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GM Cornered Into Defending the Volt

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the heavy-to-carry-around dept.

Transportation 769

Al notes a story in Technology Review reporting on a CMU study (now over a month old) claiming that the Volt doesn't make economic sense, and GM's response. The study suggests that hybrids with large batteries offering up to 40 miles of range before an on-board generator kicks in simply cost too much for the gas savings to work out (PDF). Al writes: "Unsurprisingly, GM disputes the claims, saying 'Our battery team is already starting work on new concepts that will further decrease the cost of the Volt battery pack quite substantially in a second-generation Volt pack.' Interestingly, however, GM admits that the tax credits for plug-in hybrids will be crucial to making the volt successful. Without those credits, would an electric vehicle like the Volt be viable?"

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769 comments

That's... (-1, Offtopic)

XaviorPenguin (789745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093197)

...electrifying!

BTW, Fi fi fi fi fi first post!

Doesn't Make Economic Sense (4, Funny)

digitalgiblet (530309) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093239)

"...claiming that the Volt doesn't make economic sense, and GM's response."

The GM response is that they understand that whole "make economic sense" statement. Like some foreign gibbersh to them.

Re:Doesn't Make Economic Sense (5, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093295)

I'm sure the companies that ultimately buys GM's R&D department from the liquidators will be interested in this.

Re:Doesn't Make Economic Sense (5, Insightful)

slick_rick (193080) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093433)

How can it make economic sense? I'd much rather have a VW Sharan that gets 7 and still gets 40+ to the gallon. Why on earth are we trying to build electric cars that make no sense instead of using cheap, proven turbo-diesel technologies? Why can't I buy a car that will ride 7 and get 40+ to the gallon in the US? I'm baffled...

Re:Doesn't Make Economic Sense (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093535)

"How can it make economic sense? I'd much rather have a VW Sharan that gets 7 and still gets 40+ to the gallon. Why on earth are we trying to build electric cars that make no sense instead of using cheap, proven turbo-diesel technologies? Why can't I buy a car that will ride 7 and get 40+ to the gallon in the US? I'm baffled..."

I'm waiting for the 2 seater peformance version to come out. Well...I guess maybe I'm just waiting for the Tesla to come down to Vette pricing...

Seats 7, eh? Interesting...I've never had a car that would seat more than 2 people. I'd not know what to do with all that room.

:)

Re:Doesn't Make Economic Sense (3, Interesting)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093603)

I'd much rather have a VW Sharan that gets 7 and still gets 40+ to the gallon

I honestly can't figure out what 'gets 7' or 'will ride 7' is in reference too...
After googling the Sharan the only thing that makes sense is that you mean 7 passengers?

Re:Doesn't Make Economic Sense (5, Interesting)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093667)

Before you get all proud about the 40MPG rating, please note that a US Gallon differs from an Imperial Gallon.

A US Gallon is smaller, which makes British mileage ratings appear inflated compared to US ratings.

Also, US residents can buy a Diesel VW Jetta, which seats 5 comfortably, and (legitimately) gets 40+MPG. They sell like hotcakes, although the total number imported is still somewhat small. I've driven one -- it's quite nice. Almost impossible to distinguish from its petrol-powered cousin.

Of course, your main point still applies: By global standards, cars sold in the US are hideously inefficient, and we have an inherent fear of diesel, thanks to the loud, smoky GM diesels of the 1980s.

The Volt is the least of GM's problems (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27093241)

Apparently there are quite a few of GM's product lines that don't make any sense.

Re:The Volt is the least of GM's problems (1)

tripdizzle (1386273) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093379)

See: CAFE induced gas-sippers that look ugly and are slow

Re:The Volt is the least of GM's problems (5, Funny)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093427)

Apparently there are quite a few of GM's product lines that don't make any sense.

That's because you aren't 70 years old with blue hair, a hip-hop artist, a professional athlete, or a trophy wife. Otherwise their products make perfect sense.

rich buyers (4, Insightful)

OlRickDawson (648236) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093243)

Sure, it might cost too much, but hopefully enough rich, environmentalists will buy it, that the price will come down so that it will be economically feasible, and affordable for the rest of us. They can use the same selling model as the Tesla Roadster.

Re:rich buyers (0)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093473)

Just like plasma tvs. They first came out at about 20-30k for crappy 32 inch plasmas. Now we have 52 inch plasmas in the 900 range.

Re:rich buyers (4, Insightful)

ACMENEWSLLC (940904) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093501)

CD players were $1000 when they first came out. Only the rich had them. The price went down and down until today you can pick one up for $5.

DVD players -- exact same deal. Blue rays were $1200, now you can get one for $180. As more people buy them, they will eventually come down to the ~$50 price point a decent DVD player is at now.

Electric cars have been lingering at the high point because no significant car has been rough to market. The Tesla and the Volt appear to be the firsts going there. We need to take the first steps if we are ever to migrate from oil to electric.

Re:rich buyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27093541)

actually it has less to do with people buying early at the higher price point than it does the initial cost of the creation of the product (not to mention as more alternatives come to market) that really bring the cost down over time.

Re:rich buyers (4, Insightful)

lupine (100665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093605)

And I bet the study was don't by a bunch of economists that place zero value on having clean air to breath and clean water to drink.

Sending transportation dollars to wind farms in Iowa instead of the Middle East, South America and Canadian tar sands also has no economic value.

Re:rich buyers (2, Interesting)

tripdizzle (1386273) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093749)

Well, you cant really sell clean air. Water on the other hand, some are paying more per gallon of water than per gallon of gas. As far as wind farms go, almost everyone wants them, but no one wants to be near them or have to see them.

They missed the Technology Review link (4, Informative)

Anonymusing (1450747) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093249)

They forgot the actual link [technologyreview.com] .

Re:They missed the Technology Review link (5, Informative)

Anonymusing (1450747) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093277)

Oh, and here's the GM blog [gmblogs.com] with the actual response.

A simple suggestion for GM (-1, Troll)

hackus (159037) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093259)

If you want a decent electric car might I first suggest you get rid of the oil company and foreign oil company interests OUT OF YOUR BOARD ROOM?

Thank you.

-Hackus

Re:A simple suggestion for GM (1, Troll)

danbert8 (1024253) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093643)

Ahh, posting a flamebait against an oil company gets you a +5 insightful despite a total lack of insight.

Re:A simple suggestion for GM (5, Insightful)

bartwol (117819) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093655)

I first suggest you get rid of the oil company and foreign oil company interests OUT OF YOUR BOARD ROOM?

I don't see that anybody on the GM board has anything to do with an oil company. Perhaps you can tell me more specifically whom you are talking about? (Or is your remark just uninformed rhetoric?)

Re:A simple suggestion for GM (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27093675)

Interesting comment, but I can't pick out the "oil company and foreign oil company interests" that are in the board of directors. Who are you talking about?

Erskine B. Bowles
President,
The University of North Carolina
Director since 2005

John H. Bryan
Retired Chairman
and Chief Executive Officer,
Sara Lee Corporation
Director since 1993

Armando M. Codina
President
and Chief Executive Officer,
Flagler Development Group
Director since 2002

Erroll B. Davis, Jr.
Chancellor,
University System of Georgia
Director since 2007

George M.C. Fisher
Retired Chairman
and Chief Executive Officer,
Eastman Kodak Company
Director since 1996

E. Neville Isdell
Chairman
and Chief Executive Officer,
The Coca-Cola Company
Director since 2008

Karen Katen
Chairman,
Pfizer Foundation,
Retired Vice Chairman,
Pfizer Inc and Retired President,
Pfizer Human Health,
Director since 1997

Kent Kresa
Chairman Emeritus,
Northrop Grumman Corporation
Director since 2003

Philip A. Laskawy
Retired Chairman
and Chief Executive Officer,
Ernst & Young
Director since 2003

Kathryn V. Marinello
Chairman
and Chief Executive Officer,
Ceridian Corporation
Director since 2007

Eckhard Pfeiffer
Retired President
and Chief Executive Officer,
Compaq Computer Corporation
Director since 1996

G. Richard Wagoner, Jr.
Chairman
& Chief Executive Officer,
General Motors Corporation
Director since 1998

http://www.gm.com/corporate/investor_information/corp_gov/board.jsp [gm.com]

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27093687)

What does it matter if those evil hydrocarbons go into an internal combustion engine or generator?

Re:A simple suggestion for GM (5, Insightful)

jgalun (8930) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093701)

What the hell does that mean? GM doesn't have oil company representatives on their board. If you'd like to see, I suggest you Google search GM's board and check out the board member bios.

Also, if oil companies are stopping GM from bringing electric cars to market, then how do you explain GM betting the ranch on the Volt? Wouldn't GM have *accepted* this argument that electric cars don't make sense, rather than defend their electric car project?

But hey, didn't stop this post from being modded to 5. I guess any paranoia about oil companies automatically gets modded up...

Economic sense for tomorrow ? (4, Insightful)

adisakp (705706) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093263)

It might not make the most economic sense *TODAY* without tax credits but putting the money into the technology being developed for battery and hybrids will make cheaper more efficient cars available in the future. The main cost right now is the battery pack but with more mainstream production as well as further research, this should come down in cost (higher capacity / cheaper batteries in future cars).

Re:Economic sense for tomorrow ? (2, Insightful)

Symbha (679466) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093579)

This only makes sense, if they have products that people will buy TODAY, so they can stay in business long enough to get the downstream benefits of technology development. They needed to be doing this 20 years ago, instead of dumping their R&D into overly large SUVs.

The bottom line for GM is that they have produce crap for 20+ years, and have FAR too much forward looking retirement/pension expenses.

They simply don't have product people are willing to buy, in numbers sufficient to make the company profitable. One very expensive family car will not save this company.

This "story" is not very charged, nor is it (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093267)

shocking. It might, however, prove ... revolting... to some...

Ummmm (2, Insightful)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093269)

Simply because someone else is footing the bill, doesn't make it economically viable. The money doesn't come out of thin air.

Maybe that's what GM was thinking the bailout money they got came from...

Anyway, I have no interest in footing the bill with my tax money to pay for something that is a net drag on energy. If they can't afford to make it commercially viable on their own, they shouldn't look to do it on the taxpayer dime.

Re:Ummmm (4, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093333)

My thoughts, as well. The company is still supposed to be a profit driven company, government money or not (and I personally think they should have been allowed to go bankrupt... and I'm a huge supporter of American companies, so it's not like I'm just anti-America-Corporation or something). It's decisions like these, IMO, that make me think they should go bankrupt, too. =P They seemed to do pretty well, once upon a time, building trucks and whatnot. Nobody really liked Toyota or Nissan trucks 10 years ago, for anything heavy-duty, etc. To get into the electric/hybrid market, I think they really needed some good ... well, innovation and technology. Not play a catch-up-to-Toyota/Honda game with my tax money.

its not commercially viable (-1, Troll)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093449)

because the american consumer won't buy it

the american consumer won't buy it, because the american consumer is complacent about fossil fuels

sometimes you need to foot the bill, you need a strong central government to force the issue, because the market place won't solve the problem

market forces are NOT the source of all progress in this world

the government needs to step in, overruuling the whining conservatards, and mandate what consumers can buy and what manufacturers can make

why?

because:

1. the technology will prove itself as more economically viable than fossil fuels once the recharging infrastructure is in place and technology improves
2. fossil fuels are going to become more expensive no matter what, simply because it will get harder and harder to dig up, and more and more demand is growing world wide. we can prepare for the future now or suffer more
3. the geopolitical reality is that soccer moms refueling their SUVs are paying for gasbags like chavez in venezuela, islamic nutjobbery via saudi wahabbism, and russian neoimperialism. that comes back to bite us in the ass. but those geopolitical realities, that soccer mom is paying for, is completely decoupled form her considerations when she shops for a new SUV
4. the environment. yes, conservatards, we need to tackle the endless dumping of CO2 in the atmosphere. begin your al gore jokes and your head in the fucking sand

Re:its not commercially viable (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27093509)

Based on your last, we should let market forces find the best solution. And use the government to help push by bringing those costs to the market, where market forces can work on them.

Which means we should tax oil and (possibly) engine size.

market forces work (2, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093671)

for problems where the producer and buyer drive progress. electronic gadgets, for example: i want my iphone cheaper. i want my iphone with more doodads. competitors are happy to oblige. congratulations: progress

there are other problems in the world, where neither producer nor buyer have a vested interest. and yet these problems are very real. here's one: justice. crime

you need a government, a strong one, with police powers, to run the judiciary since producer and buyer need an impartial justice system that favors neither producer nor buyer

now you could ignore justice and criminal law. and the social environment will deteriorate such that the marketplace deteriorates. or you could have a justice system run by populism that ignores the needs of producers. or a justice system bought and sold by corporations that ignores the needs of consumers. which are just two forms of injustice

the physical environment is the same thing: neither producer nor buyer has a vested interest in maintaining it. so its get dumed on by both, and the marketplace deteriorates. so you need a third party, a government, to engage in maintaining the environment by setting environmental regulations and enforcing them. the marketplace WILL NOT TAKE CARE OF THIS PROBLEM ON ITS OWN IN AN EQUITABLE MANNER

i say: leave to the marketplace issues that progress in the marketplace can solve

but that does not describe all of the problems in the world

irrefutable fact you need to learn: the marketplace is not where all progress in the world takes place, and does not answer every question that needs answering. this sort of marketplace fundamentalism some morons believe in is a simpleton's ideology that needs to die

MOD PARENT UP (0, Troll)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093713)

This is clearly not a troll. Did a bunch of Enron employees get /. account or something?

Re:its not commercially viable (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093743)

I agree in principle, but need to play devil's advocate here:

#1 cannot be proven easily. We were saying that about hydrogen for ages, and despite a massive R&D effort, nobody was able to develop an efficient process. It also doesn't apply to plug-in hybrids.

#2 and 3 would be solved by market forces and responsible foreign policy. Neither has anything to do with GM, and everything to do with an irresponsible government.

#4 could be solved with a (gasp) gas tax. Causes people to drive less, take more public transport, and drive more efficient cars (most of which are paradoxically not sold in the US -- Fiat could make a killing if they re-entered the US market).

Re:Ummmm (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093513)

The money doesn't come out of thin air.

Neither does electricity--that's why electric cars will never become a reality.

Re:Ummmm (0)

gandy909 (222251) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093767)

The answer i keep looking for, and never seeing is - what will my electric car do to my electric bill? I'd much rather pay double for gas than triple for electricity. I can see the electric companies drooling over this now.

Basically, if its going to cost me more money than what I already spend, I don't want it. Since I never hear about its going to save me money, or cost no more, I can (probably) safely assume that its going to cost me a lot more.

Re:Ummmm (1)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093547)

The money doesn't come out of thin air.

You obviously don't know what quantitative easing means.

Re:Ummmm (3, Interesting)

Ctrl+V (1136979) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093599)

If they can't afford to make it commercially viable on their own, they shouldn't look to do it on the taxpayer dime.

Long-term, I agree.

However, this is a great example of a short-term subsidy that can help jump start the process until it _is_ commercially viable on it's own.

As it stands, the cost of the environmental impact is an externality to GM and the car buyer. By making cars (such as the Volt) that can drastically lower this impact, the cost is incorporated into the purchase price. Especially being new technology, this will initially have a much higher price point until efficiencies of scale/better production methods can eliminate the need for the subsidy.

At least, that's how it _could_ work :)

Re:Ummmm (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093639)

Anyway, I have no interest in footing the bill with my tax money to pay for something that is a net drag on energy. If they can't afford to make it commercially viable on their own, they shouldn't look to do it on the taxpayer dime.

Makes sense. Unfortunately, the fossil fuel providers get to take advantage of negative externalities, shifting much of their costs onto future generations in the form of environmental damage.

So, the answer is simple: just tax fossil fuels in order to push the cost of said externalities back on the customers who are buying the product, so that the price of the product actually reflects it's total costs. Then redirect that tax money to environmental cleanup efforts, and green technology development.

But, of course... that's not basic, sound economic theory. That's evil socialism.

Re:Ummmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27093731)

If they can't afford to make it commercially viable on their own, they shouldn't look to do it on the taxpayer dime.

Commercially viable is a sneaky idea and often doesn't take into account externalised costs (on the environment, for example). If you taxed the hell out of oil-based vehicles (or their fuels) to properly reflect the cost of those options, the new technologies look better.

Even if the Volt looks terrible with properly adjusted costs, inflating the purchases of a product that is not currently "commercially viable" but that will be viable in the future as gas prices rise is a smart move. You could even think of it as a step towards removing dependence on foreign resources.

Re:Ummmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27093763)

Except you are massively subsidizing oil-based auto economy right now. Start with hundreds of billions spent to keep stability in Iraq so oil can continue to flow. If we subsidized alternatives to the auto-oil economy to the same extent we wouldn't need the Mideast oil at all.

Re:Ummmm (2, Informative)

gn84 (1475255) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093769)

Not only are you footing the bill with your tax money, but the government has to borrow the money to give to GM (due to the deficit) which decreases the available capital to invest in economically viable opportunities.

Of course, what the government doesn't borrow, they print, which decreases the value of every dollar in circulation (which also discourages investment).

Re:Ummmm (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093771)

If they can't afford to make it commercially viable on their own, they shouldn't look to do it on the taxpayer dime.

Exactly! Just like how us city dwellers shouldn't be forced to offset the cost of Power, Gas, Sewage, Trash disposal, Phone, Emergency Response, or any other public services to people in lower density areas.

Honestly, if the power company can't turn a profit off of them, maybe they should just live in the dark. /sarcasm.

Capitalism isn't a magic pill, it won't fix everything. Neither will communism. But there has to be some amount of balance between the two to ensure that society as a whole advances while individuals are able to exceed and be rewarded. Rewarding with out social balance creates strife, and social balance with out individual rewards creates stagnation.

That said, I'm not sure GM is the pinnacle of pragmatism, while I'd like to see the volt hit the road, I think it would be better served by another company that could purchase the product line off of GM in a bankruptcy restructuring.

-Rick

hydrogen cars (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093275)

I expect that as technology progresses that the batteries will get better, but I am still hopeful that there will be more effort put into developing hydrogen powered cars. Then you would not need the huge acid lead batteries, emissions from the vehicles would be literally just water, and all the innovation could be focused on generating hydrogen.

Re:hydrogen cars (4, Funny)

lupine (100665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093435)

And we will create the hydrogen by grinding up invisible pink unicorns. Since there is an infinite supply of invisible pink unicorns and they are really easy to grind this will solve all of our energy problems.

Re:hydrogen cars (0)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093485)

hydrogen powered cars look good until you discover that hydrogen gas is corrosive to most metals.

Re:hydrogen cars (1, Informative)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093503)

Forget the corrosiveness. Start thinking about where the stuff comes from, lupine (above) is correct. The 'well-to-wheels' efficiency of a hydrogen car is worse than that of a petrol car let alone a battery electric.

Re:hydrogen cars (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093725)

Uhm,the volt doesn't need huge acid lead batteries either. It needs huge lithium ion batteries. Hydrogen is more of a pipe dream then electric, due to the distribution,storage, and manufacture of hydrogen not being very easy or cheap. Cars like the volt are a good start. Its all electric motors driving the wheels, the gas engine just powers an electric generator that recharges the batteries. So its a small step away from replacing the gas engine as the electric generator with a fuel cell. Most of the engineering that goes into this effort will be useful in creating a hydrogen car as well.

Fuck GM (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27093279)

They make big, gas-guzzling pieces of shit and the idiots who bought them are the reason why the U.S. is so damn fucked up.

They made the Escalade and the Escalade was the reason why suburban housewives turned all NIGGER on us. And they want a fucking bailout?! Fuck 'em, let 'em drown.

GM != Economic Sense (5, Insightful)

dreadlord76 (562584) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093297)

Considering that GM is surviving on taxpayer money right now, and is begging for more, I don't see how GM has any credibility on determining if anything makes Economic Sense. Maybe the Green Movement can buy the technology off GM, and produce the car themselves. Let's see if that is successful.

depends on price of gas? (5, Insightful)

fantomas (94850) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093301)

"...cost(s) too much for the gas savings"

Depends on the price of gas? Here in the UK we pay approx 0.90 GBP for a litre, = 0.90 x 1.42 (Pounds to Dollars) x 3.785 (Litres to US gallons) = 4.84 US dollars a gallon.

This is much less than a few months ago when gas here reached close to 1.20 GBP a litre and with the pound being stronger at that time it was over 8 dollars a US gallon.

Would you consider a gas/electric hybrid if gas was 8 dollars a gallon in the USA?

Re:depends on price of gas? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093563)

What's the price difference between the hybrid and the pure ICE equivalent?

Also, how does the used car market look, and what kind of shape is my present vehicle in?

Re:depends on price of gas? (1)

Stilton_Cheesewright (1478257) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093583)

The article states" "High fuel prices, low-cost batteries, or high carbon taxes combined with low carbon electricity generation would make small-capacity PHEVs cost-effective for a wide range of drivers."

Higher (carbon) taxes are certainly on the way in the US.

Higher fuel prices are probably on the way.

Cheer up, GM.

Re:depends on price of gas? (2, Insightful)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093597)

that also depends on why gas is $4.84 a gallon. If it is taxed to that amount, then that tax will need replaced, assuming the battery car is just as damaging to infrastructure funded by those taxes (possibly more, if they are heavier, require bigger electric grid, and more power generation.)
If it is price gouging, and you can keep that gouging out of electric, then sure.

Re:depends on price of gas? (2, Insightful)

ozgood (873183) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093705)

That's exactly the thing. People considered a gas/electric hybrid when gas was $4.00 a gallon. You had to get on a waiting list to get a prius. There was high demand. There was a huge green push. It was even a national security campaign issue, "rid ourselves of foreign oil" push. This was like 6 months ago.

Now gas has gone back down to the $1.75-$2.00 range and all is forgotten.

Yes we need electric cars, yes we need better battery technology. Yes we need energy independence.

wrong issue (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093323)

the issue is not that current battery technology can't adequately replace typical american highway needs

of course it can't

the issue is american car companies aren't even trying to solve the problem. meaning there is no advances in the technology that could make the replacement economically efficient

there is also the issue of american consumers, who will blindly buy SUVs while they send their sons and daughters to die in the middle east to fight for the oilfields needed to drive their precious SUVs

what is needed obviously is strong american legislation that will mandate battery recharging infrastructure and non-fossil fuel dependent car design

but of course, the conservatards will whine "socialism"

you know what conservatards? sometimes you need a large government and strong regulations. no, really, you really do

the market will NOT take care of itself on some issues

simple market dynamic only drives us into the status quo, since consumer demand is not coupled with the geopolitical realities about fossil fuels

government policy is the only way out of this mess. strong government regulation from a strong and powerful central government

market forces aren't cutting it. market forces don't drive progress on all issues

wake the fuck up conservatards

Re:wrong issue (-1, Troll)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093569)

you know what conservatards? sometimes you need a large government and strong regulations. no, really, you really do

Like the PATRIOT Act. Gotcha!

You'll give up your freedoms because Al Gore says there is a danger, but not because George Bush says it?

I've seen terrorists kill people. So far, I've seen no one die from Global Warming. When the government taps my phone, it makes absolutely no difference in my life whatsoever. It has absolutely no impact on my freedom. Taxing gas or telling me what I am or am not allowed to drive has a DIRECT impact on my life.

Re:wrong issue (1)

TobyWong (168498) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093773)

Straw man.

At least address the guys point if you want to argue with him.

It does matter.. (4, Interesting)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093329)

The Union is *currently* unwilling to cut back wages or benefits which is a requirement for GM to even get access to ANY of the "stimulus" money.

Only when GM goes into bankruptcy protection (chapter 11) will GM have more of a free hand to cut what needs to be cut.

Until one of the 2 happen, the Volt won't see light of day at a dealership.

Re:It does matter.. (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093511)

Sorry the subject header was supposed to be:

It doesn't matter..

Re:It does matter.. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27093635)

Only when GM goes into bankruptcy protection (chapter 11) will GM have more of a free hand to cut what needs to be cut.

Bingo. Give the man a cookie.

Once they enter bankruptcy everything is put on the table. The legal system, informed by all parties, becomes the arbiter.

This is why bankruptcy will NEVER BE PERMITTED by the powers that be. The UAW most definitely does not want their contracts to face scrutiny. Obama and Co. will do whatever must be done to preclude that. This is a rock solid bought and paid for voting block we're talking about here. The UAW and it's ilk have elected themselves political immunity from such trials.

What's so annoying about this stupid situation... (3, Informative)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093335)

...is that 10 years ago GM was telling us exactly that about the EV1, and we (the people who wanted one) were saying "but it's awesome, why are you telling us we don't want one?" and they were saying "there's no demand, it's not cost effective, it's terrible anyway".

Damn CARB for crumbling and allowing any car with a slightly larger battery that can crank itself along with its starter motor to count as a "low emissions vehicle".

Re:What's so annoying about this stupid situation. (1, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093601)

They were leasing them at a loss. People didn't want them at a price where GM could make money on them.

Re:What's so annoying about this stupid situation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27093649)

The demand for the EV1 *did* drop off as people learned the details. I think it got down to about 50 before GM gave up. The time simply was not right.

Electric vehicles will make the problem worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27093337)

Pure electric vehicles will put a huge demand on today's electric grid.

What does that mean?? Expensive electricity for EVERYBODY. Not just the owner of the electric car.

With the raise of demand, the environmental requirements will be dropped to compensate for the need to build new power plants fast. By dropping the requirements, we will get power plants that will generate 3 to 4 times more pollution that the "green" vehicles will generate.

And lets not talk about all the pollution generate in the production and disposal of batteries.

The Volt is a nice "concept" car ... but not a real practical one for the general public.

Re:Electric vehicles will make the problem worse (2, Insightful)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093475)

Electric light bulbs will put a huge demand on today's electric grid.

What does that mean?? Expensive electricity for EVERYBODY. Not just the owner of the electric light bulb.

With the raise of demand, the environmental requirements will be dropped to compensate for the need to build new power plants fast. By dropping the requirements, we will get power plants that will generate 3 to 4 times more pollution that gas lamps would have generated.

And lets not talk about all the pollution generate in the production and disposal of electricity. (wait what? disposal of electricity?)

The Edison bulb is a nice "concept" lamp ... but not a real practical one for the general public.

Fucking ants (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27093343)

Seriously, I fucking hate ants.

Economic Sense vs. Business Sense (2, Interesting)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093347)

Yea, it doesn't make economic sense. GM knows they are going to lose money on every Volt that rolls off the assembly line. Thats not the whole story though. They need a new image for the brand, and they have pinned that image to the Volt. Forward thinking, efficient, and revolutionary in the auto industry is the idea right now for the Volt. Them going out of business might hinder their cause. But, then again, its their own damn fault for behaving like asses for 30+ years. Seriously, they may have made money of trucks and Hummers, but they were certainly not innovative or groundbreaking in their designs. Their overall structure was hosed for so long, its hard to see what restructuring they are gonna do to recover.

Electric is not the answer (0, Troll)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093351)

Electric is not the answer, because it only shifts fuel costs to your electric bill. Since my electric bill goes well over $300 a month in the summer (AC usage), I can't even begin to guess how expensive it would be to charge my car every night.

I'm not a fan of Hybrids (yet), but at least that system doesn't accrue the additional cost of an electric bill to go with your gasoline bill.

Re:Electric is not the answer (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093455)

The increase in your electric bill is only a bad thing if it increases more than your gas bill decreases.

And if you really think electricity produced by your car engine is cheaper, then why aren't you powering your home with it?

Re:Electric is not the answer (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093679)

The increase in your electric bill is only a bad thing if it increases more than your gas bill decreases.

So yes, it will be a bad thing then. Saving 40 miles in gas by using the electric part saves 2 gallons ($4). Charging that battery all night on the grid will cost more than $4.

And if you really think electricity produced by your car engine is cheaper, then why aren't you powering your home with it?

I didn't say anything of the sort. I assume you are saying electricity is cheaper than gasoline, which is fine and dandy. But until you figure out a way for my car to be connected solely to an electrical grid I stand by my assertion that electric/gas cars are not a viable option.

Re:Electric is not the answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27093457)

There's no question that the cost of adding a plug-in hybrid to your electric bill is cheaper than the cost of filling it with gas. The question is whether the extra cost of the car is too much to make that savings economical over its lifespan.

Re:Electric is not the answer (1)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093531)

You can charge off peak. Thats the idea anyway. Then, ideally during peak hours you can sell energy back to the grid at a profit.

Re:Electric is not the answer (1)

lupine (100665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093539)

Plug in electric cost to drive 100 miles should be less than $2. Your electric bill may be higher, but you will be charging at night when rates are low and wouldn't have to spend any money at the gas station ever again. If you spend $300 a month on AC maybe you should switch to CFL bulbs and a little insulation to your house. Your high electric bill does not make driving an electric car expensive.

Re:Electric is not the answer (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093751)

No, high electric bills (in my brand new, green home, btw) DO make electric cars more expensive, because the electric company charges MORE money, the more energy we use (kwh rates shoot up in the summer, coincidentally?). Unfortunately in Austin, TX, there's no escaping high electric bills in the summer months.

As far as never spending money on gas again, from what I've read, the current battery technology would allow for 40 miles per charge, which is 10 miles short of my round-trip commute. Am I to hope my employer will let us charge our cars while at work?

Re:Electric is not the answer (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093587)

You'll have to at least specify where you live, since that will indicated how much you pay in electricity (per kWh) and what type of climate might justify your AC bill.

For example: I don't have AC since the climate in my area is mild enough to get by without it (Though summers can get pretty hot, it's survivable without).

Electricity costs me about $0.17 per kWh. It's tough to put an exact price on it because the utility company loves to obfuscate things with delivery fees and shit, but I think it's close enough to do meaningful comparisons.

Gasoline is currently about $2.00 per gallon in my area, plus or minus a few cents depending on exactly where you go.

1 gallon of gasoline = 125,000 BTU = 36.6 kWh, which will cost me $6.22 at my estimated rate.

But! Upwards of 80% of the energy from gasoline goes to waste, whereas the overall waste of an electrical system would be around 20% plug-to-asphalt (less with regenerative braking and other stuff).

So I get only 25,000 BTU of useful energy out of every gallon of gasoline, which is only 7.3 kWh ($1.24). If I waste 20% of the electricity I'll need a bit more to start with: 9.1 kWh ($1.55).

So! All things considered, it's currently cheaper for me to go with electricity than gasoline as an energy source. The only real limits are: 1) Range, and 2) Initial cost of the vehicle.
=Smidge=

Re:Electric is not the answer (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093595)

Electric is not the answer, because it only shifts fuel costs to your electric bill.

Electric is half the answer. What is the question?

Since my electric bill goes well over $300 a month in the summer (AC usage), I can't even begin to guess how expensive it would be to charge my car every night.

Electricity is just a way to make the energy source flexible. You can generate electricity with gas or many, many other ways. The second half of the issue is generating the electricity in better ways both economically and environmentally. And make no mistake, environmental factors are part of economics, just such that the people causing the problem can try to divorce themselves from the costs. If global temperatures go up due to fossil fuel use and there are more storms and it cost insurance companies more, that is worse for the economy than if people pay that same amount more to buy and run electric vehicles charged from clean power sources. The reason being, then the cost relationship is direct and innovation is much more strongly encouraged (financially).

I'm not a fan of Hybrids (yet), but at least that system doesn't accrue the additional cost of an electric bill to go with your gasoline bill.

But does it increase your homeowners' insurance costs? Does it increase your healthcare costs and tax burden to pay medicaid to people who have cancer or breathing problems caused or worsened by pollution and nano particles emitted?

That's the real problem with fossil fuel use in general, is there are lots of costs and likely costs associated with it, that are not paid for just by the people using them.

Re:Electric is not the answer (1)

SuperQ (431) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093617)

This completely ignores the fact that electricity is cheaper per mile driven than gas. Based on comparing a 25mpg car to a Tesla (55kwh/220mi=250Wh/mile) and CA 0.12/kwh and $2.50/gallon of gas. I also removed the battery replacement since the Tesla's battery is good for 100k miles.

http://www.ccds.charlotte.nc.us/~jarrett/EV/cost.php [charlotte.nc.us]

Total came out to $0.126/mile per mile for gas, and electricity is $0.049/mile

Over 8000 miles a year, you save $600.

GM is working on it? (5, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093375)

There are tons of people working on better electric storage system technology. This makes it sound like they are doing the engineering on their own.

Look here [google.com] and this one [stanford.edu] is really interesting IMO.

When they get a breakthrough on high capacity systems it will make a lot of things possible that currently are not, not just cars. It is the battery technology that really puts the hobbles on generating your own electricity at home. Well, that and solar collector technology as well as HOA restrictions etc.

If I could get tax breaks to install a 95%+ self sufficiency system I'd do it in the blink of an eye. Having an electric car on top of that would be even better. I would like a nice little commuter car or two; 40 mile range is great if it will also support solar trickle charging while parked etc.

With an initial investment, I could become 95% free of the grid ... well, if I could do that, I'm all in... big time.

I disagree... (4, Insightful)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093377)

I bet the same thing could have been said about the Prius during it's development phase. GM could always offer the Volt for lease like the Honda FCX, another car probably even more expensive to be economically feasible at this time, not to mention that hydrogen stations are few and far between.

GM has made tons of stupid mistakes, and frankly they deserve to be in the situation their in for it. On the other hand, the Volt is actually ingenious and I believe a more logical application of a hybrid powertrain than anything else currently on the road. I think it's cool that, like in diesel trains, the gasoline engine generates the electricity which powers the electric motor which in turn motivates the vehicle.

And for a change, I think it looks nicer than either the Prius or the new Insight. Hopefully, GM will be in business long enough for the Volt to see production. I do acknowledge that the risk in this car being too expensive is that enough people won't be able to buy for it to help GM in any meaningful way.

Volt is no Prius (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27093437)

The Volt is nothing more than a gas guzzler with an electric engine who's batteries need nightly recharging.

The Prius (and Civic) is a vehicle with an efficient engine assisted by an electric engine who's batteries are refueled with energy from the vehicle

Rhetoric. (2, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093387)

I'm not a huge fan of this technology replacing the existing infraustructure (gas powered vehicles) yet. But only because of energy density in the fuel, not what fuel it is. And these vehicles do have a niche market -- must be about as frightening as Apple is to Microsoft (oh, wait... that's not a fair comparison. Apple might actually be double-digits now). But as the technology develops, and the energy density problem is solved, gas-powered vehicles will go the way of the dinosaur. /tongue in cheek

GM? Sorry I am not interested. (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093395)

I have one major reason for not having interest in GM products:

I cannot stand an automobile product that loses one-third of its value the moment it's wheeled of the dealership.

To those that say "buy local to support local jobs..." I say:

GM manufactures about three-quaters of its products outside the USA. How about that?

Sorry GM, but I am not interested.

Re:GM? Sorry I am not interested. (1)

Kozz (7764) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093555)

... I say:

GM manufactures about three-quaters(sic) of its products outside the USA. How about that?

[citation needed]

I tried some googling to corroborate, but couldn't find anything. Care to back that up? I'm curious.

The economics of it.... (4, Insightful)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093403)

Recently my car got crushed by stuff falling off the roof of a business. So I've been the market for a new car. I looked at toyota between the Corola and the Prius. Both are similar size, but the Prius gets about 10 miles more to the gallon...for $6000 more.

I did the back of the envelope calculations and there was no way that I'd make up the $6000 price difference in the time that I am likely to own the vehicle. Even if gas goes back to USD 4.00 a gallon.

Re:The economics of it.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27093445)

it sounds like you do not own your vehicles very long. most prius owners i know plan to drive it until it dies a horrible death many years from now. (I am a prius owner, fyi).

if you want some facts about the prius please visit priuschat.com and any of us would be glad
to discuss it with you.

Re:The economics of it.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27093703)

Did you include the replacement cost of the battery? I understand that is a big $$$ maintenance cost that so many forget to consider. You can get 300,000 miles out of a Honda or Toyota gasoline engine. I don't think you can remotely get the same from the battery on these high-bryds.

Re:The economics of it.... (5, Informative)

bgarland (10594) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093737)

You obviously don't value that the Prius is larger than a Corolla, more comfortable to ride in, and will probably last longer (based on the historical evidence of Prius so far).

By the time a new 2009 Prius kicks the bucket (15 years at least), we'll see where gas prices are. I'm betting we'll be above $5/gallon before the end of 2010.

But, apparently, SUV's make economic sense... (0, Flamebait)

composer777 (175489) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093431)

So, basically, we have a choice between efficient, environmentally friendly vehicles that will require an investment in research that will eventually have many other uses. Or, we can choose gas guzzlers, which apparently make more "economic sense".

Or, there's a third choice, which is scrapping an economy that makes such idiotic decisions. I go with choice number 3, get rid of capitalism, because with it, we're doomed to repeat the same idiotic mistakes because they "make economic sense".

Re:But, apparently, SUV's make economic sense... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093691)

Oh my. All economic sense means is that you get more out of it than you put into it. Everything you do should make economic sense (it doesn't have to make economic sense in terms of dollars, but if you don't see any value (of any kind) in doing something, I'm pretty sure you don't do it!).

It could be that the problem GM is having is short term (that is, over a long enough time period, the idea would make economic sense), but batteries are, compared to gasoline, expensive, heavy and weak, so it isn't that surprising that it isn't particularly worth it to put a big battery and big electric motor inside of a small car that already has a gasoline engine.

The Volt Was For Show (1)

Black-Man (198831) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093491)

Mgt: "Quick... mock up some electric-car to help w/ our plea for bailout money so they don't think we're not forwarding-thinking w/ inept management".

Anyone who falls for this trick deserves the billions being thrown down the tubes. Inept management coupled w/ a draconian union equals insolvency.

Yes. That's true. (5, Insightful)

tthomas48 (180798) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093495)

It doesn't make sense, right now. Right this second. But last time I checked they didn't have it in any showrooms yet, so that point is moot. Just because a global economic meltdown happened that made driving a gas-guzzling GM make sense for approx 6-12 more months, doesn't mean GM should bet the future of its company on gas prices staying low. That's basically what they've been doing. If gas prices stay low it will be because the economy is horrible, and GM will go out of business because no one buys their trucks. If gas prices rise GM will go out of business because they still don't build vehicles that anyone will want to buy at $6/gallon of gas.

The Volt is the ONLY thing GM is doing that makes the tiniest bit of sense. For goodness sakes, they released a passenger car hybrid that costs about the same as a prius, but gets about the same gas mileage as a minivan.

If I wanted to support GM ... (1)

krygny (473134) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093523)

... I'd buy one of their dog-shit cars or invest in their dog-shit stock. They haven't made a decent car or sensible strategic business decision in 40 years. It's bad enough my tax $s are supporting this corpse, what happens when the Volt doesn't sell even WITH subsidies? The solution: more incentives to buy GM cars and disincentives to buy the car you REALLY want.

Extinctions are essential in nature and in business, and GM need to become extinct. They're already dead. Why can't everybody see that?

Re:If I wanted to support GM ... (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093735)

... I'd buy one of their dog-shit cars or invest in their dog-shit stock. They haven't made a decent car or sensible strategic business decision in 40 years.

GM trucks and SUVs are category leaders for buyers who are into that sort of thing. I'm not into that market, but there you have it. They did gangbuster sales when consumers demanded SUVs.

Their Saturn (RIP soon) Aura and Chevrolet Malibu are segment leading vehicles, and I would take either in a heartbeat over a "dog-shit" Camry or Altima or Accord. And honestly the resale value of some of the Japanese brands had been going through a little bit of a bubble -- sorry, your turd-muffin Civic isn't worth 95% of the new price 3 years later, even if it is inflated because of some buyers with a completely screwed up sense of valuation ("...but, it's a Honda! It'll last forever!" No it won't).

GM has a lot of perfectly good vehicles, but nonetheless there is this whole subsection of the market with their memes that they'll stick to, forever gargling the same nonsense because they're so in love with their Honda Civic or whatever. I have no loyalty to any car maker, but I wouldn't exclude it just because of some 20-year old rhetoric (though I would exclude it right now until there's a little more certainty about its longevity, though very soon the same will be said about all the car makers. It is getting ugly.)

one crucial detail (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093551)

I believe one of the Volt options is that you can have most of the top of the car covered in solar cells. Or it's at least the sun roof and maybe the trim. That makes it go well over 40 miles so I guess that means it's economical now. I don't know why they couldn't just mention that.

Prius (1)

beefubermensch (575927) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093607)

The Prius doesn't make economic sense in terms of gas savings either.

The real question is ... (1)

slashdotlurker (1113853) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093625)

Is GM even going to be around to be able to release Volt, let alone Volt mark 2 ?

Progress without a beginning (1)

qoncept (599709) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093723)

I remember playing NBA 96 on Playstation and complaining about how horrible the 3d models looked compared to sprites. Sure, sprites were terribly limited, but the game looked like complete ass. I later realized it was a necessary step toward genuinely good 3d graphics. You can't just skip to the end result.

Volt? (1)

CrazyTalk (662055) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093779)

Anyone else read the headline and think this was another story about the Volt paycuts at Microsoft? I wondered why GM would defend them!

I'd buy it right now as is if they'd release it. (1)

cdpage (1172729) | more than 5 years ago | (#27093781)

YES. it is viable. with out with out the tax credits. but if tax credits are issued, the more will sell... the more on the road, the cheaper they will be sooner. not to mention Green effects sooner too.

People would stop diggin your heals in to this car. So what if its not a sporty looking car they said they would release. give it up.. one day we'll get a sporty hybred that looks good, and is affordable too... but we need these out first.
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