August 11, 2009

Chevy Volt – My quick take

First impression: It is not ugly. The stats say that the average person drives to work 40 miles to work a day. That is the range of the Volt on battery power only. Then the 1.4 L engine kicks in. It gets 50 MPG. It has between a 5 and a 7 gallon tank. So figure around a 300 mile range on gas only. Which is what the average car gets. It is supposed to cost 40k next year. It was supposed to cost $40k last year, and it may cost $45K two years from now.

Remember this car has to be plugged in. It has big ol’ batteries in it. Batteries eventually wear out. It has to be plugged in. So I guess all you carport, parking on the street types are S.O.L. More than that, it seems to me you have to quit thinking about this as only a Car, you also have to think about it as a kitchen appliance. If it plugs in, what it its “energy star” rating? Don’t forget we have been debating about and many of us are warning of huge energy taxes like Cap and Tax. If the Government will not allow more Hydro electric power, or Nuclear then this means more Coal burning (we do NOT burn oil for electricity). One one hand North America is the Saudi Arabia of Coal. On the other hand our lovely politicians want to kill the Coal industry. Looks like to me we will just be getting out of the frying pan and into the fire. We are YEARS from solar or wind being anything but a novelty. I predict that the Government will inflate the price of gas to coincide with Government motors launch of the Volt to entice consumers that a 40k price tag, unproven technology, and the rise of the cost of electricity is preferable to driving a dino-juice powered car.

Let’s go back to the batteries. I know from experience that disposing of industrial batteries is a bureaucratic red –tape expensive nightmare. They will wear out. What happens when your Volt breaks down? Remember, GM just closed a LOT of dealerships. Of those left, how many will have the tools, training, and equipment to repair the product? What about Parts? I am sure the thing requires a lot of proprietary parts. Until such time that there are a couple million of these cars on the road what dealerships will want to carry the parts? What kind of service life can we expect? What are the batteries going to do in winter? What happens at the hotel, no public charging facilities anywhere yet? But I think I am missing the point, this car is not meant for people who travel, mainly only commute.

Which just further emphasizes the elephant in the room. We are a divided nation. City mice and Country mice. I am a country mouse. I like to got to the lake, I like to go camping, I pull trailers, I live in a rural area where the roads get bad in winter. I like my truck. I drive over 40 miles a day most days. My ‘07 truck is creeping ever closer to 50k miles. I cannot afford to have a $40k commuter car taking up space, paying personal property tax, licensing, maintenance, etc on. When it comes to every issue, this always comes up, the real divide in this nation is not economic, educational, or anything else. It is Urban vs. Rural in most cases.

If I can have only one vehicle it will be a pickup truck. Ford, GM, and Dodge, sell more trucks than any other model in their line up. Trucks are such a uniquely American phenomenon, that it took Toyota and the other years to build a true full size truck with a V8 and now those are some of THEIR best selling vehicles. This seems to me to point to a fact that we seem to be overlooking. Many families have two or more cars, most of those families not in huge cities include some type of truck. As the economy crumples the truck will likely be the last to go. They are more durable, they are more versatile, and we love them more.

I am not convinced that this is the answer. I have to hear more. That being said I am not opposed to this technology, just know that we are trading one energy that is getting more expensive, with another. I think this is much better than that POS Smart car crapbox.This is just what I THINK. What do you THINK?

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