General Question

ItsAHabit's avatar

Would you buy a Chevrolet Volt?

Asked by ItsAHabit (2297points) July 30th, 2010

Chevrolet has introduced its Volt, an electric car that will travel 40 miles on a charge and costs as much as a Mercedes.

Would you buy one. Why or why not?

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43 Answers

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

No. I don’t trust GM products. They have a long track record of introducing new products without having worked the bugs out first. I’ll stick with my electric VW pickup and M-B diesels thank you. My VW is a simple homebuilt conversion that will go 200 miles on a charge at 35 mph or 100 miles at highway speed; this isn’t rocket science, folks.

Austinlad's avatar

In a heartbeat if I didn’t owe so much on my current auto. Partly because I’d love to save gasoline, partle because I’m an incurable early adopter.

gorillapaws's avatar

If I was going to buy an electric car I’d much rather have a Tesla. What happened to the volt anyways? It went from quasi-attractive to looking like an ugly impala (not like the impala is a very good looking car).

The incompetence of American auto manufacturers is absolutely astonishing. They should’ve been putting a LOT more resources into this much earlier on instead of riding the SUV craze.

mrentropy's avatar

I already have my second dream car, so no.
Also, I, too, would rather have a Tesla.

Nullo's avatar

GM products have an unfortunate tendency to be crap, and I don’t have any money anyway.
I would, however, accept one given to me.

@gorillapaws I second third the Tesla.
@stranger_in_a_strange_land Would you please stop being awesome? Just for five minutes. :D

ragingloli's avatar

@gorillapaws
I think you switched the links, because the first one is hideous.
That said, 40 miles on a charge? The old Tesla roadster got more than that.
Anyway, I would take the VW L1.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

No.If someone gave one to me,I’d give it to someone else.Would that be considered re-volting? ;)

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Cruiser's avatar

No I would rather buy a Chevy Cobalt for the same cost and they get 38 miles to the gallon vs the Volts 40 mph. Use the extra money to buy gas for say ten years and go on a nice 2 week vacation to the Bahamas with the money I saved. WTH is all the fuss??

gorillapaws's avatar

@Cruiser I think in no-small-part it has to do with not buying gas, the proceeds from which go to buy the bombs that send our soldiers home in bags and wheelchairs.

The faster we can ween off our dependance on oil, the better off we’ll be.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@gorillapaws @mrentropy The Tesla is 4x the price of the Volt. I’d rather have a Tesla too, but I can’t/won’t afford it.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Because most of our electricity is generated by coal, is electricity any cleaner than gas? One advantage of coal, of course, is that we have enormous reserves.

CMaz's avatar

Cool car. Too expensive.

Bring it down to 20k and I am in.

Rarebear's avatar

Excellent article in last month’s Scientific American about the issue on where the power comes from in the all electric car. Here is the podcast that interviews the author of the article. The results are surprising, to say the least.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=will-your-plug-in-car-actually-be-c-10-07-08

ItsAHabit's avatar

Would you buy the car if the taxpayers pay you $7,500 to do so?

jerv's avatar

I know too much about EVs and what they are capable of. I also know quite a bit about converting a regular car to electric and have acquaintances in the SEVA to settle for a car that costs that much and yet gets less range than a homebrew would for far less. I am with @stranger_in_a_strange_land here (which shouldn’t be a surprise) in my distaste for GM cars and my ability to “roll my own”.

@stranger_in_a_strange_land What sort of batteries did you use, and how many? I only need ~60 miles range at highway speed, and I have a few ideas involving my (lightweight) ‘85 Corolla, the machine shop where I work, and some forklift parts, but batteries are an issue; Lead-acid is heavy, my Corolla only holds so much weight, and Lithium is pricey. Recommendations?

Cruiser's avatar

@gorillapaws The Volt is a trainwreck that hasn’t even left the station. That 2 extra miles per gallon will hardly make a spit of difference in light of the next to nothing unit sales due to the crazy high price of it.

There was a Chevy dealer sales man who said on the radio they are being forced by their CEO Barack Obama to sell this POS even though it is fraught with known issues with the charging system, the batteries aren’t the right ones…he basically said the car is just not ready to be sold. But they are being forced to meet quotas or lose their dealership. Plus it only gets 2 mpg more than a car ½ it’s cost. IMO that is not the progress we need to make this a practical solution to our dependency on oil.

ItsAHabit's avatar

This illustrates the problems that occur when politics gets involved in economic decisions that should be made by producers and customers. I think the govt. is going to pick our pockets in order to pay customers $7,500 to buy what it has mandated that GM produce.

Am I being taxed to support sales of a GM product to support the members of the UAW because it supported Obama’s election?

jerv's avatar

Oddly enough, GM had a decent EV many years ago that was far superior to the Volt but it got axed by GM even though the people who leased them expressed intense desire in purchasing them. Are you going to blame Obama for something that happened 10 years ago?

I prefer to blame GM for fucking up left and right and keeping on topic, but I suppose that this discussion will get hijacked and become yet another anti-Obama thread now :(

Cruiser's avatar

@ItsAHabit…oh come on now!!! That is so unAmerican to think like that!!!

ItsAHabit's avatar

If enough people want EVs, they will be produced by someone in this country, Japan or elsewhere. We shouldn’t have them forced down our throats.

I didn’t blame anyone—- simply asked a question.

RocketGuy's avatar

I would drive one, even rent one, but won’t spend my hard-earned $40K on it. I can’t imagine it would be economically wise. I think I would get >40 MPG, esp. since I only drive 30 miles a day.

I too would like to send fewer $$ to the Middle East – a land where they love our $$, but would rather kill us if we went to visit.

gorillapaws's avatar

@ItsAHabit Our government has spent Trillions of dollars when you add up the expense of the 2 wars in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, 9/11, Homeland security, the lives lost, the disability payments to the injured soldiers, the loss of tax income resulting from injuries and deaths, etc. not to mention tax loopholes for the oil industry. All of this is basically the government subsidizing the oil industry. If we hadn’t fought those wars, gas would be 10x as much and batteries would have come about much sooner. We never would have had 9/11.

So the argument that the government subsidizing EV’s is wasteful interference in the market it total bullshit. If we’d made transitioning to electric vehicles a priority 20 years ago, our country would be so much better off now (financially too).

Nullo's avatar

@gorillapaws Not the “war for oil” conspiracy, please.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Nullo there’s nothing tin-foil hat about it. We never would’ve invaded Iraq in the first gulf war if Kuwait wasn’t an oil-rich nation. We were worried about Saddam Hussein controlling a massive percent of the world’s oil.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@jerv It’s a 1-ton rated 1964 VW single-cab pickup. It uses ordinary lead-acid deep cycle batteries (52 of them weighing 1900 lbs). Total charge capacity of 3600 A-h when new (now 7 years old and needing replacement). I chose that vehicle for the conversion because of the unique upper/lower cargo setup, needing most of the space, and it’s strong but lightweight unibody. It drives and handles like a fully loaded pickup.

@ItsAHabit The source of charging electricity is an issue. In our case, as long as the vehicle is charged on the farm, the source is wind, hydro and PV. If charged off the grid in this area, most of the power is from hydro or nuclear. I agree that the government could do much better by pushing development of non-greenhouse emitting power generation than subsidizing corporate dinosaurs producing third-rate EVs.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Nullo Thanks for the fresh breath of rational thinking on this matter.

stranger in a strange land I think you’re right. We also made the wrong turn when we let protesters divert us from producing nuclear energy. France produces a large proportion of its energy needs from that source as do a number of other countries.

gorillapaws's avatar

@ItsAHabit what pray-tell, is irrational about my thinking? How is it that when the government wages war to protect the interests of the oil industry, the money spent on such endeavors aren’t considered subsidies and deserve no outrage, but a $7,500 subsidy, now that’s just totally fucked up and out of line! How in any way is that argument irrational?

As an aside, I also think we need more nuclear power until we can figure out how to generate our energy from 100% renewable resources.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@ItsAHabit Exactly correct. We need three times as many nuclear power plants as we currently have, we’re building none and training no people. If the government is going to subsidize the auto industry, subsidize small enterprises that are very good at converting “glider kits” or good used vehicles into EVs. The technology for EVs is here and now; the big Detroit automakers want people to believe that there is some big challenge; bullshit, they just don’t want to build them. If they really want to, or are forced to, they can (the EV-1 was proof).

jerv's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land Actually, there are two challenges I see on EVs.

1) Lithium-ion packs are still expensive. They are coming down, but it still costs quite a bit for a pack that will get you a range comparable to a tank of gas (~300 miles). While most people don’t drive that far in a day and thus could get by with a 60 mile range (or less if they can charge at work), that would require Americans to change their habits, and that won’t happen.

2) NiMH battery technology is owned by Chevron. The Rav4 EV had a great pack; they lasted for a decade or more, had great range, weren’t huge and heavy like a lead-acid pack, weren’t nearly as expensive as a LiON pack, and Chevron will not allow large-format NiMH packs like the Rav 4 EV’s ever again if they can help it. In fact, Toyota had to pull teeth and suck dick to get replacement packs for the aging Ravs.

That means that for EVs to be truly successful, one of two things needs to happen. We need to do more research into LiON batteries, especially in our ability to produce them at a lower cost, and we need to kick Chevron right in the balls with steel-toed boots (spikes optional).

@ItsAHabit Actually, they are produced, but most of them are crippled by legislation that is slanted towards Big Oil and Old Detroit. With the exception of the Tesla, every factory EV I’ve seen is limited to 25 MPH not by power or engineering, but by law. Accordingly, they are also prohibited from travelling on most main roads (those with a posted speed limit of 35 or higher) since they cannot (or rather, _are not allowed) to travel the speed limit on those roads. Some states allow a higher limit (can do 35 MPH and travel on any road with a posted limit of 40 or less) but that is rare.
It’s not that people don’t want them exactly; it’s more that Washington and Detroit don’t want them and thus are stacking the deck in a way that makes many sheeple not want them by enacting biased legislation.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@jerv How many years left on Chevrons patent?

jerv's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land Not exactly sure, but the earliest it was issued is 2001 so we still have at least another 9 years if I read the law correctly. Read this and see if you find something I missed.

Oh, and I forgot the link about EV speed limits. Here it is.

ItsAHabit's avatar

jerv EVs should not be hampered by crippling legislation. The government should back off and let consumers decide what vehicles they want to buy.

jerv's avatar

@ItsAHabit I agree 1,000%! We should have a truly free market where the goods sold are dictated by consumer demand and technology and not by legislation or corporate interests (which seem largely the same theses days).
We actually already have the electrical infrastructure to handle EVs charging at night anyways since you can get by with a normal 120V outlet (though a 240V like a stove or dryer uses is better and quicker). We have the powerplant capacity as well.

Some people think of EVs as slow and dislike/hate them as a result since the only EVs they know are golf carts. If they ever saw the White Zombie smoke a Corvette they would change their minds. EVs are inherently quicker than gas-powered cars, and that little ‘71 Datsun that he built in his garage for less than $20K has more torque with it’s “Siamese 8” motor than a Dodge Viper with it’s V-10. Doing 0–60 MPH in under 5 seconds is something many high-end supercars is incapable of yet a sports-trim EV is considered slow if it takes more than 3.9 seconds. (The White Zombie has done it n less than 2.9)

gorillapaws's avatar

@ItsAHabit If you’re so concerned with the free market being untainted by government, it seems the only appropriate solution is to levy a tax to recoup the trillions of dollars the US government has spent in protecting the oil industry’s interests. That way oil can compete with other technologies on it’s merits alone without any government help, right?

ItsAHabit's avatar

jerv Given what you say, I would very seriously consider buying an EV.

gorillapaws We shouldn’t be subsidizing the oil or any other industry of which I can think.

jerv's avatar

@ItsAHabit I am still waiting for the Model S to hit the dealership. Sure, it’s a little slow (0–60 in 5.9 seconds; top speed of “only” 120MPH) but it has a 160 mile range with the base pack (300 miles with the extended range pack), quick charges, quick battery swaps, seats 7 (okay, 5 adults and 2 children), swallows cargo under the hood so you can haul a bit even if you use all 7 seats, has a 17” touchscreen with 3G, and it looks cool.
Sure, it has a base price of $49K, but when you look at what people spend on other vehicles, especially those loaded with comfort options and capable of that sort of performance, and consider how much less maintenance an EV requires, the overall cost of ownership is comparable at worst.
Now, imagine if Tesla decided to build something more comparable to a Civic than a BMW or Lotus Elise :D

ItsAHabit's avatar

jerv I’m really impressed with what they’ve accomplished so far. If they can get some regional dealers their sales should really jump. And its true that products like lawnmowers that are electric are a lot easier to maintain than are those with internal combustion engines.
With an infusion of capital from their stock offering I hope they’ll be able to accomplish even more and do so faster.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@jerv That seems to be their long-range plan; build for the high end of the market, then work their way down as they can get expansion capital (Musk is broke right now).

The speed limitations on some purpose-built EVs is due to DOT crashworthiness exemption. Mine isn’t subject to that limit, being a homebrew and based on a pre-1968 platform (the old “hotrod” exemption in NH).

You may be better off using a small pickup with a ¾ or 1 ton rating as your conversion platform. Some batteries under the hood to compensate for the removed IC engine, the rest in the forward section of the bed; preserves a good weight distribution. I’m looking into LiON as replacements for the lead-acid set, probably make the change next year, cash flow permitting.

jerv's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land I am aware that conversions are generally exempt since their chassis has already been DOT approved for crashworthiness. I am also aware the modern LSVs are more crashworthy than many cars built more than 25 years ago.

However, considering the low payload in my Caaaargh! (850 pounds) and the fact that I often have a passenger or two that, combined with my weight, eat up 75% of that capacity, it is doubtful that that Corolla would be a good candidate. Even when you subtract the weight of the removed 4A-LC, that will probably leave me with 300 pounds of batteries at most; not enough for what I need if I go with a “lead sled” and too costly if I go LiON.

Most of the conversions I saw at the SEVA spot at the Greenwood Auto Show were two seaters, had the rear seats removed for battery space, or were small pickups (Ranger or S-10), though there was an F-250 King Cab, an Explorer, and some total homebrew with a handmade frame and a VW rear end.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@jerv Yes, I need 1900 lbs of lead acids.

The protocol required to get a vehicle DOT certified can cost more than the entire R&D budget of a smaller company, excluding them from marketing a truly roadworthy vehicle.

jerv's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land Just remember that a Formula 1 car that can protect the driver well enough to walk away from a 150MPH crash with multiple rollovers cannot pass the DOT crash tests. Similarly, they had to redesign the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution to pass since the intercooler on the JDM and EDM versions is mounted in such a way that technically the engine was not enclosed by the frame of the vehicle.

Damn politics….

ItsAHabit's avatar

jerv Ditto!

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