Auto task force members came to Detroit to drive the Volt mule earlier this week. According to today’s Washington Post, they found it promising but no panacea for GM’s ills. There has been so much hoopla over the car that the whole plug-in hybrid concept, I think, may have been oversold.
Volt is going to be big, heavy, expensive and, according to a Carnegie Mellon study, simply uncompetitive at the $40,000 it’s supposed to cost. GM is betting too much on this car, putting out to pasture a really good competitive small diesel they have been developing and sidetracking other power source developments.
There are quite a few contenders out there, and more are coming. We learned this week that a Norwegian firm has revived its Think City car, an all-electric EV, for possible production and sale in the U.S. The company has years of experience in EVs and was formerly owned by Ford.
The car looks good and, apparently, drives well. The video will give you details.
And let’s not forget: the Insight is coming. At half the presumed cost of the Volt, you could buy two of these babies and the operating cost per mile would still be less. Insight goes on sale in April. Smaller than the Prius, it will cost less, handle better and look (we think) better.
Another development announced this week may give a future boost to the hybrid concept. MIT scientists have
created a new technique that gives lithium-ion batteries a 100 fold increase in power density. These new batteries when moved from lab to factory could allow charging at 100 times the speed and release of 100 times the power of batteries in use today.
This rapid-charge technique would benefit hybrid vehicles rather more than EVs, according to battery experts. Unless GM can get its costs down, it looks more than ever like an uphill road for the Volt.
Will the Volt drag GM down or prop it up? Let us have your thoughts.