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GM responds to Carnegie Mellon Study

GM quickly responded to the study by Carnegie Mellon University that found plug-in hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt never allow the owner to recoup the initial price premium. GM points out that the numbers used in the study don’t quite add up.

The study suggests that vehicles like the Chevy Volt offer a “token” level of gasoline-free driving. It goes on to suggest that plug-in hybrids with small battery packs that provide about 7 miles of gasoline-free driving may be the best option. For comparison the “small” battery pack suggested would hold about 3 kWh of electricity compared to the larger 16 kWh pack used in the Volt.

However, the study also assumes that the pack in the Volt costs $16,000. GM says that CMU’s estimate of $1,000 per kWh is actually off by hundreds of dollars per kWh. New concepts are currently being developed that further reduce the cost of the packs as well. GM claims that this fact was treated merely as a “sensitivity” when it should have been highlighted.

Furthermore, GM says the study fails to account for the government incentives that an extended range hybrid like the Volt would receive. With the suggested plug-in hybrid with the smaller battery, buyers would not receive any Federal tax credit. However, with the Volt buyers will receive the maximum $7,500 incentive because of its 16 kWh battery and 40 miles of electric range. GM goes on to mention the additional grants and tax incentives provided by Federal and State governments further reduce the cost of battery development.

Considering the more realistic battery costs and the incentives, the study’s calculations and conclusions should change substantially GM says. Regardless of what the study reported, the company intends to push forward with its plan for the Volt and future vehicles that employ the Voltec system. GM said it held back its hybrid technology in the past because it wasn’t considered “cost effective,” but it won’t be making that mistake again.

Source: GM FastLane Blog

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