The Real Story Behind The Chevrolet Dolt... er... Chevrolet Volt
When the Chevrolet Volt "concept car" was unveiled almost two years ago at the Detroit Auto Show, the automotive media and countless thousands of motorists were literally floored. Here was a 2010 model futuristic shorty Camaro with an economy car pricetag that would run fully electric with a range of 40 miles without consuming a drop of fuel, and the promise that almost 1,000 miles would be possible with a single tankful from its one litre turbocharged three cylinder engine that would work only to charge the batteries, not to directly drive the wheels.
It seems in GM's case that a more modern paraphrasing of Mark Twain would be "lies, damn lies, and concept cars." Any company that hemorrhages tens of billions of dollars like GM and is so famished for cash that it has just effectively killed the entire structure of leasing its cars with all of three days notice (leaving thousands of businesses who relied on the tax deductibility of car leases out in the cold), should be excused for trying to drum up some excitement. Unfortunately GM did that with the Volt at the expense of any shred of reputation or self-decency.
The bottom line is simple. The Chevrolet Volt that the world went gaga over on that cold January 2007 day in Detroit will never exist. What will be in GM dealerships in its place (if there are any GM dealerships by then, of course...) is going to be a ridiculously overpriced, totally inadequate, barely useable, grossly overweight, and embarrassingly miserable excuse for an electric automobile which, by the way, will resemble the Detroit car in the about same way I resemble Brad Pitt.
If I set up a business and ran endless national TV commercials featuring a product that I would never be able to produce, I would likely be sued into bankruptcy and I'd deserve it. When GM does the same thing, it's lauded as a wise marketing maneuver.
Let's start at the beginning.
The Styling: Gone. Judging by the recent ABC News "sneak peek" at GM Volt HQ, the silhouette for the car is now a close approximation of the late and completely unlamented two volume Malibu Maxx. A car that no one noticed when it was around, and no one missed when it was killed. The front end is now a Malibu/Impala with swoopier headlights.
The Engine: Changed. The engine now is a slightly downsized version of the boring and flatulent Aveo four cylinder: A normally aspirated 1.4 litre which weighs almost twice as much as the widely ballyhooed 1 litre turbo three.
The Debut: Delayed. It's no longer a 2010 model. They "hope" to launch it as a 2011 model but 2012 is being discussed as well.
The Price: Outrageous. GM execs have been quoted in stating that the car will cost over $48,000 to produce. Even if they wanted to sell it for 0 profit, it would be nearly $55,000 with shipping, PDI and a small token profit for the dealer. That would place it as the highest priced car on any GM lot, and at roughly the same price as a Cadillac Escalade SUV.
But I've saved the best for last:
The Batteries: Non-existent. It seems that GM's marketing arm got just a teensy weensy a bit ahead of the engineering department when it tossed around claims of 40 miles on electric alone and New York, NY to Birmingham, AL on a single tank of gas. It seems that the technological battery breakthrough that GM was counting on has not yet occurred and the current batteries can barely power the car five miles before that Aveo-like engine has to kick in.
Geez, GM... you already have a car in your lineup that has a wimpy four cylinder engine and repulsive two box styling. It's called the Aveo. At least it costs about a quarter of what you think the public will spend for the Electric Maxx... er... Volt and it has the advantage that it doesn't have to lug around almost a thousand pounds of batteries. I still don't quite understand the logic of having a 1.4 litre engine act as a generator anyway. Just dump the batteries that don't do anything but add half a ton of weight, have the motor drive the wheels and wheehah! You wouldn't think that you'd have to resurrect Gottlieb Daimler to figure that out.
Yeah, but that wouldn't be an electric car would it? Well, I have news for you, GM. The Volt isn't an electric car: It's a massive POS that will act as the tombstone for what was once the greatest automotive manufacturer in the world. What a horrible shame.
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