We’ll never drive electric cars into the future

The first mass produced plug-in comes out – and costs more than a Cadillac.  GM is going to make 10,000 for 2011, and 30,000 for 2012.  There are 250 MILLION cars and trucks in the US.  At that rate, how long will it take to replace our internal combustion fleet?   I’ll tell you:  we don’t have enough time.   We can ramp up production like crazy and still never make it.  We don’t have 30 or 40 years.  According to Toyota, we have at most 9.5 years at most before gasoline becomes too expensive to burn. Can we make 250 electric vehicles in that time?  (and remember, if it’s too expensive to burn, then it’s too expensive to make the rest of the car with….that’s the irony of oil.)

Even technically if we could, is there enough lithium on earth?  And then what about the other 750 million vehicles in the world?

Aint happening folks.  The better use of our manufacturing capabilities and natural resources would be to begin building electric busses and trains.  We could move a far greater proportion of the population that way.  Oh, but I realize that you can take some people’s car when they pry it from their cold dead hands. 

The probable scenario is that just a few wealthier folks get electric cars, and the rest of us try and make do.  The radius of our world shrinks pretty radically.  And as we walk and ride our bikes, a few electric cars will whiz quietly by us. 

Oh well, walking and biking are better for us and the environment.    

GM sets $41,000 price for electric Chevy Volt

By Kevin Krolicki

DETROIT (Reuters) – General Motors on Tuesday set a price of $41,000 for its electric Chevrolet Volt, $5,000 more than the top-selling sedan from its luxury Cadillac brand and $8,000 more than its nearest competitor, the Nissan Leaf.

GM said on Tuesday it has begun taking orders for the Volt through a dedicated Web site and would provide a $350 per month leasing option for the much-anticipated vehicle as it launches in a handful of U.S. markets starting with California.

The biggest question surrounding the Volt has been its price and profitability given the cost of the lithium-ion battery pack supplied by Korea’s LG Chem and the hundreds of millions of dollars that GM devoted to the project over the past four years.

“Every day we’ve been asked a single question: How much will it cost?” said GM marketing chief Joel Ewanick on a conference call to announce the pricing.

GM executives, including former Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, had previously indicated the Volt would be priced near $40,000.

By setting a higher price and restricting Volt production, the automaker — now majority-owned by the U.S. government — has taken steps to limit its losses on the plug-in vehicle.

John O’Dell, an editor at the Web site GreenCarAdvisor, called the higher price GM set for the Volt a “bold” move.

“If it works it means the Volt likely will be sold for something close to what it costs to build,” said O’Dell.

GM launched the Volt development project four years ago, in part to shake an association with gas-guzzling trucks and to show it could compete with the likes of Toyota Motor Corp on hybrid technology.

With a price of $41,000, the Volt will cost as much as some luxury vehicles. The top-selling Cadillac CTS has a price starting at $35,165.

“You have to expect you’re going to pay a premium for this kind of technology,” said Erich Merkle, an auto analyst and consultant at Autoconomy.com.

But the $350 lease payment on the Volt also makes it competitive with the upcoming Leaf, which has a lease offer of $349 per month.

U.S. taxpayers who buy a Volt will qualify for a federal tax credit of $7,500. Some states, such as California, are offering additional tax incentives.

GM: BUY A VOLT, BUY A “REAL CAR”

Ewanick said GM marketing would portray the Volt “as a real car,” attempting to draw a sharp distinction from pure electric vehicles like the Leaf, which lack a backup source of power once the battery is spent. “People don’t want to be stranded on the way home from work,” he said.

The Volt is designed to be recharged overnight for about 40 miles of electric driving, depending on driving conditions. The car will also have a small gas engine expected to give the vehicle a total range of about 340 miles.

Nissan Motor Co’s battery-powered Leaf claims a driving range of 100 miles. It has a U.S. retail price of $32,780.

GM said it would begin taking Volt orders through a new Web site as of Tuesday, www.getmyvolt.com.

About 600 Chevy dealers in California, Michigan, Washington, D.C., Texas and New York will sell the initial limited production run. GM expects to produce 10,000 Volts for the 2011 model year and about 30,000 for 2012.

Jesse Toprak, an analyst at industry-tracking Web site TrueCar, said the Volt will sell out, leaving GM with the challenge of managing a waiting list.

In the meantime, he said, the Volt gives GM the chance to win over better-educated and wealthier car shoppers in markets like California who would never have considered a Chevy.

“The Volt is a halo car for GM, and it’s real importance is in bringing people into showrooms,” he said.

Ewanick said it was uncertain how quickly GM could bring down the price of the Volt in future model years, saying that depends on still-uncertain reductions in battery costs.

“There’s a lot of technology that has to happen for us to lower prices,” he said.

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