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Drew Dowdell

GM Plans to sell Volt in Volume

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WASHINGTON, Jan 31, 2008; John Crawley writing for Reuters reported that General Motors Corp plans a strong production run for its plug-in Chevy Volt, according to a senior executive on Thursday who also urged Congress to approve tax incentives to help spark demand.

Jon Lauckner, GM vice president for global program management, said the automaker is mindful of the current high costs of battery development but expects the per-vehicle price to drop as the technology improves.

"As volume scales up, you will move down this curve to see better economics going forward. You can't get hung up on the economics of the first unit or the tenth unit," Lauckner told an energy forum at the Center for American Progress.

Lauckner said GM still hopes to start production of the Volt by the end of 2010 and said the company is planning a healthy roll-out.

"We're talking about large numbers -- in the tens of thousands," he said. "It's not a niche market."

Plug-ins, viewed by the world's two biggest automakers as one answer to reducing U.S. gasoline use and meeting sharply higher U.S. fuel efficiency standards, are designed for short trips powered entirely by an electric motor and a battery charged through a common electrical outlet. A gasoline engine would kick in after 40 miles on electric power.

GM hopes to be the first to mass production and snatch the lead on all-electric fuel-saving technology from Japan's Toyota Motor Corp Toyota also plans a plug-in hybrid by 2010.

The biggest hurdle to success of electric vehicles is improving lithium ion battery power and storage capacity while making it small, safe and light enough to fit easily under the hood with other components.

"Cost is the killer right now," said Jack Deppe, a U.S. Energy Department consultant.

Current estimates show that every 10 miles of electric power adds about $1,500 in costs.

But with gasoline/electric hybrids comprising just 2 percent of the U.S. auto market even with gasoline prices above $3 per gallon, some experts are skeptical about the rush to perfect plug-in technology.

John German, a hybrid expert at Honda Motor Co, said the case has not been made for mass-market plug-ins, arguing there are too many questions about cost, efficiency and consumer interest.

German said "plug-in hybrids are coming" but stressed that automakers have embraced and then abandoned other fuel-saving ideas before. He said industry should not try to "force feed" electric cars to consumers.

Lauckner said GM is not betting that gasoline prices will remain stable or go down and that consumers globally will rally around the Volt.

All executives recommended that Congress invest heavily in battery technology and offer tax incentives to consumers like they have for purchases of the popular Toyota Prius hybrid.

"That's a helpful role government can play to speed the technology and bring these benefits forward," Lauckner said.

Editing for Reuters by Richard Chang

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Current estimates show that every 10 miles of electric power adds about $1,500 in costs.

this should drop if the new silicon process can be added in to making the batteries quickly/without huge patent costs.

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German said "plug-in hybrids are coming" but stressed that automakers have embraced and then abandoned other fuel-saving ideas before. He said industry should not try to "force feed" electric cars to consumers.

That's right!

I'm a huge fan of the Volt and of consumers having the choice of electric cars... But don't make the mistake of assuming that ALL of us want to drive an appliance.

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X07CC_CH058.jpg

WASHINGTON, Jan 31, 2008; John Crawley writing for Reuters reported that General Motors Corp plans a strong production run for its plug-in Chevy Volt, according to a senior executive on Thursday who also urged Congress to approve tax incentives to help spark demand.

Jon Lauckner, GM vice president for global program management, said the automaker is mindful of the current high costs of battery development but expects the per-vehicle price to drop as the technology improves.

"As volume scales up, you will move down this curve to see better economics going forward. You can't get hung up on the economics of the first unit or the tenth unit," Lauckner told an energy forum at the Center for American Progress.

Lauckner said GM still hopes to start production of the Volt by the end of 2010 and said the company is planning a healthy roll-out.

"We're talking about large numbers -- in the tens of thousands," he said. "It's not a niche market."

Plug-ins, viewed by the world's two biggest automakers as one answer to reducing U.S. gasoline use and meeting sharply higher U.S. fuel efficiency standards, are designed for short trips powered entirely by an electric motor and a battery charged through a common electrical outlet. A gasoline engine would kick in after 40 miles on electric power.

GM hopes to be the first to mass production and snatch the lead on all-electric fuel-saving technology from Japan's Toyota Motor Corp Toyota also plans a plug-in hybrid by 2010.

The biggest hurdle to success of electric vehicles is improving lithium ion battery power and storage capacity while making it small, safe and light enough to fit easily under the hood with other components.

"Cost is the killer right now," said Jack Deppe, a U.S. Energy Department consultant.

Current estimates show that every 10 miles of electric power adds about $1,500 in costs.

But with gasoline/electric hybrids comprising just 2 percent of the U.S. auto market even with gasoline prices above $3 per gallon, some experts are skeptical about the rush to perfect plug-in technology.

John German, a hybrid expert at Honda Motor Co, said the case has not been made for mass-market plug-ins, arguing there are too many questions about cost, efficiency and consumer interest.

German said "plug-in hybrids are coming" but stressed that automakers have embraced and then abandoned other fuel-saving ideas before. He said industry should not try to "force feed" electric cars to consumers.

Lauckner said GM is not betting that gasoline prices will remain stable or go down and that consumers globally will rally around the Volt.

All executives recommended that Congress invest heavily in battery technology and offer tax incentives to consumers like they have for purchases of the popular Toyota Prius hybrid.

"That's a helpful role government can play to speed the technology and bring these benefits forward," Lauckner said.

Editing for Reuters by Richard Chang

Lutz was recently quoted saying exactly the opposite thing. I believe he used 10,000 as the target production number, IIRC.

I think the Volt will be a disaster, but what bothers me more is that 2 GM exec's can't get on the same page. It looks bad---and creates the impression they really don't know what they're doing....

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based on......?

My own intuition.

The way insiders speak about its roll-out. (It's PR success caught GM partially off-guard.)

The fact that the batteries Necessary for its success are not yet proven commodities with only two years to go unitl 2010 target date.

The various contrary statements made by management about it.

GM's rewriting of the product development plans after the CAFE changes.

The fact that GM has a perfectly good--no, Excellent, two-mode hybrid system that would be perfectly adequate to spread across its product line.

B.A.S., regardless of GM's hype, is not a Hybrid---check Europe's Stop-Start availability for detail on what BAS really is.

And a few other things I'd rather keep to myself---

Ask yourself: If the Camaro took 4years from concept to production (& is just a regular, unibody car), how does the Volt stand a chance to appear in 3?

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Ask yourself: If the Camaro took 4years from concept to production (& is just a regular, unibody car), how does the Volt stand a chance to appear in 3?

You said it yourself... the big hold up on the Volt is the batteries. In reality, other than the powertrain, the Volt will also just be another unibody car. GM already knows how to do the electric motors..even if all they do is apply modern technology to the EV-1 motor design. They've had a fairly decent success rate at the internal combustion engine since about 1908. They've been arranging larger versions of this powertrain configuration since about 1930 <EMD>. And those batteries.... oh yeah... they're entering the final R&D phase.

I'm not sure how the 2-mode hybrid enters into any of your doubts.. it's just a parallel technology.

Despite the PR, the Volt really isn't that ground breaking. A Prius hybrid is 10 parts ICE and 4 parts EV... a Volt is just looking to change the ratio to 4 parts ICE and 10 parts EV. The Volt also looks better doing it.

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...The fact that the batteries Necessary for its success are not yet proven commodities with only two years to go unitl 2010 target date.

...

Ask yourself: If the Camaro took 4years from concept to production (& is just a regular, unibody car), how does the Volt stand a chance to appear in 3?

This reminds me of a co-worker. She worked at NASA before joining our team. She mentioned that at the time J. F. Kennedy gave the speech about the US sending a man to the moon and bringing him back by the end of the decade, NASA thought it was impossible to do. However after his assassination everyone at NASA felt this urgency to make it happen. I don't have to tell you how that ended.

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This reminds me of a co-worker. She worked at NASA before joining our team. She mentioned that at the time J. F. Kennedy gave the speech about the US sending a man to the moon and bringing him back by the end of the decade, NASA thought it was impossible to do. However after his assassination everyone at NASA felt this urgency to make it happen. I don't have to tell you how that ended.

The parallels are fitting: the Moon Race was about the prestige of America and the Volt will determine the future of GM.

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You said it yourself... the big hold up on the Volt is the batteries. In reality, other than the powertrain, the Volt will also just be another unibody car. GM already knows how to do the electric motors..even if all they do is apply modern technology to the EV-1 motor design. They've had a fairly decent success rate at the internal combustion engine since about 1908. They've been arranging larger versions of this powertrain configuration since about 1930 <EMD>. And those batteries.... oh yeah... they're entering the final R&D phase.

I'm not sure how the 2-mode hybrid enters into any of your doubts.. it's just a parallel technology.

Despite the PR, the Volt really isn't that ground breaking. A Prius hybrid is 10 parts ICE and 4 parts EV... a Volt is just looking to change the ratio to 4 parts ICE and 10 parts EV. The Volt also looks better doing it.

You asked...I answered.

You have every right to disagree. That doesn't change my doubts.

And, BTW, the batteries haven't been proven, yet--as per your link.

What happens if they don't? Bye-bye last shred of GM cred.

As for 2-mode...it's another example of GM ADD.

Parallel development when the Volt is supposedly some great advance? More $ flushed down the toilet, IMO.

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You asked...I answered.

You have every right to disagree. That doesn't change my doubts.

And, BTW, the batteries haven't been proven, yet--as per your link.

What happens if they don't? Bye-bye last shred of GM cred.

As for 2-mode...it's another example of GM ADD.

Parallel development when the Volt is supposedly some great advance? More $ flushed down the toilet, IMO.

1. Batteries are already getting 220 mile range in the Tesla today.... and that is geared towards performance. In the video of the road test it was out scooting an Audi R8.

2. Volt's expectations are that it do 40 miles before the ICE kicks in... the Volt can't be THAT much heavier and THAT much faster than the Tesla

3. Why can't 2-mode and E-Flex co-exist? It's not like E-flex is ready or will be ready to be release company wide in 2 years. While an E-flex Tahoe might be nice... it's not gonna be here in 2011.

4. 2-mode is here today... which means development started at least 3 years ago.

5. The release of the Volt is not going to automatically switch over all other platforms to this new technology. When the BAS or 2-Mode were released, did we see an immediate deployment to all cars on all platforms? Of course not. The Lucerne and DTS are still using 4-speeds!

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1. Batteries are already getting 220 mile range in the Tesla today.... and that is geared towards performance. In the video of the road test it was out scooting an Audi R8.

2. Volt's expectations are that it do 40 miles before the ICE kicks in... the Volt can't be THAT much heavier and THAT much faster than the Tesla

3. Why can't 2-mode and E-Flex co-exist? It's not like E-flex is ready or will be ready to be release company wide in 2 years. While an E-flex Tahoe might be nice... it's not gonna be here in 2011.

4. 2-mode is here today... which means development started at least 3 years ago.

5. The release of the Volt is not going to automatically switch over all other platforms to this new technology. When the BAS or 2-Mode were released, did we see an immediate deployment to all cars on all platforms? Of course not. The Lucerne and DTS are still using 4-speeds!

You are making my point for me:

1. Tesla is NOT getting claimed range. Nooone has independently tested its claims, which have been revised downward. Volt battery tech is different anyway.

2. It's a bigger challenge than you think. the Volt will weigh more.

3. 2-mode hasn't even been given a chance

4. And? It's done?

5. 4-speeds should be addressed first. Which is one of the things the Volt development displaces on the menu.

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You are making my point for me:

1. Tesla is NOT getting claimed range. Nooone has independently tested its claims, which have been revised downward. Volt battery tech is different anyway.

2. It's a bigger challenge than you think. the Volt will weigh more.

3. 2-mode hasn't even been given a chance

4. And? It's done?

5. 4-speeds should be addressed first. Which is one of the things the Volt development displaces on the menu.

1. In the Tesla video test I saw, they did 90 miles of hard driving while out accelerating an Audi R8 and still had 30% battery left using the 1-speed transmission. That works out to be about 130 mile range... again with a 1-speed... while outpacing an R8. It's not hard to see how the Tesla could get 200+ miles per charge when it's not driven like it's stolen.

2. The Volt will weigh more. However, not so much more that 40 mile range without using the ICE is implausible.

3. Why do you keep insisting that the 2-mode and E-flex are mutually exclusive? This is E-flex version 1.0. I expect the 2-mode will consist of the bulk of GM's fuel saving technology for the foreseeable future. Prius versions 1.0 and 2.0 were test beds for Toyota's technology. It wasn't until late in Prius 3.0's life that Toyota expanded the technology into other platforms like the Camry and Highlander.

4. It's mere months away. It's done.

5. The 4-speeds are only in platforms that are due to die very soon <G-body, W-Body, current Delta>. Any of the more modern platforms with a 4-speed also have a 6-speed available <Malibu, G6, Aura>.

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I actually have a lot of faith in Lutz and a lot of faith in GM to build this car and for it to perform as claimed. There is too much at stake for GM right now to be making fishy claims they can't back.

IMHO Lutz is too smart to write a check with his mouth that reality can't cash.

Chris

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1. In the Tesla video test I saw, they did 90 miles of hard driving while out accelerating an Audi R8 and still had 30% battery left using the 1-speed transmission. That works out to be about 130 mile range... again with a 1-speed... while outpacing an R8. It's not hard to see how the Tesla could get 200+ miles per charge when it's not driven like it's stolen.

2. The Volt will weigh more. However, not so much more that 40 mile range without using the ICE is implausible.

3. Why do you keep insisting that the 2-mode and E-flex are mutually exclusive? This is E-flex version 1.0. I expect the 2-mode will consist of the bulk of GM's fuel saving technology for the foreseeable future. Prius versions 1.0 and 2.0 were test beds for Toyota's technology. It wasn't until late in Prius 3.0's life that Toyota expanded the technology into other platforms like the Camry and Highlander.

4. It's mere months away. It's done.

5. The 4-speeds are only in platforms that are due to die very soon <G-body, W-Body, current Delta>. Any of the more modern platforms with a 4-speed also have a 6-speed available <Malibu, G6, Aura>.

I don't think the Tesla battery tech has bearing on the Volt. The Tesla basically has a series of laptop batteries strung in series (oversimplification, I know)--as far as I know, the Easter testing date for battery validation has been indefinitely delayed (remember Lutz' 'easter bunny' quote a few months back?)

In any case, the Volt 'moon shot' effort will indefinitely tie up dwindling resources when GM desperately needs new product up and down the lineup---with all due respect to the CTS & 'bu, a correct balance of cadence and product is desperately needed---I'm not sure that Volt is the right direction to take, given that the new 2-mode system is, by all accounts, excellent.

If the Volt ends up a Prius-type success, great---if it ends up not working, its an unmitigated disaster on many levels. Remember, Lutz himself was anti-hybrid as of a few years ago...there's a strong business/product reason for that.

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Now I know I made a joke about the Volt being powered by 200 cans of Red Bull..... but basically, the Volt battery technology is the same concept as what Tesla is doing. It's a series of lithium ion batteries strung together.

volt2l.jpg

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Now I know I made a joke about the Volt being powered by 200 cans of Red Bull..... but basically, the Volt battery technology is the same concept as what Tesla is doing. It's a series of lithium ion batteries strung together.

volt2l.jpg

I'm no expert, but I've read somewhere that the tech is not the same...

http://www.engadget.com/2006/12/01/tesla-m...ery-technology/

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070522/071101.shtml

...and if it is, apparently, it's for sale! Why waste anymore time or effort?

Edited by enzl
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