Current economics (UK prices) of Volt versus Euro-diesel.

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The usual. As I have two large solar PV systems here, and my lab assistant just put one in, and others are interested in things like this, here's where that stuff goes. This is mostly for things that work now, not "gee someday a fusor will do this" -- we know that, but it's not someday yet.
The hope is to save anyone embarking on this sort of thing a lot of wasted time and money, as at least I have been off the grid since 1980 and have had a lot of practice (and made mistakes you won't have to).

Current economics (UK prices) of Volt versus Euro-diesel.

Postby chrismb » Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:26 am

This is 'only fyi' and for the point of view of comparing with the competition.

I'll happily say again that if I could affort a Volt then I'd almost certainly buy one.

However ... in the interests of objectivity, a Volt does not currently add up to a financially better option that other European diesel models for the given level of performance/capability, for the first 200,000 miles or so.

Here I introduce a Skoda Octavia vRS model that I chose to match or exceed the specifications of the Volt.
11octavia_v_voltjpg.jpg

volt_versus_octavia_vRS.jpg


As you can see, even if you got completely free electricity and burnt zero fuel in the Volt (plus, you ignore the compound interest on the £17k you saved), in pure cash terms it would still not pay off to buy one here in UK, compared with the Octavia vRS, for 167,000 miles - and bear in mind that's at $10 per gallon. At $5 a gallon, it'd take > 300,000 miles to pay back!

So, why would I still buy the Volt, if I could (along with a solar system)? Not for money, that doesn't actually add up as a justification at current fuel prices, but because it is an engineeringly elegant solution with the flexibility to control your own energy sourcing/usage. Money can't buy the smugness of dodging the oil companies! I don't expect the oil in the world to dry up in my lifetime, but for sure the 'supply lines' for the stuff can run dry 'over night' and who can predict when that might happen?
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Re: Current economics (UK prices) of Volt versus Euro-diesel

Postby solar_dave » Sat Oct 27, 2012 5:36 pm

Yeah the Volt is not really basic transportation and anyone buying one as such is kidding themselves. We own 2 VOlts and the step up in luxury from the econo boxes while paying a premium for the Extended range electric drive was OK with us for lots of reasons. This being one.
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Re: Current economics (UK prices) of Volt versus Euro-diesel

Postby chrismb » Sat Oct 27, 2012 6:15 pm

I think we know why we like plugin hybrids!! ;)

I reckoned the vRS Octavia is of similar quality, which is why I picked it. If it was just down to pure economy, in a similar size, I'd probably pick a Hyundai i30 (albeit a fraction slower than the vRS or Volt):

i30_w_fuel_cons.jpg


At £15k and 76mpg (80 on highway cycle) from their new 1.6 110bhp diesel engine in the hatchback model, the remaining £24k would pay for 300,000 miles of fuel, even at our £6.35 ($10.20) per gallon price. In fact, it'd pay for 10,000 miles a year just off of interest of the balance at just 3.5% pa.
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Re: Current economics (UK prices) of Volt versus Euro-diesel

Postby Doug Coulter » Sun Oct 28, 2012 11:38 am

Chris, surely you realize you've got some serious fanatics on your hands here. (edit, Dave, if you didn't know, Chris is our resident skeptic, an honorable profession)
Solar dave and I both use solar, that when the car is already charged (most of the time) also runs our homes. We use very little gas - my current for 2012 is about 20 gallons, since I've been making the engine run on purpose to break it in for that first change to really good oil from the breakin crap that comes in any car.

You are forgetting several interesting factors.
You are assuming price of fuel stays constant, but it never has before, so that one's obviously wrong. When Solar was $10/watt and electricity .03 a kwh, yeah, I looked like an idiot buying stuff that had a 30 year payoff - but it paid for itself in under 5 years because...electricity went up.

I took my Volt in for inspection (had it just a year now). When they pulled off a wheel to look at brakes, they went nuts. The original tooling marks were on the disks (4 wheel disks on this thing) so they assumed bad caliper or something. Nope, you just never need the brakes till you're almost already stopped, due to regeneration - something no pure fuel vehicle can give you. I expect my brakes to last well pass 200k miles.

Similar issues with the engine. Oil change interval - 2 years. You didn't figure that into comparative costs, did you? Probable engine life? We don't know, we hardly ever run ours. Due to my insisting on getting an oil change and forcing mine to run, I *only* got 185 mpg in 2012 so far. The implication is that with under 10% of miles on gasoline, that thing is gonna last far past the life of any other engine, just because it only runs enough to keep itself oiled, that's about it (there is software to force that to happen every 3 months or so built in).

While I've not ridden in your compare car - here a lot of people compare the Volt to a Cruze (about the same miles per gallon when on gasoline) but that's a totally idiotic comparison, and I've owned both, same model year, and know what I'm talking about here. The Cruze is a well executed econo-box. Noisy, uncomfortable, no torque at the bottom (scary to turn across traffic), handles like, well, an econobox, less usable room and access to it, worse ride. It's just not an honest comparison to the Volt, with its negative roll center, 4w discs, a killer anti-skid (works laterally as well) system, a stereo similar in quality to the one I paid the local store $3000 to put into a buick of mine, heated seats, quiet, better everything by far.

People trade in Caddilacs, BMW 3 series and Audi 4's for this car....they are NOT buying a new car to "Save money" because that's simply stupid - they all go to value zero at some point, no one makes money on cars.
But I'll bet you this - you get one like you suggest, and find out if you don't need to buy two to go the same number of net miles I will get out of that Volt without wearing it out. Other than tires and wheel bearings, nothing else runs much. Even the clutches drop only at matched revs and are never in a slip mode.

You are therefore trying to make a comparison that cannot be honestly made. You will not get out of your econobox with a shit-eating grin every single time you drive it, but I do after driving my Volt.

As Dave was sort of pointing out, fossil fuels are causing many deaths, some of innocents, in our lust to get them and keep them flowing cheap. Diesels in EU all run on Libyan light sweet, which we don't get (our diesels need urea injection to kill the sulfur, another tank to fill which no one figures into the operating costs). This is why the Brits were so quickly into helping killing a bunch of people in Libya. That's just one little incident out of many. Are fossil fuels worth killing over? I can claim with some backing I'm not contributing to that particular disease. Don't care to attempt to assign a dollar value to that but it's certainly there as a consideration.

John Futter also mentioned super high prices for Volts in NZ. I think GM is not trying to sell them very hard yet. I paid 38k for mine, then got a tax rebate. I didn't make enough money to get the entire $7500 break, but in Euros at the current rates, they are trying to charge you over 50k for a Volt. That's crazy and will certainly change over time, probably pretty quickly. Takes awhile to roll out the specialized support and tools to each new country and while that's going on, availability is low and prices high. Just wait a little bit...
Posting as just me, not as the forum owner. Everything I say is "in my opinion" and YMMV -- which should go for everyone without saying.
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Re: Current economics (UK prices) of Volt versus Euro-diesel

Postby chrismb » Sun Oct 28, 2012 1:57 pm

Doug Coulter wrote:Chris, surely you realize you've got some serious fanatics on your hands here. (edit, Dave, if you didn't know, Chris is our resident skeptic, an honorable profession)

Just thought I'd go through the 'objective balance' thing. Not sure there's any point of disagreement here.


You are forgetting several interesting factors.
You are assuming price of fuel stays constant, but it never has before, so that one's obviously wrong. When Solar was $10/watt and electricity .03 a kwh, yeah, I looked like an idiot buying stuff that had a 30 year payoff - but it paid for itself in under 5 years because...electricity went up.

Who can tell. It has gone down as well as up, though that's looking pretty unlikely. The whole deal of 'being in control' of one's fuel is what counts. The reality is that it doesn't take that much less fuel to get it through its first 10 years of life, simply that GM has already burned that fuel up for you already making the batteries and all the other electrical/electronics kit on it.


I took my Volt in for inspection (had it just a year now). When they pulled off a wheel to look at brakes, they went nuts. The original tooling marks were on the disks (4 wheel disks on this thing) so they assumed bad caliper or something. Nope, you just never need the brakes till you're almost already stopped, due to regeneration - something no pure fuel vehicle can give you. I expect my brakes to last well pass 200k miles.

I replaced my front discs this year on my Vectra for the first time at 140,000 miles. That was 70,000 miles of me driving it. If the guy who owned it before me had driven the same, 200,000 miles is possible from modern cars.

The rear drums are still original on my car, at 150,000.

Just to note, seeing as European cars have historically tended to get rear discs before the US we've seen here what happens with 'old' discs - rear discs almost always get pitted and corroded after about 5 or 6 years because of too little use. I had to replace the rear discs on my 130k 6 year old Subaru a few years back, the brake bias is such that they don't get enough use (still original, at 130k), and if you don't use them enough they'll rust out before they wear. Less likely on the front. Hope GM has thought that one through. Unfortunately, one of my cars also has read discs which are going this way. My old banger has rear drums, thank goodness; a superior solution for the read axle but you don't seem to be able to tell vehicle manufacturers that.

I recommend light but regular use, and an occasional 'heavy burn'. You probably do this already, but don't get too eager to be brake-shy, especially in winter when the corrosion rate will be much higher if they are left 'unbraked'. It is a horrible waste of fuel in the cycle I usually drive, but I do a 'big brake' every now and again so that the rear discs come on actively and help reduce the corrosion.

Similar issues with the engine. Oil change interval - 2 years.

That's usual here too. 18k/2 years is standard. In fact, 18k/2 years has been common since 2000.

When I had my Skoda, I got 3 years free servicing too (that was annual services for that particular car, actually), with an extendable service/warranty all in for £500.

Probable engine life? We don't know, we hardly ever run ours. Due to my insisting on getting an oil change and forcing mine to run, I *only* got 185 mpg in 2012 so far.

The Skoda comes with 3 years, unlimited mileage warranty.
The Hyundai comes with 5 years, 60k mileage warranty.
You can buy Kia's here in UK that come with 7 year 100k warranties. There's probably an even better Kia deal than the examples I gave above, too.
These are bumper-to-bumper warranties.
If GM was as confident as you, they should improve their warranties to compete. :)

Too little use of cars can often be as much trouble as too much use. We have a 'family MPV' which I take out once a week just to make sure everything is firing regularly. Even that probably isn't enough to keep it on top form.

While I've not ridden in your compare car - here a lot of people compare the Volt to a Cruze ...People trade in Caddilacs, BMW 3 series and Audi 4's for this car....

The Skoda is an Audi A4 in a 're-branded' skin. Skoda is actually VAG's 'test bed' brand - they put new kit on these to make sure they work out first, before branding them as Audi. The idea is that if there's any show-stoppers that might kill the brand reputation then they don't get as far as the Audi. The benefit is that the Skoda is a fantastic deal.

You are therefore trying to make a comparison that cannot be honestly made. You will not get out of your econobox with a shit-eating grin every single time you drive it, but I do after driving my Volt.

I find no pleasure in driving here in UK anymore, whatsoever. They are overcrowded, potholed roads filled with aggressive tail-gating drivers who have no conception what you are doing when you ease of the throttle 'cos there's a red-light ahead. Real bone-headed driving here. I feel more comfortable driving a 'worthless' (nonetheless reliable and economical) old car in these conditions, and I get out on every trip with a grimace. :? Car=domestic appliance. I used to enjoy my driving. That was many years ago. Don't care about the car anymore providing it is quiet and smooth.

As Dave was sort of pointing out, fossil fuels are causing many deaths, some of innocents, in our lust to get them and keep them flowing cheap. Diesels in EU all run on Libyan light sweet, which we don't get

No idea. For sure it is 'not all diesel'. I know we get some synthetic diesel from Qatar, and since 2010 there's been a legal requirement for B5 (5% blend with biodiesel). But it's stretching the truth by a measure of your enthusiasm to suggest the Volt reduces the consumption of conflict-resources, thereby helps reduce such conflicts. All that stuff in the batteries also comes from similarly divisive sources, and even if what you said is so it's not for us to 'fix'. I'm with Adam Smith in this particular scenario - we would be driving betterment by exercising our own personal interests, not by trying to moralise over it.
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Re: Current economics (UK prices) of Volt versus Euro-diesel

Postby solar_dave » Sun Oct 28, 2012 4:38 pm

Rust pitting our brakes are not a concern here, if anything dry rot on rubber components will be the big issue for us over the life of this car, hopefully there will be the likes of poly urethane bushing and such when the time come for replacements.

As far as using foreign oil supplies, what our government does to maintain that flow is not really what I want my tax dollars or the Chinese credit dollars we are getting doing. It devalues my assets every day, puts lots of people in jeopardy and makes us not the masters of our own destiny. Hopefully in a week or so we will have a better picture of that going forward.
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Re: Current economics (UK prices) of Volt versus Euro-diesel

Postby Doug Coulter » Sun Oct 28, 2012 6:17 pm

I wasn't talking about rotors - the pads will last nearly forever!
Fuel going up is a safe bet, one that's made me hundreds of thousands. The only time it went down is in the crash created by MS manipulating it up to 147/bbl for a little while. This has two drivers - money printing being the prime, and whatever you want to call peak oil being the other.
Usual oil change reccies here are 7k miles for synthetic, less for "regular" oil. Most Americans therefore need oil changes at 6 mo or less intervals, and that stuff isn't cheap.

I'm honestly sorry to hear you find no pleasure in driving anymore. It sounds like you should consider a change of location. You need not go as far as "driving heaven" where I live to do a lot better than that.
When BillF visited, yes, he mentioned how nasty the roads and drivers were there. It's luckily a localized phenomenon, more prevalent in large old crowded cities here (and probably on that side of the pond too).
Sadly, the high cost of city life seems to make people think they are chained to high paying jobs mostly only available in cities. In the real world, there are cheaper places to live, and it works out, else no one would live there...but a lot of us do, because we realize that if it costs you much less to basically live in the boonies, you don't need to make as much money either.

The Volt, Tesla, Fords of various flavors cut down America's need for imported fuel every single day - just not enough, yet. Give it some time. We import 40% of what we import from Canada now, maybe it can go to zero from the conflict-ridden areas as far as the US is concerned. Sure, oil is fungible (other than light sweet that is), and China (which is financially starting to look like US in 2006, uh oh - demand may be heading for a crash, who knows?) is of course, the demand at the margin. But it would still be better if the US, the main bad actor in starting wars over there - would no longer feel the need to.

The Volt has an 8 year 150k mile bumper to bumper warranty, at least in the US. Mine does at any rate, I have a copy of it in the glove box. Yes, it includes the battery, of which it uses a 10kwh window in the middle of a 16.6kwh capacity, along with advanced junk like temperature management to extend life. In other words, that thing can degrade quite a lot before I'd even notice any range reduction, and as of now, I'm averaging 45 miles per (free after I bought the dual use panels) charge.

Li is mined all over at low profit margins, there aren't conflicts like in the middle east in those places, and no, it does NOT take anything like the energy to make a battery that it even stores in a few cycles, much less a lifetime. That old bull about a solar panel not making enough energy to make a solar panel is surfacing again? I refute that by running more than one electric welder at a time here, whenever needed, while still having enough left to net-charge the house or car batteries, or both. It's bunk. Li batteries do have energy inputs, but nothing like what runs through them in use. It's nothing like the difference between the
46,720,000 watt hours these are guaranteed to cycle through in their life - if you only do it once a day, and there is no limit to doing it once per day. Call it 47 megawatt hours? Can you really come up with numbers that say it takes anything remotely close to that to build a Volt battery pack?

We have sure, a few more $4 computers in a Volt than most, but not all, other cars. So?

I was unaware of anything that gets 100 mpg on any fuel whatever (other than my 35 mph tops gokart). Priuses get in the mid 50's under ideal conditions, but are not in the same class (lousy handling, noisy boring cars). Some Volkswagons get in the same range on diesel, but here there is that extra tank to fill for the NOX and sulfur pollution regs, so they're not really cheaper to drive. Are you sure you weren't using shorter miles (klicks) or larger gallons (imperial) or both?

I have the same issue with a truck I own. If it were alive, it'd be feeling pretty rejected right now (I'm glad it's neither alive nor female!). Drove it for the first time in two weeks yesterday, just to keep the tires from flat-spotting, oil on things, you know. Damn - going to the nearest store is 27 miles roundtrip, at 17 mpg in that thing. It's not worth it! And it's a nice truck to drive etc. Just too doggone expensive to twist the key on. 11k miles since it was bought in 2007 - mostly for hauling things you wouldn't want to put in a car (firewood, horse manure). The Volt will and has held 2 full size bicycles in the back...nothing hanging out.


I'd really like to get you on google+ along with some other nice folks I know. One thing we find out there is that most of us (after the usual filtering of outright jerks) are cool - but our governments are not, constantly wanting to promote some conflict somewhere. Just trying to take their excuses away. I even find myself, as a conservative, in more or less complete agreement with self-described flaming liberals on almost everything - but especially including that. Now here we are saber rattling with Iran, but the actual humans I've met there - all pretty nice people...they don't like their government anymore than we do (or our own). More people figuring this out could be a major world changing event. I'd love to see the meme spread, myself. Can you imagine that I had a little jam session the other day with an Iranian and an Israeli guitarists and politics did not come up except to say - oh, our governments, they have nothing to do with our wishes? True, and enlightening.
Posting as just me, not as the forum owner. Everything I say is "in my opinion" and YMMV -- which should go for everyone without saying.
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