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Chevy Volt discontinued: Chevrolet's last Volt rolls off the assembly line (cbsnews.com)
252 points by curtis on Feb 24, 2019 | hide | past | web | favorite | 279 comments

>It's a true shame, as GM finally got the little details right on both how the engine was put together as well as the interior fit and finish on the 2017 model.

Completely agree. I leased a first gen and am now leasing a second gen volt. I'm actually considering buying my current car at the end of the lease. As a bike commuter, it is my only vehicle, which is why I went the hybrid rather than full electric route.

The first gen I got rid of at the first opportunity. The car did it's job but the shifter physical design was moronic and the fit and finish was so bad that I actually cut myself on a piece of the interior plastic one day.

The 2nd gen is 'just a car' a nice car actually. Excepting a maintenance screwup by a dealer I have had zero - zero - maintenance issues with the second gen. Because I don't ever have to charge it, and don't drive it much, I can usually charge it for free (I'm an apartment dweller). I spend about 80% of the miles on electric. I think I've bought two tanks of gas in six months.

Funny story...a friend of mine's mother was actually the lead systems engineer on gen one. I met her at a graduation party and we had about a 3 hr long engineering nerd out over the 1st gen. I asked about a billion 'why did you/why didn't you' questions and was amazed at how many good ideas were left on the table.

God has wish that conversation was recorded, I’d probably listen to it twice.

We talked for a while about using the onboard GPS to help the hybrid system optimize decisions about power management if it knew where you were going.

We also talked about variable regenerative braking which ended up in the 2nd gen

Lawyers and 'the idiot public' we're a lot of it.

I just want to know why the clock can't be set using the GPS.

Not a GM employee but I think the number of people who mess with their clock is bigger than we think.

People are weird. They set their clock five minutes ahead or whatever.

I also think an optional cellular/GPS based time update would be nice though.

> People are weird. They set their clock five minutes ahead or whatever.

Back in uni days I would set my bedside alarm clock 10 minutes faster. No joke it almost never failed to fool my groggy morning brain on days I hit snooze one too many times. "Oh crap I'm going to be late!" toss clothes on, run to kitchen for snack only to see that I've got another 10 minutes. whew. Crazy I know, but it worked. I also think I did similar with my cars clock by setting it faster when I first started driving to work. Now I smoke a little weed before bed, sleep like a baby and wake up much easier.

This is true but you could allow the user to set an offset.

And now you’ve added 2 configuration options that need to be tested, documented, and supported for probably 20 Of your customers

This is exactly the hidden complexity that HN users love to add to products that adds no real value and sells no extra product

2? It’s pulling time from gps so it’s 1 config option for time offset, defaulting to 0.

Anyways, android and iOS and Mac and windows and etc all have the ability to fetch time or use gps to set time with a user override to do their own tricks. We all woke up today so I think the world survived.

There’s also daylight savings time.

This is the approach that the Apple Watch engineers used, and it remains the only device I've seen with this option.

Does anyone here with an Apple Watch use the time offset feature?

Yes. I've set my clocks a few minutes ahead for years, and I do the same on my Watch. It's nice to have, but the helpful illusion is not entirely maintained: it is only the main watch faces that display the time with offset. There are other views where the current time is shown incidentally, and it is the actual, non-offset, time.

Ford’s Sync 3 can - but only when you go push the button to sync manually, and it has no idea what Daylight Savings Time is, so you might as well just type in the time yourself.

At least on UK models, it gets set by RDS.

You should ask her if she would be interested (and able) to do an interview with one of the prominent EV podcasters or youtubers.

tl;dr very long, owned a Volt, because of it bought a TM3

Owned a 2017 Chevrolet Volt, I made this choice because I wanted to "dip my toes" into the EV experience and only needing one car I needed one that could go anywhere. I make two trips per year by car one of which is thirteen hundred miles round trip.

The fit and finish was very good for any car, it drove very well, and EV mode was an eye opener. Being in Georgia meant that from spring to fall I could easily exceed the fifty three mile EV range, at times I approached seventy miles and this with AC on; disclaimer is that I had very little true highway speeds on my fifty four mile round trip to work. Cooler weather, as in forties or below drop the range below EPA and freezing opened up other opportunities. Mainly I would leave home with the car conditioned and turn the gasoline motor on for part of the commute to more readily heat the cabin and buffer my range for return trip home in EV mode. Cabin noise from the gas engine was incredibly hushed.

Now I own a TM3, I credit GM for that. The Volt sold me on EV driving. The effortless power that is present all the time and the quietness of the drive train. Why not the Bolt? Well GM was typical GM. They made a ZEV car and only went as far as they had to beat Tesla to the PR punch and soak ZEV credits to continue their sales of petrol burning cars, a fleet that ranks near the bottom.

The Bolt lost out for many reasons, the first being lack of range. No trip planner could get me through either of my two yearly trips; as in it was impossible on some legs. The TM3 blows through it because of range and charging options. The second reason was the same reason I did not buy a first generation Volt, the interior, namely the dash, looked Fisher Price. Throw in horrid front seats and yes they were bad, and it was a no go. I do like the packaging otherwise.

The Volt is gone because ZEV credits for PHEVs took a dive after 2018. As in nearly nothing compared to what they were. GM gamed the ZEV system in 2017 and 2018 so that they have banked enough credits till near 2021 which is when their EV focus will switch to Cadillac.

Now not to knock GM only, Tesla leaves a lot to be desired. Most of the features in my TM3 are very shallow implementations of other cars. My Volt had complete blue tooth audio integration, my Tesla requires me to use my phone to switch play lists, by artist, and such. Which is not fun because my state is a hands free state. The Volt had superior energy monitoring breaking out HVAC from the EV motor and even showing impact of the drive on efficiency. Tesla never delivered on voice commands, my car knows about six commands - a toyota corolla has more than three times as many. Instead Tesla gave me fart humor and a fireplace

As a current 2013 Volt and soon to be TM3 owner, I agree with most of what you say. However, the TM3 bluetooth integration doesn't need to do as much as the Volt because the built-in infotainment does so much.. phone integration is not really a big deal.

When the car is still in use in 15 years time, TM3 owners are going to be frustrated at the lack of carplay...

All that about Tesla is true. The one hope I have is the updating software. Their usb stick audio is miserable. Favorites break.

Better phone integration would be great.

Either way, the electric car experience is so much better than anything else. Maintenance on my Leaf is near nothing.

As someone who's had a Model S since 2015, the USB audio bit is my biggest gripe about the car... above pretty much everything else. It's also actually regressed across updates in the past as well. Some issues are flat-out bugs, some are implementation choices, and some are simply a lack of features/options.

And since none of this makes for a flash Elon Tweet or press release (for people who don't own one), basically nobody over there seems to give a damn.

Why wouldn't you just rent a car???

It would be a tiny fraction of the price and you get a brand new car to drive!

I do this, because I realized I would have approx 80% by renting for these outlier events and taxis as I work from home.

>> I make two trips per year by car one of which is thirteen hundred miles round trip.

Why not rent a car or fly?

The friction, risk, and uncertainty of rental cars sucks. Friction: pricing is unpredictable between and within vendors so you have to waste time comparison shopping on ad-laden sites to avoid getting screwed, taxes and fees and insurance costs and benefits are often opaque, and you have to somehow get to and from the rental office which can be far away (Enterprise's pickups sort of kind of help with this but need to be much more Uber-like), and you have to wait an indeterminate length of time in line (from 0 to 60+ minutes if you're unlucky during a rush) and then you sometimes have to trek a ways from the office to the actual car. Risk/uncertainty: your car may not exist (has happened to me often) or may stink, or be dirty, or somehow not what you were expecting, and the alternatives, when they exist, usually involve an argument and an upsell; and if you have an accident, the insurance paperwork is a nightmare even when you're 100% covered, unless you've paid for the expensive rental agency max coverage.

Having your own car is predictable and low-risk, if expensive in other ways. But if your time has value, and you add the probability-weighted costs of not being able to leave for your trip on time, or go at all, or do it in a sub-standard car, renting can be pretty expensive too.

I own a a car and use it every day, but if I’m traveling more than ~600 miles (or at all? for work), I just rent one. It’s fairly cheap and it keeps the miles off mine, plus if I break down or get in a wreck I just call Budget back up and get another car instead of dealing with my broken car being two states away.

Are there any answers from that conversation that stood out to you in particular? I'd be really interested to hear them!

Basically...you can't build a car with a novice and expert operator mode as much sense as that would make. Also the amount of thought that goes into some decisions kinda amazed me.

Regarding "novice and expert" mode. Default should be novice mode. Extra steps to go into "expert" mode. Examples I could think of: * Launch control (maximum acceleration from a stop.) * Track mode (turn down or disable stability control) * One pedal drive mode. (Nissan Leaf e-pedal or just B-mode for strong regen)

Ah well... It would be interesting to hear more of the reasons behind decisions.

No, expert mode is "turn all this crap off and let me control the throttle and gearbox directly".

That’s all good but this car doesn’t have a throttle connected to the drivetrain and the only thing that looks like a gearbox is a planetary gear that may be changed at high speeds.

I suspect she was mainly talking about "no one pedal driving" as novice mode -- and I think it's a mistake to turn that off for novices, because it's something that drivers quickly adapt to having. And then love.

Actually I brought it up not her and got shot down.

One pedal was part of it as was how the gas engine was used and power scheduling...also when to use electric vsm internal combustion for heating, analog adjustment of regenerative braking, etc.

Give me the choice and I'll pick a steering wheel rivaling an f1 car...but you can't sell that in any way shape or form.

> the shifter physical design was moronic

The gear shifter? I thought electric cars didn't have those? I thought they were push-pedal-and-go like a go-kart?

I think they might mean the shifter to change from park/drive/reverse/neutral

Editors at Wikipedia call this a "Selector"


Pretty sure they're the only ones.


The version on prototypes was super super awkward. The production version still made you have to insert your hand into a hole to shift into or out of park.

I cut myself on the big plastic surround of that part of the console

You still shift it into park/drive/reverse. I've been in one but don't remember having a problem with it, besides the atrocious visibility.

For some reason car manufacturers have stuck with a gear shifter looking thing to change between drive modes on automatics for a really long time. They've only just started to change it to buttons.

Drive, neutral, reverse, park.

> I asked about a billion 'why did you/why didn't you' questions and was amazed at how many good ideas were left on the table.

Never leave anything on the table.

> it is my only vehicle, which is why I went the hybrid rather than full electric route.

At least in the US, I think you'd be underestimating how much one can rely on a proper fully electric vehicle (i.e. a Tesla, and perhaps Bolt?). I doubt a Model 3 LR holder would ever need a second sedan.

At least in my country, two years ago (presumably when avs733 was buying his car) if you wanted an all-electric vehicle with >150 mile range, you had to spend £90,000 on a Tesla Model S.

All the other manufacturers' cars (Renault Zoe, BMW i3, Nissan Leaf, VW e-Golf) were 145 mile range or less.

It's only recently that EVs like the Hyundai Kona (£30k for 245 miles) and the Jaguar I-Pace (£61k for 235 miles) have come on the market.

And even then the model S's range isn't enough. I do a 500 mile weekend roundtrip about once every couple of months and there's no way it would work for that as there's no place to charge overnight at the destination (250 miles away from home, which I do non-stop on a single tank of fuel). There are basically no fast chargers in the UK which you could guarantee being able to use on the route either, even if I didn't mind having to stop (which I do).

This isn't a long journey for the UK, which is not a big country. The only way I could realistically own a pure EV as an only car would be to hire another car for these journeys and use an EV for shorter journeys but an EV wouldn't really be worth it money-wise just for shorter trips and I'd have to put up with an underpowered hire car and the hassle of picking up and returning for the long ones.

Hybrids (not range-extenders like the i3) on the other hand do make sense and I suspect will see much better sales as people realise they don't all look like the (very ugly) Prius.

Honestly I feel these types of comments do more harm to EV adoption than anything else as they're used as justification to not adopt an EV by those who otherwise could. Most EVs today support a flavor of DC fast charging beyond L2, a Leaf can be charged up to 80% in like 15 or 20 minutes. That sounds like a lot but when those chargers are in Market or Restaurant lots where you can charge and shop/eat then they make sense. I think the biggest issue today is the exclusivity of charge networks and proprietary chargers.

I don't know your specific route but there are plenty of routes in the UK that can easily be done. Brighton to Inverness and back can be done in a Model 3 with only 5 hours of charging along the way. Not great but also not horrible if they can be combined with regular rest stops.

In the US the charge networks were initially rolled out at odd locations that didn't make much sense but gradually they started putting them in office and apartment car parks and now thankfully in malls and retail areas where people actually go.

I still don't understand why restaurants haven't adopted them more when you have a captive audience for 15+ minutes and can upsell meals by offering charging discounts. I guess as adoption climbs they might catch on.

> Most EVs today support a flavor of DC fast charging beyond L2, a Leaf can be charged up to 80% in like 15 or 20 minutes. That sounds like a lot

Because it is a lot

> but when those chargers are in Market or Restaurant lots where you can charge and shop/eat then they make sense.

Which would be great, but that's generally not what the charging infrastructure is like today; there's now a decent probability of a route-convenient charger on a long trip, but there's not a great probability that it's in the parking lot of market or restaurant, and an even lower probability that it's one that you would have chosen but for the charger.

Most of the market/restaurant chargers—mostly supermarkets or box stores like IKEA—I've seen are in urban areas, virtually none in the kind of places that are places you need to stop for fuel (or charge, with an EV) on the way between widely spaced urban areas.

I agree with you and at the same time those inadequacies aren't highlighted constructively. The comments are typically vague dismissals of the technology outright with unhelpful remarks like "this doesn't work for me (and probably not you) because of xyz boundary condition."

I would much rather these people not say anything but ideally I would like to hear the feedback be more positive or suggestive in nature like "I drive a 500mi route semi-regularly and I just can't do it in an EV, I'd love if xyz existed so I could go all in on EVs."

Where I think I disagree is that I don't see this as some corner case - to me it's one of the primary use cases for owning a car, and I'd wager the same is true for the population at large - perhaps even second most common after commuting. A huge number of people have relatives/family/friends a 3+ hour drive away.

The most constructive answer, I think, is to prefer plug-in hybrids as a drive train option (perhaps the default option) on "normal" cars/SUVs which people actually want to own. This is what Volvo is doing for example. It has a weight (and therefore efficiency) cost but a plugin hybrid with a true 100+ mile range is still incredibly worthwhile. Don't let the best be the enemy of the good.

There are still incentives to build out decent fast charging infrastructure in a plugin hybrid world - as stopping to charge instead of stopping for fuel has a cost advantage (though the time cost still needs solving - it's not just time to actually charge, it's also queueing time to be able to use a charger in many places).

The solution I prefer is EVs with enough range for 3-4 hours of highway driving, that can regain a decent fraction of that range in the duration of a 10-15 minute toilet break.

Alas, we don't yet have battery tech that combines a 3-4 hour range with recharging at 16x the rate it discharged at, at a price people can afford :)

I am waiting for the Volvo V60 (the variant with the smaller gas engine) and the new V40 (hoping that the V40 will be less expensive than the V40), both hybrid (battery range ~50km).

The on-demand 4wd of the V60 (the electric motor drives the back wheels) would be a nice additional feature (not sure if it will be available for the V40).

V60: https://d2t6ms4cjod3h9.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/201...

V40 (prototype "40.2"): https://cdn.images.express.co.uk/img/dynamic/galleries/x701/...

150 versus 145 miles is nothing. Why is 150 of all numbers the requirement?

Perhaps I wasn't clear, what I mean to say is "If you wish to buy a new all-electric car and, after taking taking into account your mix of city and highway driving; how closely you believe your driving will match the different range testing standards; availability and speed of charging along your route and at your destination; different speeds of charging with different battery sizes and at different battery charge levels; anticipated battery degradation with usage; expected passenger and luggage weight; extra range 'safety margin'; and the uncertainty of your needs over the planned duration of car ownership; your single charge range requirement is greater than 145 miles and less than 315 miles, a Tesla model S or X with a price of £89k-£134k was your only option; and if your range requirement was greater than that there was nothing on the market whatsoever"

Saying ">150 miles" was simply me being succinct.

Greater than 150, as in significantly greater than

If I had a full electric vehicle my second car would be a cheap old off road truck. My major 'use' of the car when I leave town is to go deep in the wilderness for backpacking or camping. Even with the TM3 (which, honestly I wouldn't buy a Tesla) the range would be pushing it for the places I prefer to go.

Disclosure: im an automotive engine mechanic by trade.

The Volt was a political nightmare. trade rags beat this car night and day for being a fake. but honestly its a damn good car. it was never going to see tesla style torque or mileage but the people driving it werent the whole foods kind of crowd anyway.

the hybrid electric was borne out of the need to create something that couldnt be patent-struck by toyota, whos hybrid synergy drive is basically the entire hybrid market outside of Komatsu/Caterpillar these days. electric motor final drives until the engine kicks in to drive the electric motors also allowed them to avoid the honda tax on motors in the transmission that assisted the drive inline.

the engine drive was crucified by its owners for ever starting. in-town drivers would be well under the range of the vehicles batteries, yet routinely traded the car in or returned it when the engine kicked on. What they didnt understand is that this was done to prevent stale fuel or cycling problems in cold weather. The ECU was smart enough to maintain the engine even when you didnt need it.

If you find one of these used and youre into hybrid (mostly) electric drives, id recommend it. it has a planted and firm drive, similar to a windstar minivan but without the body roll.

The stereo is also surprisingly overpowered for something like this as it borrows heavily from Fords Shaker platform (harmon kardon.)

> The Volt was a political nightmare. trade rags beat this car night and day for being a fake. but honestly its a damn good car.

So you're saying widely publicized biased opinions based on antiquated but longstanding social norms were able to prevent good engineering, measurably better than the status quo, from coming to market? Are you saying that marketing and media can often overcome solid facts? Welcome to humanity.

When audi first introduced continuously variable transmissions they had to make them act like discrete transmissions because users complained it felt like the tranmission was slipping.


This may be true, but Audi was relatively late to the CVT game.

+1. Have a chevy volt. Something like 90% of my driving is on electric, but you are still able to make long distance drives.

What killed it was lack of marketing it as a better hybrid & the smaller size. If I had kids I'm not sure I'd of bought the car.

I wonder if they put the volt drive train on a crossover how it'd sell. EV Range for the groceries, gas for the long distance road trip.

A friend of mine owns it since a long time - he has always been very happy with it and never had any problems with it. I've been in it a couple of times and it felt nice while driving. It's a pity that people basically didn't understand it.

Since you mention patents...

How does the Hyundai Ioniq avoid Toyota's many hybrid drive patents, and get comparable mileage to the Prius? It's essentially the same size of car, same aerodynamic design, same engine size, etc.

Maybe because it's Paice, not Toyota that holds all the hybrid patents - Paice sued many car manufacturer and won - Toyota, Ford, Kia, and Hyundai (and others?) - all had to "license" from Paice.

I feel like the stale gas argument is one that isn't considered often. Especially with ethanol-blended fuels decreasing the shelf life even more.

Somehow, I am kind of reminded of GM's Saturn division. 1) make a concept 2) consumers like it 3) but GM can't make it cheaply enough, or sell it at a price that reflects it's cost 4) so they end the model and close the plant

I have the impression that what is wrong with GM is not the Volt, or the old Saturn for that matter, but rather the people who run the company.

Correct, at least from my anecdata. Worked for GM in 2010 on drive-by-wire and safety tech for EV:s, but soon quit in disgust. Management had zero drive or vision to make EV’s a reality, and would rather just pump out more gas cars.

The story of Saturn is a lot more complicated than that, and it seems like corporate (and union) politics played a much bigger role than the profitability of the cars:


Doubtless you are correct, but I just meant basically "GM mgmt seems not to like it when something different comes along". I think it's a gut-level aversion to having to learn to make a different kind of product, or make that product differently.

The volt was ~20-23k all in. I do think GM did a snafu by not advertising the fact you get State & Fed tax credits, and unlike tesla the price is negotiable.

Best car I've ever owned from a reliability and fun-to-drive perspective.

A bit cramped, but it's my commuter car, so don't care.

I drive 100+km a day and charge at both ends, and most weeks use no gas. But still have the flexibility to take very long road trips without the hassle of stopping at DC fast charge stations every couple hundred km.

When this one dies someday, I'll probably buy another used one if I can find one in good condition. The 2019 model is the best, with 7kw charging, power seats, and a new head unit.

Very sad to see it go.

Completely agree. I bought a used Volt last year, and I love the car. Have all the benefits of an electric car, but I didn't need to make any electrical upgrades in my garage (on 110 volts/12 amps it charges in 10 hours), and I never need to worry about where to find a charger on long trips. I really think it's the perfect car for the vast majority of people with a 1-way commute of 20 miles or less.

> fun-to-drive perspective

What do you consider by fun to drive?

I have a Gen 2. 0-30 in roughly 3 seconds. 0-60 in 7.5 to 8.0. Very zippy in traffic, instant acceleration and the handling is on par with some BMW's.

Even the Bolt that is replacing the Volt as their go-to-EV is still losing money per car sold (for now):

> An unnamed source cited by Bloomberg News estimates that General Motors is expected to take a loss of between US$8,000 and US$9,000 per Bolt sold. A GM spokesman first declined to comment on the expected profitability.[20] Opel refuted that in December 2016 and states that GM has battery cell costs of $130/kWh, and industry is not yet optimized for mass production.[21] A UBS teardown in 2017 suggested slightly smaller losses per vehicle, of $7418 on a base spec, or $5520 on a higher spec vehicle.[22]. They estimate that by 2025 the Bolt will make a profit of about $6000 per vehicle.


I wonder what will change between now and 2025 to enable profitability on Bolts?

See page 42 of the source report. UBS and Munro predict a 33% reduction in battery costs due to broader industry pricing trends, with a further reduction of 10-25% on powertrain components due to economies of scale and technology improvements.

The report argues that the Bolt is already profitable on a contribution basis (sale price - cost of goods sold), meaning that GM make money on every Bolt they sell. What makes the Bolt unprofitable is the high per-unit share of R&D costs and depreciation due to low volumes - the Bolt isn't selling in sufficient quantities to recoup the cost of developing it and putting it into production. The Bolt can become profitable even if manufacturing costs stay the same, simply by selling more units.

Demand for the Bolt is substantially outstripping supply in Europe, because high fuel costs mean that pure EVs already have a lower TCO than ICE vehicles; It's likely that GM can achieve profitability simply by ramping up production, assuming that their battery suppliers can keep up with demand.


> Demand for the Bolt is substantially outstripping supply in Europe, because high fuel costs mean that pure EVs already have a lower TCO than ICE vehicles; It's likely that GM can achieve profitability simply by ramping up production, assuming that their battery suppliers can keep up with demand.

GM does not sell the Bolt in Europe at all. It was originally sold as the Opel Ampera, but GM sold their interest in Opel. So demand in Europe is higher than the non-existent supply.

The Bolts battery and power train come from LG and apparently they contracted for 30,000 units or less annually. This may not be a problem for GM as US Bolt sales have not been great, 23,279 units in 2017, dropping to 18,019 in 2018. I think they have also sold several hundred units in Korea.

Currently Autotrader.com shows several new Bolts near me (California Bay Area) being offered at discounts of more than $4,000 from MSRP. So it looks like demand is soft even with the full Federal tax credit and the California EV rebate. Unfortunately for the Bolt, GM will lose the full Federal tax credit on April 1 raising the price of the Bolt by $3,750.

Personally, I'm disappointed by GM's failure to promote the Bolt and by it's low sales. I love my Chevy Spark EV and I like my Honda Fit, but it seems an overpriced weirder looking Honda Fit with a Chevy badge is not the way forward even if it is electric. I wanted to like the Bolt, it's not a bad car, I really prefer small but tall hatches, and am committed to electric vehicles and like to live frugally. After five great years with the Spark EV I'm not even afraid to buy a GM car. In other words, I'm probably the ideal Bolt customer. Which should make GM very concerned by the fact that I recently bought a Model 3 instead and am selling the Honda.

Opel Ampera is the Volt not the Bolt.

Sorry, I meant to have typed Ampera-E which is the Bolt. Apparently the one consistent thing about GM's marketing of these cars is the desire to confuse with similar names.

Oh, I didn’t realize that, yeah I agree. Really odd that they built a hatchback and then didn’t bother to properly market it in Europe. They had a window when it could have done really well.

> high fuel costs mean that pure EVs already have a lower TCO than ICE vehicle

Got a source for this claim?

I bought a new ICE vehicle six months ago, in round figures it cost me $13,800 (that's the on the road price of the base model, including a couple of minor extras and all applicable taxes).

The electric version of that exact same vehicle has a list price of $31,300. No, that isn't a typo. The salesman seemed faintly embarrassed when we enquired about the EV version.

The depreciation curve for ICE vehicles is fairly well understood. So is maintenance and the reliability of key components (we've had a previous ICE from this manufacturer that ran for over 9 years without any out of the ordinary components failing).

Before we purchased, a salesmen noted that EV technology is changing so rapidly that even if you do feel like handing over $30k for an EV, in 5 years time it may not be worth very much. Whether its batteries will take you very far is also less than clear.

I wish all of these things weren't so, I'd happily own an EV, but not at current prices.

Page 44 of the linked report. There's a full analysis at the link below. There are a huge number of variables (purchase cost, annual mileage, predicted depreciation, fuel and electricity pricing trends etc), but EVs match or exceed the TCO of comparable new ICE cars in a substantial number of scenarios in Europe.

The key factor is fuel costs in Europe - even with oil at around $60 a barrel at the moment, you'll pay $6 to $8 a gallon because of high fuel taxes. Off-peak electricity costs as little as 8¢/kWh on some tariffs, with most EVs doing three to four miles per kWh. Incentives like purchase grants, subsidised charging equipment and reduced registration fees further tip the balance in favour of EVs. Lower maintenance costs are a factor, as is the possibility of lower-than-predicted depreciation due to higher-than-predicted durability of EV battery packs.

We're still some years away from TCO parity in the US, because motor fuel is still incredibly cheap and electricity is often relatively expensive.


> the linked report...

Am I reading page 43 right? The cost of the battery in the Volt is currently $12,300? That's almost exactly 90% of the selling price of my new ICE vehicle!

Q: What's the projected lifespan of the battery pack in a Volt?

>Am I reading page 43 right? The cost of the battery in the Volt is currently $12,300? That's almost exactly 90% of the selling price of my new ICE vehicle!

Yup, and it's why falling battery costs are such a big deal for the EV industry. It's worth thinking about the battery as a pre-payment for fuel; it's very expensive up front, but it substantially reduces your cost per mile for the life of the car.

Q: What's the projected lifespan of the battery pack in a Volt?

The Bolt's battery pack has an 8 year/100,000 mile warranty, with a maximum capacity loss of 40% during that period. Data from Nissan Leaf owners suggests a capacity loss of about 20% over five years, while Tesla Model S owners have reported much lower capacity loss - sometimes as little as 10% after 150,000 miles. Pack longevity has been increasing due to better cell chemistry and improved thermal management, but only time will tell how well the Bolt's batteries age.

Nissan offer a refurbishment program for the Leaf, which will restore the pack to its original rated capacity for $2,850; I would expect most manufacturers to follow suit. Battery pack refurbishment is also available from a number of third-party providers. Given the excellent durability of the rest of the powertrain due to the very small number of moving parts, EVs may prove to be surprisingly durable - with a battery refurbishment after 10 years, an EV may give 20 years of good service. The Nissan Leaf has fairly high depreciation due to the poor initial range of earlier models, but Teslas seem to be holding their value fairly well.

> The Bolt's battery pack has an 8 year/100,000 mile warranty, with a maximum capacity loss of 40% during that period.

If one were to attempt to market an ICE vehicle that lost "up to 40% engine performance" over 8 years/100k miles, one would struggle.

> EVs may prove to be surprisingly durable

There are many cheap, modern ICE vehicles that are already surprisingly durable - I have the service receipts for the 9 year old VW Polo (bought new, and which we traded in in 2015) as a data point.

Again, I wish EVs were already competitive, but aren't they still stuck as a lifestyle choice for those with "spare money"?

I hope you're not basing your reasoning purely on what the sales representative of the dealership said about EVs. Car dealerships have an incentive to undersell EVs because they require less of the routine maintenance that combustion engine cars require (oil changes, brake pad changes). Dealerships make much of their money on servicing, so this is not in their interest.

In Norway, a new electric car car is obviously better on a TCO basis, due to much cheaper fuel, no VAT or other taxes on purchase, free passage through toll roads, cheaper ferries and free parking. Most of those are political incentives, so I can't speak for countries that have no such incentives.

> Dealerships make much of their money on servicing, so this is not in their interest

"Much of their money" - got a source for that?

At least where we are, there is a competitive market in servicing of ICE vehicles, and I won't be getting the new vehicle serviced at this dealership, I'll be going to a third party shop much closer (and cheaper). The vehicle warranty isn't affected.

> obviously better on a TCO basis, due to much cheaper fuel, no VAT or other taxes on purchase, free passage through toll roads, cheaper ferries and free parking

Thought experiment: what % of EV ownership will your country have to reach before those incentives disappear? There is this annoying issue of governments needing to raise tax revenue one way or another ...

>Thought experiment: what % of EV ownership will your country have to reach before those incentives disappear? There is this annoying issue of governments needing to raise tax revenue one way or another

Subsidies are a stopgap measure, not a permanent fixture. Economies of scale are hugely significant in the motor industry, presenting EVs with a catch 22 - they're too expensive because not enough people are buying them, and not enough people are buying them because they're too expensive.

Volumes are increasing and prices are falling rapidly, which should allow for the phase-out of incentives within the next few years. Government investment in public charging infrastructure is probably necessary until at least 2035.

>in round figures it cost me $13,800 (that's the on the road price of the base model, including a couple of minor extras and all applicable taxes).

Where in Europe do you live?

It's kind of looking like lithium battery prices have been and will continue to act like solar panel prices. Very slow and steady improvement in cost, but nothing massively drastic over a period of 5-ish years.

Given that r&d is a sunk cost and that producing the vehicle is cash flow positive and will be even more so in 5 years, GM should be pedal to the metal. The loss per unit sold is a non-real accounting artifact.

Frankly, it should be accounted for on the basis of the carrying cost of the r&d debt. If I open a bakery and buy a ton of expensive equipment, I will have huge accounting losses per cookie for years but I may very well still be cash flow positive. That’s all that matters.

> The loss per unit sold is a non-real accounting artifact.

GM can clearly make money from this vehicle if the tighten up their production. I'm sure engineers there know exactly what needs to be done to get there. It probably takes investment, but there will only be a return on the investment if many more Bolts are sold.

To sell more of these cars, they have to overcome public perception that they are some weird new technology. They have to make hybrid engines "feel" as solid as a Hemi. They have to make these cars known, understood, and "normal". Most people just want a car that fits in, they don't want to make a statement. This is why the blandest vehicles, e.g., Toyota Corollas are so popular.

Unfortunately, engineering rarely changes the way someone feels about a product, marketing does.

So to make the Bolt profitable, GM will need to make a significant investment in advertising and marketing to make it the new normal. They don't seem up to that.

I think you would see electric cars take off if those without garages or driveways had a way to charge them nightly. I know I would have one on my list. Perhaps use the government buyers incentive to instead give a write down to developers to install charging stations in their parking lots.

The market of "people who can already conveniently charge an electric car" is big enough for them be much more popular than they are now.

Also, many places in the US already have government incentives or requirements for charging infrastructure.

>Unfortunately, engineering rarely changes the way someone feels about a product, marketing does.

Personal experience is also hugely relevant. If a friend gives you a ride in their electric car, many of the advantages become immediately apparent - the silence, the interior space, the remarkable acceleration and the general normality of an EV. A brief conversation with an owner will reveal that many of the fears about EV ownership are just myths.

Tesla have done an important job by making EVs cool, but equally important is simply getting used to the presence of EVs. That's not an overnight process, but it's already starting to happen, at least in Europe. The sight of cars with no tailpipe or someone plugging in to a rapid charger is no longer unusual. EVs are starting to seem less like a weird option for hippies and nerds and more like the inevitable future of motoring.

> Unfortunately, engineering rarely changes the way someone feels about a product, marketing does.

I feel thats the main difference in philosophy between US and german car manufacturers. I guess theres is a place for both.

>> Unfortunately, engineering rarely changes the way someone feels about a product, marketing does. > I feel thats the main difference in philosophy between US and german car manufacturers. I guess theres is a place for both.

I'm not sure I agree. In Germany, marketing is still hugely important, it's just that they often focus on marketing engineering innovations. People don't select German cars because they have better engineering, they select them because they feel like they have better engineering. Marketing there still matters, but it's more tied up with the engineering.

> high fuel costs mean that pure EVs already have a lower TCO than ICE vehicles

As much as really really want that to be true, it just isn't for most people.

An electric car is ~£30k, but most people pay much less for petrol cars because there is a great second hand market. I'd say typical is ~£5k.

Most people do something like 150k miles on a car. Assuming 40 mpg (8.8 miles per litre) which is fairly typical for motorway driving. The price of petrol has been around 120p/L for several years. That puts the total cost of the petrol car at: about £25k. Still less than the purchase price of an electric car.

Maybe it will change when electric cars with a good range have been around for 20 years so there is a decent second hand market, but at the moment it just isn't true. Sorry.

If demand is so high it seems like they could achieve profitability just by raising the price.

Any barrel of oil you produce will find a buyer, but if you sell it for one dollar more than the market price the number of people interested in doing business with you will drop from millions to zero instantly. That's what it means for something to be a commodity. Cars are not quite as bad, but at the same time each car isn't exactly an artisan masterstroke with no substitute.

Not so simple in such a highly price-sensitive marketplace as the consumer auto industry.

If it isn't profitable due to R & D costs, who's complaining it isn't profitable?

I would expect a completely new product category to have higher development costs, I'm not sure its reasonable to shoulder the first fruits of that R & D with all the costs. Especially as this may well literally be the future of the company.

So then the question becomes, is someone setting the Bolt up to fail? Trying to make it look bad against Tesla? Or what?

Battery manufacturing scaling up, reducing the per kwh cost. Tesla is supposedly near $100/kWh at the cell level (which is the “holy grail” of EV profitability versus petrol vehicles) with Gigafactory 1 production.

For comparison, VW wanted to build their own gigafactory and LG Chem is holding them hostage, threatening to not sell them the batteries they need for their EV inititiaves. Funny enough, VW is buying Tesla PowerPacks for their Electrify America charging stations for peak demand shaving (the Electrify America brand is distinct from VW, as VW is not permitted to VW brand the charging stations as part of their dieselgate settlement).

Not a Musk fan, but him and JB Straubel knocked it out of the park with their foresight and strategy (build all the batteries we can, sell them in sexy cars).

Along with the $100/kWh figure, increased energy density is a bit part of it as well. Li Ion 18650 cells used to top out at 2500mAh capacity, now Panasonic has the ncr18650ga cell which is rated for brief bursts to 30a discharge and is 3500mAh. Its density is about 250Wh per kilogram. The 20700 and 21700 cells are around 240Wh/kg.

The high amperage 18650 cells from LG and Panasonic mean that more are now able to be used in UAV applications, which previously could only use lipo batteries which top out at 177Wh/kg.

I’m impressed with companies putting batteries in cars today. Moonshots are nice, daily vehicle deliveries is what destroys oil demand.

Don't they (Tesla) still just buy the batteries from Panasonic?

Panosonic manufactures specific chemistries to Tesla specs in the gigafactory. They’ve been a great partner for Tesla, willing to increase cell production investment when demand calls for it (increased production by 30% in 2018Q4).

A military conflict or global crisis driving up the price of gasoline.

I highly doubt that. The US is now the largest producer of oil [0], it looks to keep growing, and "A 2016 conservative estimate set the total world resources of oil shale equivalent to yield of 6.05 trillion barrels (962 billion cubic metres) of shale oil, with the largest resource deposits in the United States accounting for more than 80% of the world total resource. For comparison, at the same time the world's proven oil reserves are estimated to be 1.6976 trillion barrels (269.90 billion cubic metres)" [1].

[0]: https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=37053

[1]: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_shale_reserves

How are those two related? A panicked futures market during a war can drive up the price.

What war do you imagine would mess up oil production? The only big producers that aren't nuclear powers are in the middle east and we all know how that went down last time in the gulf war.

Or the biggest and much more predictable thing in our era: anti-climate change liberal government policy intervention in the marketplace shifting demand regardless of the technological and mass-production economics.

Especially given the innovation in EVs around the world. The Hyundai Kona / Kia Niro are formidable enough, with their super fast-charging successor around the corner.

I think they are counting on increased global economies of scale and market demand for li ion battery cells to drive down the cost of building the battery pack.

Well compared to Tesla 3, the Bolt is quite a steal, I'm honestly surprised they aren't selling more.

I picked my base model 2018 Bolt for $31k, after discounts. (pretax). $23.5k after tax rebates.

Compare that to the Tesla Model 3 which is $44k and has about the same range. (Bolt 236mi , Model 3 249mi)

I'm not surprised GM is losing money on them when Tesla is having issues with profitability at their price point.

wow why did they make it so ugly (personal taste of course)

This was really shortsighted. PHEV is currently the best technology. I think the push for full EV is premature for mass market. It works for niche cases like Tesla, but not something that can be truly mainstream.

With current battery tech and infrastructure, EV is a 50 mile technology. It has nothing to do with battery tech itself, doesn't matter how light or dense the battery is. The limit is infrastructure. 50 miles is about what you can charge with a level 1 charger overnight. Within those 50 miles EV is amazing, quiet, clean, it's clearly superior technology. And 50 miles is enough for a lot of vehicle trips such as getting groceries, going to school, commute to work, etc.

But imagine you have a 50 mile EV, how to extend the range to something everyone is used to, like 200-300 miles for road trips? There's two options, more batteries or an ICE engine. The problem with more batteries is charge time. It's not good enough right now. Even Tesla is 120kw, which is 30 minutes for 80%. And all other EV are far behind this and the charging network outside Superchargers is pathetic. Range anxiety was only part of the problem, slow charge time will be the bigger issue.

It will never be as fast as filling a gas car because that gets into the megawatt range. However, CCS spec can go up to 350kw. This would be good enough, 80% in 10 minutes. Still not fast as a gas car (which is about 5 minutes to fill a tank), but 10 minutes is ok. Combine that with a 300 mile battery, and it can be a road trip car.

There's basically no CCS chargers at 350kw and no cars that support that rate. EVs will get there eventually and replace everything (ICE, PHEV, etc.), but it's too early now. Also, there's a limit to worldwide production capacity for batteries. The amount of batteries in one Tesla could support 10 PHEV cars. PHEV is a bridge technology, but it's too early to abandon it. Now is the time when every car model should be changing to PHEV.

>With current battery tech and infrastructure, EV is a 50 mile technology. It has nothing to do with battery tech itself, doesn't matter how light or dense the battery is. The limit is infrastructure. 50 miles is about what you can charge with a level 1 charger overnight.

The vast majority of first-time EV buyers also install a 240v charging station, which typically costs about $1200 including labour and will fully charge most cars overnight. Frankly, you'd be mad to spend $40,000 on a new EV but hamstring it by cheaping out on charging.

> The problem with more batteries is charge time. It's not good enough right now.

It's already good enough for most users, assuming you have reasonable access to suitable rapid chargers on your route. Very few people drive continuously for three or four hours, stop to refuel and immediately return to their car - human biological functions are a meaningful factor. You might be surprised at how long it actually takes you to refuel, pay for your fuel, visit the restroom, buy a coffee and stretch your legs, especially if you've got kids in tow. Rapid-charging an EV does take longer than refuelling a car, but you can do other stuff while it's charging.

Most ICE car owners only infrequently take long journeys. Most EV owners who do take longer journeys find that charging times only add a few minutes to the duration of their journey and are not a significant inconvenience. Charge times do remain a major obstacle for people who drive substantial distances for professional reasons, but they represent a small minority of car buyers.

> Most ICE car owners only infrequently take long journeys.

Sure, but when I do take a longer journey, I don't want to have to hire a car or something. I can see an EV currently being good for 90% of my journeys, but what about the ~8 journeys a year in the ~200 mile range, with the last 30 or so generally on steep/winding roads trying to find a cottage in the middle of nowhere? How practical is that currently?

Edit: making the numbers a bit more realistic

>How practical is that currently?

That really depends on the quality of EV charging infrastructure in your area. Here in the UK, it's pretty trivial - aside from mid-Wales and the Scottish highlands, there's blanket coverage of EV rapid chargers. It's no big deal to stop at a motorway service station or a supermarket and get a quick top-up on a rapid charger. It's the same story in most of western Europe.

You don't really have to plan your journeys more than you would in an ICE car, because the sat nav system is aware of range and charging points and will re-route you to a charger well before there's a risk of running out. Long journeys are very slightly less convenient, but that's balanced out by the day-to-day convenience of charging at home and waking up every morning with a full charge.

In much of the US it's more of a challenge, simply because you'll struggle to find a rapid charger en route if you're going anywhere rural; that's a political issue as much as anything.

It's worth noting that the range of affordable EVs has been increasing drastically over the past few years. The Nissan Leaf launched in 2011 with an EPA range of 73 miles. The 2018 model does 151 miles per charge and Nissan have just launched a 62kWh model with 226 miles of range. The Chevy Bolt, the Hyundai Kona and the Kia Niro all do about 240 miles per charge. That trend is continuing apace, nibbling away at the long journeys issue.

The inexorable increase of range will help matters, but the US really needs to make a serious commitment to infrastructure. Public rapid chargers aren't hugely expensive to install or maintain, but you need government investment to break the chicken-and-egg problem - there aren't enough charging points because nobody has an EV because there aren't enough charging points.

> How practical is that currently?

It's not, but it could be. There are no fundamental technical barriers to overcome, just social ones.

I don't see any significant social barriers - it's just a matter of infrastructure. Drivers need to be able to depend on the availability of reliable chargers.

Public infrastructure is a social issue. It's one thing for a private company to set up a network of gas stations, it's another for an entire country to agree on gasoline standards and regulation so every car can use them. Electric cars will need similar standards, Tesla won't be able to do it on its own.

> You might be surprised at how long it actually takes you

It takes 15 to 20 minutes. I know because I watch the GPS and I check the ETA number after a stop.

Will 20 minutes be enough for 3 hours of driving?

Maybe with the new 150KWh charger and a compatible car like the Audi eTron. Could be worth looking at in five years when this becomes more widespread.

> a 240v charging station, which typically costs about $1200 including labour

or buy a L2 charger that plugs into their 220 dryer outlet for $250

We already have cars with 200+ mile range. So even now you're talking 4+ hours driving. That to me is a 'shift' and I'd be looking to get some lunch or something, which can be done at the same time as charging. So that's 8+ hours a day driving. I don't know about you but that's enough driving for me.

And on a road trip I'd expect to be stopping, and looking at stuff.

  EV is a 50 mile technology
Sssshhhh, don't tell Tesla or Hyundai that.

PHEV is a solution looking for a problem. You only add a little bit more range versus a plain ICE, and that's at the expense of lugging around an extra motor and battery array. The whole carpool lane eligibility for hybrids is a crutch and the only selling distinction for PHEVs. (If you're driving far enough for a carpool lane to even matter, you're going beyond your battery range on the trip... so you're ultimately releasing as much carbon.)

> If you're driving far enough for a carpool lane to even matter, you're going beyond your battery range on the trip... so you're ultimately releasing as much carbon.)

I’d be surprised to see this is actually true, but I guess it depends on where you live. There are some cities where a long commute time can be significantly cut by an HOV/carpool lane, even if the number of miles traveled isn’t that great. If you have a 40 mile commute then the Volt can run on electric for pretty much the whole thing, but that’s plenty long enough to save significant time bypassing traffic in a dedicated lane.

   If you have a 40 mile commute then the Volt can run on electric for pretty much the whole thing
... assuming that charging is always available at work/school and you don't go anywhere else either way.

Even half the trip as electric is halved carbon emissions from the car, so I don’t understand the statement that carbon emissions between a PHEV and a ICE are the same in the end (which is what I understand you to be saying by “so you're ultimately releasing as much carbon”)

You could also say that having large batteries is a solution looking for a problem. If 95% of your driving is under 50 miles a day, then you are lugging around 150 miles worth of extra batteries (to get that 200 mile range) that still need a long charge cycle, where you could easily replace that 150 miles of batteries with an ICE that will get you unlimited miles with a 5-minute fuling stop in between. And still end up saving you on gas during 95% of your other driving.

Most people drive more than X miles on Y% of their trips. For any given (X, Y) where Y is non-trivial — and 5% is non-trivial for most people — you can augment an X-mile battery limit by adding public charging stations. However the smaller X is, the more numerous and densely spaced those stations will have to be, which is deeply challenging given the layout of roads, and the cost of building charging stations. (This leaves aside the relative annoyance of making many brief stops vs. occasional longer stops.)

Manufacturers like Tesla control both “X” and the charging station layout, and have limited influence over “Y” except insofar as it affects their ability to sell cars. Presumably they’ve crunched the numbers and concluded that they can’t support a reasonable customer base on small values like X=50.

Plug-in hybrids have not been a commercial success. If you take away the artificial carpool-lane eligibility, they almost vanish from individual purchase as a category (only taxi and commercial fleet demand would remain relevant).

300 miles is still no where close to what some ICE cars get. I can go about 600 miles on a tank - and I have before without stopping.

I want an EV badly but I just can’t do my regular Portland to LA drives in them right now.

I'm impressed that you can concentrate that long. That's got to be over 8 hours of driving non-stop. No toilet breaks.

I think most people would need to stop a couple of times on route. I doubt EVs will ever be suitable for you.

Usually I do stop a few times, but recently decided to just power through it. Last time I didn't even realize how much time had passed until the gas light came on.

6-8 hours is about what I can do on a plane without getting up too so it's not too bad for me. Truckers do it all the time too so it's not that rare.


If electric can get to 400+ miles (already there almost) I'll be sold. That's enough for me to do the entire trip with only adding an extra stop if I drove nonstop. When I calculated with the 200-300 mile range a year or so ago it would have been too much waiting around for a charge.

You don't have to concentrate when flying. What's the legal limit in the US for truck drivers without a break? In the EU its 4.5 hours https://www.gov.uk/drivers-hours/eu-rules

I fly when it's cheaper (not counting my time). If I can find flights ~100-150/rt then that's a possible solution, but adding a rental car + parking at airport often makes it just cheaper to drive. And besides, I enjoy it.

Per DOT rules, truckers here are allowed up to 8 hours non stop, with a mandatory 30 minute break if they go over. They can drive up to 11 hours in a 14 hour window.


It seems most manufacturers, GM included, disagree with that and are mostly betting on full electric at this point. To the point where they are shutting down everything else (GM, Ford). And the ones that aren't (yet) are dealing with some serious challenges in the market. Battery production is indeed the limit. Or put differently, all EV manufacturers seem to be having the "problem" of their products being a very easy sell despite the cost, limitations, etc. For a lot of manufacturers that's not exactly something they are used to.

PHEVs are something that some manufacturers market to extend the runway of their legacy technology while they figure out how to get to fully electric. There are a lot of manufacturers that have stopped talking about that now that they have fully electric vehicles coming to the market. They'll be around for a while of course.

GM seems to have concluded that it makes no sense whatsoever to keep on subsidizing volt sales at a loss and the product simply makes no sense at its real price. The only reason they are keeping the bolt around (which has the same problem) is to have something to sell while they figure out how to build EVs properly so that they can make a profit. Buying a phev of course makes a lot of sense in the same way that an ICE car is still a sensible purchase. It's just that EVs dropping in price is making Phev related investments not a solid long term plan for most manufacturers. They'll milk it while they can but at this point they need to be mostly investing in EVs in order to stay in business long term.

Most EVs right now are indeed on the expensive side. This is a problem for manufacturers because expensive ICE cars used to be how they made money. That segment has been seriously impacted by Tesla coming out of nowhere and taking a huge portion of that market. That's why they are all scrambling to get in on that action. They have no other choice. The net effect of this will be that economies of scale will kick in and production of cheap and mid range EVs is where the action is going to be next.

You seem to insist range anxiety is a thing. It's not much of an issue for most drivers. It's a lot less dramatic than running out of fuel. Running out of fuel can cause all sorts of issues with cars. E.g. with a Diesel you can't just refuel the car and get going again. Running out of battery on the other hand is fixed by ... plugging it in. Worst case you have to call somebody to get you towed (or plugged into a mobile battery). And the car will tell you this is about to happen long before it happens. Only if you ignore all the warnings that you are about to run out of power and fail to address that, will you run out of power.

In any case, taking a 30 minute break after a long drive is a pretty good idea and probably something you should do regardless of your fuel/electricity needs. So, not the end of the world. Also, most people don't drive that far that often. So, having a lot of anxiety on this front is kind of irrational. Some people do drive this much of course. In that case they'll still love electric because of the fuel bills and indeed may spend a bit more on something with a bigger battery and higher charging capacity.

> how to extend the range to something everyone is used to, like 200-300 miles for road trips? There's two options, more batteries or an ICE engine.

quick-change batteries would work for now

I think it comes down to the fact that batteries are big and heavy, so they end up being pretty integral to the structure of the car. A strong quick release /engage mechanism for that sounds rather difficult to do. Especially where the car can't flex when full of people/stuff during the swap.

Tesla tried battery swap and abandoned it. If even early adopter Tesla customers won't accept this idea, it's very unlikely the mainstream will.

I suspect it would have to be imposed on the market through regulation and standardization. Otherwise you'll see endless quibbling on the swappable module specs, or 30 different types which would make it impractical to stock a replacement station.

of course it needs to be done right

The lost route IMO was modular batteries. Say your Model S has a bank replacable modules instead of a single monolith. These can be pulled and swapped with pre-charged cells in minutes. This also allows older packs to be pulled from circulation, removing the fear of aging batteries causing depreciation on the vehicle.

Why would you ever not want to swap the whole battery? They've demonstrated that a whole battery swap can be done in minutes. And the whole battery discharges/ages at the same rate, so there'd be no point in only swapping some of the modules.

It's also quite unsafe to run lithium ion batteries in series with different levels of wear / charge state, the old ones can easily be pushed too hard and fail (spectacularly).

I figure that if you have different-size cars with different battery capacities (and shapes of their battery cavities), then "Car X needs 10 battery modules, car Y needs 13" is simpler (in one sense) to manage than "I have car X, do you have any of the batteries made to fit in it? No, you only have Car-Y-shaped batteries? Whoops."

The angle I was considering was size and weight. If you can keep the modules light enough to carry by hand, it means a lot less equipment for each swap facility.

It's a true shame, as GM finally got the little details right on both how the engine was put together as well as the interior fit and finish on the 2017 model.

However, it was probably inevitable once batteries got good enough. Removing the combustion engine and replacing it with more batteries probably saves far too much money.

The current problem I have with electric vehicles is simply that right now they are "5 year" vehicles instead of "20 year" vehicles. Things are changing so quickly right now, that there is zero probability that any electric car I buy today I will have in 20 years. Contrast that to vehicles bought in the late 1990's/early 2000's that are still in decent shape (barring things like winters in the Northeast US) and still running.

And the whole "customers prefer SUV's" thing just drives me bonkers. Customers don't inherently prefer SUV's--the automakers market the hell out of SUV's because they are so profitable. And then everybody has a bunch of vehicles that they won't drive when gas goes up again.

I'm right there with you on wanting a twenty year car. I'd be fine if it was twenty year chassis and powertrain with batteries rated at 7-8 years. The vast reduction in parts in an all electric car should make it feasible if car manufacturers wanted to build to that quality. Instead someone like GM or Ford will plan for obsolescence and do the math on how many debilitating or fatal injuries need to occur before a recall.

I'm still waiting on an all electric with battery and propulsion tech competitive with Tesla's but fit, finish and quality found in Honda or Toyota. That really will yield a twenty year all electric car.

"customers prefer SUVs" means "customers prefer lifted station wagons branded as SUVs"

And apparently consumers also want to pay higher upkeep for that lift... Every SUV I looked at consumes about 10-15% more gas than the equivalent station wagon - this is bonkers, even when looking at pure economics.

But hey, it's a car, it gives you the freedom to roam wherever you want... As long as someone paved the road and you have the cash to pay the fuel bills (which you arguably have to work for) - what a nice, free and independent life!

I don't understand these naming conventions either! Someone told me the Model X was an SUV - I thought it was a hatchback! I mean it's the same outline as something like a Volkswagen Golf isn't it? Why is one an SUV and the other a hatchback?

An SUV is a minivan for people too embarrassed to drive a minivan. Which is to say, no sliding doors.

Voters did that with a schizophrenic law. We all want cars to fit us and all our stuff, but we also think everyone else should be driving a micro compact car. So CAFE has two classes of cars. One is profitable on its own (light trucks) and the other requires selling small cars at a loss.

CAFE was poorly written from the word go, and should have been replaced rather than extended.

Do you think it's possible that limited run electric cars will be highly valued collectables in the future?

I mean, people don't treasure classic cars from the 50s because of their superior technology or features. It's all nostalgia.

I wouldn't be surprised if first generation teslas or volts are extremely valuable in 20 years.

I expect Tesla Roadsters to be collectable, but that's about it. Everything else in the early generation lacks sex appeal or were made in enough volume to lack rarity.

Realistically speaking, how important is it that a car last 20 years? If it only lasts 10 years, which current EVs seem on track for, so what? You're not actually out that much on an annualized basis. And don't forget that years 11 through 20 on an ICE car are quite a bit more expensive maintenance-wise.

Depending on how much you drive, two electric cars over 20 years might well be cheaper than one gasoline car lasting that long.

> Depending on how much you drive, two electric cars over 20 years might well be cheaper than one gasoline car lasting that long.

This might be true if it weren't for the fact that the price of a new car keeps going up as a percentage of median income rather than down.

I had two cars bought new from the late 1990's (one finally got totaled). The annual maintenance cost could be quite high (I calculated that about $4K per year would be the breakpoint) on those and it would still come in lower than the equivalent class of car (another used car doesn't reduce the maintenance much and you have a lump payment). I would have the discussion with my wife to get rid of one of them every year, and every year we would come to the same conclusion--replace them when they die and not before.

Now, some of this is dependent upon whether your car is your sole source of transportation and whether you can cope with your car breaking down (money, time, etc.). It was no big deal for me to lose a car and put it in the shop--someone else will have a different reliability calculation.

Don't forget that car safety has improved significantly over the past 20 years. Crash avoidance and survival has gone way up over that timeframe. Once you price in the value of your and your loved ones' lives the old junker car starts looking a lot less appealing.

I got rid of an old junker car after I almost got into what could've been a really bad highway accident (at speed) caused by someone not seeing me and trying to take the lane I was in. My car almost lost control when I swerved into the break-down lane to avoid him. A modern car with electronic stability control, or frankly even just no mechanical/structural problems, would have fared much better. No one is spending thousands of dollars replacing the entire suspension system in a junker car, but that's just the start of what you'd need to do to try to make an old car safer.

Ironically I just sold a 2001 Chevy Impala after the transmission went and bought a 2018 holdover Volt to replace it. But those calculations are close to mine. In the case of the Impala, the car with a working trans was worth $3500 and the trans fix was $2300, plus it needed new tires which runs about $400 and little things like sensors etc. were starting to go....my rule of thumb is that when yearly repairs start to get over the 50% of the car's value it's time to let it go.

I drive a 20-year old Jeep, and frankly I don't see why I couldn't for another 20 if I felt like it. It's really nice to have dirt cheap insurance and no car payment. Lots of folks feel this way, too, because new cars are very expensive vs median income compared to how things were in the past.

> how important is it that a car last 20 years?

It's important for the used car market. I've bought all of my cars used and because I picked cars that had been well maintained I've never had any major issue. The same wouldn't be possible with cars that were at the end of their life at 10 years.

The ICE car is still going to be cheaper overall beyond 10 until major problems hit, especially if you buy them when they are 4-5 years old where someone else took the major depreciation hit. You can save even more if you're able to do some of the work yourself.

Depending on how much you drive, the ICE car really won't be cheaper overall through ten years. Gasoline is significantly more expensive than electricity to go the same distance. If you have a way to charge your EV on someone else's dime (like an electrical charger at work), then the savings get even larger.

A car’s lifespan is somewhat probabilistic, so if the average is only ten years then there’s a decent chance of a maintenance catastrophe well before that. People don’t like to make that sort of gamble.

That said, I have no idea why the other commenter thinks current EVs are five-year cars. My Model S is four years old and drives like new. I see no reason it won’t last just as long as a conventional car.

Electric cars and especially hybrids have been around long enough to pretty thoroughly disprove the notion that these kinds of cars only have short usable lifespans. I agree, I have no idea where these figures are coming from. Battery degradation is a well understood phenomenon, and EV manufacturers aren't stupid when it comes to their charging circuits. A Tesla maintains over 90% of its battery capacity after going >160k miles: https://www.engadget.com/2018/04/16/tesla-battery-packs-live...

I've had both the 1st gen and 2nd gen Volt. It is truly a great car that's versatile. You can use it on both a commute and road trip with no issues.

This is a classic short sighted GM move. I hope that at the very least they somehow sell the Volt to another major manufacturer. I'm not transitioning to the Bolt.

I call out BS one dollar a charge. At 12 cents a kwh in OK its almost $2 to charge 16 kwh of batteries. And I live in a state adjacent to OK withe the same nominal kwh charge. However when you include all the #$&*: fees (like cellphones) the true cost is 18 cents a kwh. At this rate $2 gasoline in in a compact car is the same cost per mile for electric per mile (6 cents).

I suspect he is averaging the free charging at work which cuts the true cost in half.

"Yet the Volt did serve a purpose. It led to advances in lithium-ion batteries similar to those that power smart phones and computers. But such advances ultimately led to the Volt's demise as GM and other manufacturers developed fully electric vehicles that can go 200 more miles per charge."

A better headline would be:

The Volt Dies but the Bolt Lives On.

Just chiming in as another happy gen2 Volt owner sad to see the car go.

Should have been new Brand.

I feel like the Chevy logo and branding didn't help much with Volt sales. They could have done something similar to what Toyota did with Scion. Create a unique logo and branding.

Create a high tech brand that isn't associated with "Chevy". Is that just me?

New branding comes with a lot of overhead.

If you're spinning a new brand out of a known brand, you'll have to educate customers with large marketing investments. This will have to be massive for the car industry.

Given the car's not very profitable already, they'd be running a huge loss for a long time.

Agreed. And what's worse is that GM recently announced that Cadillac would be their new flagship EV brand. As a Bolt owner I'm fine owning a Chevy, but I just can't see myself driving something with a Cadillac badge.

The Scion brand was a total failure and Toyota closed it down. GM used to have about 10 different brands but that just led to customer confusion and was a waste of resources.

PHEVs were such a misconceived idea. So many more parts to wear out for such little benefit.

Completely disagree. I have a Volt, and having a gas engine is not a "little benefit" to me. It's a huge benefit, despite the fact that one tank of gas lasts me about 6 months on average. I never have to worry about running out of electric charge and trying to find a charger, and I can go on long trips without having to worry about whether or not I have the range.

So why bother with an electric at all?

That question seems like trolling, but I'll answer it anyway. On 90% plus of my trips, I never use gas, and I'd estimate 90% of the rest I use gas for less than 3 miles. So I save a lot of money, it's better for the environment, I rarely have to go to a gas station, and since I use the engine so infrequently the maintenance costs are much lower.

But most importantly, I love the way an electric car drives. Smooth, incredibly fast, quiet acceleration is a joy, and the times I have to go back to driving an ICE car I immediately miss having an electric motor.

Regenerative braking, significantly simpler drivetrain, pure electric for the cities.

Only problem I have is they use normal car engines as range extenders. Could've gone with a simpler/cheaper wankel or microturbine optimized for high RPM, but I guess it's quicker to slap on an engine you already have.

> Could've gone with a simpler/cheaper wankel or microturbine optimized for high RPM, but I guess it's quicker to slap on an engine you already have.

In these size classes, it's pretty hard to beat Otto or Miller cycle efficiencies, especially with a Wankel configuration or a small Brayton cycle ("microturbine"). You can get much higher power-to-mass with Wankels or gas turbines, but their thermal efficiencies (again, in these kinds of size classes) will be lower with today's technology. And since the overall fuel economy is less sensitive to mass than engine thermal efficiency, these avenues wouldn't make much sense. I do think there are ways to potentially meet or exceed Otto/Miller cycle efficiencies with a gas turbine, but it would require significant dedicated engineering. Not something that would make sense for GM to pursue when they can seek greater payoffs from lean combustion technologies, etc.

To put it another way, as far as the Volt combustion engine is concerned, GM made a sound engineering decision.

A microturbine would be interesting, but does GM currently have an design experience with wankel engines? It's my impression that making a low emission wankel takes some clever engineering, you'd want a team with experience before investing in such a design. And has the apex seal problem ever been solved? Taking such a risk on that component of the car could be very risky.

Recently there is some buzz that Mazda might bring back their rotary engine in a hybrid, which actually might be a good way to go about the power/weight problem.

There is absolutely zero reason to mass produce a Wankel ever again.

gas is expensive

only in california. i paid 2.19/gallon last time I filled gas in midwest.

That's still a whole lot more than the equivalent cost in electric for the same miles.

When I do the math I find the cost per mile for electric is 80% the cost of gas. That's based off 35 mpg car, $2.20 gas, 60kWh electric battery with 238 miles of range, 10% loss in the charger, and $0.19 per kWh. All in all about $100-$200 saved a year. Cost of electric is higher than typical, but that's where I'm at.

Yeah, only in California.

(Anything below 6 USD/gal is quite cheap here.)

Uh, I live in California, and all the signs I see here say $3.something for gas.

I _suspect_ the person you're replying to doesn't live in the United States, given their conspicuous use of "USD". Even the most expensive gasoline in the US is dirt cheap compared to many countries across Europe. According to the somewhat amusingly named globalpetrolprices.com, gas prices in Germany were $5.62/gallon, the UK $5.75/gallon, and Finland $6.07 a gallon. Even in Russia, far and away the cheapest, gas was still $2.56 a gallon; of the countries they're tracking, only Russia and Ukraine would be cheaper than California. They also track prices across North America, and most countries here, including Canada and Mexico, are more expensive than California, too.

I'm not entirely sure whether we have more highly subsidized gas prices than most of the developed world, lower gas taxes, or a bit of both, but our low prices—even in California—sure seem to be an anomaly. if we paid closer to the average first world price for gasoline, hybrids and electrics would suddenly get _way_ more attractive, and we might be a lot less keen on SUVs.

(Back somewhat more on point for the linked article, I'd have considered a Chevy Volt if they were just a little closer to my price range. I drive enough—and occasionally in rural enough areas—that with the possible exception of Teslas, pure EVs are still a no-go for me, and Teslas are still out of my budget. And, frankly, I don't at all like the "shove everything possible onto one big touchscreen" approach to automotive UX design.)

> lower gas taxes

That. In Europe fuel taxes are easily half of the pump price.

I believe the GP refers to the world outside North America.

Converted to your units, yesterday's average for my region was $6.12/gal.

Edit: the comment reply form could show other replies, I find myself dupeing a lot because I think I'm the first one to it, with the view of no replies 10 minutes ago.

There are 28 countries with cheaper gas than the USA per https://www.globalpetrolprices.com/gasoline_prices/

(I don't know how well they account for taxes)

Think of phev as replacing two cars. Before you had to have one gas car and one electric, for long distance and local trips, respectively. Now with phev you can have only one car that's a bit more complex.

That's the dream, anyway

  Think of phev as replacing two cars
Or as an ICE towing an EV, or vice-versa. You're lugging around both motors at all times.

Bit more than that. It’s just a hybrid car (like prius) with all the benefits of that like regenerative braking, but with larger batteries. Not as large as full ev.

And in both cases, you're carrying the full weight of two motors at all times. It's sort of like a Tesla carrying a gasoline can and a generator just for range anxiety. (In fact, that combination would weigh less than an ICE motor and fuel tank.)

It is true that hybrid cars are geneally bit heavier. Mostly due to the battery though, partly offseted by not having to lug a traditional gearbox around.

However, if you look at the mpg figures of, as an example, Toyota Prius with similarly sized traditional car you will notice that it indeed is worth the extra weight.

  not having to lug a traditional gearbox around
You mention the Prius. Are you unaware of the complexity of its complex, heavy drivetrain?[1] Much heavier than even a traditional gearbox.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_Synergy_Drive#Transmiss...

I am aware of it. I have a hybrid version of Auris myself. And it does indeed get better l/100km than the non hybrid variants of the same car. I track my consumption when filling and using odometer.

The drivertrain in the hsg is pretty much tje electrical motors. I did not say it is lighter. I said some of the weight is offseted by the fact that the ice part doesnt have to lug all the traditional components. Not completely offseted, just helped a bit.

With typical use, the gas engine probably runs 20% of the time, meaning the rest of the time it's idle (stopped) and cool. So it won't wear out very fast. But I have to say that it's a cramped affair under the Volt's hood, and I'd hate to ever have to work on it.

For what it's worth, my Volt has been absolutely reliable. And I hear the same from other Volt owners too.

Aside from oil changes and tires, the only real maintenance needed was to top off the battery coolant once. (And that was due to a known manufacturing defect in my batch - fixed under warranty, flawless since.)

I'm fairly sure that the volt is more reliable and requires less maitenance than teslas & many other gas cars.

Its a very reliable car.

An electric car "engine" is vastly simpler than an ICE, and has far fewer moving parts, which should result in better reliability in the long term. The fixed gearing also means transmission failure is less likely. As an EV driver it can feel funny to think about the maintenance that people need in order to handle the small explosions inside their car.. oil changes, coolant, smog checks.. In a PHEV, if the generator breaks, you still have a working car.

Something I don't understand, but why don't they take the Chevy Bolt chassis and turn it into a PHEV Crossover a la Kia Niro? They already have the platform developed, and crossovers seem to be all the rage.

I'm almost certain they will. The tech they used isn't going anywhere. It's simply that no one buys sedans. I expect to see a Volt-powertrain-derived crossover or SUV soon.

No one buys small sedans for the American market, sure, but cars the size of a Yaris or Corolla seem to be wildly popular in the rest of the world.

If I'm reading this properly (and fair warning, there's a lot of data, I could easily be mistaken) it looks like sedans are dropping in popularity across the globe- but that 'mini-SUVs', crossovers, or whatever you call a small sedan-sized hatchback nowadays are gaining popularity.


Aside from the sedan question per-se, it's interesting to me see tastes change so rapidly.

That’s too bad, the Volt’s powertrain made a lot of sense for those aren’t able to get an EV due to it being impractical (Many apartments).

What’s interesting is that Honda’s hybrids have basically the same drivetrain as the now discontinued Volt. They too discontinued (edit: some) of their plugin hybrids, which is also too bad.

Looks like the Prius plugin is gonna be the car to pick for a plug-in hybrid. I wish it looked much better, but judging by their success, Toyota seems to know what it’s doing with the Prius’ styling.

The Honda Clarity is their current plug-in hybrid (unfortunately not available in the Accord any more)

and sadly not as good looking as the Volt.

Also, Subaru is coming out with a Crosstrek using the Prius Prime technology. It's not as fuel efficient but it's AWD and I personally find the Crosstrek stylish.

A shame. The Volt's been my dream car since I saw the concept vehicle in Popular Science when I was in high school but I was never able to afford one. The cheap daily commute of an electric car combined with the instant fill-up and range of a gas vehicle. Not to mention since the battery pack is much smaller than an all-electric it would be much cheaper to replace once it eventually wears out. Seems I'll never get one, now.

>>Sales averaged less than 20,000 per year, not enough to sustain the costly undertaking.

That to me sounds like a decent number. I guess they were selling them at a loss.

For comparison consider that Tesla is selling about that many cars in a month, or that GM sold over 2,000,000 cars last year, so the Volt was only about 1% of their volume. Little sad though because it had some truly innovative engineering.

I was interested in the Volt myself but after sitting in one decided it was too small. It is essentially a Chevy Cruze body with the Voltec drivetrain. I was banging my head into the roof getting in, while on a similarly small vehicle (Prius) I had ample room. The Volt it sleeker and much better on the eyes than a Prius, but I need my daily driver to have good utility.

I find it interesting that you think that the Prius is a small vehicle. To me it seems that the Prius is on the large end of mid-sized vehicles. A small car to me would be something like a Daihatsu Cuore or a VW Lupo.

Maybe it was the Prius-C or a first gen. Otherwise agree. The non-C Prius has interior passenger dimensions similar to a Camry.

Could be chatting with a taller person.

They also never advertised it at all. The only people who knew about them either researched them or heard about them from word of mouth.

The total absense of advertising for a vehicle that so many people loved has always reeked of lack of commitment from one side of the house.

That doesn’t even factor in how Chevy dealerships would actively try to talk you out of them.

I heard about it when it first came out and frankly the name itself was a turnoff. I had no idea that they were selling so many. Maybe with some better branding it could have done better in the market.

I'm always interested in the issues around naming things. It is a tricky science that I wish I were better at.

So I wonder if you could elaborate on what made the name a turnoff?


Volt, sounds like a cheap knockoff of Tesla. That was the emotional response I got from it. I imagined that if they could not come up with a more original or cooler name then their car was probably like that too.

I could almost see their reasoning for naming it volt: They figured that the Tesla company used that name because of Nikola Tesla, I guess they decided they too should use another name related to electricity, the volt (cue applause at their brilliance). It seemed very lazy to me.

I don't know about the "rest of the world" but I would be bet that, in December 2010, when the Volt started selling in the US, far more Americans knew that the word "Volt" related to electricity than had heard of Tesla and knew that that word related to electricity.

For me, the bigger issue was that the name - to me - implied that it was an electric car, not a hybrid, so it felt like unsubstantiated marketing spin.

They did do an initial advertising blitz but it was just terrible. I do not understand why they couldn’t do better commercials

Maybe they got negative commissions or couldn’t gouge on maintenance.

The one part of this that I feel like I understand is that if you buy this vehicle you've effectively signed up for twice the maintenance expense. While I feel this was a brilliant step in the direction of stop gap between gas and electric vehicles; I could never bring myself to pull the trigger.

It doesn't work out to twice the maintenance. In the Volt, then gas engine is only used when you need to take a longer than normal trip. Even then, it is mainly a series generator that runs at a leisurely rev range to supply power to the EV system. It is not stressed the way a normal engine is.

Maintenance schedules for the engine are extended as a result. Oil changes, for instance, are automatically tracked and I only had to do one oil change after about 2 years.

I'm coming up on 3 years with a gen 2 Volt and it's been very reliable and more fun to drive than the ICE vehicle that it replaced.

At >50,000km on my Volt and have had to do no maintenance other than changing back and forth between winter and summer tires.

No oil changes, no fluids, nothing. Averaging 1.2l/100km

You're simply wrong.

The Volt has proven to be pretty reliable, as far as Chevys go. The Prius is widely regarded as the most reliable car you can buy. So, while it might seem logical that the more complex car would be more troublesome, it doesn't play out that way.

Why? Yes, there are more components than either a pure ICE or pure EV, but that doesn't translate to "twice the maintenance expense".

In my experience (we own a Pacifica PHEV), a PHEV means less expense than a 100% ICE vehicle, but more than a pure EV.

Is it twice the expense? Probably not. Plug in hybrids are simply the worst of both worlds. You still need an engine and everything that goes with it, and your all electric range is anemic.

Why would I buy a Volt when I could buy a Model 3, a Leaf, or another EV? Electricity is cheap, no need for fuel or oil changes, and the driving experience is better (at least in Teslas with quick 0-60 times). You also are still eligible for the federal tax credit at its full amount for EVs where the manufacturer hasn’t sold 200k EVs yet.

The Volt died for the same reason the SR71 did: it was no longer needed.

Disclaimer: Tesla owner

Because most other EVs other than Tesla lack range, while you can still take a Volt on a long trip without having to plan around finding a special charging station.

It’s the single best solution on the market to cutting fuel usage by about 90%, being fun to drive and not having all the headaches that go with range anxiety / locating available charging stations.

The real question is why you’d by an all electric when the Volt was an option? They’re totally impractical for anything other than a 2nd car.

Because you’d buy a Prius (a wildly successful vehicle) instead of a PHEV (and still realize a drastic reduction in gasoline usage over the life of the vehicle, while still realizing a high level of reliability). There is a reason the Prius was often put into service as a taxi.

I’ve driven my Tesla from the west coast to the east coast with minimal hassle (using only Superchargers), and with newer EVs having longer range and fast charging stations being deployed rapidly (Electrify America), I argue that the idea that an all electric vehicle is impractical except as a second vehicle is an antiquated notion.

The Volt has an excellent track record for reliability, easily better than that of the Model 3, and earlier Model S (haven’t kept up with if they ever sorted out the issues from back when I wanted to buy one)

It also has better fit and finish despite costing less.

The Volt was an all around better car than the Model S I test drove and that’s why I have one (and two other cars in a similar price bracket so that is clear it wasn’t a price issue).

This is a little off-topic but your comment resurfaced my sentiment on the matter... I firmly believe Tesla is making cars that survive on halo effect more than substance and am extremely excited to see what other manufacturers come up with in the future.

Also, to understand the benefits of the gas engine look at it like this.

Presuming you’re not one of the owners using/abusing supercharging to replace a home charger, the Volt ICE is like a supercharger.

You only use it on long trips or to top off when you’re a little low and want to get rid of “range anxiety”

The Prius drives like a powered down vehicle, which it is. The Volt drives like a little sports car. You put it in Sport mode and that thing will fly.

Prius isn’t even in the same conversation...which is why the total lack of marketing of the Volt is the biggest problem it’s had. I’ve driven both, there is no comparison.

The Volt has an excellent track record for reliability, easily better than that of the Model 3, and earlier Model S (haven’t kept up with if they ever sorted out the issues from back when I wanted to buy one)

It also has better fit and finish despite costing less.

The Volt was an all around better car than the Model S I test drove and that’s why I have one (and two other cars in a similar price bracket so that is clear it wasn’t a price issue).

This is a little off-topic but your comment resurfaced my sentiment on the matter... I firmly believe Tesla is making cars that survive on halo effect more than substance and am extremely excited to see what other manufacturers come up with in the future.

> Why would I buy a Volt when I could buy a Model 3, a Leaf, or another EV?

Because you could commute on pure battery, but still drive anywhere an ICE can go without having to plan your route around charging stations and kill time while your vehicle charges. Seems like a reasonable use case to me...

Tesla sells ~25k vehicles a month to customers (enough that they’ve cannablized sales from BMW in California) who don’t mind stopping at fast DC charging stations. The market has spoken (wrt EV vs PHEV).

While the Volt had a niche, it seems it wasn’t competitive enough versus newer market competitors.

...and around 475k ICE vehicles a month are sold in the US.

PHEVs seem like a nice option for the people who find that an EV is not suitable for their long distance travel, but would like something environmentally friendly for their short distance needs, and do not want to have two cars.

Buy a Prius and carbon offsets until EVs advance further if you’re absolutely set on not wanting to fast charge when traveling and use a liquid fuel instead. Don’t demand a niche product that no one wants to build.

I don't need to spend hours charging my car if I want to go beyond my commute. I simply go to a normal gas station and my Volt effectively functions as a hybrid. With gas, Volts have a 300 mile range.

Also if my charger somehow fails in the middle of the night, I can still drive to work without issues.

Really depends on your perspective. To me a plug in hybrid seems like the best of both worlds. Enough range to do my daily commute all electric, but the ability to go on a longer road trip without having to worry about where a charging station is located.

> The one part of this that I feel like I understand is that if you buy this vehicle you've effectively signed up for twice the maintenance expense.

Then I would challenge your understanding.

That combustion motor 1) is not running anywhere near as much as a normal combustion engine, 2) has no mechanical transmission to go bad and 3) can be tuned for a much narrower range of RPMs than a normal engine.

Removing a mechanical transmission is huge. Everything else is upside.

The government committed to buy a certain amount of Volts and so did General Electric. It's estimated that there are government subsidies of $250,000 per car.


The last paragraph of the article you linked:

>So, yeah. The maximum price-per-vehicle for a Chevy Volt is $250,000 per vehicle — right now — if you make all the most pessimistic assumptions and the government hands over all their grant/subsidy money to companies who don't meet the goals built into the programs.

And this particular article was written in 2011.

While GM is killing it here, they're pushing the Voltec drivetrain in China:


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