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Can GM Challenge Tesla With a Long-Range Electric Car? 466

Posted by Soulskill
from the build-some-space-rockets-while-you're-at-it dept.
cartechboy writes "GM may sell the Chevy Volt, but it's not a sexy electric car like Tesla Model S. It's a plug-in hybrid with muddled marketing (whose owners love it even though they burn gasoline sometimes). Product exec Doug Parks says GM is developing an electric car that does 200 miles on one charge, with a price around $30,000. But he wouldn't say when, falling back on the old excuse: 'Electric car batteries are really, really expensive!' Tesla's still the only maker to offer an electric car with more than 200 miles of range, so it will be interesting to see whether GM can really build a true Tesla rival. If so, the marketing must be better than the Volt's. Otherwise, it won't matter how good the car is."
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Can GM Challenge Tesla With a Long-Range Electric Car?

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  • by poetmatt (793785) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @01:44PM (#44875199) Journal

    why do people even try to submit shit articles with bad questions? Betteridge's law easily applies here. GM is not going to "Challenge" tesla, and they don't need to. It's an explicitly unnecessary question.

    The correct question is: "is GM going to continue developing and improving electric cars?" to which the answer is already clearly yes.

    • by cayenne8 (626475)
      Either way....the first one of them that get a performance electric car, that isn't fugly as all the current "green" cars....sporty looking (like the Tesla Roadster was) for the price range of a low end Vette...gets all my money.

      Why do they make these cars so fugly? Geez, what happened to car design that wasn't simply utilitarian and looked fun and sexy?

      • by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @01:51PM (#44875309)

        The S is a nice looking car. What do you not like about it?

        The roadster was just an Elise.

        Me personally I want a utilitarian vehicle. A small hatchback. I give not a single solitary fuck what it looks like, I don't spend my time staring at my car in the driveway.

      • by Richy_T (111409)

        To be fair to Nissan, the Leaf isn't utilitarian but to be fair to you, it's still damn fugly.

        • I find that somehow they don't look so ugly in real life. Not good, but...plain. Which is pretty good for a Leaf.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            I have the same experience. I see one around Lake County, CA periodically, and it just looks like a car. It had a couple of odd styling cues but basically blended in to the point where I didn't know it was a leaf until I saw the name badge.

          • by Richy_T (111409)

            I work near Nissan USA's HQ and see them every day. They're fugly.

            It wouldn't have taken much to make them not so which is the tragedy. Several of Nissan's vehicles even look good except for one irredeemable feature. I'm thinking specifically of the 350z's door handles.

            OTOH, I'd love a G37. It's just a shame it's so boring looking.

      • by pla (258480)
        the first one of them that get a performance electric car, that isn't fugly as all the current "green" cars....sporty looking (like the Tesla Roadster was) for the price range of a low end Vette...gets all my money.

        Seriously? The Tesla S has almost the same profile as a Lamborghini Gallardo. Slightly less absurd front scoop, a bit less "sharp" in a few places, but otherwise, very similar.

        I do have to agree about the price, though - If GM can do it at under $30k, awesome. $65k and up, not so cool.
        • by JWW (79176)

          WTF?

          While I agree that the S is a great looking sedan, I've seen both Model S and a Gallardo and there is no possible way to confuse them for each other.

          To add to that, when you take into account the sound, the Gallardo is thunderous and the Model S is super quiet. Oppositely impressive feats by both cars.

      • first one of them that get a performance electric car, that isn't fugly as all the current "green" cars....sporty looking (like the Tesla Roadster was) for the price range of a low end Vette...gets all my money.

        The Tesla Model S seems to fit your critera. It's very nice looking, does 0-60 in just over 4 seconds in the fastest model and under 6 seconds in the slowest, it costs roughly the same as a well appointed current model Corvette, and it got the highest road test score from Consumer Reports they've ever given.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        why not buy a tesla roadster if you want a tesla roadster?

        roadster style cars are just a drop in the ocean in overall car sales.

        you would think though that someone would make an electric suv/pickupwanabe for american consumers. just lay the batteries down low and use lighter materials for the upper parts, plenty of room there since buyers of those vehicles don't ever go offroad anyways.

    • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @02:09PM (#44875551)

      I'm sorry, but I refused to buy genetically-modified cars.

    • The correct question is: "is GM going to continue developing and improving electric cars?" to which the answer is already clearly yes.

      Developing maybe, but improving?

      That term keeps causing me to have flashbacks to the 1980's, when GM's "improved" vehicles, as an answer to the huge influx of fuel injected Japanese cars, were essentially the same cars as before but with an ECU wired to the carburetor*.

      The system did not work out well.

      * It was known as Computer Command Control, or C3, but there's no wiki entry and I haven't found a good reference yet.

  • Has Nissan built a true Tesla rival? How's that going? I think that may point to an answer to the question can Chevy do the same.

    • Re:Nissan Leaf (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @01:51PM (#44875299) Homepage

      Nissan's way of hitting that lower price point is to use cheaper batteries than get more like 85-90 mile range. I have had my Nissan Leaf for about 4 months and I adore it. Not that many people need to drive more than 80 miles in a day. And even with a 250 mile range, road trips are not feasible in the near future regardless of what Elon Musk tells you.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        If the price was lower I would have one already. The range is fine, but the price is just too high for a little hatchback. I ended up getting an insight, but I would love a leaf.

      • Re:Nissan Leaf (Score:4, Insightful)

        by afidel (530433) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @01:59PM (#44875437)

        The problem I have with the Leaf is that my 25 mile commute would be way too much for it in the winter where I often get stuck in 2 hour traffic jams at temps from 32 to 0F, if my employer had a charge station it might be enough to risk it but draining 70+% of the battery just for locomotion during ideal temp days doesn't leave enough safety margin for cold weather performance plus heater usage.

        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by h4rr4r (612664)

          Why would you waste your life like that?
          2 hours in traffic? I would move or find a new job. That is 4 hours a day you are wasting.

          • by afidel (530433)

            I didn't say it's typical, typical is 30 minutes each way, during a blizzard it can turn into a 2 hour commute and the temps are by definition low enough to need a heater. A vehicle that meets 80-90% of my commute scenarios is not sufficient.

          • by mark-t (151149)

            Such commutes are very common where I live as well... people live far from work because in many cases, those are the only homes that are affordable. Unless one is lucky enough to happen upon a foreclosure, getting a good deal on a home in the city proper can be next to impossible.

            And of course, the employment opportunities are not as rich in the outlying suburbs, so long commutes to and from work are pretty much the norm.

            One could also rent an apartment in the city, but where I live for a two-bedr

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by emars (142040)

          The LEAF would work in your scenario easily. The energy economy of the Nissan LEAF is greater at slow speeds.... actually, 12 MPH is the sweet spot.. you could likely get 200 miles from the LEAF if you kept it at 12 MPH. ;) Using the heater is a drain on the traction battery, but you've got seat heaters and a steering wheel heater and the ability to pre-heat the cabin before you leave. The 2013 model has a heat pump which is supposed to make heating the cabin more efficient.

      • Re:Nissan Leaf (Score:5, Informative)

        by shadowrat (1069614) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @02:01PM (#44875445)

        And even with a 250 mile range, road trips are not feasible in the near future regardless of what Elon Musk tells you.

        I saw a Tesla S with DC plates on it in Cape Cod over the 4th. While there are certainly other explanations it would appear that it was driven there.

      • Nissan's way of hitting that lower price point is to use cheaper batteries than get more like 85-90 mile range. I have had my Nissan Leaf for about 4 months and I adore it. Not that many people need to drive more than 80 miles in a day. And even with a 250 mile range, road trips are not feasible in the near future regardless of what Elon Musk tells you.

        I could live with the low range if the darn thing could be 'filled' from empty in the same amount of time it takes to fill my diesel (which, incidentally, has more than double the range of an S, and rarely dips below 40 MPG).

        If I'm not mistaken, the fastest charging method for a Tesla is using one of the Superchargers (assuming they're available in your area - the nearest one to me is more than 1200 miles away), which still takes at least an hour to get an 80% charge... and that's assuming no lines at the "

      • by BVis (267028)

        And even with a 250 mile range, road trips are not feasible in the near future regardless of what Elon Musk tells you.

        Oh really. [wordpress.com]

      • by Nadaka (224565)

        90% of drivers need a range of over 50 miles a day, less than twice a year.

        The vast majority of households could use an EV as their primary vehicle, a daily commuter. Relying on a second vehicle or rental for the longer trips.

        • I mentioned this in a previous post but it would be possible to make a little trailer with a fuel tank and generator and use that to provide extended range for an electric car.

    • by yurtinus (1590157)
      The Leaf isn't bad for what it is - but it in no way rivals the Tesla. Comparing a performance luxury sedan with a 200 mile range to an economy car with a 70 mile range is apples and oranges. A Leaf with a larger battery pack could even the comparisons, or an upmarket sedan with somewhat shorter range, but as they are the cars are simply too different.
    • by Smidge204 (605297)

      I wasn't aware Nissan as even trying to make a Tesla rival.

      Tesla has put their energies into making a brand based on performance and style. Nissan's LEAF offering is focused on affordability. They are not competing for the same market any more than Hyundai is competing with Lamborghini.
      =Smidge=

  • by djupedal (584558) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @01:46PM (#44875237)
    GM made wild promises about the Volt that it didn't follow thru on and now they're just making noise to try to convince investors to stick around. Until they do something that matters in this space, it's hard to take these types of statements seriously.
    • Indeed; if GM had ever been serious about electric cars, we'd all be driving around in an EV1 derivative right now.

  • . If so, the marketing must be better than the Volt's. Otherwise, it won't matter how good the car is.

    IF they really do have a car that goes 200 miles on a charge and costs $30,000, they won't need to run a single advertisement, that thing will market itself. I will strongly consider buying one, and I spent a lot of time complaining about the Volt.

    Remember that will be close to $20,000 after rebates, a really good deal.

    • Haha, a car that costs less than MSRP. That's a good one.

  • Sure they could. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kenja (541830) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @01:48PM (#44875257)
    But they would be lease only, GM would refuse to sell them to anyone and then they would for no reason take them all back and destroy them.
    • by 0123456 (636235)

      But they would be lease only, GM would refuse to sell them to anyone and then they would for no reason take them all back and destroy them.

      Sure, if you live in Hippie Fantasy World.

      In the real world, the EV1 was hugely expensive, the lease didn't even begin to pay for the cost of the car, and GM had very good reasons to trash them when it decided to scrap the program.

      • Re:Sure they could. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Kenja (541830) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @01:53PM (#44875335)
        And yet... GM refused to sell them to people with the money and willingness to buy them. GM decided they would rather destroy the cars then sell them (shrug).
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          There's all kinds of liability issues that most of Slashdot doesn't care to acknowledge. Anytime legal matters come up you guys just make up your mind that life shouldn't work that way and act like that somehow absolves any guilty party of responsibility. Unfortunately, for those of us who have to live in the real world, life doesn't work out that way. There would be all kinds of question of tax credits offered to GM if there were any, parts availability, and liability for environmental factors of disposing

          • Are you seriously saying that there is no possible way the lawyers at GM couldn't have come up with a valid waiver for drivers to sign saying that they were buying the cars as-is with no guarantee of servicing or parts availability?

  • "If so, the marketing must be better than the Volt's. Otherwise, it won't matter how good the car is." Tesla hasn't done any marketing besides just being an amazing car. And they are selling like hotcakes. The only reason car manufacturers have to market their "next-gen" ICE cars is that with each passing year, the changes on new models are incremental at best. The Tesla Model S is a revolutionary car in every sense of the word and therefore required zero marketing for it to literally sell-out for mon
  • PR (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheUglyAmerican (767829) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @01:56PM (#44875389)
    Sounds like they're trying to pump sugar daddy for more cash.
    • So I guess they should name it the "GM Bailout".

      Great name, for a car.

      Or how about the "GM Screw", for what it did to the US taxpayers.

  • The answer to "Could someone else make this thing I just made" is always "yes", eventually. We have patents to slow the arrival of the "yes" answer enough so that the first person to do so gets to make a bit of money.

    But in this case (and most other cases) there's more than one way to do it and a lot of relevant technology, a lot of which is general car technology. And in every case, sooner or later, the huge company with a huge patent portfolio and huge expertise in manufacturing is going to win the "lowes

  • by jfisherwa (323744) <jason.fisher@g m a i l . c om> on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @02:07PM (#44875513) Homepage

    .. then they could advertise much cheaper prices, get people in the door, and sell multiple range options based on the batteries they could afford/lease.

  • A friend was considering (but ended up not) taking over management of a lithium battery manufacturing plant.

    He pointed out that one problem with lithium batteries is heat dissipation.

    His plan was to make shaped batteries that could be mounted in the car's unused spaces. Big, flat batteries could be placed in the roof or on the floor, or in the door panels or behind the seats. With a larger surface to volume ration, they would dissipate heat more efficiently than the cylinder form factor. They would also fre

  • "If so, the marketing must be better than the Volt's. Otherwise, it won't matter how good the car is."

    That's like asking the president to give a New Glorious Speech to fix a deep problem. No, the problem has not been marketing - it has been mainly the cost (both to the purchaser and the subsidizing taxpayer), and to some extent performance (size, garages on fire).

  • Basically, even if GM made the greatest electric car the world will ever see, I don't think they could challenge Tesla with it. GM draws so many negative connotations - especially in the electric car field - that they have a nearly insurmountable obstacle to overcome. Even if they hadn't gone broke and needed the government support, they still would have to face the fact that they killed the EV1 in spite of many efforts from lessees to keep it going. Even if none of that had happened you still have the fact that the Chevy Volt was a contender to knock off Duke Nukem Forever on the vaporware lifetime achievement polls. Even if you ignore all of that you still have the fact that GM hasn't managed to get enough of their engineers in one room long enough to make a mass market hybrid that can outdo the Camry hybrid as a family car.

    I for one would love to see GM stick around, so that Ford has more competition. Some of my favorite Fords exist in their current states because they have competition from GM.
  • by istartedi (132515) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @02:43PM (#44875955) Journal

    Tesla's superchargers are what make it truly revolutionary. Pony up the bucks and get viable road-trip capability with no charge at the charger. Ummm... let me rephrase that... ummm... without spending any money at the point of charging. Yes, the car itself is expensive; but you have to factor that in.

    Unless GM is also planning a supercharger infrastructure of its own, or partnering with Tesla to allow their vehicle to pull up and charge, it's hobbled right out of the gate.

    Yeah fine, you go 200 miles then... GM has no answer. Tesla does.

  • by AnalogDiehard (199128) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @02:52PM (#44876085)
    Over twenty years ago GM made the EV-1 electric car [ev1.org]. It was only available for lease. The leasees were so happy with it that they wanted to buy the car, but the cars were reclaimed and destroyed under very questionable circumstances and production lines were promptly shut down. There are GM executives who are known to be rabidly hostile to EVs. Chevron, in collusion with the automakers, ultimately bought the patent to the EV-ideal environmentally-friendly NiMh battery and refuses to license it in a format suitable for EVs.

    The oil and auto industries colluded to keep EVs and any other competitive technology from eroding the profits of Big Oil. They did it before when they conspired through shell companies to acquire and destroy streetcar companies [wikipedia.org]. Streetcars were powered by electricity not fossil fuel, so by forcing consumers away from streetcars they had little choice but to buy cars. Auto makers fattened their profits, as did oil companies.

    I find it hard to believe that GM is at all serious about EVs.
    • by nojayuk (567177) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @04:29PM (#44877287)

      The EV-1 was an experiment, not a production car. They cost GM about $250,000 each to hand-build and they were leased only to people who already owned one or more petrol/gasoline cars as the EV-1's reliability couldn't be guaranteed and it might be recalled for upgrading or examination at any time during the lease.

      At the end of the experiment they were recalled and scrapped. If they had been sold on then GM would have been liable to provide a very expensive maintenance and parts supply operation for them for ten years minimum by law.

      The results were useful but proved that electric cars at that time were not quite ready for prime-time, not when gas cost less than a buck a gallon and the EV-1 had a range at full charge of about 80 miles or so. The original Ni-Cd and later Ni-MH batteries weren't up to the job but lithium tech batteries with their greater capacity, fast-charge capability and high current drain made the later development of hybrids and full-electric cars feasible.

      • "At the end of the experiment they were recalled and scrapped."

        In reality, they scrapped them as soon as they won their lawsuit against CARB. That ruling effectively reversed state law that required electric vehicles--the entire time GM was leasing electric vehicles, their lawyers were fighting to overturn laws that required electric vehicles be sold. The EV-1 was GM's response to those requirements, and when the requirements were reversed they repossessed all the EV-1s and crushed them.

        Citation:
        http://www. [ucsusa.org]

    • First hand experience with this type of behavior...What started out as an anecdote from an instructor turned into a lesson in Big Business.

      Many years ago I attended an automotive trade school with the intention of focusing on fuel systems and computerized engine controls. One of my instructors, while explaining the demise of carburetors, mentioned a modified Chevy V-8 getting 80 MPG. I pressed him on this claim. He went on to tell the story of the Moody Brothers, racers at heart and some of the best race-en

      • by geekoid (135745)

        It's not true. It's been around in one form or another. Here is a little thinking applied to it:

        If Shell(any company, really) had this tech they would make a mint licensing it. Remember it's about money, oil is just a product. I would guess they could gt 200 dollars a vehicle in licensing. So, Billions a year.(yes, it's based on a guess but I hope you see the point)
        These cars would still need Gas.
        They would have stopped any EV developments for at least a decade.
        And by sitting on it it means they risk someon

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