To be sure, most famouse car manufacturers Chevy Volt, Toyota Prius (plug-in), Fisker Karma, Nissan Leaf and Tesla Roadster will make success in plug -in cars in the US market in 2010-2011. Each manufacturer is going out on a limb with highly priced plug-in vehicles in the hopes of eco-friendly, gas-saving enthusiasts wanting to avoid trips to the pump.
One car specifically, the 2010 Chevy Volt, may hold the key to the legitimacy of the plug-in car and further yet, the fully electric car. With a release date already scheduled, Chevy will unveil a car that will no doubt excite audiences with its 40 miles to the charge battery life, smartphone remote control, and sleek, sporty body. Chevy believes it will have at least 50,000 buyers ready to invest when it is released.
Chevy’s confidence as the plug-in leader, it seems, goes beyond the 2010 plug-in model that offers 40 miles to the charge. Without seeing the Chevy Volt hit the streets or consumer’s wallets, Chevy is looking to develop a fully electric car that carries the Volt name.
Talk about throwing a fair amount of eggs into the plug-in and electric car basket.
GM believes in the Volt so much, or has at least invested so much into it that it is willing to invest more time and resources into the fully electric version. This in light of Toyota’s national manager Bill Reinert announcing that he does not believe the current power grid will be able to support electric cars because of buyers clustering in specific zip codes and geographical regions.
Reinert believes EV’s and hybrids “tend to cluster in affluent neighborhoods,” which, if they were all pulling energy from the same transformer, could cause outages and major problems for electric cars.
With potential prices floating around in the $30,000-$40,000 range for the Chevy Volt, Reinert may have a point that only certain consumers will be able to buy electric cars.
That being said, Reinert may be overlooking a few key features of the Volt that will not only help it survive, but others just like it.
First, the new smartphone technology from OnStar will allow smartphone users to pick times to charge their Volt according to the power grid. That means the Volt can charge during off-peak hours.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, the government controls the destiny of GM. That means tax credits to lower the price, which would in turn break up EV clusters, as well as stimulus money to improve the power grid (Obama has already put $3.4 billion into modernizing the power grid).
It may be safe to say that the government has more control of the fate of the plug-in electric car than any manufacturer, but either way, the Volt is the right mix of cutting edge technology and price to debut strong and get consumers interested enough to buy electric cars.
If the initial plunge of the Chevy Volt doesn’t generate interest or sales dollars, we may have round two of “who killed the electric car?”