Thursday, August 13, 2009


I watched on TV Mr. Fritz Henderson of the new General Motors speak about the new Chevy Volt.

Besides a web site the car has a Facebook page and a Twitter account.

He talked about the ad campaign for the new car that features the numbers "230" displayed so that the ZERO is an electric plug with a smiley face appearance. He said that 230 represents the miles per gallon efficiency rating for the car.

The Volt is likely going to sell for $40,000. According to Mr. Henderson it is designed to be used optimally by the person who drives 40 miles per day and that is supposed to be about 75% of us or something like that.

That's because 40 miles is about what you can drive on one charge of the lithium-ion battery. You just plug it in to your normal house outlet. The estimate is that a single charge is between $.75 and $2.50 depending I suppose on the cost of electricity and how depleted the battery is.

The car seats 4 adults.

The 230 mpg number is achieved using "new guidelines" about which the details are unknown. Basically the Volt on one charge can hit a maximum of 40 miles using only the battery. It does have an engine which supposedly can take you another maximum of 300 miles using gasoline at a rate of 30 mpg.

As I watched this news conference here's what I thought:
  1. The new GM is the old GM less all the people they screwed over.
  2. The new GM learned absolutely nothing from its past.
  3. Same old same old - promise more than they can deliver - same as old GM.
  4. Advertising is more important than results to both GMs.
  5. Lack of respect for the intelligence of consumers.
  6. Wonder what a battery costs for these things?
  7. Wonder about where all those batteries go when they die?
  8. Wonder about the unintended consequences?
Then I quit watching.

I have owned cars by GM, Honda, Toyota, Nissan and other manufacturers. My Hondas all got better mileage than the sticker. My Toyotas (including Lexus) got exactly what the sticker predicted. My GM cars never came close to the predicted mpg number.

Later I left work, climbed into my Lexus and drove home. And on the way I thought about the fact that I paid the same amount for my Lexus that GM is going to ask for the Volt.

And I'm pretty sure a sarcastic smile spread across my face.


Lori1955 said...

I don't know if this vehicle can give what it promises but I see two problems. First, I wouldn't buy a car that could only drive a certain distance before it ran out of juice. It's not like I could just plug it in anywhere and have it charge in a few minutes. Second is the price. How many people are going to spend that kind of money on something like that? I don't see it happening. I'm all for alternatives but I don't think electric is the way to go.

Anyway, I'm a Ford person. ;)

~Betsy said...

My son is driving my dad's 1996 Honda Accord. Dad was almost religous about oil changes for it and my son has followed suit. He is STILL getting more than 30 miles per gallon, city driving. The vehicle cost about $25,000 brand new - 13 years ago. It has paid for itself over and over again.

I will soon be in the market for a car for myself. Based on experience, I'm going either Ford or Honda. GM will NEVER get my business.

I take my business to hardworking people who respect the capitalism this country was built on.

I can't imagine paying so much for a car that runs out of juice in such a short period.

flintysooner said...

I hope the thing works out but I would have been more impressed if 230 mpg really meant 230 mpg and if the new GM had produced and sold a car that actually performed better than what they advertise.

The other thing that concerns me is that there is this appearance of collusion between the government and GM and, of course, the government owns GM.

dave said...

Actually the volt goes 40 miles on battery alone, then a small gas engine kicks in to both charge the battery and drive the car.
That makes the range equal to a tank of fuel. Chevy says that is over 600 miles.
Still, it is a lot of money, but early models of new technology are always spendy.
Will it survive the marketplace? Maybe.

flintysooner said...

Dave the article says it is 300 miles maximum on the generator. So total range is 340 miles maximum and that's for 10 gal of gasoline + the battery charge.

That's the best you can do if you have optimum conditions and driving skill.

I do understand the problems of calculating mpg for an electric hybrid like the Volt but to advertise 230 and for the government to be complicit in it seems a big stretch to me.

rilera said...

There's a good documentary out there called "Who Killed the Electric Car" from several years ago.

I myself can't imagine purchasing an electric vehicle, but if this is gas and electric then it does sound intriguing. And new technology does always cost more.