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Old 03-03-2009, 03:53 PM   #1
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Taking the charge out of Chevy's Volt

Taking the charge out of Chevy's Volt
A new study casts doubt on the benefits of the automaker's much-hyped plug-in hybrid.
By Alex Taylor, senior editor
March 3, 2009: 1:39 PM ET

http://money.cnn.com/2009/03/03/auto...ion=2009030313

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Any hope that General Motors can survive without massive aid from the federal government was dashed last week when the automaker reported a huge fourth-quarter loss.

Now the Obama administration's auto panel is determining whether the viability plan that GM (GM, Fortune 500) submitted has any merit. But one of the main justifications GM offers for its long-term survival, "leadership in advanced propulsion technology," has been shaken by a report from Carnegie Mellon University.

The study concludes that plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt - GM's most publicized technology project - "are not cost effective in any scenario." GM says the Volt can go 40 miles on a single charge. But a better choice, according to the report, is a car that goes less than 20 miles on a charge.

GM wound up 2008 on life support. After losing $43.3 billion in 2007, it reported another $16.8 billion in losses for 2008. That left cash on hand at the end of the year at just $14 billion. Since the automaker is burning cash at a rate of greater than $1 billion a month, it needs quick help from the government to stay in business until springtime.

But to get that money, GM has to convince Uncle Sam that it has a reasonable shot at survival. And that's where the Volt comes in. It has been the subject of relentless promotion long before its scheduled debut at the end of 2010, and it gets prominent display in GM's viability plan. The Volt has been referred to in the media as "the car that could save GM."

But GM made some unusual decisions in designing the Volt. It decided that it wanted the car to go 40 miles on a single electrical charge because that was the maximum distance that it said most Americans travel on their daily commutes. Trouble is, configuring the car for all that electric driving means installing lots of big, heavy batteries.

The Carnegie Mellon study, conducted by engineers from three different departments, constructed computer simulation models to determine the impact of additional batteries on fuel consumption and cost and greenhouse gas emissions over a range of charging frequencies.

It found that small-capacity plug-ins that get less than 20 miles per charge are more efficient than conventional hybrids. And it said that large capacity hybrids like the Volt that go 40 miles or further on a charge are never cost-effective, because the batteries cost and weigh too much.

A car with the Volt's range, according to the study, would also be extremely uneconomical traveling fewer miles as it hauls around battery capacity it doesn't need.

The Carnegie Mellon study says small-capacity plug-ins "would be a robust choice for minimizing gasoline consumption, cost, and greenhouse gas emissions," and it said plug-ins perform best when they're sized according to the charging patterns of the buyer.

Nearly 50% of U.S. vehicle miles are traveled by automobiles covering less than 20 miles per day, according to the report, and it concludes that 20 miles is a more sensible range. It also notes that as the charging infrastructure in public places becomes widespread, cars will be able to travel shorter distances between charges.

With a likely price of $40,000, the Volt has always been a dicey economic proposition for GM. At that cost, the car would be limited to buyers with a high income who can afford a car - most likely a second or third one - with limited functionality. Nobody will want to take a Volt on a trip much beyond its 40-mile range because it is too inefficient.

Since Volt was never going to be a big seller, it was never going to make money for GM, but it at least it had the potential to create a technology halo. Now, even that possibility seems to be eroding.

The president's auto panel will have lots to consider as it evaluates GM's plan to get back to profitability. If the Carnegie Mellon study has real merit, the automaker should consider whether it should continue developing the Volt in its current form - or scale it back so that its technology is less sensational, but more affordable.
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Old 03-03-2009, 03:57 PM   #2
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Nobody will want to take a Volt on a trip much beyond its 40-mile range because it is too inefficient.


The GM hate is getting old. Whoever wrote this article needs to check their facts before spewing total BS out of their mouths.

EDIT: OH. Alex Taylor. That pile of crap. Pay no attention to him, he's been a GM hater since he was born. I've sent him more than enough angry emails regarding his blatant import-loving behavior and his lack of factual information.
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Old 03-03-2009, 04:17 PM   #3
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From the Communist News Network, huh? I wonder if that article has anything to do with the fact that Toyota's plug in version of the Prius can only go 7 miles on a charge...

Toyota Prius Plug-In Better than Chevy Volt? Study Gets it Wrong.

If even the hippies are backing GM up then they have to be doing something right.
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Old 03-03-2009, 05:54 PM   #4
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Talk about GM hate..... Any time they talk bailout on the news they just show the GM icon but dont mention the name.
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Old 03-03-2009, 07:02 PM   #5
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This is not my first time reading something like this about the volt, pretty much whats all the hate about is that it's 40K
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Old 03-03-2009, 07:44 PM   #6
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20 miles would not even get me to work 1 way...

Yea these people are stupid... the #1 reason people refused to buy anything eletric (even now in europe where e cars are HUGE) is due to range.

This study is done by some geek that lives on campus and gets from a to b on a segway.
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Old 03-03-2009, 08:16 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by FenwickHockey65 View Post


The GM hate is getting old. Whoever wrote this article needs to check their facts before spewing total BS out of their mouths.

EDIT: OH. Alex Taylor. That pile of crap. Pay no attention to him, he's been a GM hater since he was born. I've sent him more than enough angry emails regarding his blatant import-loving behavior and his lack of factual information.
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Talk about GM hate..... Any time they talk bailout on the news they just show the GM icon but dont mention the name.
It has gone beyond Old. Almost every article about GM on Gminsidenews has the word Bankruptcy in it and in other places. It was bad enough before everything went to Crap. Now, It feels like everyone in the media is out to blast GM into dust.

GO VOLT, GO GM!!!!!!! PROVE ALL THEM WRONG!!!!!!!.
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Old 03-03-2009, 09:39 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by One Mean Chevy View Post
It has gone beyond Old. Almost every article about GM on Gminsidenews has the word Bankruptcy in it and in other places. It was bad enough before everything went to Crap. Now, It feels like everyone in the media is out to blast GM into dust.

GO VOLT, GO GM!!!!!!! PROVE ALL THEM WRONG!!!!!!!.
Too true.
Somebody (usually a domestic brand) gets a huge bump up with a new halo technology, and someone else has to come along and take the wind out of their sails. Because of what? They're jealous? Paid by overseas companies? They didn't get the patent first?
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Old 03-03-2009, 09:56 PM   #9
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It also notes that as the charging infrastructure in public places becomes widespread, cars will be able to travel shorter distances between charges.
Complete stupidity. People who care about greenhouse gases and saving the planet need to learn something. That something is that most people don't care about saving the planet or greenhouse gases. If you want to save the planet you got to do it in a way that makes it profitable and easy for the masses.

Who in the hell is going to want to stop every 7 miles and charge their vehicle?
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Old 03-03-2009, 10:02 PM   #10
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It's elitist anti american hate!! They want a Global world and Global economy makes me sick!!! Its incredible how if a non American company does this stuff their akin to JESUS when an American does it ohhhh this is shit it cant be good!! F the Secular humanist scum who run that puppet show on the Communist News Network!
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Old 03-03-2009, 10:14 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Sierra View Post
Talk about GM hate..... Any time they talk bailout on the news they just show the GM icon but dont mention the name.
There's talk going around that toyota and honda applied for their own government loans from Japan today. It's not just us, it's not just Chrysler, and the majority of Americans are too stupid to realize that.
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Old 03-03-2009, 10:22 PM   #12
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The majority of Americans are brain washed drones!!! Go little sheep follow the slaughter
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Old 03-03-2009, 10:29 PM   #13
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Once GM has the technology down they can make any version the want. 10 miler, 20 miler, 30 miler, etc. I am looking forward to an electric Camaro someday.
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Old 03-03-2009, 10:31 PM   #14
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That Im not looking forward too at all!!!! Some cars need to run on GAS!!!! Camaro wouldnt be a CAMARO on electric! No exhaust note no rumble from the engine, no STICK!!! Your insane No WAY!!!
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