Skip to comments.Dismal Sales for Chevy Volt in January
Posted on 02/04/2013 9:39:42 AM PST by jazusamo
January's dismal numbers for Chevy Volt sales may give a clue as to how successful (or not) President Obama will be in reaching his goal of having a million electric vehicles (EVs) on American roads within the next few years, a goal that is increasingly becoming unlikely. It also gives us a glimpse into a bizarre strategy General Motors has had by focusing so strongly on plug-in cars while they lose market share elsewhere. The numbers are in, and GM can proudly say that they are the market leader in an insignificant field with a paltry 1,140 Volts sold in January. The best selling passenger car on the road, the Toyota Camry, sold 31,897 during the month, giving an indication of how illogical GM's misguided focus has been.
GM's lame reasoning for the post-election lows (actually, the lowest since February of 2012) for Volt sales is that consumers pulled sales from January by purchasing in December of 2012 when GM sold a whopping 2,633 Volts. In the scenario GM presents, this means that sales for Volts can be expected to average fewer than 2,000 a month in the absence of money-losing incentives to sell Volts. GM has previously admitted that there is no market for the Volt and that demand was manufactured by incentivizing short term leases that end up costing taxpayers about $10 for every gallon of gas saved by the Volt . These money-losing leases drove about two-thirds of the politically-charged Volt's "sales" leading up to the presidential election and were funded by government-owned Ally Financial.
A recent search for Volt inventory on cars.com reveals that there are over 4,300 new Chevy Volts available for sale nationwide. GM has had a history of blaming low supply for disappointing Volt sales, despite all evidence to the contrary. It is obvious that a lack of demand is the reason for the low sales, not a lack of supply. In fact, GM has repeatedly cut supply as sales of Volts consistently failed to live up to expectations, yet the Obama-appointed management at GM continues its focus on plug-in vehicles, even though the facts show that there is little demand.
GM's plug-in EV focus sees the company now planning for a plug-in version of the Chevy Cruze (the same platform as the Volt), a Cadillac version of the Volt, and the recently unveiled plug-in Chevy Spark. The insane money-losing strategy of building cars that consumers do not seem to want is costing both shareholders and the taxpayers who are funding the technology with billions of dollars. A recent Congressional Budget Office report revealed that the money is not well spent and that taxpayers will pay about $7.5 billion on EV subsidies over the next few years for little benefit.
Critics of the Volt would not really care about the dismal sales if taxpayers were not paying for the folly. If a private sector company foolishly follows a money-losing strategy for ideological reasons, that's their choice. But the Volt was and is funded with taxpayer money. Further, most financing comes from taxpayer-owned Ally Financial, which the Obama Administration has refused to exit while GM is reliant upon the funding. This refusal has been criticized by a government watchdog in a recent report.
There is also a major concern with the dishonesty that GM has exhibited over the potential for the Chevy Volt. The Volt was touted as a "game-changer" for GM as taxpayer money was lobbied for during the company's bailout process. The media pumped GM's hype and expectations were that the Volt would be selling about 20,000 a month by now, not 2,000! When expectations fell far short, GM lied about the reasons for the failure, first blaming low supply and, even more bizarrely, a right wing conspiracy to discredit the car . How unethical is it for a company supported by a Democratic President to make political statements against Republicans and help the benevolent sitting president to win reelection ?
If GM is dishonest about demand and potential for the Chevy Volt, how can they be trusted elsewhere? Why would consumers want to buy cars from a company that has displayed a tendency to allow political motivations to overrule ethics and honesty? Why would shareholders invest in such a company?
It is past time for GM to start being honest about the Chevy Volt. If the true sales potential for the car is a couple of thousand a month, just say so instead of wasting more money trying to manufacture demand and extending the hoax. Most importantly, it is time for the Obama-appointed management to move on and for the government to exit its stake in both GM and Ally Financial. Hopefully, the next generation of leadership at GM can focus on building cars that Americans want with a loyalty towards shareholders; not to politicians.
Mark Modica is an NLPC Associate Fellow.
Not just government workers but those of us whose company fleet services is mandating the Chevy Volt. Mine is on order. I’d like a bumper sticker saying, “this car wasn’t my decision”
Interestingly enough my wife and I owned a 1982 Diesel Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. It had over 250,000 miles on it when we finally sold it. The injector pump was replaced once and it was leaking again when we sold it. The GM 350 Diesel had problems for the first couple of years, but by 1982 they were almost completely ironed out. By that time however the damage to its reputation was done. I believe it was discontinued in 1983 or 1984.
Our Cutlass was the most fuel efficient vehicle that I have ever owned. It literally got around 40mpg on the freeway. It wasn't a super zippy car, but we took it over the mountains many times. It had no problem climbing hills or even passing at high speed. The only thing it didn't do well was taking off from a stop. With our mix of driving we typically got over 30mpg. If I found another in good shape I would buy it.
Getting back to the subject at hand: I am a tinkerer... a couple of years ago I put together an electric bicycle using a 750w 36v hub motor. It topped out at approximately 25mph and had approximately 20 miles of range which could be extended if one pedaled while riding. The only time that the motor was atually using 750w was when you were starting out, climbing a hill, or going into a head wind.
There were no brushes or gearing in the motor I used. It is essentially silent. The speed control worked by creating a rotating magnetic field within the hub. There were approximately 36 small coils and a corresponding number of rare earth permanent magnets embedded in the outer rotating part of the hub. There is not a great deal of torque developed, but it would be possible to get a higher top speed by modifying the control circuit.
More expensive controllers are programmable and have regenerative circuitry... the hub will act as a dynamo when braking or going down a hill. Many home made windmills use the same type of hub motor to generate power.
I used three 12v 18ah Sealed Lead Acid Batteries which cost around $.15 to charge here in Washington. I used the bike for a few months after completing it and decided on some modifications that I would make for the next project and sold it. Basically I would like to someday assemble another one with a lower center of gravity and more power. The electric bikes that you can buy which are "street legal" only can do around 15mph under their own power and have almost no hill climbing ability. My next one will do at least 30mph and have enough torque to power over a steep hill.
The problem with electric cars is that they weigh many times more that me and my bicycle and need many times as much power and many times as much storage capacity. The 2011 Nissan Leaf is rated at 34kwh / 100 miles. If the charger was 100% efficient that would be $3.40 here in Washington.
I am very skeptical of the claimed efficiency. I would bet that the actual power usage is closer to $5.00 even here in WAshington. My guess is that my electric bike was costing me around $.75 to go 100 miles. In some parts of the country electric power costs multiple time more. So if you live in Hawaii and you are getting charged $.25 a kwh I will bet that it would cost approximately $12.50 to drive 100 miles. If you were paying $4.00 a gallon for gas and your Prius was getting its rated 50mpg it would only cost you $8 to go the same distance.
Interesting project you have. I am also in Washington State, have a commercial Italian motor scooter using four 12v 38ah SLA (actually AGM) batteries, with an 1,850 watt brushless motor. Interestingly, three of the four batteries are originals from 2001; actually none ever failed as the fourth was removed to replace a battery in another scooter. I desulphate them regularly and attribute their longevity in part, to that. The German speed controller does have regenerative circuitry.
We are spoiled here in Washington... at certain times of the year and certain times of the day in California electricity is costing over 5 times as much... up to $.55 per kwh. That literally could cost you about $30 to drive your little Leaf 100 miles... that would be like filling your Prius up with gas that cost almost $15 per gallon. There is a reason the Japanese are giving up on Electric cars.
That sounds like a neat scooter! I went through a scooter stage. My nieces, nephews and grandchildren would all come over to ride them with me. They were all cheap kid type scooters. We had a couple gas scooters and a couple of electric scooters. I also put an 80cc 2 stroke motor on a mountain bike. That was fun! Fortunately I sold it before I got a ticket. I sold all but one of the scooters, and one motorcycle.
We have a small airplane; the batteries for that cost a small fortune these days. Because airplane batteries sit for long periods between charges they often last only a couple years because of sulphating. The desulphting charger has really paid for itself many times over.
I had a PA22/108 (Colt). A good starting battery in a plane is really essential if you stop the engine in flight for slope soaring (well, at least not losing altitude as quickly in the Colt) and then need to restart it.
We started out hang gliding, went on to a homebuilt ultralight airplane, and then we shopped for quite a while for a general aviation airplane. Our friends in the ultralight club mostly went to experimentals and classic planes. For a couple years we looked mostly at fabric covered planes, but eventually found a Cherokee which was a better value than anything else we had seen.
We came extremely close to getting a Tri-Pacer; we really have a soft spot for Tri-Pacers and Colts.
The step down V-8 Engine (8-6-4) really got and deserved a bad rap. My Father was a Mechanic back then, and he wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. The idea was fine, but the technology just wasn’t there at the time.
As I understood it, the type of converted Diesel you owned started out without any real modifications to strengthen the bottom end, crank/rods/bearings, and that is why they got the bad rap. They literally tore themselves apart. I will assume that either you were very lucky, or the engine you had was much improved over the first variant.
GM unfortunately had a reputation for pulling products just when they started to get them right, the Cadillac Allante with the Northstar Engine and the V-6 Pontiac Fiero Slant Back GT come to mind.
The Fiero was a plastic car with replaceable body panels designed over thirty years ago, while Mercedes uses the same Technology on their Smart Car today. I guess timing is everything.
BTW - Sounds like your engineering skills are top notch. I’m one of those people who starts a project that ends up taking three times longer than I figured it would while getting half the results I had hoped for. I tip my hat to you my FRiend.
At my age I might need one of those electric bikes sooner than later, or a Hoveround to “take me where I want to go”... LOL
I am not actually an authority but my wife and I have had two diesel cars, a diesel truck and a diesel tractor. And I know some of the history behind the 350 Oldsmobile Diesel. As you may be aware, although the engine did use the same accessories and could be bolted into the same spot as an ordinary 350, it was not actually a conversion but a new design and a completely new block even in the beginning. It did use many of the same parts as the gasoline, most notoriously, the same number and type of head bolts... which were not suitable for an engine with a 22.5 to 1 compression ratio.
My dad and I were very excited about them when they first came out in 1978. The first batch was SO BAD that it did great damage to GM’s reputation! In 1981 they came out with a new variant with numerous modifications and improvements that solved nearly all of the issues. By that time there were so many horror stories that the public soured on diesels in cars made in Detroit and diesel vehicles in general. It probably did do more damage to GM's reputation than the "step down V-8".
There is a short and interesting article here:
I appreciate the information.
My recollection, which is obviously not as good as yours, (The downside of being an old geezer), was that the Engine was just a slapped together off the shelf fix to get GM into the Diesel Market Segment.
One think I’m sure of, if anyone needs any information about any subject, there will always be another FReeper that knows the answer. Take Care my FRiend.
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