The Chevy Volt - You're paying to build it...and to investigate it
So taxpayers are subsidizing the Chevy Volt to the tune of $7,000 per car so that people can use batteries instead of gasoline, all this from a nation currently in massive debt. Now that the batteries are beginning to explode, the Federal government's NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) is opening an investigation that will surely cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars.
Why subsidize this car at all? There are now several new subcompact cars with internal combustion engines that get over 40 mpg. The technology is better and gas engines are much more efficient than a decade ago.
If you get 40mpg on the highway with an internal combustion engine vehicle and spend 2/3 the price of an electric car, why not do it, as the analyst says in the video below. And, you don't have the refueling risk (i.e. where can I plug in to recharge on my trip into the suburbs?)
Our trade deficit due to Oil is about a billion dollars a day. There are also numerous subsidies for oil that add up to the billions. The typical response to this is "Let's end all subsidies! for the oil and the green stuff." I can't argue with that but I have no idea what happens to oil prices when the subsidies are ended.
the $7000 (isn't it $7500?) subsidy is on the first 200,000 so that totals $1.5B for each manufacturer. So GM will get this but Toyota and Nissan will get it too I think. So that's the bad news. Sending money to Japan is not a great thing but it beats some of the alternatives. GM is also going to sell PHEVs in Europe (and they mention China in the video, cool, didn't know that - hope they don't reverse engineer the thing) so that's trade surplus although I doubt it will balance things out.
Will costs come down enough so that by the time these companies have sold 200,000 cars, and the subsidy expires, they will still be affordable? Good question. So far these companies have only sold a few thousand PEVs and PHEVs so that point in time may be way off.
It also comes down to oil prices. Once you take the subsidy out of the equation, does the savings in gas equal the extra price of the car over, let's say, a five year period? Right now, even tough we are still close to a recession, oil is still near $100. Where do we see that number going? If they open up more oil fields -especially domestically/Canada? If the recession clearly ends and oil consumption goes way up again?
I was saying in another thread (about solar panels) that I don't own my own home. I live in a Condo so don't have a place to plug in. But if and when I do, and can have a garage or spot with a charger, I'm all in. With my 35 mile commute, I will be able to drive weeks without gassing up.
Oh, the thing about the battery problem. I think it is only well after the crash, like three weeks later it may catch fire. How big of a crash? the guy in the video say "extreme crash" so that sounds pretty bad. Now that they know this, you get in a crash, you check the battery as well as everything else just like you would in any other car after a crash. For anyone complaining about the costs of the investigation, I heard no such nonsense during the Firestone Tire issue on the Explorers. People just wanted answers about the problem.
Anyone that really wants to know more about the VOLT go to their forum. Plenty discuss things about the car that they aren't happy about but it is mostly positive.
This whole electric car thing is just getting started
let me also add the volt is in it's first generation and that's not necessarily a product everyone will buy. early adopters pay extra and get less. What it is now is very different than what it will be. Cell Phones used to be like bricks. Now they are tiny. Gotta work through the generations to get to efficiency.
GM's profit comes from sales of cars made in Asia sold in Asia. The development of this technology has more to do with sales in Asia than in the US which is a cheap testing ground for them. The Chinese will be building them in China in a few years and that's were GM's future is.