eat some crow with stories like “Volt sales rebound” or “Volt sales soaring”. Alas, most are simply biased and will either stay silent or, more likely, continue to try and deride the volt by comparing sales to the Cruze or something more mainstream.

    Luckily, it’s really easy to play with the numbers. So when GM is cranking out 2000/month, they can say production increased 100%. Then at 5000/month they can say they increased it another 150% !!! WOW! (ok that was sarcastic). I hate all the number mumbo-jumbo these opinionated writers come up with (whether in favor or against the Volt). Just give the facts and let people make their own conclusions.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (2:46 pm)

    Some excellent posts today, guys. CorvetteGuy, you still rock. Thanks for your help in promoting and actually selling this awesome new way to get around.

    Regarding supply and demand, to improve the forecast you’d have to add the competition–lots of companies have announced various versions of electric vehicles coming in the next couple of years. Somebody’s already done that spreadsheet, I gotta believe. Off the top of my head, the other biggest variables are government actions (e.g., subsidies and CAFE), the price of gas, the prices of the vehicles (which in turn depend on battery prices, bracket and volume), and economic conditions. Oh, and design–somebody comes out with an iPad of E cars (the Volt was close, IMO), and just by itself that can change the outcome. Maybe someone can create such a spreadsheet for us, or an anlayst can give us theirs?


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (2:55 pm)

    James: From what I’ve seen the new Malibu will flop pretty soundly – as it brings nothing new to the table and some pretty weird fake wood on the steering wheel and console – a bloated Cruze who’se “mild hybrid” version brings 2-3 mpg less than a Ford Fusion hybrid that’s been out for 2+ years!

    I think you’re completely wrong about the Mailbu. It’s a nice looking car. Nothing terribly eye-catching but nice looking. Definitely a step up from the MY 2011 as well as from the Camry and the Accord. The interior of the last generation of Malibu’s was extraordinarily good for the class, so I don’t think that will be much of an issue.

    As for eAssit, you’re not getting it. Like you I wasn’t that crazy when I first heard about it, but then I realized it’s a $1500 option! Essentially you’re increasing MPG by 25% for less than two thousand dollars. That’s incredible. Yes the Malibu with eAssist will deliver slightly lower MPG than a Fusion Hybrid, but the base price of a Fusion is $20K and the base price of a Fusion Hybrid is $28k. I’ll go so far as to say that technologies like eAssist are the future for ICE vehicles. They give a lot of bang for the buck, unlike the HSD used in the Fusion, which is too expensive and not easily scaled.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (3:00 pm)

    Zod: I think it’s far too early to deem the 2013 Malibu a failure. I would have never thought the current Malibu platform would be as popular as it is. And for some reason, faux wood is seemingly back in style (much to my chagrin), as many companies are doing it now.And while the Cruze and Equinox are not “game changers”, they are great (and successful) steps in the right direction, i.e. getting the world fleet MPG up! Most people can’t afford the premium of a hybrid (much less a volt), so these efficient standard cars are great options.

    I really don’t mind faux wood done well, as in laquered-esque finish if it looks real… I sat inside a Toyota Highlander Hybrid in 2010 and couldn’t believe Toyota went with a “printed-on” woodgrain look for it’s console and door pull surrounds. I thought the grade of plastics had gone down a notch from the previous version also. Evidently I wasn’t the only one to think this as MT, Road & Track, Kelley’s and others noticed the cheesy changes also. Have you seen the new Malibu? Check out the videos on YouTube from the Detroit Auto Show and others. Even commentators from GMAuthority.com and others noted the cheesyness and said perhaps it was early prototype blunder and not production-ready. You have to admit the Cruze variants have some pretty odd material choices inside – evidently to look “quality” or different. Some have said the odd colors and strange textures looked more honky tonk than upscale for it’s class. Malibu looks to follow suit and the new Chevy default steering wheel ( Cruze, Volt, 2012 Camaro, Malibu..etc ) even has faux wood print on the LTZ.

    I’m picking up negs already LOL ( not a surprise, fanboys ) but I’m being objective, not uber-critical. The subject matter today is – business-wise, is GM really going in the right direction to increase market share? I want GM to succeed. And moreso, I want Voltec to succeed!

    If GM succeeds, I believe we all win. And IMHO GM will not match Hyundai’s present success with mild hybrid Buicks and Malibus that look like big Cruzes with fakey wood. Equinox’s current success is great. It won’t last as this current gas price bubble we’re experiencing will burst and $4.00 per gallon will drive consumers more and more off Camaros, Mustangs and SUVs without E-assist and into whatever will make the best economy for the least outlay. GM can’t forget quality*.

    RECHARGE! ,

    James

    * the perception of quality


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (3:15 pm)

    DonC: As for eAssit … I wasn’t that crazy when I first heard about it, but then I realized it’s a $1500 option! Essentially you’re increasing MPG by 25% for less than two thousand dollars. That’s incredible.

    James: GM will not match Hyundai’s present success with mild hybrid Buicks and Malibus that look like big Cruzes with fakey wood.

    If the cost of e-assist can come down from today’s option, the non-e-assist versions should be dropped. If GM can’t beat other makes’ “hybrid versions” on a pure mpg basis right now, how about a mass-offering which offers a cost advantage? This would also take away that whole option/plain issue and make those models into full-on hybrids (like the Prius). Higher sales would, in turn, make greater efficiency more affordable due to increasing economies of scale.

    Then, a plug-in (battery) becomes a reasonable option … lather, rinse, repeat.

    This is the bottom up approach to EV penetration, vs the top-down approach represented by Volt/Ampera (not saying one is better than the other). Someday, perhaps, GM will “drive the golden spike” somewhere in the middle; establishing a full-lineup, all-model EV/Voltec/PHEV dynasty.

    Just a thought.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (3:20 pm)

    kdawg: Luckily, it’s really easy to play with the numbers.So when GM is cranking out 2000/month, they can say production increased 100%.Then at 5000/month they can say they increased it another 150% !!! WOW! (ok that was sarcastic).I hate all the number mumbo-jumbo these opinionated writers come up with (whether in favor or against the Volt).Just give the facts and let people make their own conclusions.

    kdawg,

    It sounds like you’d be unimpressed by 5000/month. Along with being a record for domestically produced and/or sold EVs, wouldn’t it probably also be a record sales rate for $40k+ vehicles (albeit with tax credits helping)? I’m certainly going to be impressed when/if it happens. Certainly a landmark step in the right direction, if nothing else.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (3:35 pm)

    My guess is that GM will NOT produce any more Voltec vehicles for another couple or three years. I would expect them to try to capitalize on the Volt technology by producing more of them at a reduce cost level thereby increasing the profit margins. After two or more years of higher profits, GM will probably add a Buick Voltec vehicle. Of course, competition may affect decisions like this. It usually does. IMO


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (3:46 pm)

    N Riley: My guess is that GM will NOT produce any more Voltec vehicles for another couple or three years.I would expect them to try to capitalize on the Volt technology by producing more of them at a reduce cost level thereby increasing the profit margins.After two or more years of higher profits, GM will probably add a Buick Voltec vehicle.Of course, competition may affect decisions like this.It usually does. IMO

    Yes, sadly it will be some time before another Voltec vehicle is available (it has to be announced first!). They have to make the Volt profitable first. I believe Toyota didn’t offer another hybrid for 8 years after the Prius launch, and they didn’t even produce 30K priuses (prii?) worldwide until the 7th year of production!


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (3:56 pm)

    I really don’t care if production is 5K or 10K per month. All I want to know is:

    When will my Volt be delivered to Sweeney Chevrolet in Youngstown, Ohio!!

    Oh, and will it have MyLink?????

    As far as other models, the MPV5 would be an immediate hit. IMHO, so would a small S-10 sized Voltec truck!


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (4:00 pm)

    T 1: iPad of E cars

    That’s an interesting comparison. Apple so way-under-estimated iPads that they are just now (this week) catching up to demand and you can get one in under 24 hours now.

    Once some dealers actually have a row of Volts (like the Camaros) sitting out front, the sales will take off. It is highly unlikely that a new car buyer will actually order and wait for a car when you can get one that day that meets 90% of your checklist. This is America. Instant gratification rules!


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (4:11 pm)

    Pam Fletcher Interview Tomorrow

    Hi Everybody,

    I have half an hour to ask questions of the chief Volt engineer that strike the balance between learning something new without asking GM to divulge top secrets.

    Does anyone have anything you’d like to know?

    -Jeff


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (4:15 pm)

    After reading the Mark Modica article, I browsed over here to see what Volt enthusiasts were thinking. Modica claims to have called 6 dealerships within 75 miles of his location and found 5 had Volts for immediate sale (two dealerships had 2 cars apiece). That’s 7 unsold Volts in six dealerships… that would seem to indicate that there really isn’t that much demand for the Volt.

    Based on that, doesn’t it seem a bit delusional to assume that Volt sales will go to 5,000 per month? If there was that level of pent up demand, there would be no Volts at any of these dealerships right now.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (4:20 pm)

    Jeff Cobb,

    Will battery improvements be introduced incrementally (Gen 1.2, 1.5, etc) or with a major revision (Gen 1, Gen 2, Gen 3, etc)? It has been said previously that changes and improvements would be added incrementally, with the goal of reducing costs. Is this still the case?

    Have any battery packs had to be returned under warranty?

    Are software patches downloaded and installed via OnStar, or by the dealer?

    Okay, the engineer won’t answer this, but:

    When will I be able to afford one?


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (4:26 pm)

    jgradyc: After reading the Mark Modica article, I browsed over here to see what Volt enthusiasts were thinking. Modica claims to have called 6 dealerships within 75 miles of his location and found 5 had Volts for immediate sale (two dealerships had 2 cars apiece). That’s 7 unsold Volts in six dealerships… that would seem to indicate that there really isn’t that much demand for the Volt.

    Based on that, doesn’t it seem a bit delusional to assume that Volt sales will go to 5,000 per month? If there was that level of pent up demand, there would be no Volts at any of these dealerships right now.

    1) A few phone calls? Give me a break.

    2) The Volt is currently available in only a few areas. Get back to us once Volts can be sold in all fifty States, with several copies available at the majority of dealerships. How would Cruze sales be if you couldn’t find one on a dealer lot?

    3) So, so many in the press are down on the Volt regardless of their “research” because of their own ignorance and prejudices. They tend to go out and find just what they’re looking for, or just make $#|+ up. We’ve seen it again and again. One needs to take articles like this with a block of salt.

    If I may say so, it sounds very much like you have been been listening primarily to these sources. You do know that Volt supply has been very low during the first months, right?


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (4:28 pm)

    Jeff Cobb: Pam Fletcher Interview TomorrowHi Everybody,I have half an hour to ask questions of the chief Volt engineer that strike the balance between learning something new without asking GM to divulge top secrets.Does anyone have anything you’d like to know?-Jeff

    Hi Jeff,

    Fantastic! Many kudos! Access to insiders! You’re cracking the code – I believe GM is still taking GM-Volt.com serious.

    In the SAE book re: Volt, Pam suggests the current EcoTec 1.4 was a compromise due to packaging and timeline, as well as an economical solution. We all would enjoy something/anything new about improvements to the existing generator, or how much testing is being done with next gen gensets. I know several broad brushes have been painted , such as a small gas turbine, diesel, rotary or three cylinder generator have been posited, even by GM spokespersons, but can you probe the limits and see if she can elaborate on which systems are in the lead?

    My brother has been experimenting with a single cylinder, water-cooled 250cc motorcycle engine with a balance shaft. He’s messed with intake-exhaust and gearing and achieved amazing mileage and speed results matching much larger road bikes on the freeway. Has a three cylinder generator with balance shafts, and induction tweaks been tested as a lighter replacement?

    Also, can you ask her if REGULAR GAS and a bit more CS mode mileage is in the works?

    MUCH APPRECIATED!

    RECHARGE! ,

    James


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (4:31 pm)

    jgradyc: After reading the Mark Modica article, I browsed over here to see what Volt enthusiasts were thinking. Modica claims to have called 6 dealerships within 75 miles of his location and found 5 had Volts for immediate sale (two dealerships had 2 cars apiece). That’s 7 unsold Volts in six dealerships… that would seem to indicate that there really isn’t that much demand for the Volt.

    Based on that, doesn’t it seem a bit delusional to assume that Volt sales will go to 5,000 per month? If there was that level of pent up demand, there would be no Volts at any of these dealerships right now.

    Who are you going to believe, Modica and his obvious anti-EV agenda, or the numerous people (dozens on this site even) that have been waiting for many months to get their hands on one (if they are so available, why would people be waiting months?)?

    I’d say most of the very few “unsold” Volts out there are either Demo’s, pseudo demo’s that you’d have to overwhelm them in price to get, held for price gauging since they are so hard to find right now, or are simply in the inevitable time lag between production and final sale.

    If they’re so readily available and begging for buyers, I challenge you to find one today that you could walk home with TODAY at under MSRP, or heck, even at MSRP.

    I’m sure you can find a lot more Cruze’s (or any other car) on dealer lots than Volts, but no one’s claiming that car is a failure, are they?


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (4:36 pm)

    Jeff Cobb: Pam Fletcher Interview Tomorrow

    Hi Everybody,

    I have half an hour to ask questions of the chief Volt engineer that strike the balance between learning something new without asking GM to divulge top secrets.

    Does anyone have anything you’d like to know?

    -Jeff

    E85?
    SS model in the works?
    CUV?
    Are they thinking of using different battery sizes for different AER?


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (4:41 pm)

    James: Also, can you ask her if REGULAR GAS and a bit more CS mode mileage is in the works?

    Yes, yes! Regular gas would really help perceptions, if nothing else.

    It’s been known for almost a year that GM holds a patent for a device which dispenses fuel stabilizer as the tank is filled, making the use of regular gas possible. When (if?) are we likely to see it on a Volt?


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (4:45 pm)

    Jackson,

    I agree with you. Most car buyers are thinking about saving on gasoline, which is the only item that the manufacturer cannot control. If GM converted all of its lines with eAssist, then the total corporate MPG will go up. Even the mighty Corvette and the new 2012 LZ1 Camaro could get some electrical boosting and keep their high performance numbers while saving some gas. I drove a 1967 Camaro RS with the 327 CI and it drank plenty of gas even when idling (when gas was about 25 cents a gallon). The eAssisted ZR1 version could shut down the engine and keep quiet until the accelerator was stomped, then all 400 horses would wake up!

    Let’s see if GM is reading this and surprise us for 2013.

    Raymond


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (4:49 pm)

    Jackson: 1) A few phone calls?Give me a break.

    2) The Volt is currently available in only a few areas.Get back to us once Volts can be sold in all fifty States, with several copies available at all dealers.How would Cruze sales be if you couldn’t find one on a dealer lot?

    3) So, so many in the press are down on the Volt regardless of their “research” because of their own ignorance and prejudices. We’ve seen this again and again.One needs to take articles like this with a block of salt.

    If I may say so, it sounds very much like you have been been listening primarily to these sources.You do know that Volt supply has been very low during the first months?

    Mark Modica apparently lives near Falls Church, VA, which is only 10 miles from Washington DC. If there was really pent up demand for the Volt, wouldn’t seven people from the greater DC area call around to find those Volts and buy them? Oh well, we’ll find out soon enough. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see Americans buying 5,000 Volts per month. So far, though, it looks like the Volt is mostly a marketing tool to get buyers into the showroom to sell them a Cruze, not that there’s anything wrong with that either.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (4:50 pm)

    jgradyc: After reading the Mark Modica article, I browsed over here to see what Volt enthusiasts were thinking. Modica claims to have called 6 dealerships within 75 miles of his location and found 5 had Volts for immediate sale (two dealerships had 2 cars apiece). That’s 7 unsold Volts in six dealerships… that would seem to indicate that there really isn’t that much demand for the Volt.

    That’s assuming that Modica, a long time GM & Volt basher, is actually being fully truthful now, and not twisting facts to suit his agenda as he often has in the past. And even if he is being accurate about the unsold Volts, it may be that either/both:
    - the Volts are being marked up way over MSRP, dealer gouging because demand > supply
    - his area is not representative of other areas in existing launch markets.

    I did a search for local inventory Volts on chevy.com around my area, San Jose CA. There were ZERO volts within 50 miles (out of 17 dealerships). There were TWO within 100 miles (out of 25 dealerships). I went around looking for a Volt around March. One dealer wanted $7000 over sticker. That doesn’t happen when there’s low demand, that’s economics 101. Another dealer was willing to sell at MSRP, but was essentially sold out, except for one where a customer backed out for which they wanted $2000 over sticker. He would only put me on a list to order 2012s, and the car was manufactured only last week, with still maybe a month to go for actual delivery. The test will be sales for the month of September. Not sales for the month of July, because it’s hard to sell stuff when there’s nothing left to sell because your inventory is depleted AND your factory shut down the previous month to switch over to the next model year! Of course no mention of the factory shutdown in the Modica bash piece. If sales are still in the low hundreds after September, then he can gloat, but I expect he should be eating crow by then. Of course he won’t actually admit to anything then, he’ll twist it into something else, comparing sales to mass market vehicles instead.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (4:54 pm)

    Jeff Cobb: Pam Fletcher Interview TomorrowHi Everybody,I have half an hour to ask questions of the chief Volt engineer that strike the balance between learning something new without asking GM to divulge top secrets.Does anyone have anything you’d like to know?-Jeff

    Hi Jeff,

    Can you ask Pam if a FLPA ( Free Piston Linear Alternator using HCCI combustion ) is being considered as the EcoTec genset’s replacement?

    Here’s the DOE’s description of the technology and describes it as optimum as use for a genset for PHEV and EREV technologies. Page 16/18 —> http://arpa-e.energy.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=o7Tjpxf0Tvg%3D&tabid=437

    Also, has she been working on LTC ( Low Temperature Combustion ) technology for intake improvements on ICEs to increase efficiency? Can she allude to what GM has been working in conjunction on with national labs such as Sandia?

    How about an aluminum block for the next gen Volt’s genset?

    Also – auto lowering suspension at speed? Any experimentation done for this? When I pack my Prius full of passengers and cargo, my mileage ACTUALLY INCREASES on the freeway – by a substantial amount, actually. My assessment has been the weight is more than offset by the lower ride height of the car over the pavement – increasing aero Cd. I have the larger-wheeled Touring 2007 edition – smaller wheeled Prii get 2-4 mpg better than I – but that is overcome by the lower ride height. The technology to lower a Volt at speeds over 40 would not come cheap – but would, IMO increase CS mileage. Could it be an option? I can almost see a Buick Volt with topline cutting-edge features like this at a slightly higher pricepoint. Remember some of the mileage gains achieved by Toyota with the 3rd gen Prius over the 2nd ( 50 mpg EPA combined vs. 42 ) were by increasing windshield rake and lowering roof height ever so slightly, among other improvements.

    Thanks!

    RECHARGE! ,

    James


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (4:56 pm)

    Jeff Cobb: I have half an hour to ask questions of the chief Volt engineer that strike the balance between learning something new without asking GM to divulge top secrets.

    Does anyone have anything you’d like to know?

    I’d like to know the status/timeline of meeting California’s AT-PZEV emissions requirements in order to be eligible for HOV lane stickers & CARB rebates, if she knows & is allowed to divulge that information.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (4:56 pm)

    Jackson: Yes, yes!Regular gas would really help perceptions, if nothing else.

    Sad, but true. Even though I think premium is clearly the best choice for this vehicle (shelf life with the added benefit of slightly higher energy density), it is a HUGE psychological hurdle for some people. I’ve known people in the past who didn’t buy a specific car specifically because they found out it needed premium.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (5:00 pm)

    Jeff Cobb,

    Re: Interview

    Are they working on any changes (technology or operation) to address cold weather performance concerns?


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (5:01 pm)

    jgradyc: Mark Modica apparently lives near Falls Church, VA, which is only 10 miles from Washington DC. If there was really pent up demand for the Volt, wouldn’t seven people from the greater DC area call around to find those Volts and buy them? Oh well, we’ll find out soon enough. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see Americans buying 5,000 Volts per month.

    I was still in the process of editing my reply when you quoted me. My re-edited point #3 bears repeating:

    “So, so many in the press are down on the Volt regardless of their “research” because of their own ignorance and prejudices. They tend to go out and find just what they’re looking for, or just make $#|+ up. We’ve seen it again and again. One needs to take articles like this with a block of salt.”

    jgradyc: So far, though, it looks like the Volt is mostly a marketing tool to get buyers into the showroom to sell them a Cruze, not that there’s anything wrong with that either.

    There is something wrong with that if it’s all the Volt ever becomes. None of us here truly believes that will happen. If we are right, it should become obvious to even the casual observer over the next 12 months (probably in much less time).

    I think you will find this site a more reliable source for Volt-related news than the biased missives of GM-haters and EV critics.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (5:12 pm)

    Jeff Cobb: I have half an hour to ask questions of the chief Volt engineer that strike the balance between learning something new without asking GM to divulge top secrets.
    Does anyone have anything you’d like to know?

    Would magnetic gearing be something that could benefit the next generation of Voltec vehicles?


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (5:16 pm)

    DonC: magnetic gearing

    huh?


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (5:26 pm)

    Everyone can neg my earlier post all you want. Other folks have picked up the themes and created subtle and consequential improvements on them. I’m satisfied that a few folks here whose opinions I respect get that the consumer pressure on getting e-drive into everything is going to get to tsunami propertions as real product gets on the road. Why? Superior performance: quiet, smooth, strong, reliable, predictable acceleration and massive low end torque that full ICEs aspire to. Why wouldn’t you want that if it saves you overall operating costs as well? I bought my most recent vehicle (with e-drive, natch) just from the savings of having e-drive rather than a full gasser on my next to last vehicle.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (5:29 pm)

    Jackson: If the cost of e-assist can come down from today’s option, the non-e-assist versions should be dropped. If GM can’t beat other makes’ “hybrid versions” on a pure mpg basis right now, how about a mass-offering which offers a cost advantage? This would also take away that whole option/plain issue and make those models into full-on hybrids (like the Prius). Higher sales would, in turn, make greater efficiency more affordable due to increasing economies of scale.Then, a plug-in (battery) becomes a reasonable option … lather, rinse, repeat.This is the bottom up approach to EV penetration, vs the top-down approach represented by Volt/Ampera (not saying one is better than the other). Someday, perhaps, GM will “drive the golden spike” somewhere in the middle; establishing a full-lineup, all-model EV/Voltec/PHEV dynasty.Just a thought.

    I fully agree with Jackson on this one. Good assessment. If GM offers the e-assist on it’s “regular” cars, they’ll achieve higher mileage results than their competitors in each segment. Don’t stick an “E Assist” moniker on the trunklid – just advertise “higher mileage than Fusion, Camry, Rav4″…etc. Consumers quickly get confused over “mild hybrid”, “hybrid” or “e-assist” labels because they do not have a clue how they actually differ from one another. Right now, GM uses the “HYBRID” label on it’s cars as do all other manufacturers. Using the HYBRID signage on a car that achieves less mileage than a competitor’s car with HYBRID signage is confusing to consumers no matter what the price. I think people just see “HYBRID” and say , ” so – and – so’s hybrids aren’t as good” – bad PR.

    Make PHEVs ( Voltec ) a higher line and advertise them as “BETTER THAN CONVENTIONAL HYBRIDS”. I think this is better strategy. Also, so many 40 mpg ICE ( or diesel ) cars are flooding the market now, a “hybrid” like the Malibu Hybrid, or current year Camry Hybrid that achieve less serve to add to the confusion when consumers compare models.

    One more question for Pam: How far is GM from partnering with a company that offers an inductive home charger for the garage floor and offering it as a dealer installed option?

    PUMP OUT THE VOLTECS! ,

    James


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (5:40 pm)

    Evo,

    I didn’t ‘neg’ your post, but I’m guessing people didn’t like your idea of an artificial inflation of the Cruze’s price (as opposed to neg’ing your idea of putting some form of e-assist on everything). I don’t think charging more for the Cruze is going to make would be buyers purchase the Volt, rather it’d make them buy the competitor’s less expensive small standard sedan.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (5:51 pm)

    Zod: Evo,

    I didn’t ‘neg’ your post, but I’m guessing people didn’t like your idea of an artificial inflation of the Cruze’s price (as opposed to neg’ing your idea of putting some form of e-assist on everything).I don’t think charging more for the Cruze is going to make would be buyers purchase the Volt, rather it’d make them buy the competitor’s less expensive small standard sedan.

    It was a snide analogy to point out that’s EXACTLY what ALL automakers have been and are currrently doing with full size suvs, pickup trucks, and vans. If them, why not the Cruze? I figured I was getting negged for being snide, not for the content.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (6:29 pm)

    jgradyc: Based on that, doesn’t it seem a bit delusional to assume that Volt sales will go to 5,000 per month? If there was that level of pent up demand, there would be no Volts at any of these dealerships right now.

    “None,” doesn’t exist in car sales, there are always, some. For fast selling cars there are the combinations of options and colors that no one seems to want. Financing problems and bad credit will stop some buyers, demo models, (which can’t be sold for a year in the Volts case) and cars sitting on a car carrier when the driver stops for a donut can all be counted. And some people just change their minds about buying a car for no apparent reason.

    But with the Volts limited availability, even most of these are already assigned to buyers, unless as others have written, the dealer suddenly decides that he wants a $7000 mark up. I could go on and on with the details that Modica could easily have written about, but chooses consistently not to. This isn’t really saying much though, because even cars that have ultimately failed terribly, could have sold out with the initial numbers that GM is building.

    Around 3400 Chevy dealers, and Volts only being sent to about 600 of them so far. Many of those initial dealers have 10 to 20 wait listed deposit bearing buyers and no more cars…delusional?


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (6:32 pm)

    jgradyc: Modica claims to have called 6 dealerships within 75 miles of his location and found 5 had Volts for immediate sale (two dealerships had 2 cars apiece).

    #40

    How does that square with Jeff’s report above that there are 100 left for sale nation wide?


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (6:34 pm)

    I just read a really bad article by Katie Pavlich on Townhall.com about the Volt.

    She smears GM for bad sales of the Volt in July and insists that there are plenty of Volts available on the lots…

    I don’t know if we are allowed to post links.. so I didn’t.

    I think she deserves a appropriate response.

    I wonder if she will post a positive response to much higher sales of the Volt going forward.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (6:42 pm)

    Jeff…

    When my daughter took a test drive in DC the GM tech person said in Nov that a Volt in testing had over 500,000 miles on it back then….

    Could you ask what the highest miles any Volt has had put on it in testing or by owners.

    Thanks.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (7:21 pm)

    Jackson: huh?

    The Volt uses a planetary gearset as a transmission. The setup is quite marvelous and ingenious, but you still have the problem of a fixed reduction over a large range of speeds and of course mechanical losses. You’re using a lot of space, adding a lot of mass, and are inefficient over a good portion of your range.

    Magnetic gearing has been used in industrial machines. Rather than using gears it uses magnetic fields. If you add a stator you end up with an extremely compact motor which also serves as a transmission, albeit one that won’t break, doesn’t require any maintenance, and which has no mechanical losses.

    Here’s a demo of one in which they claim about 1/10th the size by volume and 1/6th by mass. You could package two of these, one in front and one in the rear, and have AWD with 1500 NM of torque. (Are you kidding me?). Or you could stay with one motor and take all the space devoted to the engine and motors and give it back to the passenger compartment, giving you more space for the passenger compartment. Here’s an example of what you can do: http://www.youtube.com/user/fullychargedshow#p/u/9/6m_iIbX0gmA


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (7:37 pm)

    Zod: I believe Toyota didn’t offer another hybrid for 8 years after the Prius launch, and they didn’t even produce 30K priuses (prii?) worldwide until the 7th year of production!

    You are welcome to your own beliefs, but facts are different:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Prius#First_generation_.28XW10.3B_1997.E2.80.932003.29

    Scroll down a little to see the worldwide production figures. The so called 1st gen Prius that reached the US was in 2001.
    The entire notion of comparing the Prius roll-out to the Volt roll-out is mighty strained. Back in 2005 and before, a pack of idiots lead by GM were howling that the battery would die after 50k miles. The Volt has (obviously) not proven durability, but they start off from an assumption that the battery *may* last a while — a legacy of the Prius.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (8:04 pm)

    EricLG: You are welcome to your own beliefs, but facts are different:

    You cite proves his claim correct. Sales started in 1997 and worldwide sales topped 30K units in 2003, which was seven years later. No idea of why you think he’s wrong.

    While I agree there are many differences between the Prius rollout and the Volt rollout, one common thread is that it’s new unproven and expensive technology. Perhaps you’d be taken more seriously if your claims were consistent. On the one hand you’re constantly pointing out all the problems with the Volt and saying it’s too expensive for the mass market. On the other you’re constantly complaining that GM isn’t making them fast enough. Both can of course be invalid but both can’t be valid — they’re mutually contradictory.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (8:43 pm)

    EricLG: You are welcome to your own beliefs, but facts are different: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Prius#First_generation_.28XW10.3B_1997.E2.80.932003.29

    Scroll down a little to see the worldwide production figures. The so called 1st gen Prius that reached the US was in 2001. The entire notion of comparing the Prius roll-out to the Volt roll-out is mighty strained. Back in 2005 and before, a pack of idiots lead by GM were howling that the battery would die after 50k miles. The Volt has (obviously) not proven durability, but they start off from an assumption that the battery *may* last a while — a legacy of the Prius.

    Eric,

    That’s exactly where I got that info, so I’m not sure what you are taking issue with. It’s plain as day that it was their 7th calendar year of production until they ramped to 30k worldwide units/year. For the “8 years” between the prius and another “hybrid synergy” vehicle, i used this as a reference:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_Synergy_Drive

    Anyway, I was being complimentary to Prius and it’s success, pointing out that you don’t need to build 100k units of multiple vehicle lines immediately to be successful.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (8:55 pm)

    Loboc: Jeff Cobb: Pam Fletcher Interview Tomorrow

    Hi Everybody,

    I have half an hour to ask questions of the chief Volt engineer that strike the balance between learning something new without asking GM to divulge top secrets.

    Does anyone have anything you’d like to know?
    ========================================================
    I agree Jeff, these are all excellent questions:
    E85?
    SS model in the works?
    CUV?
    Are they thinking of using different battery sizes for different AER?


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (9:04 pm)

    Jeff Cobb,

    What did she talk about with Duke Energy when she drove down to Charlotte from DC.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (9:07 pm)

    EricLG: The Volt has (obviously) not proven durability, but they start off from an assumption that the battery *may* last a while

    Seems like I’ve heard that it is “guaranteed” to last 8 years.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (9:11 pm)

    Regarding the 60K/year, 5000/month number, up in this thread some folks are thinking that is for USA consumption. This is their worldwide distribution number, some going to Canada, Europe, Asia. There won’t be 5K/month delivered in the USA. I’d have to guess 25k/yr or so USA? Maybe 20K/yr? Gasoline prices in other countries can be much higher than in the US – so Amperas and Volts are welcome in other places even more than here in the US.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (9:17 pm)

    Every-body does realize that in june and july that the plant shut down for retooling, too increase the production of the Chevrolet Volt, Opel Ampra, and too build the new malibu sedan, plus the new Impala sedan. And that’s the reason for the low sales numbers. The Volt has not stop selling, now why people are saying that it is?, well maybe people need too get a life.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (9:30 pm)

    Bonaire: Regarding the 60K/year, 5000/month number, up in this thread some folks are thinking that is for USA consumption.This is their worldwide distribution number, some going to Canada, Europe, Asia.There won’t be 5K/month delivered in the USA.I’d have to guess 25k/yr or so USA?Maybe 20K/yr?Gasoline prices in other countries can be much higher than in the US – so Amperas and Volts are welcome in other places even more than here in the US.

    Bonair,

    There are 45k of the 60k slated for the U.S. It’s quoted in this article (reproduced below):

    “As a result of the plant upgrades, planned Volt and Ampera production capacity this year will increase to 16,000 units. In 2012, global production capacity is expected to be 60,000 vehicles with an estimated 45,000 to be delivered in the United States,” Bunker said.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (10:00 pm)

    Zod: It sounds like you’d be unimpressed by 5000/month. Along with being a record for domestically produced and/or sold EVs, wouldn’t it probably also be a record sales rate for $40k+ vehicles (albeit with tax credits helping)? I’m certainly going to be impressed when/if it happens. Certainly a landmark step in the right direction, if nothing else.

    I agree. I was poking fun at people like Mark Modica that will cherry-pick and twist data to try to make a point. It’s all jibberish.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (10:49 pm)

    EricLG is another long-running troll here, though he’s been absent for awhile (haven’t missed you at all, Eric). Don’t waste your electrons trying to reason with him.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (10:52 pm)

    DonC,

    Thanks. I had never heard of that before.


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (11:00 pm)

    James: One more question for Pam: How far is GM from partnering with a company that offers an inductive home charger for the garage floor and offering it as a dealer installed option?

    http://green.autoblog.com/2011/08/01/plugless-power-getting-ready-for-real-wireless-chevy-volt-charg/


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    Aug 3rd, 2011 (11:14 pm)

    pjkPA: I just read a really bad article by Katie Pavlich on Townhall.com

    I just checked out townhall.com and read nothing but bad articles. I think Marc Modica would love that site.


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    Aug 4th, 2011 (12:13 am)

    EricLG: The entire notion of comparing the Prius roll-out to the Volt roll-out is mighty strained. Back in 2005 and before, a pack of idiots lead by GM were howling that the battery would die after 50k miles.

    The congruence really is remarkable. This time the role of “pack of idiots” as you termed it, would be played by all of the Toyota officials who claimed that the Volt would never make it because the Li-ion batteries were in a not ready for prime time status. Yet Volts are on the road with an eight year warranty. Though even GM admits that the batteries matured in concurrence with the development of the car.

    Much like a player who meets the ball at a forward spot to launch it in the goal. Not waiting in a static position. GM correctly anticipated the emerging technology. Very unique for stodgy Old GM. And a true 21st century car.


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    Aug 4th, 2011 (12:28 am)

    jeffhre: This time the role of “pack of idiots” as you termed it, would be played by all of the Toyota officials who claimed that the Volt would never make it because the Li-ion batteries were in a not ready for prime time status.

    You forgot to mention Toyota’s complete about face on the issue as well.

    From Toyota.com:

    The Toyota Prius PHV utilizes Toyota’s first-generation lithium-ion drive battery. Due to Lithium-ion’s high energy density, compactness and light weight, these batteries are a good choice for electric vehicles and will be the preferred battery type in most electric and plug-in electric in the near future.


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    Aug 4th, 2011 (1:12 am)

    Hey thanks for the reference to the inductive charging story. I did happen upon that the other day per an entry from the GM-Volt.com forums. GM should offer that as an option right from the dealer IMHO.

    There’s a lot of exciting tidbits re: Volt in the air – I get pretty psyched over the smallest details – like how will GM’s 2012 Volt dash be different to accomodate MyLink? Will MyLink be ready for primetime? Will it be better than Sync – easier, more intuitive with less complex commands that have to be memorized? How will the PowerMat be configured? Will it be on the console nice n’ handy, or in a cubby behind the flip-out info screen like people are assuming it will be in the Malibu? It’s a nice touch other cars absolutely do not have. Will future info on the nav include locations of charging stations? Can XM Nav Traffic be baked in so I don’t have a monthly bill? Rear window wiper in future plans – and higher location for backup camera?

    One small detail perhaps Pam could reveal to us Volt faithful here at GM-Volt.com …. I have been web searching and waiting for a picture to surface of a Blue Topaz Volt. I Googled the color and found a Cruze in that color which gave me a good idea – But still, does anyone else want to see the blue Volt? I sure do. Jeff, if you can get a pic, I believe we’d have our first exclusive!

    This is the kinda stuff us Voltaholics thrive on! : )

    RECHARGE! ,

    James


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    Aug 4th, 2011 (1:25 am)

    James: One more question for Pam: How far is GM from partnering with a company that offers an inductive home charger for the garage floor and offering it as a dealer installed option?

    Many speculated that was the reason Jon Lauckner and GM Ventures invested $5,000,000 in Powermat:

    http://green.autoblog.com/2011/01/06/gm-invests-powermat-wireless-charging-chevy-volt/


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    Aug 4th, 2011 (2:21 am)

    For Pam:

    Since only 15,000 EREV vehicles will be produced for overseas markets, what are the plans to begin Voltec manufacturing in Europe and Asia? We will need all the capacity here for NA and Central and S America. (So stop taking our Volts… lol )

    Will GM have to give up any patent rights to gain access to the China market? I hope they don’t.

    Did Russia try to buy patents on Voltec by trying to buy Opel with Magna?
    ( Notwithstanding Putin comment that the US is a parasite on the world economy…)

    Do you know why Frank Weber left GM Opel for BMW? Was that a blow to Opel?

    Has there been any attempts at industrial espionage…. (cough) China and France (cough)

    Ford has announced a partnership with Azure Dynamics to make a limited production of plug-in hybrid F-series Super Duties… starting with F-550 and then F-450, in 2013. Andrew Farah has previously stated that EREV is incompatible, right now, with heavy trucks. Does GM have *any* plug-in plans for Chevy and GMC medium duty trucks, the 3500s ?

    Mitsubishi announced a device that would allow use of the “i” to power home appliances in case of a power outage or a disaster (natch).
    Will the Volt soon have the capbility to act as a mobile generator?
    That would be some serious added value… although I hope that doesn’t translate into noisier evironments in wild areas like state and national parks… I have enough issues with modern car stereos as it is!

    I know she can’t and probably won’t answer most of these ?s… Just thought I’d throw up a smorgasbord.


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    Aug 4th, 2011 (3:53 am)

    Notice how everyone avoided the topic itself. There’s lots of excuses, distractions, and exaggerations about previous sales, but nothing about what to expect from the production increase. What does “poised” actually mean?

    Obviously, last year’s expectations clearly didn’t get met and hopes following rollout were horribly vague. So, what’s realistic now that the hype has been replaced with real-world data?

    In other words, what sales counts would be acceptable for August, September, and October?


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    Aug 4th, 2011 (4:10 am)

    btw… 7,907 Prius were purchased here and 24,220 in Japan last month.


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    Aug 4th, 2011 (6:02 am)

    “Chevrolet built 3,975 Volts for the 2011 model year, she said, with about 550 of these being assigned as dealer demos. To date, 3,200 have sold, and 125 are being used for internal uses, such as for engineering, marketing, training and media sampling”

    Of the 3200 sold, how many were sold to consumers? A check on CARS.COM indicated over 460 new Volts are looking for an owner. Twenty used Volts are also listed with the majority sitting at Chevrolet dealerships.

    How does this square with sales figures provided by GM management?


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    Aug 4th, 2011 (6:28 am)

    jeffhre,

    Toyota has consistently discussed their business case for using Li-ion batteries. Toyota wants a commercially viable product that can sell in all markets and attempt to balance battery performance vs cost. Toyota’s hybrid strategy has been proven and is profitable. TMC has technology and business credibility when hybrid technology is concerned.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119304912491266963.html

    BMW, Toyota, Nissan and Audi may not be the 1st to the market with an electric drive vehicle but these companies are investing heavily in R&D and production capability. Their engineering teams are trying to offset battery weight using comprehensive design approaches.

    The marketplace will ultimately tell us if GM has built the right vehicle for the times or made compromises (weight, off-the-shelf components, rush-to-market) to bring the Volt to market.


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    Aug 4th, 2011 (12:47 pm)

    john1701a
    Obviously, last year’s expectations clearly didn’t get met and hopes following rollout were horribly vague.So, what’s realistic now that the hype has been replaced with real-world data?

    In other words, what sales counts would be acceptable for August, September, and October?

    Last year’s expectations were that 10,000 Volts would be produced by the end of 2011.
    http://tinyurl.com/3txvarh

    They said nothing about the sales curve, e.g. 834 sales per month for 12 months straight.
    I guess the “expectation” is that sales in August, September, October, November and December will be increasing such that about 10,000 are sold by the end of 2011.
    And I’m not sure if they expected to keep 1000 or so Volts as demo units at dealerships all over the country from that initial production.

    Now that the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant has been upgraded and they claim it has a Volt and Ampera production capacity of 16,000 units for 2011 (not sure if they mean total for 2011, or that it now can produce 1333/month…), I would expect at least 1333 Volts to be shipped out to dealers in August, with sales ramping up accordingly, and by September to have about 1300 sales. In Oct, Nov and Dec production should be out in dealers around the country, and sales should be at least 1000 each month (I don’t know how many Volts will be kept as demos at the dealerships in the new States coming online later this year).

    Sales in 2011 so far were 2870 – 410/month.
    If they sold 1333/month for the final five months, that would give a total of 9535.
    I wonder if they will count the 326 from Dec 2010 ? 9861 by end of 2011…

    In January 2012 you may talk about whether “expectations clearly didn’t get met”.
    If they sold 9861 Volts before 2012 starts, I would be fine with that.
    If they sold 5246 Volts by then (averaging 410/month for the rest of 2011), I would be very concerned about demand.

    It would be nice if every Chevy dealership in America had 1 or 2 Volt demos going into 2012, even if that cuts into sales a bit.


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    Aug 4th, 2011 (2:46 pm)

    john1701a,

    The request was for questions Pam could answer.
    She’s not in sales or marketing. She’s not an executive.
    She’s an engineer.


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    Aug 6th, 2011 (1:02 am)

    Adarondax,

    10 years? You sir, are on crack. In 10 years, two of the largest oil fields discovered since the 1960s will be in full production.


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    Aug 6th, 2011 (10:53 am)

    At_Liberty: The request was for questions Pam could answer. She’s not in sales or marketing. She’s not an executive. She’s an engineer.

    That’s been a fundamental problem with Volt from the very beginning… heavy emphasis on engineering with almost total disregard for business (high-volume profitable sales). Remember the audience, many of whom struggled understanding the difference between want & need in the past.

    Lack of balance like that will kill a well-engineered vehicle. We’ve seen that already with Two-Mode. The priority of price was neglected in favor of things like power instead. Volt most definitely could have strived for an affordable design instead, allowing for an increase in power & range as battery technology improves.

    How an engineer can answer a “poised” question is mysterious. That’s very much an aspect of business. From engineers, we look to them for improvements (cost, efficiency, implementation, etc) of the technology itself.


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    Aug 8th, 2011 (5:48 pm)

    As for potential new products … I would like to see an ERev Caddy CTS. They could simply double-up the already-engineered Volt motors+controllers to make a 300 HP AWD CTS powerhouse. Those would sell like hot-cakes at $60K, plus showcase the superior up-scale performance of electric drive.


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    Sep 1st, 2011 (1:32 am)

    muv66,

    Seems like a long wait. There are still about 300- 2011 models at dealers that were manufactured before the June shutdown. You might want to get one of these.