back to article GM puts the brake on Volt e-car output

Reg Hardware Car Week General Motors has temporarily halted the production of its Volt e-car. Late last week, the car giant admitted it was closing down assembly of new Volts on 16 March for a five-week period. Its reason: dealers have all the vehicles they need. In other words, too few folk are buying the $33,500 (£21,177) …

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There's one reason why it might be more popular here.

If the price of desiel keeps going up at some point it is going to be cheaper to pay back the car loan than running a normal car. Perhaps the lower cost of fuel in America is depressing sales?

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Re: There's one reason why it might be more popular here.

Indeed and GM are quite sketchy on all the details although there are a few anecdotes of people using the car. Sources may be innacurate although one chap claimed the battery took 12kWh of electricity to charge a depleted battery. GM claim 35mpg on the petrol generator.

On the face of it, that isnt very cheap to run at all. at 13p per kwH electricity it managed 44 miles for £1.56. That is pretty bad. In fact, my Ford SMax manages better than that with my focus doing far better. Then we get onto the 35mpg for the rest of the journey. Again, I do better than that with both my cars.

Not surprising people dont go for it over here. For the same £30k i'd rather get a focus (or possibly the new mondeo), pay for the insurance and servicing for 3 years and have a holiday in disneyland.

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Facepalm

Monday morning brain hiccup?

Re: Danny14

Is there a litres vs [Imperial] gallons mix-up in your post? I just have my doubts that your Ford SMax and/or Focus do more than 44 miles on £1.56 worth of petrol/diesel.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There's one reason why it might be more popular here.

The problem is just cost - you would have to use a ridiculous amount of petrol / diesel to make it pay and ultimately it has to. There are plenty of similar cars at around half the price (or less) that can get great MPG.

Saying that - in theory it's a great idea and the future will be electric cars...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There's one reason why it might be more popular here.

You mean the lack of artificially high price of fuel. Well, it should be higher (military costs and other externalities are missing from the price) but the fuel taxes aren't such a money-grabber as in Europe. Well, the Federal tax isn't anyway.

Low fuel prices.

Expensive.

Significantly worse gasoline mileage than a Prius* and quoted 35/40 mileage requires premium or mileage with take a hit.

LEAF is cheaper

Plug-in Prius is cheaper

Only 4 seats

Small rear seats

It also didn't help that the original version didn't qualify for the California HOV lane sticker.

* The Prius is relatively cheap in the USA. Before diesel-heads start frothing at the mention of the Prius, we're discussing an EV here. Lots of the Volt buyers were driving Priuses. And, here in Merka, the Prius is cheaper to own than a new diesel in almost all use cases, which is explained partly by aggressive Prius pricing, emissions regulations and slightly higher tax on diesel, but mostly by VW being the only non-luxury diesel manufacturer and the engine size being 2.0L whether you want a Golf, Jetta or Passat.

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Stop

Re: There's one reason why it might be more popular here.

£1.56 for 46 miles is the equivalent of 180MPG, assuming petrol costs £1.35 per litre. I'd like to see an S Max manage that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: There's one reason why it might be more popular here.

@ Danny 14: IF you charge an electric car overnight on Economy 7 you will pay about 6p per KWh (https://www.ebico.org.uk/products-and-prices/equipower-prices) IF the Volt gets 44miles on 12Kwh then that is 72p Which is 61 miles per £.

My current Diesel gets 38mpg(uk) (city driving) I paid £1.42 per litre yesterday there are 4.546 Litres in a Gallon meaning Petrol costs £6.455 per Gallon giving me 5.8 Miles per £.

By those figures I make the Electric Driving 10 Times Cheaper than Petrol for me (YMMV - If you get 75mpg from a prius on Petrol that is 12 Miles per £).

It is costing me nothing (£0.00) to get my Standard Domestic Meter Changed to Eco7, it will be done within 2 weeks, and my Ampera is due to arrive First week of June.

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Stop

really?

Is the battery warranty still 8 years in the UK? I wonder if there are caveats to that. Prius batteries have the same warranty although official replacement packs are £3k. The US warranty isnt too shabby, not sure how much will translate to the UK, still for 22k i'd rather have a focus and a holiday to disneyland.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: really?

Yes the Battery Warranty is 8 years. That covers 2 things:

1) Cell failure, Where an individual Cell Fails it would be replaced foc.

2) Degradation, Batteries by nature degrade over time the expected degradation is of the order of 10% over the 8 year warranty period (ie 45/50miles range at 8 yrs), any Battery with degradation greater then 30% is considered to have failed and would be replaced foc.

This means in 8 years the electric range would be worst case 70% ie 35/50 miles Max range on electric, so by no means useless. (this is when petrol kicks in not the car stopping!)

(yes it took ages for me to get the degradation threshold from Vauxhall but I have it in writing!)

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Coat

Thanks El Reg

For keeping us up to date with current events...

I'll go ohm

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Re: Thanks El Reg

Watt, so soon?

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Coat

Re: Thanks El Reg

I'm sensing some resistance there.....

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Re: Thanks El Reg

This has the potential to become a very charged discussion.

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Coat

Re: Thanks El Reg

What the Farad are you on about?

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Coat

Re: Thanks El Reg

Sic transistor gloria mundi

(See what I did there?)

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Viability

The issue here is the viability of electric cars. With the price of petrol climbing all the time, they look more and more viable. However, there are several drawbacks. Firstly, the UK power grid is simply not designed to charge large quantities of electric cars overnight. In many areas, the power requirement would overwhelm available capacity. Secondly, as the price of oil increase (and thus petrol), so does the price of electricity. The Gas and Oil prices tend to be linked and a lot of electricity production is now gas. Wind etc. are heavily subsidised, so where is the cheap electricity coming from? As more and more electric cars come about, the price of electricity will rise as we simply don't have enough generating capacity.

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Re: Viability

I'm not sure it's as bad as you suggest. Don't forget that overnight is when demand on the grid is lowest. I think I'd agree that overall capacity could be a problem but it's got to be somewhat mitigated by moving it off-peak.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Viability

That (that the grid isn't up to it) isn't true any more. If we all had Amperas, we'd still only be using about 1% of the UKs electricity supply to charge the things. Perhaps if a whole village in rural Scotland all got them at once there would be need to upgrade the local transformer etc, but it's not a real problem at all.

We've plenty of generating capacity - when was the last time anyone had brownouts or powercuts not caused by downed power lines? With new nuclear coming online in the next 10-20 years, we'll have plenty, and especially load spare overnight as nuclear plants spew power all the time. Overnight electricity will be cheaper (in relative terms) if anything.

I think that the reason why people won't buy Ameras here is the sheer cost. £35k is a massive outlay, and even if the price were to get down to £30k or thereabouts, you could still buy a VW Jetta (saloon) or Golf (hatch/estate) in their BlueMotion variants for £19k and get significantly better fuel economy, with no worry about battery longevity or new model kinks, and it'd be a VW rather than a Vauxhall...

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two cents -> mine

Demand will only increase with the addition of electric cars to any grid, US or Britain. At some point generators will be running 24/7.

Just saying.

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Re: Viability

There's another reason to put off take up as well - where you live.

Around me, hardly anyone has off road parking.

Cars in this area are on the road, parked (hopefully!) outside your house.

Running a cable to that over the pavement isn't really an option.

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Coat

"GM said it has 3600 Volts parked outside its factory"

I wonder what the trade union says about that kind of health hazard.

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Re: "GM said it has 3600 Volts parked outside its factory"

Especially if they are using up all of the handicapped spots.

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Anonymous Coward

"On the face of it, that isnt very cheap to run at all. at 13p per kwH electricity it managed 44 miles for £1.56. That is pretty bad. In fact, my Ford SMax manages better than that with my focus doing far better."

Really - 44 miles for £1.56 is cheap! With diesel in the UK topping 141p per LITRE are you telling us your Ford does around 44 miles per litre. If you meant you get around 44 miles per GALLON - 1 gallon of fuel would be costing around £6.50 - so £1.56 for 44 'electric' miles is cheap.

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Unhappy

How will US poor demand affect a European launch?

It looks more likely that GM are looking for an excuse to can the whole thing. The plan was supposed to be to launch it in countries where fuel is cheap, watch it fail, then exit the electric car market without raising suspicion. If they canned it when it was selling well (as it may well do in the UK, and especially France, where the 'leccy is cheap and l'essence is pricey) we might rumble that the Big Bad Oil men had got their way as usual.

Google:

Toyota Rav-4 EV

GM EV1

Ford Ranger EV

Honda EV Plus

Note how all these promising cars are hastily crushed as soon as possible.

And then read "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent_encumbrance_of_large_automotive_NiMH_batteries" and weep.....

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Re: How will US poor demand affect a European launch?

Toyota Rav-4 EV: Nobody wanted it.

GM EV1: Extremely expensive to make.

Ford Ranger EV: Nobody wanted it.

Honda EV Plus: Nobody wanted it.

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Re: How will US poor demand affect a European launch?

Er, Toyota were forced to start using spares to make the last few, as demand was so strong. There are still a few running, in the hands of keen DIY'ers.

The EV-1 was only ever leased. The leasers had the cars forcibly removed and crushed.

Ford Ranger EV - 1500 made, Ford crushed as many as they could. Some owners managed to grab theirs when the leasing dealers had been sloppy with the agreement.

Honda EV Plus - lease only, all cars eventually crushed.

These electric cars have only ever been made in sample quantities, so the statement "Nobody wanted it" is incorrect. Many users had daily journeys that suited the electric car way, so they wanted to keep them.

Check your facts.

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FAIL

Re: How will US poor demand affect a European launch?

I just checked and there are 3,600 unsold facts sitting outside GM's factory.

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3600 unsold cars parked up

Let us hope the batteries handle long term storage better than the Tesla ones....

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Anonymous Coward

Does seem crazy trying to sell it in the US where fuel is a fraction of the UK price.

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We are told we are already running at over generation capacity and have to import electricity significant amounts of power from France.

How on earth can we support these virtually tax-and-duty-free electricity guzzlers?

Some say using wind power, and even if you believe that that is not a financial scam, you must agree that the wind usually drops at night when these things are likely to be charges, let alone can not be windy for weeks on end anyway.

Also, with 10%VAT on power vs. 70% tax on fuel, how will the politicians then get the income to feather it's nest? Whole-scale electricity duty with annual rises every budget?

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You're assuming that all electric cars charge at peak hours

In reality there's lots of surplus capacity over night (hence Economy 7 rates to encourage people to use it). Charging over night will meet most folks needs and won't stress out the grid.

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Go

even though I'm a petrolhead if they want to drop one off at my house for me to use gratis I'll happily do so to get it seen out there in public. They can even plaster teh sides with advertising, I dont care as long at it makes my 120 miles a day commute as cheap as possible. currently I'l going through ~ 15 quids worth of diesel a day.....

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Anonymous Coward

The problem is you are technically an ideal candidate (driving 100-120 miles per day) - even if you are spending £15 a day on diesel to get to work - if you worked 250 days a year that is £3750 on fuel. Swapping to a Volt may cost you about 1/3 of that cost - so saving about £2500 per year.

If you own the car for 3 years you save about £7500 - good but still not sufficient to offset the extra cost of buying one. Not driven one but assume they are similar size etc. to a VW Golf (but twice the price).

The downside is if you do less than about 100 miles per day the cost saving is even less easy to justify. In the future I think batteries will drop in price quite quickly and petrol / diesel will almost certainly rise quicker than electricity costs - but to get good volumes of these sold they still need to drop about 10k+.

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Anonymous Coward

There should be a special tariff (like economy 7) for these electric cars - if they used smart chargers they could be turned on / off and actually use peaks in supply and help stabilise the grid. As long as you know it would be charged by 6am the next day would you really care...?

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Anonymous Coward

If you look at A123 Systems web site (who I think are making the batteries for some of the newer versions of these electric cars) you will see they already do larger scale grid stabilisation systems - so having lots of electric cars is a bit like a smaller scale version.

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