Video: GM CEO Akerson Says Next-Gen Chevy Volt Needs 50 to 60 Miles of Electric Range

1 year ago by Eric Loveday 101

General Motors CEO Dan Akerson was recently interviewed by Bloomberg News on the topic of today’s Chevrolet Volt and on what the future may hold for the Volt.

Volt Gets Increased Electric-Only Range in 2013...More to Come in the Future

Volt Gets Increased Electric-Only Range in 2013…More to Come in the Future

The discussion ranged from the recent $5,000 Volt price cut to eking out more electric-only range on the next-generation Volt.

The brief interview tells most of the story, though it’s worth pointing out a few highlights:

  • The $5,000 price cut on the 2014 Chevy Volt was made possible by declining production costs, mostly attributed to decreasing battery costs.
  • The 2014 Volt won’t see an increase in its electric-only range.
  • A 20% range increase is expected in 4 years or less, most likely in 3 years’ time.

As GM-Volt points out, Akerson stated this:

“The next generation, we hope to extend that [all-electric range] significantly.”

“For something to be significant to me, I’ve got to get at least a 20-percent improvement in performance. So, if we can get it up to 50-60 miles – or more – we will, but that’s going to be another 3-4 years out. So we’ll watch evolutions.”

We should also note that 3 weeks ago, our own Jay Cole pointed out that a 15 month delay in the next generation Cruze’s arrival probably meant the Volt 2nd gen would also be receiving a corresponding delay of its own.

It would seem CEO Akerson’s suggestion of a 3 year wait for more range on the next generation Volt confirms that suspicion.

For the rest of what Akerson had to say, check out the Bloomberg News video interview

Source: Bloomberg via GM-Volt

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101 responses to "Video: GM CEO Akerson Says Next-Gen Chevy Volt Needs 50 to 60 Miles of Electric Range"

  1. Alaa says:

    Does this GM man not know that a Tesla can drive accross coutry and charge in minutes or swap batteries in seconds? Does he not also know that Tesla is paying $200ish per Kwh while he was paying $800?
    He also said that the battery is the most expensive part in the volt. Now counting on $238 per kwh and the volt has 16 kwh battery that means $3808. He must be joking because the ICE with the tail pipe gas tank etc is worth more than that!

    1. David Murray says:

      Tesla can’t do that right now. Maybe in the future. The Volt is here now and can offer that capability. Until that charging infrastructure is in place, the Volt is a more practical car than the Tesla for long drives across country.

      1. Alaa says:

        There are very few that drive across the USA and he said it! Why drive it is better to fly! As for the Tesla VS the Volt, the whole world knows that the Tesla wins hands down.

        1. LarrySchuler says:

          Sure it is. IF you can afford the payments.

          1. Bonaire says:

            Oh – and the insurance. Twice that off say a Camry or Civic.

        2. ClarksonCote says:

          And a private jet beats a Tesla hands down. So come on people, start buying private jets already.

          1. Spec says:

            I see what you did there. Nice analogy.

          2. vdiv says:

            Only if the said private jets come with E-Fan technology :)

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lavvVN7fSEU

            Flying it is extra ;)

    2. taser54 says:

      Do you not know that the Volt MSRPs for $35k and Tesla has nothing that can match it. So spare us with the Tesla this and that until they put a product on the road in that price range.

      1. kdawg says:

        The race is on!
        Would be fun to be working on this.

        1. pjwood says:

          Race? Looks like a used Tesla beats an Impala EREV that does ‘t exist.

          1. Ocean Railroader says:

            The volt in away right now is wining the battle in that the honey melon in all of this is to get down to the price of the common Prius so that it can become a new Prius killer. In that they say that they make 50,000 Prius a month and almost 600,000 a year http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Prius_%28XW30%29

            The thing the Prius has going for it now is that it is in the $20,000 to $30,000 dollar range. Once the Chevy volt gets down into this range it will slaughter the Prius and the Prius plug in even in it’s current set up. But if you add the 60 mile range idea to it then it will crush the Nissan Leaf along with US oil demand.

            1. Dave R says:

              I see that Volts are currently selling in the low $30k range today.

              Subtract $7500 fed tax credit and you’re in the $25k range without taking into account any state rebates you may have.

              Really the only thing stopping the Volt matching Prius sales are:

              1. Need to change the tax credit to an instant rebate.
              2. Get Prius-like interior room.
              3. Prius-like fuel economy on the range-extender (45 mpg EPA).

              As it is, the Volt with it’s recent discounts is seriously tempting me to replace my Prius with it…

              1. drucifer says:

                Agree with Dave R. on all points. With the right financing, the tax credit can be baked into the model with a balloon payment due after you file and get your refund.

                That gets you to the 5th seat/space and the EPA on the range extender. The 5th seat is a big deal if you need it, and enough do that it reduces the market potential of the Volt.

                The range extender mpg isn’t a big deal in reality. The Volts in the bottom 5% of mpg are still above the best traditional Prius. BUT… from a marketing standpoint it’s a huge deal, because a lot of buyers just are not doing the math on how much they will drive in all electric, and they just compare mpg to mpg, and the Volt at 37 doesn’t look all that amazing.

              2. Darius says:

                Why you need ICE MPG in case 80% of driving will be electric?

                1. Ocean Railroader says:

                  I have seen volts and a lot of other plug in cars in my area. I think the reasoning is that it is not uncommon for a lot of people to drive 40 to 50 and even 70 miles to work one day one way. A drive like this would put a lot of stress on a leaf owner but not a volt owner do to the rural urban nature of my area and lack of charging stations.

                  The nice thing the volt has over the Prius is that it can take in two types of fuel electric and gas which is good in that if you have a place where there is cheap power you can plug in or if their is a oil shortage you have a back up. But if you live in a rural or a urban border line rural area where you can’t afford a $70,000 a volt would be a good car. In that my area’s case plug ins are very popular do to it’s urban rural nature and lack of plug in stations.

      2. Bonaire says:

        This is how Kodak lost the race for photography and Xerox for copiers. By equating their name with “everything “. Tesla is going to be synonymous with EVs all the while everyone needs to realize that there are going to be dozens of EVs of all shapes and sizes. Kodak shrank from 55,000 employees to 5,000 in about a decade and crushed much of the economy in Rochester, NY in the process when employment shrank quickly.

    3. Dan Frederiksen says:

      Akerson is lying about the 800$. They never cost that much. Maybe in a pack in low volume from a douche supplier but the cells never cost anywhere near that much.
      The LGchem cells in the Volt cost less than 200$/kWh now and I’m quite certain it wasn’t above 400$ when they started in 2010 although they may have had to pay LGchem development to make that battery form factor.
      They could always have used 18650 cells and they are below 200$ now too and in 2010 it wasn’t significantly more.

      1. Taser54 says:

        So much distrust. Even Fox Mulder believed in something.

        1. Dan Frederiksen says:

          I believe the sub 200$/kWh price I get on LGchem cells from a reseller.
          I don’t believe those who crushed the EV1s in the desert when they said specifically that they wouldn’t :)
          Call me crazy.

          And I believe ET ships are real. And they are. And the cover up since 1940 is real too.

      2. Ocean Railroader says:

        I remember reading a comment back in 2012 that the Nissan Leaf battery coasted the company $375 to make in 2011 or early 2012. But I really do believe the story that the bulk of the costs being cut from the Chevy Volt right now are from the costs of building the battery.

    4. Spec says:

      An ICE, gas tank, and tail pipe is not ‘one part’. Nor do they cost $3808 even when combined.

      1. Alaa says:

        the gear box does

      2. Ocean Railroader says:

        The catalytic converters on a ice car’s tail pipe go for $900 bucks and every drug attic wants to go saw them off and steal them to sell for drug money. I kind of wounder what would their reaction be if they tried to cut off the catalytic converter on a electric car only to find that they don’t exist on a electric car.

    5. Bonaire says:

      I guess this board will now be rules by Tesla fanboys and constant drubbing of everyone “else” who is wanting to be “as awesome as Tesla”? This may get old real-fast.

      1. Future Leaf Driver says:

        Ya, just like what happened over at gm-volt.com.

  2. Priusmaniac says:

    If they give 75 EV miles, a full back seat and a Flex-Fuel engine, I am all for it.

    1. scottf200 says:

      Most Volt drivers hardly use any gas … thus premium doesn’t matter nor flexfuel. Very little gas times pennies difference not equal R&D investment (and lower MPG).

      1. Alaa says:

        If they hardly use gas then they are always carying an ICE a gas tank a tail pipe etc that they never use; thus poor efficency!

        1. David Murray says:

          There’s a difference between rarely and never. Sort of like saying people are rarely in car accidents. If it was truly never, then we wouldn’t need seatbelts.

        2. kdawg says:

          Carrying extra battery around (Tesla) or carry an engine around (EREV) = six of one, half-dozen of the other.

          1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

            Well, it’s pretty clear that the Tesla makes use of its battery capacity. ;)

            As you note the idea that either range extender or extra capacity is dead weight is silly. It’s only dead weight if you have a very smooth, convenient, cheaper rental alternative.

        3. EV says:

          why are you speaking on a volt when you dont even own one or drive one

          1. Ocean Railroader says:

            I have seen a Chevy Volt driving on the highway and several other plug in cars driving around but I have never seen a fully electric car on the road. I could understand why a lot of people would need one if it was a case of it being your only car or if you wanted to own a EV car for local driving but did do a lot of long trips every month.

          2. Surya says:

            One doesn’t need to own or use something to have something to say about that thing. I have never used or owned uranium, yet there are a couple of things I can tell you about it.

            1. Ocean Railroader says:

              It is good to go out and collect info on the volt, Tesla and Leaf and other electric cars before I go out and spend $20,000 to $35,000 to buy one. In that I would be a little worried about my self if I woke up one morning and figured I would go jump into a car I didn’t know anything about.

              Such as in my case I will most likely be owning one car in the next two to three years and would like to find out as much as possible before I get one. In that my driving needs could change a great deal between now and then.

        4. Happy Volt Owner says:

          Electric car owners carry a second car, thus second insurance payment, maintenance bill, gas bill, and on and on. I have one car. I use gas when I need to. Mostly electric.

          I don’t drive cross country every week though. But I could. Tesla can’t.

      2. Bonaire says:

        Steps of evolution.
        - my prior car was 25mpg
        - my current Volt is lifetime 83mpg with 100+ mpg in the last 3-months.

        But of course, this is “horrible” compared to a Tesla, right fanboys?

        1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

          How many miles have you driven? ;)

      3. Ocean Railroader says:

        Flex fuels is not that hard to put in a car in that it is where you replace some of the gas parts with parts that are renascent to the corrosion of ethanol which is even good for cars that never use pure ethanol in that there has been a lot of talks of raising the amount of ethanol in the fuel supply to 15% to 20%. A flex fuel car was our first renewable energy able to use car along before the first electric cars came out.

  3. Phil Trubey says:

    What a joke. In 3-4 years, Tesla will have a $35k car that can do 200 electric miles. And a fast charging infrastructure in place. There is no future for the volt with those specs.

    1. Spec says:

      Do you think that Tesla will be able to do that and everyone else won’t?

      1. EV says:

        everyone might be able to do that, except their cars will be hideous and not even compare to tesla

        1. Bonaire says:

          Cripes (as my mom used to say). The amount of chest-thumping by Tesla fans is going to make them exclusionary country-club Thurston Howells if this keeps up. Enjoy the EV revolution – don’t pizz on everyone who isn’t Tesla. You’d think Musk invented friggin electricity.

      2. pjwood says:

        >>>Do you think that Tesla will be able to do that and everyone else won’t?

        Spec, let me rephrase:

        Do you think the rest of the market will let Tesla do that? Careful.

        Tesla won’t be delivering a car in 3 years, at $35k/200 AER. Pinky swear.

      3. Phil Trubey says:

        Well, no other manufacturer has shown any inclination whatsoever to producing a 200 mile range car. This article just quoted the head of GM as saying they aren’t going to produce such a car. If you can name a car manufacturer that is going to produce such a car, I’m all ears.

    2. Taser54 says:

      Perhaps come back then?

    3. Bonaire says:

      I highly doubt this. Plus, the $35K is *after* federal tax credits if they still exist at the time. What would a republican president do when O is out of office to help cut back government expenses? Volt is $35K right now before tax credits, offers a GM Card for cutting another $1K or more off a purchase, various dealer deals and so on. Out of pocket is usually $25K. Today. No speculation and a really good car. Many drivers have over 90% EV miles and are driving electrically in a similar manner than a Tesla. The only thing missing is nut-crunching acceleration (are we racing or commuting safely?) and the larger size of the back seat. I think we have great cars to choose from here but the vast majority of buyers are going to choose the options they like.

      By the way, I believe that there will be 3-4 competitors to the “Gen-III” and will offer a cheaper car for most buyers. Leafs will be over 100-miles by then as will new models from GM and others.

      1. Surya says:

        Musk has clearly stated they intend the 35K to be BEFORE incentives.

        1. Bonaire says:

          Won’t make it. Will have reason to raise the cost.

          1. Surya says:

            I’m not going to speculate on how prices will evolve in the next 4 years. I can only repeat what Tesla sees as their goals. And while ambitious, they have proven to meet most of them.

            1. Ocean Railroader says:

              As a Tesla supporter I really want them to do what they are talking about but for the time being they are basically out of play for the other 90% of us in that they right now they only have a $70,000 dollar car minimum and the Model X will most likely be another $70,000 and if we are lucky it will have a starting price of $60,000. But even that car is not coming out till 2014 while the Tesla Blue star the generation III is for all reasons out of play for the next four to five years. Well as for it being possible in terms of being built I say yes it is even under existing conduction. But it’s still out of play. As for any other 200 mile EV’s I have mixed feelings about them in that Tesla seems to be the only one talking positive about them. But I wouldn’t rule it out that the other car makers could have some of their own that they are waiting to unleash once they study the Tesla Threat to them some more.

              In terms of the Chevy volt I think it makes a great car for people who are afraid to get to deep into EV’s and there are tens of millions of Ice cars on the road today that could be replaced with it which is a good start. Even if a 200 mile Tesla came out tomorrow that wouldn’t make the Volt out dated in that you could still use it to replace your regular Ice Car with it as the second car.

    4. Happy Volt Owner says:

      The average Daily commute is less than 40 miles. These cars must be plugged in daily. Tesla makes you read and sign a form acknowledging that fact.

      On a daily basis, 200 mile range means nothing. On a trip, it still means nothing because I can go 400 miles.

      Motor Trend was only able to squeeze 235 miles out of a $105,000 Tesla. Good luck on waiting. And as it was pointed out to you before, in 3 or 4 years, the credits may be gone. There is a finite number of them. So that $35,000 Tesla will be $42,000, and you are still going to drive less than 40 miles a day.

      Also, by that time, you will have spent another $5,000 – $6,000 on gas, so don’t forget to add that to the price of waiting. Now your Tesla could be $48,000. My Volt will be under $18,000 by then. That’s a $30,000 hit you might take for waiting.

      1. Phil Trubey says:

        I’m glad you like the Volt, my father in law has one and loves his. Nobody said anything about waiting. If it or the Leaf works for you, by all means buy them, they are nice cars. My comment was about what the playing field is going to look like in 3-4 years when GM comes out with a 20% bett battery mileage car.

        A 200 mile range DOES mean something when you have a fast charging network in place which Tesla will have in 2 years. It’ll allow pretty ordinary things like Los Angeles to San Diego and back in one day, something not possible in a 100 mile range car with no fast charge network in place.

        The Tesla $35k target is without tax credits.

        1. Stuart22 says:

          As much as I admire Musk and what he has done with his company, a 200 mile range $35k EV sedan in the mold of a 3-Series BMW is a far, far more difficult goal to reach than anything he has done up to now with Tesla. For this to happen, technology has to advance beyond where it is now coupled with lower costs. In other words, he’s going to need a lot of help and luck.

        2. Happy Volt Owner says:

          I understand your point now that you point out that you compare a future 200 mile EV to a current 100 mile EV.

          But you did say the Volt would be a joke in 4 years. In 4 years, I can go to San Diego from S.F. and back in one day. In my current Volt.

          A 200 mile EV, Tesla or whatever will not get 200 miles on the freeway. EV’s get better range in town, not at freeway speeds. At freeway speeds, a 200 mile EV will probably get 160 – 170 miles.

          You would need a quick charging station at least every 50 miles. They could put them every 100 miles, but who wants to have range anxiety with 100 miles still on their charge?

          So, with only a real world 165 mile range, I wouldn’t want to push it if I had 65 miles left and had 50 miles to go to the next station. That’s called range anxiety.

          Even if they build all those charging stations, you still have the range anxiety problem.

          No, you need to spend a minimum of $70,000 for an EV that will let you enjoy your trip.

          2014 Volts will see a $5,000 price drop, per GM. With credits, a CA buyer pays about $25k – $28k, depending on the goodies.

          I could afford that $70,000 Tesla. I’m just not that insane.

        3. Jim says:

          That’s nice, but at this point in time that charging network sucks. If I can make a trip and not have to stick to I-5, or if I don’t want to have to wait a half hour every 200 miles the Model S and its supercharger network is fails for that purpose.

      2. Bonaire says:

        It is due to the vampire drain without the forthcoming Sleep mode. 4kWh a day are leaked by Tesla’s onboard circuits, currently. I think this is pretty bad – unless it is a 0.9 version.

    5. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      Currently reality:
      - very expensive (and desirable) Model S with a limited Supercharger network.
      - Volt starts at $35k with a $7,500 credit available.

      They’ll try to have a $35k car. Right now there are limited superchargers and the car costs a lot more than $35k.

      In 3-4 years Tesla might have a $35k car, but you don’t know how much the next Volt will cost or what its spec will be.

      I _hope_ Tesla’s on the right path and hope that they either win or get beaten by something even better

  4. Anthony says:

    I think 50-60 is excessive, but thats just me. My models for a gen 2 Volt are around 18kWH, 13kWH usable for about 45-46 miles of range. The stacked battery pack fits under the back seat and a little under the trunk (the top of the “T” on the current pack, plus a lower-profile area under the rear bench). I expect the pack to cost about $6000 (pack, not cells).

    1. ClarksonCote says:

      What’s nice is that 50 to 60 miles translates to a healthy 35 miles even in the harsh winter. Looking at the histogram on VoltStats.net, 50-60 miles is about the sweet spot to minimize gas use. After that, it’s diminishing returns.

      1. Anthony says:

        I would expect better efficiency in the winter time with the second gen Volt – I expect them to move to a new heat pump and resistive heater hybrid design that should be able to cut heating power by 25-30% (this design will also be reused through a larger fleet of EVs so it wont only be in the Volt). I also expect the thermally managed batteries to perform better over a wider range of temperatures as well. So the winter degradation wont go down to 25-30 miles, but closer to 35 miles.

        1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

          Think of it as a flexible option targeting the typical safe range of BEVs. Personally, a PHEV 50 would be great as my commute is 41.4 in a cold-winter state that often has winter morning commutes in the single digits. On top of that it would eat nicely into our other frequent trips. I do agree that at that range you’d want an optional heat pump as well: not only does it keep you off the gas, but a heat pump has the added advantage of making preconditioning for heat more efficient.

          If prices drop to target, around $200/kWh, an extra 5kWh could only be $1k as long as they don’t need to bump the inverter and motor, and since the Volt has more than adequate power (according to many owners and my wife, who’s test-driven one) I think that would be likely.

    2. Schmeltz says:

      To me, the car and capabilities he is describing are the expectations I was hoping for from the beginning. That is, an everyday electric range of 40-50 miles, comfortable seating for 5, and costing in the upper 20′s to low 30′s. Just why an additional 3 years of waiting? (can you tell I’m impatient?) :)

    3. Ocean Railroader says:

      50 to 60 miles would be great in my situation in that I do have a lot of cases where I drive 25 miles one way with no place to plug in the car when I get to my location and having the power to drive back in EV mode would be great. That would be like saving eight dollars every time I drive.

  5. Spec says:

    Meh. Increasing to 50 miles would be nice but that is a pretty simple matter of adding a few more cells.

    What they should really look do is perhaps try BMW’s model. Make one with 80+ mile range that also has a very small ICE engine in it. The Volt has more ICE than it needs.

    1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      The i3 isn’t a long-range car. It’s a BEV with optional anxiety-remover. In the Volt the REx provides the ability to drive long distances.

      The range is about more than adding cells. As long as you aren’t also trying to increase power, if you increase capacity you can lower power density and when you lower a performance metric it may open up the possibility of lower cost.

  6. Schmeltz says:

    The positive take-aways for me in reading this are:
    a. He’s officially confirming that there will be a Gen. 2 Volt.
    b. He’s on the same page as most of us…more AER.
    c. He’s behind the technology and wants it to succeed.

    Negative take-away:
    a. 3 years away?! Are you kidding me?

  7. Dan Frederiksen says:

    I think it’s pretty clear that this is a man trying to be brave and not reveal that he doesn’t know what to do about their lame soulless product. Long winded desperate range extender pitch that was completely uncalled for. Yes we know what a Volt is.

    The Volt was ridiculously overpriced because it was done by incompetent reluctant people. Punishment engineering. If you insist on an electric car I’ll give you an electric car. Very poor philosophy.
    They don’t understand the revolution, they don’t get excited by it. They fear it because they want to keep making their oversized pickup trucks and camaros with dumbass carburated V8s in them and piss poor aerodynamics and this new scary thing is not compatible with that flatline mindset.
    So they give us a half assed car at double price. That should keep them happy, right..
    Wrong.

    1. Alaa says:

      I agree with you. It is a shame that he has a Scandinavien name like you!

    2. David Murray says:

      You’re welcome to your opinion. We already have one Volt and plan to buy another one. I think the Volt is almost the best car that money can buy, bested only by Tesla.

    3. kdawg says:

      Wow, you don’t know much about GM engineering, or the Volt’s history (which started with the EV1). I don’t have the time to go thru it now, but I suggest you do. I also find it funny/hypocritical that you are a fan of Tesla, but say the Volt is ridiculously overpriced? I think I can get 3 Volts or 4 Spark EV’s for the price of a Tesla.

    4. Bonaire says:

      Volt leases are dirt cheap. One shop is offering $129/month + 3500 down right now. Same for Leaf leases. Volts are not expensive at all. For drivers who do 15K miles a year or more, good product.

    5. Happy Volt Owner says:

      13,000 miles. 35 gallons of gas.

  8. Alaa says:

    How does this volt compare with the crash test of the Tesla Mr Akerson?

    1. EV says:

      honda accord crashed into a volt, driver died passenger seriously injured, volt barely damaged and volt driver was unharmed, volt is very safe 4-5 star rating

      1. Alaa says:

        tesla 5

    2. drucifer says:

      Volt 5 star – Tesla 5 star….but if there were more stars, the Tesla might get 7 or 8, the Tesla got to 5 star with a lot of margin to spare.

  9. EV says:

    i’ve always said if the volt had double its electric range then it would be the absolute perfect car overall for

    1. Surya says:

      Except that some people find to too big (me) and man, it’s ugly!

  10. evnow says:

    Future of PHEV is with
    - Outlander
    - BMW i3 REx

    So, either a larger vehicle with small EV range or a large EV range with a small genset. Volt needs to get on with the program or be left behind.

    1. Bonaire says:

      Both full imports. Not everyone wants to buy an import. Volt and whatever else they bring out will do fine. However, I would enjoy seeing a 120 mile all electric counterpart for those who really don’t need the range-extender.

      1. evnow says:

        Market that wants a (PH)EV but not imports is a small one.

      2. evnow says:

        And I should add – making cars primarily for that market without being competitive with imports really got Detroit into trouble. They should make that mistake again.

        Another aspect is – if you want to export, you can’t have that strategy.

  11. pjwood says:

    Tesla seems to pride itself on its buyers not necessarily being environmental.
    <<<Not looking like they'll ever go EREV is their loss

    The rest of the manuafacturers, including GM's foot dragging, treat EV/EREVs as losers, as there is no other way to explain either the complete lack of development, or turtle pace progress since 2011.
    <<<Not taking advantage of the EREV drive-train niche in the 40-60k, or high line market is their loss.

    The margins are there, as Tesla proves. It's hard to believe the range gulf between 38 AER EREV and the first decent mainstream 208 AER EV looks like its going to be around for 2, maybe 3, more years.

  12. Robert Richardsin says:

    The fact that they require adobe flash player, not available on my Android phone says a great deal about the out-of-date minds at GM.

    1. Future Leaf Driver says:

      Ya, same with my tablet!!!

  13. Jim Hopf says:

    For the next generation, I think they should focus on cost reduction instead of more electric range. At a minimum, they should offer a cheaper model with a smaller battery as an option.

    I’m seeing a lot of almost religious desire to zero out gas miles or reduce them as much as possible (e.g., a recent article here about trying to get electric miles to 99%). Why? This has a lot of potential for making the perfect the enemy of the good (enough). Frankly, reducing cars’ gasoline usage by a factor of 4 or 6 is good enough, for the foreseeable future. In terms of environmental and energy security benefits, getting a larger fraction of the population into PHEVs (via reducing the cost difference) is far more important than wringing out that last bit of gasoline miles.

    In terms of PHEV economics, not driving any gasoline miles is not important. It’s not how few gas miles you drive, it’s how many electric miles you drive, since the (electric vs. gasoline) fuel savings scales with electric miles driven. How many miles you drive in gas mode (at ~40 MPG) does not change the calculation. These fuel savings are set against the car’s higher initial cost, with the cost difference largely scaling with battery size (and range). Thus, it’s better to have a daily commute of more than 40 miles (and always use a little gas) than have a commute of less than 40 miles (contrary to what most people seem to think), as your daily fuel savings is maximized.

    For PHEVs, the “correct” size of the battery (i.e., the “correct” range) is just over the number of miles the car owner drives all (or most) days. Buying battery capacity to handle less frequent (e.g., weekly) longer trips simply doesn’t make any economic sense. Right now, battery costs are such that it is only getting close to economic breakeven if the battery’s full range is used every day. Thus, in order for a decision to buy extra battery capacity to cover longer trips that occur once a week to make sense, battery costs would have to fall by a full factor of seven from today’s costs.

    Does everyone understand this? The point of PHEVs should be to have just enough battery capacity to shift the owners’ *daily* commute from gas to electric, and to use the gas engine for all longer, less frequent trips. The goal should be to accomplish this at the minimum cost differential (vs. the standard ICE car) as possible. That will maximize adoption of PHEVs (vs. ICEs or hybrids like Prius) which will thus maximize environmental benefit. Far more so than getting the EV range as high as possible to satisfy enthusiasts.

    I realize tha daily commutes vary. That is why PHEV models should offer a range of battery sizes (and corresponding prices) to meet the needs of different buyers.

    1. MetrologyFirst says:

      Jim Hopf is dead on accurate. People who don’t understand this clear explanation are standing in the way of progress. This is the problem with Enthusiast Idealism.

      The solution is not zero gas miles.

      If you took the excess battery that goes unused on a daily basis in one a Tesla and put it in 3 volts, you would get ~100 extra miles of EV driving per day. THIS is efficient use of rare earth materials and resources.

      The solution is more EV miles.

      Having one car (Volt) to take care of and pay insurance on instead of two is also efficient for the consumer. We just need cheaper Volts, and maybe a tad bit more range. I think GM has got it right.

      The solution is more EV miles, not zero gas miles, and adoption by the public.

    2. EVoneday says:

      +1
      until we can have electric plug in stations as readily available as gas stations, the adoption of EV will be problematic for many… in the meantime, PHEV or Volt type cars make sense.

      as for TESLA, good for them! I’m not sure why this has to be such an either/or… its all good, as we reduce gas consumption slowly, and worldwide. For less developed countries, hopefully they can just leapfrog to electric or mostly electric cars (or other alternate fuel type … like the cell phone technology leapfrogged than land line phones in those countries..

  14. Martin T says:

    No, smaller battery
    People would like a cheaper & larger battery is where it should be at….
    The race is ON.

    1. Bonaire says:

      You can get cheaper with the same battery – or perhaps slightly smaller battery (14kWH instead of 16kWh) and allow same amount of energy usage (10.8kWh). 2014 Volt – already 5K cheaper. This is progress.

  15. Darius says:

    I would point – more AER gives the more kWh and more battery kW and more torque. Sporty drive fans should love the news.

  16. Bill Howland says:

    I strongly vote for Ackerson’s 50-60 mile plan.

    I forget who said it here, but the VOLT is essentially like the model S most of the time. And with a price that is great, and getting better.

    My Volt is an EV 97% of the time. Only an EV Snob would care about the other 3%.

    And I have total freedom with my Volt. Not So with my Roadster (which I also like, but then they are very different cars).

    The only thing I don’t understand is why don’t they come out with more Voltec models, such as a roadster, (Roaltster? hehe), crossover (XVoLT), or small pickup. I think if they did this then GM would be known as the EV car leader.

  17. Blind Guy says:

    For a 1 vehicle family, an EREV with 60-70 range would probably take care of most people’s daily driving needs in CD mode. Otherwise, if you think you’re going to exceed your battery range, simply try to use your battery in the more efficient areas and your gas when your on the freeway. As battery prices come down larger EREV models will become practical for those who want/need them. I am so glad that GM is thinking more AER and not less; like Energi.

  18. Mark Shull says:

    If Chevy made a CRV type Volt, I would replace our second car in a heart beat and have two Chevy plugins in our driveway.

    1. Happy Volt Owner says:

      Check out Via Motors. Voltech system on steroids. 100 mpg full sized pick ups and SUV’s. Still a few years away from the consumer, but they are here now for companies like PG&E.

  19. Happy Volt Owner says:

    Here’s a thought. Two versions of the Volt. There are tons of Volt owners who use gas on a very limited basis. But when they need to go a few hundred miles, they can. I get a 43 – 45 mile range all day long for 6 months out of the year.

    A 60 mile range would be almost twice as much as I need, making it a waste of money. That extra 20 miles I would need to travel would cost only $2 for gas. $2 a couple times a month is much cheaper than $2,000 more for 20 more miles on my EV range that goes unused.

    There are very happy Volt owners who use gas almost daily. an extra 20 miles would be perfect for them. They would be even happier.

    There’s the solution. Two versions of the Volt.

  20. EV Realism says:

    OK Tesla fans. Enough! I, as are others, am a Tesla fan. However; this ludicrous chest thumping ids embarrassing. Yes, the Tesla CAN get you up to 400 miles range IF you keep it under 65 MPH. Let’s not forget that rapid charging does NOT yet exist in ANY form of useful infrastructure. And let’s not be naive about how long and if that infrastructure will actually be useful IF it’s every in place. I moved to the PNW from the Midwest. And I can tell you this, charging stations are nearly non-existent anywhere but a few select cities in the U.S.

    To the contrast, out here the infrastructure is heavily in place for EVs, making it easy to to of your vehicle while running errands, or heading from Seattle to Portland, shopping for an hour then heading back for a stop with friends for dinner, then back to Seattle. I’m sorry, but our Tesla is a royal PITA for trips such as this! Why? Because if I get there and a charging station is full, I’m out of luck. Because somewhere along my journey, I need to top of my battery at least twice for a couple hours or more. Yes, DC fat charge would fix that, but it’s not here now. By contrast, or Volt is a piece of cake for this! I can top off, or not. Because of I run into a snag with a charging station or don’t feel like it….I don’t have to. And yes, we own a Tesla S and a Volt! We love them both, and they have pros and cons each!

    But to hear this blathering and down-talking by other Tesla owners is embarrassing. Knock it off!! My Tesla isn’t the car for me in certain circumstances, period. For you guys/girls to sit here and put down other EV owner’s vehicles because Tesla makes this or that specification better is rude, obnoxious, arrogant, and flat out in-called for. Grow up.

    For people who don’t have 70k to spend on one vehicle that had to do it all, the car didn’t make sense. And honestly, it doesn’t make sense for a lot of EV owners. For those that live in areas with poor charging infrastructure, and need a vehicle that can travel more than 500 miles in less than a 24 hour time period without a multi-hour stop in the middle and do that ANYWHERE in the country, the Tesla sucks! Yes, I said it! My 78k 7 seat, Tesla S sucks at it! My Volt, will do it without breaking a sweat. On all electric? No, but I’m not at the mercy of my car. I can stop at any gas station, fill up and go back to charging when it’s convenient for me. Last I checked, has stations HAVE true infrastructure everywhere. Until there is THAT level of infrastructure for even level 2 charging, I don’t want to hear this talk about how Tesla is going to put in all this charging equipment.

    For now, each vehicle serves its own purpose, and its own niche.

    But c’mon Tesla owners. Have some common sense, these cars aren’t the environmental silver bullet, nor are they better than the Volt, Leaf, Prius C or any other true non conventional-ICE only vehicle. Is yours a great fit for you? If it is, fantastic! I love mine, but it doesn’t fit my every need. Nor does my Volt.

    Be proud of the technology each manufacturer has put forth to solving different people’s needs in an EV. And stop trying to snipe at other people because you think your car is a better fit for someone else’s needs. It’s ignorant and juvenile, and 100% pointless when you start talking about things that are pure speculation versus fact.

    The facts are: DC fast charging is not available nation-wide and it will be decades, if ever, before it gets to that point.

    People DO use the same vehicle for both commuting and regular long trips that exceed the Tesla’s range/time possibility. The fact that people choose to purchase a vehicle that exists that addresses their needs doesn’t make anyone’s car superior or inferior. It means there is a reason the different solutions exist.

    Take a moment to think before you speak demeaning comments. I’m tired of hearing all these other Tesla owners acting like snobs at a country club. Yes, it’s the coolest car I’ve ever owned, but it’s nit so cool that it makes me better than someone else. Nor does it make it a better car overall because it does things another vehicle doesn’t. Enjoy your Tesla, as I have and will continue to enjoy mine, but quit with the “my Dad is better than your Dad” crap!

    Can’t we all just talk about what could be accomplished if all parties would work together? Some realistic, stimulating conversation about updates, and real technical innovation on the horizon would be much preferred the the schoolyard squabbling.

    I’ve said my peace.

    1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      Huh? Tesla’s Supercharger network, should, even at the current slow roll-out pace, by the end of 2015 have the vast majority of people and journeys in the USA covered. (The network will also shoot north to major Canadian cities, and Canada’s Sun Highway will cover trans-Canada journeys.)

      Tesla isn’t trying to do destination charging because that’s an area that will evolve naturally with more larger sales of plug-ins. (Come and they will build them).

      Now, the network still isn’t fast enough to support a large volume, but that’s why they’re continuing to work on it and also have swapping if the situation gets gloriously tricky.

      You really don’t need really ubiquitous DC charging. You only need “charge it where you park it” to spread and that’ll get you out of the city to the Supercharger.