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Report: GM's Lauckner says Volt could cost under $40,000

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Filed under: Hybrid, Sedan, Hatchback, Chevrolet, GM, Earnings/Financials, Electric

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2011 Chevrolet Volt - Click above for high-res image gallery

We seem to know nearly everything there is to know about the 2011 Chevrolet Volt. Well, everything but one of the most important pieces of its environmentally friendly puzzle, that is: How much will it cost? Predictions vary widely, with the $40,000 mark widely bandied about as a likely target - though whether or not that figure arrives before or after a federal $7,500 tax credit is complete speculation. For its part, General Motors has said it won't set final pricing until late 2010.

Throwing a wrench into the Volt-price-guessing works is none other than GM's own head of global program management, John Lauckner, who has reportedly told The Wall Street Journal that the extended-range electric vehicle could hit the market for well under that preconceived $40K level. Fortunately, "We have until this summer to figure that out," he said. Perhaps we can create ourselves a Price is Right-style contest?

The notion that GM may launch the Volt earlier than initially planned - possibly as early as this upcoming summer or fall, well before the expected launch in November - is also reportedly being discussed by GM's top brass. Regardless of when the first few units hit the market, don't expect to see a national launch outside of a few carefully selected regions until well into 2011. Thanks for the tip, Berto!


Gallery: 2011 Chevy Volt

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[source: The Wall Street Journal]

Report: GM's Lauckner says Volt could cost under $40,000 originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 07 Jan 2010 15:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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No matter what the price is or when they launch it, I suspect this will become one of the hottest auto's to be sold by GM in a long time. I expect them to be in short supply for the first couple of years.

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No matter what the price is or when they launch it, I suspect this will become one of the hottest auto's to be sold by GM in a long time. I expect them to be in short supply for the first couple of years.

The quality better be there, and the technology has to be FLAWLESS.

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I would suggest GM not intro it in colder climates until late spring '11, unless they can launch it early enough for at least mid-summer '10. The press and consumers both will be watching the early models like a hawk, and the last thing GM needs is a misconception of what the car is capable of just because it's cold out when they launch the car. Cold weather will of course have a major impact on the electric (and gas) range of the car and fuel economy. Time the launches right GM!

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I would suggest GM not intro it in colder climates until late spring '11, unless they can launch it early enough for at least mid-summer '10. The press and consumers both will be watching the early models like a hawk, and the last thing GM needs is a misconception of what the car is capable of just because it's cold out when they launch the car. Cold weather will of course have a major impact on the electric (and gas) range of the car and fuel economy. Time the launches right GM!

Good point. I wouldn't have picked Detroit if I were GM. Especially since Lutz admitted that he only got 28 miles electric on the recent Thanksgiving weekend. And it isn't like that was really cold... it was only November and temps were in the 40 degree range (5-15% above average). I imagine that is going to drop into the mid-to-low 20s when things get really cold.

Combine that with a November launch and it could be a long winter for GM in Detroit.

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If they can chop five grand off the MSRP it would certainly make it a more viable purchase from a cost-benefit perspective.

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Good point. I wouldn't have picked Detroit if I were GM. Especially since Lutz admitted that he only got 28 miles electric on the recent Thanksgiving weekend. And it isn't like that was really cold... it was only November and temps were in the 40 degree range (5-15% above average). I imagine that is going to drop into the mid-to-low 20s when things get really cold.

Combine that with a November launch and it could be a long winter for GM in Detroit.

I wonder how the range is if the Volt starts out in a garage, and while plugged in the batteries and interior are warmed up. Maintaining warmth for the batteries and interior shouldn't require nearly what it would take to warm up from cold, and the warm batteries shouldn't have discharge issues that cold batteries do. Of course, if the car is then driven to a store or workplace where it is parked outside & not plugged in, then the return trip is going to have the reduced range, but I wonder if cold weather range with preheating might be almost as good as warm weather range?

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I talked to one of the Volt guys today at the NAIAS.

Bank on it. Although there was a bit of the nudge nudge, wink wink stuff..... He was pretty excited to not talk about the final price but wanted to make sure i paid attention to the soon coming price

announcement.

My guess..... Write it down..... $32,000.00.

I said to them that its probably time to get these on the road and beat the crap out of them and he said that is exactly what is going on. Keep your eyes peeled, you'll be

seeing them on the road.

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I wonder how the range is if the Volt starts out in a garage, and while plugged in the batteries and interior are warmed up. Maintaining warmth for the batteries and interior shouldn't require nearly what it would take to warm up from cold, and the warm batteries shouldn't have discharge issues that cold batteries do. Of course, if the car is then driven to a store or workplace where it is parked outside & not plugged in, then the return trip is going to have the reduced range, but I wonder if cold weather range with preheating might be almost as good as warm weather range?

I imagine it would help. But a car is virtually all windows in effectively high winds... it must cool down quickly when it is cold.

Where I come from interior car heaters are not uncommon. Granted they aren't built for efficiency, but a 900W-ish unit isn't really sufficient to heat a car to a comfortable level. Maybe an efficient unit could comfortably heat a car for 1kW? But nearly 1kW is a lot to pull from an 8kW-available battery.

I may be remembering incorrectly, but I seem to recall GM stating previously that the ICE would run when needed for heating purposes. This makes sense to me. I'm thinking of the times that I've really had to crank the heat just to keep the windshield clear. GM can't risk insufficient heat.

I don't know it for a fact, but I certainly pictured Lutz as a heated-garage kind of guy. So I imagined the 28 miles was with a heated interior to start. It seems reasonable, given the minor cold and that GM has stated that the EPA rated range is 32 miles.

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The cold is going to be an issue and with Lutz speaking out now they are being upfront about it. No one should be suprised about this revolation as cold effects batteries. This is why a all electic car out side The south is still not a reality now will be for a good while. We in the cold need that engine to make sure we get where we are going year round.

Honesty is the best way for GM to deal with this issue. It will also disarm any all electric challangers as they have no plan B as the Volt has.

As for peice. THe electonics and batteries will drop as more and more cars are built. Add in the Opel, Cadillac and Orlando based plug in and we will see the batteries drop even faster. I wonder if it will also help drop prices on the lap top and cell phone batteries and increase their life with the near term improvments?

Edited by hyperv6
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The cold is going to be an issue and with Lutz speaking out now they are being upfront about it. No one should be suprised about this revolation as cold effects batteries. This is why a all electic car out side The south is still not a reality now will be for a good while. We in the cold need that engine to make sure we get where we are going year round.

Honesty is the best way for GM to deal with this issue. It will also disarm any all electric challangers as they have no plan B as the Volt has.

Honesty would be good, but GM is hardly concerned about honesty when it comes to the Volt.

They repeatedly and publicly have claimed "up to 40 miles" (even though when pressed they admit it is under circumstances which are unrealistic in many places for most times of the year (e.g. no heat/AC)). Even when they announced the 230MPG number and they let slip the EPA city rating for the Volt was 32 miles they downplayed the EPA rating. They didn't even bother announcing the highway rating.

How is someone who was told 230MPG going to feel when they find that for portions of the winter the ICE runs all the time and they are getting 30ish MPG and little-to-no electric range? And for the rest of the winter they get high 20's electric and then perhaps 30 MPG ICE?

Remember the backlash when the 80MPG rated Prius got 50MPG real-world? Well the Volt is going to be more like 230->40 in the winter. And whereas Toyota was following EPA guidelines, GM is often intentionally not.

As for plan B, you've got:

-Pure EVs that still get 70ish miles electric. As GM tells us, this almost twice as much as 80% of US commuters need on a given day.

-A Hybrid Prius for 60% of the cost that likely gets better mileage in many situations (winter, highway)

-A Plug-in Prius for perhaps 75% of the cost of the Volt that will suffer much less in the winter than the Volt (battery/range is smaller to begin with, so less to lose), has no range-anxiety issues and will get much better fuel economy if the ICE has to run constantly for heat.

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Honesty would be good, but GM is hardly concerned about honesty when it comes to the Volt.

They repeatedly and publicly have claimed "up to 40 miles" (even though when pressed they admit it is under circumstances which are unrealistic in many places for most times of the year (e.g. no heat/AC)). Even when they announced the 230MPG number and they let slip the EPA city rating for the Volt was 32 miles they downplayed the EPA rating. They didn't even bother announcing the highway rating.

How is someone who was told 230MPG going to feel when they find that for portions of the winter the ICE runs all the time and they are getting 30ish MPG and little-to-no electric range? And for the rest of the winter they get high 20's electric and then perhaps 30 MPG ICE?

Remember the backlash when the 80MPG rated Prius got 50MPG real-world? Well the Volt is going to be more like 230->40 in the winter. And whereas Toyota was following EPA guidelines, GM is often intentionally not.

As for plan B, you've got:

-Pure EVs that still get 70ish miles electric. As GM tells us, this almost twice as much as 80% of US commuters need on a given day.

-A Hybrid Prius for 60% of the cost that likely gets better mileage in many situations (winter, highway)

-A Plug-in Prius for perhaps 75% of the cost of the Volt that will suffer much less in the winter than the Volt (battery/range is smaller to begin with, so less to lose), has no range-anxiety issues and will get much better fuel economy if the ICE has to run constantly for heat.

As for you plan B's

The Pure EV... I bet I would have been lucky to have got half of your 70ish mile the last three months if even that.

The Hybrid Prius would get about what the Volt would do in the cold but at least I could make it home.

The Plug in Prus the jury is still out since they are still working on it. Either way it is not going to be that much cheaper.

The Plan be for all is who get the best batteries first. None of this crap is any better than the batteries used. So the race is on as we will have the cars waiting for cheaper and better batteries. We will get them now that they have created a market but the question now is how soon for the breakthrough.

GM needs to be honest from here on since they can not cover anything up once the car hits the streets. They can twist numbers the it will still add up to what people see in real life.

GM needs to point out they have all the advantages of a pure electric car but you will not be stranded along the road if your Pure electric pukes out with no juice. For the eviro people they can show how seldom on a normal daily commute the gas engine will kick in vs the Prius that kicks in often. There are a lot of advantages to the GM system and they need to point them out. To many who will buy this car it is about more than just MPG and saving gas. This is the kind of car the Ed Begly Jr's have been waiting for. They have been waiting for a eviro friendly car that is like a normal car. Most hate the cars that are over blown golf carts that do not drive, ride or have any way to advance home if the Battery dies.

For most his car is the only plug in electric that will work for anyone that gets below 32 degrees.

The bottom line is if GM wants credibility they need to tell the truth and not market lies. I don't know if they have the will but I can hope. They have a good product that does not need embelished. In time the improvements will make this a better cars soon with Gen II and III that are already being worked on.

Edited by hyperv6
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As for you plan B's

The Pure EV... I bet I would have been lucky to have got half of your 70ish mile the last three months if even that.

Not sure what you are basing that on. According to this article, people are finding the 100 miles of the mini E shrinks to about 80 in winter.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/23/AR2009122303463_2.html?hpid=topnews

Why would you expect only 35?

The Hybrid Prius would get about what the Volt would do in the cold but at least I could make it home.

It would depend on how far you drive... the Prius wouldn't have the electric range of the volt (however much that may shrink in the winter) but it is set to get much better ICE/Winter fuel economy.

The Plug in Prus the jury is still out since they are still working on it. Either way it is not going to be that much cheaper.

The only reason it wouldn't be substantially cheaper is if GM is selling the Volt for a big loss and Toyota is selling for a big gain. The plug-in Prius' battery is less than 1/3 the size of the Volt's. The Prius already has some of that battery cost factored in to the current prius due to the existing battery. The plug-in prius should be under 30K to the Volt's 40K.

GM needs to be honest from here on since they can not cover anything up once the car hits the streets. They can twist numbers the it will still add up to what people see in real life.

To a point they actually can cover it up. GM has a huge amount of battery in reserve in order to get longevity. They can dip into that so as to hit their claimed numbers and roll the dice on future warranty claims. But from what I have seen so far their technique has been to not give any new details on any really overly optimistic numbers they gave in 2007 (when they didn't really intend to build the car until AFTER the battery breakthrough), and to stack the deck in an unrealistic manner to hit the ones on which they are close (e.g. "up to 40, if you don't use AC/Heat").

GM needs to point out they have all the advantages of a pure electric car but you will not be stranded along the road if your Pure electric pukes out with no juice. For the eviro people they can show how seldom on a normal daily commute the gas engine will kick in vs the Prius that kicks in often. There are a lot of advantages to the GM system and they need to point them out. To many who will buy this car it is about more than just MPG and saving gas. This is the kind of car the Ed Begly Jr's have been waiting for. They have been waiting for a eviro friendly car that is like a normal car. Most hate the cars that are over blown golf carts that do not drive, ride or have any way to advance home if the Battery dies.

They don't have all the advantages of an electric car. That is marketing spin. Does an electric car haul around an ICE drivetrain? Does an electric car have more complexity than an ICE car? etc. It is more correct to say that it has some of the benefits of an electric car, many of the downsides of an ICE, and some downsides greater than either an ICE or an EV alone.

What GM needs to be careful of is that Nissan had effectively snatched the green crown from GM. So the environuts are not going to be in GM's camp. Anyone who enjoys performance driving will buy the CTS for less money. Anyone who drives far will get better fuel economy from any number of other cars. Anyone who drives short distances uses such a little amount of fuel the nearly any car will do (they will never make up the incremental cost of the Volt). Anyone who can't afford to spend such a large amount of money is out.

What GM SHOULD have offered was a 20 mile version initially and then moved to the 40 mile version as costs came down. The 20 mile version would make more efficient use of the battery, would cost less, and would offer better ICE fuel economy. It would allow them to make twice as many vehicles with the same cell manufacturing capacity, and would have limitted their risk should their be an issue with some of the batteries.

The bottom line is if GM wants credibility they need to tell the truth and not market lies. I don't know if they have the will but I can hope. They have a good product that does not need embelished. In time the improvements will make this a better cars soon with Gen II and III that are already being worked on.

The problem is that it really isn't that good of a product. Lutz has made it clear that the impetus for the Volt was not to build the "right" solution. He was going after the PR. Maybe the sub-$30K version that really got 40 miles electric and 50MPG ICE would have been an OK compromise, but $40K + 32 miles electric + 35MPG ICE isn't good enough.

Maybe future gens will be better. But there is limited window when an E-REV will be better than a hybrid and a pure EV. And GM better hope that the government keeps subsidizing them, because they probably aren't going to be able to drop the price as fast as it will go up when the tax rebate goes away. Effectively, unless the government continues to pay, the price of gen-II will have to be 20% less than gen-I just to have the same net cost.

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