Chevy Volt likely to shock Government Motors

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Winningreen Discourse                                        A060409
 
Chevy Volt likely to shock Government Motors
 
By Tom Randall
 
Date: June 4, 2009
 
Issue:
Former General Motors management spent billions of dollars on development of "it". Environmentalists tell us "it" will save the planet.  Liberal politicians, particularly the president, extol "its" virtues. But "it," the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt, seems likely to be a car with no market.
 
First of all, GM says the little car's lithium battery is good for "up to" 40 miles on a full charge. "Up to" is code for ideal conditions.  How much does that range go down when you turn on the heater or air conditioner, drive at high speed or on very hot or very cold "battery-draining" days?  Government Motors, so far, isn't saying.  Our guess is the range would decrease a lot.  So, that seems to limit the car's market to major cities…like Chicago.  It wouldn't even make a useful commuter vehicle in a major metropolitan area where rush-hour traffic reporters talk about delays in terms of hours, not miles per hour.
 
In Chicago, like other big cities, most people park on the streets or in condominium parking garages; single-family garages are the exception.  But, parking places on city streets have no electrical outlets.  In our condo building we would need about a 375-foot extension cord to reach from 19th floor, where we live, to where our car resides on the third floor of the adjacent parking garage.
 
So, it would seem the Volt's most viable market isn't really viable at all.
 
But there are other problems. 
 
Early indications are that the small little economy hybrid will sell in the neighborhood of $40,000.  For that kind of money, customers can get a relatively fancy set of wheels that still gets what most of us would consider acceptable mileage.  A $7,500 taxpayer subsidy cuts the price to $32,500 — still high. And, the car's big battery carries with it other problems.
 
First of all, it appears the battery will be so expensive that Government Motors is considering not selling it with the car but leasing the battery separately.  Secondly, the lithium for the battery comes from Bolivia. So we would be trading less use of oil from unstable parts of the world for lithium from another unstable country.
 
When the battery loses its charge, the car has to run on its gasoline engine.  When the battery goes dead, what kind of mileage will its "auxiliary" gasoline engine get?  GM isn't saying but dragging around the massive, heavy battery is not conducive to good mileage.
 
Finally, by the time the much-delayed Volt hits the road, it is likely to face stiff competition from advanced, efficient, low-emission, conventional drivetrains being developed by a number of competitors, including the only U.S. car company President Obama has not yet nationalized — Ford.
 
Of course, Government Motors won't pay for this impending product development/marketing failure.  We will.  We pay all the government's bills.
 
Contact: Tom Randall
Winningreen LLC
Phone: 773-857-5086
e-mail: trandall@winningreen.com