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GM to make 60,000 Volts in its first year?

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GM May Make 60,000 `Volt' Electric Cars in First Year
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By Jeff Green | Link to Original Article @ Bloomberg


Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) -- General Motors Corp. may build as many as 60,000 of its Volt electric cars for their inaugural year on the market, four times the sales of Toyota Motor Corp.'s hybrid Prius in its U.S. debut, people with knowledge of GM's plans said.

Production at that level may allow GM to sell the plug-in Volt for less than $30,000, said the people, who didn't want to be identified because the plans are confidential. The discussions show the Detroit automaker, racked by losses and U.S. sales declines, believes an affordable electric car will help spur a revival, the people said. Toyota's Prius can be bought for $22,175.

"If they were able to get 30,000 to 60,000 on the road in a year, it would be a huge leap in technology,'' said Brett Smith, an alternative-fuel analyst at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan. "It will be difficult, though, because there are so many barriers to making this happen.''

A high-volume debut for the Volt, designed to go 40 miles without recharging, would lend credence to GM Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner's strategy of using technological advances to gain ground on Toyota. The Japanese company has a decade-long lead with its Prius, a gasoline-electric car that is the world's best-selling hybrid.

GM shares rose 25 cents to $31.33 at 4:01 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock has added 2 percent this year.

"If GM can make a Volt that costs less than $30,000, you really could start to see significant demand,'' Smith said.

GM product chief Bob Lutz has said he wants to sell the first Volt by late 2010, and expects to have prototypes ready for testing early next year. GM spokesman Scott Fosgard declined to comment on plans for the Volt.

Record Profit

Sales of 60,000 units would vault the car past the Chevrolet Aveo as GM's best-selling high-mileage car. It took almost five years for the Prius to reach annual sales of 60,000.

Toyota has sold more than 800,000 Priuses, and the hybrid helped the Toyota City, Japan-based automaker earn a record $14 billion in its last fiscal year. GM lost $1.98 billion in 2006.

"We've got a technology that's established in the marketplace and has been reliable,'' said Irv Miller, Toyota's group vice president of U.S. communications. "If anyone thinks the Prius of today is going to be the Prius of 2011 or 2012, they underestimate Toyota.''

GM said this month that it will jointly develop the lithium-ion battery needed for the Volt with A123Systems Inc., a privately owned battery-technology company in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Creating a high-volume, plug-in electric car with a lithium-ion battery within three years may be impossible, said Menahem Anderman, president of Advanced Automotive Batteries, an industry consultant in Oregon House, California.

`Totally Ridiculous'

A 60,000-unit target "is totally ridiculous at this point,'' Anderman said in an interview. "To reach that level by 2010, they'd need to be placing the orders right now.'' If GM proceeds with A123 as the main battery supplier, "they would be doing it with a company that has no experience in high-volume manufacturing on such a scale,'' Anderman said.

To offer 40 miles of all-electric range, he estimates GM would need a battery pack that would weigh about 400 pounds. That would be seven times heavier than the nickel-metal-hydride pack in the current Prius. Added weight reduces fuel efficiency.

Higher production would let GM get volume discounts from auto-parts suppliers and put the $30,000 goal within reach, the people familiar with GM's planning said. The average U.S. vehicle sold for $28,450 last year, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association. The Prius, which doesn't come in a plug-in version and uses less-expensive batteries than those planned for the Volt, costs $22,175 to $23,070.

Growing Demand

Demand for cars less reliant on gasoline is growing as automakers face stricter emissions rules around the world and the U.S. tries to cut its dependence on imported oil. In addition to funding the Volt, Wagoner is spending more than $3 billion on cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells and gasoline- electric hybrids like the Prius.

The Volt is charged at a household outlet and uses an on- board engine to generate electricity when the battery runs down during travel. The engine, powered by gasoline, diesel or a hydrogen fuel cell, only recharges the battery and doesn't drive the wheels. Its full range is about 640 miles on a tank of gasoline, about double the range of a typical car or truck.

Existing gasoline-electric hybrids such as the Prius and GM's Chevrolet Tahoe sport-utility vehicle use the electric motor only at start-up and lower speeds, and rely on engine power and friction from braking to charge the battery.

Prius Sales

Toyota sold 5,562 Prius models in 2000, when it was on the market for part of the year. Sales tripled the following year and topped 60,000 for the first time in 2005. They totaled 110,565 units this year through July, making the Prius the 12th- most popular vehicle in the U.S., according to Audodata Corp., a Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, company that monitors the industry.

Toyota has sold more than 1 million gasoline-electric autos since the first Prius went on sale in Japan in late 1997. The company is the biggest seller of hybrids in the U.S., the biggest market for the vehicles. U.S. sales of hybrids this year through July rose 52 percent to 217,433, with the Prius accounting for more than half the total.
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They will sell over 60,000 a year. Year 1 might be tough depending on battery supplies, but no doubt they will sell everyone they build.

The Prius has horrible handling, acceleration and braking, and it is about $23,000 yet they sell over 200,000 a year, it is the 6th or 7th best selling car on the market. Gas mileage sells.

Edited by smk4565
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Why is GM only spending $3 billion on fuel cells and hybrids? Unless they mean $3 billion a year for the next 10-15 years. Toyota's yearly R&D budget is about $15 billion.

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Prius Schmius

The real hero is the best looking car Toyota ever made.

Yeah, the Echo, that's right.

The car that should be burned into every Toyota addict's raving lunatic mind.

Tatooed on every Toyonerd shoulder.

Illuminated in bright lights in Nagoya.

Come on, admit it.

When you think heroic, your mind automatically drifts right to the Echo.

Clint Eastwood - Shooting the Echo.

James Dean - Smashing the Echo.

Arnold Schwarzenegger crushing the Echo with his H1.

John Wayne - Putting the Echo out of it's misery.

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Back on topic -

Prius is stank.

The Volt, if properly executed, will change the entire automobile market and society with it.

The article snipes about 400 lbs of battery but forgets to add that there will be no transmission.

The article snidely omits that, for about 80% of the populace, only electricity will be required for the daily commute.

The article includes the requisite beligerent quote from a Toyota executive

If anyone thinks the Prius of today is going to be the Prius of 2011 or 2012, they underestimate Toyota

He forgets to mention that, according to Toyota, the Prius of tomorrow will still be strapped down with Nickel batteries.

At least the article mentions that GM is going to bring about something in one year that took Toyota five long years to achieve.

So much for the comparison to the mighty <sounds like a suppository> Prius-Stank.

Oh, the injustice of it all.

As an impartial, if slightly-biased import fan, it really looks like GM has a great chance at capturing this market and the hearts and minds of the North American public and the world at large (outside of Nagoya anyway).

Edited by plane
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Why is GM only spending $3 billion on fuel cells and hybrids? Unless they mean $3 billion a year for the next 10-15 years. Toyota's yearly R&D budget is about $15 billion.

GM's annual budget for R&D is $14 billion just under Toy. It was in 2005 if I remember correctly that Toy passed GM to be #1 spender in R&D. Where Toy spend its R&D moolah only God knows because none of their ideas to come out yet are original. Probably spying other companies and bribing their employees to get others' R&D material, that is where their money might be going. :)

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I am concerned about all of the news being leaked about the Volt. I wish GM would keep it more of a secret so they could have the market all to themselves for awhile. The progress they are making is amazing, and if they can produce 60,000 a year, that will be a true feat.

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Why is GM only spending $3 billion on fuel cells and hybrids? Unless they mean $3 billion a year for the next 10-15 years. Toyota's yearly R&D budget is about $15 billion.

1) Using the new Two-Mode hybrid system as an example, GM shares the costs of R&D for fuel cells and hybrids with other manufacturers (DCX & BMW.)

2) What is your source for Toyota's annual R&D budget?

http://www.industryweek.com/ReadArticle.aspx?ArticleID=12518

Sept. 1, 2006 -- Toyota spends an average of $22.7 million per day on research and development, according to James Press, president of Toyota Motor North America.

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A 60,000-unit target "is totally ridiculous at this point,'' Anderman said in an interview. "To reach that level by 2010, they'd need to be placing the orders right now.'' If GM proceeds with A123 as the main battery supplier, "they would be doing it with a company that has no experience in high-volume manufacturing on such a scale,'' Anderman said.

he brings up a good point.

while i have no doubt GM engineering can get the battery pack designed and tested by 2010, a company only starting to get into HV manufacturing having this new product ready by then with good quality is somewhat questionable

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he brings up a good point.

while i have no doubt GM engineering can get the battery pack designed and tested by 2010, a company only starting to get into HV manufacturing having this new product ready by then with good quality is somewhat questionable

Actually, it just sounds like Mr. Anderman is still sore that GM chose A123 Systems over his company, AAB.
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I am concerned about all of the news being leaked about the Volt. I wish GM would keep it more of a secret so they could have the market all to themselves for awhile. The progress they are making is amazing, and if they can produce 60,000 a year, that will be a true feat.

Progress to date:

1) PR statements.

2) PR statements.

3) Sign a couple of unproven (in this area) battery makers.

4) PR statements.

5) PR statements.

6) PR statements.

7) Repeat...

Does anyone know if GM's deal with A123 deal is exclusive? Apparently they already have a Prius solution that will be on the market shortly. So if the battery for the Volt is possible, then the plug-in Prius is pretty much done. In that case, there is no real reason for GM to be quiet... especially when PR and distraction are the major features of the volt.

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Sour grapes or just an off-the-scale case of intense denial?

MIT-startup with DARPA funding? You be the judge.

Simply because you have absolutely zero credibility when it comes to what GM actually has accomplished, perhaps sitting back and enjoying this as it unfolds might be the very best prescription?

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sure why not. it seems like GM is using 2 strategies to sell this car. the volt design and plug-in appeal.

i want this car just cuz it looks cool as heck! but obviosuly the majority of buyers will want this b/c of the plug-in ability.

People don't buy priuses cuz they look fast or cool. So GM would have an advantage there.

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he brings up a good point.

while i have no doubt GM engineering can get the battery pack designed and tested by 2010, a company only starting to get into HV manufacturing having this new product ready by then with good quality is somewhat questionable

Actually, GM has been developing electric and hybrid technologies for a while, they just didn't invest in making them come to market because they couldn't make a business case for it.

I do think GM is reaping a lot of benefits from touting the Volt; I've heard a number of domestic-haters say that this vehicle would make them reconsider GM. You talk about cars like the Solstice and Camaro providing the buzz to bring buyers back into GM showrooms, well, that's only a certain type of buyer. A whole different set is returning to the ranks of GM considerers with the promise of this vehicle. The only thing I worry about is the fallout if they don't deliver on the promises they're making now.

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This is fantastic news and I hope GM can pull this off. The Volt puts to shame every hybrid sold and looks good, too.

As for the questions about the battery tech, I somehow have a feeling that there is a lot more behind the scenes than we know. Come on, doesn't anyone else think that if GM didn't believe they could pull this off, they would show the concept and then keep VERY quiet about its future? Keeping it in the news keeps the pressure on GM and A123.

So far, from what I remember, the contract with A123 is to develop the battery. I am pretty sure that other battery suppliers will be in the equation for production, even if they are subcontracted by A123.

On another note, I am pretty tired of most every positive article about GM having shots taken at the company. They could continually state that GM is struggling and don't mention any of the advances and improvements. But Toyota on the other hand, sounds like the have fully developed transporters.

Oh, right, Toyota can do no wrong, GM can do no right. Hand over the kool-aid, I guess.

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The Volt will turn the market on its ear - and make GXT very,very quiet. :AH-HA_wink:

I don't think it would be fair to blame GM if they didn't hit these leaked numbers from un-named sources. But I think we can blame those people who preach them as fact. (It also says something about the people who can't differentiate between fantastic "leaks", PR, and actual progress.)

Well I've never been very good at being quiet. But will I get any credit if I am right? People still talk about GM's hybrid busses as if they were more than the dismal failures they are. Do I get any credit for my predictions on that? Not really. Not that I expect it.

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I don't think it would be fair to blame GM if they didn't hit these leaked numbers from un-named sources. But I think we can blame those people who preach them as fact. (It also says something about the people who can't differentiate between fantastic "leaks", PR, and actual progress.)

Like how you failed to differentiate the post and pre GMAC sale revenues of GM and blatantly said that GM lost 8 billion in revenues in the first quarter of 2007 compared to the first quarter of 2006, which was the revenue GMAC was making.

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...

Well I've never been very good at being quiet. But will I get any credit if I am right? People still talk about GM's hybrid busses as if they were more than the dismal failures they are. Do I get any credit for my predictions on that? Not really. Not that I expect it.

That's because you are wrong about the buses.

Don't make us hurt you with facts.

GM Hybrid Buses use less fuel.

GM Hybrid Buses reduce harmful emissions.

GM Hybrid Buses are more reliable and require less maintenance.

i.e. - The regenerative braking saves on brake pad replacement.

And best of all....GM Hybrid Buses provide 50% better acceleration.

From just one nearby community....

May 16, 2007

Order for up to 500 clean-and-green buses will be key in keeping county moving

King County today announced the purchase of up to 500 new buses that will help deliver one of the biggest bus service expansions in Metro history. Most of the buses will be articulated hybrids manufactured under a contract believed to be the largest of its kind in North America.

Since first acquiring hybrid buses in 2004, Metro has seen a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to its conventional diesel fleet. The hybrids are also proving to be 40 percent more reliable than their articulated diesel counterparts in terms of mechanical breakdowns.

http://www.metrokc.gov/kcdot/news/2007/nr0...ntractfacts.htm

"This bus employs the most efficient hybrid architecture available in the world today, and is the first step in a larger GM initiative," said Tom Stephens, group vice president of GM Powertrain. "You get low emissions, great fuel economy, smooth and quiet operation, but one other thing is acceleration," explained Stephens. "You look at 60-foot buses like this and you know how slow they typically are, but with this system the buses are 50 percent faster for acceleration than a conventional bus, so all in all it's just a tremendous balance of values for the consumers."

http://autos.msn.com/advice/article.aspx?contentid=4022529

The TRB Report #59 offered the following general conclusions:

The results of the study demonstrate that diesel hybrid-electric vehicles offer reduced drive cycle emissions relative to conventional diesel buses. The lower emissions are a function of ultra-low-sulfur-diesel (ULSD) fuel, particulate trap technology and improved fuel economy. When compared to compressed natural gas (CNG) buses, diesel hybrid particulate (PM) emissions reached similar and often lower levels. Nitrogen oxide (Nox) emissions for the diesel hybrid were 30-40 percent lower than conventional diesel vehicles and they exhibited the lowest carbon monoxide (CO) emissions of any of the buses tested, both diesel and CNG. The hybrids also demonstrated significantly lower total greenhouse gas emissions than those of a conventional diesel bus or a CNG bus.

Short-runs with frequent stops are where the hybrid-buses shine. But even with long-highway runs factored in, the hybrid buses achieved 27% better fuel economy - as per the National Renewable Energy Laboratory - see for yourself -

http://bioage.typepad.com/.shared/image.ht...zed/nrelkcm.png

Edited by plane
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Why is GM only spending $3 billion on fuel cells and hybrids? Unless they mean $3 billion a year for the next 10-15 years. Toyota's yearly R&D budget is about $15 billion.

Because they don't have enough money. They have to pay health care, pensions, and restrucutring costs, and their auto operations (think NA here) are not where they should be in terms of generating money. Also, remember the old 'not putting all eggs in one basket' expression. If GM invested all of its R&D in one concept/idea only, then they would deserve to go out of business.

Re the article: 60K in the first year? I can easily build a business case for a $500,000 Cadillac. I'll just budget enough sales to make it feasible on paper :lol:

Edited by ZL-1
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