Volt No Va

A long time ago Chevrolet tried to sell the Nova in Mexico.  They just couldn’t understand why it sold really well in the U.S. and other markets, but would not sell in Mexico at all.  Some genius finally realized that no va in Spanish means “no go.”

Chevrolet is about to release their new all-electric Chevy Volt.  Reviewers are raving about how the car can go 1,000+ miles on one tank of gasoline.  Fantastic!  The only problem is that the car costs an estimated $44,000 -about twice what  Prius costs.  Keep in mind that the Volt is a true electric car – it has an electric motor, with a gas engine there only to recharge the batteries (not to propel the car), while the Prius is a hybrid – it has a gasoline engine that propels the car with an additional electric motor that kicks-in under certain driving conditions, and which increases gas mileage.

Let’s look at some math:

Let’s say we can save, on average $50 a week with the Volt.
That’s $200 a month, or $2,400 a year.
To make the math easy, let’s say you could get a Prius at $20,000
This means that the Volt is $24,000 more than the Prius
This also means that, at $50 a week savings on gas, it would take 10 years to break-even
This assumes that maintenance was equal (not likely when comparing a Toyota product with a Chevy (sorry Chevy owners)

Ten years is a very long time for any car to last, especially one that gets driven enough to generate $50 a week in gasoline savings.

The bottom line is that, although I appreciate GM’s willingness to spend the money on development, the Volt is simply not a viable product.  My hope is that it will lead to more development, so that eventually regular cars and trucks that the average person wants and can use will contain some good electric technology that will increase gas mileage significantly.

Until someone develops a cheap, effective battery system that can store large amounts of energy in a small, light-weight package, we will not see any real progress on electric vehicle technology.


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