Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hybrids like 2010 Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF cornered at 10% market share

GM has taken a long time to bring a strong hybrid offering to market, and recently chairman Bob Lutz made it clear that the company’s decision to pursue hybrid cars is bittersweet. The 2010 Chevy Volt is a popular topic, made obvious by the amount of buzz streaming across the Internet and its already extensive waiting lists of orders.

With all of the positive publicity why then is Lutz down on hybrids? He says that GM loses money on many of its hybrids and will continue to do so in the intermediate future. Marring the future of hybrids further he also predicted that they will own a small piece of the overall car market, at 10% or less over the next 10 years!

That’s a cynical viewpoint, but perhaps based on some realistic experience. Lutz later said “for the next 10 years, that’s the way we see it! That would would be over 1.2 million units per year; at today’s price premium for plug-ins, that’s even an optimistic estimate, I think,” according to GM-Volt.

He also clarified later that he was referencing PHEV hybrids like the 2010 Chevy Volt and all electric vehicles like the Nissan LEAF. It seems that government requirements are driving a lot of GM’s research in hybrid vehicles, which wouldn’t be surprising considering how much money the company accepted in loans from the United States republic.

GM may also be benefiting from Toyota’s recent battle with defective gas petals which created mass recalls and destroyed part of its bubble of perfection. Where consumers once considered Toyota the only viable source of hybrid cars with its Prius model, they now may be considering competitors more seriously.

Exact pricing on the Chevy Volt isn’t available yet but it’s expected to be around $40,000 with about $7,000 in tax credits. They will likely be in production by the end of November 2010 but most of those will be snapped up quickly so realistically an average consumer may not have a chance to get one until 2012.