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Today GM debuted the production model of it's game-changing plug-in hybrid VOLT.

"The Volt symbolizes General Motors' commitment to the future, just the kind of technical innovation our industry needs to respond to tomorrow's energy and environmental challenges," [GM Chairman Rick] Wagoner said in a speech to a gathering of partners, customers, journalists, and employees.

The car will be able to drive 40 miles on its lithium-ion batteries. An internal combustion engine--able to run on gasoline or E85, a blend of ethanol and gas--will extend the car's driving range to hundreds of miles.

Amid all the bad economic news and continuing campaign rhetoric, something heartening, Chevy introduced that the Chevy VOLT will be in production by 2010, years ahead of what the industry thought was possible.

Most Americans will be able to drive their daily commutes entirely on the batteries, charging them at night for about 80 cents with electricity priced at 10 cents a kilowatt-hour, according to GM. It takes about eight hours to charge via a household 120 volt outlet and three hours on a 240 volt outlet.

GM estimates that it will cost about 2 cents per mile to drive while under battery power. By contrast, it calculates that people pay 12 cents per mile for gasoline at $3.60 a gallon.

Overall, GM figures that a Volt will cost one-sixth what it cost to operate a gasoline car. Charging the car daily will consume less annually than running a home's refrigerator and freezer units, the company said.

Now it isn't as interesting looking as the concept model shown in January, but still, not bad:

2011 Chevrolet Volt Production Show Car

Now it is going to be pricey, apparently, upwards of $35,000 according to some reports, but if the cost estimates are true, it might be worth it.

And here is something the article doesn't say, plug-in hybrids can actually help the electric grid.  Since wind energy is not available necessarily when needed, in fact, it is often producing when it is not needed, it is not as economical as it could be.  But imagine millions of plug-in hybrids storing energy in their batteries.  They could store that wind energy off peak and then return it to the grid on-peak.  Granted, many won't do that because they need the juice, but folks who work from their home, stay at home moms and dads, retirees and whomever, could earn money by using their plug-in as a way to stroe energy for the grid, increasing green energy capabilities and improving the reliability of the grid.

Chevy bet the farm on this car, who knows maybe Detroit can lead the way instead of falling far behind. This is the future folks, right here.

Originally posted to Gangster Octopus on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:17 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Looks like a nicer Acura TL. n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SadTexan, TDreamer

      "Watch what you watchin'. Fox keeps feeding us toxins. Stop sleeping, start thinking outside of the box and unplug from The Matrix doctrine." -Nas

      by malharden on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:26:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  won't the net effect of plug-in hybrids (0+ / 0-)

      be as an antagonist to solar/wind power? Most people will plug them in overnight, when neither power source  contributes much* to the grid.

      That said, for my next car I'll be holding out for a diesel/electric plug-in hybrid.

      *solar power generated via heat storage/steam turbines may work out as an exception.

    •  Well, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WV Democrat, HiBob, fezzik

      A Prius costs $20-25k.  Honda's putting out a new, four-door Insight next Spring that will cost something in the teens.

      I applaud the effort, and maybe it's a sign that Detroit is finally pulling its head out of its ass after forty years of Teh Stoopid piling up, but a $35k car ain't gonna get the job done.

      Maybe if GM weren't run by idiots, they wouldn't have thrown the original away, and they'd be producing it more efficiently in 2010.

      And, of course, Honda and Toyota have been known to actually produce things.  As far as I know, the Volt comes packaged with Windows Vista Duke Nukem Forever.

      "Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assault of thought on the unthinking." - John Maynard Keynes

      by Drew J Jones on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:39:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If I'm understanding this... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lurtz, MichiganGirl

      The car has an electric motor with a 40 mile range. After 40 miles, the batteries are drained, and a gas engine kicks in - for the sole purpose of recharging the batteries, not for driving the wheels.

      If that is correct, it seems to me that the gas engine could be quite tiny. Just a generator engine, basically.

      Which means, apartment dwellers don't actually require a close electric source. And frankly, I would suspect apartment buildings would begin sporting outlets in the parking areas.

      I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

      by Daddy Bartholomew on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:57:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's how I understand it, too. (0+ / 0-)

        The purpose of the engine is only to recharge the batteries.  This would extend the driving range to the distance one could travel before the fuel used to power the generator is exhausted.

        According to other sources (e.g. Auto Week, the Nova program I saw with Tom & Ray Magliozzi, Chevy expects hydrogen fuel cells to alternatively power the generating motor.  I don't know if both would be an option -- I suppose one would pick one or the other.

        I expect to see outlets popping up in lots of places; e.g. parking garages, shopping malls, places of employment.  Someone already has a plan.

        There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who know binary and those who don't.

        by JBL55 on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 12:26:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Even better than that (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          don the tin foil, MichiganGirl, JBL55

          General Motors is designing a car that is completely indifferent to the type of motor used to recharge the batteries when the batteries fall below the "recharge" point. You could have a hydrogen fuel cell. CNG. A gas turbine. Diesel. Ethanol.

          Seriously! General MOTORS is making a car where the motor is utterly peripheral. This is like the Catholic church saying "We don't care if you pray to Jesus, Muhammed, Xenu... It's all the same, as long as you pray."  

          Palin: Every single word that comes out of her mouth -- or every single word that the McCain folks put in her mouth -- is a lie. (Josh Marshall 9/8/08)

          by Lurtz on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 12:47:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  btw - the purpose of the gas engine (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          don the tin foil, JBL55

          ...is to maintain a minumum "state of charge" of the batteries, not to recharge them. The gas engine is to keep the batteries at an equilibrium charge so you can get home/wherever and fill the batteries up with much cheaper electrons from the utility.

          Palin: Every single word that comes out of her mouth -- or every single word that the McCain folks put in her mouth -- is a lie. (Josh Marshall 9/8/08)

          by Lurtz on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 12:55:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The Plug-in Prius... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SadTexan, trivium

    ...will likely save much more fuel.

    Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule. --Gautama Buddha

    by Junkyard Dem on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:19:42 AM PDT

    •  yeah...if it ever comes out! (5+ / 0-)

      but for an American auto maker, it's still a great step.

      oops. I hope the gate wasn't too expensive.

      My blog. Come visit.

      by Dante Atkins on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:21:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  it had better be (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TDreamer

        on top of $35K for people who actually buy one,
        every taxpayer in the US gets a share of the $20,000,000,000.00 loan that GM wants from the federal government, with the stated purpose of making more hybrid cars.

        I wonder if they'll put up Hummer as collateral?

      •  Sorry (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sherri in TX, HiBob

        The Plug-in Prius is slated for the 2010 model year. It's certainly not vaporware.

        Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule. --Gautama Buddha

        by Junkyard Dem on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:28:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Prius is still a hybrid (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RedMeatDem, TDreamer

          The volt is an Extended Range Electric Vehicle.

          It only uses it's engine to recharge the battery, not drive the wheels

          "Maybe you know something I don't know." -- G Dub (-4.38,-3.03)

          by don the tin foil on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:37:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  regardless... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HiBob, kafkananda

            ...the Plug-In Prius should operate for about 7 miles on electric power alone and then they batteries will supply a continuous electric assist to the engine, just as the Hybrid system works in the current Prius. It will likely get better gas mileage for those than drive their vehicle more than 30-40 miles per day. Both cars, however, aren't great for extended drives—more than 70 highway miles. It is this type of driving in which diesel engines shine. In fact, some cylinder shutoff systems are about as efficient as hybrids under these conditions.

            It's my belief that the ultimate green car would be a plug-in diesel hybrid that runs on cleaner diesel biofuel.

            Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule. --Gautama Buddha

            by Junkyard Dem on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:53:35 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's only an engine (0+ / 0-)

              GM could easily put in a small diesel instead of the engine they have right now.  Don't forget, this is Gen 1 of the Volt, and what like Gen 3 or 4 of the Prius?

              "Maybe you know something I don't know." -- G Dub (-4.38,-3.03)

              by don the tin foil on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 01:29:02 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The problem with that (0+ / 0-)

                GM isn't developing any small diesels right now, so that's vaporware. The Germans have them and the Japanese are far along this path.

                Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule. --Gautama Buddha

                by Junkyard Dem on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 01:56:14 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  I get average 47-50mpg (0+ / 0-)

              In my normal Prius during highway miles. If you do some hypermiling tricks you can get real serious mileage out of it, though it's pretty tough to drive that way in traffic and not be suicidal. I'm not so sure a diesel engine would benefit a Prius, since they use a rotary engine that's pretty efficient anyway. The real problem with the Prius is it's made of steel and weighs a bit more than 3,000 lbs. If it had a fiberglass or carbon fiber frame (cost restrictive obviously) it would get much much better mileage.
              This Volt is a piece of junk, too little too late, in my opinion. GM had an electric car that went 160 miles per charge all the way back in 1996, and rather than develop that model over time like Toyota did with it's Prius (remember when they launched in the late 90's and were crazy expensive with no real benefit?) they dumped it. Then, caught with their pants around their ankles this year, they try to push out some concept vehicle two years out. 40 miles on a charge seems like a set backward to me, it rehashes all the old arguments about not being able to take long trips and reinforces people's paranoia and misconceptions about plug in cars.

  •  One problem with plug-ins. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marchmoon, trivium, jesusofsuburbia

    For those of us who live in cities and have on street parking or garage parking without outlets next to each space, how do we recharge?

    •  Couple of things (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      malharden, Leo in NJ, OrangeMike

      If your commute is not longer than 20 miles you should be fine.  Second,this car has a backup using fuel which will recharge the battery, so you won't be stranded.  Third, it is a start, of course, we won't jump immmediately intoa  perfect solution.  Gotta start somehwhere.

      They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -Benjamin Franklin

      by Gangster Octopus on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:25:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  An entrepreneur (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sherri in TX

      would approach the city and offer to install a network of charging locations, I suppose.

      That said, if you're in a large city, would you need this vehicle?  Why not use transit and a Zipcar?

    •  That's a short-term (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      trinityfly, JBL55

      problem, but if the technology takes hold, one that could easily be fixed: Towns could offer recharging stations similar to parking meters-- great source of revenue for cities.

      •  I can see that happening (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Olds88

        Even in our rural area there is hope for electric cars for county use...they WILL figure out a way to charge them.  It's not just apt dwellers, it's Police departments, counties, power districts...there will be charging stations for publicly owned vehicles and there will eventually be charging station for profit for private vehicles.

        "This Machine kills fascists" ~ on Woody Guthries guitar

        by trinityfly on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:51:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's not a true plug-in. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SadTexan, TDreamer, jesusofsuburbia

      The way it works, from what I've read, is that you recharge the batteries daily in the hopes of using exclusively stored electricity in the batteries. When this 40 mile range is exceeded, your gas engine turns on an alternator, which recharges the batteries while driving and providing you more mileage. If you're out on the road for a couple of days, you'll use the 40 miles of electricity-exclusive energy rather quickly, but effectively you can create your own electricity with the gas engine.

      Think of it as a "most days" use. Most people on most days use their cars for less than 40 miles. But for the times that the car has to go over 40 miles without a recharge, the gas engine is a bridge.

      Best of both worlds, imho.

      I desperately hope GM hits it out of the park with this one, lord knows they need it.

      •  Basically anyone who live sin an aparmtent/condo (0+ / 0-)

        Is buying an internal combustion car (same as any other) and with a $40k+ price tag. Thanks but no thanks.

        •  The vast majority of car owners have garages (0+ / 0-)

          Yes, those without dedicated parking places won't get the best benefits of this design, and will be better served by a more fuel-efficient gas-powered-only car like the Honda Fit or the Toyota Prius or Chevy's own Cobalt.

          But GM believes that for most car owners, this is an ideal design.

          (although, IMO, $40k is too high. I'm thinking GM is playing the expectations game)

          Palin: Every single word that comes out of her mouth -- or every single word that the McCain folks put in her mouth -- is a lie. (Josh Marshall 9/8/08)

          by Lurtz on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 12:26:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

      I and most of my friends could never own one even if we want to because we live in apartments.

    •  Yes, that does limit electrics (0+ / 0-)

      People who live in apartments (or condos) that have dedicated parking might be able to negotiate with the apartment owner to get a outlet installed; the more people that ask for this will increase the likelihood that apartment owners offer this amenity.

      For those without dedicated parking, there is a company that is trying to offer a recharging station on the curbside:

      "Live in an Apartment and Want a Volt? Coulomb Technology Aims to Help"
      http://gm-volt.com/...
      Coulomb has developed a charging meter that they call a "smartlet." Users would subscribe to the service and in exchange get a smart card or fob. After parking their Volt near the meter waving the fob would open a chamber. An outlet would be exposed and the user could plug in to charge. The smarlet would be connected to the grid either via 110 or 220 volt lines. It would be able to access the user database and the utility company via a wireless network. The utility company could control flow on a mass scale based on the grids daytime demands.

      Palin: Every single word that comes out of her mouth -- or every single word that the McCain folks put in her mouth -- is a lie. (Josh Marshall 9/8/08)

      by Lurtz on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 12:18:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's a start. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Olds88, OrangeMike, TDreamer

    If we had stronger leaders in Congress and in the White House, it wouldn't have taken this damn long.  We need to have the political will to truly move toward energy independence.  This is a small step, but a good one.

    Sh-shhh.....You hear that? It's the 'winds of change'..... John McCain - a man who would rather lose his integrity, than lose an election.

    by Donkey Underpants on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:20:55 AM PDT

    •  It's a BIG step. Not a small one. (7+ / 0-)

      What must be remembered about this car is not just that it is energy efficient but that it is also attractive and (supposedly) well-appointed/nice.

      In short, it's a desireable vehicle.

      If you just wanted energy-efficient you could go get a Chevy Aveo tomorrow. But the Aveo is a P.O.S.

      This is supposed to be a beautiful car that people will actually want to buy, AND can do so without feeling guilty about energy consumption.

      Game changer.

      "Watch what you watchin'. Fox keeps feeding us toxins. Stop sleeping, start thinking outside of the box and unplug from The Matrix doctrine." -Nas

      by malharden on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:25:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hope you're right, and not a knock on Chevy (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        malharden

        When I said "small step," I was trying to refer to the fact that our leaders could have incentivized auto manufacturers to go electric a long time ago, but they never did.  It seems like only now, when gas is $4 a gallon and the auto makers are stuck with hundreds of thousands of gas guzzling SUVs that no one wants to buy, has the industry awakened and started to move this way.  

        Sh-shhh.....You hear that? It's the 'winds of change'..... John McCain - a man who would rather lose his integrity, than lose an election.

        by Donkey Underpants on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 12:20:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Stronger leaders (2+ / 0-)

      We've had strong leaders with regard to moving toward energy independence; we didn't always heed their advice. One of them put solar panels on the White House that Ronald Reagan later removed. Another was unjustly denied the Presidency by a 5-4 Supreme Court vote.

      You're right that this is a small step, but a good one. Although it may be wishful thinking on my part, perhaps we, as a nation, are finally at a point where the political will is strong enough and broad enough for real progress to be made.

  •  Rebates (8+ / 0-)

    Somebody better be working on tax credits and rebates.

    Green can't just be for rich people.

    "two psychics pass each other on the street, one says to the other 'you're doing alright, how am i?'"

    by Edgar08 on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:21:04 AM PDT

  •  Batteries (0+ / 0-)

    Big problems with the batteries. Still not produced at a reasonable cost. Still cannot provide this car with reasonable range.
    They are planning to ask over $40K for this car.

    Unfortunately I am not sure it is the future. You can do pretty well with a Toyota Corolla and it costs a lot less.

  •  Who Killed the Electric Car? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tyrannocaster

    http://www.sonyclassics.com/...

    The Volt is ugly if you ask me.

  •  I agree. Game Changer. (4+ / 0-)

    (Energy conscious) Gear heads have been raving about this car since it's auto show debut. It is a crime that GM let this concept languish as long as they have while foreign automakers gather up a huge market share in energy-efficient vehicles.

    That said, assuming Chevy puts a reasonably nice interior in the vehicle, it should be an absolute Game Changer in the American auto market. It should make as big a splash as the Prius.

    "Watch what you watchin'. Fox keeps feeding us toxins. Stop sleeping, start thinking outside of the box and unplug from The Matrix doctrine." -Nas

    by malharden on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:23:19 AM PDT

  •  this is great... (0+ / 0-)

    but what about someone like me who lives in an apartment?  No outdoor power cord close enough to charge!

    We have no desire to offend you -- unless you are a twit!

    by ScrewySquirrel on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:25:27 AM PDT

  •  2010 will be interesting (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ogre, malharden

    lots of changes on the horizon for hybrids...

    I still wouldn't buy a Chevy (I know, I know, I must be an America-hater), but it's cool to see an American company getting in on the game.

    "John McCain is a fancy pants" - Sen. Chuck Schumer

    by subframe on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:27:16 AM PDT

    •  This Chevy, like the Corvette, will come to be... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buddabelly

      ...known as the cars that keep Chevy on the map.

      No, I wouldn't buy anything else in their lineup either.

      But, this is how an auto marque comes back. One product at a time. (See Audi.)

      "Watch what you watchin'. Fox keeps feeding us toxins. Stop sleeping, start thinking outside of the box and unplug from The Matrix doctrine." -Nas

      by malharden on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:31:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And the entire E-flex platform (0+ / 0-)

        this is being built on proves GM is moving towards EREVs as the future of the company.

        They already have full scale clay models of 2 other designs that will be getting this tech and due to the size of the cover over one of them it looked to be a crossover/small van type vehicle.

        "Maybe you know something I don't know." -- G Dub (-4.38,-3.03)

        by don the tin foil on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 01:14:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Meh (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    trivium, Tyrannocaster

    40 mile electric range is nothing.  Good for them for working on it, but it's a pretty underwhelming entry on its own.  Even moreso when you look at what is already available.

    He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. - John Stuart Mill

    by drnihili on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:27:39 AM PDT

    •  Um. Dude (4+ / 0-)

      You do know that after 40 miles the gas-powered engine recharges the batteries, right?

    •  I don't know... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Olds88

      Electric only cars get about the same range, and this one has the gasoline engine to back up, if you need to go further.

      The Plug In conversions for the Prius that are currently available only give you 10 miles in electric only mode.

      •  Maybe it's because I live (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marchmoon

        in a sparsely populated area.  40 miles won't even get me to the next town and back.  10 vs 40, either is pretty much useless.  For the price I can buy a used high mpg car and save a bundle.  Heck, I can even by an electric assist bicycle or a moped for running around town.  I still save lots of money and don't use much more gas.

        This is a car for wealthy people who want to make a statement.  It's not a car for saving money or fuel.

        He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. - John Stuart Mill

        by drnihili on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 12:36:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  For You A Volt May Not 'Work' (0+ / 0-)

          But for 90% of commuters this car 'works'.

          You strategy is right for somebody who has many trips over 40 miles per roundtrip.

          But the Volt is not designed for your driving profile.

          If you were buying a new car a Prius could be a good choice.

          A high fuel efficiency used car would work too, but again we are talking about Chevy's new car.

          RMD

          The Bushiter's Iraq 2004 - 1268 Dead, about 25K Medivacs and 9000 Maimed... It's the Bushiter Way, wasting other people's money and lives. And it's worse now.

          by RedMeatDem on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 12:48:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  90% of commuters (0+ / 0-)

            can't afford to sink nearly $40k into a vehicle just to go back and forth to the office.  Especially when they can't recoup that money in fuel savings.

            He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. - John Stuart Mill

            by drnihili on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 12:51:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Maybe not now, but wait until they drop in price (0+ / 0-)

              due to economies of scale bringing down production costs of batteries and the cars themselves.

              An entirely new line of thinking about vehicles is emerging from GM and it is much better than the 90s/00s version of bigger = better.

              "Maybe you know something I don't know." -- G Dub (-4.38,-3.03)

              by don the tin foil on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 01:16:19 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  What price will a Prius be at that point? (0+ / 0-)

                Or Honda's new Insight? Chevy's way too late in the game with this, with way too little to offer. 40 miles is terrible, with only 360 total range. Doesn't seem worth the extra $10-15k just to get the same 50 mpg Prius' get long range.

    •  Range is estimated to be 400 miles (0+ / 0-)

      The "electric only" range is estimated to be 40 miles. Then the gas engine comes on and you're range is limited by your own endurance, since you can refill the gas engine at will (and/or until you can park and plug in)

      Palin: Every single word that comes out of her mouth -- or every single word that the McCain folks put in her mouth -- is a lie. (Josh Marshall 9/8/08)

      by Lurtz on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 12:22:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Which means (0+ / 0-)

        it's just another hybrid.  Completely unimpressive, particularly given the price.

        He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. - John Stuart Mill

        by drnihili on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 12:30:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not just another hybrid (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MichiganGirl

          It can be recharged, either by plugging into an outlet or by way of the gas/ethanol generating motor which recharges the batteries.  Chevy also plans to provide a fuel cell alternative to the gas-powered generator.

          If one lives close enough to work, school, and the marketplace, and if one can plug it in at night, the car might not ever use gasoline for its entire lifespan.

          As far as the price tag is concerned, whenever the Next Big Thing has come along, there has always been a transitional phase, during which time the technology improves and the price comes down.

          Personally, I'm waiting for Subaru to come up with one.  We had record amounts of snowfall in Maine last winter, and I heart my Subaru.

          There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who know binary and those who don't.

          by JBL55 on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 12:38:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Subaru's are great (0+ / 0-)

            but a plug in hybrid with a 40 mile electric range is useless.

            He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. - John Stuart Mill

            by drnihili on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 12:44:53 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Depends on your lifestyle (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Eloise, MichiganGirl

              I would be very happy with the predicted range. If I decided to take a long trip, I'd rent.

              I remember a call to the NPR car guys. A family of 4 wanted to buy an SUV because they like to take road trips during summer vacation and camp out in the car. The car guys said, "Buy a Prius. Rent an SUV in the Summer. Dolts!"

            •  What do you mean by "useless?" (0+ / 0-)

              It has an electric range of 40 miles, at which point the generating motor kicks in and keeps the battery charged, effectively extending the range to an estimated 600 miles.

              The gasoline-powered internal combustion engine of my Subaru Legacy gives me a range of about 400 miles.  You can do the math.  How are the additional 200 miles useless?

              Besides, for me and many others, a 40-mile electric range does very well.  I live just under ten miles from work.  Even if I run errands at lunch, I'm not coming anywhere near forty miles over the course of an average day.  Much of the time my generating motor would never come on.

              There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who know binary and those who don't.

              by JBL55 on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 05:22:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Really though (0+ / 0-)

            If you live close enough to work, why not get a motorcycle or, dare I say, a scooter? They already have all electric scooters (there's a DIY solar one you can google, if you like) and even the non electric ones get 60-80 mpg. Some on them even come with fancy canopies and AC. Only set you back like $2k rather than $35k

            •  Motorcycles and scooters ... (0+ / 0-)

              ... can't be ridden all year round in places like my state of Maine.  And I would really rather not ride one in the rain at any time of year!

              There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who know binary and those who don't.

              by JBL55 on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 05:14:37 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  My electricity (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Leo in NJ, jesusofsuburbia

    is 16.5 cents per kwh but who's counting?  The power is still off here anyway.  

    This is a nice start but really the range needs to be more like 100 miles between charges for this to be practical for most people-- a drive to the airport and back at least!

    "These are the times that try men's souls."-- Thomas Paine

    by sniperfire on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:28:35 AM PDT

    •  Do you go to the airport everyday? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MichiganGirl

      The 40-mile range has been a design goal from the beginning since most commutes are under that.

      Also, if the airport is 50-miles round trip, you would just use gas for the last 10.

    •  It's 40 miles "electric only" - then uses gas (0+ / 0-)

      This car isn't electric only, there's a gas engine that'll kick in when the batteries are depleted. The total range of batteries + gas tank is estimated to be around 400 miles, after which you'd need to refill the gas tank at a gas station and keep going. Unless you need to sleep or something.

      I'm a PG&E customer in California, and they offer "offpeak" rates, when you would be charging the car.

      The advantage of this kind of design is that if you run the car about 40 miles per day, you are "filling up" the batteries using electricity, which is a lot more efficient and cheaper than recharging the batteries than by running a gas engine.

      If gas is $3.00/gallon and you're getting 30 mpg on a gas-only car, your energy cost is $0.10/mile. Running a car on batteries which are recharged from your household electricity makes your energy cost about $0.025/mile.

      Palin: Every single word that comes out of her mouth -- or every single word that the McCain folks put in her mouth -- is a lie. (Josh Marshall 9/8/08)

      by Lurtz on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 12:10:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Assuming you save 10 cents per mile (0+ / 0-)

        That means you save $1,000 per 10k miles.  So to save the extra 30k in price over a nice used vehicle, you'll have to drive 300k miles on battery only.  Of course, the batteries won't last that long (will the car?) so you'll also have to figure in the cost of a battery change.  But let's ignore that for now.

        Assuming you manage to drive 50 miles per day on battery, that's about 17,500 miles per year.  So, you'll need to drive this car for 17 years in order to save the $30k extra you paid for it.

        Uh, yeah.  Heckuva job Chevy.

        He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. - John Stuart Mill

        by drnihili on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 12:43:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Batteries are warranted for 10 years (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MichiganGirl

          It's required by CARB (California Air Resources Board) and that makes it essentially a national standard. That's also true for the Toyota Prius -- look it up.

          So if the batteries fail at 9 years old, the manufacturer is required to replace them with NEW, not prorated, batteries.

          And IMO, GM is playing an expectations game by estimating $40k MSRP. They're scaring the Federal government into giving subsidies.

          Palin: Every single word that comes out of her mouth -- or every single word that the McCain folks put in her mouth -- is a lie. (Josh Marshall 9/8/08)

          by Lurtz on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 12:50:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Right, 10 years (0+ / 0-)

            So, as I said, you'll need to replace the batteries within that 300k range.  But again, my calculations ignore that cost, just as they completely ignore the cost of the electricity.  Even so, it' will take 17 years to recoup the cost.  When was the last time you drove the same car for 17 years?

            He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. - John Stuart Mill

            by drnihili on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 12:53:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  When was the last time you got a car for free? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lurtz

              Why do you keep talking about recouping the 30 or 40 thousand like you wouldn't have to pay 13 to 16 thousand for even a cheap new car now?

              Hell it's around $10,000 for a decent used car these days.

              A new Prius is between around $21,500 and $25,000, and gets around 48 miles to the gallon.

              Yes the Volt is a little pricey, but the costs will go down as the technology improves and it's a very good start towards the future.

              "It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion." Oscar Wilde, 1891

              by MichiganGirl on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 02:26:57 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  My current vehicle (0+ / 0-)

                cost $1,500 3 years ago.  It's reliable.  It gets me where I need to go.  It ain't pretty.  Coincidentally, it's 17 years old.

                But fine, let's use your numbers.  Say 16k for used, 40k for the volt.  That's 24k difference, so you only need do drive 240,000 miles.  At 17,500 battery miles per year, you'll only need to drive 13.7 years.  

                Color me unimpressed.  

                He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. - John Stuart Mill

                by drnihili on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 03:32:07 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  You can drive 100 miles no problem (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MichiganGirl

      You will just have to burn some gasoline, that's all. So?

      And just because it's not a perfect solution for absolutely everybody in every circumstance doesn't mean it's not a great solution for many most of the time.

  •  Aptera (4+ / 0-)

    Starts rolling out late 2008.  Plug-in electric, with 120 mile range. Price $28k

    Sometime (late, probably) in 2009, the plug-in hybrid comes out.  Gets 250-300 mpg (projection, obviously, but the prototype was over 200...).  Price $30k

    It'll be interesting to see what the whole market ends up looking like between now and 2012...

    We need not think alike to love alike -- Ferenc Dávid

    by ogre on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:28:46 AM PDT

    •  Yes, all good, (0+ / 0-)

      but the Aptera isn't a practical family sedan.

      I wouldn't trust company that claims 250-300 mpg for a car. They may be including distance driven on electric only in that figure.

      •  Not this one (0+ / 0-)

        But they apparently plan a 4 seater for 2011-12 (rumor).

        With the All Electric Aptera, it is very easy to figure out the mileage range. The mileage is determined by the distance you can drive, under normal circumstances, until the batteries are effectively drained. In the case of the first Aptera typ-1e, we have calculated the range to be about 120miles.

        With the Plug-in Electric Hybrid version of the Aptera(typ-1h) the mileage of the vehicle is difficult to describe with one number. For example, the Typ-1h can drive 40 to 60 miles on electric power alone. Perhaps for such a trip, the engine may only be duty-cycled for a few seconds or minutes. This would produce a fantastic number, an incredible number that, though factually true, would have no useful context, i.e. it's just a point on a graph.

        An asymptotic decaying exponential is an accurate way to describe the fuel mileage of the Typ-1h. For example driving say, 50 miles, one might calculate a MPG number that's 2 or 3 times higher, say, 1000 MPG. As battery energy is depleted, the frequency of the engine duty cycle is increased. More fuel is used at 75 miles, the MPG might be closer to 400 MPG. Again, we're using battery energy mostly, but turning the engine on more and more. Just over 100 miles we're just over 300 MPG, and just beyond 120 miles, we're around 300 MPG.

        So why pick a number at 120 miles? Well, it's more than double of most available plug-in hybrid ranges that achieve over 100 MPG. It's three times the distance of the typical American daily commute. It's a meaningful distance that represents the driving needs of 99% of Americans on a daily basis. Sure, it's asymptotic, after 350-400 miles it eventually plummets to around 130 MPG at highway speeds where it will stay all day until you plug it back in and charge it up.

        The fundamental business of the country... is on a sound and prosperous basis. Hoover, 1929 The fundamentals of our economy are strong. McCain, 2008

        by ogre on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 11:20:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Spare me the kudos for GM.... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oregon guy, WV Democrat, HiBob, red 83

    First of all, they were making the EV1 over ten years ago.

    Second of all, It's my understanding that GM currently produces 12 models of natural gas vehicles that are ONLY sold outside of the US.  Meanwhile, the waiting list for the Honda CNG Civic (only CNG model currently sold in the US) is almost a year long.

    Could someone please tell the idiots at GM about this!  Preferably before they start begging for subsidies.

    I'm not posting another thing until I think up a KILLER sig line.

    by lonelyutahdem15 on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:28:47 AM PDT

  •  My only concern (0+ / 0-)

    What do we do when we are able to drive our cars for so little?  Answer:  We drive our cars all the time.  

    Does anyone else ever get concerned at the impact of limitless, or at least far less costly, energy?  

    "A problem facing any American is a problem facing all Americans." Obama

    by otto on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:28:54 AM PDT

  •  WAY Too Expensive For Average Joe's..... (0+ / 0-)

    At $40,000.00...

  •  Fantastic! Now, can they scale this? (3+ / 0-)

    This is how we save American industry!  We desperately NEED green innovations like this, we absolutely do.

    But how quickly can they ramp up production?  How long do the batteries last?  How quickly will that 40 mile range drop to 30 or 20 as the battery ages?

    Still, fanfuckingtastic.  I've been rooting for them to pull this off!

  •  If only they hadn't trashed their (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WV Democrat, jesusofsuburbia

    whole electric car line in the early part of the decade.  Where might they have been today?

    You snooze you lose, well I have snost and lost, I'm pushing thru, I'll disregard the cost... -Mike Doughty

    by Sean in Motion on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:31:02 AM PDT

    •  They didn't trash it completely (0+ / 0-)

      A lot of the design aspects learned from the EV1 showed up in the Volt.

      Like taking into account everything electrical and every little volt (pardon the pun) used to do anything from windshield wipers and washer fluid sprayers to cabin lighting and A/C.

      "Maybe you know something I don't know." -- G Dub (-4.38,-3.03)

      by don the tin foil on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 01:19:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  maybe (0+ / 0-)

        but think how much further along they'd be if they'd pursued this instead of Hummers in the 90's.  They wouldn't be playing catch up in this market, they'd be leading it.

        You snooze you lose, well I have snost and lost, I'm pushing thru, I'll disregard the cost... -Mike Doughty

        by Sean in Motion on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 01:32:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  institutional memory (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sean in Motion
          By the way -- Andrew Farah, the engineer who led the development team on the propulsion systems on EV-1, is now Chief Engineer on the Chevy Volt.  So at least you don't have a bunch of new guys reinventing the wheel.

          Palin: Every single word that comes out of her mouth -- or every single word that the McCain folks put in her mouth -- is a lie. (Josh Marshall 9/8/08)

          by Lurtz on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 07:30:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  they ruined it (0+ / 0-)

    "Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." - Voltaire

    by DrFrankLives on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:31:25 AM PDT

  •  GM had a plug-in car...they destroyed it. (0+ / 0-)

    The 2010 timeline is bullshit.  They could retool and re-release the electric car they had in 1996 and have it in show rooms by April if they wanted.

    Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

    by darthstar on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:32:22 AM PDT

    •  You realize that was not a plug-in hybrid n/m (0+ / 0-)

      They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -Benjamin Franklin

      by Gangster Octopus on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:34:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. It was an all electric car, and it had a (0+ / 0-)

        decent range to it as well (not 40 miles).  

        Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

        by darthstar on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:46:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But it only sat two... didn't have a trunk... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          don the tin foil, Leo in NJ

          And once you exhausted the ~100 mile range, you would have to charge it for more than 6 hours to get the battery back to full strength again.

          This car will seat 4, or just about the average family size. With its onboard gasoline generator, will have virtually unlimited range while offering a large enough battery to travel 40 miles at 60-70mph (i.e. commuting). You won't have to wait hours to recharge your car for it to become useful again. Also it can utilize either the electric or gasoline infrastructure so you don't need to plan on a charging station wherever you go.

  •  Not bad actually... (0+ / 0-)

    How many AMERICANS does the car plant / car parts plant employ?

  •  So where would GM be (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Leo in NJ

    If they hadn't pulled the plug on the EV1?

    GM is what infuriates me about American Capitalizm. They screw around, turning out an indifferent and mediocre product, lay off employees instead of innovate, lose market share, and then, when things are almost too late to save - they'll do something like the EV1 or the Volt - which should have been on the road 5 years ago.

    And if GM goes down- we would hear the "too big to fail" argument, no doubt... and it would be the right argument too.

    But when things get fat and happy... the CEO's get all cost-cutting and profit-maximizing:

    He shut down factories, reduced payrolls and cut lackluster old-line units. Welch's philosophy was that a company should be either #1 or #2 in a particular industry, or else leave it completely. Although he was initially treated with contempt by those under him for his policies, they eventually grew to respect him. Welch's strategy was later adopted by other CEOs across corporate America.

    From wikipedia's bio of GM CEO Jack Welch.

    Yet I look overseas, and French, Spanish, Dutch, German and Japanese heavy industry still exists, maintains payrolls at living wages, and makes money. It is just somewhat less receptive to the market cycle (boom as well as bust) than the Anglo-Saxon version.

    And now - well... all that money that got plowed into Wall Street during the good years is going up in smoke. As well as more than a few people's life savings.

    Its fiascoes like the American inability to put a decent hybrid or electric car on the road (despite having a technological head start) and put working Americans before corporate profits that have turned me against the whole myth of the market in the United States.

    I'm happy the Volt is going to market - but I'm pissed that it took so long.  

    You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye Who cheer when soldier lads march by, Sneak home and pray you'll never know The hell where youth and laughter go.

    by Oregon guy on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:38:33 AM PDT

    •  Jack Welch was the CEO of General Electric... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oregon guy

      Not General Motors.

      •  My bad (0+ / 0-)

        I got my Jacks and my Generals screwed up. As the Doughy Pantload might (probably) would say - "but that is central to my point."

        Jack Smith, GM CEO during 90's

        You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye Who cheer when soldier lads march by, Sneak home and pray you'll never know The hell where youth and laughter go.

        by Oregon guy on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:52:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  As you can see (0+ / 0-)

          In the late 1990s, the U.S. economy was on the rise and GM and Ford gained market share producing enormous profits primarily from the sale of light trucks and sport-utility vehicles. From 2000 to 2001, the Federal Reserve in a move to quell the stock market, made twelve successive interest rate increases. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, a severe stock market decline caused a pension and benefit fund underfunding crisis. GM began its Keep America Rolling campaign, which boosted sales, and other auto makers were forced to follow suit. The U.S. automakers saw sales increase to leverage costs as gross margins deteriorated. Although retiree health care costs remain a significant issue, General Motors' investment strategy has generated a $17.1 billion surplus in 2007 in its $101 billion U.S. pension fund portfolio, a $35 billion reversal from its $17.8 billion of underfunding.[12]

          GM succeeds not by putting a better product on the market, but through financial chicanery and putting the screws to its employees.

          History of GM 1983-2008

          You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye Who cheer when soldier lads march by, Sneak home and pray you'll never know The hell where youth and laughter go.

          by Oregon guy on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:56:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  fucking awesome (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SadTexan

    i want one.  frankly, whomever gets the plug ins to the market first is getting a sale from my family.

  •  I was very amused during the Olympics (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oregon guy, jesusofsuburbia

    that GM devoted much of its ad time to products that are not yet for sale.

    This says a lot about the quality of the current line up.

    Given GM's very weak current financial state (Harley Davidson has a greater market capitalization, its balance sheet is tens of billions in the negative, its sales trends are the worst of the Big Three, etc.) it is not at all a foregone conclusion that General Motors will continue to exist long enough under current ownership for the Chevy Volt to ever come into production.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

    by ohwilleke on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:43:22 AM PDT

    •  Quality of it's current lineup? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MichiganGirl

      The current GM lineup is perhaps the best GM lineup in close to 40 years.

      The new Malibu is winning awards left and right, and production has been sold out for months in advance. Same goes for the new Cadillac CTS, which is the first American car that can legitimately compete with the BMW-5 series in at least 3 generations. The new Pontiac G8 offers a great ride with a V8 for less than 30k.

      The new Buick Invicta/LaCrosse will be unveiled late this fall at LAIAS and from the spy shots looks amazing. Cadillac 3-series competitor was just approved by the GM board for a late 2010 production. Look for a concept in Detroit either this year or next. Cadillac's CTS sport wagon will go into production late this year (luxury wagon for all who want it) as a 2009 model and will be followed by a coupe in late 2009 as a 2010 model.

      Furthermore, the Chevy Cruze (Cobalt replacement) will go on sale in Europe this spring and here in the states in the spring of 2010. It will feature a turbocharged 1.4L engine (they are building a new engine plant in Flint to make it) that will allow the car to get upwards of 45mpg. In a car that will sell between $15-18k.

      The GM of today is not the GM of 20 years ago.  

      •  If GM's lineup is great, why can't it sell cars? (0+ / 0-)

        GM's sales are down on the order of 30%, a greater percentage than either Ford or Chrysler, and much more than its foreign competitors like Honda and Toyota.  These sales trends have been holding for many, many months.

        Moreover, GM hasn't sold cars in North America at a significant profit per car for a number of years.  Major price cuts like employee discount pricing have salvaged sales when put in place, but at the cost of having the company lose money on the cars its sells.

        Cadillac is the last significant presence in a luxury market dominated by imports.  GM's market share of the luxury market is not impressive for a company of its size.

        Similarly, the Malibu, which on a by the numbers comparison, is closely comparable to the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry has consistently had far fewer sales than its competition.  It has never come close to even second place in that market when selling the Malibu for prices comparable to the Honda and the Toyota.

        GM has improved quality a lot since the bad old days of the 1970s.  But, so have its competitors.  When it comes to reliability, GM still hasn't caught up.

        While it is good that GM is selling better cars than it used to, that means nothing unless GM is selling better cars than the other guy, as evidenced by its ability to receive a larger market share when selling comparable cars at comparable prices.  GM is not there yet, and may not live to have the luxury of doing so.

        If GM were in the state it is now a decade ago, there might be more hope.  Now, the big question is which of the Big Three will be acquired or liquidated first.  The competition for that privilege is currently fierce.  Just when one Big Three company does something boneheaded enough to take it under, another outdoes it.

        "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

        by ohwilleke on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 04:26:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  All the negative comments surprise me. (6+ / 0-)

    Yeah, it's expensive, and it's not the be all and end all.

    But GM has done something good.  Let's give them credit.

    There's no pleasing some people.

    (Actually, I think some people would be pleased if we all went back to living in caves and walking everywhere.  I'm all for reducing energy use and walking, but that's not going to happen universally.)

  •  Wonderful (0+ / 0-)

    The car that people who live in apartments can never own.... and for $40,000.

    No thanks.

  •  What impresses me most about GM and (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don the tin foil, Lurtz, MichiganGirl

    the Volt is not the car itself, but the incredible bet the company has made on it.  The Volt will either revive or destroy the company entirely.

    By putting it all on the chopping block, GM has already changed the game, forcing other automakers to get off their timid plug-in positions and try to match GM's bet.

    Great article in The Atlantic Monthly on GM's all-in gamble.

    •  They are also engineering a lot of "hidden" stuff (3+ / 0-)

      ...Most car ancillary stuff like the A/C compressor run off the belt. This car's engine won't be on to turn the belt all the time to draw power from; so they're designing all the car's systems to run electrically. The amount of engineering support for the non-sexy stuff is encouraging, since GM has a reputation for not putting much though into the internals of their cars (and in some cases, the outside either)

      Palin: Every single word that comes out of her mouth -- or every single word that the McCain folks put in her mouth -- is a lie. (Josh Marshall 9/8/08)

      by Lurtz on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 12:42:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  They are only burning a few billion a month (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Crashing Vor, MichiganGirl

      trying to get this thing out.  I don't think a car manufacturer in this day would go to that cost -- especially one with GMs current troubles -- if they didn't think it would pay off.

      "Maybe you know something I don't know." -- G Dub (-4.38,-3.03)

      by don the tin foil on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 01:25:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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