GM offers big discounts to boost Volt sales


#1

GM offers big discounts to boost Volt sales
By TOM KRISHER
AP Auto Writer
9/22/12

General Motors rolled out the Chevrolet Volt two years ago with lofty sales goals and the promise of a new technology that someday would help end America’s dependence on oil.

So it seemed like a good thing in August when sales of the $40,000 car set a monthly record of 2,800. But a closer look shows that things aren’t what they seem for the cutting-edge car.

Sales rose mostly because of discounts of almost $10,000, or 25 percent of the Volt’s sticker price, according to figures from TrueCar.com, an auto pricing website. Other pricing services gave similar numbers, and dealers confirmed that steeply discounted Volts are selling better than a few months ago.

GM’s discounts on the Volt are more than four times the industry’s per-vehicle average, according to TrueCar estimates. Edmunds.com and J.D. Power and Associates say they’re about three times the average. Discounts include low-interest financing, cash discounts to buyers, sales bonuses to dealers, and subsidized leases.

I noted elsewhere that in the past month or two I had gone from seeing 1 Volt every month or two in my work commute to seeing a Volt about 3 times a week. Here’s the reason why, and it’s not pretty! Before planning any crowing celebrations, two reasons this news is ugly need to be kept in mind: 1.) at the undiscounted $40K price, the Volt was/is manufactured at a huge loss, which means 2.) the Volt can never repay the 100s of millions of $$s GM (actually, TAXPAYERS!) invested in the Volt. This turkey - the Volt - needs to be euthanized … put it out of the taxpayers’ cumulative misery!

I wonder why, after a year and a half in production, GM is offering such substantial discounts … could something be happening soon? Maybe in a couple of months?


#2

There’s nothing wrong with the Volt’s technology; it’s just that it’s expensive. It is technology that is unique in the marketplace, offering the everyday economy of an electric with the range-freedom of a gasoline engine. It is, in short, the only electric car that is practical enough to be a familiy’s only car.

The problem is that a pure electric is less expensive, and is almost never purchased as a family’s only car. It’s strictly a second car, and must be supplemented by a gasoline car if the family ever intends to take any long trips. The thinking behind the discounts is to boost interest in the technology and its unique and very practical utility, so that so, by word of mouth, it can become accepted. Seeing three Volts a week is a big thing, and I can confirm I’ve seen more Volts on the road, too. So far, so good!

If I were GM’s marketing guru, I’d offer a free upgrade to a higher voltage home recharging system for every Volt purchased. I like the idea of a driving a Volt, especially if my garage had the higher voltage hook-up so the battery could be charged in only four hours. That’s a high-value incentive, and since it wouldn’t be just cash taken off the top of the car, it wouldn’t hurt its resale value.


#3

I only hope they aren’t betting my house on the Volt’s success.

I do wish them luck and profit in this strategy. Hope it pays off… and pays back.


#4

Ummmm … yeah, John. GM is losing thousands of $$ in the manufacturing of the Volt - ignoring the huge investment - and they hope to make that up through sales volume? First rule for when you find yourself in a hole: STOP DIGGING!

As a car - profit-loss ignored - the Volt is a very expensive mediocrity, at best. Fully charged (you pay $$ to your local electric company rather than the local gas station, and the car’s pollution gets moved from its tail pipe to the power company’s smoke stack), it’s an electric car with 40- or 50 mile range, assuming good weather, no use of heater or AC, and no passengers or significant cargo. Woo hoo! Stay close to home, because charging stations are not very common. But if your commute is more than that 40 or 50 miles - mine currently is 53 miles a day, down from ~75 miles a day - the Volt becomes a severely under-powered (small gas engine lugging and charging a huge heavy battery in addition to propulsion) gas-propelled car that gets OK gas mileage (about the same as my Toyota Corolla, which has equal or better range, while carrying more people and stuff and not worrying about proximity of recharging stations or “bricking” (which has not happened to a Volt yet)). The Volt is not a technological marvel if the way people use their cars is considered; in that context the Volt is a very expensive mediocrity, at best.


#5

The Volt is not “severely underpowered”; it always runs mostly as an electric whether for the first fifty miles or beyond. A travelling salesman won’t want a Volt, but anyone with a predictable daily commute will reap real benefits. The idea is to mostly use the Volt as you would an electric - use it to commute five days a week and recharge overnight. But it can run the long weekend trips with ease, and without resort to any recharging at all. So you put gas in the car once a month, at most. Is that a realistic scenario for a primary family car? It is for many, if not for you, Pete. Don’t condemn the car’s utility because it doesn’t conform to your particular pattern of use.

Here’s an interesting long-term test perspective on the Volt: Link


#6

Replace the family car? Are you kidding? The world family implies children, let’s say two, which will fit in a Volt, presuming the parents of those children can afford a $40,000 car, or $32,000 if they have the tax bracket to take advantage of the government tax write-off. In six years of average driving, 15,000mi/yr, they will need to replace the vehicle’s batteries, probably a bit sooner than that, at a cost of $10-12,000. So, just to get to the current average age usage of a car today, which is around ten years, our parents are looking at buying a $50,000 car, all other things being equal.

For that, they get a car with limited mileage, very limited mileage, on battery operation alone. If they live somewhere hot, or somewhere cold, it’ll perform even worse. Which is where its 9 gallon gas tank comes into play. You’ll have noticed, in the conveniently provided short-term test perspective, that in 27,000 miles the driver filled that tank 66 times, or approximately once every 400 miles, and plugged it in four times that amount, which does take rather longer than a fill-up. I’m just struck by the fact that the average family sedan needs filling up about…every 400 miles. That the test was done primarily in moderate climate California, doesn’t portend well for the Volt doing nearly that well in, say, Detroit.

So our family buys a car that cannot even compete with the Chevy Cruise Eco, sister to the Volt, which gets 42 mpg average, 50 mpg highway, and costs on average $18,000? It’s a better buy for our family, even a $5-6 per gallon gasoline. Just how many stupid families do you expect to find out there? Let me rephrase that. Just how many stupid families with $42,000 to spend on a car do you expect to find out there? Not many? Well, GM and the American taxpayer have now spent about $25 billion to find out exactly the same thing. Let’s remember, there’s a reason these guys went bankrupt in the first place, and it had nothing to do with the Volt but, I’ll bet if you looked at it, you’d find a lot of Volt-like decisions within their corporate past that might lead you to think bankruptcy had to come some day.

The short version of this whole technological inanity is that the battery technology is still five years away; right where it’s been for the last two decades, always five years away. What it is is, it ain’t here today, and five years from now ain’t lookin’ good neither. (Or did the battery maker’s troubles escape you? Electric car battery makers hit the skids — Cleantech News and Analysis Yeah, that’s another $1 billion of taxpayer dollars to battery companies that make batteries that either don’t work, or are still better suited to cordless drills.)

GM, meanwhile, has no competitive true family car, to carry that formulation a bit further forward. Its current family four-door, the Malibu, is widely panned as not being nearly as good as the Malibu it replaced. You can’t tolerate too many model changes like that and survive. Why the importance of the family four-door, which hasn’t been much heard from over the past decade? Because SUVs are going away. CAFE standards now apply to trucks and require them to get 28.5 mpg by 2016. By the time that day arrives, all that will likely be left in the GM stable that resembles an SUV will be the venerable Suburban, though its continuance is hardly guaranteed as GM will have to offer vehicles to offset it, which brings us to minivans and the four-door family sedan. GM doesn’t make a minivan and it family four-door, well, it could have used some of that Volt development money it appears. GM will be appearing in a bankruptcy court again.


#7

The Volt is not “severely underpowered”; it always runs mostly as an electric whether for the first fifty miles or beyond.

I see you didn’t read the sentence to which you took exception:

But if your commute is more than that 40 or 50 miles - mine currently is 53 miles a day, down from ~75 miles a day - the Volt becomes a severely under-powered (small gas engine lugging and charging a huge heavy battery in addition to propulsion) gas-propelled car that gets OK gas mileage …

Emphasis added to highlight what you missed, Jazz. The Volt’s gas engine is 1.4L, barely adequate for a car that size … without the large, heavy battery and without power being diverted from propulsion to charging the battery. There are some places in the Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevada Mountains and even CA’s Coast Range (on Interstate highways!) I’d be amused to see a Volt attempt while under gas power, lugging and charging its battery. But being inside the Volt would not be very safe if there’s any traffic, IYKWIM, so I’d want to see it at a distance.


#8

Pete, you’re wrong about the function of the Volt’s gas engine. Except in certain strenuous situations, the purpose of the gas engine is to recharge the electric motor, not to power the wheels. The Volt therefore runs as an electric, regardless of the miles driven. It does not become “underpowered” as it keeps going, or goes up hills. It is always (or to be strictly accurate, almost always) powered by only by its electric motor.


#9

If that’s so, then how come the battery has to keep being recharged?


#10

I’m not sure I understand your question, 2cent. An electric motor always needs to be recharged. If your daily commute is around 40 miles and you plug the Volt in each evening, you may never need to put gas in its gas tank. The gas engine steps in and permits the electric motor to keep going when its “plug in” charge is exhausted. It is an electric car without the range anxiety that afflicts every other electric car. It is not the most efficient alternative for long trips, but it CAN make such long trips with reasonable fuel economy if a recharger isn’t otherwise available. It is therefore far more practical than a conventional electric, which can really only function as a second car.


#11

Jazz, you said:

the purpose of the gas engine is to recharge the electric motor, not to power the wheels.

That doesn’t make sense.
If that were so, then why would there be estimates on how many miles PER GALLON OF FUEL the car gets?
And if the gasoline recharges the battery, rather than fueling the vehicle to run, then why would you need to recharge the battery every X amount of miles?

I’m not trying to argue w/you. Just trying to make sense of what is not computing w/me.


#12

2cent,

Here is information direct from the source Linky - Volt FAQs


#13

.

[quote=“Jazzhead, post:10, topic:36269”]
I’m not sure I understand your question, 2cent. An electric motor always needs to be recharged. If your daily commute is around 40 miles and you plug the Volt in each evening, you may never need to put gas in its gas tank. The gas engine steps in and permits the electric motor to keep going when its “plug in” charge is exhausted. It is an electric car without the range anxiety that afflicts every other electric car. It is not the most efficient alternative for long trips, but it CAN make such long trips with reasonable fuel economy if a recharger isn’t otherwise available. It is therefore far more practical than a conventional electric, which can really only function as a second car.
[/quote]You need to investigate further. You are wrong, again.
There are actually four engine modes. The first two, are electric with a dormant engine. One low speed, one high speed. The third, is electric with an active engine keeping the electric motor driving the car, with the engine charging only. The fourth mode is a hybrid mode where the generators are disconnected completely, and the ENGINE drives the wheels.
It is a piece of …junk. They are having trouble selling them, and one reason is, the sales staffs have no confidence in the vehicle. I write many GM loans. I have yet to write a Volt. I ask the salesman at the local dealership, and they tell me they do not even suggest them. They are more interested in showing the Eco.
Couple that with the expense, and also the bad press from the ones that caught fire, and NO ONE WANTS THESE THINGS except the greenies that are loaded and can afford 40 grand for a playtoy.
I cannot even get in one.


#14

Read the link I provided above, Tiny. This car is expensive, as is the case with any new technology, but it represents a genuine leap forward in how to make an electric car practical with current technology. Yet you call it junk - after you admit you can’t even fit your fat ass into one.

I’ll trust the many car buffs who have recognized this car’s potential without political axes to grind. Did you read the Motor Trend piece I linked to above?


#15

[quote=“Jazzhead, post:14, topic:36269”]
Read the link I provided above, Tiny. This car is expensive, as is the case with any new technology, but it represents a genuine leap forward in how to make an electric car practical with current technology. Yet you call it junk - after you admit you can’t even fit your fat ass into one.

I’ll trust the many car buffs who have recognized this car’s potential without political axes to grind. Did you read the Motor Trend piece I linked to above?
[/quote]I ain’t that fat, boy. I am very tall and very large, but I just got out of a Focus, at lunchtime.
I work in the finance industry. I write many, many car loans. I know what junk is, and that thing is junk. Most Americans will not be crowded like the Volt requires. It will not serve a family, unless it it a Mom, Dad and two very small children.
You are not even aware how the thing works. You were unaware that the engine does drive the wheels, in one mode. Yet, you tell me how great this thing is. What an abdomen crushing laugh.
If it is such great tech, why don’t you have one yet? You are an attorney, supposedly, and should be able to afford one. Yet, after years of spewing your detritus over this albatros, you still are not driving one. That speaks volumes.
Fact. Americans love bigger rides.
Fact. Volt is not green, since the power plants charge the batteries.
Fact. Underpowered.
Fact. Limited range.
Fact. Not worth the money.
Fact. Technical issues leave safety concerns.
Fact. Junk.

Those are facts, not opinion. The salesmen reflect the company concerns. They are not TRYING to sell Volts. They know that GM loses nearly 50 grand with each Volt sale. They know GM suspended the Volt. If Obozo is ousted, I expect the Volt will go the way of the dinosaurs.
Also, consider the ELECTRICAL issues that will be coming up, soon. I don’t even like electric windows, locks or mirrors. Something always goes wrong. Key less entry goes out, lock regulators go out, window motors fail and mirrors get frozen in one position. Now, an electric motor snafu can cause thousands of dollars, considering how much can go wrong. Auto electric problems, can be very expensive to find and fix.
Face it. Good concept, lousy car.


#16

Those are all opinions, not facts, and opinions driven by your prejudices and political agenda. You have no interest in learning the facts, even if I provide you a convenient link. You may deny you have a fat ass, but your fat head is quite obvious.


#17

:rofl::rofl:Reduced yourself to insults to reinforce your argument, I see.:rofl::rofl:
I know the facts. I see it everyday. I don’t need Motor Trend’s financially enhanced opinion to know junk, when I see it.
Where is yours? I see you haven’t invested in one. C’mon, man. You rave on about how great it is for a couple of years, now, and you still haven’t bought one. As an attorney, surely you can afford it.:rofl:
Politics have nothing to do with this. I make my living writing loans, and many car loans, at that. I talk to REAL car people all the time. You have no clue, whatsoever.


#18

I’m a car buff and you couldn’t give me one. Motor Trend is nothing buy an advertizing flack for Detroit, always has been. I think their “Car of the Year Award” costs around $100,000 and the promise of a certain level of paid advertizing. Car buffs don’t read Motor Trend…and they don’t read Consumer Reports, either. Car Buffs read Car & Driver, Road & Track, or Automobile magazines in the US.

Here’s a C&D head-to-head test of Volt versus Cruze: 2011 Chevrolet Volt vs. 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco - Comparison Test - Car and Driver
Even after disparaging the Cruze and nothing more than a '55 Chevy, they still prefer it over the Volt, irrespective of cost.

Here’s an even keel review of EV’s from R&T:
Top 6 Facts About Sporty Electric Vehicles – Evs Pros and Cons – RoadandTrack.com

They all laud the technological advances, while searching for a reason to buy one.

In response to your diatribes against posters with obviously more engineering knowledge I’d offer a stab at the point you have consistently missed. The Volt, when its battery reaches 30% charge automatically kicks in the motor to keep it from discharging lower. Given that that motor is a 1.4 liter unit, that’s not a lot of power. With a mostly discharged battery, and the Volt always runs off its battery, two things have to happen simultaneously; move the car down the road and gain charge on the battery. Both compete for energy produced by that tiny motor. Energy that passes through the battery to the driven wheels obviously cannot be used for charging the battery back up. Similarly, energy sent to charge the battery cannot then add to the motive force. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. So, if your battery is down, you’re essentially driving on the gas engine. If you’re driving around with your battery in that discharged condition, and then you decide to climb a mountain, it’s going to be a slow go.

If this doesn’t make any sense to you, find a 20 yr old juvenile delinquent with a 2000 watt stereo in his whip and he’ll explain it to you.


#19

Out of curiosity, what’s your view of Consumer Guide (not the same as Consumer Reports)? I have three of their used car guides ('89, '99, '03), and one of their new car guides. I like the format of the former, although they didn’t cover all models (space limitation).


#20

The CD comparo notes that the Volt “always has reserve energy available for authoritative passing.” I guess that puts the lie to Tiny’s charge that the car is underpowered. It also validates my description of the roles of the gas and electric motors - the electric motor is what’s always powering the wheels.

Why you believe Motor Trend is more holden to advertisers than the other three buff mags is beyond me. And what’s wrong with a mag that has advertisers? You some kind of closet liberal? But the major point of the MT article you choose to ignore because of your obsession with partisan spin - their test Volt sailed through 20,000 miles FLAWLESSLY. And CD had this to say about how well the Volt’s tech works:

The propulsion system—one 149-hp electric motor; one 74-hp “helper” motor-generator; an 84-hp, four-cylinder engine; and a planetary gearbox bolted together in one tidy unit—works so harmoniously that the only clue you’ve switched from battery power to the gasoline engine is a change in the remaining-range display.

Junk? Hardly. This is an American technological breakthrough, built by the best workers in the world.

So the Volt loses to the Cruze (a fine vehicle, btw) because of - cost. Big revelation there. Of course this is new technology, that new adopters will pay a premium for and that will eventually be refined and lowered in price. Do you have a cell phone and a personal computer? Then thank advances in technology and the early adopters who promoted them and made them viable.