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February 16, 2008



And I would think that most of the initial buyers would be more concerned with economy rather than creature comforts.

Except for an insignificant fraction of the population,(many of whom read blogs like this one) I don't believe that is true in this price range. Drivers who really care more about economy than creature comforts have lots of basic low-end ICE vehicles to choose from.


The statement about wipers and radios, just seems unbelievable. How often do wipers run? Maybe in the State of Washington more than in the midwest. If you want more electric range then turn off the radio. Why would standard radio and wipers increase the cost to $5,000.00 more? Put in standard 12volt wipers powered by a DC-DC power converter. DC-DC converters are normally used on electric vehicles. Surely GM knows about this, maybe they're betting the public is ignorant of that fact.

Let's get some specifics, what are the redundant systems?

Also let us educate ourselves, have a look at this website where many people have converted their gas cars to electric. Their primary problem would be advanced batteries, the Volt will use lithium. Check out the other links that explain how a DC-DC converter takes the pack voltage e.g. 200 volts and converts it to 12 volts. All 12 volt accessories run just like normal.


Let's be intelligent buyers and keep GM and other manufacturers on their toes!

Howard Fuller

Typical GM thinking. Get a good idea, then load the car up with accessories so its basic attributes are unrecognizable. Remember when the front-wheel drive Golf was introduced to the US? GM's answer was the Olds Toronado. GM's marketing people figured that Americans were in love with big cars and apparently wanted front-wheel drive, too, ignoring the fact that there was a quality small car market they were completely missing. That mindset is what got GM to where it is today. Will they never learn?

Reuben Gathright

Wipers as a problem in an EV that only travels 60 miles?

My team has been conducting several research projects into a similar problem: range of a 12Volt battery. We found that 2005 Jeep TJ with it's alternator disconnected and using a stock battery can travel over 30 miles without the need for a charge! If a low capacity, lead acid battery can do that, how can windshield wipers hinder Chevy's progress?

If you want to read more about our team visit our page on MySpace now.


It sounds like the Volt was suddenly upgraded from a research product (possibly for a future -say 2012) intro, and the non-critical (to proof of concept) engineering was put on a slow path. Presumably the decision to go for real product was moved up pretty recently. But in any case they will probably not have a lot of product the first year or two -perhaps this is an excuse to ration sales via price?


Personally, I wouldn't pay $35,000 for a car that doesn't have a stereo. And frankly, GM shouldn't produce one. For the Volt really to be a success, it needs to meet all expectations. Without "creature comforts" they're creating a vehicle for environmental nuts like us. Even the Prius has a stereo and blue-tooth handsfree system. It's actually very advanced. GM has to compete with that.

Let them get it right. And let them make some money from it too. I'm saving up.

Don B.

That's right GM: get all cocky about your "prototype" car that is supposed to be "manna-for-the-masses"....then tell us about $5000 windshield wipers and stereos!!!
Don't start counting your chickens before they're hatched....is there yet another production delay coming? Will the Chinese swoop-in and offer something "compatible" at Harbor Freight or WalMart...before you get the message?
Remember the old saying: "If you sell to the CLASSES, you live with the MASSES....but if you sell to the MASSES, you'll live with the CLASSES".
Other automakers are offering economical vehicles...but they still have to make sense on a ROI basis.

Don B

Ronald Brak

What appears to have happened is that they haven't allowed enough time to engineer all the parts to operate off new electrical system the Volt is using. So they are going to kluge together the new parts and old parts and basically have two different electrical systems in the same car, which doesn't sound like a good thing.

Windscreen wipers do not use much power, but current air conditioners are mechancial, not electrical and are inefficient. All electrical ones with better efficiency probably need to be designed from the ground up.

Allan R

The more I read on the Volt the more I'm convinced this is all just a publicity stunt to buy GM time to sell more trucks and SUV's while you GM fanatics save your money to buy a car that's not even designed and can't be produced. And even if they do produce it, it will likely be an overpriced piece of crap like most other GM products. I personally think American car companies are going to start folding and will likely be purchased by Japan or China.


Ronald Brak said:
What appears to have happened is that they haven't allowed enough time to engineer all the parts to operate off new electrical system the Volt is using. So they are going to kluge together the new parts and old parts and basically have two different electrical systems in the same car, which doesn't sound like a good thing.

Actually, two electrical systems is a good thing. Using 12 volts as in present automobiles has a lot of advantages - the parts are available in high volume at low prices. The low voltage is safe (you can touch 12 volts and not feel a shock), which makes electrical insulation much easier to do. Low voltage will not sustain an arc, so switches are easier to make. The only improvement would be to go to say 24 volts. This would retain all the advantages of low voltage systems (except manufacturing volume) but reduce current draw by a factor of two so that wiring could be made lighter.

DC-to-DC converters are made by the billions. There is no new magic here. Getting 12 or 24 volts out is a rather simple design choice.

Greg Woulf

Either none of you have any design experience or you just like to complain. This is typical design progression.

Nobody else is building a car like this.

If you're dying to get into this car, then get a 2010 for $35k, if you want to wait till it's optimized wait till the 2013 model comes out.

Nobody lied or tried to trick you and there's no red tape. The first car that really makes sense is the Volt.

It's a normal car that anyone would like to have that just happens to cut your gas usage in half or more with a 10+ year life.


As a double-E, my reaction to GM's claim of having to redesign all the standard components was a great big

It's nonsense, as others have noted above.  Even the electric A/C compressor is available off-the-shelf from Denso, or could be made by any manufacturer of refrigeration gear.  Do you have any idea how cheap it is to make a sealed electric compressor, especially with a 3-phase motor that requires no centrifugal switch for the start winding?  They make more complicated stuff for cube fridges.  Slap a little 3-phase inverter on it (external) and you're done.

This GM talk is a smokescreen.


The Prius has a two voltage system. The normal 12volt system, runs a starter motor among other things. This makes it possible to use an ordinary charger to start the car should the battery become discharged. I'm not sure what the distribution of voltage for the various accessories is.

I'm with you on what you say. This sounds to me like GM is trying to get a few early vehicles out in 2010. This allows them to claim priority for the plugins, and to gain some needed experience. I bet production volumes for the first couple of model years will be low, thus making the cost of pushing rapid development of accessories up prohibitively. The only question for the early adopters, is should they be paying a premium to serve as GMs guinea pigs?

Greg G

I agree that it's nonsense that GM is caught with no efficient windshield wipers, a.c. and radio. Don't forget that they spent many hundreds of millions of dollars (per their web site) developing the all electric EV1. They should be able to use their "off the shelf" EV1 components, which were very efficient and worked well.

david foster

Maybe confusion is being caused by the inability of many journalists to understand even simple technical issues. For example, the first link contains the statement:

"In gasoline-powered vehicles, windshield wiper motors are powered directly off the engine"...are there *any* current production cars for which this statement is true? Once upon a time, wipers were powered from the manifold vacuum, but I'm under the impression that this approach ceased to be used (in favor of electric wipers) a long time ago.

Kit P

David, my first car had vacuum driven wipers. This may have been the last time a EE had a better idea for making a mechanic drives electric.


Vacuum-driven wipers stop working under hard acceleration; I believe they were required by Federal law.

None of this is relevant to GM's smokescreen.  For a while, the industry was moving to 42-volt electrical systems to support integrated starter-generators and electric accessories; this would have required most electronics to be re-engineered, and I know that the power supplies were going to go from linear regulators to switchers.  The Volt should be a simpler change; just one DC-DC converter, and most of the rest of the electronics can be off the shelf.  The claim that e.g. windshield wipers have to be re-engineered is either gold-plating on the part of the development team (doubtful) or a cover-up for cost increases elsewhere.

I'm increasingly inclined to order an Aptera.


rather, electric wipers were required by Federal law.


I'm not as outraged by this as some of you. GM is still delivering on time. A small stereo is obviously critical for driving to all but the more diehard geeks here ...Jim. ;-) $5,000 increase in price is to be expected considering the devaluation of the USA dollar this past year. There must be some information missing since we can't really be talking about extra costs for windshield wipers and the AC system. Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think this is an official GM announcement.

Check out the Aptera video clip at their home site: www.aptera.com
Notice they mention:
(a) "Most car's wipers have more drag than our entire car body."
(b) They use a small heat pump for cooling and heating. Way more efficient.
Maybe GM is competing with Aptera instead of those old and in the way HEV Toyota guys now.

What's your beef here guys? GM is cutting corners to bring you an E-REV type PHEV and now your whining about the details? Ever compare the early Prius to more recent models? The early ones were kinda sparse on creature comforts ...very utilitarian.

Also, please don't forget the great lesson of the Prius. Environmental and peak oil nuts like me will pay premium prices to vote with their pay checks for the right technology. Not all of those rich folk are hummer driving pigs either. Some want to do the right thing. GM should take advantage of this if they need to, just like Toyota did. Gee, maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks after all.

My dilemma is how to purchase an Aptera AND a Volt when my wife says we can't afford to get either. I'll have to pick one. The Aptera is the coolest car I've ever seen. My friends laugh but that's really what I think. (...and talking about a green statement!) On the other hand, I can ferry our kids around in the Volt.
Decisions, decisions...
At least it ain't the 70s oil crisis or 80s EV1 fiasco anymore! This is just really great stuff! GM, deliver on time then improve it. I don't see a problem with that.



People are gripping b/c a $5k increase for wipers and stereos, bolds poorly for when GM actually throws the cost of batteries into the Volt price tag.
Was it a full year ago that GM announced they'd release an all electric car (again)?
I'm afraid it will be a $40k vehicle with 25 mile all-electric range when it hits the streets in 2012.


Why is it that they created the EV1 which had a range of 70+ miles but now the best they can get from the Volt is 40 miles? I believe the EV1 had wipers and a stereo too. Suddenly, GM can't figure it out?

Can we believe anything GM says?


Gregor, the EV1 was a 2-seater.  The Volt is to be a lot more car.


A whole lotta people just love to hate on GM. I've done my share, but I'm giving them a pass on this. Remember the old credo: Fast, Cheap, Quality - pick any two. GM is doing fast and (hopefully) quality. Cheap will come later

Mr Rudi O'Neil

This is a great article, and bears relevance to the UK EV market, where the cost of these new vehicles is simply putting people off. It seems unfair to guilt people into buying something that they cannot afford, and I do not think that it is going to hold any weight when people have the alternative of buying a petrol car with a small engine, which serves both purposes of making that person feel like they are still doing their bit for the environment, and allows that person to reduce the cost of motoring at the same time.

windshield replacement

Right now, i rather go for some honda or mazda cars. Efficiency of these vehicles are outstanding.


I'll have to go read up more here. It's always so much fun to read your blog, many thanks for sharing.

tenis nike shox

Parabens a toda a materia escrita, tenis oakley e tambem este tenis nike obrigado.

parking sensors

You're so right, they would have known the costs of this a while ago- if not during the design concept period like you said.

Auto Lease Los Angeles

Oh so it's going to be more expensive? It figures...

Rug Cleaning Los Angeles

That's pure poppycock that it's can't re-engineer features fast enough for the Volt, that's just ridiculous.

Furniture Stores in Los Angeles

Smells like corporate greed to me.

Dentist West Hollywood

I can't figure out if I would like a Volt or a Prius or some other new electric or hybrid car! Love the choices out there now.

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