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January 31, 2015



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Back in January 2009, General Motors didn’t have money for a Super Bowl commercial, or even Super Bowl tickets. It was this close to being carried out on a cart.

But what if the company, subsisting then on a $13.4 billion emergency loan from the Bush administration, had somehow managed to scrape together $2.5 million and work up enough chutzpah to do one blowout 30-second commercial before sputtering again into government hands?

It could have been a golden opportunity to introduce the masses to the Chevy Volt and convey some hope about American innovation at a time of widespread despair.

I was reminded of this while watching a preview of a BMW i3 ad featuring Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric, onetime co-hosts of the “Today” show. It presents the i3, built in a wind-powered factory, as unsettlingly futuristic, as groundbreaking as the Internet itself. Sure piques your curiosity, doesn’t it?

Except that the i3 isn’t so futuristic. Battery-powered electric cars are more than a century old. Wind-powered machinery has been around awhile, too. Ask the Dutch.

BMW is merely boarding the same bandwagon that Nissan, GM and Tesla designed and built.

The Volt, by contrast, was the first of its kind, promising almost all of the benefits of an electric car with almost none of the drawbacks.

More innovative than the gas-electric hybrids of its time, the Volt introduced the idea of a hybrid electric vehicle that used its gasoline engine not to propel the car, but to charge the battery on the fly. That meant it could do all the things you’d expect a car to do, but in an entirely different way, and possibly without gasoline.

Just as the Apple Macintosh (remember that 1984 Super Bowl ad?) ushered in the era of point-and-click computing, the Volt opened the door to a practical plug-in car, one whose basic fueling infrastructure was already in place in every home, and every freeway interchange.

Formally unveiled in September 2008, the production Volt was well ahead of its time. Imagine if GM had been able to present it to the world on the biggest of stages, along with the proposition that the car of the future would be not just different, but better.

Instead, by the time the Volt made it to market in late 2010, post-bankruptcy, it was a political football, and a deflated one at that. Nearly scuttled in the restructuring, the Volt arrived on scene so identified with the Obama administration’s EV-happy clean-energy policies that critics made it out to be a joint venture of the Communist Party and the Sierra Club.

Its breakthrough technology -- ever misunderstood by the public and never well articulated by General Motors -- ceased to matter. The Volt was a boondoggle, Obamacare on wheels.

At this year’s Detroit auto show, the redesigned Volt stood unassumingly in a corner of the Chevrolet pavilion, overshadowed somewhat by a surprise long-range EV concept called the Bolt.

Meanwhile, Mercedes was up front and center near the entrance with its plug-in hybrid C class, prominently labeled in all-caps. To be plugged in, it seems, is to be cool.

The Volt may have missed its Super Bowl moment. But its time has arrived.
 

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The Volt may have missed its Super Bowl moment. But its time has arrived.
What could have been... Speaking as a Volt owner (almost one year now), I can honestly say that I love my vehicle. It does everything GM promised and more. Ok, the pricing, range*, HVAC and interior space need a little work, but I hear that big change is in the air...



Looking forward to driving Volt 2.0. Looks like GM has decided to let the world know. Has anyone noticed that the Volt LT and Volt LTZ have different (lower) grills?

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*In warm weather, I constantly averaged 55 to 60 miles on a full charge. This morning, things are not going well here in New York. It is 9° and I used the entire overnight charge on my way to the office. I got 28 miles on electric with heavy heat use.

If anyone from GM is reading this post - PLEASE consider joining Mercedes (B-Class) and offering an optional electric defroster grid in the front windshield. It would make a HUGE difference in range, comfort and safety.
 

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We will never know, but I doubt advertising on the Super Bowl would've made much of a difference. GM would've put out an an ad that would not have explained the Volt well, leaving 110,000,000 Super Bowl viewers scratching their heads and moving on. Plus the fact that outside of the Prius, NO electric hybrid, etc really sells well - and the $37,000 Volt is no exception.

Either way, the Volt is a fantastic car, I test drove one and loved it. I really should've bought one instead of my ATS, but as soon as I test drove the ATS my fate was sealed :). The Volt would've been great - free charging at work would've really been nice!!!!

The new Volt looks fantastic inside and out, hopefully it find more buyers. But gas at $2 a gallon doesn't help....
 

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Yeah, timing is everything sometimes and the volt was originally introduced at a bad time for GM and no one seemed to understand it. I hope GM can somehow explain how it works better with the new model and have sales pick up.
 

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Automotive News

January 31, 2015



Article Quotes:

Back in January 2009, General Motors didn’t have money for a Super Bowl commercial, or even Super Bowl tickets. It was this close to being carried out on a cart.
That could have been an intelligent use of marketing dollars. It may have successfully launched the Volt but even more important it could have had a halo effect on GM's somewhat shaky engineering reputation. This could have transferred to more mundane vehicles and resulted in improved sales numbers of the bread-and-butter offerings.

Instead, once GM scraped some money together what did Joel Ewanick (aka "the Wonder Kid") do with GM marketing dollars? How about sponsoring a seventh place soccer team? I guess all the cricket teams were taken.

The key word in my first paragraph was the word intelligent.
 

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I have always appreciated the Volt. It got caught up in the GM Bailout - Green Technology/global warming mess. What a shame.

Despite Bob Lutz's best efforts to defend it on the merits of its technology, the Obama Administration used it as a "political football" and turned off a lot of potential buyers. Trying to promote the Volt at the 2009 SuperBowl would only have re-enforced that narrative.
GM needs to promote the Volt on the merits and not give up on it. Over time it will be validated.
 

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My Volt will be four years old next month. In that time it has had no failures and both my gas MPG and electric range are better than when I bought it. I could give you a lot of boring statistics about how efficient it is, but these are far less important to me than the fact that this little car is fun to drive. Even after four years it still puts a smile on my face every time I drive it.

It's amusing to see all the buzz over the I3, compared to the Volt it's an ox cart. Yes carbon fiber body panels are nice but when you get right down to it, there is no new technology, just more expensive existing tech. For about 50% more than you pay for a Volt you get about 36 more miles of range, than guess what, your dead. The Volt on the other hand switches to gas and just keeps on going. It feels the same, still the fun electric drive experience. Of course you get a range extended I3 for a few more bucks. With that it allows the I3 to keep going as an underpowered rolling road hazard for a lousy 60 miles. Quite a comparison to the Volt which suffers no such compromises. The Voltec drivetrain in the first generation Volt is the most sophisticated drivetrain on Earth, the new completely redesigned drivetrain in the next Volt promises to be even better.
 

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So GM should have used the ultra-expensive Super Bowl to advertise a vehicle that wouldn't be launched for another year and a half, if at all? I don't think so.

This is revisionist theorizing at its best...

Sure, if GM had the dough to advertise it, and if GM had a somewhat decent advertising campaign, and if they didn't have to fall back on the grace of the government to help them through a bankruptcy, and if because of that the Volt didn't become a political football, then and only then would the Volt be getting its due for being the breakthrough vehicle that it is...

Nothing in GM's recent past makes me believe that they could've pulled off a successful ad & info campaign for the Volt at any cost. They're simply not very good at getting the message out about their vehicles, especially those that aren't high performance models or truck variants...

Edit: Honestly, the best advertising the Volt has or will have is from Volt owners, who seem to love their vehicles. But unfortunately, (1.) there are relatively few of them and (2.) word of mouth advertising takes time, especially for bigger ticket items like cars...
 

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The problem with the VaporVolt is two fold...

You cannot ever justify BUYING one over an $18k vehicle that gets 40 mpgs on the highway. There is no economic case that can be made at $4 per gallon gasoline that will ever save you any money. In fact, you could buy an $18k vehicle noted above, pay finance costs, taxes, and gasoline and service for at least 150,000 miles of ownership before you would spend the acquisition cost of the VaporVolt. And in the ten years of ownership of the $18k vehicle, there would be advances in the technology of the VaporVolts that make buying the first generation one of the dumbest things you could ever do. In 10 years, products like the VaporVolt would progress to close the gap on justifying purchasing one.

Second, if you wanted to build a vehicle that does what the VaporVolt is supposed to do, you would never do it like Total Recall Motors has done - the engine is wrong - you'd never direct drive it ever - you would use a bio-diesel - and potentially a two cylinder one. There is so much wrong with the technology of the TRM version that I can't believe anyone would fall for this as being advanced - as a college student in the 1980's, I dismissed this set up because it was not efficient (gasoline engine as a generator source). We immediately found diesels as the best option. Our stumbling block was the battery and computer systems which have advanced so much in 30 years.
 

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I too love my Volt. It hasn't been perfect but it's never left me stranded. I've had a few minor issues none of them powertrain related. It also puts a smile on my face and can't think of another car I would rather drive for my daily driver.

While I agree with the article in that GM could have done more to leverage the Volt to better market the company as an engineering power house. I don't think the super bowl would be the correct venue.
 

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We will never know, but I doubt advertising on the Super Bowl would've made much of a difference. GM would've put out an an ad that would not have explained the Volt well, leaving 110,000,000 Super Bowl viewers scratching their heads and moving on. Plus the fact that outside of the Prius, NO electric hybrid, etc really sells well - and the $37,000 Volt is no exception.

Either way, the Volt is a fantastic car, I test drove one and loved it. I really should've bought one instead of my ATS, but as soon as I test drove the ATS my fate was sealed :). The Volt would've been great - free charging at work would've really been nice!!!!

The new Volt looks fantastic inside and out, hopefully it find more buyers. But gas at $2 a gallon doesn't help....
there is NO way I can see GM coming out of that LOOKING good
spend bail out money on flash ADS for a car "A" does NOT exist and "B" itself "is a bail out car/GOVT mandated car/ a reaction to the HUMMER/Escalade social "push back"

IMHO the money would have bean better spent on getting the then NEW GLOBAL CRUZE into North America quicker and "quietly" Kept up with the VOLT program
 

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A company that is operating on the public dole should not be allowed to advertise on the most expensive programming there is. When a company reaches the point that it needs taxpayer funds, it should either be told no (its not Constitutional) or be limited on what it can use those funds .
 

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This article presumes people buy cars due in large part to advertising. I doubt that's the case, especially with an electric car that, since it's debut, has failed to meet sales expectations. Everybody knows about electric cars now and sales are still sluggish to non-existent. That's because people prefer the reliability of gas engines. This is not going to change anytime soon.
 

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This article presumes people buy cars due in large part to advertising. I doubt that's the case, especially with an electric car that, since it's debut, has failed to meet sales expectations. Everybody knows about electric cars now and sales are still sluggish to non-existent. That's because people prefer the reliability of gas engines. This is not going to change anytime soon.
I would say partly true as the VOLT is more like a Hybrid with out range concerns
and a GOOD marketing campaign to "explain" the VOLTEC system would DO wonders to help BUT at the end of the day it is a almost 40K compact car
 

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GM has the most inept marketing department like ever. This car's battery technology solved the Dreamliner battery problem yet Chevrolet cannot communicate that to the masses effectively? Seriously?
I agree. They are inept. They never really explained to the general public how the volt works. I bet most people have no clue that there is a back up gasoline engine in case your charge is used up. There isn't really any range anxiety.
 

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GM has the most inept marketing department like ever. This car's battery technology solved the Dreamliner battery problem yet Chevrolet cannot communicate that to the masses effectively? Seriously?
Yeah. Seriously. :fall:

I agree. They are inept. They never really explained to the general public how the volt works. I bet most people have no clue that there is a back up gasoline engine in case your charge is used up. There isn't really any range anxiety.
You're right. :cool:
 

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My Volt will be four years old next month. In that time it has had no failures and both my gas MPG and electric range are better than when I bought it. I could give you a lot of boring statistics about how efficient it is, but these are far less important to me than the fact that this little car is fun to drive. Even after four years it still puts a smile on my face every time I drive it.

It's amusing to see all the buzz over the I3, compared to the Volt it's an ox cart. Yes carbon fiber body panels are nice but when you get right down to it, there is no new technology, just more expensive existing tech. For about 50% more than you pay for a Volt you get about 36 more miles of range, than guess what, your dead. The Volt on the other hand switches to gas and just keeps on going. It feels the same, still the fun electric drive experience. Of course you get a range extended I3 for a few more bucks. With that it allows the I3 to keep going as an underpowered rolling road hazard for a lousy 60 miles. Quite a comparison to the Volt which suffers no such compromises. The Voltec drivetrain in the first generation Volt is the most sophisticated drivetrain on Earth, the new completely redesigned drivetrain in the next Volt promises to be even better.
Yeah, the problem is perception and for some they want the BMW brand name. I'd agree with your take and found on a recent trip to the USA, CA in particular that the I3 was a laughable design.
 

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This article presumes people buy cars due in large part to advertising. I doubt that's the case, especially with an electric car that, since it's debut, has failed to meet sales expectations. Everybody knows about electric cars now and sales are still sluggish to non-existent. That's because people prefer the reliability of gas engines. This is not going to change anytime soon.
Reliability has never been the issue - it's price.

Even with incentives, the value proposition isn't there for the majority of consumers.
 
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