What Are The EVs That Have Set The Industry Back?


Chevrolet Volt Setting The Industry Back?  We Think Not.

Chevrolet Volt Setting The Industry Back? We Think Not.

While the plug-in industry as a whole has been on a unprecedented run since the first of the ‘next generation’ of EVs were introduced 4 years ago, not all plug-in vehicles have done their fair share advancing the segment.  Some have crashed and burned in spectacular fashion.

When The Th!nk City Was First Announced It Had A US MSRP Of "Just" $41,695

When The Th!nk City Was First Announced It Had A US MSRP Of “Just” $41,695

According to the Wall Street Cheat Sheet, there are 7 EVs that have most set the industry back in North America.

Here is their short-list (and an abbreviated reason why):

  1. Cadillac ELR – too pricey, not enough of a step-change, “If you are going to build the first electric car in a luxury brand’s history, either make it an improvement upon everything else in the corporation’s past or don’t do it at all.”
  2. Mitsubishi i-MiEV – on Edmunds list of “17 Worst Cars To Buy“, too much “golf cart”
  3. Fisker Karma – corporate failure to deliver meant the death of one of the highest profile EVs on the planet
  4. CODA – no explanation needed; visual confusion with 90s Hyundai products be damned, the company went bankrupt in May of 2013
  5. Lexus LS 600h L – its not an EV, so its shouldn’t even be on the list…although it was a ridiculous offering just the same
  6. Th!nk City – it was $36,495, made of recycled plastic, and about 10 years too late to the market to be a success
  7. Chevrolet Volt – more on that below
CODA - So Depressing It Hurts

CODA – So Depressing It Hurts

While we can appreciate some of the names on the list, the inclusion of the Chevrolet Volt at #7 pretty much shoots any credibility the Wall Street Cheat Sheet had coming into the thought experiment in our opinion.

Here is what they had to say about the Volt:

High Profile Failures (like the CR breakdown pictured), Fires, And Technical Problems Made The Karma Everything The Volt Wasn't

High Profile Failures (like the CR breakdown pictured), Fires, Technical Problems And Bankruptcy Made The Karma Everything The Volt Wasn’t

“Is the Chevy Volt a lemon? No, it would be unfair to call this GM electric offering a terrible car. Then again, as the main electric vehicle on the market prior to the Chevy Spark EV (which no one knows is on the market), the Volt is a relatively weak product from the biggest automaker in the world at the time of the car’s development. It wasn’t until Tesla disrupted the industry that Dan Akerson, then chief executive, dedicated a task force to studying the EV maker in order to confront the challenge.

Since the debut of the Volt in 2010, the automaker has not managed to get the car’s electric range beyond 38 miles. In some respects, GM did improve the car’s exterior styling, interior, and technology. The only problem was it is called the Cadillac ELR and costs $75,000.”

Clearly the financial paper missed the fact that GM opened up the world’s eyes to the possibility of driving a plug-in car without the fear of range anxiety, and thus bridging the gap to a more and more electric future.

Since the Volt’s debut, more PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) have been sold in America (and worldwide) than pure electrics, while the short term advancement of the EV industry is heavily dependant on the success of the plug-in hybrid model.  Today, new PHEV debuts outnumber PEVs by more than a 3 to 1 margin.

Past the introduction of the PHEV business model to the mainstream, the Chevrolet Volt’s level of refinement and over-engineering has helped to solidify plug-in vehicles as inherently safe and highly reliable – something that could not be said of many of the vehicles left off the list.

While we will stop short of making our own list, we will ask “Is this list a fair one?  Which plug-ins should not have been included?  Which were missed?”

Check out Wall Street Cheat Sheets list (and reasonings) here.

Category: Cadillac, Chevrolet, Fisker/Karma, General, Mitsubishi


39 responses to "What Are The EVs That Have Set The Industry Back?"
  1. QCO says:

    This is a very provocative topic which is bound to result in an unnecessary pissing contest.

    Although some of these vehicles are definitely commercial failures, I would suggest none have really “set back” the Electrification Cause. They all have made some contribution to mind share at least, even if they have missed their marketing or technical targets.

    Had an EV model exploded every other day, or electrocuted people, then that would be a set back. But that hasn’t been the case for any of them.

  2. Brandon says:

    Volt was improved called the ELR? Rofl

  3. Assaf says:

    Ha Jay, I see you’ve adopted my terminology of “over-engineering” to describe the Volt 🙂

    Definitely the WSJ is being too harsh on the Volt. But it’s not alone in being wrongly placed on that list. We have many readers (and contributors?) here who are very happy with their i-MiEV.

    It has taken American automakers 40 years to learn to make a half-decent compact; let alone a subcompact. Culturally, most Americans and surely a conservative paper like the WSJ just don’t get it when it comes to small cars.

    In a few days we’ll learn whether there are still enough Americans who do get it, now that the i-MiEV is offered at what is without question, the lowest cost-of-ownership new car deal in the continent.

    1. sven says:

      You misread the story. It’s the Wall Street Cheat Sheet, not the Wall Street Journal. 😀

  4. Taser54 says:

    None of those EVs set back the industry.

    I say that this article by Wall Street Cheat Sheet set back all Wall Street articles.

  5. ClarksonCote says:

    Isn’t that broke down “Volt” on a tow truck a Model S?

    1. ClarksonCote says:

      Oh, it’s actually a Karma. Is that supposed to be captioned within the large Volt quote?

      That’s what confused me.

      1. ClarksonCote says:

        Eh, now I can read the caption (couldn’t on my phone before) though the casual observer will likely assume it’s a Volt, haha.

        Sorry for all the James-style reply to self messages. 🙂 Which reminds me, where has James been lately??

  6. ClarksonCote says:

    Biased Volt owner here… Putting the Volt on this list was just to turn heads in my opinion. The WSJ loses credibility with moves like that.

    GM hasn’t been able to extend range beyond 38 miles??? The Volt was designed like that intentionally, gas free daily driving and gas to go as far as you need.

    Seems like everywhere you turn these days, credible and true investigative journalism has gone by the wayside in favor of posting pure opinions backed by no objective truth.

    1. ggpa says:

      Note … this particular stupidity came from Wall Street Cheat Sheet, not WSJ.

      1. ClarksonCote says:

        Thanks GGPA, my rage is slightly tempered now. 😉

    2. Ocean Railroader says:

      The Volt I would recommend to people who want a EV but live in a rural area were they are far from their house and charging stations and have low battery range.

      The only thing to me that killed the Volt running out the door was the price was way to high for anyone to buy. In that you could get two gas cars in a lot of cases for the price of the Volt.

  7. ggpa says:

    WSCS fails to understands EVs. Just like Top Gear. But Top Gear has more humor and a (slow) learning curve. WSCS is just sad.

  8. Ocean Railroader says:

    At the time the Mitsubishi i-miev first came out in 2012 it was a $30,000 EV which was even more expensive then the Nissan leaf before it’s major price cut. Mitsubishi though got smart and added more features and cut the price by $6500 which brought the price of the EV down into a sense of reason. Personally though I think they could cut’s price down another few thousand or raise it’s range by 20 to 40 miles next year or the year after that in the 2015 model.

    As for the Chevy Volt what hurt it getting out the door was they wanted $40,000 for it. And that $40,000 dollar price tag killed it no mater how much they try to Change things. The Cadillac ER was a train wreak in that they basically went swimming into Tesla’s fish tank and got eaten by the Tesla Bass.

    If the Volt was the price of a regular Prius it would do really well. The Cadillac should have been the 40,000 to $50,000 dollar car.

    I really think though the dumbest thing that is not on here is the Murder of the EV1 electric car by GM. In that in the 1900’s GM was talking about upgrading it to a 150 miles. Instead they went out of their way to hunt it down. Now they have the Nissan Leaf slaughtering them.

    Also I find the Chevy Sparks butt ugly while the Mitsubishi i-miev looks cute and could give the Smart car a run for it’s money.

  9. Dave K. says:

    Never mind that Volt owners love their cars, what a crock!

  10. Breezy says:

    Nothing really to add to the above, except that I appreciate this posting and the support shown by InsideEVs for the Volt. I will continue to shake my head and resist the urge to reward the “Wall Street Cheat Sheet” (who are they again?) by clicking the link.

  11. Breezy says:

    Oh and research is a wonderful thing. WSCS should look into it. Hard to really consider the i-MiEV as “setting the industry back” when its technology is used in the Outlander PHEV, one of the best selling plug-ins in the world.

  12. Lou Grinzo says:

    The original article is clickbait, pure and simple, and the Volt was the biggest worm on the hook.

    No one assessing the situation with even a smattering of understanding would put the Volt on this list.

    And I predict that the new Mitsu will do MUCH better than v1.0 did.

    As I’ve said before, the EV market right now is very reminiscent of the early days of the IBM PC, roughly from 1981 to 1985. Lots of turnover and innovation and some goofy ideas. Lots of people shunning the technology because it’s a “toy”, etc., only to be proved wrong. (With PCs it was mostly processor speed and memory density that made the difference, and in EVs it’s better batteries, obviously.)

    The idiots will continue to say dumb things about EVs, and then when the obvious trends prove them wrong they’ll either claim they never said those things or make believe it never happened and move on to the next clickbait target.

  13. MDEV says:

    Volt is a huge player but improvements are due.

  14. Anthony says:

    The bottom line is that this author is fundamentally mistaken in thinking battery technology should advance as fast as the semiconductor industry…

    “Since the debut of the Volt in 2010, the automaker has not managed to get the car’s electric range beyond 38 miles”

    I’m curious to think of what the author thinks the Volt should have in battery-only range.

    The rest of the list is littered with failed companies or failed products.

    1. SeattleTeslaGuy says:

      Given that others can get significant more range in a similar sized package, I’d say GM has been sitting on their rears on that one. Sure, the Volt has a lot to like but a battery range less that the i3 with REX is not respectable.

      1. Breezy says:

        Okay, well the i3 was just released. The Volt is 3.5 years old. We’ll have to wait until Volt 2.0 to see if GM has been “sitting on their rears” or not.

      2. ClarksonCote says:

        It was never a matter of whether GM could make more electric range. They sized it specifically for to meet the average driving needs of 3/4 of America based on DOE surveys, with a gas engine to go as far as you need. It’s really that simple.

  15. David Murray says:

    I would say the Volt has not held the industry back, except for a lack of understanding in the news media and general public about the car.. Which GM could have rectified by now with some decent advertising. I constantly encounter people who think 38 miles is the total range it can travel. Or that nearly every one manufactured has burned to the ground spontaneously. So in that regard, sure.. the Volt has hurt the segment but it is definitely nothing to do with the car itself.

  16. offib says:

    The i-MiEV in all honesty shouldn’t be there. It’s on the list because Edmunds disapproved of it, that’s largely because of its old, high price tag. It was a sting to the reputation of EVs and Mitsubishi. Now the price is dropped by 20% as we all know, it’s far more closer to its actual value and that makes me think that it doesn’t deserve to be on that list. The i-MiEV is the perfect example of how quickly EVs can improve and become cheaper over a short amount of time and in different ways.

    Either that they were poor at gathering some recent information, they had a distain for it or they picked a name out of the hat.

  17. Chris says:

    The question is not “What EV’s have set the industry back” but rather “What misinformation has set the industry back”

    Battery fires, range anxiety, replacement cost, price, quality, environmentally friendliness, etc. etc.

    This is what sets the EV industry back.

  18. pjwood says:

    Jay, This one was click bait.

  19. realdb2 says:

    As a Volt owner I’m not too proud to say there is one negative thing the Volt has done for plug in vehicles: added confusion. It’s not a simple car to understand…for some people.

    If I had one judgement to make on the Volt after four years of production it’s this: those that understand the Volt love it (look at the awards and owner surveys), those that don’t understand it either dismiss it or hate it (look at the relatively flat sales numbers and hit piece articles).

  20. Spec9 says:

    Meh . . . mostly-crappy article:

    Cadillac ELR – OK . . . this is accurate.
    Mitsubishi i-MiEV – No. It is what it is .. . a cheap little commuter EV. For $13K (after incentives in California), you can have a little commuter. It is not much but it shows EVs don’t have to super expensive.
    Fisker Karma – OK, they have a point here. Bad Engineering.
    CODA – No one even knows it existed so who cares?
    Lexus LS 600h L – not an EV, it shouldn’t even be on the list
    Th!nk City – Was too pricey and bad aerodynamics.
    Chevrolet Volt – Absolutely ridiculous. This was a big success.

    1. Davey says:

      Agree with the list in large part.
      I’d add the other GM “hybrid” offerings to that list. At $60-70k, they were entirely a joke. I find it funny to see a Tahoe “hybrid” badge.
      As a total company, GM has shown it’s colors in that past few months. It’s been a shame for decades. The likes of Roger Smith and Jim Lutz ran the show as good old boys.

      GM = Goodbye Money

  21. BraveLilToaster says:

    “on Edmunds list of “17 Worst Cars To Buy“, too much “golf cart””

    What? The Zenn and every other LSV isn’t on this list? People *still* ask me if I can get up to highway speed in my Leaf because of crap like that.

  22. Jeff D says:

    I think CODA gets too much crap at times. Sure compared to today’s EVs they don’t stand a chance, but at the time they were introduced, most EVs being promoted projected the glorified golf cart image. CODA showed that an electric car had the chance to be a car first. CODA’s problem is they couldn’t develop beyond an interesting concept and other companies such as Tesla had to move EVs to the next step. I guess I may be considered too easy on CODA, but it was one of the electric cars that really got me interested in EVs to begin with. I’m sure I am not alone, and to me that makes it a success.

  23. jmac says:

    WSJ thinks stock analysts are God Almighty. In reality they are just salesmen,

    Instead of selling used cars, they sell stocks. (Not a big step upwards)

    Ignore them.

  24. ModernMarvelFan says:

    When does Wall Street Cheat Sheet becomes a “green car” or “automotive” authority?

    These days, anyone or any idiot can write anything about anything and get published on some random sites…

    Yes, that logic applies to my comments too…

  25. RedLeafBlueLeaf says:

    This write-up seems resaonably informed until the last bit:

    ” Then again, as the main electric vehicle on the market prior to the Chevy Spark EV (which no one knows is on the market), the Volt is a relatively weak product from the biggest automaker in the world at the time of the car’s development. It wasn’t until Tesla disrupted the industry that Dan Akerson, then chief executive, dedicated a task force to studying the EV maker in order to confront the challenge.”

    Oh dear, so much misinformation in one paragraph. Between the Volt and the Spark there were a few other EVs on the market. It’s almost like this guy covers GM but not other manufacturers. In addition to the very successful LEAF and the less successful Focus Electric there was a host of CARB compliance cars. If the Spark were not also a compliance car you could say we can’t count those, but the Spark is.

    And yes, Tesla gets tons of credit for disrupting the industry, but if it weren’t for the LEAF everyone would be saying “sure, Tesla can sell expensive luxury EVs for a profit, but no way can anyone sell an affordable EV for a profit.” Now the only question is when, not if, someone (Tesla, Nissan, VW? etc) will come out with an affordable medium-range EV.

    Lastly, sigh, the Volt isn’t an EV (nor is the SLR) but a EREV. I know, picky, but an important part of the EV story is how first hybrids set the stage and then the question of whether you could sell EVs or needed a range extender.

  26. Ryan says:

    Would be nice if there were high performance models of the Leaf and i-MiEV.

    Or if the OEM’s stopped making “special” cars and just used existing vehicles and made them EV’s. Eclipse and 370Z anyone?! Minor sheet metal changes are much cheaper and faster than entire new car development. OEM’s should do mid year model changes more often instead of waiting an entire year for any change.

  27. Billaege says:

    Have been interested to read your comments, I don’t own a Volt or Tesla but have worked with EV technology for about 5 years.
    The Volt has 2 motor generators, an epicyclic gearbox, a fully specced ICE (not a simple constant speed generator), 2 or 3 clutches and a huge bunch of electronics to control the whole lot! They sell it for so much, because it costs so much to build. This is a vehicle that is too complicated for it’s own good. I would happily wager that a Tesla P85+ power train doesn’t cost more than what sits under the bonnet of a Volt. A clearer thinking approach from Chevy would either have ditched one of the motor generators and had the ICE connected directly to the epicyclic gearbox with the remaining motor generator, to give a cheaper and simpler solution or ditched the ICE all together, given it a larger battery pack and made it the world’s only CVT equipped EV, this gives the benefit of higher drive efficiency as you operate the main traction motor generator in its most efficient speed range. Chevy’s goals were laudable with the Volt, but the concept is too clever by half and already the Germans (VW Audi Group) and Toyota of course, are delivering plug in vehicles with simpler drive trains that make the final sales price more palatable. A quick note on the iMiev. It is pretty clear that Mitsubishi, like Tesla but unlike Nissan and Renault wanted to make money from their EV sales, not buy market share, that can’t be a bad plan!
    Finally, Coda, the batteries and technology in the vehicle wasn’t so shabby, in fact it was pretty decent, the problem was and is, that if you want to make a desirable EV, it needs to be a desirable vehicle – the fact that it is an EV alone is not enough ( just ask Think).

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