Time to pull the plug on the Chevy Volt?
If you hate GM, then you probably don't think much of the Chevy Volt. In fact, you might even call it an unrealistic hype machine into which GM has sunk far too much money.
That's the argument the Washington Post makes today, and I have to admit, it's a pretty persuasive argument. For instance, the article points to numerous analyses, including some done by President Obama's auto task force, that indicate the economics simply don't make sense for a vehicle like the Volt. Thus, how can the Volt help GM's bottom line?
For example, even with $4.00 gas, it would still take, minimally, six years for the the Volt to recover its costs compared to today's Toyota Prius. And, that's assuming the Volt will only cost $30,000 after huge government tax credits and subsidies. Even at such a cost, it would still take far longer for many other Volt owners to recover their costs compared to a Prius.
Thus, this Post editorial suggests pulling the plug on the Volt, and I couldn't disagree more.
I have long argued that the Volt should never have been an excuse not to develop a Prius-contender. Perhaps GM's lithium-powered BAS hybrid system can fill this void, but cheap quality hybrids will be a necessity for any automaker in the very near future.
Fortunately, GM's billion dollar investment into the Volt could help produce such cheap hybrid vehicles, aside from the Volt. Because much of GM's Volt investment has been centered around one core technology, lithium-ion batteries, GM could conceivably parlay this knowledge into many different types of hybrid and electric vehicles.
Hence, to call GM's Volt venture a waste that helped lead to bankruptcy and a loss of corporate reputation is pure nonsense.
I've seen GM's battery labs. I've seen GM's virtual design center. These two elements alone could make GM's Volt investment worth the cost, even if the Volt itself is another decade away from any sort of real world, cost-effective impact.
Nonetheless, the Volt cannot save GM in the next decade. However, that does not mean the plug should be pulled on the Volt. Instead, it means GM needs to utilize the massive amount of intelligence gleaned from the Volt and convert it into a more well-rounded and balanced hybrid and electric vehicle portfolio, including the Volt.
If GM can do that, the Volt might just be GM's smartest investment ever. If not, maybe we shouldn't just pull the plug on the Volt, but GM.