Problems with the Volt
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Thread: Problems with the Volt

  1. #1

    Default Problems with the Volt

    I am sort of a volunteer evangelist for the Volt elsewhere online. All of us here are pretty much sold so I take what I learn here and spread the good news. However, people have legitimate concerns and I think honesty is the best way to build trust. One person I spoke with was concerned about the battery dying in the middle of nowhere with no ability to recharge and I put them at ease explaining the range extender. However I said there are some concerns especially initially that will only get fixed once the product is on the road and consumer requests, competition and ingenuity drives improvements. In the interest of truth I listed the following problems in the early stages:

    1. First models do not have the same mass production benefits as other cars so the cost per car is about $40k. In the US the government will give you a $7,500 tax credit to help offset the cost. Plus you'll save on gas.

    2. Many people like SUVs and vans. Current electric car technology isn't efficient for heavy vehicles so this technology is only available in smaller cars. I am certain in time ingenuity and competition will get it practical in larger models but not at first. The Volt seats 5 people, I guess 4 comfortably.

    3. The battery will need to be replaced at around 100,000 miles at an estimated cost of $10K. However, like the cell phone and the PC I feel these costs will eventually come down and technology improved.


    Is there anything I'm missing?

  2. Default

    Rather than "Problems" I would phrase it "Drawbacks" or "Negatives". The word "problems" implies engineering defects.

  3. #3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger881 View Post
    The Volt seats 5 people, I guess 4 comfortably.
    Actually, it only seats 4. There is no fifth seat at any comfort level.
    "Beer, the cause of and solution to, all of life's problems." -Homer Simpson

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  5. #4

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    The challenges the Volt faces in the market place right now is:

    1) Very expensive. There is no ROI in gas savings.

    2) Very limited production and availability. This will drive up purchase price and turn people off as it will be viewed as a car for elites.

    3) It's made by GM. Many people don't trust GM to make a quality car and will shy away from new tech from them. If it were Toyota doing the Volt, this wouldn't be an issue. Also there are people boycotting GM for becoming "Government Motors".

    4) It has a big expensive Li-ion battery in it. Many people will have visions of exploding lap tops and fires consuming their families and shy away. There are a lot of misconceptions regarding Li-ion. There is also the fear of battery failure and the owner being faced with a huge repair bill. In addition, many will speculate that the car will have little to no resale value towards the end of the batteries life span, say in eight to ten years because of the high battery replacement cost.

    5) For full advantage of the Volt technology and to get the "230 mpg" the car needs to be plugged in. This will not be possible for all people to accomplish and many will not have plug in capability at work either.

    6) In range extended mode, the Volt is likely to get worse mileage than parallel hybrids, so for people with a long commute or nowhere to plug in, the Volt won't be very appealing. This is a point that the competition and Volt detractors are going to be playing up. I suspect there will be a lot of misinformation and misconception based on this area and GM will have to work very hard to clearly explain the Volt's advantage and concept.

    7) It is only one vehicle and it is a compromise. It is not the ideal car for everyone. It's not a substitute for an SUV, a Pickup, a Van, a hot rod, a BEV, or a low cost hybrid. It is actually a rather unremarkable and boring little vehicle with one major exception, the revolutionary drive train. If the Volt were to be released as an ordinary ICE car, it would be a disaster.

    8) Competition. It has been a treat for us to watch the Volt progress through all this transparency, but the competition has been watching too. They have been able to gauge the public's and press's reaction to the Volt and plan accordingly. 2011-12 will be very interesting times in the automotive world and other companies may well steal the Volts spotlight with designs now under wraps.

    9) By the time the Volt actually hits the showroom, everyone will have seen the car for two years and it's freshness will be diminished. If the car was a stunning knock out design this might be OK, but it's not and so the drive train and the drive train alone will have to sell this car.

    10) The Volt doesn't come in any cool colors. This they can fix. Come on GM, show us a nice vibrant orange, red, blue, green, yellow, etc...
    "Beer, the cause of and solution to, all of life's problems." -Homer Simpson

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger881 View Post
    3. The battery will need to be replaced at around 100,000 miles at an estimated cost of $10K. However, like the cell phone and the PC I feel these costs will eventually come down and technology improved. [/I]
    Parts do not automatically die when the warranty runs out
    I remember when the Prius came out all the articles talked about the huge cost of replacing the battery as a reason not to buy one (articles written by Americans, anyway). True, the Volt will have a li-ion battery, and the Prius has NiMH, but the same fears about replacing the battery right after the warranty expired came up for the Prius.

    And I think the Volt is warranted for 10 years/150,000 miles in California compliant states, so I don't see why the battery would fail 50,000 miles sooner in another state.

    Prius batteries are warranted for 10 years or 150,000 miles in California-compliance states (8 states) and eight years or 100,000 miles in non-California compliant states (the other 42 states). That doesn't mean you have to replace them as soon as the warranty is up.
    Case in point: Andrew Grant, famed as the first hybrid taxi driver, drove his first-generation Prius 200,000 miles before Toyota asked for it back to conduct research (exchanging it for a new one, of course).
    http://editorial.autos.msn.com/artic...umentid=542377
    But even if carmakers believe in their products, how many miles can a driver really squeeze out of a hybrid battery? The answer seems to be that we don’t know yet. Even with the first round of hybrids reaching their tenth birthday, those big batteries are still hanging in there. Gary Smith, Toyota’s National Service Technology Manager, says that the battery failure rate for a first-generation Prius is around 1 percent, but that the second-generation is down to less than one bad battery in 40,000, a stat he calls “fractional and insignificant.”

    Other first generation Prius's (the oldest ones on the road) have gone into the 300,000 miles range, with one into 400,000 range (taxis in Victoria, British Columbia) on their original batteries.
    http://pressroom.toyota.com/pr/tms/p...-big-deal.aspx

    I wouldn't even try to estimate the price of a 16 kWh replacement battery in 2020, the worldwide research into auto batteries over the next decade will probably have the costs down by a huge amount by then...
    theREALnews network
    THE FUTURE DEPENDS ON KNOWING

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DaV8or View Post
    The challenges the Volt faces in the market place right now is:

    1) Very expensive. There is no ROI in gas savings.
    Wooo, $32K, that's hugely expensive. As much as a Toyota Avalon XLS that all the movie stars drive.

    2) Very limited production and availability. This will drive up purchase price and turn people off as it will be viewed as a car for elites.
    The first generation Prius had limited production and availability. The auto journalists just explained it away as "no one wants them".

    3) It's made by GM. Many people don't trust GM to make a quality car and will shy away from new tech from them. If it were Toyota doing the Volt, this wouldn't be an issue. Also there are people boycotting GM for becoming "Government Motors".
    Here's another GM car, in fact a Chevy (Corvette ZR1):

    MSRP: starting at $103,970

    4) It has a big expensive Li-ion battery in it. Many people will have visions of exploding lap tops and fires consuming their families and shy away. There are a lot of misconceptions regarding Li-ion. There is also the fear of battery failure and the owner being faced with a huge repair bill. In addition, many will speculate that the car will have little to no resale value towards the end of the batteries life span, say in eight to ten years because of the high battery replacement cost.
    Many people are afraid of flying. Many people hate math. Many people never go skiing. So what. Many people will never buy the Volt, so it doesn't matter what they think.

    5) For full advantage of the Volt technology and to get the "230 mpg" the car needs to be plugged in. This will not be possible for all people to accomplish and many will not have plug in capability at work either.
    If you can't plug in a plug-in, then don't buy it.

    6) In range extended mode, the Volt is likely to get worse mileage than parallel hybrids, so for people with a long commute or nowhere to plug in, the Volt won't be very appealing. This is a point that the competition and Volt detractors are going to be playing up. I suspect there will be a lot of misinformation and misconception based on this area and GM will have to work very hard to clearly explain the Volt's advantage and concept.
    How do you have any idea what the MPG in Charge Sustaining mode is ? I've heard 50 mpg, which is pretty good. Since the car is not out till Nov 2010, I'm sure we will know for sure by next Fall.

    7) It is only one vehicle and it is a compromise. It is not the ideal car for everyone. It's not a substitute for an SUV, a Pickup, a Van, a hot rod, a BEV, or a low cost hybrid. It is actually a rather unremarkable and boring little vehicle with one major exception, the revolutionary drive train. If the Volt were to be released as an ordinary ICE car, it would be a disaster.
    All vehicles are compromises - welcome to "engineering". The Prius was "just" a boring car that got good mileage - now it has helped Toyota become the #1 car maker in the world.
    If the Prius were released as an SUV, it would have been a disaster.

    8) Competition. It has been a treat for us to watch the Volt progress through all this transparency, but the competition has been watching too. They have been able to gauge the public's and press's reaction to the Volt and plan accordingly. 2011-12 will be very interesting times in the automotive world and other companies may well steal the Volts spotlight with designs now under wraps.
    Yes, and all the pro golfers have been studying Tiger Woods and planning accordingly. They will make their move in 2010.

    9) By the time the Volt actually hits the showroom, everyone will have seen the car for two years and it's freshness will be diminished. If the car was a stunning knock out design this might be OK, but it's not and so the drive train and the drive train alone will have to sell this car.
    Gee, they can't sell 100's of thousands of cars just by making the sheet metal body look pretty ? Awww....
    I guess they'll just have to give the public an electric commute/errand car that can also run as a 50 mpg hybrid after the AER is over, and hope for the best.
    theREALnews network
    THE FUTURE DEPENDS ON KNOWING

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DaV8or View Post
    10) The Volt doesn't come in any cool colors. This they can fix. Come on GM, show us a nice vibrant orange, red, blue, green, yellow, etc...
    I'll take black basic black, with tinted windows:
    theREALnews network
    THE FUTURE DEPENDS ON KNOWING

  9. #8

    Default

    I'm not worried about the ROI in the initial phase. There are enough people out there who will happily take a financial hit due to their concerns for the environment. Then in a few years muscleman engineers will get improvements done making it usable in bigger cars with greater range and less expensive.

    Although I wish the best for GM I'm thankful they'll have some competition from the BYD, the Leaf, the Electric Jeep Wrangler and the Roadster. This will keep everyone committed, drive down costs and ensure they're all working hard to out do each other.

  10. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Geronimo View Post
    I guess they'll just have to give the public an electric commute/errand car that can also run as a 50 mpg hybrid after the AER is over, and hope for the best.
    Did you notice the topic of this thread was "Problems With the Volt", or did you just go straight to the task of typing a rebuttal? Do you not think that these will be challenges that GM face when trying to market and sell the Volt? From your post, you give the impression that it's all smooth sailing and that GM has nothing to worry about. That the Volt will take the world by storm. I hope that this will be true. However when I read the automotive press and the comments and posts by people over the last year and a half, I've come to realize that the Volt and more specifically GM, will face real issues selling this car in great quantities and further what it will do for GM's bottom line.
    "Beer, the cause of and solution to, all of life's problems." -Homer Simpson

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  12. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DaV8or View Post
    Did you notice the topic of this thread was "Problems With the Volt", or did you just go straight to the task of typing a rebuttal? Do you not think that these will be challenges that GM face when trying to market and sell the Volt? From your post, you give the impression that it's all smooth sailing and that GM has nothing to worry about. That the Volt will take the world by storm. I hope that this will be true. However when I read the automotive press and the comments and posts by people over the last year and a half, I've come to realize that the Volt and more specifically GM, will face real issues selling this car in great quantities and further what it will do for GM's bottom line.
    Did you think the thread title limits you to only mentioning "problems with the Volt" ? Things are a little more informal than that: feel free to mention problems with the Opel Ampera, as well.

    I think the immediate problem is selling the production runs of 10,000 in 2011, and 60,000 in 2012 and 2013. With the tax breaks, the Copenhagen Climate talks coming up in December, and what I and millions of others expect to be Peak Oil soon, this should not be a problem.

    You could list the "problems" of any car, and enumerate why a person would not buy it - the fact remains, only a small fraction of the 304 million people in the U.S. need to buy a car to make that car viable.
    The Chevy Impala is the 8th best selling vehicle in the U.S. in 2008, with 265,840 sold. Still, about 13 million people buying vehicles that year decided not to buy one.

    I agree that the Volt will probably not "take the world by storm", not in the first generation. But that is not why GM is building it, it is to get to the point where the Volt could be a home run, a top 10 car. Years from now. The Prius started slowly, to ridicule and criticisms. In 2007, Toyota sold 281,300 of them, worldwide.

    You say "limited production and availability" is a problem with selling these Volts in "great quantities".
    Uh, yeah.
    But they don't expect to sell 'great quantities' the first few years.

    I see no problems with the limited goals of the 2011, 2012 and 2013 time frame. How quickly they get the price down and improve Generation 2 with things like an aluminum chassis/body will affect if it 'takes the world by storm'.
    But it has no chance of doing that without going through the early growth years.

    If you had prefaced your problems with "Problems with the Volt becoming a Top Ten car in the U.S. by 2014" I would be agreeing with you a lot more.
    And GM got into the problems it has now by concentrating on its "bottom line" at the wrong time scale. They were so arrogant about giving 'customers what they wanted' with their SUV's, and cars are low profit margin, we're all about profits, etc... You can't climb a mountain by always walking to the highest point 50 feet from where you are, repeat. That's where "vision" comes in. GM is trying it now.
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    THE FUTURE DEPENDS ON KNOWING

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