March 2nd 2012 is a date to remember, the Chevy Volt Factory DID shut down Friday due to lack of orders. Government Motors simply missed the price point.
All those Qued up orders from California, thousands upon thousands they told us, and now we know the truth. Fact is, it’s pretty easy to say you’re going to buy something, but there’s a long tradition in the Car business of validating those potential orders for a reason.., and that’s exactly what Toyota did with the Prius. Yes, GM has even more history, and of course they know the game, this gives all the more credence to the story that GM was told they’d build this car… or else.
Where are the orders? Perhaps we’ll hear the Oil Company robbed all of them from the letter carrier that delivers to GM?
I reflect on a great article about VW, and their announcement that they would be making the ‘W’ engine, and potentially the W-12! A writer for an Auto Enthusiast magazine thought he’d throw a jab at the VW Exec and said, “So why is VW building the ‘W’ Engine? The most brilliant reply was “because Dr. XXXXX wants to build it.” I wish I remembered his name, but he was the head of engine development at the time.
Yes, the VW Exec understood, the W Engine may not be practical, and may not lead to additional sales, so why try to rationalize the effort?
There’s a post I made about the Smart Car, and what I thought of it. Yes the Engineers did have a goal, they wanted to build a VERY small car and they have worked very hard to make their ‘tiny’ car as safe as the shape and size will allow within their budget.
You can review the post here, and no surprise, one person who bought the car likes it! Notice his mention of exotic materials and the many efforts made to make the car safe, and don’t we know there’s safe and safer.
Let’s look at the above drawings, to the left, we have the smart car, we do note the limited area between the bumper and the driver for crush zones and restraints. We understand that it’s all about restraining the body, and doing all possible to keep the body from experiencing G forces that detach retinas, or permanently damage organs.
If we look at the car design to the right, we see what I think will win the sales, a shape that can be more aerodynamic, perhaps deliver better highway mileage and can offer one of two things, an even safer vehicle than the smart car in a head on using their exotic materials, OR the same crash performance for less money using the added space up front to slow the forward movement of the human body with less exotic materials.
As mentioned, the two back seats in cars that deliver even better mileage than the Smart car are mighty handy to bring home Groceries, stop by and pick up the kids from day care and many other things single commuters are occasionally asked to do. The Smart car owner is challenged to do more than find a place for a dozen donuts when it’s his turn to bring them to a meeting at work.
There are places for speciality vehicles, we need consider the LOTUS 7, a true masterpiece of engineering, but hardly a car I expect to see in every other driveway.
The Smart car is an experiment, there are likely people in the bean counting department at MB, and value Engineers who have nearly lost their minds over this project. They were very confident the design would not lead to the sales the effort required, and they will be proven right at the end of the day. They are still asking, who really cares about owning the most tiny car on the block, certainly NOT potential customers we talk to.
The VW Exec said it all up front, we are building the W Engine, because our leadership wants to, it need not be the most rational move, it need not be what our customers are demanding.
If we knew the truth, the same is likely true of the Smart Car, it’s Something the Engineers wanted to do, and by some miracle they were allowed to do it. One good thing that comes out of the exercise, is M.B. has learned how to get a level of protection out of the smallest space. I can only imagine seating the driver ahead of the bumper as being a larger challenge to the Engineers attempting to keep their crash dummies safe.
Here’s a lesson regarding the advantage of mass when it comes to a collision, you think you’re safe in an SUV? Well maybe so if you tangle with a smart car… but…
But, as I mentioned, this short and tiny car, what can we add to fuel economy simply by stretching out the nose a foot or two, and once we do, there’s no need for the expensive and exotic materials that have driven up the cost. The design of the car leaves the barn door wide open for the competition, after all, no one is fighting to build the smallest car, as there are so many in years past that were tossed on the bone pile. The real market is in building cars people need and want to buy, and the Chevy Metro was one, and that Chevy Cruise will be another.
No doubt in my mind.. GM built the Cruise, and they did so based on what qualified buyers want to buy.
As for the Chevy Volt, I know the Car Business well enough to know that building the Edsel is all too rare, this is a Government Motors Car, and perhaps the Government would offer a 50% subsidy (which means the taxpayers pay half the car payments)… If they could get aways with it..
At the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with building and selling Lotus 7s, Smart Cars, or even a Chevy Volt.., as long as we tax payers aren’t forced to help pay for them.
So as I Close, I think about those Volt owners out there, pretty small club, maybe even a collectors item!
check out this old video clip, always fun to review the past