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New article comparing Volt and 2010 prius

22948 Views 48 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  nhrabill
I wrote this:

and welcome any feedback (as soon as I put on my fire-proof suit). Paul
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Paul Niedermeyer's article was interesting and useful in pulling together a lot of details for comparison. The last word I saw on pricing from Lutz was $48K and maybe $40K if they were willing to make some sacrifices. GM has a bad track record on their hybrid vehicle costs and I expect the Volt to be no exception.

Is projecting the 2010/2011 fight realistic at this stage? Yes and No.

The Yes: Toyota has a perfectly good car on the road today, clearly stated goals which are incremental and probably achievable and a lot of experience. They have firm plans and are actually building production facilities. I expect they know what they're doing. What Niedermeyer projects is probably realistic, except, perhaps the price. I think he's high, Toyota's got a lot of energy going into cost containment and volume increases can only help. If it wasn't for currency effects, I think we'be be looking at a $19K Prius very soon.

The No: The Volt is entirely speculative. GM's done nothing like it, their track record is bad, they've sent shifting messages about capability and cost. Niedermeyer, if anything, was being generous.

The Volt is going to get hammered on price. It's likely Honda's going to hit the very low end of the market with a pretty good car, Toyota will continue in low-mid price with a very good car, offer a better one for somewhat more and the Volt is going to debut for the price of a nice Beemer. If you're comparing a vanilla Prius 3 to a Volt, the money saved, if invested, pays for the Prius' fuel forever and then some.
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Any number x, where x> 35K is "closer to 40K than 30K," so that doesn't quite rule out 48K. Or 110K.
What makes you think the Prius is a dog? Try a little perspective; the Prius is considerably quicker than my first-edition Cavalier was, which I happily drove for 10 years. Prius owners are generally happy with the performance. And there's no reason to believe people willing to spend extra $$ for a save-the-planetmobile would be bothered by mediocre performance; they're motivated by other things.

And a stripped-down Civic to Prius comparison doesn't make much sense, as the Prius is pretty nicely equipped and bigger. Compare a Prius to a mid-upper line Civic, maybe. Or a stripped Accord. Allowing for 12K miles/year, a base (not stripped) Prius wins back its cost over a base, stick Accord in about 5 years, based on gas at $3/gallon and making allowance for the time value of money.

For the first 10,000 people, the Volt probably won't be about cost/benefit. The problem for GM is that the next 10,000 people probably won't be motivated that way.

The higher the premium, the fewer people will look past the cost/benefit to some fuzzy (to them) societal good.

Many people don't look past purchase price at all. Cheapest whatever wins.
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