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quagmire
Jul 27, 2010, 11:25 AM
Chevrolet announced the Volt will be priced at $41,000 before tax credits. You can choose to lease it for $350/month.

http://www.gminsidenews.com/forums/f70/its-official-chevrolet-volt-41-000-chevrolet-begins-taking-orders-94080/

MattSepeta
Jul 27, 2010, 12:10 PM
This is why I do not see "electric cars" gaining mainstream popularity any time soon.

quagmire
Jul 27, 2010, 12:27 PM
This is why I do not see "electric cars" gaining mainstream popularity any time soon.

Me neither. Anyone hoping the volt would be priced below $30k was on something, IMHO. I was personally hoping for $35-37K due that $7500 tax credit would make the volt a bit more appealing. That lease offering doesn't look bad though. I wonder what are the terms of the lease.

iShater
Jul 27, 2010, 12:32 PM
It has a lot of standard features, and seems to be more on the premium targeted market vs. regular sedans.

Did the Preius start out on the expensive side as well?

rva1
Jul 27, 2010, 02:08 PM
Chevrolet announced the Volt will be priced at $41,000 before tax credits. You can choose to lease it for $350/month.

http://www.gminsidenews.com/forums/f70/its-official-chevrolet-volt-41-000-chevrolet-begins-taking-orders-94080/

The Nissan Leaf list for about $25k to $26k and is an ALL electric vehicle. GM better get their head out of the sand.

dmr727
Jul 27, 2010, 02:11 PM
The Nissan Leaf list for about $25k to $26k and is an ALL electric vehicle. GM better get their head out of the sand.

That's after the tax credit. The MSRP is $32,780.

iShater
Jul 27, 2010, 03:18 PM
The Nissan Leaf list for about $25k to $26k and is an ALL electric vehicle. GM better get their head out of the sand.

Does it have the same options? or looks?

CasaRed
Jul 27, 2010, 03:36 PM
I agree that as priced that the majority of people getting this car would lease it. Keep in mind though that if you have a daily commute of less than 40 miles, you'll seldom need to purchase gasoline, so compared to a regular car or even a Prius, those savings will add up faster.

Either way, at this point this car seems to be at an early-adopter stage where you would expect to be paying a premium until it becomes more of a commodity or there's more competitors in the space. Kinda like how a 5gb iPod used to cost $400. ;)

quagmire
Jul 27, 2010, 03:51 PM
That's after the tax credit. The MSRP is $32,780.

And only has a range of 100 miles. Making it not a good primary vehicle for people. I know for trips to my aunts I would be screwed.

Mr. McMac
Jul 27, 2010, 03:54 PM
The Volt should sell for no more than $20,000. What a ripoff!!!!

rhett7660
Jul 27, 2010, 04:01 PM
Well,
If you look at the $34,000 for a hybrid then it isn't a bad deal. Most Hybrids run around $30,000 (Ford and Toyoda's); more for the Lincoln and Lexus; less for the Honda's. So you get the super range extending gas motor, in an all electric vehicle.

dmr727
Jul 27, 2010, 04:21 PM
^^^ that's what I was thinking too. This is a pretty full featured vehicle - once I start looking at all the goodies, a mid 30's price doesn't seem so out of the ballpark. I still have my prejudices against GM - but I'm really trying to give them the benefit of the doubt here.

I'm on Honda's list for their Clarity, but I'm not holding my breath that my name will be drawn anytime soon - I meet all their 'ideal candidate' guidelines, but they seem more interested in giving the first models to celebrities. So it's nice to see some other options out there for me to mull over.

quagmire
Jul 27, 2010, 05:06 PM
The Volt should sell for no more than $20,000. What a ripoff!!!!

Name one vehicle that has the electric motors and lithium ion battery the volt and leaf has that goes for less then $20,000.

Lord Blackadder
Jul 28, 2010, 11:46 AM
I think the Volt is a success in terms of meeting its intended design parameters. However, I think the whole notion of the all-electric car and plug-in hybrids are flawed due to our current infrastructure.

As long as we burn fossil fuels to get the electricity, the electric car is just sweeping the fossil fuel/pollution problem under the rug by putting the "dirty" side of power consumption out of sight (back at the power plant). Also, there's no way our current power generation infrastructure could support even a fraction of the population switching to electric cars. California already has rolling blackouts - if people stopped burning gas and switched to electrics, the problem would get drastically worse.

I think electric cars are a dead end for the present...At least until our entire power grid makes large-scale switches to alternative energy, and there is no timeline for that currently. Also, there is currently no guarantee that practical fuel-cell systems will ever be truly affordable or mass-producable. The current offerings are all extremely expensive, proof-of-concept vehicles with short useful lives.

We'd be better off with diesels or diesel hybrids. People don't want to admit it, but those are currently our best options IMO.

I really wish I didn't sound so cynical, but that's the picture as I understand it.

Mousse
Jul 28, 2010, 12:22 PM
The Volt should sell for no more than $20,000. What a ripoff!!!!

:confused::confused::confused:

How do you figure? A comparable gas powered car is in the $30,000+ range. Hybrids have always been higher priced than equivalent gas powered cars. Electric even higher priced than hybrids. Besides, a early adopters are paying for the development cost in addition to the production cost.

Anyhow, I'll only be interested once it hits the road. I've been hearing a production model is coming next year for a few years now.:rolleyes:

iShater
Jul 28, 2010, 12:36 PM
I think the Volt is a success in terms of meeting it's intended design parameters. However, I think the whole notion of the all-electric car and plug-in hybrids are flawed due to our current infrastructure.

As long as we burn fossil fuels to get the electricity, the electric car is just sweeping the fossil fuel/pollution problem under the rug by putting the "dirty" side of power consumption out of sight (back at the power plant). Also, there's no way our current power generation infrastructure could support even a fraction of the population switching to electric cars. California already has rolling blackouts - if people stopped burning gas and switched to electrics, the problem would get drastically worse.

I think electric cars are a dead end for the present...At least until our entire power grid makes large-scale switches to alternative energy, and there is no timeline for that currently. Also, there is currently no guarantee that practical fuel-cell systems will ever be truly affordable or mass-producable. The current offerings are all extremely expensive, proof-of-concept vehicles with short useful lives.

We'd be better off with diesels or diesel hybrids. People don't want to admit it, but those are currently our best options IMO.

I really wish I didn't sound so cynical, but that's the picture as I understand it.

All very valid points. However, keep in mind that even how we get our power varies from state to state. Switching to electric vehicles does need to come hand in hand with a change on not only how we generate electricity, but also how we consume it.

quagmire
Jul 28, 2010, 12:37 PM
:confused::confused::confused:

How do you figure? A comparable gas powered car is in the $30,000+ range. Hybrids have always been higher priced than equivalent gas powered cars. Electric even higher priced than hybrids. Besides, a early adopters are paying for the development cost in addition to the production cost.

Anyhow, I'll only be interested once it hits the road. I've been hearing a production model is coming next year for a few years now.:rolleyes:

They have always stated the Volt would be coming by the end of 2010 ever since the program started back in 2007.

Also remember, the areas the Volt will be sold in first( DC, New York, etc) are affluent areas where people can afford the Volt.

And even at $41,000, GM is still taking a loss with the vehicle.

Lord Blackadder
Jul 28, 2010, 12:48 PM
Personally, I think those of us trying to by a more efficient vehicle would be better served by buying smaller cars and switching to diesel power. People like to believe that by switching to a hybrid drivetrain they can have their cake (own a monstrously large SUV) and eat it too (drive guilt-free because it's a hybrid). But that is fantasy. Hybrid SUVs get better gas mileage than their non-hybrid counterparts - but are still not very economical. Lifestyle changes (buying smaller vehicles) will make a much bigger impact compared with buying huge, gas-guzzling hybrid trucks and SUVs.

Switching from a Tahoe to a Tahoe hybrid is just window dressing. Switching from, say, a Ford Explorer to a diesel Golf - now that will make a difference.

patrick0brien
Jul 28, 2010, 12:49 PM
Lets also not forget this is essentially the first Series-Hybrid on the major markets, all have been Parallel-Hybrids, e.g. Prius, et.al. Meaning complex transmissions to allow both the motor and engine to drive the wheels.

Series-Hybrids have no need for transmissions at all, the wheels are driven by electric motors only.

This is a new type, therefore high price until economies of scale kick in.

Lord Blackadder
Jul 28, 2010, 12:54 PM
Series-Hybrids have no need for transmissions at all, the wheels are driven by electric motors only.

This is a new type, therefore high price until economies of scale kick in.

True on the economies of scale bit - although the batteries are always going to be pricey.

I keep hammering the same point here, but the Volt would see a quite significant fuel economy boost by switching to a diesel engine to charge the batteries and run the motors. Sort it out, US car companies...it's not like we don't sell diesel here.

iShater
Jul 28, 2010, 01:02 PM
True on the economies of scale bit - although the batteries are always going to be pricey.

I keep hammering the same point here, but the Volt would see a quite significant fuel economy boost by switching to a diesel engine to charge the batteries and run the motors. Sort it out, US car companies...it's not like we don't sell diesel here.

That is true. I'm surprised nobody has brought even diesel based hybrids here yet. I recall hearing VW was planning on it, but I don't remember where I read that.

leomac08
Jul 28, 2010, 01:26 PM
That is true. I'm surprised nobody has brought even diesel based hybrids here yet. I recall hearing VW was planning on it, but I don't remember where I read that.

The Audi A3 clean diesel TDI

patrick0brien
Jul 28, 2010, 01:39 PM
True on the economies of scale bit - although the batteries are always going to be pricey.

Well, they should research capacitors then, never wear out, and charge veeeeewy quick. Like EEstor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EEStor)

keep hammering the same point here, but the Volt would see a quite significant fuel economy boost by switching to a diesel engine to charge the batteries and run the motors. Sort it out, US car companies...it's not like we don't sell diesel here.

Very good point. And not without a bit of irony as Rudolf Diesel patented his engine in the U.S. (608,845), and we don't use it - though that's because of the Oil companies, not the car companies.

I agree we should use the diesel. After the apocalypse, you could make your own fuel from zombie bodies!

Lord Blackadder
Jul 28, 2010, 01:44 PM
The Audi A3 clean diesel TDI

That's a diesel though, not a hybrid. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.

I have a few major problems with the A3 though - it's considerably more money than its Golf platform-mate, and most models are FWD-only, which is stupid IMO. And you can't get a manual transmission with Quattro on the diesel? That would be like Subaru selling FWD cars again...it's not what the brand is about.

Even if I had the money for an A3 I'd buy a Golf instead. A diesel Golf is cheaper than comparable hybrids, gets competitive fuel economy, is cheaper to maintain, and its simpler drivetrain (with the tried-and-tested-for-over-a-century diesel engine) is more reliable. People just need to collectively pull their heads out of their butts and admit that the stinky, clattering diesel is a thing of the past when it comes to consumer automobiles.

I wish VW offered a limited slip as an option though...that's one thing I miss when it's not there.

iShater
Jul 28, 2010, 01:44 PM
The Audi A3 clean diesel TDI

It is not a hybrid drive train that uses diesel with an electric, it is a pure diesel car.

whooleytoo
Jul 28, 2010, 01:45 PM
..snip..
I really wish I didn't sound so cynical, but that's the picture as I understand it.

I think we have to start somewhere. Whether we like it or not, diesel/petroleum aren't going to last forever so sooner or later something has to change.

Obviously a lot of electricity is generated through non-renewable fuels now, and the distribution network isn't ready for cars to be able to recharge 'on journey'. But electric cars aren't a bad start. If a critical mass of electric cars is reached, it'll start to make business sense to develop charging stations (or stations with stocks of swappable cells?) on major routes.

If we wait for these charging stations to appear before starting to buy electric cars, we'll end up in a Catch 22. And (stating the obvious, but) electricity for the cars can be generated cleanly and renewably, even if it isn't at present.

You may be right about California & other parts of the US having power generation problems, and that may well hamper electric car adoption in those areas; but that shouldn't stop others from switching.

All IMO. :)

ucfgrad93
Jul 28, 2010, 04:59 PM
What about the batteries? Won't they have to be replaced at some point? And how do we dispose of the batteries? They are made of some fairly toxic stuff aren't they?

Lord Blackadder
Jul 28, 2010, 05:48 PM
I think we have to start somewhere. Whether we like it or not, diesel/petroleum aren't going to last forever so sooner or later something has to change.

I completely agree.

If a critical mass of electric cars is reached, it'll start to make business sense to develop charging stations (or stations with stocks of swappable cells?) on major routes.

Perhaps - but maybe that would just cause us to burn more fuel at power plants rather than look for alternative fuels...and who knows what that would do to the price and availability of electricity? To me, it feels like we'd just be exchanging one problem for another.

If we wait for these charging stations to appear before starting to buy electric cars, we'll end up in a Catch 22. And (stating the obvious, but) electricity for the cars can be generated cleanly and renewably, even if it isn't at present.

You may be right about California & other parts of the US having power generation problems, and that may well hamper electric car adoption in those areas; but that shouldn't stop others from switching.

I think we should be less worried (in the short term) about hybrids and electric cars and more concerned with just lowering per capita fuel consumption.

I think the true solution is simple (as all true solutions are) but twofold:


focus on internal combustion engines that are more efficient. Diesels lead the way here.

Continue working to develop renewable energy technology so that we (as a species) can transition away from fossil fuels before they are expended. Ideally, anyway.


There are a few big problems. First, battery technology is lagging way behind almost everything else. Despite our best efforts, many electric cars don't have much more range than the first electric cars from over 100 years ago. We just haven't found a way to store anywhere near the kind of energy that fossil fuels contain in batteries (per unit of weight and volume).

Batteries are also not very "green" in and of themselves; they usually contain heavy metals and are not easy to make.

Electric motors seem the best alternative powerplant for cars of the future - however electric cars are only as good as their power source, and at the moment batteries and fuel cells are a long way away from being ready to replace the piston engine. I feel like gasoline hybrids are a band-aid that makes us feel good about ourselves but fails to really solve any problems. If we all switched to smaller vehicles and switched from gas to diesel, we could save millions of barrels of oil a day. That could translate to stretching fossil fuel reserves for many years and giving us more time to perfect successor technologies.

Counterfit
Jul 29, 2010, 04:03 AM
True on the economies of scale bit - although the batteries are always going to be pricey.

I keep hammering the same point here, but the Volt would see a quite significant fuel economy boost by switching to a diesel engine to charge the batteries and run the motors. Sort it out, US car companies...it's not like we don't sell diesel here.
That's the great thing about a platform like the Volt, or anything like it: you can easily change whatever gives the electricity. Gas not working right? The American public finally getting their asses out of their collective heads about diesel? Just get one the right size, and hook it up to the generator. It works for trains. Small fusion reactors finally a possibility? Bingo!
And not without a bit of irony as Rudolf Diesel patented his engine in the U.S. (608,845), and we don't use it - though that's because of the Oil companies, not the car companies.
If GM hadn't ****ed up when they tried bringing diesel cars to the market, it wouldn't be anywhere near as bad. We still have some old M-B diesels kicking around, and probably a good bunch of them run on SVO by now.
That would be like Subaru selling FWD cars again...it's not what the brand is about.

Subaru still sells FWD cars, just not in the US or Europe.

diamond.g
Jul 30, 2010, 10:53 AM
That's the great thing about a platform like the Volt, or anything like it: you can easily change whatever gives the electricity. Gas not working right? The American public finally getting their asses out of their collective heads about diesel? Just get one the right size, and hook it up to the generator. It works for trains. Small fusion reactors finally a possibility? Bingo!

If GM hadn't ****ed up when they tried bringing diesel cars to the market, it wouldn't be anywhere near as bad. We still have some old M-B diesels kicking around, and probably a good bunch of them run on SVO by now.


Subaru still sells FWD cars, just not in the US or Europe.

Why did you burst my bubble of Subarus awesomeness? :(

Don't forget the dealership markup. Some of the automotive blogs have people complaining that the dealerships are adding a $10k markup to the already expensive vehicle.

Rodimus Prime
Jul 30, 2010, 11:20 AM
I completely agree.



Perhaps - but maybe that would just cause us to burn more fuel at power plants rather than look for alternative fuels...and who knows what that would do to the price and availability of electricity? To me, it feels like we'd just be exchanging one problem for another.

While that part is true that we would burn more fuel at power planets one advantage you are forgetting about is the power planets are by far much more efficient at producing power than the internal combustion engine on your car. On top of that it is much easier to capture and clean the pollution the power planet produces over what the cars produce. On top of that we can easily most our power over to other renewable choices.





I think we should be less worried (in the short term) about hybrids and electric cars and more concerned with just lowering per capita fuel consumption.

I think the true solution is simple (as all true solutions are) but twofold:


focus on internal combustion engines that are more efficient. Diesels lead the way here.

Continue working to develop renewable energy technology so that we (as a species) can transition away from fossil fuels before they are expended. Ideally, anyway.


There are a few big problems. First, battery technology is lagging way behind almost everything else. Despite our best efforts, many electric cars don't have much more range than the first electric cars from over 100 years ago. We just haven't found a way to store anywhere near the kind of energy that fossil fuels contain in batteries (per unit of weight and volume).

Batteries are also not very "green" in and of themselves; they usually contain heavy metals and are not easy to make.

Electric motors seem the best alternative powerplant for cars of the future - however electric cars are only as good as their power source, and at the moment batteries and fuel cells are a long way away from being ready to replace the piston engine. I feel like gasoline hybrids are a band-aid that makes us feel good about ourselves but fails to really solve any problems. If we all switched to smaller vehicles and switched from gas to diesel, we could save millions of barrels of oil a day. That could translate to stretching fossil fuel reserves for many years and giving us more time to perfect successor technologies.


One thing about hybrids tech is we can run the combustion engines in a car at peak efficiency and we can design the engines to run much more efficiency than they can on cars today. Reason for this is the engine can be run at a much more limited RPM range since all it will do is charge the batteries. It does not have to run at a very wide range that we need now. Take for example my car. It has to run from 1k RPM up to 6200RPM. Now in normal travel the range is still 1kRPM up to about 4kRPM. That is a pretty big range. If the car was a hybrid it could be set to run at lets say 3k RPMs. do it does not need to be designed to hit the 6200 Red line and try to balance out efficiency across a 3k RPM range.

Also another thing with Hybrid tech is it is a good bridge between combustion engine and what ever the next thing is. We can easily replace a combustion power planet with some like fuel cell since all it needs to do is produce electricity.

And for the record I do not think hydrogen fuel cells are a good idea for the future but I used it as a example of how we can easily change the power planets.

kernkraft
Jul 30, 2010, 11:22 AM
I think the Volt is a success in terms of meeting its intended design parameters. However, I think the whole notion of the all-electric car and plug-in hybrids are flawed due to our current infrastructure.

As long as we burn fossil fuels to get the electricity, the electric car is just sweeping the fossil fuel/pollution problem under the rug by putting the "dirty" side of power consumption out of sight (back at the power plant). Also, there's no way our current power generation infrastructure could support even a fraction of the population switching to electric cars. California already has rolling blackouts - if people stopped burning gas and switched to electrics, the problem would get drastically worse.

I think electric cars are a dead end for the present...At least until our entire power grid makes large-scale switches to alternative energy, and there is no timeline for that currently. Also, there is currently no guarantee that practical fuel-cell systems will ever be truly affordable or mass-producable. The current offerings are all extremely expensive, proof-of-concept vehicles with short useful lives.

We'd be better off with diesels or diesel hybrids. People don't want to admit it, but those are currently our best options IMO.

I really wish I didn't sound so cynical, but that's the picture as I understand it.

Very valid points! My only point to add would be that BMW already makes diesel cars that use the company's EfficientDynamics technology to regenerate wasted energy. In the end, what might solve our energy crisis is the combination of alternative energy, frugality on the user end and trying to capture and re-use as much energy and energy-intensive (to make) products as possible. To me, there is no great difference between a hybrid and a BMW diesel that stops in stationary traffic. Of course, in city centres, using a purely electric drive helps to keep the air clean, which is something that diesel engines are not good at.


Well, they should research capacitors then, never wear out, and charge veeeeewy quick. Like EEstor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EEStor)



Very good point. And not without a bit of irony as Rudolf Diesel patented his engine in the U.S. (608,845), and we don't use it - though that's because of the Oil companies, not the car companies.

I agree we should use the diesel. After the apocalypse, you could make your own fuel from zombie bodies!

Used vegetable oil or quality diesel would be a start...

True on the economies of scale bit - although the batteries are always going to be pricey.

I keep hammering the same point here, but the Volt would see a quite significant fuel economy boost by switching to a diesel engine to charge the batteries and run the motors. Sort it out, US car companies...it's not like we don't sell diesel here.

I heard it that the reason why BMW stopped selling diesel cars in the US was that the engines failed, due to the very poor quality. In Europe, you can get quality fuel, but in the US, diesel is still the fuel of trucks, primarily.

Just one statistics: in continental Europe (not in the UK), new diesel cars have been outselling petrol ones for almost a decade, despite the premium.

That's the great thing about a platform like the Volt, or anything like it: you can easily change whatever gives the electricity. Gas not working right? The American public finally getting their asses out of their collective heads about diesel? Just get one the right size, and hook it up to the generator. It works for trains. Small fusion reactors finally a possibility? Bingo!

If GM hadn't ****ed up when they tried bringing diesel cars to the market, it wouldn't be anywhere near as bad. We still have some old M-B diesels kicking around, and probably a good bunch of them run on SVO by now.


Subaru still sells FWD cars, just not in the US or Europe.

You may easily change the source of electricity (actually, you cannot, it mainly comes from coal and oil in the US, I think), but so far, there is no decent technology available to solve the problem of storing electricity. Batteries suck and the Volt still uses ancient batteries that you would find in all sorts of consumer products. That is a car, running on laptop batteries (or AA's, if you prefer).

Why did you burst my bubble of Subarus awesomeness? :(

Don't forget the dealership markup. Some of the automotive blogs have people complaining that the dealerships are adding a $10k markup to the already expensive vehicle.

You shouldn't have any impression about Subarus. They really have the traction of a train (AWD ones, of course - why would you buy anything else?!), but everything else is just midrange quality at best.

I've had a 1998 Impreza estate several years ago and it was OK. Recently, I've had a 2007 Legacy Outback from work. Nice glass on the top and good traction, but I have no intention of trading a BMW or Mercedes for it the next time. The interior is low quality and Subaru has no understanding of fuel efficiency, it seems. OK, it's a 2.5L engine, automatic and AWD, but still... 25 imperial mpg?!

Lord Blackadder
Aug 3, 2010, 11:20 AM
While that part is true that we would burn more fuel at power planets one advantage you are forgetting about is the power planets are by far much more efficient at producing power than the internal combustion engine on your car. On top of that it is much easier to capture and clean the pollution the power planet produces over what the cars produce. On top of that we can easily most our power over to other renewable choices.

I agree with you that series hybrids gain efficiency by running the internal combustion engine at a narrow RPM range representing the engine's most efficient speed. It's been done for over a hundred years that way in generators and a series hybrid drivetrain is set up exactly the same way as a generator.

Power plants are usually more efficent per unit of energy than autos, but right now they do not have the capacity to support a big switch to electrics. Also, the notion that power plants are cleaner than cars is debatable - many are, but many are not all that clean.

The critical point is, our power grid needs to become FAR more robust (more, bigger power plants) before we can make a large-scale switch to electrics - and it will only be worthwhile if the power grid becomes significantly more efficient. It can be done, but it will take a long, long time - and probably have to involve a significant new construction program of nuclear power plants.


I heard it that the reason why BMW stopped selling diesel cars in the US was that the engines failed, due to the very poor quality. In Europe, you can get quality fuel, but in the US, diesel is still the fuel of trucks, primarily.

Just one statistics: in continental Europe (not in the UK), new diesel cars have been outselling petrol ones for almost a decade, despite the premium.

The US began transitioning to ultra-low sulphur diesel in 2006, and by now the transition is nearly complete. The new fuel standard brings us in line with European diesel. Before the credit crunch recession hit, many car manufacturers were planning to bring Eurpoean-market diesel cars over here in slightly modified form, but those plans were scuppered in the recession. Subaru, for example, has delayed the introduction of their diesel by a year or two.

But I think diesels will start arriving here in the next couple years, and people will buy them in increasing numbers. The USA is 40 years behind in the adoption of diesel passenger cars.

You shouldn't have any impression about Subarus. They really have the traction of a train (AWD ones, of course - why would you buy anything else?!), but everything else is just midrange quality at best.

I've had a 1998 Impreza estate several years ago and it was OK. Recently, I've had a 2007 Legacy Outback from work. Nice glass on the top and good traction, but I have no intention of trading a BMW or Mercedes for it the next time. The interior is low quality and Subaru has no understanding of fuel efficiency, it seems. OK, it's a 2.5L engine, automatic and AWD, but still... 25 imperial mpg?!

It's not really fair to compare a Subaru to a BMW or Merc though, is it? Those German luxury cars are much more expensive and the AWD variants are even more expensive still. A 5-series with AWD will cost 70%-80% more than a roughly equivalent Legacy. They are very different carsm with totally different customers in mind.

I have a 2000 Forester currently. Mechanically they are well-made cars, they have a strong AWD system and I like the ride quality over rough roads, which they handle much better than the Audis I've driven.

Their biggest weaknesses are only average fuel economy (by US standards; I get about 28 mpg combined), and average interior quality, especially in the Impreza and Foresters, though I have seen the latest models and they are much better. The 2.5L four is really a great engine in a lot of ways, but it's just not quite fuel efficient enough, and in my car that problem is exacerbated by the short-ratio gearbox, which is crying for a 6th gear.

Hybrids actually have an equal to worse carbon footprint than regular gasoline engine cars due to the production and disposal process of the batteries. As such, they are not green at all. They are just another one of these ****** feel good deals for hippies with no brains an engineering knowledge.

I disagree. Real hippies don't work and thus can't afford fancy hybrids.

Of the commercially available cars, a well designed diesel, able to operate on biodiesel from waste oil for example has by far the best carbon footprint or an ethanol burner that can work on ethanol fermented from plant waste via cellulose digesting bacteria.
I would prefer if we could get to the point where we either have cars running on ethanol generated from cellulose or keratin digestion or natural gas buring engines.
Unfortunately fuel cells are not that great either because of the palladium used in the batteries that is pretty toxic in production as well.
Cheers,

Ahmed

The problem with biodiesel is that it's far too scarce to adopt widely. Sure, it's great that Joe Hippie can run his 1979 Mercedes 300D wagon on fast food grease, but once everyone starts looking into biodiesel Joe Hippie won't be getting free oil handouts anymore.

Also, biodiesel demand has already started competing with food production and I can tell you right away I'd rather eat than drive.

You're right about fuel cell carbon footprints - but that's the least of their worries now because they still cost a fortune to make and have short useful lives, making them totally unpractical to sell.

So far the biggest problem is not getting internal combustion engines to burn alternative fuels (we've found many alternative fuels) but to produce enough alternative fuel and distribute it widely enough to replace petroleum - without interrupting things like food production or power generation.

Plutonius
Aug 3, 2010, 12:05 PM
We'd be better off with diesels or diesel hybrids. People don't want to admit it, but those are currently our best options IMO.

+1 ....

That will most likely be my next car.

paduck
Aug 3, 2010, 06:54 PM
It has a lot of standard features, and seems to be more on the premium targeted market vs. regular sedans.

Did the Preius start out on the expensive side as well?


Well, the Prius carries about a $5000 price premium compared with a comprable Toyota or Honda. But it sells for $24k without as big a tax credit (if any). So I'd have to say that the Prius Premium isn't close to that of the Volt. Plus, you can fit three car seats in a Prius. The Volt is a four-seater.

Rodimus Prime
Aug 3, 2010, 07:09 PM
I agree with you that series hybrids gain efficiency by running the internal combustion engine at a narrow RPM range representing the engine's most efficient speed. It's been done for over a hundred years that way in generators and a series hybrid drivetrain is set up exactly the same way as a generator.



One thing to remember about eletric cars is remember most people will be charging them at night during the off peak hours. There is a lot of spare capacity during that time so we can push a lot more plug in hybrids on to the grid than you think.

Personally I believe hybrids are what will be our bridge between our current mode of personal transportation to what ever our next one will be. They are not the final solution but what will connect the 2 things.

quagmire
Aug 3, 2010, 07:35 PM
Well, the Prius carries about a $5000 price premium compared with a comprable Toyota or Honda. But it sells for $24k without as big a tax credit (if any). So I'd have to say that the Prius Premium isn't close to that of the Volt. Plus, you can fit three car seats in a Prius. The Volt is a four-seater.

His point was what was the price of the Prius when it first came to the market? It wasn't at $24K, it was most likely higher. The Volt carries a lot of new technology like the Prius did when it came out. Also like the Prius, it will have a high price tag initially. The battery pack is said to cost $10,000 alone( and GM is still taking a loss on the vehicle).

Yes the Prius is now more affordable to the mainstream buyers, but when it came out it wasn't and it did carry tax credits( the Prius no longer qualifies).

Sun Baked
Aug 3, 2010, 07:36 PM
The Volt should sell for no more than $20,000. What a ripoff!!!!

It is going to sell for that much above MSRP, according to some dealers.

So expect to fork out 50-60k for a Volt the first 6-18 months.

It is the new New Beetle, Mini, Mercedes SLK, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Smart Car, etc. which all had some markups the first year.

quagmire
Aug 3, 2010, 07:39 PM
It is going to sell for that much above MSRP, according to some dealers.

So expect to fork out 50-60k for a Volt the first 6-18 months.

GM needs to smack those dealers in the head. This is part of the reason why I am for manufactures opening corporate dealerships.

Rodimus Prime
Aug 3, 2010, 08:18 PM
GM needs to smack those dealers in the head. This is part of the reason why I am for manufactures opening corporate dealerships.
Never going to happen car dealer have bribe our politcal leaders to the point that nothing will ever be passes against the
As it stands manufactures can not legally open and run there own dealership and the laws make it very difficult for a manufacture to remove an agreement to sell to one dealler ship

quagmire
Aug 3, 2010, 08:44 PM
Never going to happen car dealer have bribe our politcal leaders to the point that nothing will ever be passes against the
As it stands manufactures can not legally open and run there own dealership and the laws make it very difficult for a manufacture to remove an agreement to sell to one dealler ship

I know that and it sucks because all the blame for one bad dealer experience goes to the manufactures.

Dealerships have way too much power. You can thank them for the Pontiac G3 and G5.

Lord Blackadder
Aug 4, 2010, 12:59 AM
Dealerships have way too much power. You can thank them for the Pontiac G3 and G5.

How about no thanks. :eek:

Les Kern
Aug 4, 2010, 07:56 AM
This is why I do not see "electric cars" gaining mainstream popularity any time soon.


Because they don't want you to.
We should have had electric cars for short-haul 20 years ago.
It's all a big scam, and most Americans don't even know they are the chumps.

Lord Blackadder
Aug 4, 2010, 11:41 AM
We should have had electric cars for short-haul 20 years ago.

Practical electric cars have been manufactured and sold for over 100 years. However, petroluem fueled cars have always offered longer range, more power, and generally lower cost. For short-haul runabouts the electric car has been available as an alternative almost as long as the car itself has existed.

EDIT: The price-gouging on the Volt is highly unproductive. The point of the Volt is to build and sell a practical, affordable series hybrid - the MSRP is already very high, so the gouging just makes the car unattainably expensive.

Jaro65
Aug 6, 2010, 01:30 PM
True on the economies of scale bit - although the batteries are always going to be pricey.

I keep hammering the same point here, but the Volt would see a quite significant fuel economy boost by switching to a diesel engine to charge the batteries and run the motors. Sort it out, US car companies...it's not like we don't sell diesel here.

I find this situation so frustrating. When I went to Europe this summer, I felt like an idiot after trying to put a gasoline into my rental car. I didn't even know it was a diesel. The smell and clunking sounds that we used to associate with diesels are long gone with the modern diesel engines.

I'm looking to replace at least one of our cars (or maybe both) and I like Nissan Murano. Here in the US it only comes with a gasoline engine and gets about 19 mpg. In Europe it is also available with a diesel engine and gets 35 mpg.

Anyway, I would normally not consider purchasing a GM vehicle, but the Volt looks really good.

patrick0brien
Aug 6, 2010, 02:49 PM
I would normally not consider purchasing a GM vehicle, but the Volt looks really good.

The U.S. can build cars just as good as the best of the rest of the world, but only when we want to - which is a shame, because we historically haven't wanted to.

Jaro65
Aug 6, 2010, 03:19 PM
The U.S. can build cars just as good as the best of the rest of the world, but only when we want to - which is a shame, because we historically haven't wanted to.

I see some changes in the US auto industry now and would actually consider purchasing something from Ford. Let's just hope that this trend continues.

Melrose
Aug 6, 2010, 04:24 PM
If GM had listed the Volt for a good price they'd have a major hit on their hands. This way, it's just gonna die quietly, and then they'll complain about the world not being ready for hybrids. :rolleyes:

Lord Blackadder
Aug 6, 2010, 05:10 PM
If GM had listed the Volt for a good price they'd have a major hit on their hands. This way, it's just gonna die quietly, and then they'll complain about the world not being ready for hybrids. :rolleyes:

I doubt GM could have made the Volt much cheaper. Hybrids are as yet nowhere near as cheap as regular autos, and never will be, since they are inherently more complex. I hybrid requires between 1 and 4 electric motors plus the internal combustion engine. It requires both a fuel tank and a battery pack. It also requires a transmission that connects the electric motors to the wheels as well as the internal combustion engine (except in series hybrids of course). A regular ol' gas or diesel engined car needs only engine, transmission and fuel tank.

SactoGuy18
Aug 6, 2010, 11:21 PM
I think the Volt is a technological dead-end given the steep US$41,000 price and the fact your car is lugging around a big bank of batteries as deadweight.

As an aside, expect a lot more turbodiesel cars in the US market over the next few years. Reason: the new Euro 6 emissions standard coming into force starting in 2014. Since Euro 6 is very similar to the EPA Tier 2 Bin 5 emissions standard and many automotive manufacturers want to get their turbodiesel engines Euro 6-compliant as soon as possible, that means it will be soon very easy for European cars with turbodiesel engines to be 50-state certified for US sale. There are rumors that a new generation of Euro 6-compliant turbodiesels being developed at Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW will likely be offered in the USA as early as the 2012 calendar year.

Lord Blackadder
Aug 7, 2010, 12:31 PM
I think the Volt is a technological dead-end given the steep US$41,000 price and the fact your car is lugging around a big bank of batteries as deadweight.

<snip>

There are rumors that a new generation of Euro 6-compliant turbodiesels being developed at Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW will likely be offered in the USA as early as the 2012 calendar year.

I agree. People are so eager to move on to alternative energy sources they are trying to skip the intermediate step - which is to make all internal combustion engines as efficient as possible so out global petroleum use can be stretched as far as possible.

I'm excited about the large-scale introduction of diesel passenger cars into the US - by the time I'm ready to buy my next car I should be able to choose from new diesels by VW, Volvo, Merc, BMW, Alfa Romeo, possibly Fiat, and the usual Japanese suspects. The Big Three will hopefully follow along with this as well.

Europe was forced to explore the benefits of diesel cars 40-50 years ago. The USA is only now beginning to face the same stark reality that fuel is scarce, expensive, and getting more expensive by the day.

quagmire
Aug 7, 2010, 02:29 PM
I am personally hoping for a diesel Volt one day as well. Diesel engines are far better suited then gas engines when it comes to a series hybrid like the Volt.

Counterfit
Aug 7, 2010, 09:44 PM
I think the Volt is a technological dead-end given the steep US$41,000 price
What does the price have to do with the future of technology? I've already mentioned how you can fairly simply replace the gasoline engine with some other power source.
and the fact your car is lugging around a big bank of batteries as deadweight.

The batteries are no more dead weight than a tank of gasoline.

Lord Blackadder
Aug 7, 2010, 11:43 PM
The batteries are no more dead weight than a tank of gasoline.

Arguably true - but that illustrates a big weakness of the hybrid design...they are always going to take a weight penalty over a pure diesel or pure electric car.

Until we come up with a way to make batteries a lot lighter, more efficient and more green, they are going to force engineers to make big compromises.

Rodimus Prime
Aug 7, 2010, 11:57 PM
Arguably true - but that illustrates a big weakness of the hybrid design...they are always going to take a weight penalty over a pure diesel or pure electric car.

Until we come up with a way to make batteries a lot lighter, more efficient and more green, they are going to force engineers to make big compromises.

but at the same time they carry the advantages of both which normally counter acts the extra weight. For example at low speeds electric is great and better than combustion engine. On the flip side combustion engines are better for maintain speed over long distance.
Basicly with the hybrid design you can get 40+ mpg in either city or hwy.

Counterfit
Aug 8, 2010, 12:03 AM
You can't fill up your tank by engine braking in an internal combustion motor. ;) :(

Lord Blackadder
Aug 8, 2010, 12:20 AM
You can't charge your batteries that way either, at least nowhere near full. ;)

Regenerative braking is a small supplement at best. Yes, every bit helps, but currently the best diesel cars meet or exceed hybrid fuel economy and their carbon footprint is arguably no worse.

My opinion is that parallel hybrids are a technological dead end in the long term. Series hybrids might be part of the long term plan for stretching our fossil fuels but even those are not a -solution- to the problem. The solution is going to be either (in order of probability) biodiesel, hydrogen-powered cars or full electrics backed by a totally renewable power generation infrastructure.

Rodimus Prime
Aug 8, 2010, 12:26 AM
You can't charge your batteries that way either, at least nowhere near full. ;)

Regenerative braking is a small supplement at best. Yes, every bit helps, but currently the best diesel cars meet or exceed hybrid fuel economy and their carbon footprint is arguably no worse.

My opinion is that parallel hybrids are a technological dead end in the long term. Series hybrids might be part of the long term plan for stretching our fossil fuels but even those are not a -solution- to the problem. The solution is going to be either (in order of probability) biodiesel, hydrogen-powered cars or full electrics backed by a totally renewable power generation infrastructure.]
I would argue that hybrids are a long term solution.More so plug in hybrids I think are a longer term solution. It allows people to charge for their daily stuff at home. Then for longer trips you have an on board generator of some type to continue to charge the batteries.

So if that best diseal was a hybrid it would have even a longer range and better gas mileage.

Lord Blackadder
Aug 8, 2010, 01:25 AM
]
I would argue that hybrids are a long term solution.More so plug in hybrids I think are a longer term solution. It allows people to charge for their daily stuff at home. Then for longer trips you have an on board generator of some type to continue to charge the batteries.

So if that best diseal was a hybrid it would have even a longer range and better gas mileage.

Plug-in hybrids put additional strain on the power grid, a strain it cannot currently handle on a large scale. So plugin electrics are not ready for large-scale adoption yet. If electric cars are to be the future, our power grid needs to be made much, much higher capacity AND a lot greener.

Lifestyle choices are always going to trump technology in terms of impact on the environment and saving fuel. If everyone made it a point to buy a more efficient car the next time they buy a vehicle, the impact would be truly staggering. If everyone bought a 10% more efficient car, the fuel savings would add up fast.

We can't rely on technology to pick up the slack and protect us from our own destructive lifestyles. We need to be proactive and make changes, even sacrifices. I admit I still love my sportscars, but they are the least of our worries - it's all the big SUV daily drivers and trucks that are killing us.

Rodimus Prime
Aug 8, 2010, 10:03 AM
Plug-in hybrids put additional strain on the power grid, a strain it cannot currently handle on a large scale. So plugin electrics are not ready for large-scale adoption yet. If electric cars are to be the future, our power grid needs to be made much, much higher capacity AND a lot greener.

Lifestyle choices are always going to trump technology in terms of impact on the environment and saving fuel. If everyone made it a point to buy a more efficient car the next time they buy a vehicle, the impact would be truly staggering. If everyone bought a 10% more efficient car, the fuel savings would add up fast.

We can't rely on technology to pick up the slack and protect us from our own destructive lifestyles. We need to be proactive and make changes, even sacrifices. I admit I still love my sportscars, but they are the least of our worries - it's all the big SUV daily drivers and trucks that are killing us.

The problem with the US is out transportation system was never laid out for a good mass transit. We have massive urban sprawl and no real way solve that problem. Add in the fact that rail systems were never designed into the system so retrofitting them is will be very costly and very difficult to do.

As for the mass eletric cars I think you pass over my point about how most of them will be charged at night during off peak hours which means for the most part the grid can take a a huge number of them before we will start having a real issue.

We need something to replace the use of gas. Hybrids I will say are a great thing to bridge between our combustion engine and what ever is next. Things like the volt I think are the best examples of the bridge because we just need to replace the power generator and that is fairly easy to do compared to having to figure out some other type of engine to move the car. We have electric motors that we can advance for moving.

Reducing our usage of fuel I would argue is a dead end tech. All it will do is delay the problem but not solve it. Hybrids bridge us to the solution.

Lord Blackadder
Aug 8, 2010, 12:43 PM
The problem with the US is out transportation system was never laid out for a good mass transit. We have massive urban sprawl and no real way solve that problem. Add in the fact that rail systems were never designed into the system so retrofitting them is will be very costly and very difficult to do.

We have plenty of rail, and we are building more. The problem is that people don't ride it. Just as we have plenty of fuel efficient cars, and more are coming to market - but people are still buying SUVs. We [rightly] blame oil companies for being grasping and short-sighted. But consumers also bear much of the blame.

As for the mass eletric cars I think you pass over my point about how most of them will be charged at night during off peak hours which means for the most part the grid can take a a huge number of them before we will start having a real issue.

It still would not even begin to handle the strain generated by millions of new electric cars suddenly appearing in driveways across America. Large-scale adoption of electric cars would just make coal and oil get burned faster by power companies. Yes, power plants are more efficient than most cars in producing energy. But we are still burning fossil fuels and polluting. Also, has anyone done a study to compare the true efficiency of the best full electrics vs an efficient, equivalent diesel or gas car? For example, given an identical amount of oil, which vehicle uses it more efficiently? A diesel hatchback or an electric that gets it's juice from a power plant burning oil? I'd be curious to see the results. I'm not trying to sound skeptical - I just don't know what the comparison would reveal.

We need something to replace the use of gas. Hybrids I will say are a great thing to bridge between our combustion engine and what ever is next. Things like the volt I think are the best examples of the bridge because we just need to replace the power generator and that is fairly easy to do compared to having to figure out some other type of engine to move the car. We have electric motors that we can advance for moving.

GM's European arm Opel created a concept diesel series hybrid, the stupidly named Flextreme (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opel_Flextreme), which promises dramatically improved fuel economy over the Volt. I just feel like any series hybrid that uses a gasoline engine is a foolishly crippled piece of technology when appropriate diesels are available and would deliver far superior fuel economy.

Reducing our usage of fuel I would argue is a dead end tech. All it will do is delay the problem but not solve it. Hybrids bridge us to the solution.

Reducing our fuel consumption is not a solution, but it is the first crucial step in bridging the gap between fossil fuels and whatever alternative we develop. We need time to transition, and if everyone practices conservation we buy more time to transition.

As yet, no hybrids on the market outperform straight diesel engined cars consistently, so the hybrid concept is still very much in its infancy. I have yet to be convinced, especially with the cost and [lack of efficiency] of the battery packs. They may ultimately meet expectations, but they haven't yet.

Rodimus Prime
Aug 8, 2010, 12:52 PM
As yet, no hybrids on the market outperform straight diesel engined cars consistently, so the hybrid concept is still very much in its infancy. I have yet to be convinced, especially with the cost and [lack of efficiency] of the battery packs. They may ultimately meet expectations, but they haven't yet.

You forgot something. You are comparing diesel to unleaded even in hybrid form. You need to compare the generators (unlead to unlead). Now image if those very high gas mileage diesel running as a hybrid.
The problem with battery right now is we are still working on a break threw. When we finally get a true break threw in battery technology I can see things really taking off.
Batteries are very efficient at story power. problem is they are a little on the heavy side but we are getting better at it.

As for the mass rail system. You might be thinking of the east coast. Trying coming to some city west of the Mississippi and you will see how little rail they have and we just do not have any good way to put a rail system in. It is very costly to retrofit those system in and it is a very slow process. Slowly it is happening but really the system that was designed in the past was based around people driving their own personal cars around. That was 40+ years ago that was put in so now it is harder to do put it in now.

TZRaceR6
Aug 8, 2010, 01:47 PM
Electric cars (that are able to fully charge in under 20 minutes) subsidized by a solar panel roof is the future. Don't think a 300 mile range would be out of the question (within a few years) and would def work even in large countries like the U.S.

If you look here, they are talking 5 minutes for 70% charge of the car, even though it is currently only a short range vehicle.
Link: http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/07/05/new-quick-charger-for-electric-cars-is-really-quick/

Lord Blackadder
Aug 8, 2010, 02:40 PM
You forgot something. You are comparing diesel to unleaded even in hybrid form. You need to compare the generators (unlead to unlead). Now image if those very high gas mileage diesel running as a hybrid.
The problem with battery right now is we are still working on a break threw. When we finally get a true break threw in battery technology I can see things really taking off.
Batteries are very efficient at story power. problem is they are a little on the heavy side but we are getting better at it.

Modern diesel hatchbacks like the Golf TDI (Euro engines, not the US-spec) can exceed 50-60mpg (http://www.volkswagen.co.uk/new/golf-vi/which-model/engines/fuel-consumption). The Volt is harder to measure because it's a plugin, so some power comes from the grid. GM's own webiste is rather mealymouthed about fuel economy. At one point they claimed over 200mpg (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Volt), but that included a full batery charge from the grid. Using only its onboard generator it gets about 50mpg (http://www.greencarreports.com/blog/1044209_now-we-know-2011-chevrolet-volt-will-get-50-mpg-in-gas-mode). So all the extra tech essentially fails to improve on a diesel. The plugin feature may actually make the car less green/efficient if you get the juice from a dirty or inefficient power plant.

I'd really like to agree with you, believe me. But the reason I'm skeptical is that we have no proof that a battery "breakthrough" is really on the horizon. I read somewhere that the overall efficiency of an electric car is currently only about 5-7% greater than a gasoline-powered car (EDIT here (http://auto.howstuffworks.com/fuel-efficiency/alternative-fuels/fuel-cell4.htm) is a link for those numbers, but admittedly not a very good one). The energy efficiency of batteries is reasonably good, but they are still too big and heavy, as well as being expensive and dirty to manufacture. And again, electric cars are only as good as the powerplant they get power from, and that is where the biggest efficiency loss comes into play.

As for the mass rail system. You might be thinking of the east coast. Trying coming to some city west of the Mississippi and you will see how little rail they have and we just do not have any good way to put a rail system in. It is very costly to retrofit those system in and it is a very slow process. Slowly it is happening but really the system that was designed in the past was based around people driving their own personal cars around. That was 40+ years ago that was put in so now it is harder to do put it in now.

It's less logistics than politics, sadly. And you are right, it's not cheap. But we have to do it eventually. Moving to dependence on our interstates and letting passenger rail services atrophy was a mistake, and now we will be forced to fall back on our rail networks more.

Electric cars (that are able to fully charge in under 20 minutes) subsidized by a solar panel roof is the future. Don't think a 300 mile range would be out of the question (within a few years) and would def work even in large countries like the U.S.

If you look here, they are talking 5 minutes for 70% charge of the car, even though it is currently only a short range vehicle.
Link: http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/07/05/new-quick-charger-for-electric-cars-is-really-quick/

Two issues with that: First, solar panels are neither practical in most states, nor to they really have the lifespan to do more than break-even interms of paying for the,mselves.

Second, that juice still has to come from the power plants, with all the attendant downsides.


I really don't want to sound like a naysayer, but "going green" has become so fashionable that I think people are ignoring the engineering realities. We want whizz-bang electrics and hybrids when a simple diesel would be much easier to get on the market literally today and dramatically decrease our national fuel consumption (and dependence on oil imports) while we work to perfect the next step in alternative fuel vehicles. One step at a time, people!

Why are we letting Congress and the EPA block sales of diesels here that could be used in everyday cars in addition to series hybrids?

Jaro65
Aug 9, 2010, 04:35 PM
I really don't want to sound like a naysayer, but "going green" has become so fashionable that I think people are ignoring the engineering realities. We want whizz-bang electrics and hybrids when a simple diesel would be much easier to get on the market literally today and dramatically decrease our national fuel consumption (and dependence on oil imports) while we work to perfect the next step in alternative fuel vehicles. One step at a time, people!

Why are we letting Congress and the EPA block sales of diesels here that could be used in everyday cars in addition to series hybrids?

I completely agree with your position that we should have access to the efficient and modern diesels in this country. It is so frustrating that we don't have a broad access to this technology and I very much look forward to a change in this area. So yes, that would be a great first step.

At the same time, we should consider the fact that a combustion engine is nowhere near as efficient as an electric motor. Hopefully we will be soon be able to drive cars with diesel engines, while also continuing to improve the parallel hybrid designs.

dmr727
Aug 9, 2010, 05:33 PM
I completely agree with your position that we should have access to the efficient and modern diesels in this country.

I hear this comment all the time. I was in Europe a few months back, and diesels were all over the place too. I don't know squat about the automotive industry, but given what you guys are saying about diesel's efficiency and so on - it seems to me that offering a modern diesel would be a slam dunk for an automaker in the States.

So it begs the questions - why isn't it happening?

oldMac
Aug 9, 2010, 05:38 PM
Modern diesel hatchbacks like the Golf TDI (Euro engines, not the US-spec) can exceed 50-60mpg (http://www.volkswagen.co.uk/new/golf-vi/which-model/engines/fuel-consumption). The Volt is harder to measure because it's a plugin, so some power comes from the grid. GM's own webiste is rather mealymouthed about fuel economy. At one point they claimed over 200mpg (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Volt), but that included a full batery charge from the grid. Using only its onboard generator it gets about 50mpg (http://www.greencarreports.com/blog/1044209_now-we-know-2011-chevrolet-volt-will-get-50-mpg-in-gas-mode). So all the extra tech essentially fails to improve on a diesel.

Couple points...

1) The problem with MPG on something like the volt is that it doesn't make any sense to measure it this way
- MPG is simply the wrong standard to use when you're talking about what is primarily an electric car
- Regarding it "only getting 50mpg", I don't believe that's been settled, but if true, then that's still 8MPG than the best highway mileage VW is able to currently offer in the US

2) Diesels don't get 50-60mpg in the US for two reasons

a) The MPG numbers for a Euro engine are measured in imperial gallons, which are 20% bigger than US gallons and thus inflate the MPG by 20%. Furthermore, these MPG standards are measured using completely different testing methods between the US and Europe, so you can't directly compare them.

b) None of those super-fuel-efficient Euro engines have been able to pass US emissions laws yet.

Would I drop 41K on one (or 33K after rebates)?

Probably not, but I'm sure they'll sell every one that they can make and I'm sure that price will come down over time.

Lord Blackadder
Aug 9, 2010, 06:39 PM
Couple points...

1) The problem with MPG on something like the volt is that it doesn't make any sense to measure it this way
- MPG is simply the wrong standard to use when you're talking about what is primarily an electric car
- Regarding it "only getting 50mpg", I don't believe that's been settled, but if true, then that's still 8MPG than the best highway mileage VW is able to currently offer in the US

It is true that measuring the Volt's efficiency is problematic if you are trying to speak in terms of "mpg". However, we can't simply ignore where the extra electricity is coming from - especially when that electricity was probably produced by burning coal or oil.

And that's what's so sinister about the electrics. Because it is hard to track just how efficient (or inefficient) the electricity from the grid is (created from fossil fuels, suffering from parasitic loss through the lines and then being stored in a battery before being used), people tend to ignore that whole side of the equation. But it is just as important.

In terms of using its onboard generator, the Volt is very efficient. But most people that use one will probably drive it as an electric most of the time, so the efficiency of the power coming off the grid becomes the primary concern. And figuring that out is much harder than looking at mpg numbers. How many pounds of coal/gallons of oil are burned at the power plant to get your Volt a mile down the road (I assume it works out to be fairly efficent, but I don't know any numbers)? More importantly, would a proliferation in plug-ins result in regular rolling blackouts because power plants can't keep up with rising demand?

2) Diesels don't get 50-60mpg in the US for two reasons

a) The MPG numbers for a Euro engine are measured in imperial gallons, which are 20% bigger than US gallons and thus inflate the MPG by 20%. Furthermore, these MPG standards are measured using completely different testing methods between the US and Europe, so you can't directly compare them.

b) None of those super-fuel-efficient Euro engines have been able to pass US emissions laws yet.

Would I drop 41K on one (or 33K after rebates)?

Probably not, but I'm sure they'll sell every one that they can make and I'm sure that price will come down over time.

Imperial gallons are easily converted on Google, I was accounting for that. The biggest thing Americans have trouble with is adjusting to smaller cars. The cars we drive are, on average, unneccesarily big - and anyone who says otherwise is thought to be a Communist. If you want better mielage, drive a smaller car. 90% of truck and SUV owners use their vehicles to their full capacity a tiny percentage of the time. Most of them could do with a much smaller vehicle. Lifestyle changes (buying a smaller car, driving less) are the only way to really reduce fuel consumption on a national or global scale in the near to medium future. We can't wait for technology alone to pick up the slack.

The emissions legislation differences are a farce. The US, EU and Japan should standardize a set of emissions & safety legislation so that any car made in those countries could be exported to any of the others. There's no good reason not to - but a lot of stupid political reasons why it will never happen.

oldMac
Aug 10, 2010, 08:35 AM
And that's what's so sinister about the electrics. Because it is hard to track just how efficient (or inefficient) the electricity from the grid is... people tend to ignore that whole side of the equation. But it is just as important.


There's nothing really sinister about it. It's just harder to measure and to this point, there's been no point in trying to measure it in comparison to cars.

Most people do ignore it to a large extent, because they say "heck, if it costs me $1 to go 40 miles on electric vs. $2.85 to go 40 miles on gasoline, then that *must* be more efficient in some way". And they are probably right. Economics do tend to line up with efficiency (or government policy).

I think it's great that European car manufacturers have invested heavily in finding ways to make more fuel efficient cars. And they have their governments to thank for that by making sure that diesel is given a tax advantage vs. gasoline. About 15 years ago, Europe recognized the potential for efficiency in diesels to ultimately outweigh the environmental downside. It was a short-term risk that paid off and now that they have shifted the balance, Europe is tightening their diesel emissions standards to match the US. Once that happens, I'm sure there will a huge market for TDIs in the US and we'll have a nice competitive landscape for driving-up fuel efficiency with diesels vs. gasoline hybrids vs. extended range electrics.

Whether or not it's "greener" depends upon your definition of green. If you're worried about smog and air quality, then you might make different decisions than if you are worried about carbon dioxide and global warming. Those decisions may also be driven by where you live and where the electricity comes from.

A lot of people in the US (and I assume around the world) are also concerned about energy independence. For those people, using coal to power an electric car is more attractive than using foreign diesel. Any cleaner? Probably not, but probably not much dirtier and certainly cheaper. Our government realizes that we can always make power plants cleaner in the future through regulation, just as Europe realized they could make diesels cleaner in the future through regulation. Steven Chu is no dummy.

so the efficiency of the power coming off the grid becomes the primary concern. And figuring that out is much harder than looking at mpg numbers.


Which is why we will need new metrics that actually make sense for comparing gasoline to pure electric, perhaps localized to account for the source of power in your area. For example, when I lived in Chicago, the electric was 90% nuclear. It's doesn't get any cleaner than that from an air quality / greenhouse gas standpoint. However, if you're on the east coast, it's probably closer to 60% coal.


How many pounds of coal/gallons of oil are burned at the power plant to get your Volt a mile down the road (I assume it works out to be fairly efficent, but I don't know any numbers)?


I think you're smart enough to know that it's more efficient, but you're not willing to cede that for the sake of your argument, but I encourage you to embrace the idea that we should have extended range electrics *and* clean diesels *and* gasoline hybrids. There's more than one way to skin a cat.


More importantly, would a proliferation in plug-ins result in regular rolling blackouts because power plants can't keep up with rising demand?

I've seen that propaganda FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) before. It doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Let's consider that the power grid can handle every household running an air conditioner on a hot summer day. That's approximately 2000-3500 watts per household per hour during daytime peak load (on top of everything else on the grid.) Now let's consider that a Volt (or equivalent) has a 16kw battery that charges in 8 hours. That's 200 watts per hour, starting in the evening, or the equivalent of (4) 50 watt light bulbs. This is not exactly grid-overwhelming load.

The biggest thing Americans have trouble with is adjusting to smaller cars. The cars we drive are, on average, unneccesarily big - and anyone who says otherwise is thought to be a Communist.

Or, some would argue that the biggest thing that Americans have trouble with are a few people telling them what the majority should or shouldn't do - which is, as it seems, the definition of "Communism", but I wouldn't go so far as to say that. :)

Most people do indeed realize that they can get better mileage with a smaller car and could "get by" with a much smaller vehicle. They choose not to and that is their prerogative. If the majority wants to vote for representatives who will make laws that increase fuel mileage standards, which in turn require automakers to sell more small cars - or find ways to make them more efficient - that is also their prerogative. (And, in case you haven't noticed, in the last major US election, voters did indeed vote for a party that is increasing CAFE standards.)


Lifestyle changes (buying a smaller car, driving less) are the only way to really reduce fuel consumption on a national or global scale in the near to medium future. We can't wait for technology alone to pick up the slack.


And if it's important to you, you should do your part and ride a bike to work or buy a TDI, or lobby your congressman for reduced emissions requirements, or stand up on a soap box and preach about the advantages of advanced clean diesel technology. All good stuff.

thejadedmonkey
Aug 10, 2010, 08:54 AM
I wonder if all of you people who are proposing a diesel/diesel hybrid are Europeans, because in America, diesel is looked at as smelly and messy - it's what the trucks with black smoke use.

Furthermore, George Bush, arguably in the pockets of the oil co.'s, said "America is addicted to oil", and then went on to say how we should get rid of oil use. Not switch to more efficient fuels like diesel, but other tech. I'm sorry, but I just don't see America ever becoming a diesel nation again.

As far as the Chevy Volt goes, I just don't like the name... but the price is right assuming they can get it into the high $20,000's rather quickly.

Lord Blackadder
Aug 10, 2010, 01:10 PM
There's nothing really sinister about it. It's just harder to measure and to this point, there's been no point in trying to measure it in comparison to cars.

I understand that they have to be measured differently, but doesn't it make sense that they be compared apples-to-apples (if possible) to the vehicles they are intended to replace?

Most people do ignore it to a large extent, because they say "heck, if it costs me $1 to go 40 miles on electric vs. $2.85 to go 40 miles on gasoline, then that *must* be more efficient in some way". And they are probably right. Economics do tend to line up with efficiency (or government policy).

That is true, but as you pointed out later "green", "efficient", "alternative[to oil imports]" are not all the same thing. Perhaps they are more green but less efficient, or less efficient but more green. Just being more efficient in terms of bang for buck is not necessarily also good from an environmental or alternative energy standpoint. But you are right that the end cost per mile is going to weigh heavily when it comes to consumer acceptance of new types of autos.

I think it's great that European car manufacturers have invested heavily in finding ways to make more fuel efficient cars. And they have their governments to thank for that by making sure that diesel is given a tax advantage vs. gasoline. About 15 years ago, Europe recognized the potential for efficiency in diesels to ultimately outweigh the environmental downside. It was a short-term risk that paid off and now that they have shifted the balance, Europe is tightening their diesel emissions standards to match the US. Once that happens, I'm sure there will a huge market for TDIs in the US and we'll have a nice competitive landscape for driving-up fuel efficiency with diesels vs. gasoline hybrids vs. extended range electrics.

I would argue that Europe's switch to diesels did not involve quite the environmental tradeoff you imply - in the 70s we in the US were driving cars with huge gasoline engines, and to this day diesel regulation for trucks in this country is pretty minimal. Our emissions were probably world-leading then - partially due to the fact that we had the most cars on the roads by far. The problem lies (in my heavily biased opinion) in ignorance. People see smoke coming off diesel exhausts and assume they are dirtier than gasoline engines. But particulate pollution is not necessarily worse, just different. People are not educated about the differerence between gasoline engine pollution and diesel engine pollution. Not to mention the fact that diesel engines don't puff black smoke like they did in the 70s. I'm not arguing that diesels are necessarily cleaner, but they are arguably no worse than gasoline engines and are certainly more efficient.

Whether or not it's "greener" depends upon your definition of green. If you're worried about smog and air quality, then you might make different decisions than if you are worried about carbon dioxide and global warming. Those decisions may also be driven by where you live and where the electricity comes from.

A lot of people in the US (and I assume around the world) are also concerned about energy independence. For those people, using coal to power an electric car is more attractive than using foreign diesel. Any cleaner? Probably not, but probably not much dirtier and certainly cheaper. Our government realizes that we can always make power plants cleaner in the future through regulation, just as Europe realized they could make diesels cleaner in the future through regulation. Steven Chu is no dummy.

It's a fair point. Given the choice, I would prioritize moving to domestic fuel sources in the short term over a massive "go green" (over all alse) campaign.

Which is why we will need new metrics that actually make sense for comparing gasoline to pure electric, perhaps localized to account for the source of power in your area. For example, when I lived in Chicago, the electric was 90% nuclear. It's doesn't get any cleaner than that from an air quality / greenhouse gas standpoint. However, if you're on the east coast, it's probably closer to 60% coal.

I agree completely. The transition needs to be made as transparent as possible. People need to know the source, efficiency and cleanliness of their power source so that they can make informed choices.

I think you're smart enough to know that it's more efficient, but you're not willing to cede that for the sake of your argument, but I encourage you to embrace the idea that we should have extended range electrics *and* clean diesels *and* gasoline hybrids. There's more than one way to skin a cat.

I'm not trying to sound stubborn, I simply have not come accross the numbers anywhere. I don't get paid to do this research, ya know. I do it while hiding from the boss. ;)

I've seen that propaganda FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) before. It doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Let's consider that the power grid can handle every household running an air conditioner on a hot summer day. That's approximately 2000-3500 watts per household per hour during daytime peak load (on top of everything else on the grid.) Now let's consider that a Volt (or equivalent) has a 16kw battery that charges in 8 hours. That's 200 watts per hour, starting in the evening, or the equivalent of (4) 50 watt light bulbs. This is not exactly grid-overwhelming load.

I'm no math whiz (or electrician), but wouldn't 200 watts/hr * 8 hours = 1.6kw, rather than 16kw? I thought you'd need 2kw/hr * 8hrs to charge a 16kw battery.

It's not that I don't think people have looked into this stuff, it's just that I myself have no information on just how much energy the Volt uses and how much the grid can provide. In the short term, plugin hybrids are few in number and I don't see it being an issue. But it's something we need to work out in the medium/long term.

Or, some would argue that the biggest thing that Americans have trouble with are a few people telling them what the majority should or shouldn't do - which is, as it seems, the definition of "Communism", but I wouldn't go so far as to say that. :)

Communism means nothing in this country, because we've been so brainwashed by Cold War/right-wing rhetoric that, like "freedom", the term has been stolen for propaganda purposes until the original meanings have become lost in a massive sea of BS. I was using it for it's hyperbole value. :D

Most people do indeed realize that they can get better mileage with a smaller car and could "get by" with a much smaller vehicle. They choose not to and that is their prerogative. If the majority wants to vote for representatives who will make laws that increase fuel mileage standards, which in turn require automakers to sell more small cars - or find ways to make them more efficient - that is also their prerogative. (And, in case you haven't noticed, in the last major US election, voters did indeed vote for a party that is increasing CAFE standards.)

Well, that's the nature of democracy. But it's not so much a question of the fact that people realize a smaller car is more efficient, but a question of whether people really care about efficiency. I have recently lived in Nevada and Alaska, two states whose residents are addicted to burning fuel. Seemingly everyone has a pickup, RV and four-wheelers. Burning fuel is not just part of the daily transportation routine - it's a lifestyle.

CAFE standardsAnd if it's important to you, you should do your part and ride a bike to work or buy a TDI, or lobby your congressman for reduced emissions requirements, or stand up on a soap box and preach about the advantages of advanced clean diesel technology. All good stuff.

I walk to work. I used to commute 34 miles a day (total), and while I never minded it, I felt pretty liberated being able to ditch the car for my daily commute. Four years of walking and I don't want to go back. I love cars and motorsport, and I don't consider myself an environmentalist, but I got to the point where I realized that I was driving a lot more than necessary. That realization came when I moved out of a suburb (where you have to drive to get anywhere) and into first a small town and then a biggish city. In both cases it became possible to walk almost everywhere I needed to go. A tank of fuel lasted over a month (or longer) rather than a week from my highway-commuting days. And I lost weight as I hauled by fat backside around on foot. ;)

I won't be in the market for another car for a few years, and my current car (a Subaru) is not very fuel efficient - but then again it has literally not been driven more than half a dozen times in the last six months. When the time comes to replace it I'll be looking for something affordable (ruling out the Volt) but efficiency will be high on the priority list, followed by green-ness.

I wonder if all of you people who are proposing a diesel/diesel hybrid are Europeans, because in America, diesel is looked at as smelly and messy - it's what the trucks with black smoke use.

<snip>

As far as the Chevy Volt goes, I just don't like the name... but the price is right assuming they can get it into the high $20,000's rather quickly.

I'm an American, and yes I've seen the trucks with black smoke. We just need to discard that preconception. This isn't 1973 anymore. We also need to tighten up emissions regualtion on trucks.

The Volt is a practical car by all acoioutns, but it costs way too much. The battery is the primary contributing factor, I've heard that it costs somewhere between $8-15k by itself. Hopefully after GM has been producing such batteries for a few years the cost will drop substantially.

TZRaceR6
Aug 10, 2010, 01:17 PM
Any one that proposes using diesel or gas because of the impact it "might" have on our national grid (which by the way depends on where you live, i.e. Nuclear power plants for California, renewable hydro-electric for Las Vegas, etc...) pales in comparison to incidents like... oh say... the GULF OIL SPILL!!! What did that cost so far? Tens of billions. Not to mention the amount of lives it has ruined! Wonder how many electric cars could have been made and powered over the course of a year on that bill?

Internal combustion engines should have died off over 50 years ago.

Lord Blackadder
Aug 10, 2010, 01:41 PM
Any one that proposes using diesel or gas because of the impact it "might" have on our national grid (which by the way depends on where you live, i.e. Nuclear power plants for California, renewable hydro-electric for Las Vegas, etc...) pales in comparison to incidents like... oh say... the GULF OIL SPILL!!! What did that cost so far? Tens of billions. Not to mention the amount of lives it has ruined! Wonder how many electric cars could have been made and powered over the course of a year on that bill?

I only propose using diesel or gasoline engine until they can be replaced or heavily augmented - and more particularly, I was advocating more efficent diesel cars because the fact is we are stuck with internal combustion cars for the near/medium-term. Some people seem eager to ignore the internal combustion engine entirely and jump straight to electrics, when in the meantime we could be drastically reducing fuel consumption. In reality we need to do both.

There is nothing renewable about Las Vegas, lol. ;)

Internal combustion engines should have died off over 50 years ago.

What would power container ships then? Or military vehicles used in the field? Or generators used in remote locations or as backups for hospitals? No, I think internal combustion engines will be with us forever, because they are very useful in many areas.