The Failed Chevy Volt That Just Won’t Go Away

There are some ideas that, no matter how often they rise and how spectacularly they fail, just won’t go away. Perpetual motion machines, for example. Passive exercise machines. Diets that work. These technologies sound great in theory, but don’t seem to pan out in practice. Add to the list, electric (or largely electric) cars.

People who have looked into the history of automobiles have noted that while electric cars have never managed to rival internal combustion cars for their performance, comfort, reliability, or customer-attractiveness, they persist in inspiring a small segment of the public. And would-be social engineers have always loved them.

Chevroley Volt, Chevy Volt, Volt, Hybrid, Hybrids

image via Chevrolet

As Robert Bryce points out in his book Power Hungry, electric cars are the “Next Big Thing. And they always will be.” Bryce observes that EV-boosters have been flogging electric cars since 1911, when the New York Times declared that “the electric car “has long been recognized as the ideal solution” because it “is cleaner and quieter” and “much more economical.” Of course, that all depends on how you define “ideal” and “economical.”

Let’s talk economics first. Electric and hybrid-electric vehicles are more expensive to make and bring in less profit than other cars. They cost more to finance, more to repair, and more to insure. Their sales depend heavily on tax incentives, which means that selling more of them will require more taxpayer dollars. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that plug-in hybrid vehicles cost $3,000 to $7,000 more than regular hybrids, even though the performance differences between the two models are slight, and the really fuel-efficient hybrids cost $12,000 to $18,000 more than the conventional brand. Consider the GM Volt. When it was first announced, the price estimate from General Motors (GM) was $30,000. That soon jumped to $35,000. Today, they sell for nearly $40,000.

Hybrids are also more expensive to insure, which has been known for some time. Back in 2008, online insurance broker Insure.com showed that it cost $1,374 to insure a Honda Civic but $1,427 to insure a Honda Civic Hybrid. Similarly, it cost $1,304 to insure a Toyota Camry but $1,628 to insure a Toyota Camry Hybrid. According to State Farm, hybrids cost more to insure because their parts are more expensive and repairing them requires specialized labor, thus boosting the after-accident payout.

And that, of course, presumes they don’t burst into flames, which brings us to today’s not-so-”ideal” headlines. Several crash tests have suggested that the plug-in hybrid Volt, the flagship vehicle at Government Motors, has a bit of a problem: when hit or badly disturbed in accident tests, the Volt’s Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) battery packs have been seen to spark, or burst into flames afterward.

GM is a bit spooked by all this, and is offering Volt owners loaner-cars in case they’re concerned about the prospects of their vehicle, well, exploding on them. GM denies any real risk of this, of course. But then, they didn’t exactly emphasize the fire risk in their last electric car foray.

While few may remember it now, GM’s EV-1 also had battery-related problems. In the case of the EV-1, fires, euphemistically known as “thermal incidents” were happening when people plugged the cars in to recharge. GM had to recall 600 of its first-generation electric cars after 16 such “thermal incidents” including one where the vehicle was engulfed in fire.

What is surprising here is that people are surprised. After the rash of exploding notebook computers a few years back, people might have thought about the wisdom of trying to run a car on the same kind of batteries that can detonate your laptop. As John Hockenberry wrote in a Wired article in 2006, “The technical term for these bizarre incidents is thermal runaway. It occurs when the touchy elements inside a Li-ion battery heat up to the point where the internal reaction accelerates, creating even more heat. A sort of mini China Syndrome of increasing temperature builds until something must give. In the case of a laptop flameout, the chemicals break out of their metal casing. Because lithium ignites when it makes contact with the moisture in the air, the battery bursts into flame.” Hockenberry predicted that things would only get worse, as more is demanded of a battery technology that is at its practical limits.

Ever since there have been automobiles, there have been people who have fixated on electric cars. They’ve been predicted to take over the market nearly every few decades since the turn of the last century. Like diets that work, they’re better seen as “tomorrow’s technology of tomorrow.”

Editor’s Note: This column comes to us as a cross post via our new partners at the American Enterprise Institute. We’ve invited one of their own, Kenneth Green, to add his take on the cleantech space to the mix of voices telling the tale of the greentech revolution.

  • Goggin

    Of course, gasoline is an entirely safe and non-flammable energy source, right? And gasoline-powered cars never catch on fire after wrecks? A little perspective might have been helpful in this article.nnAlso, if you read what actually happened in the Volt crash test that led to a fire many weeks later, you’ll see that there is almost zero concern for anyone who owns a Volt. The battery pack was severely damaged and punctured by a metal part of the car’s body, then left to sit like that for weeks after the crash test, even though manufacturer specifications warn against doing that since leaving metal in contact with the battery’s innards for an extended period of time is a well-known risk. Only after several weeks of sitting in a condition that the wrecked vehicle should not have been left in did a fire occur. So, if you are a Volt owner, you may not want to sit in the car for weeks after being involved in a serious accident (of course, you probably don’t want to sit for weeks in a gasoline-powered car that has been involved in a serious accident either). Otherwise, there is no reason to be concerned.nnAs far as economics, the historical decision to go with gasoline-powered vehicles was heavily driven by large subsidies for fossil fuel production. Battery technology has improved greatly over the last 100 years, and massive cost reductions continue to occur for battery technology. Comparing the cost of a very mature technology like gasoline engines to the cost of the first generation of EVs and PHEVs is not a fair comparison. Just as Toyota had to sell its first Prius at much higher costs than they are sold at today, the costs of EVs and PHEVs are likely to fall dramatically as the technology matures and initial development costs are recovered. Of course, these comparisons not even begin to account for the massive costs of externalities of gasoline-powered vehicles, such as continuing America’s dependence on foreign oil and the public health and environmental impacts of oil use.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Scott/1322599804 Paul Scott

      Goggin is right. Published protocols for dealing with battery packs after a crash were ignored by the NTHSA people conducting the test. There is no safety problem with EVs, certainly not when compared to internal combustion. There are about 200,000 gas car fires every year in the U.S. killing hundreds of people.nnEVs will emerge the winner over time since oil is finite and we’re definitely getting into the final years of cheap oil. No one who considers themselves a patriot would ever denigrate cars that run on electricity. We’ve never fought a war over electricity and we never will. Our military leaders are 100% behind transitioning our fleet to electricity as fast as possible. They know what future wars will be fought over and they are tired of losing soldiers for oil.

      • Green Energy

        Paul if you buy-in to the premise that wars are fought over fossil fuels, you must consider that almost 70% of electricity in the US is generated from fossil fuels (nuclear and hydro make up 27%).  Less than 1% of electricity is generated from alternatives such as wind and solar.  As a practical matter there just isn’t enough land mass in the US to support the amount of solar panels or wind turbines required to power our homes/cars.  And there isn’t a battery created that can generate enough sustained power to support the airline industry.  As much as we may turn up our nose at fossil fuels–they’re fact of life.

        • Guest

          Perhaps, but only 10% of our domestic electricity comes from oil, compared to 100% of gasoline coming from oil.  National security is a big reason to go electric.

        • Guest

           Do a little research here.  If you cover an area in the desert the size of Connecticut (look at a map – it’s small) with solar panels, you could power 100% of the US grid.  And we don’t need to create vast areas of otherwise unusable land, since solar panels fit easily and conveniently on rooftops – close to the point of use.

  • http://twitter.com/FantasyScribe Robert Fanney

    There is one word I have for this ridiculous article — Luddite. But I will also add ‘stupid.’ And ‘pandering to oil company interests.’nnI have a Volt and it is fantastic. More spaceship than automobile. A vehicle to help US energy security and the environment in one go. Now that’s what I call progress.

  • Anonymous

    And this time of year, Apple pie is about ten cents more expensive than Pumpkin pie which means that no one will ever eat Apple pie again! Apple farmers had better cut down their trees.u00a0nnThe facts are that NO ONE has died or been injured in a fire caused by the battery in an electric or electrically assisted car (like the Volt). According to NHTSA there were 280,000 fires in gasoline powered cars last year resulting in hundreds of deaths and many more injuries.u00a0nnWhen gasoline runs out, and it will, electric cars will be far more desirable than walking or riding a horse. If you don’t want one now, just don’t buy one. Car makers are smart enough to know that making electric cars will be necessary to be in business in the future so they had best be about getting ready.

  • Colin

    The American Enterprise Institute is a well funded anti-environment far right wing organization. Why Earth Techling would partner with them is beyond me. In my opinion the above article, which is full of inaccuracies, seriously damages the credibility of Earth Techling.

    • http://www.earthtechling.com/ earthtechling

      Thanks for your feedback Colin. The reason we invited American Enterprise Institute to our cleantech conversation is that we are trying to bring all voices to the table. We don’t always agree with the voices of our partners, but we try to provide a platform for many different views to be considered and debated. We’ve also partnered with Center for American Progress and Third Way, for example.

      • BlueRock

        u00a0> …we are trying to bring all voices to the table.nnLet’s bring the climate change deniers “to the table” when discussing climate science.nnLet’s bring the evolution deniers “to the table” when discussing evolution.nnLet’s bring the anti-vaccination cult “to the table” when discussing public health.nnPathetic justification. You’re promoting disinformation from notorious vested interests. Hope the deal with them + increased clicks from the Fox News demographic makes up for the loss of informed, intelligent readers.

        • http://www.earthtechling.com/ earthtechling

          BlueRock – we see you are very passionate about cleantech ideals, which is a very wonderful thing. It would be great to see you provide a response to this column as to why you dislike it in terms of what issues and errors you think it might have. EarthTechling tends to lean left of center in our viewpoints, and if you look at most of our articles you’ll note that kind of voice, as well as seeing the majority of our column partners are progressive organizations.

    • BlueRock

      Seriously. I had to double check the URL to make sure I’d not visited some wingnut site by mistake.nnAnd this is not the first example recently: http://www.earthtechling.com/2011/11/germany-faces-sticker-shock-over-renewable-energy-to-replace-nuclear/#comment-370925096nnHey, EarthTechling – you’ve just been removed from my RSS reader. Hope your new ‘partnerships’ work out well for you financially.

      • http://www.earthtechling.com/ earthtechling

        Thanks for the feedback BlueRock. We do respect your choice. As we said in a previous response, we are trying to provide a platform for many different voices to engage in discussion around the cleantech conversation. We don’t always agree with what others write, but we believe it important for different voices to be presented and discussed. AEI is not paying us in any way for the partnership – we approached them about joining in on occasional columns. We also have columns from Center for American Progress and Third Way, for example, which present different viewpoints on the same topics.

        • Jtmegerian

          Earthechling, I wrote the response above regarding my disagreement with this article, even though i am an independent-conservative.u00a0 While I disagree with this article, I wholeheartedly agree with your philosophy of letting everyone have a voice.u00a0 BlueRock and Colin’s points of view u00a0represent the very heart of the problem we have in our country today, which is an innate disrepect and intolerance for others who do not share our points of view.u00a0 AS a country, we are doomed if we cannot engage in respectful, tolerant dialogue, discussion and discourse, in an effort to teach each other different points of view.u00a0 To name call, put down or squelch out other b/c we disagree with them is just poisoning our country.u00a0 Kudos to you for showing tolerance and showing others that you value all opinions, even if you disagree with them.nnTomn

          • http://www.earthtechling.com/ earthtechling

            Thanks for your comments.

        • greg

          This short-sighted drivel could not possibly be published by a respectable source of news, making this website, unfortunately, off limits to my knowledge-seeking. That’s a shame.

    • Mlang

      Amen!!!

      • http://www.earthtechling.com/ earthtechling

        Thanks for the comments on our partnership with AEI. We try to offer a variety of opinions on cleantech subjects for our readers to consider. We don’t always necessarily agree with the opinions presented, but we also believe the best way to promote dialog on this important topic is to allow readers the chance to see what opinions are being said so they can discuss and debate them.

  • John Barksdale

    Nice article. If the Volt survives, what’s left of the free-market will sort this out. It’s hilarious to read the whiny, hand-wringing, carbon-hysteria rebuttals. If you like the Volt, save up and buy two!

  • Anyquestion

    Do you think you are paying too much for your auto insurance?nnInsurancebread.com simplies the comparison step and shows every insurance company’s rate in your area.nnAnywhere in United States of America.u00a0nnAccessible through Smartphones, too.nnHttp://www.insurancebread.com

  • Tmeg

    If we listened to this type of analogy and deriding of new technology we would never have flight, automobiles or hybrids.u00a0 All three of these innovative technologies had first generations that had problems, but with time, all worked out.u00a0 The crash rate on the first airplanes would stopped planes from developing if the logic used here prevailed.u00a0 We would have given up on automobiles if we said ‘running those fancy machines on wheels is just unsafe and expensive’ as I’m sure so many horse and buggy owners said at th tiem that the first cars were being produce.u00a0Remember, the first cars wwer very expensive until they were mass produced and mass purchased.u00a0 EVs are being produced in tiny quanitites right now, so the companies have to charge more to start with…but guess What, when battery manufacturesrs grow in numbers and the prdouction rates rampup, costs will drop, just as they’ve done with cars, air flight, and Hybrids. nnI’m not sure why the right has to deride alternative fuels just because they think it’s a ‘lefty thing’.u00a0 I’m a conservative independent, and I think many of my friends are just wrong on the issue of the Volt and Hybrids…it’s more a case of ‘since my enemy like something, I have to dislike it.’u00a0 That’s just childish.n

    • Green Energy

      You must consider that almost 70% of electricity in the US is generated from fossil fuels (nuclear and hydro make up 27%).  Less than 1% of electricity is generated from alternatives such as wind and solar.  As a practical matter there just isn’t enough land mass in the US to support the amount of solar panels or wind turbines required to power our homes/cars (I couldn’t get enough solar panels on my 3/4 acre plot to fully power my 4 bedroom home).  And there isn’t a battery created that can generate enough sustained power to support the airline industry.  As much as we may turn up our nose at fossil fuels–they’re a fact of life and here to stay.

  • http://twitter.com/petedanko Pete Danko

    Was the Pinto electric?

  • Jhrizz

    To me, ignorance is generally excusable in that it provides an opportunity for both education and the practice patience. nnI will add, however, that there has been a shift the sphere of public commentary, where those who feel the world has gone “soft” and too “Politically Correct” will not hesitate to hide behind its banner when those who hold opposing views choose not to mince words when taking a shot…nnThe Volt is a good car. The Prius is a good car. Both a healthy compromise to put good ideas to market. Nothing wrong with that. Technology, namely IP from R&D costs money, andu00a0 needs to be recouped as quickly as possible. All devices, good and bad, must be put to market as soon as reasonably possible, with a “mark up” in sale price 1-200% over “component costs”. This is done with the iPhone ($600 price / $200ish physical cost), and every video game console ever produced, just to name a few. The Volt is no exception. nnEither way, they are all objects- tools to be used. The era of instant media in the world today might even get you to think that owning anything of a particular brand, like an iPhone or a Volt, means something, or informs the world about who you are, and helps define your character. These are over intellectualized constructs designed to create emotional impact. You know, propaganda. Also known as marketing.nnAll things fail, all things break, and our fellow humans make mistakes. It is how we choose to react and the action that we take that defines our character as individuals, and when in business, as a company.nnIndividuals and groups of individuals with questionable motives and developing character are free to have a voice. Which is good, right and fair. You don’t have to be right to have an opinion. The beauty of life is that we all get to live it together, helping each other learn and grow.

  • Swoboda

    Electric vehicles are in their infancy. It will take 5-10 years for cost to be on par with petroleum products unless we quit the indirect subsidies with imported petroleum. If we leveled the playing field I’d think electric cars would be ahead in 3-4 years. The 80 cents in indirect subsidies for every dollar of imported oil should be paid at the pump and not just out of income taxes and adding to the deficient. Of course I’m a fiscal conservative not a right wing hypocrite.

    • Sick of everything

      GM has been working on electric since the late 90′s and still has not perfected it, I would have liked to have heard a thought of the Nissan Leaf and how it’s doing. One thing I can say about the Volt, it is the best looking hybrid/electric car so far. Jeez, you would think these people would test this stuff more thoroughly.

  • Rho1953

    The Volt is proof that the old adage that you can’t polish a T**d is wrong. The Volt is a tu*d and you can polish it nicely. You don’t want to park it in your garage, and if you want to drive very far it is worthless, and the cost is hideous. Gasoline has proven to be very safe. Rarely does it cause problems. We don’t see cars explode after serious crashes, but we have already seen a number of fires from Volts even though there aren’t many of them on the road. You can buy a nice car and enough gas to last a decade for the price of a Volt. It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to anyone but a person who has an uncontrollable urge to hug trees.

    • Kevin

      do some research first you stupid moron. Everything you said is wrong!!!!!!!!! 1. you play with your turds? 2.350 miles is worthless on 9 gallons of fuel? 3. Gas is safe? 4. One voltu00a0three weeks later because it wasn’t drained…. the other fires were bare battery packs. Slam a full fuel tank against a wall and see what happens! 5. I will save $13,000 in fuel cost over my SUV in 5 years! 6. trees produce oxygen you freak!u00a0

    • dusel1

      I’m in agreement with you – Rho1953.

      I don’t live in the Southwest United States anymore, but when I was there I often hugged cacti.

      What type of energy – petroleum, nuclear, or coal – do you think is used in the factories to build the Volt and its high natural resource-demand batteries?

      I’ll place a bet that the factories are not connected to a giant battery grid in order to operate.

      Progressively bring on the Volt and other electric powered vehicles, but at the same time King Hussein’s regime should stop turning his back on the fossil fuel industry.

      We need to explore and extract fossil fuels found in our own country and wean ourselves from the Mideast to keep from being held hostage by the Islamists regimes.

       

  • Bainhndy1

    Electric propulsion consists of an electric motor connected to a power source, connected to a drive train.nnInternal combustion engines require dramatic explosions in them to create propulsion, along with an exhaust system to contain the noise/ pollution from the explosions, a tank of highly combustable fuel that in the process of creating requires oil tankers, pipelines, off shore drilling platforms, and many other un-stable and planet destroying methods to produce. We can produce electricity from renewable, non polluting sourcesu00a0German Village Produces 321% More Energy Than It Needs!n

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001224409264 Smail Buzzby

    My guess is that the American Enterprise Institute is an organization owned by oil companies.nnThis ‘article’ is pure crap and it is good to see that everyone hates it. u00a0I guess this is one of those websites that I will have to learn to avoid…

  • Ltotilas

    It was pretty gutsy for Earthtechling to publish this article since it was going to drive liberals crazy (just read some of the venomous comments). Their obsession with tax payer funded contraptions like the Volt, solar panels, and wind generators knows no bounds. And as usual they will scream about fossil fueled vehicles and technology (which actually work by the way). Eventually though our government will stop funding the eco-crazy technologies because it’s simply broke. As Margaret Thatcher once said “the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money”.

    • http://www.earthtechling.com/ earthtechling

      Thanks for the comment – we try to bring a diversity of voices on cleantech to our readers.

  • Exfl

    The fact that this column was ghost-written by someone at the American Enterprise Institute and the disparaging use of the term “Government Motors” tells me that the writer is neither scientific nor objective about the product beng reviewed.

  • Middleway

    This is how neo-con propaganda becomes so pervasive… this so called partnering to hear many different voices. nNews media (like earthtechling and small TV/radio stations) produce news stories, which take time and money.nNeo-con think tanks like AEI get millions in corporate funding, to spread a particular corporate message… this one “GO OIL”.nNot well-funded websites and stations “partner” in order to get access to “free news” stories, rationalizing with excuses like “different voices”.nThat makes as much sense as Scientific American partnering w/ the Catholic Church on evolution, because they wanted to express “different voices”.nAEI and neo-con think tanks love this, since it succeeds in confusing the public, turning “green tech” into “controversy”.nMaybe earthtechling.com likes controversy, since it does increase readership… if it bleeds it leads, and this article makes the Volt bleed.nnSince we have passed peak oil in less than 100 years, we only have 20-40 years left for affordable gasoline, but this article promotes the idea that petroleum will power our cars forever.nWhat keeps electric vehicles from wide usage are limitations in battery technology, which is gradually evolving to the point where it has gotten “practical and affordable” to many.nAlthough I prefer the Prius hybrid, the Volt represents an American solution to “practical and affordable” green tech, and is worthy of applause, especially since it will improve.nGoogle “aei global warming” and you’ll see how “smart and highly-paid conservative ideologes” promote the agenda of their corporate sponsors.nWhat it comes down to is earthtechling.com more interested in being a pro-green website or “false-green” website.

    • http://www.earthtechling.com/ earthtechling

      Thank you for your comments on this. If you look at the break up of stories that appear from partners, you’ll note AEI is the only one with a more conservative bend to its view points on cleantech. All the others from a political standpoint tend to be progressive or moderate. To us it is important to hear voices across the entire spectrum, even if we don’t agree with them from an editorial stand point. We may not always agree with what AEI has to say, but if discussion can be had on their viewpoint, even in disagreement, it is better than having no conversation at all.

  • Jjh

    Did someone just say the prius is a good car? Its performance is equal to a severely wounded gasoline powered car at twice the price. Fun fact: Its been demonstrated that you could take a BMW M3 turbo, drive it at the same level as the Prius, and achieve one MPG better fuel economy. There are answers to better fuel economy, but hybrids and electrics aren’t it. A more efficient gasoline car is a better option. (Such as the Ford focus or Fiesta both getting 40+ on gas engines). Never mind the fact that I could buy an old used gasoline car, drive it until the end of its life and mine, and it would release less pollution than the amount released in the production process of a current hybrid model. But hey, “drive a hybrid” sounds cool and feels good to say.

  • Craig

    Great! Yet another Libertarian/Right-Wing para-journalism article disguised as tech and science.

    • Snsualdeeplvr

      Lol How true. The battery problem was fixed months ago and only 2 Volts sparked. The writer acts like this is the reason not to save money and save fuel.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Smith/1393096613 Joe Smith

    I have no problem with your allowing a variety of opinions to be heard. I do, however, have a problem with you publishing annarticle in which there is little of substance and even less unbiased analysis as a news article. This article should have beenu00a0npublished as the opinion piece that it actually is.u00a0

  • http://profiles.google.com/coldlogic HAL 9000

    I can see unhappy comments here that an AEI guy has intruded a hallowed echo chamber but there are some good points here.nnOne is the basic physics of energy storage. You’re essentially stuffing as much potential entropy into small and light as space as possible. Any motive technology wants that for perfectly good reasons of range and efficiency. But when that entropy gets out in an uncontrolled manner – gasoline exploding or batteries exploding – it is a hazard. The better such a machine by that measure, the more intense the potential catastrophe becomes. Nukes are that example in the extreme.nnSecond, pushing a prototype technology as a consumer product is expensive. Look at something like the Prius. For all its green-cred and Star Trek dashboards its actual motive technology is old. NiMH batteries, four-popper motor. The computers and rare-earths are modern, but the vehicle essentially is diesel electric locomotive, or a WWII U-Boat, in its actual propulsion physics.nnThe Volt – and the Leaf – use ultra-high density lithium polymer packs. In such big piles as needed for cars, they crank a lot of heat. Any chemical energy mechanism does. And the physics of volume-surface area at such sizes demands active cooling for those things to be effective. Especially when you consider LiPo longevity is a direct function of the temperature the battery is stored at. Even if its not being used (to conserve laptop’s battery, through it in a plastic bag and put it in the fridge when you’re not using it…seriously). Volts and Leafs on the road now are losing approx. 20% of their battery capacity every year, even if they just sit in the garage. Again, just like your laptop or phone does.nnThese are technologies not ready for consumer prime-time but we try masking that reality with hype and subsidies trying to fool ourselves. For improving the environment, you can get much better returns for same money spending it elsewhere.

    • Guest

       I think you greatly misunderstand the difference between chemical and potential energy and their abilities to transform into kinetic energy.

  • JerBear

     “Electric and hybrid-electric vehicles are more expensive to make and bring in less profit than other cars.” Um, other than the nissan leaf, which just came out, i’m not aware of any other mass production 100% electric cars currently on the market. So from a writer’s perspective, you might want to stick to talking about just hybrids for now. the chevy volt includes a gas-powered motor. and “the really fuel efficient hybrids cost $12,000 to $18,000 more than conventional brands” – do you mean models instead of brands? because ‘brands; doesn’t even make sense in that sentence. how are you defining “really efficient” hybrids? bc while they are more expensive than their corresponding gas-powered MODELS (not brands) hybrid accords, civics, camrys, etc. do NOT cost THAT much more than their gas powered counterparts. Honestly, I dont think this article is worthy (on a journalistic level) of being published on a news website.

  • ebw343

    Re the “exploding Volts”: When a crashed normal gasoline car is brought to the junkyard, the FIRST things that are done are disconnecting the battery and draining the gas tank. In a sane political environment, this story would’ve taken the form of a reminder to discharge the battery packs of crashed hybrid/electrics in the auto recycling trade press.

    Also, “Government Motors”? How unprofessional. Really, you’d think someone writing crossposts for the AEI would know not to flaunt their biases so loudly. That sounds more like local talk-radio level red meat.

  • Ron McComb

    The car companies and the fuel companies are horizontally integrated.  The fuel companies see the car as an oil burning device.  Sell the car once and sell it fuell until it dies. Same with electric appliances.  Why did we stick with the most inefficient lighting and toasters for so many years?  They are simply electron using devices.  Duh !  Why is fracking using toxic chemicals?  Aside from providing a way for the petro chemical industry with the means to dispose of toxic waste that they would have to spend a fortune on for disposal, by poisoning our water supply they can sell us filters and bottled water.  Capitalists can and will exploit every opportunity, even if they have to create them.   

  • Clfcstephen

    Please the american enterprise institute is a political agenda funded group with no scientific no how and little concern for facts.Under the logic of this article we should have abandoned lap tops because of a few early issues. AEI is a propaganda group well funded by those seeking to retard the developement of products that compete with  their’s

  • http://muckrack.com/dotcommodity Susan Kraemer

    Good. I’m glad it won’t go away. We need it, and thank goodness events unfurled the way way they did so that a sensible Democratic president was able to step in (in return for our help as taxpayers to pull them out of the ditch), and alter the trajectory of GMs future in a way that benefits us taxpayers, by firing the complacent gas guzzler who bankrupted GM and getting the Volt and other cars of the carbon-constrained future going strong, with now $7 billion in profits, Michigan on the mend, and world leadership reattained for a US company.

    • rickcain2320

       Its likely GM wouldn’t have gone under if they didn’t kill the EV-1.   It could have been on the leading edge of the market that eventually ended up going to the Toyota Prius.

      The problem with car companies is the men running them are 70+ years old.  Their idea of a car was a 1956 Chevrolet in all its impractical glory.

      • http://muckrack.com/dotcommodity Susan Kraemer

        I agree. Or at least there would have been an EV alternative while the 99% still had some money to buy a car with back before 2008. What was it – back in the 1990s? It is much harder now to bring out a novel technology in autos when the economy shut down for the middle class in 2008, because buying a car requires you have a decent credit rating.

  • Dryfly2000

    Maybe this might help.http://www.voltstats.net/

  • Greenpeaceguy

    Go here–  thttp://www.voltstats.net/– pretty impressive– the Volt. 

  • Ronar128

    Like every other technological advance, everything tends to (1) take time, (2) endure setbacks, (3) outlast the naysayers.  If we had retreated from technology because of problems, we would still be living in caves, killing our lunch with our bare hands, and wiping our butts on a hand full of grass.  Instead, I use my Li-ion laptop, cellphone, and soon–my hybrid car–with confidence.  I will also pay a little more for insurance and save a lot more on size, weight, convenience, and gasoline.  Yahoo!

  • rickcain2320

    Too much emphasis on hybrid which effectively doubles the complexity of the vehicle, 50% gasoline powered, 50% electric.  Nice transition technology, but unsuitable for the future.

    Pure battery electrics are already here, not fuel cells or flywheels. If only we could find a startup that didn’t make their electric car look so goofy.   What kills the sales of most electric cars is they’re weird looking and/or impractical.

  • midwest realist

    Seriously? You’re not only letting AEI (an oil-and-gas industry front group) write a piece for this blog, but you’ve added them as a ‘partner’… guess I’m going to have to take anything written here with a grain of salt.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/HYXU2EBRQ6MPHR3QSTOOCKYU2M Yiddish

    Those type of vehicle combines a conventional internal combustion engine.

  • Robobrain

    As a Volt owner (for about 10 months now) I was a bit concerned when I heard about the possibility of my car catching fire.  That is until I found out the conditions under which this occurred.  If my car is in an accident like that, it’s not coming back to my house!  It’s going to be towed to somewhere to be repaired.  Then if it catches fire days later I’m not sure I’m really concerned.  Of course the “fix” is to discharge the battery – duh.

    I am getting about 190 mpg.  Apparently my dirving habits are right up the alley of what GM was targeting.  I have heard no reports anywhere about the people who are getting a win like this in the news.  It’s too bad it’s so much more popular to be a critic in the press.  When I tell people that I am getting that gas mileage they are shocked.

    Cost: Even when you figure in the cost of the elctricity I use (about $1.25 to $1.50 for a full charge) I estimate I am saving about $80 per month to “power” this car.  I wasn’t nieve enough to purchase the car, I am leasing it (as a company car).  So the $350/month lease car payment is really offset by the fuel savings, so I am leasing it at about $270/month net.  Now albiet for business use, this is a pretty compelling cost case for me.

  • Independent Thinker

    First and Foremost, I am so “Sick and Tired” of Left versus Right, of Conservative versus Liberal, Democrat versus Republican, etc., etc., etc.  Why do somany people have to be the brainwashed party people that they are… Why can’t people be more open minded and understanding, and more respectful of others ideas and opinions?

    With that said, I am a so-called ‘Independent’ who tends to so-called ‘lean to the right’ politically, but not so much that I can’t see both sides.  Where that pertains to this article, I am not a big fan of electric cars at the moment, but I do see the value of them, and I look forward to the day that they become a viable part of our transportation resource.  The writer of the above article appears to be a very closed-minded individual, and based on the writing, also appears to be a cronie for someone who has stock in oil (perhaps the writer himself).  Electric cars, much like the first airplane, the first train, the first ‘sub’-marine, etc. has it’s place in our society, and i suspect will have a much larger place in it once the technology becomes more efficient, and powerful, and it will… someday. 

     I look forward to one day having power supplied to my house much more efficiently and less dependent upon the mass of wires (which absolutely irritate me) running throughout the land that currently provide my electricity.  However, I do not believe there will ever come a time where we do not need oil. I believe oil will always play a role in our society. 

    Much like the ‘Liberals’, I believe their is some greed associated with ‘Big Oil’, and much like the ‘Conservatives’, I believe there is some extremism that goes on with regards to the environment.  But unlike both, I am more open to seeing both sides, analyzing the thoughts and ideas, and understanding the needs for oil and electric powered cars, as well as oil and electric powered ‘other’ things in life.

    Like it or not, oil provides many sources of income, not only for the greedy, but also for the common man like myself in the form of “Jobs”…   Without oil, many jobs are lost.  Without new technology and science, there would be no ‘Microcoputer’, no ‘Jet’ airplane, no ‘Automatic’ transmission, etc., etc., etc.
     
     

  • JJ Kelly

    This is just old recycled propaganda from a right-wing outlet. The article was posted in Nov 2011 and would not be credible today. I suppose Earthtechling is cross-posting from AEI just to rile up the readership and give the appearance of being balanced. Don’t look for AEI to cross-post articles on its site that put renewables in a favorable light.