The Volt is just not going to have a huge effect on the bottom line of GM good or bad. I think that they are looking at a production of around 10,000 for a $40,000 compact car. Compare that with Toyota selling around 140,000 copies of the Prius in 2009. The Volt is a halo model and a pilot program pure and simple.
In the beginning of the Prius program, Toyota was selling far, far fewer of them at a MUCH higher unit cost. It takes awhile for people to adopt things like the Prius. At the time Honda offered a more basic vehicle in competition - the original Insight. People resisted that car because of it's high price and limited practicality. The Prius, however, caught on quite quickly - particularly in it's refined second generation. You can't expect something totally new playing in a market not previously covered by the manufacturer to be selling a huge number right away. Just look at the Japanese full-size pickups...
This isn't a groundbreaking product. This isn't the first hybrid. This isn't even GM's first hybrid, though none of the previous ones have been that popular or well known. The most remarkable thing about the Volt is that it was made by GM and is trying to be some sort of symbolic leader in the return of the American car industry.
Again, it kind of is a groundbreaking product because it functions in a fundamentally different way than previous hybrids. It is also a totally new, and very flexible platform - though that aspect of it is not so groundbreaking.
Ferdinand Porsche did it in 1905 not to mention locomotives for half a century or so, so the whole revolutionary thing is a little off.
As I mentioned in my previous post, the Lohner-Porsche hybrid did it first - but it wasn't practical, and it certainly wasn't commercially viable. And it hasn't been done since. So in many regards, GM
is putting out something that none of today's drivers, and in fact 99.9% of the drivers who were around during the Lohner-Porsche's time, have never seen or experienced. It really is a very different approach.
As for who popularized those diesel-electric locomotives, look no further than...General Motors. Who combined Electromotive Diesel out of Electro-Motive and Winton Engine in 1930.
Can I win a Car of The Year Award if I make a modern day Stanley Steamer?
If you can manufacture a practical steam car at the price of the Chevrolet Volt, then yes - you could theoretically win awards for it. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure why steam technology has not been pursued as an alternative to complex battery tech. Steam requires heat - there are ways to generate that heat today that are much more efficient than the last steam cars, the Stanley and the Doble way back in the 1920s.
But more to the point, the Volt is not a carbon copy of the Lohner-Porsche. Such systems today would seem agricultural compared to what's in the Volt. The idea is there, yes, but you shouldn't interpret this to mean that nothing new has been accomplished here. Taking a truly alterantive propulsion system and making it into a practical road car that isn't a $110,000 toy is for the car world as big an accomplishment as the 787 and A350 will be for the airplane world.
If I walk into a Chevy dealer looking for a compact car, I'm going to look at the Cruze and a Volt. And then I'll see the price of the Volt and only look at the Cruze.
Not many people will be cross-shopping these two cars, and having been in both, there's a big difference between them. Similarly, how many people cross-shop a Toyota Yaris and a Toyota Prius? I'm guessing not many. If you want a cheaper car, go for it. But you're not only paying for basic transportation by buying a Volt, nor for a Prius.
There is far, far less in common between the Cruze and the Volt than there is between say, the VW
Golf and the Audi A3
. And you'll pay ALOT more for an A3
I just don't care/enviro-clowns
So obviously on some level you do care. If you're going to be calling people clowns, then you obviously care about what they are doing, for good or ill.
It might surprise you to learn that in my opinion, a clean 1978 Chevy Malibu would be better for the environment than a new Prius - but that's because I understand that the waste and pollution generated in making that new Prius is greater than that which the average driver will generate using that old Malibu. And I think we should be looking at reducing impact in ways other than just buying something to make ourselves feel better.
But that doesn't mean that our environmental problems aren't very real or that we shouldn't care about them.
[Edited 2010-11-24 12:14:48]