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The Never Ending Chevy Volt Saga

General Motors (GM), or Government Motors, announced on Friday, March 2, 2012, that it will suspend Chevrolet Volt production for five weeks to “align production with demand.” GM told 1,300 employees at its Detroit Hamtramck production facility that they will be temporarily laid off from March 19 to April 23, as the company halts production of the Chevrolet Volt and its European counterpart, the Opel Ampera. The plant had resumed production on February 6, 2012, after a prolonged Christmas holiday shutdown.

Yes, that’s the same Chevy Volt that caught on fire after its batteries were punctured, that currently receives a $7500 per car purchase subsidy, and will receive, if Obama’s 2013 budget is approved, a $10000 per car purchase subsidy and that Obama said he would buy after leaving office. Our tax dollars at work!

Chevrolet sold 7671 Volts in 2011, and has sold 1626 so far in 2012. GM planned to expand production of the Volt to 60000 this year, with 45000 for the US market.

The Chevy Volt’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel mileage estimate sticker provides something called an “MPG equivalent,” with an EPA rating of 93 MPG, but only for 35 miles. Its “gasoline engine only” rating is 37 MPG, and for 344 miles. The EPA’s “combined composite” rating is 60 MPG. Tony DiSalle, Volt marketing director, said owners can expect about 40 MPG in the real world. The Volt’s 1.4 litre gasoline engine that powers the generator will make enough electricity to power the car, but it won’t recharge the battery. So before an owner can drive on battery-only power again, he/she will need to plug in. The Volt saves the most fuel and emissions when used primarily on battery power.

But that 40 MPG admission presents a problem for the Volt in particular and GM in general. The Volt costs $41000 (before subsidy). GM introduced the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze, with an EPA rating of 42 MPG in some versions, yet costs about half the price of a Volt While the Cruze will probably not achieve the unrealistic EPA rating, it will most likely get 35 MPG. That will make the miles that the Volt will have to be driven to reach breakeven at somewhere about 150000 miles (assuming $4/gal gasoline price, $33500 Volt price, and $20000 Cruze price). But that calculation does not include the approximate $8000 cost of battery replacement, since the Volt battery warranty of 100000 miles is well short of the breakeven mileage.

But that’s just my opinion.

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