Who Temporarily Suspended the Electric Car?

More trouble for the Chevy Volt:

General Motors has temporarily suspended production of its Volt electric car, the company announced Friday.

GM, which is based in Detroit, announced to employees at one of its facilities that it was halting production of the beleaguered electric car for five weeks and temporarily laying off 1,300 employees.

A GM spokesman told The Hill Friday production of the Volt would resume on April 23.

I’m not sure why the makers of these beleaguered electric cars can’t follow the model of the Toyota Prius. Make affordable hybrids until battery technology becomes durable enough and cheap enough for average consumers. I’ve owned four Priuses — yes, four — and I will probably buy another one when the economy improves (I don’t own any right now, but that’s a long story). They were the greatest cars I’ve ever owned and driven. Note to Chevy, Nissan and Tesla: copy that.

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  • agrazingmoose

    Tesla, yum… I wish I could afford one.

  • mikecz

    Quick mental exercise on why gas prices are so high…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8WReKlUFP4&feature=youtu.be

  • sandinbrick

    Such a shame, a real letdown first for the employees and the need for the advancement of electric cars. I know I can’t buy them, but future generations will. We must get off heavy gas guzzling cars, IMO

  • muselet

    The Volt is a hybrid. It’s a plug-in hybrid, which means it pushes the technical envelope (that’s why it’s so pricey), but it’s a hybrid.

    I give GM credit for not building a me-too pseudo-Prius. Same with Nissan for gambling on the (pricey, envelope-pushing) electric Leaf. Same with Tesla for gambling on (ditto, ditto) electric sports and luxury cars. Gutsy moves should be applauded.

    –alopecia

    • ffakr

      The volt is sort of a hybrid.
      It’s mainly an EV with a gasoline generator on board (if you need it).
      Apparently the gas motor can assist the drivetrain, something I didn’t think was the case until I saw something to that effect on the GM site this evening, but this is rare. I’m still not convinced I didn’t misunderstand the GM site though.

      A hybrid is actually a combination of a gas driven drivetrain and an electric drivetrain (power to the wheels). The gas engine can turn off, but the electric drivetrain is primarily an assist to the internal combustion engine while the Volt is designed so the internal combustion engine is an assist for the electric drivetrain.

      It’s an important distinction, and the reason why the Volt gets twice the gas mileage over a the full range compared to a hybrid Prius. The plugin hybrid Prius is much closer to the Volt though.

      • muselet

        Oh boy oh boy oh boy! I get to prove I can be a car bore! I’m so excited!

        This is being written mostly from hazy memory with assists from a couple of Google searches, so some of the details might be slightly wrong, but I think I have the basics right.

        The E-Flex driveline was originally conceived as an electric drive system with a small internal combustion engine to act solely as a generator to top up the battery pack as needed. The engine (a petrol Ecotec was used in the prototypes and show cars, although diesel was envisioned for European production cars) was not connected to the driveline at all.

        For whatever reason, probably a combination of commercial and technical concerns, the E-Flex system was reimagined as a plug-in hybrid (and renamed Voltec, which sounds unfortunately like a supervillain), with the IC engine helping power the driven wheels as needed as well as recharging the battery pack; this is the driveline in the production Volt.

        Conceptually, the Voltec drive system is similar to Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy system. Technically, the two do work slightly differently (the Voltec system runs as a pure electric as long as it can before engaging the IC engine, for example), but it’s fair to call both hybrids. A plug-in Prius would be conceptually the same as a Volt.

        See? Car bore.

        –alopecia

  • http://twitter.com/KQuark KQµårk™

    Bob the point is innovation would have stagnated unless electric cars got to the marketplace no matter what happened. They are only suspending production because demand is not all that great anyway. C’mon you’re starting to sound like a reactionary, hybrid technology was a rather low innovation incremental approach. We need game changers.

  • ffakr

    Battery technology is durable enough already. Look at the battery life cycle stats for the Leaf and Volt. These aren’t laptop LiPoly batteries.

    Why not a standard Hybrid? Because the Volt’s MPG is, literally, infinitely more than a Prius’ for the first ~35 miles (while on pure electricity). Most people drive 35 miles or less on a typical day.
    Not to mention brushless electric motors require nearly zero maintenance so minimizing the need for the gasoline motor by having a cross between an EV and a gas assisted EV will lower cost to operate.

  • http://twitter.com/KQuark KQµårk™

    I think part of the problem with Volt sales after it’s high price of course is the same people that are the target market are so smug they don’t want to buy American cars. I bet you when the Toyota plugin model gets to the US in bigger numbers it will be a hit. I hate to admit it but GM is much more supported by the NASCAR conservative and truck loving crowd not progressives.

  • ninjaf

    I have been really interested in the Volt. I went to a local dealership a month or so ago to possibly lease one. They gave me a lease estimate of $600-$700 per month, with $2,000 down. This was out of line with what I had seen advertised on Chevy’s website. The dealership seemed absolutely puzzled that I would be trying to lease and either didn’t know how to price the lease or were trying to put one over on me. Before giving us the numbers on the Volt, they also tried to sell us a Cruze instead, because of the high gas mileage. No comparison between the two cars. Needless to say, we didn’t go back.

    This could be part of the problem getting them off the lot.