Hill all, this is my first post here and I felt compelled to join and post by the unbelievable (from my POV) negative reaction to the unveiling of the looks of the production Volt.
Guys, you don't need a Volt.
If you really were interested in the Volt because of the looks (or MAINLY because of the looks) of the prototype I think you better turn your attention to better looking and CHEAPER sport (or simil-sport) cars ALREADY available TODAY.
What are you doing here??
I come from Italy and over here (like in the rest of the Western Europe) paying 5 USD a gallon for "benzina" ("gasoline" for the Americans and "petrol" for the Brits) sounds like being in Wonderland... We are now paying around $ 8 per gallon and in recent times have touched a peak of around $ 9 per gallon (€ 1,58 per liter!).
The Volt really looks nice to me but even if it looked exactly like a Prius (which is OK but definitely not a good looking car to me) I would buy it without a second thought.
I am not looking for the best looking car I can afford, I am looking for the best fuel efficient vehicle (besides meeting my basic safety and comfort requirements) I can afford (and which makes the most economic sense taking into account its price)!
Toyota is selling the Prius in Italy from a while already but is not having any success and I suspect it's exactly the same in every other European markets they are selling in. The problem is not its looks, the problem is its economics, in other words its sticker price and... YES, ITS FUEL CONSUMPTION!
I am bewildered by the success the Prius is enjoying in the US and Japan and by the interest other similar Hybrids are raising over there. They are crap from my point of view.
Let me explain.
First of all, by European standards they are not small ("compact") cars like they are considered in the States, they are medium sized cars and the best selling sectors of the European markets are for cars actually SMALLER than the Prius (so the opposite "problem" as in the US).
Secondly, they are selling in Italy for around € 24.000 (as usual, the price in USD is just turned into Euro... ) and their fuel consumption is practically the same of cars € 10.000 cheaper than the Prius and that WE ALREADY HAVE IN EUROPE SINCE MANY MANY YEARS!
As an example, I have an Opel (yes, ironically, it is a GM!) Corsa 1.3 CDTI Speedtronic (the penultimate model) which is admittedly smaller than the Prius but it still comfortably seats (by European stadards) 5 people and is available in both 3 doors models (like mine) and 5 doors ones.
Well guys, it's a latest generation diesel and it's as clean and as quiet as a latest generation benzina/gasoline/petrol engine of comparable power and has much more torque and much better fuel consumption than them.
It does on average 47 MPG in real world usage (around 18.5-19 km/l) so just 1 mpg less than the published(!) figure for the Prius. It has A/C, ABS, traction control, Electronic Stability Control, power steering, power windows, powered and heatable mirrors, cd mp3 (I have replaced it with a 7" LCD touch screen multi-player though LOL), antitheft alarm, centralized door lock with radio remote, alloy wheels, metallized paint, automatic transmission (one of the very few in Europe, I have lived 2 years in the US and that's one of the "habits" I took there and have brought back home ). The cost? € 14.000......
BTW, the cost of a liter of diesel has for a long time been significantly lower than benzina/gasoline/petrol although in very recent times it has caught up with it and is now selling for just slightly less (it has even been more expensive for a very short while).
In summary, the Prius to me is a not good looking and too big car to me which is also too expensive for what you get and doesn't offer any particular fuel efficency in respect to what we have had available here in Europe since a long time. In short, and considering the unnecessary added complications (and possible added costs) given by the electric engine, battery, circuitry etc, it's crap.
As are all of the other comparable hybrids currently existing and planned for the near future.
The ONLY real interesting alternatives are the Volt and the other plug-in hybrids!
If 40 miles (64 kms) a day cover the normal daily needs of most Americans that's much more true here in Europe! Most of us here could really "set to zero" the monthly expense for our petrolio (oil) flavor of choice (BTW, diesel cars sell much more, here, than benzina ones) !
Seeing the attitude of many American posters and potential customers I really wonder why GM isn't selling the Volt in Europe first...
If they made even a slightly smaller Volt and guaranteed the battery for 10 years and 150,000 kms (93,000 miles instead of the publicized 150,000 miles which is an unnecessary high number for the European market) and priced it at no more than € 25.000 I bet they would make a killing.
Both of my parents, my sister, my brother and most people I know make less than 64 kms a day and a car like the Volt would really pay for itself very quickly especially when you consider the fact that they would make our overcongested cities cleaner and quieter. I bet the public subsidies and incentives to buy such a car would be pretty bigger here than in the US too so I really think they would sell like hot cakes.
I am one of the very few I know of who make more than 64 kms a day. My daily commute is 110 kms since I am getting a nursing degree and practitioning at a hospital 55 kms from my city (which also has a big hospital but unfortunately not connected with the uni). But I park my car at the employees car park and if cars like the Volt started selling here in good numbers I am sure that plugs would quickly be made available for the owners, probably even for free (given the relative small cost of the electricity compared to the social benefits of EV cars usage) as an incentive!
Heck, some plugs are already there!....... LOL!
In the end, we in Europe are already living, from a long time, in a $ 8-9 a gallon world and we are accustomed to smaller (not only for fuel economy reasons) and less powerful cars so a Volt here would see very little of this looks criticism nonsense and, if its sticker price is right, has the potential to really revolutionize the market of the good old overtaxed Europe...