Modern Day Edsel

Corporate espionage exposed – GM steals Edsel idea. Forgets to check Ford’s history as part of market research.

The Chevy Volt has a plugin electric and gas powered engine and the prices reflect the premium for the electric part. We went to the Chicago Auto Show last Friday and the first thing we did was go on a test ride of the Volt on Chevy’s Volt test track.

[flickr]5437784970[/flickr] Chevy was running four Volts with two in charging stations in the middle of the track. Running on battery they are exceedingly quiet. The dash is all LCD with a gauge to tell you how many battery miles you have left. As I recall the car we rode in had 23 battery miles left.

It’s a nice entry level sedan, but nothing really special. Capacity is four adults comfortably, five with some squishing unless they’re all kids. But it is an entry level sedan, $16-$20K not the $40K plus currently being asked.

Instapundit tells us that one Chevy dealer is charging $65K and more for a Volt.

This is where the Edsel comparison comes in. Edsel wasn’t a bad car, it ran well and didn’t look bad, but it was a Ford at Mercury prices. What we have here is a Chevy at Cadillac prices.

There is a premium price with the purchase of an electric vehicle but this is too much. You’ll never save in gas what you are paying in the premium.

The Volt has an electric range of ~35 miles depending on variables such as weather, traffic, and hills. The gas tank holds about 9.5 gallons of premium grade gas. The battery does not recharge with driving like a hybrid does.

The Smart cars were also at the Auto Show. I happen to think they’re adorable and they are introducing a new plugin electric version, but as the representative admitted, the price would be twice that of their already thrifty gas version and the gas version has greater range.

Until and unless the premium paid for an electric or gas/electric vehicle can be recouped with energy savings, it’s the Edsel all over again. A non-luxury vehicle at a luxury price.

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