Volt’s charge account. Bunion care in New Zealand. Pulling grandma’s plug. End of life costs. Not mean enough. Plus more.
(Page 2 of 5)
He did, however, overlook the elephant in the room — the battery. The very best lithium-ion battery under ideal conditions “will irreversibly lose approximately 20% capacity per year.”
This gives a useful life of at most 3 years. This increases ownership cost by $2,000 per year.
From the article: “If whatever you are driving now gets an average of 25 mpg (half what the Prius gets) that 4,000 gallons would keep you going for 160,000 miles.”
Even if you drive quite a lot more miles per year than average that’s about 10 years. That’s $20,000 for batteries. Base price of the volt? $60,000.
You will never be able to sell the damned thing. After five years the car on the used market is overpriced by at least $5,000.
You’ll never break even.
— Roy Lofquist
Does no one understand the logic here? GM, like all car companies, is saddled with the CAFE standards. Pelosi et al., being unable (yet) to tell consumers what they’re allowed to buy, have aimed for the same effect by forcing car manufacturers to achieve a certain “fleet average” fuel economy. American companies are further constrained to use expensive union labor to build the high mileage cars that are necessary to achieve the average.
The cars and trucks many people really want to buy are large, powerful, or both, but they’re not particularly economical. Unlike parallel hybrids, the Volt can run entirely on batteries for a typical consumer’s daily driving. Using the CAFE ratings procedures, it achieves very high rated mileage, compensating for the sales of a lot of big, fast, but most importantly, high-margin cars. Further, the Volt is a “boutique” car that will be bought by the environmentally pious instead of being seen as yet another hair-shirt economy car. GM can price it high enough to at least partially compensate for the high union labor costs. Now that GM is Government Motors, an ultra-mileage car might also help keep the mindless Pelosi-Boxer brigade off the company back.
I’m an electrical engineer as well as a rabid car enthusiast. I
don’t own a car I haven’t made faster, so I’m probably not a
potential Volt (yes, I know) customer. Nonetheless, a series
hybrid is intriguing. A series hybrid provides real-world
experience in full-electric drive trains while avoiding the
current range and charging infrastructure problems of
full-electrics. By isolating the charging engine from
direct-drive responsibilities, it can be optimized for efficiency
in a very narrow operating range. The development engineering
needed for a series hybrid prepares the manufacturer for an
easier transition to full-electric when and if battery technology
allows it. As much as I admire the Tesla designs and the
company’s refreshingly honest white-papers, these are much more
boutique cars than the Volt. In my view, a parallel hybrid is an
inelegant road to nowhere, no matter that it offers marginal
improvements in the short term.
The most recent article by Mr. Eric Peters you’ve published is most excellent in laying down the economics of the purchase and use of a Volt. I’ve seen several similar articles over the years addressing the Toyota Pious and other hybrids, but Mr. Peters’ article is the clearest I’ve read.
Still, I believe there is a significant missing argument against the Volt in his article (and the similar ones: May 24, 2009, “The Wishful Thinking of Greenie Dreams,” By Peter C. Glover, American Thinker; May 15, 2009 “Liberal Fantasyland,” by Randall Hoven, American Thinker; September 18, 2007 “Least Fuel-Efficient Hybrids” by Peter Hoy, Forbes). A rhetorical question is the best introduction to this missing argument. To wit: why is the cost of these hybrids so high?
The engineering and tooling costs can’t be much higher than for the introduction of any other “new” model. There are fewer raw materials in one of the hybrids (they are all designed to be lighter). The labor forces are the same as for traditionally powered vehicles. So, what is the cost driver? It must be Energy Cost of Manufacture. The materials in the battery are expensive because of the energy that is required to extract them from the earth. The chassis is expensive because of the energy required to manufacture the carbon fiber then cure the composite. The list no doubt goes on and on.
I’m not in the automotive nor minerals businesses and don’t have access to costing information to contribute but I believe it would be a worthwhile endeavor to gather this information and perform a “Life Cycle Energy Cost” analysis on these vehicles. Certainly, they won’t look as Green as they are presented. Just as the Volt lies by claiming 230mpg, ignoring the crude that is burned at the power station to charge the batteries, the purveyors of these vehicles lie in presenting the mpg vs. traditional power without rolling in the extra energy it takes up front to build the things.
Perhaps, now that GM is a Government entity, a FOIA request for
the manufacturing cost would yield the desired information? I’d
love to see a follow up article by Mr. Peters addressing the true
cost in energy of one of these vehicles.
— Bradford Sterling
THE HYPOCRITIC OATH
Re: Jeffrey Lord’s The Ultimate Cost Saver:
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?