Car Corner
Chevrolet Volt - Success or Failure

February 1, 2012
By Scott Lewis

I have been hearing issues of Chevrolet Volt sales being about half what they expected, and they were have battery issues. Is the Volt in trouble right out of the starting gate?

I am a big fan of the Volt. No... I will not be buying one anytime soon. I live in an apartment and can't plug it in. I also travel about 80 miles a day on my mormal commute, so the Volt's 40 mile range is not enough for me.

Jay Leno has over 10,000 miles on his Volt and it still has the same gas in it when he bought it. That's why I love the Volt. Well, that and the fact that I invented the Volt. (cars200011.html) O.K. I did not invent the actual Chevrolet Volt, but I did publish the idea of an electric car with an engine for a generator 10 years before the Volt came out. It just took Chevrolet a while to come over to my way of thinking about hybrids.

So... sales are slow and batteries are causing fires in smashed up test vehicles. Does this mean the Volt is a failure? I really hope not. The Volt has two issues in my opinion.

1) It cost too much. Even with the tax break this is a mid $30K car. It looks and feels more like a mid to high $20K car. I get it that being on the bleeding edge of technology costs more. Early adopters of the iPhone spent $600 on them... and waited in line for hours to do so. The dopes! I believe in spending more for a car that gets better gas mileage. I have written articles in the past that show how you cannot recoup the cost of the technology in driving miles (cars200904.html). But I believe we should make the effort and pay the extra money. Spending more for a Prius than a Corolla is what you do to "buy into" the technology. Eventually the cost of that technology will come down. But not if we don't have early adopters buying the stuff.

2) The range is too short. This is more for me. The Volt has enough range for 80% of the population. Because of my current situation... living in an apartment and living 35+ miles from work... the Volt does not suit me. But I look forward to the day when I can buy a plug in hybrid like the Volt that will go about 70-80 miles before engaging a gasoline generator.

I also look forward to the day when you can "chip" these cars to produce twice as much power for half the battery life for a fun day at the track... or on a winding country road. Of course, we want to be able to return the programming to provide the long range during our daily commutes.

So here's to me hoping that the Chevrolet Volt is a roaring success... even if it is a slow path to that success.