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Old 10-23-2010, 12:50 AM   #21
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So the 1.4L engine is sufficient to power the 3,790 lbs Volt. I hope wonder if GM is going to market a conventional version of Volt? That is ditching all batteries, all electric motors, all the sophisticate computers. May be they will end up with a conventional Volt that weighs in at around 2,500 lbs, and achieves 40+mpg highway, and sells for less than $15,000. Now that would be a real breakthrough.
Yea, and they can call it a Volkswagen
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Old 10-23-2010, 12:52 AM   #22
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My guess is that the info will hurt sales. Once people really understand the true operation of the Volt, they'd realize it's more hype than actual real life advantage.
I think GM is trying to avoid having the Volt compared to the Prius... especially on price.
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Old 10-23-2010, 12:53 AM   #23
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My daughter says the Pirus is being purchased by both the nouveau riche and the ordinary worker. So you can have a status car at half the price.
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Old 10-23-2010, 01:06 AM   #24
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Yea, and they can call it a Volkswagen
Exactly! Don't know how reliable VWs are today, but they were terrible a couple decades ago. If Toyota or Honda decided 10 years ago to sell a Golf TDI equivalent here in the US, may be the Prius, Leaf and Volt would never be born.

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My daughter says the Pirus is being purchased by both the nouveau riche and the ordinary worker. So you can have a status car at half the price.
Don't understand it.
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Old 10-23-2010, 01:11 AM   #25
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I think GM is trying to avoid having the Volt compared to the Prius... especially on price.
and on technology. I'm sure some one will do a head-to-head test between the Prius and a Volt on a long distance test, say coast-to-coast, non-stop (no recharging for the Volt). I have the feeling that the Prius will be come out ahead in most categories, mpg included.
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Old 10-23-2010, 01:22 AM   #26
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Don't understand it.
Movie stars were showing up for the Academy awards in a Prius (because it is "green" and trendy). Yet my daughter can afford to buy lease one on her very modest salary. It is a car which hides your real status in life..rich man, poor man, beggar man thief.

All are equal in social status in a Prius. Clever, that kid of mine. Takes after her Daddy
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Old 10-23-2010, 01:35 AM   #27
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and on technology. I'm sure some one will do a head-to-head test between the Prius and a Volt on a long distance test, say coast-to-coast, non-stop (no recharging for the Volt). I have the feeling that the Prius will be come out ahead in most categories, mpg included.
Toyota comes out a winner again, and GM comes in at the bottom of the list. Kind of makes me wish the GM bankruptcy would have cleaned out more of the mid-level designers - old fart engineers like me should have been shown the door.

Instead, we've got the same people who designed the Corvette still hanging around trying to design cars for the 21st century. Even Mick Jaggar can't come up with new songs anymore. The old car engineers at GM were great in their day. But their time has come to an end. Instead they are coming out with the Volt, GM's new electric car that is destine to go the way of the Pontiac.

That's what Recessions are good for.. cleaning house of the loosers.
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Old 10-23-2010, 02:04 AM   #28
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Movie stars were showing up for the Academy awards in a Prius (because it is "green" and trendy). Yet my daughter can afford to buy lease one on her very modest salary. It is a car which hides your real status in life..rich man, poor man, beggar man thief.

All are equal in social status in a Prius. Clever, that kid of mine. Takes after her Daddy
Thanks for the explanation. I doubt, however, that the Prius are bought by most ordinary workers or by the poor.
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Old 10-23-2010, 05:18 AM   #29
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Yes the pure electric car is not cost effective (lowest cost) at this time.

If it is not a great solution right now... buyers will be a small select group of early adopters (even with a subsidy).

However, to try to get some level of investment in the initiative (by business) there has to be a carrot.

American business will not take on that sort of R&D effort unless the investment risk is mitigated in some way. The only entity in our world that can (or might) do that is the govt!

So the options are funnel free R&D money (with no strings)... or try to create a small market where competition (at some level) is introduced.

Whichever the approach... some sort of battery or fuel cell technology break-through is needed. The only way for that to happen is to begin working on it.

If we wait... some other country will have the break though (which will become the standard approach).
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Old 10-23-2010, 06:14 AM   #30
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Yes the pure electric car is not cost effective (lowest cost) at this time.

If it is not a great solution right now... buyers will be a small select group of early adopters (even with a subsidy).

However, to try to get some level of investment in the initiative (by business) there has to be a carrot.

American business will not take on that sort of R&D effort unless the investment risk is mitigated in some way. The only entity in our world that can (or might) do that is the govt!

So the options are funnel free R&D money (with no strings)... or try to create a small market where competition (at some level) is introduced.

Whichever the approach... some sort of battery or fuel cell technology break-through is needed. The only way for that to happen is to begin working on it.

If we wait... some other country will have the break though (which will become the standard approach).
I disagree with that. The secret to riches is not in the car, but in the battery. If you want to get rich, you develop a battery that will hold and deliver energy like a gasoline generator - at the same price. The market is crying out for a battery like that. It is needed to store energy from solar and wind generations systems. That is the Achilles heal of many forms of alternative energy. People would be putting up solar panels and wind generators by the millions or billions if somebody could just find a way to store that energy generated during windy days to use at night.

The problem is not with the lack of money. Big corporations can go to the stock market and get plenty of money for research and development. The problem is in the science and in the innovation. Scientists have understood how batteries work for a long, long time. Question is how to make a different kind of battery that is 10 times or 100 times better than the current batteries. Like Bill Gates working out of his garage, it will take someone with a brainstorm.

Every obvious combination has been tried, particularly with the space program. The Gordian knot has not been untied - yet. Something like cold fusion (which was a hoax) needs to be developed. New ideas like these seem to come to Americans - something in the way our brains work, I think. But the magic formula has yet to be written on a whiteboard in some university laboratory, or some chemist who has the capacity to think in the abstract.

This is not a problem where additional government incentives are needed. The person or company who is able to patent the magic new battery will be rich beyond all imagination.

IMO, it is a terrible idea to be giving government incentives for people to drive battery cars when it is a bad idea now, and will stay a bad idea until a new kind of battery is developed. That kind of subsidy ranks right up their with ethanol. A bad idea that is encouraged by government subsidies.
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Old 10-23-2010, 06:46 AM   #31
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I disagree with that. The secret to riches is not in the car, but in the battery....

Disagree with what? Yes it seems to be that energy capture/conversion and redeployment (batteries or fuel cells) are a critical component.

Do you have a better course of action?? besides give up!

Motor vehicles are one of the biggest consumers of fossil fuel (and growing).

Could there be some substitute industry to foster development. Yes... and it is happening there also... in tandem.


I think the part you missed or misinterpreted is: Early Adopters. The subsidy will be small. Why? because most will not take the step. Why, because it is new and unproven yet.

Look at the subsidy as priming the pump for a future industry (many industries).

Consider hybrid purchases which are more proven and past the early adopter stage.... but still not mainstream. Most people do not buy them yet! Why? because they are more expensive. However it is at the sustainable stage. The hybrid risk is much lower... it could leverage existing technologies... it was just a matter of tuning them.

Theoretically it would happen with pure capitalism. But the reality is the investment is huge, there is great risk of many failures before success is experienced. American business is caught in a short-term investment return trap (because investors will punish if numbers are not met).

The amount of resources that need to be marshaled to solve all of the parts of the problem are huge and complex (not just technology but infrastructure that does not exist).

You can be assured that all of the worlds govt's (that have any chance of being a 21st century competitor) are funding those effort through various means. Our competition is not simply other international businesses.

The stakes are big and countries will be winners or losers. paying out the nose or intellectual property usage... patents and possibly product.


There are many issues. If you narrow them down to one dimension and one aspect your comment make senses to me. Put it all together into the complex multi-dimensional problem it is... and there is more to it than (govt shouldn't).


Big picture hobo.
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Old 10-23-2010, 09:08 AM   #32
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Disagree with what? Yes it seems to be that energy capture/conversion and redeployment (batteries or fuel cells) are a critical component.
Do you have a better course of action?? besides give up!
Yes, let the free market find the "magic battery", better fuel cell, or the next unknown technological break through.

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I think the part you missed or misinterpreted is: Early Adopters. The subsidy will be small. Why? because most will not take the step. Why, because it is new and unproven yet.
Why would we want to subsidize an industry that is unproven (ie, involving batteries)? Or are you advocating we subsidize every non-fossil fuel based idea? And where do you think the energy comes from to recharge batteries? Answer: fossil fuel based power plants.

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Look at the subsidy as priming the pump for a future industry (many industries).
I don't like the government trying to choose which racehorse will be the winner - their record is terrible (ie, ethanol, wind generators)

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Consider hybrid purchases which are more proven and past the early adopter stage.... but still not mainstream. Most people do not buy them yet! Why? because they are more expensive. However it is at the sustainable stage. The hybrid risk is much lower... it could leverage existing technologies... it was just a matter of tuning them.
That logic does not compute in my brain. I don't think government subsidies can spur any industry. Yes, more people will buy if they are subsidized, but they stop buying when the subsidy is taken off. For example, the cash for clunkers didn't spur the auto industry.

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Theoretically it would happen with pure capitalism. But the reality is the investment is huge, there is great risk of many failures before success is experienced. American business is caught in a short-term investment return trap (because investors will punish if numbers are not met).
History has proven you wrong for 200 years. Where there is a good idea, capitalism will find a way to fund it. Henry Ford didn't need a subsidy. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs didn't need a subsidy. That's what guys like Rupert
Murdoch are for.. to fund ventured capitalism.

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The amount of resources that need to be marshaled to solve all of the parts of the problem are huge and complex (not just technology but infrastructure that does not exist).
So you think the government should build what? A distribution system for every kind of alternative power source... hydrogen, electricity, natural gas?

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You can be assured that all of the worlds govt's (that have any chance of being a 21st century competitor) are funding those effort through various means. Our competition is not simply other international businesses.
Give me an example. Japan funded Beta Max VCR and it was a flop

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The stakes are big and countries will be winners or losers. paying out the nose or intellectual property usage... patents and possibly product.
Maybe yes, maybe no. If another country finds some magic solution as a clean substitute for fossil fuel, then the American consumer pays. But look at the IPad, etc. Other countries are paying Apple. That's how the system works. We are not a socialist country and I don't want Washington DC trying to pick winners and loosers with taxpayer's money.


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There are many issues. If you narrow them down to one dimension and one aspect your comment make senses to me. Put it all together into the complex multi-dimensional problem it is... and there is more to it than (govt shouldn't).
Nope! Government shouldn't get involved in private enterprise.
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Old 10-23-2010, 09:21 AM   #33
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Yes, let the free market find the "magic battery", better fuel cell, or the next unknown technological break through.

...
Magic battery hyperbole aside...

I understand your POV and partially agree with it in some circumstances and maybe completely agree in other circumstances.

However, I do not believe the entire issue boils down to private vs govt.

Mainly because the playing field is not level.

If other govts were not helping their industries out... then I would agree with you. Because in theory no foreign business would be able to beat us to it (unless they took on the entire risk). In a perfect world those investors would be due the reward for taking the huge risk.

But in a world where governments that can marshal huge resources do help their domestic industries.... we need to step up and defend our position. But I do think we need to pick and choose and do it wisely... there are limited resources.

Bottom line: it is not American Business against foreign business... It is American Business against Foreign governments looking to monopolize or gain competitive advantage. In the end the wealth and jobs flow to the US or other countries.

There will be economic winners and losers.
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Old 10-23-2010, 10:41 AM   #34
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First, thank you to Hobo for the responses on the issues of govt subsidies to spur innovation - saved me a lot of typing! I'll just (re?)-emphasize that the issue with innovation and EVs is not the vehicle, it is the battery, and there is plenty of motivation across many industries for better batteries. Selling a few 100,000 more EVS won't have any real impact on that, in fact it might hurt it. Why bother to innovate when the govt just created artificial demand for the status-quo? Hmmm?

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My guess is that the info will hurt sales. Once people really understand the true operation of the Volt, they'd realize it's more hype than actual real life advantage
I don't understand why you say this. I don't think the average person knows or cares about the "true operation" (how many car purchasers could explain most of the tech in todays cars, or provide lucid pros/cons of different tech?). They will care about cost and performance (including perceived environmental 'performance'). I'm interested in technology, so I care, but only academically. I think the Volt design could provide a real advantage, the problem is it doesn't appear to be cost effective. If it is charged at night when we have excess and cheap electricity, and if the system is efficient enough to reduce overall fuel consumption (which has to include generating and transmitting the electricity), then it can be a "win". From the data I've seen, I think it is a "win", but probably only a mild "win". I hate it when these things are called "zero pollution" - that's wrong - EVs shift the pollution to the source. We need to run the numbers to determine if that is an overall win or not. Again, I think it is, but not by a large margin.

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and on technology. I'm sure some one will do a head-to-head test between the Prius and a Volt on a long distance test, say coast-to-coast, non-stop (no recharging for the Volt). I have the feeling that the Prius will be come out ahead in most categories, mpg included.
Not sure how you can say this since we don't even have final published specs yet, let alone road tests. Though you may be right, w/o re-charging the Prius probably would come out ahead. But that is not the target market, and if most of your driving is non-stop, no recharge available, the Volt should not even be a consideration. I think their data says ~ 80% of driving is < 40 miles per day. In that case you run mostly electric. That is the target market, and you have the option of long cruises, albeit at probably somewhat lower efficiency. But if they are occasional, it isn't a big deal. Gotta look at averages - big picture.

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Old 10-23-2010, 10:46 AM   #35
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Bottom line: it is not American Business against foreign business... It is American Business against Foreign governments looking to monopolize or gain competitive advantage.
And a $7,500 subsidy to EV purchasers does not really help that. The batteries and/or other tech and/or profit may be going to foreign countries.

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Old 10-23-2010, 11:03 AM   #36
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Yes, even if the Volt gets worse mileage than a conventional car on all-day trips, it could still be a winner for most families if it gets better mileage in the kind of driving they do. For the small number of cross-country trips most people take, a one or two MPG "hit" would be inconsequential if it allowed full EV operation for thousands of miles each year in daily driving.

I'm more interested in how these hybrids will assure consistent vehicle operation with changes in battery state. With a conventional car, when the driver steps on the gas he gets the same performance regardless of how much fuel is in the tank. The car either runs or it doesn't, and when you pull out on that two-lane road to pass a truck, you know exactly what to expect regarding acceleration (and how long you'll be "hanging it out" in opposing traffic). If these hybrids are using the IC engine for baseline power (after the battery is drawn down sufficiently) and the driver steps on the gas, does the battery provide the extra juice needed short-term to accelerate the vehicle more briskly than the electricity from the little 1.4L engine/generator would allow? If so, what happens after you've tapped into that battery for 10 minutes while you climb a big grade? Will your top speed gradually decay? And then what if you suddenly need to accelerate? We've gotten used to the consistent power available from IC engines, so for safety reasons the hybrids (and pure EVs) will either need to behave the same way or do a very good job of warning drivers when they can expect degraded performance. The lawyers will make a fortune if this isn't done right.
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Old 10-23-2010, 11:09 AM   #37
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Bottom line: it is not American Business against foreign business... It is American Business against Foreign governments looking to monopolize or gain competitive advantage. In the end the wealth and jobs flow to the US or other countries.

There will be economic winners and losers.
And governments have proven to be very poor at picking the winners and losers. I'm content to let the French, Japanese, and Chinese squander as much of their government money as they want in order to gain an advantage. After they've inefficiently invested billions sorting through all the possible combinations and maybe come up with a winner, US industry can either license the technology or make a minor improvement and get around their patents and IP protections--as industries in these countries have done to our companies many times over the last 50 years.

Every billion the Chinese dump down this hole is a couple fewer guided missile cruisers they can build.
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Old 10-23-2010, 11:29 AM   #38
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Magic battery hyperbole aside...

Bottom line: it is not American Business against foreign business... It is American Business against Foreign governments looking to monopolize or gain competitive advantage. In the end the wealth and jobs flow to the US or other countries.

There will be economic winners and losers.
The others have pretty much said it all. Just to echo the important point...

There may be cases where the public interest is served by government involvement; or where technology has been proven but private companies do not have an incentive to work on a project - then government subsidies may be appropriate.

For example the Hubble Telescope has been a tremendous boost to science - and I am sure American scientists are given a real advantage with the knowledge gained. It may even help us solve problems like global warming if the problem is at least partially caused by things like solar flares, etc. Government has a place there.

Take another example: private space travel. Several companies are focused on developing a vehicle that can transport "space tourists" into space. Here the profit motive is driving the technology a lot faster than NASA could ever do it - at a fraction of the cost. Yet, such a vehicle may be used by NASA in the future to go to the space station.

I guess the rule of thumb I would use is this: if there is a profit motive to it and we need new technology to make a break-through, then private enterprise is the best way to solve a problem. Conversely, without a profit motive, and if the technology basically exists (ie, Manhattan Project with the A bomb), then government has a place.

With regards to batteries specifically, but alternative automobile power sources in general, there is a huge profit to be made by new patents and private enterprise has a huge interest in finding answers.

Finally, I am not threatened by foreign government competition in the least. Why? Because private companies can go our stock exchanges and generate huge piles of cash... surely equal to any foreign government. Other countries do not have such a method for generating private enterprise cash so they must use government money.

Furthermore, government projects in any government are inherently slow and inefficient because bureaucrats always gum up the works. When the boss is a bureaucrat, innovation always takes a backseat to some other governmental benchmark.
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Old 10-23-2010, 02:05 PM   #39
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I love this board! Long, detailed essays about something of essentially zero importance.
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Old 10-23-2010, 02:33 PM   #40
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I love this board! Long, detailed essays about something of essentially zero importance.
Yep, we're the flip-side of the mass media, where subjects of tremendous importance get a 15 second blurb or one pseudo-sentence on the "crawler."
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