GM exec: Volt not yet cost competitive  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

CNet has an article on the economics of GM's Volt hybrid car, noting the price of the battery pack needs to fall for the upfront cost to be comparable to legacy model cars using internal combustion engines only - GM exec: Volt not yet cost competitive

GM plans to manufacture the battery pack for the Volt, which is scheduled for release at the end of next year, using cells from a division of LG Chem. Lauckner said that the cost per stored energy for that entire pack is several hundred dollars less than $1,000 per kilowatt-hour, a number that's been projected by people outside GM.

The cost for the battery pack needs to shrink substantially to compete with existing auto technology to the range of $250 per kilowatt-hour, Lauckner said.

GM has not yet priced the Volt, which runs on batteries for 40 miles and uses an internal combustion engine to sustain the battery after that. People outside the company have estimated the cost at about $40,000.

There's a potential additional cost if electric car buyers choose to install a 220-volt charger at home, which will essentially cut charge time in half compared to charging from a regular 110-volt outlet. Having a 220-volt charger installed can cost between $300 and $3,000 depending on the complexity of the job, say industry executives.

To offset that upfront cost, Volt buyers qualify for the maximum $7,500 federal tax credit. The tax credit is one way that the federal government has sought to revitalize the U.S. auto industry around electric vehicle technologies. But Lauckner said that long term Volt costs have to go down further because government incentives will go away at some point.

The ongoing operating costs of owning a Volt will be about one-sixth of that of compact sedan, Lauckner said, adding that the savings go higher as the price of gasoline goes up. GM expects that most Volt drivers will be able to do almost all their driving in electric mode.

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