5 reasons affordable 200+ mile EVs will slowly kill the Volt

editors-blog-entry3The arrival of affordable 200+ mile electric vehicles such as the Tesla Model 3, the 2017 Nissan LEAF, and, yes, GM’s own Chevy Bolt, combined with outrageously low gas prices — which hurt EREVs/PHEVs and hybrids more than pure electrics — mean a limited future for GM’s extended range EV (EREV) the Chevy Volt.

Why?

Here are five reasons –>

1. The limited scope of early to mid-early electric vehicle adopters. There aren’t very many of these early to mid-early adopters, at least when measured as a percentage of the total car buying American public. This relatively small group of early¬†adopters falls into three distinct categories: 1) Greenies; 2) Technophiles; 3) Penny pinchers. The first two groups — which already tilt toward pure EVs — with 200+ mile pure EVs here will lean even more heavily toward¬†a pure EV over an EREV such as the Volt. Why? They want to be driving as close to a one-hundred percent¬†electric as possible. The third group, the Penny Pinchers, was opting for¬†the First Generation Volt to save money on gas. With gas prices very low, the Volt saves you little, if any money. This third group will mostly evaporate — as long as gas prices stay ridiculously low. All of this means even fewer people looking at the Volt than before.

2. An emerging long-distance high-speed charging network.¬†Tesla’s Supercharger network — which it continues to build out nationwide and worldwide — turn the pure electric car into a long-distance travel vehicle taking away the only real advantage gasoline cars have over electrics.

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The Chevy Bolt.

3. The Chevy Bolt.¬†The Bolt will draw large numbers of prospective Volt buyers away from the Volt, something GM is surely aware of. In fact, the Bolt WILL outsell the Volt within a few months of the Bolt’s nationwide availability. ¬†Case in point: My own case — yes, I KNOW it’s anecdotal, but it is nonetheless illustrative. When I thought the two-year lease on my 2014 Nissan LEAF (thanks to divorce, the LEAF is my ONLY car) could not be extended, I first looked at used First Generation Volts. I was thoroughly disappointed at¬†how quickly I lost the already¬†low pure electric range of the used Volts I drove (I test drove them in January in Colorado). I quickly abandoned my search for used First Generation Volts and asked my brother if I could borrow his old Landcruiser for two months so I could wait it out for¬†the arrival of 2017 Chevy Volt, which has¬†50 miles of pure electric range. However, the¬†truth is, I really didn’t want to get locked into a three-year lease with a car that has¬†just 50 miles of pure EV range. I would have been very¬†unhappy being stuck in a Volt as the Bolt arrived, the Model 3, etc. Now, thanks to a Nissan extension of my LEAF lease, I can hop directly from one pure EV with NOT enough range to make it a viable ONLY car (post-divorce, the LEAF has been my only car) into an affordable 200+ mile EV — and skip the Volt altogether.

4. No one understands the Volt — and no one ever will.¬†Okay, a small¬†percentage of EV advocates and technophiles understand the Volt and how it works. But 99 percent of Americans do not. Another case in point — yes, I KNOW, it’s once again anecdotal, but it’s illustrative: When I was looking to possibly buy a used Volt in January of 2016, I went to four used car dealers with Volts on their lots. NONE had bothered to keep their Volts plugged in. In fact, a couple dealers seemed genuinely surprised to hear that you should keep a Volt¬†plugged in! And one of the Volts I test drove had been sitting on the used car dealer’s lot for 45 days, in the Colorado winter — without ever being plugged in at all!



5. The whole point of longer range EVs is to kill the gas car, including ‘hybrids’ such as the Volt.¬†News flash: Electric cars aim to replace gasoline cars. And they are doing just this. Granted, EVs are doing so more¬†slowly than some would like, but they’re replacing gas cars nonetheless. As their range extends, EVs will replace gasoline cars more rapidly. Affordable 200+ mile EVs represent ‘the sweet spot’ for pure EVs¬†replacing EREVs and PHEVs such as the Volt — for the most part. I will concede the Volt MIGHT survive as an even more niche vehicle than it already is, serving a very small, tiny group of people that’s likely to shrink to even tinier proportions over time. Affordable 300+ mile EVs stand as ‘the sweet spot’ for a massive shift from gasoline to EVs. Yes, there¬†is ONE big “if”: This massive shift happens ONLY if a robust, wide, long, deep fast-charging network is built for EVs. Unfortunately, this is still a very big if. Except at Tesla, which, not at all coincidentally, is the ONLY car maker dedicated entirely to building electric cars, and, hence, the only¬†car maker not in at least partially in the¬†pocket of Big Oil.

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The Tesla Model 3.