Wednesday, October 27, 2010

News From Glorious People's Automotive Collective Number 1!!

A while back, I riffed about the Chevy Volt, the glorious electric car from People's Automotive Collective Number 1.  My point was that the car is extremely overpriced, and you'd really have to drive extreme amounts to re-coup the cost of buying one in saved gas, compared to a reasonable family car.  That puts it in the category of smug-mobile for the vast majority of people. 

Part of the selling of this car is that it isn't a hybrid.  Oh, no, monkey-boy, this is an All Electric Car.  That gasoline powered engine you see?  That's just in there to top off the battery.  Which is good, because although it is several thousand dollars more than the Nissan Leaf, which is entirely electric, it is around twice the price of a similarly sized hybrid car. 

It turns out, that's not exactly true.  Actually, not even remotely true.  A few of these are out for the reviewers to drive and reports are filtering into the press.  It turns out, the engine is used quite a bit. 
Volt engineers are now admitting that when the vehicle's lithium-ion battery pack runs down and at speeds near or above 70 mph, the Volt's gasoline engine will directly drive the front wheels along with the electric motors. That's not charging the battery — that's driving the car. (emphasis added - GB)
At this point, it's a hybrid.  Remember that talk about it getting the equivalent of 230 miles per gallon?
Popular Mechanics found the Volt to get about 37.5 mpg in city driving, and Motor Trend reports: "Without any plugging in, (a week long trip to Grandma's house) should return fuel economy in the high 30s to low 40s."
The difference between 37.5 mpg and 230 isn't exactly subtle.

Car and Driver reported that "getting on the nearest highway and commuting with the 80-mph flow of traffic — basically the worst-case scenario — yielded 26 miles; a fairly spirited backroad loop netted 31; and a carefully modulated cruise below 60 mph pushed the figure into the upper 30s."
Essentially, all of the reviewers agree that mileage is nowhere near the stated numbers.  So now we find,'s a glorified Prius with the price tag of a BMW that seats only four because of a battery that runs down the center of the car.
Or as I said in my original comments, "So while it will work for many commuters (as would an electric golf cart), it still seems to be a $40,000 car with all the room and comfort of a $15,000 car."  Exactly what you get when a big, out of control government, takes over a  big, aging dinosaur of a car company.

The IBD article is worth reading.   Meanwhile, it looks like we have to continue to wait for those magical unicorn farts that will power the world.  Any day now. 


  1. Electric cars will be a viable mode of personal transportation when they make economic sense. Not until, no matter how much Mr. Obama, the Sierra Club, and the global warming nut jobs want it to be! Let's face it, it is just hard to beat the energy density of a gallon of gasoline! Don't you think that if there was something better it would have been marketed by now?

  2. To borrow a quote, "You betcha!".

    If they just stop f***ing with the market, these things will happen naturally. As gas gets more expensive, and engineers go after the billions of dollars to be made improving electrics, the prices of electric cars will drop. As those price curves approach, it will pay more people to get an electric car. Eventually, gasoline engines are expensive and rare, while electrics are cheap and commonplace.

    I forgot. The administration doesn't believe markets exist.