It’s their new electric car. Well, technically an electric/gas hybrid. Basically, the battery portion of the engine will get you 40 miles, after which the gas engine kicks in, which will also recharge the battery as it runs.
40 miles. That’s only a bit more than one extra gallon of gas in mileage. You’d get the same benefit from a 12-gallon tank, or in spending all that research money on a gas engine that got 40 or 45 MPG.
It’s clearly not the car for me. This is aimed at people who drive short distances, less than, well, 40 miles a day. You could drive around on the 40 mile charge, and recharge the car overnight. And since it looks like a real car (as opposed to the Smart Car, which really should offer a big windup key you could stick on the back, like people used to do with their VW Beetles) you won’t attract too much attention and derision for driving it.
My commute to work is 85 miles. Each way. I’d gain exactly zero benefit from such a car.
And did I mention it takes 10 hours to charge on a regular 110-volt outlet? It’s only four on a 220-volt, but not too many people have a spare 220 outlet hanging about.
In honesty, the car comes off like something they were TOLD to make, so they did, begrudgingly. More keen on just getting it done, as opposed to making it, you know…good. Or useful to a lot of people. a forty-mile range on top of a regular car seems more like they just wanted to get the requirement out of the way. If they sell a few, great.
The Nissan Leaf, on the other hand, starts at 27,000 bucks, and is entirely electric. It’s got a hundred-mile range, over twice the Volt’s. You need a custom charging station installed for the Leaf, as opposed to the Volt’s which can just plug into a regular socket (their 220 one needs installing as well)
In a nutshell, I think electric cars are still way too impractical and expensive for the average American. They’re still the realm of the high-living environmentalist who not only wants to help the environment, but WANTS YOU TO KNOW he wants to help the environment. That’s why the Prius is so hideous looking - they want you to know what it is. If they could get away with having HYBRID painted on the side like in that South Park episode, they would.
bear in mind, I think electric cars are a fine idea. Less emissions from many small sources, totaling more than (I’ll bet) the increased required output of the power plants to charge said cars. But the tech just isn’t there yet. Way too long too charge, way too little range. And the batteries are so large and heavy, they make up much of the weight of the car, resulting in requiring MORE power to drive, requiring…more batteries.
I’ve said it before, the big area we need to make astounding leaps is in battery and power storage. Do that, make having everything be electric and battery-poered, and you can make a big difference.
If I were the government, that’s where I’d be pumping the money, not making the car companies make feel-good placebomobiles.