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  1. #1 Insight: GM's Volt - The ugly math of low sales, high costs 
    eeeevil Sith Admin SarasotaRepub's Avatar
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    Maybe the NextGen will do better...




    By Bernie Woodall and Paul Lienert and Ben Klayman
    Mon Sep 10, 2012 12:24am EDT



    (Reuters) - General Motors Co sold a
    record number of Chevrolet Volt sedans in August but that probably isn't a
    good thing for the automaker's bottom line.

    Nearly two years after the introduction of the path-breaking plug-in hybrid,
    GM is still losing as much as $49,000 on each Volt it builds, according to
    estimates provided to Reuters by industry analysts and manufacturing
    experts.

    Cheap Volt lease offers meant to drive more customers to Chevy showrooms this
    summer may have pushed that loss even higher. There are some Americans paying
    just $5,050 to drive around for two years in a vehicle that cost as much as
    $89,000 to produce.

    And while the loss per vehicle will shrink as more are built and sold, GM is
    still years away from making money on the Volt, which will soon face new
    competitors from Ford, Honda and others.

    Yep, I see Volts ALL OVER Sarasota...
    May the FORCE be with you!
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  2. #2  
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    It's hard to say, because it can be a valid business strategy to sell a product at a loss if it means gaining market share, or investing in infrastructure. For example, the more volts on the road means the more "charging stations" will start cropping up, which means more people will buy electric cars. *If* the infrastructure gets there, and Chevrolet makes the iPhone of electric cars (by having a technology, production, and distribution advantage), then it could work out for them.
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  3. #3  
    Senior Member Gina's Avatar
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    And while the loss per vehicle will shrink as more are built and sold
    Like a hunter in a blind, they just have to be patient!
    Good men sleep peaceably in their beds at night because
    rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.



    Real superheroes don't wear capes. They wear dog tags.
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  4. #4  
    Senior Member LukeEDay's Avatar
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    They just said, two weeks ago?, that they are halting production on the Volt to focus on the 2014 Impala.

    I love my God, my country, my flag, and my troops ....
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  5. #5  
    Senior Member DumbAss Tanker's Avatar
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    If it was the pure electric commuter they originally claimed to be developing, had an actual price point between 25K and 30K, and got over 100 miles on a charge in average driving conditions, they would have been brilliantly successful. Unfortunately for them it fails massively on all three counts. If you want to go 100 miles on batteries, you'd better have three Volts, two tow bars, and 100 miles of dead flat road with no intersections on a nice spring or autumn day.
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  6. #6  
    Senior Member LukeEDay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DumbAss Tanker View Post
    If it was the pure electric commuter they originally claimed to be developing, had an actual price point between 25K and 30K, and got over 100 miles on a charge in average driving conditions, they would have been brilliantly successful. Unfortunately for them it fails massively on all three counts. If you want to go 100 miles on batteries, you'd better have three Volts, two tow bars, and 100 miles of dead flat road with no intersections on a nice spring or autumn day.
    My thing is that I don't understand how they have the technology to make the electric car, but don't make it where it recharges in motion. How hard would that be? I mean, you have two batteries. When one goes low it automatically switches over to the full one, and then while in motion, the low one would get charged. They could even have it where a gas powered motor is the generator to recharge the batteries.

    Oh wait, that will make it where people would hardly have to buy gas again. We can't have that :roll eyes:

    I love my God, my country, my flag, and my troops ....
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  7. #7  
    Senior Member DumbAss Tanker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LukeEDay View Post
    My thing is that I don't understand how they have the technology to make the electric car, but don't make it where it recharges in motion. How hard would that be? I mean, you have two batteries. When one goes low it automatically switches over to the full one, and then while in motion, the low one would get charged. They could even have it where a gas powered motor is the generator to recharge the batteries.

    Oh wait, that will make it where people would hardly have to buy gas again. We can't have that :roll eyes:
    The first part of that is really a perpetual motion machine, there's kind of a law of thermodynamics problem with it. On the last part, there's not really one battery, there is one big honking battery bank or array, which is a large part of the weight of the car and the most expensive single thing in it; they really couldn't put two of those in a vehicle. The more efficient hybrids generally do recharge off an IC engine driving a generator, with the drive motor(s) getting first dibs on the generator output and the battery bank getting the leftover generator output not needed for movement. It's a cleaner design to have the heat engine run a generator than the drive wheels directly, since heat engines, IC or EC, can be made more efficient if they can be set to run at one constant speed to drive a generator, as opposed to running at the highly variable speeds necessary to the drive the powertrain directly from the heat engine itself, plus of course cutting out the significant additional weight of extra parts necessary to transmit power to the drive wheels by two different means.
    Last edited by DumbAss Tanker; 09-10-2012 at 12:46 PM.
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  8. #8  
    Power CUer noonwitch's Avatar
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    I have seen a few Volts around metro Detroit, but that's to be expected.
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  9. #9  
    Senior Member TVDOC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DumbAss Tanker View Post
    The first part of that is really a perpetual motion machine, there's kind of a law of thermodynamics problem with it. On the last part, there's not really one battery, there is one big honking battery bank or array, which is a large part of the weight of the car and the most expensive single thing in it; they really couldn't put two of those in a vehicle. The more efficient hybrids generally do recharge off an IC engine driving a generator, with the drive motor(s) getting first dibs on the generator output and the battery bank getting the leftover generator output not needed for movement. It's a cleaner design to have the heat engine run a generator than the drive wheels directly, since heat engines, IC or EC, can be made more efficient if they can be set to run at one constant speed to drive a generator, as opposed to running at the highly variable speeds necessary to the drive the powertrain directly from the heat engine itself, plus of course cutting out the significant additional weight of extra parts necessary to transmit power to the drive wheels by two different means.
    True.....however the overriding problem with "electric cars" is twofold:

    1. It's old, old technology, and has been around in various forms since the last two decades of the ninteenth century, and has never been successful, even in the "horse and buggy" era, when distances travelled were tiny, and there were absolutely no standards for passenger impact protection and other safety factors adding additional weight to the vehicle.

    2. Most importantly, you can't repeal the laws of Physics......it will always require "x" amount of electrical energy to move a vehicle with a mass of "y" pounds over a distance of "z" miles (ambient temperatures and road friction being a given constant). The storage "battery" has been around since the Babylonians invented it 5,000 years ago, and except for more efficient materials, it hasn't changed appreciably since......a "cell" is only capable of delivering 1.3 to 3.0 volts, and the current storage capacity is limited by size and weight.....you can build them larger, but all that accomplishes is that as that is done, they consume more of their own stored power moving the mass of the battery itself (and lengthen the recharge cycle), and there becomes a theoretical point where the two curves (range vs size/mass) intersect.......

    With all of the components required to make a vehicle that meets safety (and other) standards, the minimum mass is about 1800 pounds, which creates a theoretical maximum range (under optimum conditions) of about 80 miles of flat road between charges. With a regenerative charging system (braking charging), you might under optimum conditions stretch that to 100 miles......sometimes......but under no conditions would it ever exceed this......ever......

    Regardless of how exotic the materials used to manufacture the cells, the charging cycle remains long (relatively), and cannot be altered, as such, these will always be a limited-use type transportation......limited to short urban commutes, and "shopping cart" applications.......never a "mass-market" solution. The US is a vast country, and Americans travel over long distances, carrying (relatively) large loads of passengers and cargo. Electric vehicles will never be a solution for these driving patterns, and therefore will not be any more practical than they were in 1890.....

    Back to the topic, I would be remiss if I didn't reinforce the fact that the "Volt" was never intended to be a production vehicle.......it was built by GM as a "concept car" for the New York and Detroit Auto Shows, and as such was NOT really anything more than an "idea" to attract the tree-huggers......it was only after the Obama administration saw it that it was forced into production and that was done in a slipshod manner, which has resulted in a myriad of problems and issues with its use in the marketplace.........regardless of which manufacturer makes them, they will never be a profit center, and sales will be small due to their limited application.

    GM, Ford (with a Ranger pickup), and Chrysler all built limited runs of electric vehicles in the '90's and essentially gave/leased them away to various drivers (mostly in California), and after years of testing and research......abandoned them as impractical and unprofitable (especially GM, after their vehicles burned down several houses when their batteries overheated under charging).

    Exotic designs of "hybrid" technology can and likely will be devised, but to be practical, American vehicles will always require a source of fuel to operate over long distances, and until someone manages to build a quantum generator, the least expensive and most practical source of that energy will, for the forseeable future be hydrocarbons........wishing isn't going to change this.......

    .
    doc
    Last edited by TVDOC; 09-10-2012 at 02:13 PM.
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  10. #10  
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    The math? I'll give you the math I know.

    There are about 1.2 million cars sold in America every month.

    The average car plant manufactures about 600 cars per day.

    Volt sold 2500 units in August, which was the best month ever, so that is about 4 days production.
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