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Author Topic: Is the Volt dead? Back to Topics
Shockjock1961

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Message Posted: Jul 6, 2013 3:49:40 PM

As the Volt sales number drops below both the Tesla Model S and the Nissan Leaf while continuing to loose even money for GM, is it proving itself to be a dead end product?
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E-Squirrel
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Message Posted: Jan 28, 2015 6:11:20 PM

rumbleseat points out that GM chose to sell leases, rather than vehicles with the Volts` ancestor, the EV-1.

Yes, you are correct, they did this because they didn't want EV-1 "owners" who might take them to inexperienced mechanics to work on. Selling a lease allowed GM to remain the exclusive service provider.

Excess inventory is still excess inventory, irrespective of the sales model. Such destruction of any high cost inventory is still a fiscal tragedy, so I believe that GM having had this lesson once will empty the pipeline of the old model and try not to create many "orphans"; it would be only sensible.
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Charlie_H
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Message Posted: Jan 27, 2015 12:04:53 AM

E-Squirrel: "I believe that they simply farm out installation of the EV components to another manufacturer do they not?"

Yes, you are correct. Magna adds the EV drivetrain and batteries to the Ford Focus EV. Tesla did the same service for Toyota's most recent Rav4-EV. There may be others I don't know about.

It's not widely understood by the Zealots and FanBois but if a company can build a car, building an EV is not difficult but it's often less costly to job it out, unless you are really going for mass quantity. The total production target for the Rav4-EV was just 2900 or so vehicles, so having Tesla do it was probably cost-effective. Building a *good* EV is generally dependent on having the skills to build a *good* car.

BMW builds the i3 itself but there's much more new tech involved in the i3 than just the EV component.
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rumbleseat
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Message Posted: Jan 26, 2015 8:18:09 PM

" The EV-1 inventory problem had to be "solved" with a bulldozer."
The EV-1 wasn't for sale, they were for lease, and parta weren't available, hence the decision to destroy inventory.
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E-Squirrel
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Message Posted: Jan 26, 2015 7:11:53 PM

From elsewhere on this site, I see that the Gasbuddy blog has posted an item that the current, best discount for a new vehicle is the Ford EV Focus. I don't imagine that Ford sells very many of these, but their investment in it is minor enough that I don't think that it would matter. Most of the vehicle is based upon and shares parts with the other Focus vehicles. I believe that they simply farm out installation of the EV components to another manufacturer do they not? It may not approach the sales of the Leaf, but then there are a bunch of other EV models with rather modest sales. What about the Fiat 500 EV, the Smart EV and the Spark? They probably are not huge sellers either. Slow sales will generally bring out more discounts and promotions in the auto industry, but perhaps the expectations for these models is relatively modest, so little effort will be made.
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E-Squirrel
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Message Posted: Jan 21, 2015 4:43:15 PM

Charlie_H writes:

"January should be interesting. The number of Volts offered is up, so I am presuming GM is now producing 2015s again. If so, this is a little surprising, as January is typically their very slowest month and I don't see a big need to produce more at this time and prospects for selling large quantities of these through the introduction of the 2016 seem slim."

From what I have read, the Volt 2.0 is considered a 2015.5 year vehicle and probably will not become readily available until the inventory of previous model is depleted. Selling both together would simply be inviting customers to ignore the previous one and leave them with an inventory problem. The EV-1 inventory problem had to be "solved" with a bulldozer. Lets hope that isn't going to be necessary ever again.
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E-Squirrel
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Message Posted: Jan 21, 2015 4:33:36 PM

Weaslespit asserts:

""The charge window on Li-Ion batteries is limited to avoid excessive degradation of the battery."

You are correct in that this is well-known.

"Now, they may have decided they have enough data to change the charge window without causing warranty problems."

Now you're getting it...

"Time will tell."

Indeed."

Yes, it will. Since the discharge level is a factor in the battery's lifetime and the range of the Volt is not (which is why the ICE was added), this particular choice is hard justify. Even if GM's original parameters were highly conservative, this short increase in battery range doesn't really make the Volt any more competitive; the range is still less than many of their battery EV competitors. The increase in range simply makes it more or less equal to that of its battery only progenitor, the EV-1. Other than limited bragging rights, I can't think of anything else significant to be gained.

Although I am not at present an owner of a Volt, if I were, I would prefer to put the safety margin back, as I have learned that keeping a car a long time after its paid for is where the real economy of transportation lies, and battery replacement costs can often make replacement in used cars an uneconomic choice. As I said, the choice puzzles me.
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Weaslespit
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Message Posted: Jan 20, 2015 2:19:14 PM

"Desrosiers says that some manufacturers do a far better job of building lasting value into a car."

Which doesn't address the point made.
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Charlie_H
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Message Posted: Jan 20, 2015 2:14:18 PM

Weaslespit: "Which is why cars are no longer overdesigned like they used to be."

Desrosiers says that some manufacturers do a far better job of building lasting value into a car.
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waynester1955
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Message Posted: Jan 20, 2015 1:03:10 PM

We can only hope that the company that KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR's version of the Volt is dead.
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Weaslespit
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Message Posted: Jan 20, 2015 12:44:41 PM

"Pity that you don't. They might not be creating problems in the warranty window (avoiding that is their first priority) but they are reducing the service life of the battery. They're doing this after 4 years of real-life experience."

Which is why I agreed with you when you said;

"Time will tell."

SMH

BTW - you don't think they have been testing a battery in a vehicle (real-life) for longer than 4 years? The Volt has been available to the public for over 4 years now... Just sayin'.

"Interesting gamble."

Or simple capitalism. Which is why cars are no longer overdesigned like they used to be.
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Charlie_H
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Message Posted: Jan 20, 2015 12:40:29 PM

Weaslespit: "Now you're getting it..."

Pity that you don't. They might not be creating problems in the warranty window (avoiding that is their first priority) but they are reducing the service life of the battery. They're doing this after 4 years of real-life experience.

Interesting gamble. But it's with somebody else's money (the customer's), which is the best way to gamble.
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Weaslespit
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Message Posted: Jan 20, 2015 11:54:58 AM

"The charge window on Li-Ion batteries is limited to avoid excessive degradation of the battery."

You are correct in that this is well-known.

"Now, they may have decided they have enough data to change the charge window without causing warranty problems."

Now you're getting it...

"Time will tell."

Indeed.

[Edited by: Weaslespit at 1/20/2015 11:55:12 AM EST]
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Charlie_H
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Message Posted: Jan 20, 2015 11:52:10 AM

Weaslespit: "I'm assuming you have data to validate what appears to be yet another unsubstantiated claim made by yourself?"

The charge window on Li-Ion batteries is limited to avoid excessive degradation of the battery. That's how they all work. I'm not at all surprised that you don't know this. The reason GM build their battery test facility was to get a better handle on this.

Now, they may have decided they have enough data to change the charge window without causing warranty problems. I don't have a particular problem with that but this has implications for he overall life of the vehicle. It could be the difference between a car that's economical to run for 12 years vs 15 or 20 years. Or between 20 and 30. Time will tell.
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Charlie_H
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Message Posted: Jan 20, 2015 11:45:33 AM

Hi, Shock,

It seems doubtful to me that they can sell the car profitably.

1. Gas prices down, this is a problem for all alternative drivetrains. Cost will be a big factor in decisions. The Leaf will probably remain considerably less expensive than the Volt, which will help it to maintain share in pluggables.

2. The fifth seat is a fifth seat in name only. Technically, you can check the box but as a practical matter, it's only suitable for a car seat and a car seat in the middles means the two outboard seats are going to be squeezed pretty grimly.

3. At $41K, they were losing money on every one. Even if they cut $10K in cost out of the car in cost, what does that get them? Revenue = unit cost at $32.5K?

I figure that they can price it to lose money ($30-32.5K) and get up to a reliable 2-3K/month in volume or they can price it to avoid unit losses ($34.5K) and they'll continue to sputter along at 1.5K/month.

One problem that I think they have is that the Volt Fanbois have been hearing about cost improvement for at least 3 years and I believe they're expecting to get a piece of that cost reduction in the purchase price. Many of the Volt Fanbois believe GM is not losing money on the current vehicle.

I figure GM will decide to offer "more car for the same money" and, at least initially, hold the line on price. I'd look for a price reduction in early 2016.

January should be interesting. The number of Volts offered is up, so I am presuming GM is now producing 2015s again. If so, this is a little surprising, as January is typically their very slowest month and I don't see a big need to produce more at this time and prospects for selling large quantities of these through the introduction of the 2016 seem slim.

Toyota faced a similar situation in early '04. They were about 9 months from releasing what would be the very successful G2 Prius and they ceased production of the G1 Prius well in advance of the G2 release date. By the time the G2 reached market, all the G1s were long gone and Toyota had had two or three months of essentially no Prius sales. That wasn't a problem for them, the G2 spoke for itself and sold well, right out of the gate.

Of course, there wasn't much competition at the time to worry about. The Insight I was already tanking and there wasn't much else to choose from.
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BigHorne1
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Message Posted: Jan 20, 2015 11:15:42 AM

do not like electric cars, need to go back to the chevy storm or geo metro and get as good mpg across the board as these electric vehicles.
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Weaslespit
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Message Posted: Jan 20, 2015 11:13:48 AM

"Given how much engineering effort has gone into the Volt, perhaps its technology will be incorporated into other vehicle designs."

I'm presuming that the 'Bolt' is on the list of other vehicle designs incorporating Volt technology.

"I continue to believe that if they do succeed in building an "Electric car" with a 200 mile range, and sell it for $30,000 (even if subsidized by taxpayer cash) that they would be happy to drop the unprofitable Volt."

Does anybody know if Volt 2.0 is unprofitable? Given the safety net the gas generator provides (thus vastly increasing the Volt's utility), I wouldn't write it off just yet.
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Weaslespit
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Message Posted: Jan 20, 2015 11:11:13 AM

"Unfortunately, that sentence could also read, "Battery life has been shortened by allowing users to discharge the battery more fully between recharges.""

I'm assuming you have data to validate what appears to be yet another unsubstantiated claim made by yourself?
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Shockjock1961
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Message Posted: Jan 20, 2015 10:47:12 AM

I agree with you Charlie. The Volt II looks more like the auto that the original Volt should have been. I think the price point is going to be the determining factor on whether the Volt II will be a success or a dismal failure like it's predecessor. I wonder if GM can get the price point low enough without having to resort to continue to sell the car for a loss....
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Charlie_H
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Message Posted: Jan 18, 2015 4:14:14 PM

E-Squirrel,

Thanks for bringing that article to our attention.

From the article: "The range [of the 2016 Volt] has also been boosted by allowing owners to discharge the battery more fully between recharges."

Unfortunately, that sentence could also read, "Battery life has been shortened by allowing users to discharge the battery more fully between recharges."
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E-Squirrel
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Message Posted: Jan 18, 2015 3:17:34 PM

Technology Review posted an article on the Bolt. As a publication on "technology", one would expect no less. Unfortunately, the editors of this publication could not elicit any more details of GM`s technology than we have already learned:

"GM would not discuss anything about the battery design or chemistry that would allow the Bolt to reach a 200-mile range. Success will mean either developing an entirely new battery technology, or—more likely—greatly lowering the cost of lithium-ion batteries. LG Chem, which supplies lithium-ion batteries for GM’s existing electric-gas hybrid car, the Volt, has previously announced that it plans to supply batteries for cars with a 200-mile range."

The article does go on to discuss the Volt 2.0`s new battery.

I continue to believe that if they do succeed in building an "Electric car" with a 200 mile range, and sell it for $30,000 (even if subsidized by taxpayer cash) that they would be happy to drop the unprofitable Volt. Given how much engineering effort has gone into the Volt, perhaps its technology will be incorporated into other vehicle designs. Perhaps the cheaper battery technology would allow GM to reduce the price of the Volt and make it more directly competitive as a hybrid vehicle.

Technology Review article
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E-Squirrel
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Message Posted: Jan 16, 2015 7:41:51 PM

Charlie_H recalls:

"The estimates I've seen suggest that Musk's "gigafactory" will reduce cell prices by about 25%."

I have heard that number thrown about too. Others, less quoted in the popular press, but with more experience in the battery development and manufacturing business have also said that the proposed "gigafactory" is much larger than necessary in order to achieve the best possible reductions in cost. If true, then the only value of such a factory would be huge production volume. If the demand fails to materialize (or the cost curve does not approach Moore`s Law), then such a factory would be a potential boondoggle.

Remember the new battery factory planned by GM and the government in Michigan a few years ago, that was supposed to employee thousands of unemployed UAW workers and fill the demand for the hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles that Americans were itching to purchase?
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Charlie_H
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Message Posted: Jan 14, 2015 5:17:44 PM

I will say, the new Volt 2 looks pretty good, although we do not yet have *price*.

This car looks to be what Volt 1 should have been. Too bad we had 4 years of mediocre Volts before this arrived.

I have often said that the principal problem with the Volt was the top-down process of development, where El Lutzbo threw a tantrum and then bullied the organization into building what he wanted in a hurry.

And then he bailed before the car could be delivered...

Mediocre aerodynamics with antiquated, inefficient engine that drinks premium... Among other problems.

Well, the HybridCars article on the new Volt mentions this:

"Farah says in contrast to the first-generation Volt, GM ran the 2016 Volt through its normal full development process, letting the design team make it more integrated and polished."

HybridCars dot Com

Gee... maybe they should have done that in the first place?
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Charlie_H
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Message Posted: Jan 14, 2015 5:03:45 PM

The estimates I've seen suggest that Musk's "GigaFactory" will reduce cell prices by about 25%. That's also not enough.

SoylentGrain: "Sounds like Tesla needs to catch up with GM."

E-Squirrel: "Since both vehicles are theorized models, and both depend upon improvements in battery design and costs in order to become actual products, I would say that the only "catching up" would be the battery makers to the hopes of the vehicle manufacturers."

Yep, that's about right, E-Squirrel. Unless SG believes that every concept car needs to be countered with another concept car. If that's the case, I suppose I could build one, make outrageous claims and then SG can say that both Tesla and GM need to catch up to Charlie_H.

This is the way it went with the Volt. From the day the concept was shown in 2007, GM FanBois were claiming a "win."
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E-Squirrel
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Message Posted: Jan 14, 2015 4:27:09 PM

SoylentGrain rejoins:

'"They" have.'

Well, actually, they haven't. The cost of the battery is still too expensive with present technology to provide both the range and the price projected.

Originally, the Tesla S sedan was promised to be a "family" car with a 200 mile range and a $30,000 price (no subsidy quoted). It ended up being a $90,000 car because the price of the battery did not drop to the price point expected by Musk, who was evidently applying Moore`s Law (about semiconductor devices) to batteries.

While the anticipated price and storage density may satisfied at some point in the hoped-for future, its not available today, which is why these vehicles are both concept cars, rather than models available to purchase.

Perhaps GM has faith that Musk will be right about the price/density point this time, given that his prediction was made first.


[Edited by: E-Squirrel at 1/14/2015 4:28:03 PM EST]
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SoylentGrain
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Message Posted: Jan 14, 2015 12:15:19 PM

"If Tesla and GM both find battery technology in the near future to match these proposed vehicle designs, I wouldn't count on Nissan or other manufacturers not adopting the same technology."

"They" have.

Tesla Range
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Charlie_H
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Message Posted: Jan 14, 2015 11:56:04 AM

E-Squirrel: "Any opinions?"

A question that hardly needs asking!

I agree with you, the Spark, or some other 80-100 mile EV will survive the introduction of the Bolt. It's a matter of MSRP. GM will need EVs in different price tiers.

When we initially heard about the Bolt, it was "$30K!!! All others are dead!" and then the other shoe dropped... GM said $30K, net, maybe, after tax credit.

The concept looks great but, if you dig in to what they've said, GM's talking "aluminum, magnesium, carbon fiber, woven materials" and a lot of other whiz-bang items that may well be decontented out to hit the price point. GM is switching to aluminum hood and hatch on Volt 2 but their aluminum experience lags that of Ford and Tesla and, maybe, Toyota (parts of the Prius are aluminum and have been for years).

At least the vehicle looks like something they might really build, as opposed to the Volt concept. It looks like they had a chat with the aerodynamics team before fabricating the concept (the Volt concept was reputed to have a lower drag coefficient when going backwards) and the package is attractive.

I think the Volt, or a car like it, also has a future. The Volt is a good idea but the initial implementation left a great deal to be desire. Batteries are far more bulky than gasoline per joule of energy stored and will remain so for some time. A car with 200+ mile range must pack a pretty massive quantity of batteries and "fuelling" an EV for 200+ miles takes a long time and will continue to take a long time for the foreseeable future.

A range-extended EV (a PHEV) has some drawbacks but you can run on electricity most of the time and then get fast refueling, nearly anywhere, when on a trip. The only decision points are how much battery and range are you willing to provide? Toyota, Ford and GM have different answers, with some being low-priced and short-range and others being high-priced and "long" range. It's nice to have choices.

I think the PHEV still has a future and won't be entirely superseded by BEVs for a long time.
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k7lvo
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Message Posted: Jan 14, 2015 11:55:37 AM

"Is the Volt dead?"

I don't know. Did you plug it in last night?
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E-Squirrel
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Message Posted: Jan 14, 2015 11:07:57 AM

SoylentGrain counters:

"Sounds like Tesla needs to catch up with GM."

Since both vehicles are theorized models, and both depend upon improvements in battery design and costs in order to become actual products, I would say that the only "catching up" would be the battery makers to the hopes of the vehicle manufacturers.

If Tesla and GM both find battery technology in the near future to match these proposed vehicle designs, I wouldn't count on Nissan or other manufacturers not adopting the same technology.
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SoylentGrain
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Message Posted: Jan 14, 2015 11:01:40 AM

"Tesla also is planning a car with similar price and range, it will be interesting to see if GM can catch up to Tesla."

Sounds like Tesla needs to catch up with GM. Both GM and Tesla electric cars are excellent products. I'd buy another Volt and wouldn't hesitate driving an S. However, even with the several hundred mile range of the S, recharging and the availability of a Tesla dealer for service are issues.
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E-Squirrel
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Message Posted: Jan 14, 2015 10:21:01 AM

GM's announcement of the new Bolt would appear to offer a potential new competitor that might cannibalize Volt sales, much as I believe that the Cruze has.

If GM could achieve a 200 mile range as proposed, would the Volt still have a market, or would it become an orphan? I also do see the Spark surviving the release of the proposed new Bolt. Since Tesla also is planning a car with similar price and range, it will be interesting to see if GM can catch up to Tesla.

Any opinions?
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E-Squirrel
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Message Posted: Jan 12, 2015 11:24:00 PM

Well, GM has unveiled a new version of the Volt. I have so far found only promotional remarks about the vehicles, but expected more analysis of the merits of the re-engineered hybrid here. No experts?
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Shockjock1961
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Message Posted: Jan 5, 2015 4:28:24 PM

Nissan Leaf sales double Chevy Volt to close out winning 2014

"To close out the year, sales of the two most-popular plug-in vehicles in the US kept going in the direction that they had been all year. The Chevy Volt dropped and the Nissan Leaf had another record month. Sound familiar?"
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Charlie_H
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Message Posted: Jan 5, 2015 4:23:34 PM

SoylentGrain: "You have no point."

I'm sure your local community college can offer you a class in reading comprehension.
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SoylentGrain
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Message Posted: Jan 5, 2015 3:03:00 PM

"Thanks for proving my point."

You have no point.
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Shockjock1961
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Message Posted: Jan 5, 2015 1:49:24 PM

What's interesting to note is that the Volts sales dropped in 2013 in comparison to 2012 sales and 2014 sales dropped precipitously over 2013 sales.

How anyone can claim that the Volt sales are "strong" is beyond me...
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Charlie_H
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Message Posted: Jan 5, 2015 1:42:27 PM

Me: "The target market is, principally, EV Zealots, who will consider both cars."

SoylentGrain: "I own an electric vehicle. I am familiar with what "EV Zealots" want. I test drove a Leaf."

Thanks for proving my point.

SoylentGrain: "It's a golf cart."

Some 3K people bought that "golf cart" last month, 22% more than in the previous December, in spite of plunging gas prices. What's Chevy's problem?
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Shockjock1961
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Message Posted: Jan 5, 2015 1:08:04 PM

"That's not what I heard Shockjock, I heard the Tesla is off about 30% on their sales and it has cost him over a billion in net worth!"

According to this:

Tesla sold 3500 Model S in Dec.

Do you have anything to show otherwise?
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BigHorne1
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Message Posted: Jan 5, 2015 12:47:50 PM

hope so, not for these kind of vehicles.
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SoylentGrain
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Message Posted: Jan 5, 2015 12:40:12 PM

"The target market is, principally, EV Zealots, who will consider both cars."

I own an electric vehicle. I am familiar with what "EV Zealots" want. I test drove a Leaf. It's a golf cart.
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Charlie_H
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Message Posted: Jan 5, 2015 12:10:25 PM

SoylentGrain: "Other golf carts increased in sales as well. So, what. Different markets."

The target market is, principally, EV Zealots, who will consider both cars. It remains to you to describe why plunging gas prices are singling out the Volt for punishment.
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SoylentGrain
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Message Posted: Jan 5, 2015 12:03:10 PM

Other golf carts increased in sales as well. So, what. Different markets.
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RealtorJeff
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Message Posted: Jan 5, 2015 11:58:24 AM

That's not what I heard Shockjock, I heard the Tesla is off about 30% on their sales and it has cost him over a billion in net worth!
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Shockjock1961
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Message Posted: Jan 5, 2015 11:52:37 AM

"If it's all about the price of gas, why would there be such a profound depressing effect on Volt sales when Leaf sales continue to Increase?"

No only the Leaf, Tesla sales soared in December...

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Charlie_H
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Message Posted: Jan 5, 2015 11:26:32 AM

SoylentGrain: "Einstein, it wouldn't have anything to do with the price of gasoline, would it."

If it's all about the price of gas, why would there be such a profound depressing effect on Volt sales when Leaf sales continue to Increase?



[Edited by: Charlie_H at 1/5/2015 11:28:08 AM EST]
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SoylentGrain
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Message Posted: Jan 5, 2015 11:20:16 AM

"Wow! A 38% drop over sales in Dec 2013."

Einstein, it wouldn't have anything to do with the price of gasoline, would it.
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Shockjock1961
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Message Posted: Jan 5, 2015 11:07:49 AM

Wow! A 38% drop over sales in Dec 2013. 2014 sales dropped 19% over 2013 sales.

Miniscule and continuing to decline sales figures...
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Charlie_H
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Message Posted: Jan 5, 2015 11:02:32 AM

Volt sales sink again. In Dec of 2013, GM sold 2392 Volts. This December, they sold only 1490, a decrease of about 38%.
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Boyrr
Champion Author Allentown

Posts:17,792
Points:3,884,375
Joined:May 2004
Message Posted: Dec 17, 2014 12:50:58 PM

...not if it has spark.
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Shockjock1961
Champion Author Illinois

Posts:24,468
Points:2,915,540
Joined:Apr 2006
Message Posted: Dec 17, 2014 9:34:57 AM

Sure, that's why sales are so pathetic and declining...
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rkt wgn
Champion Author St. Louis

Posts:19,266
Points:3,435,715
Joined:Dec 2004
Message Posted: Dec 17, 2014 3:54:32 AM

Volt is the best by far. ;)
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Shockjock1961
Champion Author Illinois

Posts:24,468
Points:2,915,540
Joined:Apr 2006
Message Posted: Dec 15, 2014 10:26:16 AM

"GM PHEV's, cant beat them!!!!"

Can't sell them either as evidenced by their minuscule and declining sales figures...
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