Chevy Volt problems may have been deferred by NHTSA to protect “fragility of Volt sales” – FOIA demands launched

Here’s an interesting BBC story about the safety hazards associated with the Chevy Volt — specifically, the risk that its battery pack could catch fire after even a minor impact.

But the real problem may no longer be a technical one, but one of dented consumer confidence. Customers are handing back the keys in droves.

At first, when the problem first came to light, chief executive Dan Akerson offered to buy back Volt models from any concerned customers.

Then, when dozens of customers came forward wanting to hand back the keys to their cars, the company changed tack.

Rather than automatically buying back the Volts, and thus losing its as yet tiny army of early adopters of electric motoring technology, GM started offering them some 6,000 free loan cars while awaiting the outcome of an investigation into the fires.

And here’s why:

It now appears the fire hazard was first discovered back in June, when GM first heard about a fire in a Volt that occurred some three weeks after the vehicle had been crash tested.

Yet, almost five months went by before either GM or the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) told dealers and customers about the potential risks and urged them to drain the battery pack as soon as possible after an accident.

Part of the reason for delaying the disclosure was the “fragility of Volt sales” up until that point, according to Joan Claybrook, a former administrator at NHTSA.

“NHTSA could have put out a consumer alert,” he said, according to industry website Autoguide.com.

“Not to tell [customers] for six months makes no sense to me. They have a duty to inform people when they’ve rated a vehicle as ‘top rated’ and make it clear there’s a problem.”

While it isn’t surprising that GM was reluctant to announce product safety bulletins that would dampen early sales of its much touted hybrid, according to the linked story the NHTSA was an accessory to this as well, and for the same reason:

“Part of the reason for delaying the disclosure was the ‘fragility of Volt sales’ up until that point, according to Joan Claybrook, a former administrator at NHTSA.”

At Autoguide.com, there’s a story saying that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood responded today saying the accusations were “absolutely not true.”

“We have opened an investigation into battery-related fires that may occur some time after a severe crash,” LaHood said. “Chevy Volt owners can be confident that their cars are safe to drive.”

Meanwhile, the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) filed a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for any and all communications with General Motors (GM).

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179 Responses to Chevy Volt problems may have been deferred by NHTSA to protect “fragility of Volt sales” – FOIA demands launched

  1. “Chevy Volt owners can be confident that their cars are safe to drive.”

    “Porcine species can be confident that flight is possible despite design shortcomings”

  2. Gras Albert says:

    The 40 mile range 16kWh lithium-ion battery pack in the Volt weighs around 400 pounds (181kg), one wonders how spectacular the sudden discharge of the 300 mile range 85 kWh 1050 pound (500kg) pack proposed for the Tesla Sedan might be?

    I’m also impressed with advising the average consumer to discharge a battery pack following an accident!, consumer lawyers must be rubbing their hands in anticipation

  3. Leon Brozyna says:

    Reminds me of the story of the man’s house burning down from his Volt catching fire while plugged into the charger, or the story of an air freight shipment of batteries (FedEx or UPS) catching fire and bringing down the plane. The batteries are safe, except when they’re not.

  4. Meanwhile, GM-H (Australian subsidiary) has announced the Holden Volt and is bombarding the local media with press releases and video footage.

  5. DJ says:

    An upcoming paper will address increased susceptibility of Chevy Volts to fires with increased temperatures due to global warming.

    (…due to increased accidents resulting from global warming)

  6. Al Gored says:

    The beautiful new Chevy Solyndra! Drive one for Obama.

  7. Frosty says:

    Wasn’t there a film made about a Auto firms legal case in the US (70′s?), where there was known danger of fuel tank fires in the event of a rear end accident, if they were signalling to turn at the time of the impact? Wasn’t there a record payout in compensation because of the cover-up?

    La Hood? sounds like a second hand car dealer from Sherwood Forest, cept this one is obviously not in it for the poor!

  8. markus says:

    I’m a Aussie, bugger if we’ll cop this. I’m going to tell me mate, Andrew Bolt. Its just not right that Dan Akerson can offer to buy back the ones that might catch on fire. The point is **They might catch on FIRE**. They are trying to get rid of them Downunder because you guys have caught onto it already and aren’t buying them. Wouldn’t hold stocks in GM right now, with all the tooling write-offs on this one.

    And besides, it gets recharged from its Fossil Fuel back up engine, costs a lot of coffees to recharge, gets used up in a traffic jam, probably caused by a broken down Volt up front, uncool car for the masses, problematic disposal when redundant, short durable life, ungracious, performance of a golf cart, a total loss really. Except if ya drive around film studios.

    And to be really (sarc), could have built a micro desal unit for placement in a third world village for the difference in cost to a good old combustion engine.

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/more-news/crash-test-jolt-for-electric-holden/story-fn7x8me2-1226212590491

  9. JazzRoc says:

    It is indeed true that electric cars have the energy of their travel stored in their batteries, and would be dangerous if that energy were suddenly released.
    Just as true as the consequences of a petrol tank catching on fire in a conventional car.
    I had a black ice accident nearly forty years ago which burnt out a car simply by crushing its hood to its 12V battery terminals. Conventional cars have MORE danger sources than electric cars.
    There appears to be failure to recognize the similarity here, or to look ahead beyond present difficulties.

  10. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    “We have opened an investigation into battery-related fires that may occur some time after a severe crash,” LaHood said. “Chevy Volt owners can be confident that their cars are safe to drive.”

    Safe to drive, maybe not safe to crash. Now they will investigate the safety, meanwhile they are safe.

    I drive in the real world, where random road debris can include sharp-edged medium-large rocks as well as other things hazardous to the underside of a vehicle. Where is this battery pack on the vehicle, how protected is it, and what warning systems will warn me if it gets punctured or otherwise damaged, which would include a warning to quickly do a “battery drain down” procedure? After what sort of accident would I have to do it? If I’m involved in a “fender bender” where there’s some damage but the vehicle is still drivable, do I just go through the normal “estimates, insurance adjuster, take it in for work” cycle, or must I immediately have it towed away to an authorized hazmat-capable shop for inspection (hopefully they’re open 24/7)?

    Do they mention the “drain down” procedure in the showroom? Such vital information should be shared without asking, before the potential buyer signs anything. A large window sticker is warranted, right next to the price and mileage stickers. Or would informing the consumer up-front yield addition suffering for the “fragility of Volt sales”?

  11. The Chevy Volt looks good actually but it is quite worrying to read the article here about the safety issues. It is quite dangerous if the car’s battery catches fire. I think the Chevy car makers should solve this problem. So that the car owners will feel safe to drive. The blog was really very informative and I really have to appreciate you for posting this lovely blog.

  12. Larry in Texas says:

    JazzRoc, get real! This lemon the Volt has been sold to the American public as the ultimate green car. For GM and the Obama administration to be as deceptive-by-silence about its shortcomings is nothing less than ridiculous. No ordinary car currently has a problem with the petrol tank catching on fire. The car you may be thinking about is the Pinto – and that car’s dangers to its fuel tank, once exposed, were publicized immediately and ultimately ruined the Pinto’s sales. No government agency delayed publicizing its faults for six months. So the Volt should be exempt from such scrutiny?

    The Volt performs like crap, because it gets only 40 miles to the charge, takes at least four hours or more to recharge, and requires premium unleaded fuel for its small auxiliary gas tank. That makes it totally useless to me (and most other reasonable human beings) given its expensive price. The fact that you can find similarities between electric cars and gasoline cars is meaningless, considering the relative usefulness and performance abilities of each vehicle.

    I have a Ford Fusion hybrid, so I know about the comparative value of most cars over the Volt, trust me.

  13. Alan the Brit says:

    Is this not a case of old fashioned commercial awareness? Sell as many as possible depsite the know teething troubles in the hope that the manufacturing process & the boys (& girls) in the design office will solve the problem in transit! Unfortunately this seems to be a potentially fatal problem that has not yet been addressed, other than to withdraw the model! Now my suggestion is this, I’ve heard about some stuff that comes out of the ground, all black & guey, but it can be refined to produced an inflamable liquid! Now, if somebody could design some kind mechanical device, a machine that could burn this flamable liquid, it could produce power, well don’t you people see? If we could just find some way of harnessing that power to a drive train of some kind, attached to a set of wheels, it would mean independent movement, free of restrictions, the end of horse drawn transport! It would be a kind of, “horseless carriage”!!!! Perhaps I should read less Jules Verne & H.G. Wells, & stick to engineering!

  14. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From JazzRoc on December 9, 2011 at 1:27 am:

    It is indeed true that electric cars have the energy of their travel stored in their batteries, and would be dangerous if that energy were suddenly released.
    Just as true as the consequences of a petrol tank catching on fire in a conventional car.
    I had a black ice accident nearly forty years ago which burnt out a car simply by crushing its hood to its 12V battery terminals. Conventional cars have MORE danger sources than electric cars.

    But the Volt runs on both gasoline and battery charge. Thus you still have the dangers of a conventional car with a gas tank, with the additional dangers of a much more powerful battery. Thus the Volt is a combination of the danger sources of a conventional car PLUS those of an electric car.

    Also, after a crash where the battery does not immediately initiate a problem as with your wreck, the potential danger from a charged normal battery can be quickly dealt with by cutting a battery cable. How do you do that on a Volt, or a Prius, or any electric car?

  15. markus says:

    JazzRoc says:
    December 9, 2011 at 1:27 am

    “Conventional cars have MORE danger sources than electric cars.
    There appears to be failure to recognize the similarity here, or to look ahead beyond present difficulties.”

    Even if I would rather fry in a pony rather than a volt, its not electric vehicles per se that are a problem, it is that this particular electric vehicle is a dud, and not able to be properly used for which it was bought, unless it was bought to drive around movie studios.

    Most applications suitable for electric vehicles don’t include transporting humans to cultural, religious, recreational, educational or scenic destinations of varying distances and scheduled time frames. Owning one of these things will lead you to become isolated in your social engagement and you wont get to visit family who live out of town.

  16. Charles.U.Farley says:

    Kinda reminds me of the Lithium Polymer (Li-Po) batteries my brother uses in in his model planes and helicopters.
    Theyre quite susceptible to bursting into flames at the smallest impact that pierces the outer skin thereby allowing air and its oxygen content into contact with the lithium contents.
    I suspect a similar thing is happening here.

    Burned to death by a petrol tank going up or a Li-po fire….hard choice., still, if it “saves the planet” im all for choice number deux.

  17. Claude Harvey says:

    Lithium-ion batteries have always been susceptible to “internal runaway”. Remember the occasional flambo Sony laptops when the batteries first came on the scene? The problem is overcome in smaller batteries designed for electronic applications by applying very stringent manufacturing quality controls. Larger batteries require more exotic measures to solve the problem. Telsa Motors spent a fortune developing a very sophisticated ibattery control system for their lithium-ion batteries that supposedly prevents internal runaway. I suspect that whatever General Motors is using doesn’t always work as advertized after a crash. The relatively long delay between the actual crash and the flaming battery points toward that “internal runaway” for which lithium-ion batteries are prone.

  18. Greg Holmes says:

    Does anyone remember scandals “in the old days” in Pharmaceuticals? Pills that Kill not Cure.
    Keep quiet about the risks whilst we run more trials and sort out the bugs.
    There is a saying in the UK “they all pee in the same pot”, same in USA?

  19. Robert of Ottawa says:

    Thiis is what happens with Government businesses.

  20. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    Sydney Morning Herald:
    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/energy-smart/charge-this-car-for-price-of-a-coffee-20111209-1ommo.html

    Charge this car for price of a coffee
    December 9, 2011 – 12:51PM

    Holden has unveiled the world’s first electric car that can travel a long distance, heralding it as a “game changer” in the automotive industry.

    At an event in Sydney, the car manufacturer said the Volt could travel between 60 and 80 kilometres, depending on conditions, powered purely on electricity.

    The car, which will take approximately four hours to recharge at the price of a cup of coffee, is expected to be rolled out in Australia late next year at a price of between $50,000 and $70,000.

    By this currency converter that’d be US$51,345 to 71,883. Wow, they really expect you guys to bend over and take it, mate.


    “The Holden Volt can be the only car you need to own,” Holden managing director Mike Devereux told reporters at the car’s unveiling in Sydney today.

    He said the new technology, which sees the car powered by lithium-ion battery packs, would come with an extra cost, saying it would be a “little bit” more expensive than a normal petrol-powered car.

    The Volt retails between $41,000 and $42,000 in the United States, he said.

    But do the Aussies get to deduct a AU$7300 (US$7500) federal tax credit?
    And for the spin:


    Authorities in the US crash-tested the Volt in May and completely damaged the battery before leaving it powered for three weeks.

    Mr Devereux said this caused a “thermal event”, which the industry would have to look at when dealing with lithium-ion batteries.

    “Completely” damaged? Well then, when is it less-than-completely damaged and still completely safe?

    And a funny bit:


    United States ambassador Jeffrey Bleich said the car was “joy without sin”.

    “It’s eating a chocolate sundae without getting fat,” Mr Bleich quipped.

    “It’s watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians and actually getting smarter.”

    It’s buying an over-priced under-performing faux-Green car and not noticing you didn’t do one dang thing to really lower personal carbon emissions or to help the environment.

  21. Dr. John M. Ware says:

    The Volt sounds to me like a bad risk. I have not yet seen anyone ask this question: When you “drain down” the Volt, what exactly comes out? Can you catch it to reload it into the car when the risk is over? If not, do you have to buy new batteries? At what cost? Do you have to be in a special place to unload it, such as a decontamination facility? It sounds like a big operation, with likely hazardous materials. I shall not buy a Volt.

  22. JuergenK says:

    JazzRoc
    “… and would be dangerous if that energy were suddenly released.”

    There’s no “energy” stored in batteries nor. Charging and discharging is a chemical reaction uptaking or releasing electrons which can’t burst out at once like with fuel. The real danger with lithium energy storage devices is the inflamability of lithium. Like potassium and sodium it will incinerate if getting in contact with water or even air. You cannot extinguish a light metal fire easily. At least, you shouldn’t use water but CO2 as an agent …

    Oh no, that ugly poisonous dangerous CO2 … /sarc

    Imagine an accident which brakes the battery whilst rain is coming down in torrents. That might extinguish ordinary fires but inevitably inflame or even cause a lithium fire.

    The good news is, you have lithium handy to treat your depression while looking at your burning car. /sarc

    I’d never by me a car which carries so much highly inflamable light metal in an easily to break box.

  23. DEEBEE says:

    What else would one expect from a Govt. owned car company — effectively collusion. Imagine if GM had been a really private company (or if the Govt. had not stepped a subsidiary of some other private car company). Need a separation of business and state clause.

  24. Geoff Alder says:

    So, the risk with a 31 mph side crash test was a couple of broken ribs? To me, it looked like a broken neck for the dummy could have trumped that.

    Geoff Alder

  25. JimBob says:

    The Volt is the first hybrid-type car I’ve ever considered buying, specifically because of the gasoline engine. I drive around 30 miles round-trip for work per day but make regular road trips of hundreds of miles. The Volt would get me to work and back without using gas during the week but wouldn’t limit me from taking off on a longer trip whenever I needed to. I won’t buy a regular hybrid because the gas savings isn’t big enough to justify the cost. This is still true for the Volt, for now, but it is much closer than a Prius or other hybrid. Most of my driving is rural highway so the urban advantages of a normal hybrid don’t help me much.

    The issue with the Volt is the Lithium-Ion batteries. It’s a good bet that GM and the battery manufacturer will make improvements to the batteries that make them more shock resistant, but as mentioned above, you have a lot of energy in a small package and back things will happen when it is suddenly liberated. This is no different than the fuel tank on a normal car. The big difference is that the car makers have had over a hundred years to refine their designs to protect the fuel tank. All-electric vehicles using Li-Ion batteries are still fairly new and it will take some time to work out all the kinks. All technologies have some growing pains early on.

    The real issue here is if GM and the NHTSA passed over known safety issues with the batteries in order to meet a schedule. If they passed all the required testing, then maybe the DOT needs additional requirements for electric vehicles.

    I’m about as anti-Green as you can get, but as an engineer, I think the concept used for the Volt is more practical than anything else out there. In the end, the market should get to decide how successful it is. I have a problem with the gubment paying people to buy them, but I also think some of the criticism is unwarranted. Time will tell.

  26. Steven Rosenberg says:

    PONTIAC IS GONE, BUT THE FIREBIRD LIVES ON!

  27. Tom Davidson says:

    A friend was once involved in a side-impact crash. Restrained by the lap belt, her major injury was a crushed pelvis as the belt held her against thin incoming bumber of the impacting vehicle.
    The dummy here would have sustained the same injury – an injury that can cripple for life.

  28. Frumious Bandersnatch says:

    So… do you think that this might be a good time to pick up a Volt on a fire sale?

  29. Charles.U.Farley says:

    United States ambassador Jeffrey Bleich said
    “It’s watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians and actually getting smarter.”

    No science needed to take on the accuracy of that claim then……

  30. rwct says:

    If the range is 40 miles for the Volt, what is its’ WINTER mileage between charges,at say -30 F Maybe 8-9 miles?

  31. Robert A says:

    I always knew there must have been a reason we kept practicing Chinese fire drills lo these many years.

  32. Sal Minella says:

    The Volt gets around 37 mi/charge at STP. Any deviation from STP causes the range to decrease and there is plenty of deviation from STP in the US. San Diego, within ten miles of the beach, would be just about the only place that you could consistently get the max range.

    It takes about 22KWH and eight hours to charge the battery in order to get that 37 mi round trip. At $.20/KWH, the cost to charge up is $4.44 or the equivalent of about 1.25 gallons of gas giving a fuel efficiency of about 30 mi/gal.

    Anyone not willing to give up $45,000 for a car that goes 37 miles and gets 30 mi/gal in the past will certainly do so now that it can turn your home into a barbecue for no additional cost.

  33. Sal Minella says:

    Battery pack replacement costs $10K – 12K. Adds a little cost to your fender bender.

  34. Justa Joe says:

    JazzRoc says:
    December 9, 2011 at 1:27 am
    Conventional cars have MORE danger sources than electric cars.
    There appears to be failure to recognize the similarity here, or to look ahead beyond present difficulties.
    ——————————–

    Jazzy, I think you’re not being entirely accurate with this statement. A car like the volt has the gasoline hazard and also has a massively more powerful battery that uses a more hazardous chemistry (li-Ion). There is also the matter that a conventional car doesn’t have high current conductors running all over.If we’re going to be EV fanboys we still need to be honest about the additional potential hazards of these vehicles.

    The main problem with this story is that the Administration and its Government Motors has decided that a small percentage of the public’s lives are expendable along the way in their pursuit of a Green Utopia, and, of course, not making the Administration look bad. Woe be unto anybody else that tried to pull this stunt that’s not hooked into the govt’s green machine.

  35. Michael J says:

    If you think about it, any damaged electrical product has a risk of electrical faults that may cause heat, and thus fire. Drop-kick a radio or a toaster across the room and then plug it back in. Bad things may occur — or not. Depends exactly what damage you cause.

    So it stands to reason that banging your Volt into a tree or a pedestrian might bend come component or shake something loose. If you are unlucky that bent or loose bit might get hot and you can guess the rest.

    Perhaps the main question is: why is anybody surprised about this?

    In fairness, maltreating a gas-driven auto could still damage its electrics with similar results, but the Volt has (I presume) many more electric bits so is statistically more likely to combust.

  36. beng says:

    Why hasn’t a scapegoat-hunting media-circus been orchestrated like for the pseudo-problems with Toyota cars? Remember that?

    Answer? The Toyota factories in America aren’t controlled by the UAW union like the government protected GM Volt is.

  37. Myron Mesecke says:

    No real world problems have occurred. These were tests. Now let’s say you own a car, any car. You have an accident that totals the car. Do you sit in it for hours, days or weeks? Do you tow it home and put it in your garage? No. It gets towed to a body shop or salvage yard where it sits outside.
    It’s not like the issue with the cruise control brake switches on Ford vehicles that always had current to them even when the key was off. Those switches were shorting and burning up vehicles, garages and houses even though they had not been involved in any sort of accident.
    I’d be one of the first to say that electric and hybrids are a joke but I would have no worry driving a Volt. To me this is a non issue.

  38. kim says:

    I’d be curious to know how many General Motors labor union members drive Volts.
    ================

  39. mkelly says:

    If the cars are given back does GM have to then pay the $7500 back to the govenrment or does the purchaser? Someone got the money(credit/deduction).

  40. Sal Minella says:

    “No real world problems have occurred.”

    There have been at least two house fires attributed to the Volt. With the small number sold, the record is far worse than the number of non-Volts that spontaneously combust. There are over 500 million non-Volts and only a few thousand Volts; non-volts would have to be autocombusting at 10000 per year to beat the Volt’s record.

  41. DirkH says:

    Charles.U.Farley says:
    December 9, 2011 at 2:39 am
    “Kinda reminds me of the Lithium Polymer (Li-Po) batteries my brother uses in in his model planes and helicopters.
    Theyre quite susceptible to bursting into flames at the smallest impact that pierces the outer skin thereby allowing air and its oxygen content into contact with the lithium contents.”

    Told a friend of mine about the hazards of LiPo last week, her husband is a model plane enthusiast. She said “What? some of them are in our kitchen!” Scared her stiff. Hehe. Guess hubby has some ‘splaining to do now…

  42. Crispin in Waterloo says:

    @JimBob

    Good observations and cogent thoughts. The offers are getting better.

    Perhaps they will move to super capacitors sooner than later now that there are materials capable of storing 1.2 Farads per sq inch. I was once assisting a Pinto beside a highway when it was hit square in the back by a Volvo 122. I was sprayed (along with everything and everyone around) with gasoline from the bursting tank but it did not ignite. That is a rare danger these days. The dangers posed by a capacitor are significant and the battery people will no doubt hype that when the time comes. Hollywood will have a field day shooting scenes where a cop puts a bullet through the 100 kWh capacitor of an escaping vehicle! Technologically, it is like 1910 all over again.

  43. DirkH says:

    While we’re talking about green inventions with the potential to destroy lives, take care when refilling your A/C. The new refrigerant R 1234 yf (proposed as a replacement because it allegedly warms the planet less than the old ones) is flammable at high temperatures (600deg C IIRC) and explosive at low concentrations.

    http://www.r744.com/articles/2010-02-15-tests-confirm-hfc-1234yf-explosive-at-low-concentration.php

    Avoid when possible.

  44. Sal Minella says:

    OK, so there are only 100 million non-Volts and 6128 Volts in the US auto fleet. So, 100,000,000/6128 * 2 actual spontaneous Volt combustions = 32,637 non-Volt equivalent autocombustions.

  45. Spork says:

    The danger of electric cars as compared to conventional cars (as I understand it) is in the fire and rescue side. Yes, gasoline burns “real good”. But fires are normally put out with water. I have a couple of fire fighter friends that have been through electric/hybrid rescue training and are scared to death of them.

    One added gotcha is that there is no standard “cut-off” mechanism. Each and every make/model requires a different method and a different location to disable the electrics. Even if standardized, a crushed metal frame can make all sorts of unexpected changes to the wiring harness.

  46. I discussed this with a friend of mine who is a power systems expert in the satellite field. The large Aerospace companies have incredibly detailed specifications on how to handle these batteries, including vibration and shock specifications. If a battery gets more than an X shock in handling, it is removed from possible use on a satellite due to the number of incidents involving spontaneous combustion. The problem is almost impossible to fix due to the way that the batteries are made today.

    People who know these battery technologies well, know about this problem. There is no way that the engineers at GM did not know about this from day one.

  47. Kevin Schurig says:

    You mean people trying to push the “green” agenda would lie about a key component of their agenda? Say it ain’t so. I mean, they all are on the up and up, clean as a whistle, as honest as Abe, etc., so they would never doctor reports, data, computer models, or repress unfavorable reports that would harm the “green” movement.

  48. Claude Harvey says:

    Re:mkelly says:
    December 9, 2011 at 7:28 am

    “If the cars are given back does GM have to then pay the $7500 back to the govenrment or does the purchaser? Someone got the money(credit/deduction).”

    I’m guessing that the Volt purchase tax credit is like the “solar plant 30% investment tax credit”. The instant that plant goes into continuous operation that solar tax credit is the investor’s to keep, even if the plant subsequently collapse in ruins, forfeits on its loans or is sold to others. There is no provision in the tax code for recapture of the credit.

    Even if GM deducts that $7,500 credit from the price it agrees to pay the customer to “buy back” the car (notice the term is “buy back”; not “cancel purchase”), I’m guessing the U.S. Treasury will be $7,500 poorer for each Chevy Volt originally sold because the benefit will have simply been transferred to GM.

  49. daveburton says:

    Sal Minella wrote, “At $.20/KWH, the cost to charge up is $4.44 or the equivalent of about 1.25 gallons of gas giving a fuel efficiency of about 30 mi/gal.”

    But where I live (NC) electricity costs half that. (Unfortunately, “green” mandates from Gov. Bev “we should postpone elections for two years” Perdue and her ilk are pushing the rates higher.)

    Dave

  50. Mike McMillan says:

    Sal Minella says:
    OK, so there are only 100 million non-Volts and 6128 Volts in the US auto fleet. So, 100,000,000/6128 * 2 actual spontaneous Volt combustions = 32,637 non-Volt equivalent autocombustions.

    So we have 61 ppm, just to put it into climate perspective. As long as we keep it under 350 ppm, we shouldn’t have any runaway warming, based on my computer model.

    Electricity here in free-market Texas runs 9.8 cents per Kwh, so even tho we grow gas here, that still changes the economics in favor of the govt Firebird Volt. I’d need to install a firewall in the canopy connecting my garage to the mansion, but that’s an inconsequential expense. Then back up my computer files off-site.

  51. mkelly says:

    Claude Harvey says:
    December 9, 2011 at 8:58 am
    Re:mkelly says:
    December 9, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Lost money thats what I figured too. MF Globals all over the place.

  52. Tom E. says:

    So, is Alessandro Volta rolling is his grave over the vehicle named after him?

    What really disappoints me, is what the volt became, from what I recall the early prototypes where more of a series hybrid device like a locomotive diesel electric, with a smaller battery in between. Not a Prius parallel’ish wannabe. Rumor had it the one of the early development mules has a small 3 cylinder diesel that would run with varying duty cycles, with a battery sized for power boost during acceleration and to allow the engine not to run at stop lights and provide a reasonable charge/discharge duty cycle on the highway. Basically to allow the diesel engine to either be on, running at peak efficiency charging the battery, or completely off.

    So without a twin power source transmission (ala Prius), and small 100 lbs battery, the vehicle was lighter than any other hybrid, and capable of gas mileage exceeding 70mpg (diesel version)

    I was absolutely stocked reading these rumors.

    Then as development continued, and it became more and more like a plug-in Prius, I was dismayed.

    Now, well, why oh why????

    face palms all around …..

  53. AnonyMoose says:

    “Chevy Volt owners can be confident that their cars are safe to drive.”

    Unless they’re on fire when they get into them, then they can be somewhat less confident.
    For that matter, is a vehicle safe to drive if you can drive it fast enough to keep the flames away from you?

  54. jorgekafkazar says:

    “Quem deus vult perdere, Prius dementat.”
    (Whom the gods would destroy, the Prius drives crazy.)

    [LaHood said:] “Chevy Volt owners can be confident that their cars are safe to drive.”

    Did you all notice that he didn’t say, “We Chevy Volt owners can be confident that our cars are safe to drive?”

  55. Downdraft says:

    The press and others have distorted this problem. The fires occurred days or weeks after the crash, and required a series of events to trigger it. That information was not revealed in most of the reports I read and in none of the TV reports. The idea that the car spontaneously combusts immediately after an accident makes good press but it is not correct and not fare to GM or to the owners.
    The NHTSA was, I feel, justified in not immediately sounding alarms since there was no immediate danger to drivers. If it were a case of fires immediately after a crash, or while driving, then yes, a delay in the warnings would be inexcusable. The crash tests showed that the car is as safe as other, non-electric cars. GM’s procedures call for the battery to be discharged after a crash. Do that and there would be no problem. Would be park a wrecked car with a connected battery and full tank of fuel in your garage?
    Be skeptical of reports of the car catching fire in a garage in NC. The Volt was not the source. Another one did catch fire, in WI, because it had been in a crash three weeks earlier and lost its coolant. A couple of planes have had fires that likely were caused by batteries being shipped, but they were not Chevy Volt batteries.
    I don’t agree that the government should subsidize these or any other cars. The price is too high and the all-electric range not enough for most people. Drop the price $10K, and increase the range to 80 miles, and it would meet my needs.

    For comparison, from http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files/pdf/osvehicle.pdf
    329,500 vehicle fires, 565 civilian deaths, 1,825 civilian injuries were reported in 2002.
    Public fire departments responded to 329,500 vehicle fires in the United States during
    2002. These fires caused 565 civilian deaths, 1,825 civilian injuries and $1,392,000,000
    in direct property damage. (See Table 1.) Vehicle fires accounted for 20% of the
    1,687,500 fires reported to U.S. fire departments that year. In that same year, vehicle
    fires caused 17% of all civilian fire deaths, 10% of all civilian fire injuries and 13% of the
    nation’s property loss to fire. More people died from vehicle fires than from apartment
    fires, and vehicle fires caused seven times the number of deaths caused by non-residential
    structure fires.

    As you can see, vehicle fires are a real issue that needs attention.

    Full disclosure: I drive a Chevy Silverado HD. I have no financial interest in GM and wouldn’t invest a penny.

  56. _Jim says:

    Batteries – ANY battery – should be considered a ‘hand gren-ade’ with the pin in … the wrong move and the pin comes out … I had a battery pack for a 2-way radio melt a couple decades back, when a pen or pencil came across the contracts while it was in my briefcase. Fortunately, not a high capacity Li-ion or Ni-MH set of cells at that time, so no fire or explosion BUT the plastic battery case deformed (melted) to the point it could not slide back onto the radio …

    .

  57. Phil says:

    @_Jim says:
    December 9, 2011 at 10:57 am

    ……. I had a battery pack for a 2-way radio melt a couple decades back, when a pen or pencil came across the contracts while it was in my briefcase.

    I had a deal melt a couple of decades back, when a lawyer came across the contracts while they were in my briefcase. Sorry – just a little bit of humor. No offense intended. Maybe they should rename it the Chevy Jolt – along the lines of the AMC Matador.

  58. Schadow says:

    Leon Brozyna says:
    December 9, 2011 at 1:07 am
    Reminds me of the story of the man’s house burning down from his Volt catching fire while plugged into the charger, or the story of an air freight shipment of batteries (FedEx or UPS) catching fire and bringing down the plane. The batteries are safe, except when they’re not.

    ******

    It was UPS. I was talking to a UPS pilot in the Dallas airport recently. He was dead-heading to another assignment. I noticed his flight bag displayed a decal memorializing two UPS pilots who were killed on the job and I enquired about it. They were flying a brand new 747 from Japan to Dubai. Nearing their destination, smoke appeared on the flight deck. The Captain left to check the cargo bays. He never came back. The First Officer continued to try to save the aircraft but it crashed in the desert. Subsequent investigation on the ground revealed the source of the fire was a pallet of Li-I batteries.

  59. John-X says:

    Try to imagine if the Bush administration TOOK OVER GM (ponder that for a minute),

    then HID safety data in order to protect “fragile sales.”

    Try to imagine any non-government-subsidized business getting away with this (or with shredding birds, to name but one other example)

  60. Mashiki says:

    Pretty well known in the computer industry that damage to your LION packs will mean bad stuff for your data-centre. Which is why a lot of places shifted back from rackmount LION to PB based onsite temporary, and diesel/ng power. Besides, if you take a li battery and add water fun stuff happens, like fire and explosions. That one’s been known for a while, especially in mobile devices, and if I remember right most of these fires are storage fires after the vehicle has been in a crash. And left outside without removing the battery pack, or ensuring that there won’t be any environmental contact. Even a lead-acid battery will explode in the open given the right opportunity after a crash.

  61. timg56 says:

    I am starting to see a pattern.

    First a report in the WSJ on how FERC has basically abdicated its responsibility by refusing to act on the topic of new EPA regulations which all expert testimony stated a significant risk to the reliability of the nations electrical grid. (This after the EPA deleted statements in their preliminary staff report which acknowledged such risk.)

    Then today this same agency releases a decision stating that BPA acted in a discriminatory matter last spring when it enacted curtailments on power producers, which included wind turbine generators. This after BPA gave preference to wind generators by placing them at the bottom of the curtailment list – i.e. last ones to be effected – and after NW lawmakers urged the agency to wait on the outcome of negotiations between BPA and the wind generators.

    Now we have another government agency with responsibility to protect consumers, compromising themselves in order to support policy of an administration currently in office.

  62. Michael J. Dunn says:

    JuergenK says:
    December 9, 2011 at 4:03 am

    <>

    Actually, lithium is far more reactive than carbon and will happily combust in an atmosphere of carbon dioxide—as will a number of metals. The only safe way to smother a metal fire is with sand (silicon dioxide), and even that may be dicey if lithium is involved. (The ultimate resort would be to use a totally inert substance. Anyone own a liquid argon extinguisher?)

  63. jaymam says:

    Let’s be fair. If a petrol-powered car has a serious accident it’s best to disconnect the battery immediately in case the wiring is damaged. Would you leave a badly damaged car with a full tank of petrol? I wouldn’t. It seems obvious to discharge the battery in a damaged Volt.

  64. DirkH says:

    Downdraft says:
    December 9, 2011 at 10:54 am
    “The press and others have distorted this problem. The fires occurred days or weeks after the crash, and required a series of events to trigger it. That information was not revealed in most of the reports I read and in none of the TV reports. The idea that the car spontaneously combusts immediately after an accident makes good press but it is not correct and not fare to GM or to the owners.
    The NHTSA was, I feel, justified in not immediately sounding alarms since there was no immediate danger to drivers.”

    You are wrong; the first time I read about it in the media they made it very clear that the car was catching fire 3 weeks after the crash test – NOT immediately. It spontaneously combusted after sitting there, seemingly harmless. Had there been a human inside in that moment it would have combusted just as well; I find this MORE shocking to have such a time bomb car than having it combust as a direct consequence of a crash (which would be bad enough).

  65. johanna says:

    All Li batteries are dangerous, but the fire you might get in your phone or your computer is at least likely to be small because the battery is tiny. The ones they put in cars are – not so tiny.

    A few weeks ago, in the annual solar powered car race across the outback here in Australia, one of the cars burst into flames while parked and burned to the ground. No-one is sure why, because there was just a smoking heap of melted polymers and twisted metal left at the end.

    Luckily, the car was in the parking lot and the driver was on a meal break in a restaurant at the time.

    These cars are supposed to be state of the art high tech wonders, and have to pass all sorts of safety tests. And no, it hadn’t been in a crash. The battery casing probably sprung a leak somehow (bumps on the road?) and the rest was inevitable.

    Li batteries in cars are death traps.

  66. Gail Combs says:

    HMMMmmmmm,

    Takeout the battery and hitch up a standardbed Top speed is 30MPH or better (I clocked a friends pair at 40MPH +) The range is up to 100 miles in a day. All this on 7 bale of hay ($42) and a 50# bag of grain ($10) or $42 per week or less. This is the pulling power preferred by the Amish by the way.

    It is interesting to look at the old cars and see they have Shaft Shackles fastened to the front axle of the vehicle so when the engine failed they could easily be hitched to a horse and pulled. http://www.engelscoachshop.com/shafts_files/image011.jpg

  67. Justa Joe says:

    In my line of work I work with rechargeable batteries of various types. When a CONVENTIONAL Lithium – Ion battery burns it does not cause a lithium metal fire. The lithium-Ion battery’s Lithium is already in an oxidized salt form inside the cell. Lithium-Ion is different than Lithium Primary. The greater fire risk of the lithium-ion cells is due to the fact that the electrolyte is a volatile organic solution and not aqueous like most cells, and Also the cell itself packs more power (higher voltage and capacity) than other types of cells so any kind of problem is magnified. It is more susceptible to thermal runaway. A lithium-Ion battery fire can be extinguished in the same ways as any electrical fire. NiMH and Pb-Acid cells also have the risk of venting hydrogen under certain conditions.

    Just about every major lithium-Ion cell manufacturer has had a manufacturing plant burn down at one time or another.

  68. David L says:

    Where’s Ralph “Unsafe at any speed” Nader?

  69. David L says:

    Once I had a regular lead-acid car battery short itself out under the hood when the bracket broke and the battery shifted to contact the positive lead to ground..it exploded in a ball of fire spraying sulfuric acid all over the place. The fireball was the hydrogen/oxygen mixture catching fire from the heat generated from the dead short. Imagine a whole pile of those suckers ganged together essentially in the back seat?

  70. Rich Lambert says:

    According to NHTSA regulations a vehicle manufacturer has 5 days to report a safety defect or noncompliance with a safety regulation to the NHTSA.

  71. Gene says:

    For a site whose readers proclaim they’re interested in facts it’s amazing how few seem to actually go and look any up.

    You regularly ridicule the BBC yet here you take their word for it. Yet, had you done a bit of research you’d quickly realize that neither the NHTSA nor GM could replicate what happened in May, even after crashing numerous Volts. The NHTSA then opted to take the battery packs and subject them to major abuse. Only then, after six months of hammering at the car and its packs, could they get a reaction. Six months! They even used the US military to assist in breaking the batteries. Yet many here sit smugly in front of their computers pontificating about which they know little. For the curious, go read about it in The Economist: http://www.economist.com/node/21541395

    Next, it seems many of the commenters are woefully unaware that 0.1% of car crashes in the US result in a fire. That’s nearly 300,000 fires per year. As there are 6000 Volts in the US by simple arithmetic there should have been 6 fires, yet not one crashed Volt has caught fire.

    The notion that a “minor accident” will breach the battery is beyond stupid. The battery is in the middle of the car. For the battery housing to be breached requires severe damage, to the point the car will be utterly written off.

    The worry about the fire is also misplaced. The fires typically happen weeks later, when the car should have had its battery disconnected. If you’re still in your car 3 weeks after an automobile accident large enough to damage the Volt’s pack you have bigger worries, such as being dead.

    Note, the cables that must be disconnected are labeled with a Firefighter and Cable Snaps picture in bright yellow. Only a fool wouldn’t be able to see it.

    Furthermore, none of the house fires were caused by the Volt. There is this giddy desire to associate every single fire with any Volt that happens to be nearby. The fact is, human stupidity accounts for most house fires. I’ve seen pictures of people plugging their Volt’s into extensions cords when the manual explicitly says to plug it into a dedicated circuit. No manufacturer can build a product to suppress the natural human ability to be more idiotic than anyone can imagine. Ask Einstein.

    Instead of comprehending that the Volt represents the future of motoring many comments seem hellbent on picturing the car purely from a political point of view, even though the car was started well before GM’s bankruptcy. The electrification of the automobile is a foregone conclusion. If there are those who don’t like it, perhaps their ancestors bemoaned us coming down out of the trees a few million years ago.

    For those who still may be a bit confused, look at the Volt as the way towards eliminating a good percentage of oil needs from unfriendly states. The cash spent on a Volt and the gas saved remains in the US. From a national security perspective you’d think most folks would be all for not arming one’s enemies every time they went to a gas station.

    I’d love to see a set of updates on the story posted by Mr. Watts, but I highly doubt it’ll happen. Do note that this whole episode has shown a major disregard for science and testing by this community and has made me begin to question how open and honest a discussion self-described skeptics desire if they immediately jump to a conclusion on the Volt without looking into the facts.

  72. Smokey says:

    Gene,

    Good post. This site is all about different points of view. That’s how the truth gets winnowed out, through online debate, without censorship. But Anthony doesn’t have an obligation to post follow-ups on every article. Commenters can disagree like you did, and maybe change minds if your argument withstands scrutiny.

  73. Claude Harvey says:

    Re: Gene says:
    December 9, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    “Note, the cables that must be disconnected are labeled with a Firefighter and Cable Snaps picture in bright yellow. Only a fool wouldn’t be able to see it.”

    I don’t think you quite “get it” Gene. Lithium-ion batteries are prone to run away internally, generating enormous heat and destroying both the battery and its surroundings. Pulling the input/output cables gets you nothing. The delay between crash and fire in the Chevy Volt strongly suggests internal runaway for which lithium-ion batteries are notorious.

    If you want “followup” and the ultimate scientific truth of the matter, monitor IEEE Spectrum and I guarantee you the postmortem analysis of the Volt failure will eventually appear in that publication. I’ll give you heavy odds the bottom line turns out to be “internal runaway”.

  74. Gene says:

    Claude,

    I know all about internal run away. I’m in high tech. We use li-ion a lot. It’s life. Much as driving with 15 gallons of combustible fluid under your arse is something you get used to.

    The fact remains the Volt’s battery pack only experienced the failures when abused to the point the surrounding car would be considered a total write off. The battery is, after all, in the middle of the car. To damage the middle you have to get there, meaning the folks sitting on either side of the battery are going to be in pretty bad shape.

    It’s not as if a slight bump, a pot hole, or anything minor is going to set the Volt afire. It requires breaching the battery pack. That’s why, ultimately, the NHTSA had to give up on smashing Volts and actually just start smashing battery packs. If it was simply doing some minor damage to the Volt the fires would have been replicated. The fact they couldn’t replicate it for 6 months implies the damage has to be quite substantial.

    Note that the way the packs do finally ignite require all these events to happen:

    1. The car must be in a severe side impact (>35-40mph).
    2. The car must impact a pole or tree or other immovable object (>25mph).
    3. The car must flip over onto its roof.

    Now, I don’t know about you, but that’s one edge case. You have all that happen to you in pretty much any car and you’re going to be pretty badly mangled. The fact the battery might — MIGHT — ignite a week to three weeks later is of little consequence. That car is a writeoff and, with luck, you’re alive.

    In case you think I’m making those 3 steps up, go check what the NHTSA said is required to induce a failure. Those three steps. It’s quite obvious why they couldn’t get a Volt to ignite except by fluke. It’s such an edge case it’s unlikely to ever happen. Even severely damaging packs by themselves didn’t result in fire all the time.

    The car is safer than a gas powered car, considering the 300,000 car fires in the US per year!

  75. John-X said:
    December 9, 2011 at 11:49 am
    Try to imagine if the Bush administration TOOK OVER GM (ponder that for a minute),
    then HID safety data in order to protect “fragile sales.”
    ——————————————————————-
    obama and the other neocoms won’t have to worry about fragile sales soon: if they can tell us what medical insurance and light bulbs we can and cannot buy, soon they will be telling us what car we must buy.

    There is a Volt in your future – unless you revolt.

  76. TimH says:

    Gene and Downdraft … thanks for lending some sanity to this thread.

  77. Justa Joe says:

    Gene, Battery packs can be damaged without being punctured by way of the shock of a collision without even showing an outward sign of damage. I’m not sating that’s what happened here because I don’t know. I’m involved with getting electronic devices UL approved.

    Your argument seems to suggest that the Volt’s battery system is nearly impervious to damage. I find that rather hard to believe on its face. I’m not sure what the blog proprietors would need to update on this story. All you’ve provided is your personal opinion on what is the car of the future without any real basis for it. The battery powered vehicle was displaced from the roadways by the superior internal combustion engine once already.

  78. TimH says:

    Claude, the 3 week delay for the NTHSA post crash fire probably had to do with the coolant surrounding the battery pack… the coolant itself is not conductive or reactive with the undischarged energy in the pack… but when the coolant dries and crystalizes, it can react or become conductive and cause a fire if there is still charge present in the battery cells. This is one of the reasons that damaged battery pack need to be properly discharged… a procedure that the NTHSA failed to follow. The investigation is still necessary because if the NTHSA didn’t follow the discharge procedure, it will surely be missed by salvage operators at some point.

  79. daveburton says:

    Gene wrote, “Next, it seems many of the commenters are woefully unaware that 0.1% of car crashes in the US result in a fire… As there are 6000 Volts in the US by simple arithmetic there should have been 6 fires…”

    Not unless all 6000 Volts have been crashed.

  80. Claude Harvey says:

    Gene says:
    December 9, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    “Claude,

    I know all about internal run away. I’m in high tech. We use li-ion a lot. It’s life.”

    Interesting you didn’t think of that in your “Disconnect the cables” solution. I’m not joining you in “going tribal” over the pros and cons of battery-powered vehicles. The consumer market will be the final arbiter on that one. The fact is that more than one lithium-ion battery has burst into flames for no apparent reason sometime after a crash. I simply pointed out that lithium-ion batteries are notorious for doing exactly that and those reasons have nothing to do with whether or not the battery is connected to load at the time of the failure.

  81. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From TimH on December 9, 2011 at 7:30 pm:

    (…) This is one of the reasons that damaged battery pack need to be properly discharged… a procedure that the NTHSA failed to follow. The investigation is still necessary because if the NTHSA didn’t follow the discharge procedure, it will surely be missed by salvage operators at some point.

    Not so fast! NHTSA didn’t know there was such a procedure, they can’t be faulted for not following it when they weren’t informed of it!
    Nov 11, 2011
    http://www.freep.com/article/20111111/BUSINESS0101/111111039/Chevrolet-Volt-catches-fire-weeks-after-crash-prompting-closer-look-safety

    General Motors believes the fire occurred because NHTSA did not drain the energy from the Volt’s battery following the crash, which is a safety step the automaker recommends, GM spokesman Rob Peterson said. NHTSA had not been told of the safety protocol, Peterson said.

    For a juicy detail I haven’t seen mentioned previously, the safety protocol didn’t exist. There was an internal GM process, I’d guess like would be needed for prototypes and testing, but no releasable protocol to provide to NHTSA and emergency responders.

    Originally Nov 17, 2011, Bloomburg, reported Nov 29 in Bloomburg Businessweek (bold added in text):
    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-11-29/gm-developing-methods-to-handle-volt-batteries-after-crashes.html

    GM Developing Methods to Handle Volt Batteries After Crashes

    Nov. 17 (Bloomberg) — General Motors Co. is developing ways to discharge the battery in Chevrolet Volts after accidents to prevent fires like the one that followed a government crash- test of the plug-in hybrid car in May.

    GM is working on safety practices with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and will make them public when completed, Rob Peterson, a GM spokesman, said yesterday. The Detroit-based automaker has taken longer to develop a plan than Nissan Motor Co. did for its Leaf electric car. Both the Volt and Leaf went on sale in December 2010.

    “I can’t conceive that they didn’t have a standard operating procedure in place for handling a wrecked vehicle before the car went on sale,” said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety in Washington. “NHTSA and GM should have established protocols in place before it went on sale.”

    The procedures are intended to keep rescue workers, dealers and auto-salvagers safe and head off potential fires that may jeopardize the safety reputation of the Volt, which is the focus of GM’s marketing.

    GM had a process to discharge Volt batteries. The automaker didn’t distribute it to tow truck drivers, body shops, salvage yards and others who may handle the car after emergency crews stabilize the scene of an accident. The company was sending engineers out to check any Volt that got in an accident and, if needed, discharge the battery, Peterson said.

    “We had a process internally but I don’t believe it was shared with anyone,” Peterson said in a phone interview. “The incident with NHTSA raised awareness that we had to develop a procedure and alert all stakeholders.”

    First they put the Volt on the market.
    Then came the post-NHTSA crash fire.
    —where NHTSA was blamed for not following the protocol
    —that GM admitted they had never told NHTSA
    Now we know there was no emergency protocol, just a “process” suitable for engineers to perform.
    NOW they are working on standard procedures so emergency responders and others working on crashed vehicles can stay safe, nearly a year after they started selling them.

    How can anyone defend Government Motors for this? No one has died yet, but the potential was there. Emergency responders didn’t know how to deal with crashed Volts, since GM never bothered to develop a standard safety procedure they could reveal to them.

    Instead, GM was sending out engineers to quietly examine crashed Volts and do their “process.” How can this not smell like they were covering up something? And how could GM have known they’d be alerted about every crash? Were they counting on their OnStar GPS-capable built-in spying system to notify them every time? Was there one or more GM executives freaking out because crashed Volts were being securely held at NHTSA facilities, where those GM engineers couldn’t get at them?

    As said, those standard procedures should have been developed and released to protect people and “…head off potential fires that may jeopardize the safety reputation of the Volt…” I would have said “jeopardize people and property” but then I’m not into marketing. This brings up an interesting question: If it’s bad PR to not develop and release those standard safety procedures so people know how to deal with the dangers after a crash, would it have been even worse PR to let the public know what those hazards are?

  82. Sal Minella says:

    I was recently researching the history of a building that had a very odd “flying bridge” structure featuring a tunnel-like entrance to a large covered courtyard. Located in Rochester New York, it was, in fact, an early electric car charging station built in the early twentieth century. In the process, I came across a comprehensive list of American electric automobile companies most of which were located in central and western NY and Ohio. There were quite a lot of them (over 50) and they all have one thing in common – none of them exist today.

    Their products had many things in common as well – they featured:

    Outrageous cost.
    Lack of sufficient power in poor weather (hot or cold).
    Limited range (maxxed out at around 35 mi.)
    Lack of charging infrastructure.

    It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

  83. Paul R says:

    Fair go kadaka We here in the dominion of oz get shagged on pretty much every deal going, there is no need to draw the audiences attention to the swelling.
    It’s a Holden it won’t blow up unless a tree jumps out in front of it.

  84. daveburton says:

    Gene wrote, “Next, it seems many of the commenters are woefully unaware that 0.1% of car crashes in the US result in a fire. Thats nearly 300,000 fires per year.

    Then Gene wrote, “The car is safer than a gas powered car, considering the 300,000 car fires in the US per year!”

    That’s not right, either. Depending on what source you believe, there are between 5,000,000 and 10,000,000 motor vehicle accidents per year in the USA, most of them car crashes. 0.1% of 10,000,000 is just 10,000, not 300,000.

  85. RichG says:

    Safe use of lithium batteries has been extensively studied by the US military, and the government has understood the safety risks of using this technology for many years. DoD has strict standards and testing requirements that products using this technology must meet before the product is given to soldiers.

    A good summary can be found in this brief:
    http://proceedings.ndia.org/5670/Lithium_Battery-Winchester.pdf

    What testing was done here ? Looks to me like there was none – as the testing agency doesn’t even seem to be aware that there is this problem with this technology.

  86. Gene says:

    I find it all rather odd that some worry about a small possibility of a fire weeks after an accident and yet are still driving around in cars that will crumple like tin cans if hit by a modern car. A quick review of crash test videos of the past 15 – 20 years shows massive improvements. When various organizations take cars from the 50s and 60s and smash them into modern cars one thing is immediately evident: you’ll most likely survive in a modern car, you will die in the older car, and in a gruesome way.

    The electrification of the automobile is inevitable. Nothing will ever be 100% safe. The fact that some people seem concerned about a risk weeks after an accident to a car that has been utterly destroyed in a wreck astounds me. It’s like worrying about a forthcoming storm damaging the inside of your house the day after your house has burned to the ground.

    I also find it funny the same people moaning about a potential risk in the Volt walk around with a Li-Ion battery pack in their pants.

    As someone who has had a car catch fire and then burn to the ground, I feel perfectly safe driving gas-powered vehicles. I feel even more safe driving the Volt because GM has gone the extra mile worrying about the very negative nancies out there that seem hell-bent on stopping progress that’s good for everyone.

    And for the curious, I’m getting 350+mpg in the Volt. The horror. The shame. I might even have to fill it up in, oh, February or March at this rate. And the cold-weather range is about 25 miles per charge. Not the 10 someone posted above. I don’t know of any Volt owner getting 10 unless his commute is up hill, both ways, in the snow at -20F all winter long.

  87. RACookPE1978 says:

    Ref: Gene says:
    December 10, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Are you going to pay me back that $15,000.00 you took from my family and my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren to pay for your (unsafe-but-feel-good) toy?

    Today’s CAFE standards and light-weight cars are estimated to increase the death rate by over 4,500 people per year – compared to those of the earlier (pre-2000) cars.

  88. Spector says:

    Electric Vehicle Problems:
    I wonder what the price of ‘electric gasoline’ is:

    I see the EPA is reported to say that 33.7 kWh of electricity is equivalent to a gallon of gasoline, and the *average* cost of electricity is 12 cents per kWh in the USA. That would give a net cost equivalent of just over four dollars a gallon from an electrical power grid that, now, does not have the capacity to support the load of total conversion to electric vehicles. Your cost may vary depending on your local electric rate, mileage, and efficiency factors.

    Note: I have seen some green activists saying that the cost of electricity should be increased (or ‘sky rocketed’) to more than 30 cents per kWh in the USA and Canada to compensate for power plant environmental impacts and encourage conservation. That rate would make ‘electric gasoline’ cost over ten dollars an equivalent gallon.

  89. Gene says:

    RACookPE1978.

    Why should I pay you back anything I didn’t take any of your money, let alone “$15,000″.

    First off, the credit in the US is $7500. It’s a tax credit — i.e., a tax cut. Meaning, if you don’t have the revenue pursuant to that credit you won’t realize it on your tax form. Secondly, I’m a Canadian so you’re posturing is even more amusing. Third, since I’ve paid millions in taxes over the years, getting a few bucks back for a car seems like a fair exchange. I could have worked to park that money away from the tax man. I believe in paying my fair share, but have no qualms of taking advantage of something if it allows a technology to emerge more quickly. As an early adopter I’ve paid a premium for technology for years you probably now buy cheaply (computers, flat panels, Li-Ion batteries for portable devices, …). You don’t see me asking you to repay my largesse for ensuring you can buy a 50″ LCD for $1000 when 10 years ago it was closer to $10k! Or paying $5 – 10k for a computer 20 years ago?

    As to today’s cars being less safe, let me tell you a story. My daughter was hit broadside by a Crown Victoria in a modern, small vehicle at 40mph. Both cars were totalled. She walked away with minor bruising and a couple of minor cuts. Weight has nothing to do with safety. Take a behemoth from the 60s or 70s weighing twice what a modern Ford Focus or Chevy Cruze and the occupants of the Cruze will survive while the occupants of that 60s or 70s car will most probably perish. And go look up crash tests on pre-2000 cars, such as the 1997 Grand Prix, and watch how it crumples during the crash tests. Then watch the same tests on a Cruze or Focus.

    If anything, people have taken the safety of the cars as a reason to be reckless believing they can now drive like morons and not have to pay the consequences. If you think you’re indestructible you’ll behave in utterly moronic ways. It’s why people go climb peaks when they shouldn’t, fully aware the rescue teams will come and save their arse. But I’d rather have the safety gear and a totalled car than not have it and have to bury my daughter.

    For those fine readers willing to read a great article on this whole over-reaction, Car & Driver has an excellent post on their blog.

    http://blog.caranddriver.com/chevy-volt-hysteria-we’re-all-going-to-die-or-an-application-of-facts-and-rationality-to-flaming-batteries-and-melting-chargers/

  90. Gene says:

    Spector,

    The estimate by the EPA is obviously ludicrous. The EPA is using the total energy in a gallon of gas, but no car is anywhere close to 100% efficient.

    Here are real numbers I see, and that are seen by many Volt owners.

    It takes about 10 – 12kWh to fill up a Volt. That gives you 40 or so miles of range (60km). We’ve had 50 miles in the warmer weather (about 75km)). It’s dropped to about 30 miles now (about 45km). Since off-peak charging costs about 8 – 10 cents here, you’re looking at $1 or so. Since 40mpg is more than most cars can achieve on a combined cycle, the price is equivalent to $0.50 – $1.00 per gallon of gas not $4+ as you stated.

    The problem is equating the two. The EPA has a difficult time sorting this out because this is all new. But it should be based on range and cost of electricity. If you can go 40 miles on $1 on electric but only 20 miles on $1 of gas, then the electric car is more efficient. For some vehicles, even 20 miles on a $1 of gas is far fetched, it’s more like 10 miles per $1 of gas.

    BTW, since 80% of North Americans commute less than 40 mile (60km) per day, owners of Volts use next to no gas during said commutes. That means no imported oil, etc. (Not that that matters much to Canadians as we’re energy self-sufficient, but pumping less pollution into the air is good — most of my power is nuclear and hydro, besides). If one could snap their fingers and replace all the passenger cars with Volt-like cars in the US the fuel savings would be huge. That money could go to build new, efficient nuclear, power and other power plants. And the money would stay in North America, providing jobs for Americans and Canadians as opposed to providing guns and ammo for those who wish to see the West destroyed.

    All in all I see the Volt and its successors and copiers as one of the most profoundly patriotic purchases one can make. An advanced technology, designed and built in North America, keeping cash in North America, employing North Americans in Detroit and across the continent while reducing the need for “blood” oil.

  91. David A. Evans says:

    Gene has obviously never driven a BMW 635D!

    DaveE.

  92. Gene says:

    David,

    No, never a 635D. But I have driven a 750iL, 330, M5, CTS-V, and a slew of Mercedes. Plus Pontiacs and Toyotas and Hondas and Buicks and Fords and Chryslers and Chevs.

    A diesel engine isn’t cool, the Volt is cool. And to realize how cool, BMW hired the Volt designer away from GM to build an equivalent vehicle for them. Hence the i-series of cars from BMW that are forthcoming. Obviously the GM-haters will fall in love with BMW’s offerings being that they’re from BMW and hence automatically superior, even if the design will be, in effect, the same as the Volt…

  93. u.k.(us) says:

    Gene says:
    December 10, 2011 at 12:08 pm
    “First off, the credit in the US is $7500. It’s a tax credit — i.e., a tax cut. Meaning, if you don’t have the revenue pursuant to that credit you won’t realize it on your tax form.”
    ====================
    And our already bankrupt government goes further into debt.
    Would you buy the car if the $7500 was added to your credit card ?
    The current U.S. debt is about 14 Trillion dollars.

  94. _Jim says:

    kadaka (KD Knoebel) says on December 10, 2011 at 2:09 am


    For a juicy detail I haven’t seen mentioned previously, the safety protocol didn’t exist. There was an internal GM process, I’d guess like would be needed for prototypes and testing, but no releasable protocol to provide to NHTSA and emergency responders.

    Anyone here ever slam the trunk on their Ford Taurus a tad too hard? Like while out, stopped in traffic, and the stupid hood just pops open for no reason? Then, less than a minute later the car dies in that same traffic on account of “the crash-detection fuel-cutoff switch” to the fuel pump has activated?

    Not too funny at the time, but I can grin about it now … the point of all this, in the event of an actual *crash* the fuel pump would cut off pumping no more fuel, either to an engine (that could catch on fire) or fueling an actual fire that might have started … maybe the “Volt” needs a manually-activated “Discharge” switch to begin draining the battery … an appropriately-sized (bank of) resistor(s) as part of the hood assembly maybe (to act as a ‘heat sink’ for the energy dissipated in this process) …

    .

  95. Justa Joe says:

    Gene says:
    December 10, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    …Obviously the GM-haters will fall in love with BMW’s offerings being that they’re from BMW and hence automatically superior, even if the design will be, in effect, the same as the Volt…
    ———————–
    I don’t have a problem with GM per se. Even though I’m a Ford guy I have utmost respect for GM’s LSX series of V8 engines, which power vehicles like the Corvette, for example. The jury is still out on EV’s in general. You can toss the Leaf in there too. Current priorities of GM in terms of pushing the Volt are suspect at best. The imposition of the Volt on consumers and tax payers does not appear to be foremostly based on engineering or even a response to the market place. If you know what I mean.

    As far as the safety concerns go I agree with you in part. The safety concerns may not be a great issue. Time will tell (if the car lasts that long). However, the concern of this story is that since the govt has a vested interest in this vehicle’s ‘success’ will the car be given proper scrutiny considering the administration’s ‘green’ at any cost thrust.

    Like most people I’ll take a pass on all of the EV’s Volt included. In most cases a car with only about 6000 sold (who knows how many to the Govt.) and half of those units the buyers want to return it seems would be deemed a flop.

  96. Spector says:

    RE: Gene: (December 10, 2011 at 12:24 pm)
    “Spector, … Here are real numbers I see, and that are seen by many Volt owners.
    “It takes about 10 – 12kWh to fill up a Volt. That gives you 40 or so miles of range (60km). We’ve had 50 miles in the warmer weather (about 75km)). It’s dropped to about 30 miles now (about 45km). Since off-peak charging costs about 8 – 10 cents here, you’re looking at $1 or so. Since 40mpg is more than most cars can achieve on a combined cycle, the price is equivalent to $0.50 – $1.00 per gallon of gas not $4+ as you stated.”

    Point taken.

    Of course, I assume you are talking about kWh from the power mains, not the battery. Today, I believe most electric power in the USA is derived by burning carbon, in one form or another. If all your neighbors go electric, there may no longer be an ‘off-peak usage’ cost break.

    In California, I understand there is now a move afoot, possibly related to the Fukushima disaster, to force all nuclear power plants in that state to shut down. I think that would noticeably increase the cost of electricity in that state and any other state choosing the same course of action.

  97. _Jim says:

    Gene says December 9, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    For a site whose readers proclaim they’re interested in facts it’s amazing how few seem to actually go and look any up. …

    I don’t have a dog in this race save the objection to ‘tax credits’ as an inducement to buy; “no life support” (tax credits or tax dollars) for unsustainable, unworkable ‘economics’ seeking the green nirvana, no matter how forceful the proponents: for Wind, for Solar or for ‘the Volt’ …

    .

  98. Gene says:

    Justa Joe,

    Few have asked for the car to be taken back. Certainly not half! That’d be 3000. Every article has said a half dozen to a dozen. Don’t exaggerate.

    As to the sales numbers, it’s a new type of car. Sales will be slowly damped up and are actually in line with what GM stated were targets for 2011 back in 2008. Next year GM’s plan is for 45,000 Volt sales in the US. Since it’s on target according to GM’s original estimates from 3 years ago it can’t be a flop. It’s new tech and as such will sell to early adopters and thus in small numbers initially. Compared to the first year the Prius came out, about a decade ago, the Volt is well ahead of those sales figures. And the Prius really wasn’t that new or innovative.

    Ultimately sales of electric cars will hit millions per year, but they will be a small percentage initially because that’s how all new technologies roll out. Look how long it took LCDs to become mainstream! And that’s just a big TV, nothing overtly radical.

    Most deliveries have been to individuals, like myself, who put an order for one in months in advance. The waiting list is still 5-6 months, though GM is hoping to get that down as the factory continues to ramp up.

    And remember, the Volt was a reaction to the market’s demand for GM to have a greener fleet and an answer to the Prius. GM opted to leapfrog everyone and has. Sadly many people seem incapable of comprehending this, instead biased by poor reporting from incompetent media.

    And, Jim, I’d recommend you look at the larger outlays in credits going to big oil or to ethanol — billions — rather than the millions going to the EV credits. And as a Canadian I’m not contributing to the deficit or debt down there.

  99. Sal Minella says:

    The Volt gets about 2.5 mi/KWH under absolutely ideal conditions and, more typically about 1.5 – 2 mi/KWH. Somewhere around 100K mi the battery pack will need to be replaced at a cost of abour $10K US. Total cost for power, somewhere in the range of 20 cents per mile giving a gas true equivalent of about 20 mi/gal in moderate climate conditions.
    .
    The Volt cannot be argued to be a less expensive alternative with the Chevy Cruze logging 42 MPG at a cost of about $16K US. The price difference alone will buy about 6500 gallons of gasoline or another Cruze and 2500 gallons of gas.

    The Volt cannot be considered “greener” since it burns coal and presents significant future toxic landfill issues.

    As far as safety goes, 6000 Volts sold with about 2000 of those going to private buyers and two house fires – wellllllll?

    It is an interesting and expensive toy that does not seem to indicate the future of automobile technology. Direct injection of gasoline and air along with better fuel metering algorithms and improved transmission technologies will boost economy cars close to 50 MPG. This will make it hard for the Volts of the world to compete without the intervention of government. That intervention is in force now with gasoline around $4/gal even as the US becomes a significant exporter. Forced use of ETOH in gasoline and ETOH subsidies add to cost. Significant gov’t givebacks and purchases for EVs further attempts to slant in favor of the EV.

    With all of that in mind and the added fact that all of us taxpayers have to foot part of the bill for each EV sold makes it an onerous idea to most of us. Every dollar rebated or forgiven one taxpayer must be covered by the remaining taxpayers making it everyone’s cost. Every dollar payed by a utility company for excess and unuseable wind or solar power must be paid for by all other users of power.

    Speaking for myself, I don’t care if you squander your own money on magical technology – just stop spending my money!

  100. _Jim says:

    Gene says December 10, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    A diesel engine isn’t cool, the Volt is cool.

    The hi-tech little diesel VW isn’t cool?

    Which planet are you on?

    .

  101. _Jim says:

    Gene says on December 10, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    And, Jim, I’d recommend you look at the larger outlays in credits going to big oil or to ethanol — billions — rather than the millions going to the EV credits. And as a Canadian I’m not contributing to the deficit or debt down there.

    … and *those* benefit you, too, double-dipper (there are other issues with that statement of yours, an ‘old saw’ brought up every time an arg like this takes place; see archives on this site for refutation).

    The argument still stands notwithstanding hand-waving and diversion to the contrary.

    And BTW, the name, if addressing me, is “_Jim” (OTW too many Jim(s) on the board).

    .

  102. Sal Minella says:

    In summary, the most egregious “green” scams in the public spotlight today are the highly subsidized EV, wind, and solar programs. Based upon the discussions on this board, I would tend to believe that many posters are technically proficient people who have some small handle on Physics and thermodynamics. There seems to be a low opinion of the magical thinking that enables these scams. The rest of us are just angry about the fact that “greenies” strut about with an air of superiority while robbing their neighbors. Yes, it is theft even if the government steals for you because, If you refuse to receive the stolen property then the primary thief will soon stop stealing.

    Fires and fuel efficiency be damned, it’s all about being victimized by know-nothings. Buy a Lambo or a Ferrari and I love ya because YOU paid for it.

  103. Gene says:

    Sal,

    None of the house fires were the Volt’s fault. Again, read the facts. Not the hearsay.

    The range of the Volt from 10c – 25c is 55 – 70km. That’s what we’re getting. From 0 – 10c it goes from 45 – 60km on a charge, depending on the outside ambient temperature. For the metrically challenged, that works out to be 4+ miles per kWh. In the coldest months people have been experiencing about 2+ miles per kWh. I don’t know where you get your numbers, but they are fabrications. If your numbers were right the Volt would get 15 – 25 miles per charge, which is obviously ludicrous as it’d have made the news big time if that’s what people were averaging. Even driving like a complete arse I’ve gotten 58km (~40 miles) to a charge, driving normally I’ve experienced 75km (~50 miles). And that’s a full mix of highway and city driving each and every day. My typical daily commute is just shy of 60kms. The temperatures here in Ontario are below zero Celsius regularly now and we’re still getting 48+km to a charge. It’s sad to watch people clutch at fabrications re: the Volt in what can only be the result of some type of pathological cognitive dissonance pertaining to GM having developed the most advanced electric car in the world.

    As to “coal fired Volt’s”. Odd, I don’t see a coal generator on it.

    Depending where your power comes from affects how the electricity is produced. Many places use power sources other than coal. In Canada, hydro and nuclear are the largest power generators (in Ontario they account for more than 75%). And, there’s all that “clean coal” that has made headlines on this site.

    The pack does not have to be replaced after 10 years. That’s just another tale told by anti-Volt zealots. GM warrants the battery to retain its full charge capability for 8 years, thereafter it will degrade but still be useable. It doesn’t go from “fully useful” to “dead” at 10 years. And the current price of a pack is not reflective of a pack 10 years from now. It will most likely be $1000 or so. Considering that the Volt requires nearly no maintenance it’s an offsetting cost to the possibly necessary battery replacement. Next gen battery prices already peg the Gen II packs for the Volt at 1/3 the price of current packs, and those packs are due out in about 2 years. That’s how technology works, prices go down over time.

    And where do you get your figures of 2000 going to private buyers, implying 4000 to corporations? I’ve seen no such figures. Again, back it up with facts. Hearsay doesn’t count.

    As to comparing the Volt to the Cruze, that’s disingenuous. Might as well compare it to a bicycle then. The Volt is a luxury compact, akin to a 3-series BMW in many ways. I was in the market for a car of a specific price point and appointments. The Cruze didn’t meet that. The 3-series, Buick Regal, G37, etc. all fit as did the Volt. The Volt is just cooler. In fact, if you’re just looking for basic transportation and are worrying about money, buy a used car. It makes more sense. And luxury cars never truly make sense. But those of us who buy cars with modern amenities are the ones that allow said technology to trickle down to more pedestrian rides. It’s how the world functions.

    My point re: the tax credits is that to be honest you have to be against all tax credits, not just the one for the Volt. Especially considering the fact the EV tax credits really don’t amount to as much as do others.

    _Jim,

    Never saw the underscore, it’s hidden by the highlight.

    No, a diesel is not cool. No matter how small, it’s still just a diesel. I work in high tech. The Volt is considered cool by everyone I know. The drivetrain and electronics are very very advanced, very futuristic. Diesels, regardless of size. They’re not considered that cool by anyone I know.

    If we’re going to move forward on technology it requires people buy into it. If you want to remain mired in the past, so be it. But a look at history shows governments have always subsidized technologies, be they aircraft, roadways, electrical grids, etc.

    Besides, according to conservative financial theory, if someone retains money via a tax cut they spend it more appropriately than the government, so … the $7500 will be better spent than had the government received those funds as revenue.

  104. Gene says:

    Sal,

    re: wind/solar, etc. I, too am against them but for more technical reasons. If they were practical and provided reliable and clean power, they’d be great. But they don’t provide either, so they’re just a waste of money. Better to expend capital on nuclear and hydro plants.

    I understand your frustration with the tax credit, but look at it from my perspective. I’ve paid millions in taxes over the years. I’ve not tried to shunt money overseas to hide it, etc. Maybe I’m just stupid for being patriotic and paying my fair share. Having a small tax credit is not robbing anyone, since it’s just a bit less taxes I’m paying. And the lower fuel requirements of the Volt means more money staying here, as opposed to going abroad.

    The US ships $400B to offshore oil producers. If 30% of that could be recouped via electric vehicles that would be $100B that could be spent in the US building new power plants, etc. I just don’t comprehend how helping a nascent technology get going so as to be of long term benefit to the US economy, the US national interest, etc. is a bad thing.

    As to your statement re: “stolen property”, since the money is mine in the first place and I’m taxed on it, how is it stolen if the government opts to tax less of it? Then are all the other tax cuts Americans have enjoyed “stolen property” as well?

    I’ve read many of the comments and articles on this site for years. I agree with some, disagree with others. I have multiple degrees in science, computer science and math. So I get much of what is written. I remain mildly skeptical, but mostly because I used to create computer models for complex networks for a living. They were never fully accurate so a model of the climate is even less so. I’ve looked at the “leaked” code, which is atrocious. But I do believe we’re changing the environment. Pollution is a bigger concern. But our CO2 output may be impacting/aggravating the climate. It’s just that from what I’ve read I’m not certain we can fully see a signal in the data. It’s why I’ve pushed my MPs here in Canada to demand all data be open and that unified models be funded and created by governments worldwide that can be accessed by everyone. Open science is key, and open models that are maintained by a core group of qualified computer scientists will ensure we have useful models. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

    Although I’m not a “greenie”, ironically, I’m greener than any of my green friends. Insulation, high efficiency appliances, furnaces, etc. low-e argon gas windows, etc. all add up to savings for me. So my house is very efficient, even though it’s nearly 30 years old. It’s greener than many new houses, much to the chagrin of my green friends who also tend to fall into emotional arguments. I tend to do that to people by not fitting a particular mold. And it gives me great joy that people must do mental gymnastics to decipher me since I can’t be stereotyped.

    But as a Canadian, even a card carrying Conservative Canadian, I’m still considered by many Americans to be a liberal lefty pinko — universal healthcare is a right of a civilized people, for example. But if my American friends figure me too liberal, so be it. I won’t even try to dissuade people from those opinions. After all, everyone has a right to their opinions. I, like many, just desire they be backed by facts.

  105. _Jim says:

    Gene says on December 11, 2011 at 10:01 am

    I work in high tech.

    I’ll bet I’ve worked in more, and higher tech, than you have.

    (What do you think – that we are out here are just potato farmers?)

    Get over yourself already …

    .

  106. Tom E. says:

    There are several incorrect assumptions made above
    1) Take out that 80′s Crown Vic and replace it with a 2012 E class, let’s see who does better against a new [sub] compact from Honda

    2) All of the $/mile comparisons between gas and electric vehicles is completely invalid unless you consider the horrendous amount of taxes that a part of the price of gas, but not electricity.

    There are so many half truths in the comments on the article it is not even funny.

    It would be cool to have a BS meter beside each post, so we could vote on how much BS is contained in said post.

    Further, when you consider that lithium is already in short supply, how are going to have enough of it to completely make the car fleet of the world electric. And since we are already reducing our supply of electricity, at least in N. America, how are we going to charge all of them????

  107. Sal Minella says:

    Let me simplify this, taxes are paid despite the protests of the taxed, under the penalty of law. The “fair share” of my earnings given to you for your “right” to health care or for any half-a**ed energy scheme dreamed up by government scumbags to distribute to their cronies is not up to you to define. Theft is theft and, those who benefit from it , under any program, are party to that theft.

    My numbers on the Volt come from several pre-market Volt owners who kept and published detailed diaries. The most notable of which was done in NJ during late spring and summer. Average range was 37 mi. and average charge was a little over 14KWH. The test conditions were ideal: not Phoenix in the summer or Minot in the winter.

    Stating that a $10K battery pack will cost $1K at some future date when all of the Li is in our land fills is pure and ridiculous speculation. The pack will need replacement at 100K miles, not in eight years, not in ten years – 100K mi. You will need to absorb that cost whether you keep the car, trade in the car, or sell the car (but not if you set the car on fire).

    “Green”, as it is generally practiced, is simply self-congratulatory self-gratification. It hardly conserves anything and is almost completely used as a means of wealth distribution from the poorest to the wealthiest as facilitated by corrupt government types.

  108. Sal Minella says:

    BTW, EVs are not a nascent technology. The vast preponderence of automobile companies around the turn of the 20th century were EV companies. Henry Ford envisioned his automobile offering to be an EV. He found that EVs were range limited, too expensive for all but the richest, thus not an economically viable idea. So did everyone else, that is, until corrupt government officials found that the EV was the best vehicle for funneling taxpayers money to their friends. Wind -same. Solar – same. Healthcare – same. Federal level education department – same.

  109. Gene says:

    A couple of corrections. I never said it was an 80s Crown Vic. I just said it was a Crown Vic. It was actually a recent Crown Vic, about 3 years old, tops.

    Taxes, for the wealthy, can be “adjusted” courtesy of all kinds of loopholes not available to those of lesser means. It’s why I’ve always been a fan of a simple, flat tax and value added taxes so that everything is simpler and, based on your consumption, you get taxed accordingly. I won’t get into an argument re: taxation and healthcare, etc. since it’s a pointless thing to do with Americans. I and most other Canadians believe government can actually make your life better (healthcare is one, regardless of what some may claim — we live longer and are healthier on average than Americans, for example; same with education, we’re better educated. Damn government making us healthy and educated).

    Furthermore, the government can do a fine job of controlling greed as evidenced by the fact our country didn’t have the meltdown everyone else did where government regulations “got out of the way of the market”. The Governor of the Bank of Canada is now the Chairman of the Financial Stability Board, a recognition of the fact we ran our economy right while everyone else drove theirs into the ground. As documented in the 1930s, one of the main purposes of government is to act as a brake on greed so as not to relive what happened in the 30s. We seem to have forgotten those lessons.

    Not sure about anywhere but here in Ontario, but we have taxes on our electricity — at least 50%, probably higher. No idea if it’s comparable to gas or not. But considering the fact that the power plants are funded by taxes it’s all rather moot as they get you coming and going.

    The lithium in the batteries is recoverable and can be recycled. That’s part of the advantage of lithium. They’re not just going to be tossed whole into landfills.

    New lithium mines are being opened in Canada as I type (Val d’Or, Northern Quebec) to provide battery grade lithium to factories popping up in the US. One mine has a proven reserve of 20M tonnes. The goal for that mine is to output 20,000 tonnes (44M lbs) of battery grade lithium PER YEAR. A kWh lithium cell requires somewhere between 125g – 150g of battery grade lithium. Taking the upper limit, which is about 1/4 lb, just the Quebec mine will create enough lithium for >10M Volt battery packs ANNUALLY. Since that’s just one mine, I think we don’t have a near-term worry.

    Note that the same holds for mines in Australia. I even hear mines are opening in California. Every resource on earth is limited, but to not build something because something is limited is rather nearsighted.

    Green, as it’s practiced, is truly self-congratulating and self-serving. I fully agree. It’s why my green friends get upset that I’m not green in their narrow view. Instead, because of cost-savings, etc., I am, ironically, more green than they are. I’ll let you guys parse that. For example, when we renovated our house we installed high-efficiency everything. Our electrical bill is now lower than before the renos by quite a bit; our heating bill is now as low as it was 20 years ago — when there was just two of us, not 4. Being green without it being financially or otherwise beneficial is silly — unless you’re loaded and just want to be smug about it. It’s why I always recommend to my friends and family simple things to save them money — when you replace your furnace, get a high-efficiency one for a few bucks more, same for a high-efficiency AC. Insulate your attic. When you replace your windows, spend that extra little bit for insulated, low-e argon windows, etc. Put in LED lights, they’re awesome and you’ll probably never replace them — a tad pricey, but the savings and longevity (and lack of hassle of replacing them in hard to reach places) makes up for it over time. Those little things result in cost-recovery. My parents, converting from an oil furnace to natural gas, recouped the cost of the new furnace in 3 years!

    And note, many things don’t make sense if strictly viewed from a financial perspective. Financially a luxury car or an advanced drivetrain car like the Volt is rarely cost-effective. It’s more an emotional thing. If we were all just logical there would be no Ferraris or Corvettes or Porsches or Cadillacs or BMWs. We’d all be driving little 4-bangers with steel wheels and hubcaps.

    I am confused by the 14kWh charge. I’ve experienced a max of 12, an average of 10. The EPA determined a full charge is maximum 12.9kWh. All the mags (MotorTrend, C&D, etc.) all showed 10 – 12kWh for a full charge. I’m rather perplexed by the 14kWh since none of the articles I’ve read show that as an average when the fully charge is 12.9. The battery, a 16kW unit, only uses 10kWh ensuring it operates within the optimal band for Li-Ion batteries.

    As for stats, you can check out a lot of them at voltstats.net. That site collects info directly from OnStar (each user must agree and register). The stats are then provided for everyone to see. You can see a wide variety of ways people drive the Volt, from ways that seem to imply nearly never charging it to those who seem to never go further than their daily range. There are 267 entries currently, which from a statistical sample point of view is more than enough to provide valid statistics even for hundreds of thousands of operational vehicles let along 6000.

  110. Sal Minella says:

    EPA numbers for Volt – 37 Mi/charge. 2.7 mi/KWH. 10Hours to charge fully. Spontaneous combustion on a cold day – priceless.

  111. Kenny says:

    Not sure that someone mentioned this…. but do the insight or prius have the same susceptibility? I havent found anything that shows they are going to explode after an impact. Just goes to show that GM really doesnt have the safety of their consumers at the forefront of their business model.

    It’s more of a “Let’s make the car,and apologize later if people die because of it” mentality. Typical government subsidized corporation mentality. Get rid of your VOLT if you bought one and find a prius/insight if you really need to feel warm and fuzzy about the car you drive.

  112. _Jim says:

    Gene says on December 11, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    A couple of corrections. I never said it was an 80s Crown Vic. I just said it was a Crown Vic. It was actually a recent Crown Vic, about 3 years old, tops.

    Hmmm .. your ‘story’ is on thin ice; what year was the Crown Vic available for purchase by the public (as a discontinued model series (the Crown Vic) BUT available as part of ‘fleet sale’, as a ‘cop car’ or Taxi?)

    Signed,
    just another uneducated ‘Potato Farmer’ to be passed over, denigrated and told “I know better than you”
    Silicon gulch,
    Texas

    .

  113. _Jim says:

    Furthermore, the government can do a fine job of controlling greed as evidenced by the fact our country …

    This man needs his own blog where we can find these ‘gems’ anytime of the day of night … or the name of that ‘country’ as well …

    Team up with R. Gates there and MAYBE you’d draw an audience … of one or two …

    Signed,
    just another Potato Farmer
    Silicon Gulch
    Texas

    .

  114. _Jim says:

    Hey Gene-boy, you owe it to yourself to test drive one of these babies THEN come back here and make the claim straight-faced:

    “A diesel engine isn’t cool.”

    http://www.vw.com/en/tdi/jetta.html

    Won’t see many ‘Volts’ on the track here (at about the 3:50 point note that the tires are ‘talking’):

    I’ve got to think a hybrid-anything would handle like a pig through those corners …

    Then, there is is:

    Signed,
    just another Potato Farmer
    Silicon Gulch
    Texas
    .

  115. _Jim says:

    Posted without comment:

    Potato Farmer
    Silicon Gulch
    Texas
    .

  116. Gene says:

    BTW, _Jim, it was a cop car that hit my daughter during the long weekend of May. I guess I have to be explicit. Thanks for questioning my integrity. I never questioned yours nor your intelligence. Though, as a potato farmer, I’m suitably impressed with your insights into various technologies. They must be proud of you down in the Gulch…

    As for the videos, pretty lame and grasping. Look at the Porsche 918 Spyder hybrid. Or the forthcoming i8 from BMW. Or the forthcoming Ferrari hybrid. Or the many others that are definitely coming from all the world’s automakers. Hybrid or electric doesn’t have to mean slow.

    As to the Jetta vs. the Prius, here are the comparable numbers as posted by Inside Line for the Volt (http://blogs.insideline.com/roadtests/2011/05/il-track-tested-2011-chevrolet-volt.html, ):

    1/4 mile: 16.6s at 85.3mph
    0-60: 8.6s
    Slalom: 61.4mph

    Have any of you guys even driven a Volt or just too self-righteous to do so? If anyone opts to take one for a spin, it does handle well because of the lower centre of gravity which results in a low slung feeling to the car. If someone does take one for a spin, put it in “Sport” mode, and it’ll be a blast. Unless you’re afraid of taking one for a spin and liking it …

    Of course, these aren’t performance cars. They’re family sedans. They serve a specific purpose, and do so admirably.

    If I’m going to do a burnout, I’ll get a RWD car and do it right:

    And if I’m planning on hitting the Nurburgring, I’ll take this with me so I can ride in comfort before and after terrorizing the ‘ring:

    I’m sorry if my facts are getting in the way of your arguments, but I’m sure that won’t stop anyone else from posting silly statements such as Sal’s “spontaneous combustion on a cold day” comment.

  117. Spector says:

    RE: _Jim: (December 11, 2011 at 3:18 pm)
    “Hey Gene-boy, you owe it to yourself to test drive one of these babies THEN come back here and make the claim straight-faced:”

    If all practical sources of non-solar carbon power are exhausted without a suitable replacement, I think we might see people saving money all year so they can afford to make one drive like this. The next day, it’s back to the horse or bicycle.

  118. _Jim says:

    Gene-boy, if I wanted to decimate your args (as others have) I would; as it is you’re only receiving ‘idle cycles’ in the process stream owing to more pressing matters on other fronts. Whithering fire from these guns I don’t think you could withstand. It is actually ‘more fun’ to egg on your ‘performance art’ behavior than it is to quash it (plus, it helps web-site hit count stats by driving traffic!)

    As to your ‘high lighting’ of high-end hybrid show cars (one existing only paper yet as it is not yet in production?) in contrast to the models I cited: apples and oranges (you place the Volt in the same class as those you cited? absurd …)

    Since you present no contrast as to ‘the Volts’ performance re: the VW product, I assume that is acquiescence as to ‘the Volts’ poor performance contrasted with the TDI as was the Toyota Prius’s …

    In short, ‘the Volt’ must handle like a pig in the slalom run and probably has loooongish 1/4 mile acceleration time, maybe as bad as the original diesel Rabbit … do you remember what that number was when they first tested the diesel Rabbit? They literally ran-out-of-track testing it … did they have a similar experience testing ‘the Volt’?

    Signed,
    just another Potato Farmer
    Silicon Gulch
    Texas
    .

  119. _Jim says:

    Gene says on December 11, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Have any of you guys even driven a Volt or just too self-righteous to do so?

    No Gene-boy, I’m happy with my ’81 300TD (5-cylinder turbocharged etc) purchased last a year ago in March … and purchased specifically on account of it’s low EMI-signature (esp. broad-band impulse noise) for field-strength ‘survey’ and DF work.

    Do you have any idea what I would be alluding to in my reason for picking up the 300TD as stated in the above paragraph?

    Any at all? Or is that too low-a-’tech’ for your involvement or familiarity (maybe you are ‘software’, writing in a scripting language doing database accesses as opposed to something more challenging like writing Win ‘device drivers’ or real-time-control ‘code’ developed in assembly language destined for a PIC uC?)

    (Not to mention the 300TD will, and has, run on WVO.)

    Signed
    just another Potato Farmer doing EMI/RFI and radio field strength msmst work
    Silicon Gulch
    Texas
    .

  120. _Jim says:

    Spector says on December 11, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    The next day, it’s back to the horse or bicycle.

    I expected to see a smiley emoticon after that post; that ‘test drive’ certainly brought a smile to my face! ;^)

    - Potato Farmer

  121. _Jim says:

    Gene says on says December 11, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    BTW, _Jim, it was a cop car that hit my daughter during the long weekend of May. I guess I have to be explicit. Thanks for questioning my integrity.

    We hold posters here to a higher ethical and technical standard, than say, an RC or SkS; there were elements of your story which triggered further inquiry regarding the veracity of ‘your story’ (possible internal inconsistencies in your ‘story’ since the Crown Vic was discontinued for ‘public’ sale after 2007). And, you’re welcome.

    Starting with the 2008 model year, the Crown Victoria became available solely through Ford Fleet

    Per – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Crown_Victoria#2008-2011:_Fleet_Sales

    Potato Farmer
    Silicon Gulch
    Texas
    .

  122. Sal Minella says:

    Dear Gene,

    We here in the US have a long tradition of opposing overbearing government. We generally don’t like being dictated to by our ‘betters” and we certainly, for the most part, prefer to run our own lives on our own terms. We really do see taxation as theft and extortion ( what do YOU call it when someone demands more than half of your earnings under penalty of financial ruin or incarceration?).

    For those of us who are engineers and scientists and generally logical and intelligent people, we find the technocrat to be an onerous and vile creature. For the technocrat as politician attempts to foist his often flawed understanding of science on the rest of us. Those who would “restore science to it’s rightful place” and then employ junk science and magical thinking to funnel ill-gotten funds into foolish ventures and their friends pockets are at the top of our list of the most despised.

    Government Motors and the Volt epitomize the end result of the technocratic dream – an outrageously expensive reprise of 1910 technology, created with stolen funds, nearly useless for most applications, propped up by quashed safety test failures, bought by less than .002% of the population, subsidized again at sales time with more stolen money, and so on. To top this all off we are verbally assaulted by a bunch of educated but completely non-technical people who make ridiculous arguments again based upon magical thinking designed only to stroke their own egos.

    Occasionally we get a chance to play with someone who presumably has no dog in the fight but is willing to defend technocrasy and nanny-stateism. On those occasions along with undeniable facts we like to throw in a little tweak, just for fun. You have been a lot of fun, Gene but you aren’t selling the Volt any better than anyone else at Government Motors. The Canada I once knew was a rough-and-tumble bunch of conservative pioneers. Now it’s just a bunch of people who are, for the most part, happy to stand in line waiting for their health care while not conversing for fear of breaking the speech codes and ending up incarcerated.

    The way I see it, as long as we rail against crap like the Volt with all that it represents, there is something left of the population of self-reliant and freedom loving peoples, here and around the world, who may, someday, restore us to what we once were – non-sheep.

    Sincerely,
    Sal

  123. Justa Joe says:

    Gene says:
    December 10, 2011 at 10:39 pm
    Few have asked for the car to be taken back. Certainly not half! – Gene
    ————————————————
    It was enough to cause GM to modify their intial very liberal return policy to a stricter one.

    And remember, the Volt was a reaction to the market¡¯s demand for GM to have a greener fleet and an answer to the Prius. – Gene
    ————————————————-
    That’s not market demand. That’s government coersion. I’m sorry, but if the market was driving EV demand the government wouldn’t have to GIVE +$10 billion dollars to mfr’s including Nissan & Ford for the development of ‘advanced vehicles’ and pay people $7.5K to take the darn things. GM et al make money by selling trucks & SUV’s, and conventional cars but that’s an aspect of the market place that your ilk won’t tolerate.

    …look at the larger outlays in credits going to big oil or to ethanol ¡ª billions ¡ª rather than the millions going to the EV credits. – Gene
    ————————————————
    Your credibility was nose diving even before you went and brought up the canard about the govt subsidizing ‘big oil’.

    It¡¯s sad to watch people clutch at fabrications re: the Volt in what can only be the result of some type of pathological cognitive dissonance pertaining to GM having developed the most advanced electric car in the world. – Gene
    ————————————————
    The Volt may be the best EV. It’s still just an EV. It’s still being forced on the public by this administration through various mean to which many people object.

    As documented in the 1930s, one of the main purposes of government is to act as a brake on greed so as not to relive what happened in the 30s. – Gene
    —————————————————-
    Gene my friend, I don’t know about Canada, but I’ve never heard about the US govt being responsible for controlling “greed”. Of the parties responsible for the current global economic crisis Governments of the USA and EU are at the front of list. One of if not the largest aspects of the economic crisis was the US housing bubble. This was pretty much created by the Federal Govt. Something about the concept of a “universal right” to housing was the seed for this.

  124. timg56 says:

    While I will admit I didn’t read every exchange, I believe I saw enough to reach the conclusion that Gene is kicking a lot of ass. Rather impressively.

    BTW – thanks for the info on the Volt Gene. Very informative.

  125. _Jim says:

    timg56 says on says December 12, 2011 at 10:28 am

    ..
    BTW – thanks for the info on the Volt Gene. Very informative.

    What was ‘the Volts’ skid-pad performance?

    Unofficial spokes-person Gene hasn’t disclosed any performance figures yet – and I can’t seem to find any online either after a little searching.

    Maybe the factory, and management, and government, and ad agencies (where Gene works??) are more concerned with the battery-pack fires than performance numbers right about now?

    I’ve got to imagine this is a NIGHTMARE of Biblical proportions in the car business and everyone (including ad agency exec Gene) is sweating bullets.

    .

  126. timg56 says:

    Jim,

    I have no idea what the Volt’s “skid pad performance” is. Nor do I care. I don’t plan on buying one.

    As for nightmares of biblical proportions, well, let’s just say I generally don’t believe in scary stories and hyperbole, regardless of which side of an argument it is coming from.

    Automobiles are the leading cause of death in the US up until you start getting into your 40′s, I believe. In otherwords, just getting in one increases your change of getting killed. Am I going to refuse to get into a Volt because one test vehicle expereinced a fire? I don’t think so. That’s because I don’t need advanced statistical analysis to tell me that the impacts of driver error and alcohol on the odss of being hurt or killed in an auto accident dwarf those resulting from poor or faulty design.

  127. Sal Minella says:

    The ONLY reason not to get into a Volt is that it will kill your soul.

  128. _Jim says:

    timg56 says on December 12, 2011 at 12:50 pm


    Automobiles are the leading cause of death in the US …

    Please; very old news. And you are more likely to possibly die in a house fire due to ‘the Volt’ self-igniting its battery pack so it is straw-man argument to say ‘getting into a Volt is assuming risk’; it can be demonstrated that being in proximity to ‘a Volt’ is risky. Parked even.

    But on another ‘old note’, on a scale of “Zero to Biblical -proportions” for the car industry, this battery-pack self-ignition and fire event rates up there with the 40 days and 40 nights “flood” event in the OT for which Noah built the ark regarding the public’s image of ‘the Volt’ – the images of these fires could really kill sales, as if the economics of ‘the Volt’ hasn’t already done this.

    And we still haven’t heard from Gene yet today. Must only work weekends on this ‘gig’ defending ‘the Volt’. Maybe he threw in the towel, having met the veritable ‘torch and pitchfork’ potato farming crowd and deemed us unredeemable.

    Now I’m curious, what was you found so ‘informative’ such that you replied to the ad agency exec in this fashion: “BTW – thanks for the info on the Volt Gene. Very informative.

    Obviously it wasn’t the skid-pad performance information …

    .

  129. Gene says:

    Funny, it seems none of you people work for a living. It is Monday. You know, the first day of the week for going out and doing something productive? I’m sure you guys have heard of it. Or perhaps you’ll question my integrity and claim it’s not Monday.

    Why is $4B annually in oil subsidies a canard? A canard is, by definition, a false story, one not backed by facts. Seems the subsidies are billions: http://www.forbes.com/sites/benzingainsights/2011/02/01/should-the-government-really-end-oil-subsidies/. Even Forbes so indicates.

    re: Greed, check out Glass-Steagall.

    It seems you guys are hard of reading. I included performance numbers in a post above. Here they are again, since you’re probably incapable of scrolling up to take a look:

    1/4 mile: 16.6s at 85.3mph
    0-60: 8.6s
    Slalom: 61.4mph

    But, I should have realized you guys like going in circles and have thus found skid pad numbers, too. Thus, with a quick use of Google — which you all seem incapable of using — I quickly found 0.77 and 0.83 shown as skid pad numbers (Edmunds and Road & Track, respectively). The difference is probably due to the radius of the pad. Plus, those are numbers with low resistance tires. Put on stickier tires and the numbers will improve.

    Thus, for those to lazy to add it all into a single list:

    1/4 mile: 16.6s at 85.3mph
    0-60: 8.6s
    Slalom: 61.4mph
    Skidpad: 0.77g or 0.83g (Edmunds and Road & Track respectively)

    Damn, the Volt, weighing hundreds of pounds more than that VW, has pretty much identical performance. Oh no. Now what…

    I know, I know: you guys don’t need no steekin’ facts.

    Truth be told, the one thing that you have done is push me more towards the AGW crowd. Congrats on being such a bunch of wankers. I’m sure other patrons of this site are suitably impressed.

  130. Smokey says:

    Gene says:

    “Truth be told, the one thing that you have done is push me more towards the AGW crowd.”

    Because of a difference of opinion over a car you’re ready to embrace pseudo-science? C’mon, Gene, isn’t that a titanic overreaction? You were holding your own up to that comment.

  131. Justa Joe says:

    Gene says:
    December 12, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Why is $4B annually in oil subsidies a canard? A canard is, by definition, a false story, one not backed by facts. Seems the subsidies are billions: http://www.forbes.com/sites/benzingainsights/2011/02/01/should-the-government-really-end-oil-subsidies/. Even Forbes so indicates.

    “I understand your frustration with the tax credit, but look at it from my perspective. I’ve paid millions in taxes over the years. – Gene”
    ————————

    Aren’t you the guy that was defending the Volt $7.5K tax credit based on the fact that you and other Volt-philes paid $millions in taxes over the years. The oil industry pays $millions every hour 24/7. It seems a little ridiculous to expect them not to have equivalent tax “breaks” that any other industry has. $4 billion is a product of the sheer volume of gross revenue that comes through the oil industry.

    The Glass–Steagall Act was banking reform legislation. It would be quite the stretch to suggest that it was some kind of prohibition on “greed” at least it hasn’t impinged on Barbara Boxer too much.

  132. Gene says:

    Smokey,

    You have to look at the general flavour of the argument. I didn’t see much support, or perhaps a few happened to just be louder than the silent majority. But, as someone once said, silence speaks volumes.

    As a scientist I remain perpetually skeptical about everything. And I don’t find climate science to be “pseudo-science”. It’s not pure science, but it’s not the likes of astrology or other things typically associated with pseudo-science. Climatology uses models and has data from weather stations, satellites, historic records, etc. It may not be as hard as chemistry or physics, but it’s definitely not a pseudo-science.

    Justa Joe,

    Maybe I’m mistaken but my recollection of Glass-Steagall was to reduce the risk that banks could take. By enforcing a reduction in risky investments it allowed for stable banks. Investment firms are there for those with the money and willingness to invest in something risky. Mortgages, etc. were never supposed to be risky. It was a series of very bad decisions over 20+ years that eroded the controls, allowing risky adventures with various monetary vehicles resulting in bad debt being associated with good debt resulting in the mess we now see. Had Glass-Steagall not been revoked much of the carnage would never have happened since many of those getting mortgages would not have qualified. Here in Canada the risk tolerance banks were allowed by law remained unchanged and it resulted in less insanity than south of the border.

    As to the Volt credit my point was that there are bigger amounts that can be reined in. $4+B a year in oil subsidies for a business that is massively profitable and surely does not need any subsidies to go look for more oil for all those cars and trucks on the road. We could also bring up the various bio-fuel subsidies and many other ill-informed subsidies that are much more massive and more harmful than the EV tax credit.

    The question though does remain, does the US want to get off a goodly portion of imported oil. If so, it must invest in alternative propulsion systems, such as in the Volt. If you simply want to wait until the price comes down naturally, you will wait a long while. All the tax credit does is try to accelerate the schedule. And the sooner less fuel is used in the US the sooner the cash associated with fuel not purchased remains in the US. It’s a concern of national interest and I’d think that many Americans would see it as such.

    Think of it this way, if $100B could be redirected from going to unfriendly overseas regimes and remain in North America how much better off would we all be? And $100B is less than 1/4 of the amount of oil the US imports each year.

  133. Justa Joe says:

    Gene says:
    December 12, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Think of it this way, if $100B could be redirected from going to unfriendly overseas regimes and remain in North America how much better off would we all be?
    —————————————-
    Sorry Gene, Coffee comes from Bolivia, Pineapples from Hawaii. Rare Earth Metals from the PRC. We can’t expect to be totally self contained within our borders. Your argument is perhaps an argument against paying “unfriendly overseas regimes” for their oil but not against the efficacy of oil as fuel.

    Your definition of greed is very broad to put it mildly. Firstly I reiterate the Glass-Steagall Act is not a prohibition on “greed”. Believe me. In America you are still free to be as “greedy” as you please as long as you don’t actually break any financial laws or regulations and get caught. AlGore, James Cameron, and James Hansen can vouch for this.

    Only a portion of Glass Steagal was repealed in 1999. The banking HyJinks was not the cause of the housing bubble. The banking crisis was a subsequent result in part of the housing collapse. The housing mess was initiated by your beloved Ferderal Government’s Community Reinvestment Act.

    http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/capital-commerce/2009/03/17/yes-the-community-reinvestment-act-really-did-help-cause-the-housing-crisis

    The derivative toxic asset trading and other shenanigans were result in part of institutions unloading bad mortgages.

  134. Smokey says:

    Gene says:

    “I don’t find climate science to be ‘pseudo-science’.”

    ‘Climate science’, as practiced by the ‘Team’, is certainly pseudo-science, because they refuse to follow the scientific method. The scientific method requires full and complete transparency of all data, methodologies, code and metadata, so that other scientists can either replicate their results, or falsify them. They have an obligation under the scientific method to not only cooperate with others, but to exhaust all possibilities that would falsify their own hypothesis. Can you give us examples of where they have done that?

    Since the anti-science climate clique refuses to provide transparency, they are practicing pseudo-science. If they provided the necessary transparency – which would take no more than a handful of mouse clicks to publicly archive everything online – their catastrophic AGW claims would be promptly falsified, and their grant gravy train would be derailed. So they’ve made their choice, which was:

    a) Follow the scientific method, and provide full transparency

    b) Sell their souls

    They chose pseudo-science.

  135. Bippy Bellito says:

    The G.M Volt is symbolic of all that is wrong with the Obama Administration. He has tried to jam Green Initiatives thoiugh with junk science and very poor engineering. When the 2012 elections are history and Obama is disgraced leaving the White House, may it be in a Volt.

  136. Victor Barney says:

    This is nothing added to obama’s promise to destroy our economy with his promised “fundamental transformation of government” promised to our more verbally adept women, who voted for him! It’s as puzzeling as the story of Eve at the begging of man’s age. isn’t it? Just saying…

  137. Victor Barney says:

    I truly believe that this is just another marxist LIE and part of the Marxist New World Order overthrow of our country currently being done by Obama and the 60′s marxist chicago terrorists Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dorhn and company that put obama in power and fecently came back from forming the scriptual Beast caliphate of Islam in Revelation! No? Watch, especially starting September 16, 2012!

  138. bob miller says:

    Why don’t the government stay out of business that the private interprise should be in. And how come the volt (gm) people get a pass for 6 months pass before releasing the critical information. How many people could have been hurt inthis period of time. I know why,it’s obama green machine!

  139. uninformedLuddite says:

    We live completely off the grid and have battery backup of 28.8kWh. It was drilled into us at the time of installation that discharging more than about 30% of full capacity would significantly shorten the lives of our batteries and that fully discharging them would ruin them.
    The reason we are off the grid is not due to our fear of AGW, the decision was completely economic. I felt I had to qualify this as nearly everyone who hears about our off-grid living automatically thinks we dance naked around a statue of Michael Mann giving thanks at each solstice.

  140. Harold Clark says:

    Like the wind turbins, when the subsudies from the government run out they are being abandoned, the new sreports that there are 14,000 abandoned wind rubins in the USA. Green energy, yes the green is from the the tax payers in America, many of the companies that are installing the utbins are foriegn.

  141. Gene says:

    Justa Joe,

    My point re: saving $100B isn’t to be self-sufficient but to not have to purchase goods from those who want to actively harm you. It’s just a bit of common sense. If you can find a way to redirect a goodly chunk of cash to internal endeavours, it would seem to be the logical choice.

    Note, your comment re: Hawaii is funny. I could have sworn it was a US State. If it’s up for sale, I’m sure Canada would be happy to take it off your hands.

    Smokey,

    Tarring an entire science because of the possible misdeeds of some is not right. Much as I truly am not judging the skeptical community based on the commentary of a few, even if they have been insulting at times.

    To the many others,

    To everyone who keeps blaming Obama for the Volt, please, give it up. The entire Volt project was started in 2006, the concept was shown in 2007, the project was going full tilt in 2008 with the production-intent Volt shown for the first time in January 2008 and “mules” — operational models — running around Detroit for testing in 2007 and 2008. Last time I checked, Obama was not President at that time.

    It remains odd to me how Americans have this odd tendency to blame the current person in power for everything they dislike. It’s naive and wrong, to say nothing of juvenile.

    As to those who still harp on the notion that somehow GM and the NHTSA didn’t say anything for 6 months, again, go read all the pertinent information. Neither GM nor the NHTSA could replicate the event. The NHTSA even called in the military to try to replicate the event. Ultimately it took removal of the packs from cars and physically abusing them repeatedly and way more than they’d ever get abused in a major car accident for them to start getting results. That took 6 months.

    What was the NHTSA going to do 6 months prior? Cry wolf? If the NHTSA issued alerts every time something weird happened we’d have so many we wouldn’t pay attention when they actually released a pertinent alert. Ultimately the NHTSA has to weigh the risks. I’ll await their report instead of freaking out like a bunch of uninformed ninnies.

    For a group of people that harp on and on about “government control and nannyism” some of you guys are sure huge hypocrites at times.

  142. Victor Barney says:

    [snip. Please, no religious rants. ~dbs, mod.]

  143. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From Gene on December 13, 2011 at 7:47 pm:

    As to those who still harp on the notion that somehow GM and the NHTSA didn’t say anything for 6 months, again, go read all the pertinent information. Neither GM nor the NHTSA could replicate the event. The NHTSA even called in the military to try to replicate the event. Ultimately it took removal of the packs from cars and physically abusing them repeatedly and way more than they’d ever get abused in a major car accident for them to start getting results. That took 6 months.

    Strange, the “abuse” doesn’t sound all that extreme. From NHTSA:
    http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/defects/results.cfm?action_number=PE11037&SearchType=QuickSearch&summary=true

    Summary:
    On May 12, 2011, NHTSA performed a NCAP side pole impact test, followed by a post impact rollover test on a Chevrolet Volt. In connection with that testing, NHTSA has identified the potential for intrusion damage to the battery which may result in a substantial thermal reaction and fire. Twenty-one days after the May 12, 2011 testing, delayed thermal heating and pressure release resulted in a fire that consumed the Chevrolet Volt and three other vehicles in close proximity at the test facility. During the week of November 14, 2011, NHTSA performed follow-up battery-level tests to simulate the incident. NHTSA performed three tests simulating the mechanical damage to a battery pack observed from the first incident. Two of the three tests produced thermal events, including fire. Because of these test results, NHTSA has opened this investigation to examine the potential risks involved from intrusion damage to the battery in the Chevrolet Volt, in coordination with the agency’s ongoing review of the emerging technology involved in electric vehicles.

    From Reuters:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/26/us-gm-volt-idUSTRE7AO1SH20111126?type=GCA-GreenBusiness&feedType=RSS&feedName=GCA-GreenBusiness&rpc=43

    U.S. opening formal probe into GM Volt fire risk
    Fri Nov 25, 2011 7:03pm EST

    “The Volt is safe and does not present undue risk as part of normal operation or immediately after a severe crash,” Jim Federico, General Motors chief engineer for electric vehicles, said in a statement.

    In the May crash test, the Volt’s 400-pound lithium ion battery pack was damaged and a coolant line was ruptured.

    Toyota Motor Corp’s Prius, which dominates the hybrid vehicle market, is powered by older nickel metal hydride battery technology.

    This month’s tests aimed to simulate a real-world, side-impact collision into a tree or pole, followed by a rollover.

    After a test on November 16 that did not result in a fire, a temporary increase in temperature was recorded in a test on November 17, NHTSA said on Friday. It said that battery pack caught fire.

    During the test on November 18, using similar protocols, the battery pack was rotated within hours after being impacted and it began to smoke and emit sparks.

    For some strange mysterious reason, you didn’t provide any links to back up these claims of yours. Googling for “chevy volt battery fire military” dredged up an AP piece, the relevant info seemingly saved from editing due to local interest (see URL):
    http://hamptonroads.com/2011/11/more-postcrash-battery-fires-involving-chevy-volt

    More post-crash battery fires involving Chevy Volt
    The Associated Press
    © November 25, 2011

    The tests were conducted by NHTSA and the Energy and Defense departments at a defense facility near Hampton Roads, Va.

    That’s it. That’s all I found about how “…NHTSA even called in the military….” Near as I can see, NHTSA knew it’d be a dangerous test, great possibility of fire, and carried out the tests somewhere better suited for incendiary and even explosive events. And that is all.

    BTW, that piece also has confirmation of my suspicions about the GM OnStar onboard spying system:

    With electronic safety systems that are part of the car, “GM knows real time about any crash significant enough to potentially compromise battery integrity,” the automaker said.

    Wow. So even after the initial “free” OnStar trial subscription has expired, and the owner has not renewed, the Volt will still phone home and notify GM, including the exact location by the built-in GPS? But of course GM won’t be calling for an ambulance or any emergency services as the owner hasn’t paid for that service…

    Thanks to the Wikipedia Chevy Volt entry, I can now see where that battery pack is located, running between the seats (pic 1, pic 2). The battery pack itself is seen here, courtesy of the NY Times. From a Bloomberg Businessweek piece I’ve mentioned before comes this, which mentions differences between the Volt and the Nissan Leaf (info from Bob Yakushi, director of product safety for Nissan North America, and Rob Peterson, a GM spokesman):

    Nissan has not encountered any fires with the Leaf since it went on sale in the U.S., Yakushi said. While there have been several accidents reported and “quite a few Leafs were destroyed” during Japan’s earthquake and tsunami in March, none caught fire, he said.

    Nissan has a steel case around its battery to protect the battery from puncture, Yakushi said. Peterson said the Volt does not have such a second protective casing around the battery. GM placed the battery at the center of the car, which is the safest location, he said.

    As you adamantly claimed, “Ultimately it took removal of the packs from cars and physically abusing them repeatedly and way more than they’d ever get abused in a major car accident for them to start getting results.” Well, the first NHTSA fire came from a very real-world accident, side impact from a pole followed by a rollover. Go sideways, slam into a pole, roll down an embankment, which can easily happen here in Pennsylvania any time the roads are slippery, especially in winter. Also the “wings” of that T-shaped pack are close to the outside of the vehicle, and can get smashed from a side impact, which could be at an angle with a corner of the other vehicle hitting the end rather directly.

    And beyond that, with the pack located down the center “for safety”, I have seen vehicles torn into two major chunks, at least that many. That sort of accident does happen, and would cause a catastrophic rending of the Volt’s battery pack. Thus your statement is false, the battery packs in the latter batch of testing were not abused way more than they’d be in a major car accident.

    Moreover, for comparison, the Nissan Leaf uses an air-cooled Li-ion battery pack, as mentioned in this Fox News piece as well as the Wikipedia Nissan Leaf entry. The Volt’s battery has proven vulnerable to coolant loss, any puncturing leading to coolant loss can lead to a fire. The Leaf’s battery does not use coolant, and does not catch on fire. And the Leaf’s pack is protected against puncturing with a steel case, and does not catch on fire.

    And,, from fueleconomy.gov, the 2011 Chevy Volt uses 36kWh per 100 miles, MSRP $40,280, while the 2011 Nissan Leaf uses only 34 kWh per 100 miles, MSRP $32,780. The Leaf is midsize class, has 90ft³ passenger volume, and 23ft³ luggage volume. The Volt is merely compact class, also has 90ft³ passenger volume, but only 19ft³ luggage volume. Also, the EPA has determined the Leaf has “…a driving range of 73 miles, based on the five-cycle tests using varying driving conditions and climate controls.” The EPA only gives the Volt (link to window sticker pic) a 35 mile range on battery only (source of sticker pic). Since the Volt gets 37 miles per gallon of premium gasoline, the Volt’s electric range is less than a single gallon of gasoline.

    If you want a vehicle with a very long range and good mileage, there are better and far cheaper all-gasoline cars available. If you want a vehicle with a very long range that has a plug-in electric capability, I think you’re nuts, and the Volt’s electric range is too short to be worthwhile outside of a major metropolitan area, and there are areas like Los Angeles too sprawled out to make even that work well.

    If you want a plug-in electric with a decent practical range, the Leaf is cheaper than the Volt, carries more, and goes more than twice as far. Heck, I could consider it for a primary vehicle, with a gasoline-fueled other vehicle for rare long trips. And the Leaf’s battery pack is safer by design and hasn’t been catching fire.

    I await your links to substantiate what you said about the 6 month delay.

  144. Kybelboy says:

    My understanding is there was only one fire and it happened days after being taken to a storage facility. One of the first things you should do with any car involved in a serious accident is to disconnect the battery. This is standard practice for car accidents to prevent fires or explosions. This was not done! The volt has a sophisticated computerized liquid cooling system that circulates coolant to keep batteries at an optimum temperature to preserve battery life even when it is not running. This is not your grandmothers Chevrolet. Tow truck drivers, fire rescue and others should be familiar with the difference between electric automobiles they may work with and conventional cars. They are not!

  145. Justa Joe says:

    Gene says:
    December 13, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Note, your comment re: Hawaii is funny. I could have sworn it was a US State…
    —————————
    Did I suggest that Hawaii wasn’t a state of the USA? Doesn’t Canada import pineapples from Hawaii? Is zenophobia a good thing when it applies to petroleum?

  146. Justa Joe says:

    Gene,

    You’re being a tad disengenuous regarding the administrations promotion of the Volt. Yes it originated before they came to office, but the current administration has thrown more money at the Volt, EV’s, and Hybrids than any administration in the history of humanity. Also don’t think that GM doesn’t play politics.

    Obama & Chu have specifically endorced the Volt. The Obama administration said that the President’s goal is to have1 million electric cars on the road within the next four years. This administration is also responsible for pushing the Tax credit for these vehicles to $7500.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/07/AR2011020705616.html

  147. Gene says:

    kadaka,

    I posted the link to The Economist article as well as one from Car & Driver earlier. But, since scrolling or searching this page seems unknown to so many here they are again.

    http://www.economist.com/node/21541395

    http://blog.caranddriver.com/chevy-volt-hysteria-we%E2%80%99re-all-going-to-die-or-an-application-of-facts-and-rationality-to-flaming-batteries-and-melting-chargers/

    Note that the Economist actually states what was done:

    “[B]oth NHTSA and the carmaker repeated the side-impact and rollover test on at least two other cars, all to no effect. However, in subsequent tests—carried out in November by experts from the energy and defence departments as well as GM—the investigators deliberately damaged the battery packs and ruptured their coolant lines. One battery pack behaved normally. Another emitted smoke and sparks hours after it was flipped on its back. And a third exhibited a temporary increase in temperature, but then burst into flames a week later.”

    Again, repeating the crash tests produced no result. Finally, in November — May to November is six months — they were able to get a result by damaging the battery pack itself and severing the coolant lines. Note the reference to the defence department.

    And, a car splitting in half is an edge case. No automaker is going to be able to make a car fully safe in that type of event. Remember, 300,000 cars burst into flames upon experiencing an accident. That’s 0.01% of all cars in the US annually. Driving is risky.

    Justa Joe,

    I mistakenly thought you were talking about Hawaii from your own point of view. Most Canadian don’t get our pineapples from Hawaii. We get them from Costa Rica. I know, I buy them regularly. Never a Hawaiian one around. Even our bananas come from Costa Rica.

    As to Obama and the EV credits, the credits were signed into law by Bush:

    http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1029800_obamas-stimulus-package-expands-plug-in-hybrid-incentives-but-diesel-fans-unhappy

    Obviously, the way the EV credits are structured under Obama’s expansion we can see where the 1+M electric vehicles comes from. However, the first 250,000 — of which we’re not even close to having yet — come from Bush who signed them into law in October 2008. So for now, the expansion is moot as we’re still operating under the original 250,000 credits Bush granted. And it’s further obvious that Obama didn’t come up with the EV tax credits on his own.

    And why wouldn’t a US president endorse a US product? Is he supposed to be in the business of denigrating US products?

  148. Gene says:

    Justa Joe,

    Never said anything about xenophobia (note spelling). I said why would anyone want to provide funding to someone who wants to kill or do harm to you? It’s a valid question. You don’t arm your enemies. It’s just common sense.

  149. Ring says:

    If I had any previous doubt that this poor excuse for a blog wasn’t a wholly owned megaphone for the oil companies it has been washed away by the blatant lies spread by this article.

    First, there weren’t droves of people just waiting to turn in their volts. In fact, only a handful turned them in. The volt is now the highest ranked car in customer satisfaction.

    Second, gasoline automobiles, hundreds of thousands which have burst immediately into fire after a crash, are already more dangerous than a volt which burned after improper procedure and three weeks sitting with a compromised battery.

    Third, the real reason for all the stupid, fake noise here and on other ‘news’ sites is that the oil money is desperately afraid these magnificent automobiles will become the new standard and represent a real challenge to the zombie stranglehold on transportation and energy that fossil fuel companies now maintain.

  150. Justa Joe says:

    Gene, You’re too clever for me. However, you’ve seemed to have missed the point. Everyone is importing some commodity from somewhere. Arguably the PRC is a more dangerous entity than OPEC.

    The up to $7500 tax credit for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles is part of the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 (sponsor Rep. Charles Rangel [D-NY15]), which in turn was part of the •Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (the BAIL-OUT bill). These were bills passed by the Democrat controlled House and Senate (Obama included) in the waning months of GWB administration. You know good and well that these $7500 tax credits were Democrat babies through and Through. Bush had to accept these as part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

    Obama’s plan is actually much more aggressive in terms of EV give-a-ways.
    In 2008, the President set an ambitious goal of putting 1 million advanced technology vehicles on the road by 2015. The electric vehicles rebate proposal is modeled after the successful “cash-for-clunkers” program…(LOL) Making electric vehicles more affordable with a rebate up to $7,500: The President is proposing to transform the existing $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles into a rebate that will be available to all consumers immediately at the point of sale.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/watercooler/2011/mar/29/cash-clunkers-2-dumped-capitol-hill/

  151. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From Ring on December 14, 2011 at 6:34 pm:

    If I had any previous doubt that this poor excuse for a blog wasn’t a wholly owned megaphone for the oil companies it has been washed away by the blatant lies spread by this article.

    Indeed, this blog is well and truly run horribly, for they have allowed your comment to be posted whole and unedited. You need to immediately write the big oil companies and demand they only support better blogs with much harsher censorship.

    First, there weren’t droves of people just waiting to turn in their volts. In fact, only a handful turned them in. The volt is now the highest ranked car in customer satisfaction.

    December 1st:
    GM offers to buy back Chevrolet Volts from fearful owners
    December 6:
    ‘Few dozen’ owners ask GM to buy back their Chevrolet Volts


    In all, “a few dozen” of the Volt’s 6,400 owners have requested GM buy back their car, [GM spokesman Selim] Bingol said Monday. Some GM executives, including CEO Dan Akerson, have expressed interest in purchasing one of the returned cars, Bingol said.

    Before agreeing to buy back each vehicle, the automaker is talking with each owner to discover why they’re dissatisfied and see whether it can help them become happier with their car.

    “If the only way we can make them happy is to repurchase it, then we will,” Bingol said.

    These cars were bought by the brave Early Adopters, those who willingly pay top dollar for tech while knowing it is possibly buggy, still has things to get worked out that won’t show up until it is widely distributed and seeing real-world use, but do it anyway to be on the bleeding leading jagged razor’s edge of NEW. GM is doing their best to mollify any owner inquiring about a buy back, painstakingly and exhaustively interviewing each and every one, offering to do anything possible before agreeing to take it back. And as something I’ve long noted about Early Adopters, the tech has to be Absolute Crap before they’ll speak ill of it, as doing so admits they were at least somewhat foolish for buying it and it’s basic human nature to not admit you’ve been made a fool.

    And within a mere five days, a GM spokesman is confessing to “a few dozen” buybacks, and I’ve been unable to find any media references since then about the current count. Most curious.

    Second, gasoline automobiles, hundreds of thousands which have burst immediately into fire after a crash, are already more dangerous than a volt which burned after improper procedure and three weeks sitting with a compromised battery.

    From Dec 6 link:

    Car fires are relatively common with conventional gas-powered vehicles: About 200,000 caught fire last year.

    From the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics, total number of highway vehicles (registered) in 2009: 254,212,610. No breakdown of which are gasoline powered, but this is just general figuring. So, 200000/254212610=0.00079, so something more than about 0.08% of gasoline-powered vehicles will catch fire in a year.

    With 6400 Volts sold (Dec 6 link), with that first NHTSA crash fire there was 1/6400=0.00016, 0.02% catching fire. If the two of those three packs involved in the second batch of NHTSA testing had done that inside vehicles, it would have been 0.05% of all Volts sold catching fire. Looks good, right?

    Except the Volt is dual-fuel and can also have gasoline. Thus the risk of having a gasoline-powered vehicle catching fire is added to the risk of just the Volt’s battery pack catching fire. Doesn’t look good.

    Oh, and as I’ve noted before, as mentioned here, a GM spokesman admitted they hadn’t told NHTSA about the drain-down safety procedure. So whining about “improper procedure” is a red herring.

    Third, the real reason for all the stupid, fake noise here and on other ‘news’ sites is that the oil money is desperately afraid these magnificent automobiles will become the new standard and represent a real challenge to the zombie stranglehold on transportation and energy that fossil fuel companies now maintain.

    As I noted before, the EPA-figured all-electric range of the Volt is only 35 miles, while on gasoline it gets 37 miles per gallon. So after paying quite a premium over a comparable gasoline-only vehicle, and accepting the additional potential dangers of the Volt’s battery pack, such as waiting longer to get extricated from a wreck and receive lifesaving emergency medical treatment as the emergency personnel must deal with said pack before cutting into the vehicle… You get to wait 4 to 10 hours of charging time to travel less miles on electricity than you can on a single gallon of gasoline.

    Such magnificence indeed. I’m certain Big Oil is indeed terrified. Why, as soon as “passenger cars” are the size of delivery vans to accommodate the batteries, with appropriate hazmat warning signs, and consumers are willing to leave them parked at home for a week while they fully charge enough for a few days of normal driving, no one will even need gasoline. Big Oil must certainly be horrified at the prospect.

  152. Gene says:

    Of note, if you put the Volt into Mountain Mode the gas generator gets 50mpg. It is, however, more noisy and GM opted for Charge Sustaining mode at a lower RPM level for noise-vibration-harshness reduction reasons, thus achieving 37 – 40mpg. You can still get that 50mpg and not only do you get 50mpg but the Volt also recharges the battery back up to 40% at the same time!

    Some corrections to the vehicle fire numbers. Here are the stats from 2002: 329,500 fires, down from 351,500 a year prior. The peak was 477,500 in 1988.

    Vehicle fires account for 20% of all fires in the US.

    330,000 over the 250M cars in the US works out to be 0.13%.

    And you can’t simply add two risks together. That’s improper risk calculation. The two are separate, and thus you still end up with only one or the other, not the two cumulatively for the Volt. You don’t take all the risks of living in a given city and add them cumulatively, for example, otherwise you’d have a 100% chance of having one of those risks befall you each day.

    I’d also assume correctly that nearly all of those 250M vehicles are gas or diesel, both of which are flammable.

    The cost of a gallon of gas here in Canada is about $4+ ($1.25/litre). The cost to go that same distance with electricity in Ontario is $0.80. Since that’s 1/5th the cost of a gallon of gas it means I’d have to have a car that gets not 35mpg but 175mpg for it to be equally fuel efficient. Since most cars are lucky to get 23mpg the Volt is an easy winner in this, even if you use $3/gallon fuel costs in the US you’re still looking at 140mpg. Obviously, the closer the cost of charging the Volt is to a gallon of gas the worse the arithmetic is, but if memory serves, most places in the US can charge the Volt for about $1/night. Some folks in California have solar arrays thereby reducing their cost of charging the Volt to $0.00.

    BTW, I just love these disingenuous ways of calculating the mileage of a Volt some people use. They know how fallacious they are, but use them anyway. It’s rather sad in a way.

  153. Euro Eco Driver says:

    Hey guys…
    I’m a European reader and soon to be Opel Ampera driver (the “brother”) of the Volt.
    I for one can not wait to get my car and stupid discussions on formalities like this are pushing back its delivery. Thank you very much….
    I’m 49 years old and survived the era where people drove without seatbelts or airbags. The best way to avoid problems with a car following a crash, is not to crash it…. I’m not one bit worried that my Ampera will catch fire. These cars have already driven about a zillion kilometers (devide by about 1,6 for miles…) before they came out. And if I do crash, believe me, it is a lot safer than many/most/all of the cars I drove before. Where is that American pioneer spirit we admire you guys for and that brought your ancestors to that wonderfull country? Don’t you see that these kind of cars ar the passkey to keep your country beatiful? Yes, there is of course someone going to make big profits on them, so what! Try one, you’ll like it. I did….

  154. Justa Joe says:

    “I’d have to have a car that gets not 35mpg but 175mpg for it to be equally fuel efficient…” – Gene

    Gene,
    While you imagine yourself getting the equivalent to175 mpg even though your car would have have to do those 175 miles in 40 mile increments with 8 hour intervals in between to achieve this miracle of mpg you may want to consider that you paid premium bucks for your fuel up front when you paid $40K for a $17K little car.

    Euro guy,
    Part of my American pioneering spirit would be to not allow the govt to herd me into a car that is an adult version of a Fisher Price Power Wheels only not as reasonably priced. Basically every car I have delivers superior performance to the Volt in relation to the application for which I use that vehicle. Having said that in the unlikely event that EV’s are ever viable for me in my lifetime. (not by virtue of some tax payer funded tax or rebate scheme) I’d consider the Ford offering.

  155. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From Gene on December 15, 2011 at 5:08 pm:

    Some corrections to the vehicle fire numbers. Here are the stats from 2002: 329,500 fires, down from 351,500 a year prior. The peak was 477,500 in 1988.

    Vehicle fires account for 20% of all fires in the US.

    330,000 over the 250M cars in the US works out to be 0.13%.

    Short on links to your “authoritative” figures, eh? Just giving the reference for the source is quite an effort on your part, eh?

    The figures come from a National Fire Protection Association document, “U.S. Vehicle Fire Trends and Patterns,” dated Feb 2004:
    http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files/pdf/osvehicle.pdf

    Subsequent versions are:
    July 2008, covers 2002-05:
    http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files/PDF/Research/VehicleFires08.pdf
    June 2010, covers 2003-07:
    http://tkolb.net/FireReports/2011/2003-2007VehicleFireTrends.pdf

    Using the latest version, here’s relevant info from the Abstract:

    In 2003-2007, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 287,000 vehicle fires per year. … Cars, trucks and other highway vehicles (meaning a vehicle designed for highway use, not that the fire occurred on a highway) accounted for 93% of the vehicle fires and 92% of the vehicle fire deaths….

    Mechanical or electrical failures caused roughly three-quarters of the highway vehicle fires, but only 11% of the deaths. Collisions and overturns were factors contributing to the ignition in only 3% of the fires, but fires resulting from these incidents caused 58% of these vehicle fire deaths. …

    From the Executive Summary, page i:

    … Overall, highway vehicles fires were involved in 17% of reported U.S. fires, 12% of U.S. fire deaths, 8% of U.S. civilian fire injuries, and 9% of the direct property damage from reported fires. …

    Eight percent of the highway vehicle fires were intentionally set. …

    From pg 11, Table 1.2., U.S. Vehicle Fire Problem, by Type of Vehicle, 2003-2007 Annual Averages, Vehicle type & # of fires:

    Highway vehicles 267,590 (93%)
    Passenger road vehicles 244,030 (85%)
    –Automobile or passenger car 189,290 (66%)

    Keep working it down to the relevant highway vehicles (minus camper trailers, etc), the 200,000 figure looks far more realistic and current. Take out the intentionally set fires, it shrinks even further.

    Why, the figure in that Economist piece you were pushing looks good as a relevant number:

    Some 185,000 vehicles catch fire in America each year, with no fewer than 285 people dying as a consequence.

    Moreover, if we are concerning ourselves with accident-related figures as we’re looking at Volt crash fires, “Collisions and overturns were factors contributing to the ignition in only 3% of the fires…” Thus the risk of fire in a conventionally-fueled vehicle after a crash is incredibly small.

    And you can’t simply add two risks together. That’s improper risk calculation. The two are separate, and thus you still end up with only one or the other, not the two cumulatively for the Volt. You don’t take all the risks of living in a given city and add them cumulatively, for example, otherwise you’d have a 100% chance of having one of those risks befall you each day.

    Why in the hell wouldn’t it be cumulative in some way? “Mechanical or electrical failures caused roughly three-quarters of the highway vehicle fires…” The Volt has the potential problems of a conventional vehicle, it does have mechanical and electrical systems, it does take gasoline. It also has all that extra stored electrical energy in its battery pack. Thus the potential risk would have to be greater than a conventional only-gasoline-fueled vehicle. ‘Either or’ doesn’t make sense.

    Of note, if you put the Volt into Mountain Mode the gas generator gets 50mpg. It is, however, more noisy and GM opted for Charge Sustaining mode at a lower RPM level for noise-vibration-harshness reduction reasons, thus achieving 37 – 40mpg. You can still get that 50mpg and not only do you get 50mpg but the Volt also recharges the battery back up to 40% at the same time!

    My, aren’t you distorting things into “free lunch” territory.
    References:
    http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/alternative/1010_2011_chevrolet_volt_test/viewall.html
    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2010/10/chevy-volt-delivers-novel-two-motor-four-mode-extended-range-electric-drive-system-seamless-driver-e.html

    The Volt normally maintains a minimum State Of Charge (SOC) around 20%. The Volt is underpowered in regular modes when going up steep long grades like mountains, it was reported in a real-world test that the speed dropped as low as 40mph while conventional cars could do 70mph. When needed, the Volt will link the engine and the electric motors together, getting power from both. To accommodate those mountains, in Mountain Mode the SOC is allowed to increase to around 45%. This should be engaged well before actually encountering said mountain to allow the battery charge to build up. So while getting power from gasoline as well as draining down the battery, the Volt can keep up on mountains, for as long as the battery charge lasts, thus Mountain Mode gives you a larger buffer of battery charge.

    In the regular modes, the Volt lets the SOC drop so low so the pack can take in more of a charge when plugged in. Leaving it in Mountain Mode thus decreases the “benefit” of plug-in charging. GM doesn’t even want you to use that mode unless needed:

    GM engineers said that in the customer models, they are implementing a software fix to reduce the mountain mode noise somewhat. That said, GM wants the use of mountain mode to be exceptional—i.e., it doesn’t want customers running on mountain mode to recharge the pack. Power should come from the plug.

    When you are in Mountain Mode, you’re actually driving the Volt like it was a normal hybrid. “This novel mode—which GM calls “combined mode”—enables a 10-15% improvement in efficiency at steady state cruising speeds compared to a comparable single-motor mode, GM says.” So what you’ve done in praising Mountain Mode for the increased fuel economy, is say hybrids are more efficient than the Volt as it is to normally be driven.

    BTW, I just love these disingenuous ways of calculating the mileage of a Volt some people use. They know how fallacious they are, but use them anyway. It’s rather sad in a way.

    Yeah, like when certain people talk of flipping a magic switch and suddenly they can get 50mpg, which isn’t anywhere near supported in real-world use. I’ll stick with the EPA figures which come from mixed operating conditions to reflect how a Volt will really be driven by real people.

    The cost of… [words]…charging the Volt to $0.00.

    Which is all meaningless crap. You’re emphasizing the benefits of electric charging. So just get an all-electric, and the Leaf would be cheaper. You don’t figure in how much cheaper a comparable ordinary all-gasoline vehicle is than a Volt, which means lower loan payments with less interest paid, as well as lower comprehensive insurance costs. You don’t even figure in the costs of that solar array for “free” charging of the Volt, said charging subtracting from the energy that would otherwise be sold to the grid with a modern grid-tied system. Considering that with assorted Green mandates a homeowner could be selling energy from a solar array for several times what they’re charged for taking from the grid, charging a Volt from a home solar array could be be about the most expensive way to do it.

    And the Leaf can still go twice as far as the Volt. And costs less to buy. And has simpler systems with less parts thus lower maintenance costs. And carries more. You praise the all-electric capabilities of the Volt, you actually make a better case for buying a Leaf.

  156. Gene says:

    Risk simply is not cumulative. It doesn’t work that way. I did risk assessments for banks and the government for years. Risk is not calculated cumulatively because it makes no sense to do so from a statistical point of view. It is a common mistake though, typically made in the medical profession when discussing side effects of medicines, for example. You can’t just add up all the potential risks for each potential side effect and say that’s the likelihood of you having a side effect.

    The Leaf doesn’t handle my longest commutes, which can be up to 100km in a day. With colder weather, the Leaf is utterly impractical. I also can’t go to Montreal in the Leaf. In other words, I got what suited my lifestyle best.

    As to price, the Leaf is only about three grand cheaper than a Volt $38k vs $41k. So, the Leaf makes less sense.

    I mentioned Mountain Mode because the car can do better than the 37mpg in charge sustaining mode, to which the Volt defaults automatically once the charge is depleted. If you use Mountain Mode you get about 50mpg, that’s just what happens. I don’t use it, I’m not going to keep switching the car in/out of Mountain Mode. The benefit isn’t that great.

    And, yes, the Volt can be driven like a regular hybrid when it runs out of battery charge. So what. That’s the entire point of the vehicle. No compromise, as in the Leaf.

  157. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From Gene on December 14, 2011 at 2:11 pm:

    Note that the Economist actually states what was done:

    “[B]oth NHTSA and the carmaker repeated the side-impact and rollover test on at least two other cars, all to no effect. However, in subsequent tests—carried out in November by experts from the energy and defence departments as well as GM—the investigators deliberately damaged the battery packs and ruptured their coolant lines. One battery pack behaved normally. Another emitted smoke and sparks hours after it was flipped on its back. And a third exhibited a temporary increase in temperature, but then burst into flames a week later.”

    Again, repeating the crash tests produced no result. Finally, in November — May to November is six months — they were able to get a result by damaging the battery pack itself and severing the coolant lines. Note the reference to the defence department.

    I’ve noticed what you left out. From that Economist piece (bold added):

    The trouble all started in May, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) carried out a routine 20 mph (32km/h) crash test on a Volt—to simulate a sideways impact with a tree or telegraph pole followed by a rollover. Three weeks after the test, the car’s 16 kilowatt-hour battery pack caught fire in NHTSA’s car park, destroying the vehicle and several others nearby.

    Shortly thereafter, both NHTSA and the carmaker repeated the side-impact and rollover test on at least two other cars, all to no effect. However, in subsequent tests—carried out in November by experts from the energy and defence departments as well as GM—the investigators deliberately damaged the battery packs and ruptured their coolant lines. One battery pack behaved normally. Another emitted smoke and sparks hours after it was flipped on its back. And a third exhibited a temporary increase in temperature, but then burst into flames a week later.

    Compare that to your previous statements. From you on December 13, 2011 at 7:47 pm:

    As to those who still harp on the notion that somehow GM and the NHTSA didn’t say anything for 6 months, again, go read all the pertinent information. (…)

    What was the NHTSA going to do 6 months prior? Cry wolf? If the NHTSA issued alerts every time something weird happened we’d have so many we wouldn’t pay attention when they actually released a pertinent alert. Ultimately the NHTSA has to weigh the risks. I’ll await their report instead of freaking out like a bunch of uninformed ninnies.

    Good, let’s look at the pertinent info. Even that Economist piece mentioned the deafening silence:

    Despite GM’s experience with the ground-breaking EV1 electric vehicle in the 1990s, the company still has much to learn about the public-safety issues associated with powerful batteries. For instance, both GM and NHTSA kept their mouths shut about the Volt’s initial fire for the best part of six months, claiming they needed time to assess the results and to carry out further tests. Others suspect they colluded to protect the Volt’s fragile sales. GM hoped to sell a modest 10,000 Volts in its first year, but will be lucky to achieve even three-quarters of its goal.

    In November, when GM finally went public about the Volt’s fire problems, it warned owners, dealers and first-responders of the need to drain the car’s battery pack after a crash. The OnStar communications system onboard every Volt should allow the company to dispatch an engineer to drain a battery anywhere in the country within 48 hours. For its part, NHTSA has now opened a formal safety investigation into the crash-worthiness of the Volt’s battery system. Meanwhile, a congressional committee that oversees NHTSA is to hold hearings early in the new year to find out why it took nearly six months for the matter to be made public, and why the committee was not kept informed.

    The first NHTSA fire happened, they crashed a few more, then both NHTSA and GM shut up about it. NHTSA didn’t even inform the Congressional committee that keeps tabs on NHTSA, with NHTSA charged with insuring the safety of the public and Congress charged with making sure NHTSA does so.

    And by that Economist piece, things are worse than we thought:

    GM claims the initial fire in June would never have happened if the NHTSA’s engineers had drained the Volt’s battery immediately after the impact. It is odd that they did not. When crash testing a conventional petrol-powered car, the standard procedure is to drain the fuel tank to prevent any chance of fire. It would seem reasonable to do the equivalent with an electric vehicle.

    But, then, GM did not adopt a “depowering” protocol for the Volt until after the June fire. Even when it did, it failed to share the procedure with the safety agency until embarking on the November tests. In the wake of the latest findings, GM is now working with the Society of Automotive Engineers, NHTSA and other vehicle manufacturers, as well as fire-fighters, tow-truck operators and salvage crew, to implement an industry-wide standard for handling battery-powered vehicles involved in accidents.

    When the results of the latter testing came out, GM lied. Basically that’s all you can say about it. First GM blamed NHTSA for not draining down the battery. Then GM said they had an internal safety protocol that they admitted they had failed to share with NHTSA. And now it says here GM didn’t even adopt a “depowering” protocol until after the first fire, thus it doesn’t look like there was anything to even share with NHTSA before the first crash testing.

    So NHTSA kept quiet, didn’t even tell Congress. GM kept quiet, and continued to surreptitiously send out engineering crews when notified by the onboard OnStar spying system to do what they hadn’t told NHTSA how to do, as well as actually developing a deployable “depowering” protocol. When the info got out, GM lied.

    As mentioned in this Dec 8 Reuters piece by way of the Chicago Tribune, where Transportation Secretary LaHood claims there was no NHTSA cover-up:

    The Obama administration has enthusiastically supported the introduction of mostly electric and fully electric vehicles as a way to reduce oil dependence and cut pollution.

    The government, which still owns a third of GM after its 2009 bankruptcy, has invested more than $2 billion into research and development of next-generation batteries for new vehicles. It also accelerated loans to the auto industry for development of electric cars and technology that make conventional engines more efficient.

    One-third ownership and a political agenda to push. Sure looks like the government had reasons to keep quiet.

    LaHood characterized as “nonsense” criticism the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was not transparent about the problem that surfaced in June but was not made public until the agency opened an investigation in November.

    “The idea that we didn’t report it is not accurate,” LaHood said, without elaborating on who beyond General Motors Co. was made aware of the problem initially.

    Wasn’t the media, wasn’t Congress. Who besides GM was notified? Someone in the White House higher up in the command chain is indicated. Who in the ‘Bama’s Administration is higher up than LaHood?

    And, a car splitting in half is an edge case. No automaker is going to be able to make a car fully safe in that type of event. Remember, 300,000 cars burst into flames upon experiencing an accident. That’s 0.01% of all cars in the US annually. Driving is risky.

    My previous post demolished your “300,000 cars” number, both the amount and in how only 3% of vehicle fires are tied to accidents, which would not necessarily be immediate. Safety crews know how to readily handle standard vehicles after a wreck, hose down the area to disperse the fuel. How wet can you get a ruptured Li-ion battery?

    Plus, as touched upon previously, it is vitally important for rescue crews to get people out of crashed vehicles and receiving medical care as quickly as possible.

    Procedure with normal vehicles:
    1. Hose down area to prevent fires.
    2. Disconnect 12 V battery.
    3. Cut vehicle away as needed.
    4. Carefully remove occupants.

    Procedure with Chevy Volts:
    1. ?
    2. ?
    3. ?
    4. ?
    5. Cut away vehicle as needed.
    6. Carefully remove occupants.

    Don’t know how you feel about having your life saved, but I know I’d rather have the rescue crews be completely without doubt about how to quickly get me out, with the fewest steps possible.

  158. Mr. Practility says:

    The fire marshal in North Carolina has announced his findings. Neither the Volt nor the charger was the cause of the fire that did major damage to a house. In fact, the charger was still operating until the fire spread to the first bay of the garage, and in fact, sending warning messages to the power company. The inside of the Volt was not gutted, indicating the battery did not cause the fire. The origin of the fire was in the third bay. There was gasoline stored in that bay. The cause is still not known, but the origin is definitely known.

    The fire after the NHTSA crash test was caused by the battery’s coolant, according to the NHTSA. Because the car was allowed to sit outside in the sun, the coolant crystallized and caused a short and the subsequent fire.

    Junk yards have a protocol of draining gas and removing batteries from wrecked vehicles brought to their facilities. Imagine 500 wrecked cars with gallons of gas and hot batteries laying around their place of business. Why do trained engineers need to be told to do the same? The way the battery caught fire is impossible to replicate in a real world crash scene, unless the police and fire fighters take 3 weeks to get there.

    As for calculating real world MPG equivalents for the EV and gas mode of the Volt, using a Kill-A-Watt meter is about the best way. I enter my power company’s rate per kwh. The meter does the rest. My power company charges $0.0887 per kwh. The Kill-A-Watt consistently shows that it takes 13 kwh’s to charge the car. $0.0887 X 13 = $1.15 to charge the car fully. I am averaging 40 miles per charge. 45 miles on a warm day and 35 miles on a very cold day, and everything in between. (I kept a log for the first 2 months of ownership). This calculates to $0.029 cents per mile. In order to get equivalent MPG, you need to divide the cost of a gallon of gas by the cost per mile number. In my area, att, gas is averaging $3.60 a gallon. That equates to a 124 MPG equivalency. It was much better when I bought the car and gas was at $3.80.

    To figure out MPG when on gasoline is pretty much impossible to do. You would need to deplete the battery and run the car on gas only for a week or two and fill the car back up, thus giving you miles driven and gas used. The problem with that is, you are totally defeating the purpose of the car. So, I take the EPA’s word that 37 MPG is about right. Also, the owners manual tells you to keep the car plugged in at all times. You can partially charge the battery (disconnect when not fully charged) as often as needed and it will not hurt the battery because the battery managing system will not let you use 45% of the batteries capacity. So the battery is never fully depleted.

    What really makes me sad is that America finally has an automobile that the world is looking at. Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Jaguar and others have recently announced they will be launching extended range vehicles. The Volt has managed to accumulate many awards, including the following:

    Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE): Best Engineered Car 2011
    - Auto. NHAC: 2011 Collectible Car Of The Future.
    - MotorWeek 2011 Driver’s Choice Best of Year
    - MotorWeek 2011 Best Eco Friendly
    - 2011 North American Car of the Year / American International Auto Show
    - Motor Trend 2011 Car of the Year
    - Automobile Magazine 2011 Automobile of the Year
    - Car & Driver: 2011 10 Best Cars
    - 2011 Edison Award
    - Kelly Blue Book: Best EV 2012 Resale Value Award
    - Popular Science: Best Of What’s New 2010
    - Popular Mechanics 2010 Breakthrough Technology Award
    - Popular Mechanics Top 10 Vehicles Award for Technology
    - Popular Mechanics Editors Choice: OnStar Applications
    - Top Safety Pick by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
    - EPA: most fuel-efficient gas-powered vehicle 2012
    - J.D. Powers: 2011 Highest Rated Compact
    - Denmark’s 2012 Car Of The Year
    - Consumer Reports: 2011 Volt # 1 Consumer Satisfaction
    - Edmunds 2011 Green Car Breakthrough Award
    - Top Michigan Innovation in 2011
    - Wards AutoWorld: 2011 10 Best Engines

    The award from the SAC alone is a very prestigious award. An international group of engineers testing every make of automobile in the world, and they decided the Volt was best engineered.

    We have a car that has the potential of being a world leader, and 25% of our population trash it because of politics. I would venture to guess that part of the population has never driven the Volt.

    If you want to trash cars because of tax incentives, trash all the foreign auto makers with plants in this country, because they have all been subsidized since the 1980′s to the tune of billions of dollars. A simple search will get you there. And everyone knows oil is subsidized. Why? They make more than the rest of us put together. (being facetious). Our food is subsidized. But these are subsidies that we can live with because our pockets would be affected otherwise. Is this hypocrisy? If we hate one subsidy, we should hate them all.

    As for Leaf vs. Volt, I really don’t know why people with higher millage capabilities slam each other. The Volt was aimed at a certain group. According to the last census, Americans spend about 24 minutes commuting to work. About 50 minutes round trip. Minutes, not miles. That is the Volts perfect range. How many millions of Americans go to work daily? In that sense, the Volt makes sense.

    Would I have bought the Volt without the tax incentive. Probably. With a projected fuel savings of $2,000 per year ($2,500 now and $1,500 when the battery loses 30% of it’s capacity), I can live with that. The gas savings include charging cost. All of my EV miles are monitored by the Kill-A-Watt meter, which by the way, is a great tool. You can buy a regular Kill-A-Watt for under $20.

    The Kiplinger Group stated the Volt is a very good investment. In less than 5 years, 91% of the difference in price between the Volt and a comparable equiped car is recouped. For people like me, who take care of their cars and are able to keep them in good shape for many years, that is a no brainer. In 10 years, when batteries are cheaper and more powerful, I may even buy a new battery pack because my Volt will still look like new. I recently sold my 1978 Seville I purchased new with no problems. It looked show-room new.

    What is the future? Who knows! But researchers at M.I.T. have developed a Lithium Ion battery that can be charged in 10 seconds and may have up to 100 times the capacity of today’s batteries. Wireless charging is already here for small electronics and is being planned for automobiles. In fact, there are test charging systems already out there. They are underground charging systems. Can this lead to an EV with a 1,000 mile range that can be charged in minutes by parking in a special stall at a hotel? Could be. With trillions of dollars waiting to be paid out, I would say there are people working on this day and night and the possibilities are pretty good. That’s called capitalism.

  159. Justa Joe says:

    Mr. Practility says:
    December 16, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    And everyone knows oil is subsidized. Why? They make more than the rest of us put together. (being facetious). Our food is subsidized. But these are subsidies that we can live with because our pockets would be affected otherwise.

    Would I have bought the Volt without the tax incentive. Probably. With a projected fuel savings of $2,000 per year
    ——————————-

    If by oil being subsidized you mean that the govt(s) could conceivably tax them more then I’d agree that they’re ‘subsidized’ by that all encompassing definition. If by subsidized you mean that petroleum would be significantly more expensive or unviable as a fuel without the government giving them money then I’d disagree. FYI; The govt ultimately gets the money from the people so we’re paying for anything that the govt subsidizes.

    Chevy Volt $40K – Chevy Cruze $17K = $23K
    $23K/$2K per year = 11.5 years

    By 11.5 years a person would be into their second battery pack at God knows how $much. I don’t know if I like that deal.

  160. Mr Practicality says:

    Comparing a base Cruze to a Volt is not what Kiplinger did. They compared a Cruze with comparable options. A Cruze LTZ, fully loaded is more than $25,000. And please don’t forget (Kiplinger didn’t), you must ADD $2,000 a year to the price of the Cruze every year for fuel cost.

    Fully loaded Volt – $44,500 – $7,500 tax credit – $10,000 fuel savings for 5 years = $27,000
    Fully loaded Cruze – $25,000 + $10,000 gas cost after 5 years = $35,000

    Even if you factor in the very basic Cruze, the cost is equal After 5 years and everything after that point is a losing proposition for the Cruze.

    Every electronic product has consistently fallen in price over the years. EV batteries are already cheaper than just 2 or 3 years ago. Remember when a 12 mgp camera cost $500 just 7 years ago. You can buy one for $70 at Fry’s on any given day now. And they are much better cameras! Mostly due to battery size, capacity and cost. DPI and lens technology have advanced at a slower pace.

    Subsidies for energy efficient products in California have kept energy use at 1980 levels. The population has doubled. This means the energy use per capita has been halved. Enough to save California from building 32 nuclear power plants at a cost of $10 billion a pop. However, there are still people who complain about these subsidies because of political reasons. My point exactly about the tax credit for the Volt. I was not bemoaning the food and oil subsidies. I was simply pointing out the unfair rantings.

  161. wayne says:

    Doesn’t seem too practical Mr Practicality. Cars are not electronics. I haven’t seen cars halving in cost every two years and never will. How many hundred pounds of batteries go into that Volt? I can’t even keep the lithium batteries in my toothbrush good over a year, two if I’m lucky. And on the subsidies, I fume over my taxes buying a big chunk of YOUR car, for I don’t have spare money.

    When there are adequate nuclear plants, thorium hopefully at 1-2B$ a pop and a tenth the size of today’s reactors, so our resources are not drained (electricity is gen’ed at about 33% efficiency, 50+% for 1000°C LFTR) and I can see batteries lithium is being 100% recycled and China where they are made is clean as a whistle as here and GM gives me free replacement batteries when bad and the charge is held during two weeks of inactivity even in sub-zero temps, as I often do and not leak my energy just bought to charge is not leaked into neverland… then, just then, might I consider.

    See, your logic spends my money way too freely and pollutes other countries, burns more net energy than gasoline and it seems you just have no problem justifying these actions on your part. I can’t shuff them off so easily for our future generations.

    And as to why CA’s energy use per capita has been halved, most common folk can no longer afford it! They have halved their use, I have cut mine to one fourth, and yes, I’m cold. Get practical Mr Practicality.

    I won’t get into panels, windmill, bats, birds, 40 mile ranges and other hair-brain matters. See, I’m a skeptical on all science and economics until I’m personally absolutely convinced that something is just a shade from true or closer. But you’ve had a bad day, FAIL in all of physics, economics and ecology.

  162. _Jim says:

    In the News:

    Audi Chief Calls Chevy Volt “A Car For Idiots”

    Bring on the war of words. In a frank conversation with MSN writer Lawrence Ulrich, Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen has said that the Chevy Volt will fail and that anybody who buys the car is an idiot. Not only that, de Nysschen has lumped proponents of any type of electric car into a category of “intellectual elite who want to show what enlightened souls they are.”

    Source(s)

    Also:

    Audi of America president calls Chevy Volt “a car for idiots,” slams electric vehicles
    By Sebastian Blanco

    When an automotive executive says something brash and outrageous, we sometimes call it “Going Lutz.” The green car world has it’s own special phrase – “Going Musk” – and we always look forward to the next item that makes us go, “Huh? Really?” They’re so much more exciting than the daily press releases.

    Today’s edition might make people use “Going Johan.” Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen, a big diesel vehicle fan, recently gave veteran auto journalist Lawrence Ulrich a few choice morsels about how terrible electric cars, including the Chevy Volt, are.

    To start, he said the Volt is “a car for idiots.” It’s too expensive, he said, adding that “No one is going to pay a $15,000 premium for a car that competes with a (Toyota) Corolla. So there are not enough idiots who will buy it.” He predicted that the Volt will fall fail, which will cause the federal government to have to step in and subsidize the Volt in order to save face and boost sales.

    Source

  163. Faron Fowler says:

    hmmm, did anyone watch the movie show Cars II? You know, where Lightening McQueen and all the other Racing cars have to burn a new green fuel ‘Allinol’ i think it was called? The interesting part of that promotional campaign for greener concepts was it was engineered to fail so there would be a consumer backlash on the technology. How many are bad mouthing the car in this forum? I certainly would not buy a Volt after reading said commentary and i’m sure i’m not a minority. I work with lithium batteries daily in some of the harshest conditions, high heat, high vibration, surrounded by water based drilling fluids. Incidents are a rarity because of the way things are engineered. It is unfortunate that, under the watchful eye of government (aka.friend of big oil), a widely promoted, electric alternative consumer vehicle would be caught up in a controversial storm regarding it’s safety merit and a potential industry cover up.

  164. Mr. Practility says:

    WOW!

  165. Mr. Practility says:

    There were 215,000 vehicle fires in the U.S. last year, and yes, only 3% were caused by accidents.  But, 72% were caused by mechanical or electrical failure. Possibility of spontaneous combustion.

    Ford had a major recall in 2009 for 4.5 million cars.  There were 550 reported fires and quite a few homes were lost.  These cars DID spontaneously combust.  It is suspected that many fires were not reported for various reasons.

    Here are some recalls.  One involves 250 deaths due to fires!  Let’s get real people.

    Ford recall – 4.5 million cars:
    http://www.switchfires.com/

    October 2011 recall of Audi and VW vehicles for possible fire hazard.
    http://miautotimes.com/2011/10/11/car-recalls-affect-volkswagen-audi-models-fuel-leaks-fires/

    Honda recall of some models for some reports of fires in the REAL WORLD
    http://miautotimes.com/2011/09/07/car-recalls-months-2011-surpasses-2-4-million-2010-recalls-numbers/

    Honda recalls more than 600,000 vehicles for fire hazard.
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,584277,00.html

    More than 250 deaths attributed to Jeep fires in some older vehicles.  No recall as of yet.
    http://miautotimes.com/2011/06/24/michigan-jeep-dealers-recall-fire-fatalities-grand-cherokee-warrant/

    BMW is recalling some models due to fire hazards.
    http://blogs.wsj.com/drivers-seat/2011/10/31/bmw-recalls-vehicles-for-potential-fire-hazard/

  166. Mr. Practility says:

    ps when not in use, the Volt is to be kept plugged in, even when fully charged (per manual). Kill-A-Watt shows 3.2 watts drawn when car is fully charged. At that rate, after fully charged, it costs $0.09 per 433 hours the car is plugged in (my power rates).

    That way, the batteries are not depleted due to non-use. Guess you didn’t know that.

  167. Mr Practicality says:

    Perhaps the Audi “Chief” wants to draw your attention away from the recall for possible fires hazards. (see above) Good strategy on his part. Much like when Rush Limbaugh got caught at an airport with someone else’s Viagra. He jokingly said he had Bob Doles luggage. At least Dole wasn’t ashamed that he used Viagra. By the way, are they sure is wasn’t blue coated Oxycontin?

  168. kybelboy says:

    Moron

  169. daveburton says:

    Mr Practicality wrote:
    Fully loaded Volt – $44,500 – $7,500 tax credit – $10,000 fuel savings for 5 years = $27,000
    Fully loaded Cruze – $25,000 + $10,000 gas cost after 5 years = $35,000

    Mr Practicality, you’ve counted the fuel twice: once by subtracting it for the Volt, and once by adding it for the Cruze. You should do one or the other, not both. (You also shouldn’t count the tax credit, IMO, since that “savings” is really just someone else’s cost.)

    Mr Practicality wrote:
    Subsidies for energy efficient products in California have kept energy use at 1980 levels. The population has doubled. This means the energy use per capita has been halved.

    That’s incorrect. I think you’ve confused residential natural gas consumption with overall energy consumption. California’s per capita electricity use has been roughly stable at about 7000 kWh / person, for many years. It has not been halved, or even reduced significantly.

  170. Mr. Practility says:

    You are right there, I mis-spoke.  I apologize.  However, we are both essentially correct. What I meant to say was California’s energy use has remained the same while the population doubled.  Energy use per capita has remained almost flat while in the other 49 states per capita use has doubled. Essentially, this means that California has halved it’s per capita use as apposed to per capita use doubling for the rest of the states.. Yes, the rate has remained the same. Everybody elses has doubled.

    http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/14/deciphering-californias-efficiency-successes/

    Page 9 in this PDF shows a good chart.
    http://www.energy.ca.gov/2009publications/CEC-200-2009-015/CEC-200-2009-015.PDF

    This chart shows that California uses less energy per capita than any other state. This varies from year to year. Sometimes California is not at the bottom, but never higher up than 4th from the bottom.
    http://energyalmanac.ca.gov/electricity/us_per_capita_electricity-2010.html

    In 1960, California’s population was 15 million +. In 2010, it was 38 million +. The energy use for the whole state has almost remained at 1960 levels.
    http://www.npg.org/states/ca.htm

  171. Mr. Practility says:

    Wayne wrote:

    And on the subsidies, I fume over my taxes buying a big chunk of YOUR car, for I don’t have spare money

    Your ire about subsidies is OK with me. I was merely pointing out that foreign auto makers came to this country and received tax subsidies in the billions from our government (and probably theirs?). Everybody who hates the $7,500 tax credit should be consistant.

    You should try to put it in perspective though. The $7,500 figure is not a final figure. It is a credit, not a rebate. To use a random figure, some people will only have to pay $2,000 in federal taxes this year. That means they will only get a $2,000 tax credit. Most web sites say the average figure is $5,000.

    Let’s say Chevy sells a whopping 2,000 Volts in December, (just using a number, I’m trying to give you a benefit of the doubt). That means 8,000 units will be sold in 2011. $5,000 multiplied by 8,000 = $40 million.

    If you take the tax credits paid out $40 million and divide it by the number of people employed in the U.S., 139 million, you will see that you personally, will pay a total of $0.29 towards my Volt.

    Now, let’s get to what you should really be pissed off about. Here’s a list, but take easy, if $0.29 set you off like a rocket, this is going make you explode. At least it does Americans who desire true knowledge. This is just a partial list of companies that did not pay taxes. In fact, some received more tax dollars in returns than they paid out during the year, even after receiving billions in bailout money.

    The list: (On the net, many web sites)

    1) ExxonMobil made $19 billion in profits in 2009. Exxon not only paid no federal income taxes, it actually received a $156 million rebate from the IRS, according to its SEC filings. [Note: Our post last April reported that ExxonMobil was owed $46 million by the IRS.]

    2) Bank of America received a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS last year, although it made $4.4 billion in profits and received a bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department of nearly $1 trillion.

    3) Over the past five years, while General Electric made $26 billion in profits in the United States, it received a $4.1 billion refund from the IRS.

    4) Chevron received a $19 million refund from the IRS last year after it made $10 billion in profits in 2009.

    5) Boeing, which received a $30 billion contract from the Pentagon to build 179 airborne tankers, got a $124 million refund from the IRS last year.

    6) Valero Energy, the 25th largest company in America with $68 billion in sales last year received a $157 million tax refund check from the IRS and, over the past three years, it received a $134 million tax break from the oil and gas manufacturing tax deduction.

    7) Goldman Sachs in 2008 only paid 1.1 percent of its income in taxes even though it earned a profit of $2.3 billion and received an almost $800 billion from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury Department.

    8) Citigroup last year made more than $4 billion in profits but paid no federal income taxes. It received a $2.5 trillion bailout from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury.

    9) ConocoPhillips, the fifth largest oil company in the United States, made $16 billion in profits from 2007 through 2009, but received $451 million in tax breaks through the oil and gas manufacturing deduction.

    10) Over the past five years, Carnival Cruise Lines made more than $11 billion in profits, but its federal income tax rate during those years was just 1.1 percent.

    I am not politically motivated. Yes, subsidies are not right. If they took away the oil company subsidies, gasoline would be over $7 a gallon according to many analysts. Why? Because the oil companies would then have to use their own monies for exploration. They are not in the business to lose money. Even dry wells will come out of your pocket at the pump. I would prefer they not subsidize oil. I wonder then how many people would buy a car that can get 130 mpg in the city?

  172. Justa Joe says:

    Mr. Practicality,

    Remember when a 12 mgp camera cost $500 just 7 years ago. You can buy one for $70 at Fry’s on any given day now. And they are much better cameras! Mostly due to battery size, capacity and cost. DPI and lens technology have advanced at a slower pace.
    —————————-
    No, I don’t remember that. The equivalent to a $500 dollar camera in 2005 does not cost $70 today. You may be close to correct that you could get some cheap 12 mgp camera today somewhere for $70, but it wouldn’t have the equivalent lense of a camera that costed $500 in 05′. One thing is for sure it’s not the battery that made the difference in cost since camera batteries’ cost hasn’t changed significantly in that period, and batteries aren’t the major cost in a camera not even in 05′. Heck, Some cameras even use regular alkaline AA & AAA batteries. You seem to like to play fast and loose with facts.

    Li-ion technology has been around for +20 years. I am unaware of any looming great reductions in cost of production.

  173. Justa Joe says:

    Mr. Practility says:
    December 18, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    …Yes, subsidies are not right. If they took away the oil company subsidies, gasoline would be over $7 a gallon according to many analysts. Why? Because the oil companies would then have to use their own monies for exploration. They are not in the business to lose money. Even dry wells will come out of your pocket at the pump. I would prefer they not subsidize oil. I wonder then how many people would buy a car that can get 130 mpg in the city?
    ———————–

    What a bizarre fantasy.
    Since Europe has gasoline priced higher than $7 USD/gallon already and still nobody seems to want EV’s One would have to guess that not many more people would want EV’s here either.

    Let me get this straight. You’re telling me that without the largesse of the govt’s “subsidies” gas would be $7/gallon when $.50 of the current $3.50 cost of a gal of gas is already Federal, State , and local excise taxes?

    The oil industry gets about $4.3 billion in various tax breaks, which you guys like to call subsidies, even though for the most part they are the same kind of write offs that every other industry gets. The USA use 138 billion gallons of gasoline a year. This seems to work out to $.03/ gallon of ‘subsidization’.

    But even that’s not correct because the oil and natural gas industry pays income taxes, royalties and other fees totaling nearly $86 million every day. and that doesn’t include the previously mentioned excise taxes collected and remitted. So they’re generating about $36.5 billion in government revenue annually and the govt is rebating about $4.3 billion. Who’s really subsidizing who? These numbers don’t seem to indicate that government subsidies reduce the cost of gasoline.

  174. Mr. Practility says:

    Sheeesh. I made a mistake. The $0.29 was your (our) share towards the 8,000 Volts. Your (our) share is $0.000036. Yes, I know that is so much more than what you gave to the oil companies, and foreign auto makers in the form of subsidies and their tax breaks. Exxon Mobil didn’t pay one cent in feds? And you’re pissed about $0.000036?

    My son is a photographer. He bought a top of the line 12 mgp camera in 2006 for $2,750. They had lower end 12 mgp cameras back then for $500. They still have 12mgp cameras today that cost $700 … those are the top of the line cameras you speak of.

    I still haven’t heard anyone address the billions of dollars in tax credits, and subsidies that were given and are being given to the foreign auto makers with plants in this country. According to Fox News, GM has paid off 2/3 of the government loan. The entire loan will be paid off with interest. The foreign auto makers don’t have to pay one red cent back!

    BUY AMERICAN!

  175. Smokey says:

    Volt subsidies: a quarter million dollars per car sold.

  176. _Jim says:

    Mr. Practility says on December 18, 2011 at 2:59 pm
    ..
    1) ExxonMobil made …

    2) Bank of America …

    3) Over the past five years, while General Electric made …

    Justifying additional giveaways, grants and overall corruption of the ‘system’ by justifying actions regarding ‘The Volt’? Your prescription for ‘more of the same’ is laudable, but does not paint you as the ‘green saint’ re: ‘The Volt’ as you might desire.

    We all think you’re perverting the truth, lying by omission and outright perhaps don’t comprehend ‘finance’, taxing and credits to begin with, so please, save any form of reply or ‘rebuttal’.

    .

  177. _Jim says:

    Smokey says on December 21, 2011 at 7:00 am

    Volt subsidies: a quarter million dollars per car sold.

    You beat me to it <grin> .

    The take-away for the ‘defenders’ of such grants and subsidies would do well ti note that the subsidies extend to suppliers and sub-contractors for parts and sub-assemblies on ‘the Volt’, NOT just to subsidies etc refunded or credited to the end-buyer … of which a large percentage were ‘forced’ (arbitrary government decided) fleet sales

    Fair-use (Copyright) extract in case the original article goes away:

    The Volt subsidies flow through multiple companies involved in production. The analysis includes adding up the amount of government subsidies via tax credits and direct funding for not only General Motors, but other companies supplying parts for the vehicle.

    For example, the Department of Energy awarded a $105.9 million grant to the GM Brownstown plant that assembles the batteries. The company was also awarded approximately $106 million for its Hamtramck assembly plant in state credits to retain jobs.

    The company that supplies the Volt’s batteries, Compact Power, was awarded up to $100 million in refundable battery credits (combination tax breaks and cash subsidies). These are among many of the subsidies and tax credits for the vehicle.

    GM has estimated they’ve sold 6,000 Volts so far. That would mean each of the 6,000 Volts sold would be subsidized between $50,000 and $250,000, depending on how many government subsidy milestones are realized.

    Additional state and local support provided to Volt suppliers was not included in the analysis, Hohman said, and could increase the level of government aid. For instance, the Volt is being assembled at the Poletown plant in Detroit/Hamtramck, which was built on land acquired by General Motors through eminent domain.

    According to GM CEO Dan Akerson, the average Volt owner makes $170,000 per year.

    .

  178. Justa Joe says:

    Mr. Practicality,
    Do you have any appreciation that there is a difference between a government through tax code limiting how much that they collect from a viable business and the government taking tax funds and handing them to their pet industries that are not even viable?

    Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan Program is a $25 billion direct loan program funded by Congress in fall 2008 to provide debt capital to the U.S. automotive industry [incl. Nissan] for the purpose of funding projects that help vehicles manufactured in the U.S. meet higher mileage requirements and lessen U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Technology_Vehicles_Manufacturing_Loan_Program

    Electric car grants worth $2.4 billion unveiled
    Administration names 48 projects to get funding to develop batteries, parts and programs.
    http://money.cnn.com/2009/08/05/technology/batteries/index.htm

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