Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chevy Volt rhymes with Dolt

Today I think I will weigh in the highly anticipated electric car from General Motors, the Volt.  This offering from GM is going to make the Vega look like the greatest feat of automotive engineering of all time.  Which is not surprising when you consider that the US government is involved, much like the Post Office, this lemon is going to cost us taxpayers a boat load of money. At first glance, the Volt seemed like a game changer based on the initial specs from GM, 230mpg in city driving, a small gasoline engine to charge the batteries, but not used to power the car, a car Jesus would drive.  Problem is, GM lied.  Big time lied.

The Volt costs over $40,000.00 and here is what you are getting for your investment. The Volt gets around 25 miles on a fully charged battery before the engine takes over, so make sure you fill up the gas tank (Premium only) before you head to grandma's. And the good news is, once the battery is out of juice and the engine kicks in, expect to get about 37mpg, less than the 40mpg the 2011 Ford Focus gets and the Ford costs over 20k less than the Volt.  You can buy a lot of gas for the difference. But say you are fortunate to have a daily commute of less than twenty five miles, and you never venture out of your neighborhood, basically never go anywhere, then the Volt may be for you. However a better alternative may be an e-bike, or electric bicycle.

E-bikes are becoming very popular,  globally there were 26 million e-bikes sold last year, an increase of 81%.  Several cities in China have banned gasoline powered mopeds and scooters which has contributed to the increase in demand for electric bicycles.  Being involved with Dutch bicycle manufacturer Gazelle, I am familiar with their line up of e-bikes.  Basically, they provide pedal assist in two modes, Eco and Power, and have a range three times that of the Volt, up to 75 miles. The lithium ion battery sits under the rear bike rack and can be removed and charged anywhere there is a wall socket.  You can ride the bike like you would any bike, and if you get a little fatigued, or start to sweat on the way to work, just hit one of the assist buttons for a little help.

GM sold a whopping 281 Volts last month, including one to a lucky customer in Washington DC who drove over three hundred miles to be the first Volt customer at that particular dealership, even the local news folks were there to cover it. Unfortunately, he didn't get out of the parking lot, the brakes failed. It took five days for the dealer to fix the problem.  And I wonder if the customer encountered any buyers remorse after he finally picked it up and on the way home had to put gas (Premium) in it?  I wonder if he is starting to budget for $8,000.00 battery that will eventually have to be replaced?  I wonder if the salesman that sold him the Volt reminded to tell him to drain the gas tank if he drives on all electricity for an extended  period of time, GM forget about the fuel tank rotting out from extended exposure to stagnant gasoline. 

Webster's defines "dolt" as a stupid person.  I define a person that buys a Chevy Volt as a "voltdolt."

Gazelle Orange Innergy about $39,000.00 less than the Chevy Volt

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