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Why the ~ Can't GM Sell Enough Chevy / Holden Volts?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Please note, I hope this is not a duplicate thread of PoliticalOutsider, because it is meant to be purely non-political in nature.
For the political Chevy Volt discussion please see: http://forums.appleinsider.com/showthread.php?p=2061820

Price? Battery fire FUD?

They sold only a few thousand. Now they are temporarily suspending production for at least a month.

Which is bizarre, hundreds of thousands of people around the world want it. Canada has a huge waiting list. Australia (under the Holden GM brand) is only getting it "late 2012", quite long considering the recent very high-profile launch with the mayor of Sydney and the Minister for Transport. You could drop-ship 10,000 into this country of 20 million+ people and it would be easily gone in a week. Another 10,000 Vauxhall / Opel Ampera could be sold in that week too. Just look at it below! Nice, futuristic, masculine and feminine.

What the heck is going on? I just don't understand the car industry anymore. It's all very strange.
post #2 of 16
Thread Starter 
In any case I want the European version, Vauxhall / Opel Ampera.

Sweet.

Compared to the Nissan Leaf... *sigh* what is up with that design? Did the Nissan designers decide to just forget about male purchasers?



The downside is that GM usually sells Holden-badged stuff in Australia, eg. Chevy Spark [which I own... still not used to the fact I own my own car...], Chevy Cruze and Chevy Volt (not Opel Ampera which I think looks better).
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
I'm obviously late to the Chevy Volt party, but it's pretty impressive, and people that have it seem to be happy about it. Any Volt owners here?

If there was a way to charge it with the excess energy from solar panels at home that would be ideal.

Totally zero running emissions for the ~50mile/80km range on battery alone.

Or, if the workplace and public carparks had solar-powered charging stations, that would be sweet.

Yes, battery toxicity, yada yada but the first objective is co2 emission reduction, and getting people off the oil-oil and oil-electricity grid.

If once the car is manufactured, aside from maintenance pollution, you could theoretically have it running for 5 years purely on solar power.

[Indulge me one cross-post]
Anyway here's the Australian version of the Chevy Volt "ad" [explanation video]... Some people say its better than the US version (ignoring accent differences). Please comment:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgd69GQh2Cc
post #4 of 16
Lets see, I can spend $40,000 on a volt that can only go across town , OR I can buy a really nice Lexus, BMW, or Mercedes. Sorry Chevy You loose...
post #5 of 16
Someone doesn't understand what a Chevy Volt is. It can do more than go across town.

 

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post #6 of 16
Nobody wants to plug in.
post #7 of 16
If It was $20,000 people would buy it.
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tune View Post

Nobody wants to plug in.

If it was charged by solar during the day then it's a no-brainer for essentially free, zero-emission "gasoline"... If it is $2 a day then it is more expensive then petrol for very efficient petrol and hybrid cars.

Or maybe they need garages with inductive charging, maybe that's how lazy we are. Just drive to your parking spot in the house/ apartment and it automatically charges overnight.

Or maybe you're speaking in a metaphor, which is also intriguing.
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mystic View Post

If It was $20,000 people would buy it.

Yes, but GM can't make it at that price. So I think they gotta work on that. But also, look at Macs, it's "expensive" to most people, but it's doing well.

If GM knew what it was doing, or if it was Apple, it would figure it out.

~$29,000 Chevy Volt availble in the standard model, or the Ampera "premium" model for $39,000. Right now it's a one-model-their-way-or-the-highway offering.

~Better integration with solar facilities will boost marketing, practicality, economics as well as hype. Partner with a program across the globe which enables house owners, businesses, nonprofits, city councils and so on which allow you to charge your Volt or Ampera free (or included in a standard city parking fee). 10kWh for a full charge for ~50miles/80km is not that much, good solar home installations in many parts of the world easily generate 8kWh each day during 1/2 of the year. And a lot of this daytime generation with solar is excess which is either simply lost or sold back to the grid for very little money, when it could be charging a car [yes, you'll need batteries for home solar, which is an area GE could get in since, like Apple, it already has to invest a huge amount in battery technology, why not sell batteries for home use as well? A daily use battery for your house that can handle even 5kWh is nothing to sneeze at, in any case done well it increases the "value add" to the Chevy Volt/Amp].

~Can the "extended range" stuff. Nobody understands that. I thought the Volt was pure electric. Some people think it's only 50 miles or less in range. Market it as "plug-in hybrid". People are just starting to know about hybrids, and their competitors are all hybrids. Very simple. If you plug it in, then you never need to fill up petrol. Besides the regulatory mileage specs calculated on a full tank (therefore includes electricity and petrol use), give the estimated petrol use for 100miles, 200miles, 300miles, so people can understand the plug-in hybrid concept better. For example, it would be a curve comparing distance, cost and mileage which changes over 50 miles, 100 miles, 200 miles and so on. Because at 100 miles half of that is on pure electricity, while the remainder is on gasoline alone. But at 100 miles your mileage and cost competes well with hybrids. At 300 miles then it may not be so fantastic, but you can be upfront about that. Your modern car consumer is not the muscle jocks of the 50's. Rmember at least 50% or more of ~everything~ that Apple does is educating people on the Apple ecosystem. Yes, they're sitting pretty with iPhone and iPad as hype items. But Apple spent over 20 years continually educating people and correcting misperceptions.

~When the branding is strong enough then they can just call it the Chevy Volt or Chevy Amp, no need extended range, electric, hybrid, plug-in or whatever. Until then, not yet. Eventually, you can go on marketing or branding alone, just like Apple used to say "G3 500mhz" in the beginning, now just "MacBook Air" or "iPad 3", where people can look up the specs if they want, which are good, or they can go on branding and concept alone.

~[And this is a pet peeve]. Figure out why the heck outside the US we get the lousy American cars. We want the stuff we see in Transformers and the like, really (Chevy Spark is a success story). We want the new Mustangs, Camaros, Volt, Ampera and the like. The USA brand itself is still remarkably strong, but I see the US car companies potter around with crappier US-badged but who-knows-where-made cars around the world. As Tim Cook says, don't assume everyone around the world simply wants the cheapest product. They want the best product. At least they want the best product for the money, even if that money is a lot. As we see from Apple, there are a ton of people in Asia and Latin America who have massive disposable income and businesses. A lot of them ~are~ already buying hybrids, high-efficiency fuel cars, and a lot are running on LPG.

~Get celebrity endorsements. A bit cheesy, but if it's a worthwhile product I'm sure more people than just Jay Leno will jump on it.

~Start developing, selling and distributing inductive charging kits for the garage and corporate workplaces (which might offer it like a perk just as they offer employees to BYO a Mac, iPad, iPhone). Just make it a floor mat under your car that's wired to your house. Drive home, Boom! Charges automatically. Drop-dead-easy marketing. Imagine, never ever having to visit a fuel pump ever again. Never having to stop and fill up your tank. The convenience alone is unbelievable. As they have found, 40 miles is generally enough for a lot of people's daily commute. Given the "don't even think about it" angle of inductive home and workplace charging, your petrol tank is just a "backup battery" ~ how it should also be marketed.

~Make a global Chevy Volt/Amp portal where everyone competes against each other to see how long they can go without using a drop of petrol (ie. just recharging). Obviously like Nike Run, Runkeeper and so on. Link with solar portals such as SunnyPortal (SMA) to see solar use overall and for cars. iPhone, iPad and Android integration with distance and charging info, music and voice is so last decade. Eg. you're at work, and you're wondering if you have enough charge or petrol to go home... So push notifications too. If the product is good, I'm sure you can easily find 50,000 passionate people each year around the world to buy the darn car. And another 50,000 hipsters who want to get in on the action. And probably another 50,000 a year in Asia and Latin America and other regions who see it as the new American status symbol they gotta have, because Mercs and BMWs are so old skool. And of course with all this a daily, monthly and all-time CO2 and and cost reduction value. Regardless of what one thinks about that, if you're buying a Volt/Amp you'll be interested in that stuff.

~Initiate a full dealer-accessible battery program and environmental reporting system so people know how the batteries are made and what's done before, during and after it has been in cars. Because for hybrids and electrics a lot of people are concerned about that, and is probably the top negative point about getting a low-emission car. It can be pointless if the battery is screwing things up. Again, GM, battery tech. Do not underestimate its importance.

Tell me the above don't make the Chevy Volt (and the superb looking Ampera) better, besides all the obvious things that need to be done on the product side, such as being able to go 600miles/ 1000km on charge and full tank.

(Yeah, I swear one day I'll get the big bucks for all this free consulting I'm offering to big companies...)
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunilraman
Figure out why the heck outside the US we get the lousy American cars. We want the stuff we see in Transformers and the like, really (Chevy Spark is a success story). We want the new Mustangs, Camaros, Volt, Ampera and the like.

Since the 1950s, US car makers, then owning their domestic market, neglected the export market or rather, let their overseas subsidiaries handle the rest of the World (I believe its one of the main reasons why US-developed cars became less competitive after a while).
You want Mustangs and Camaros? They dont make them in right-hand-drive guise (although I guess some wealthy Aussies would individually import and convert a few, which is quite costly).
That the Chevrolet Volt is even available in RHD shows unusual initiative on the part of GM.

With a quick look at US car prices I see that $40,000 can get one an Audi A4, a BMW 3-Series sedan, or a Lexus ES, these are premium cars and the only car Chevrolet could sell at a premium for now is the Corvette.

If theres indeed demand for the Volt outside the US, itd be foolish for GM to ignore it (but its been foolish before), one should bear in mind that the Volts GM fails to sell in the US cannot simply be exported due to differences in standards and regulations (even in Canada where regulations are similar, speedometers and odometers have to converted to kilometres, etc.)

I would like to see any electric car succeed, and Id appreciate to see an American car succeed overseas for once.

PS: I admit Im intrigued by the Tesla Model S
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post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunilraman View Post

If it was charged by solar during the day then it's a no-brainer for essentially free, zero-emission "gasoline"... If it is $2 a day then it is more expensive then petrol for very efficient petrol and hybrid cars.

Or maybe they need garages with inductive charging, maybe that's how lazy we are. Just drive to your parking spot in the house/ apartment and it automatically charges overnight.

Or maybe you're speaking in a metaphor, which is also intriguing.

Agreed ... that stuff would make it more attractive... even at its current price.
but that stuff DOES NOT EXIST, so the car doesn't sell.

I think it all boils down to infrastructure. There's a gas-station on every corner, not so with electric (and even if there were, it takes HOURS to charge, rather than 2 minutes to fill a gas-tank.

Sure, the Volt can use gas when it needs to, but then what's the point? ... you can get a nice-looking 5 passenger gas-only vehicle that still gets 30+ mpg for LESS than HALF the price!


So... you asked why it doesn't sell?...
Price is the number one sticking point, IMO.
Lack of supporting infrastructure is probably second. (maybe include in that all the non-existent solar/inductive options you'd also like to see.)


I like the idea of an electric car ... but the current hybrid options (yes, Volt is a hybrid... it has a gas engine in there that can drive the wheels.) are simply still too "Beta" for mass market adoption.
From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, "Look at that!" -...
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From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, "Look at that!" -...
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post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Immanuel Goldstein View Post

Since the 1950s, US car makers, then owning their domestic market, neglected the export market or rather, let their overseas subsidiaries handle the rest of the World (I believe it’s one of the main reasons why US-developed cars became less competitive after a while).
You want Mustangs and Camaros? They don’t make them in right-hand-drive guise (although I guess some wealthy Aussies would individually import and convert a few, which is quite costly).
That the Chevrolet Volt is even available in RHD shows unusual initiative on the part of GM.

With a quick look at US car prices I see that $40,000 can get one an Audi A4, a BMW 3-Series sedan, or a Lexus ES, these are premium cars and the only car Chevrolet could sell at a premium for now is the Corvette.

If there’s indeed demand for the Volt outside the US, it’d be foolish for GM to ignore it (but it’s been foolish before), one should bear in mind that the Volts GM fails to sell in the US cannot simply be exported due to differences in standards and regulations (even in Canada where regulations are similar, speedometers and odometers have to converted to kilometres, etc.)

I would like to see any electric car succeed, and I’d appreciate to see an American car succeed overseas for once.

PS: I admit I’m intrigued by the Tesla Model S…

Yeah, it is foolishness, I think that's a good term. Indeed, not many wealthy Aussies would bother importing and converting them, because by that stage you can get "f*** off" cars like the BMW 6 Series Coupe or a DB9 which I saw today on the freeway. There's a few Chryslers around, but that's about it. Oh there are niche Mustangs as well but despite how massive Ford is here (Focus, Fiesta), no mainstream Mustangs

Corvette ~ now that is burned into our collective psyches (not just Oz, but Asia, UK, Latin America)... The first time I saw one when I first went to the US, it was... magnifique.

I guess we're in agreement. By sitting back on their butts, US car companies have missed out on expanding their brand with extremely iconic car models, and lost a lot of ground in terms of emission, mileage, battery and other technology. As I mentioned I won't go into the political background of all this.

As you said, I really don't know why US car companies don't take more ownership of overseas operations. The European Volt aka Ampera was fobbed off to Opel, now believe it or not in Australia there's big talk of Opel coming here, which can cause conflict because Holden is the main GM brand in Australia, selling things like the Chevy Spark and Volt branded as Holden Spark and Holden Volt. The GM/Holden/Opel confusion is like a Cupertino MacBook and North Carolina MacBook fighting for space in retail shelves here. Ridiculous.

Catering for right hand drive and regulatory stuff is not too taxing, and I'm sure they can think of innovative ways to handle that. Not an analogy, but as an example Apple's "duck head" system for their power adaptors keeps things very flexible while still maintaining the design and beauty of the power adaptor (rather than other companies which usually just subcontract the standard boring black power adaptors for each region).

I mean, GM or its overseas operations already spend huge amounts of capital on making cars "tailor-made" to the region, in some cases... Look at the Chevy Cruze which covers a lot of regions, but is essentially rebadged Daewoos.

Not to mention the Chevy Volt, which is or is going to be made in right hand drive versions. No idea why they would go through all the trouble... GM is making 4 models (Chevy Volt left, right drive, Opel Ampera left, right drive) when it only needs 2, whereby 1 of those models (Vauxhall Ampera for UK) is pretty much only for a country of 50million+ people in (sadly) the economic doldrums. Also, if most of Europe is like the US, is Chevy that hopeless that it can't make minor modifications to the car to sell in Europe?

Additionally, if we look at right hand drive below (in Red), it's actually a huge amount of the world, including China.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...t_or_right.svg



Something is amiss. Okay I'll sneak in one political comment. No way the auto companies should have been bailed out at any point in history. That's a sick perversion of capitalism.

If they can cut back a bit on their "iPad mini for Asia" angle, and spend some of those resources on international Camaros and Corvettes, there's definitely some advantages. With the Australian dollar, taking into account local taxes and what not, the Chevy Volt/Ampera sold in the US (if the cost were to be able to be reduced) was about USD $30,000 then at AUD $35,000-$40,000 that's not too bad. As it is the Holden Volt is estimated to come in around AUD $50,000 or more, which is borderline silly.

The US has some of the best car designers and an enormous talent pool (I've visited Art Center College of Design in Pasadena for example) ~ on design alone they definitely give Japanese, Korean and European (not joking) cars a run for their money. It's all the other stuff inside that's out of sync with the global market. The US also has free advertising any other car manufacturer would give their left wingnut for ie. computer games and movies. We all watch Transformers, endless scenes of car chases, and play Need For Speed, Forza, etc. and we want those cars darnit!
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingOfSomewhereHot View Post

So... you asked why it doesn't sell?...
Price is the number one sticking point, IMO.
Lack of supporting infrastructure is probably second. (maybe include in that all the non-existent solar/inductive options you'd also like to see.)

True dat. This seems to be the case, the more I look at it. Ah well.
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunilraman
Indeed, not many wealthy Aussies would bother importing and converting them, because by that stage you can get "f*** off" cars like the BMW 6 Series Coupe or a DB9 which I saw today on the freeway. There's a few Chryslers around, but that's about it. Oh there are niche Mustangs as well but despite how massive Ford is here (Focus, Fiesta), no mainstream Mustangs

The Mustang is absent from Europe as well, at least the Camaro is for sale there. And since Fiats takeover of Chrysler, Chrysler-brand cars are sold on the Continent as Lancias (the 200 as Flavia, the 300 as Thema, etc.), Jeeps are not uncommon, while Dodge maintains a presence in the Middle East (notably the Durango SUV and the big Ram ute); to the best of my knowledge, Chrysler groups products have reliability and build-quality issues.

Quote:
Corvette

Yes! That is one remarkable beast, Ive seen some on a German autobahns last year and found it impressive in that location.

Quote:
As you said, I really don't know why US car companies don't take more ownership of overseas operations. The European Volt aka Ampera was fobbed off to Opel, now believe it or not in Australia there's big talk of Opel coming here, which can cause conflict because Holden is the main GM brand in Australia, selling things like the Chevy Spark and Volt branded as Holden Spark and Holden Volt. The GM/Holden/Opel confusion is like a Cupertino MacBook and North Carolina MacBook fighting for space in retail shelves here. Ridiculous.

I think GMs dominance in the postwar decades made it complacent and it still has to get over its own brand of stupid.
It is rather successful in China though, Im told the main reason why Buick hasnt gone the way of Oldsmobile and Pontiac is because of the marques success in China (where it sells more than in North America, notably the China-bound Park Avenue which is a rebadged Holden Statesman). GM also sells with some success the Chevrolet Lumina (a rebadged Commodore) and Caprice (Statesman) in the Middle East. Some Caprices even make it the the US but only as police cars.

Yet despite having some fine engineers and designers Stateside, GM relies mostly on German and Korean wares for the international markets and its US-developed products are either niche cars like the Camaro or full-size trucks (Silverado, Suburban), popular on the interstates but too big for most foreigners.

Quote:
Catering for right hand drive and regulatory stuff is not too taxing, and I'm sure they can think of innovative ways to handle that.

Indeed, I found it odd that RHD Yank tanks practically disappeared in the 1970s.

I just remembered the first-generation Toyota Prius (a three-box sedan, not the current hatchback) wasnt all that successful, but Toyota didnt give up on it and the Prius is now commonly seen in diverse countries.
So while the current Volt/Ampera may have some problems now, if GM keeps working on it might pay on the long run.
Also, given the time it takes to recharge the batteries, perhaps GM should invest in battery-swapping stations like Renault does in Denmark or someplace.
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post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Cool. Thanks for the responses. Finally saw a Camaro here in Perth, on the freeway. Man, that is one beautiful beast. *sigh* Dumbass GM.
post #16 of 16

Also Chrysler for some reason is the most popular American car in my city... The Sebring? and Crossfire are the most (well, almost only) American cars here besides some Dodge and Jeep stuff.

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