GM Turns To Scare Tactics To Sell The 2011 Chevrolet Volt

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Range Anxiety

Range Anxiety

Fear is a powerful motivator. It has been used in the past to start wars, persuade kids to study at school and of course, sell life insurance.

But now GM appears to be gearing up to use the fear of running out of electricity to give the extended-range 2011 Chevrolet Volt a competitive edge over purely electric cars.

In a move which will not improve the company image among many electric vehicle advocates, GM has applied to trademark “range anxiety” in order to promote “public awareness of electric vehicle capabilities”.

If granted trademark status, range anxiety could be used exclusively by GM to compare the 2011 Chevrolet Volt to pure electric vehicles, such as the 2011 Nissan Leaf.

First 2011 Chevrolet Volt built on production tooling at Detroit Hamtramck plant, March 31, 2010

First 2011 Chevrolet Volt built on production tooling at Detroit Hamtramck plant, March 31, 2010

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In what may be a counter productive move for GM, we think that the 2011 Volt advertising campaigns will use the fear of being stranded to sell the extended-range car.

And while the 2011 Volt will travel several hundred miles powered by electricity generated by the on-board gasoline-powered generator, cars like the 2011 Nissan Leaf will travel at least 100 miles per charge of electricity.

Listening to Joel Ewanick, GM’s head of U.S. marketing, you would be forgiven for thinking pure electric vehicles would lead to stranded cars on every freeway in the country.
“It’s something we call ‘range anxiety,’ and it’s real. We’re going to position this as a car first and electric second...people do not want to be stranded on the way home from work.”

The argument is futile, when most commutes in America are less than 40 miles per day.
Either the 2011 Chevrolet Volt range is less than GM would like to admit, or the advertising campaign could cost GM future customers.

2011 Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt

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We think a better way to sell the 2011 Chevrolet Volt would be to highlight the car’s ability to drive long distance weekend trips using gasoline, while providing near zero emissions daily travel during the week.

In contrast to scaring drivers that electric vehicles won’t provide reliable enough to operate without a backup generator, Nissan’s approach to range anxiety seems to be over engineering.  In our experience with the car, the 2011 Nissan Leaf reliably has a range of at least 100 miles per charge.

Providing reliable, consistent performance and estimating a maximum range well below what the vehicle is really capable of is surely a better way to sell a car than scaring customers into believing not buying a particular product will leave them stranded.

To quote StarTrek’s interminable Mr. Scott, “A good engineer is always a wee bit conservative, at least on paper”.
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Comments (42)
  1. The truth is not a scare tactic. It's the whole point of the car, for crying out loud.

  2. As an EV driver, this campaign will have no effect on me. It may have some effect on those who have not driven an EV. I am NEVER attracted to those who try to get sales by running down the competition.
    The EV driver quickly learns not to set out on a trip which is beyond the range of the car. The "range anxiety" comes in when one learns not to abuse the battery. Since 98% of trips are within the range of an electric car, concern about range simply is not an issue. Those who are really concerned should have a second car available.
    Electric cars are not yet ready for intercity driving. Lots of cars are. As long as gasoline cars are available, they will be better for intercity driving. Electric cars are superior for short trips. Most of our trips are short trips. End of story.

  3. we should have let them go out of business. their stupid decisions have cost them to need to get bailed out twice.
    this is beyond stupidity. if they dont come out with evs, they will have nothing to sell, cuz nobody will buy a hybrid.
    and when they are forced to come out with an ev, just look how ridiculously stupid their past jabbering will look.
    this is not rocket science. whoever gm hires to dream up this stuff cant see beyond his nose. which is why it continues to get chopped off.
    General Motors has Gone Mad.

  4. gm must still have large ties to the oil companies. their last ditch effort to use gasoline in cars.
    range anxiety is no more than inexperience with something new. every time we have someone speak who actually owns one already, he doesnt have this "range anxiety".

  5. The fact is, no mass produced electric vehicle has ever caught on - EVER. Uh.... could the reason be... they don't go nearly as far as what the average mass market person expects out of a car? And don't they take half a day to 'fill up'?
    Get over your hate for GM, All Electric Cars. They didn't Kill the Electric Car. They reinvented it, and what they did is the one that will finally establish electric powered transportation as an enduring market segment in the automobile world.

  6. I would hardly call this a scare tactic and this is nothing new or profound from GM, they have been talking about range anxiety since the beginning. Yes it may make people consider purchasing an EV, however that is probably a good thing because they will have to consider the lifestyle changes and tradeoffs in owning an EV, there are a ton of positives of course, but sometimes people don't think about the possibility of splitting trips up or planning their day and charging in advance, this is also obviously the exception but you still have to think about it. I would rather people think about it than have some dumb article on CNN talking about how all these new EV owners are now having to get towed because they took a trip too far one time. This would be rare of course but I am sure it would make CNN and get picked up by other news outlets along with Lindsey Lohan getting out of jail.

  7. GM is so corrupt that if I were to offer them one billion dollars to stop making that crappy plastic sports car the Corvette, they'd do it without blinking. Executives like those at GM and politicians all have a purchase price.
    Oh, and Kent if you have the right equipment you could charge in as little as 45 minutes. Gasoline power didn't work very well when it first started out either.

  8. "Executives like those at GM all have a purchase price"...
    Righto, cdspeed. Why limit it to GM execs - what executives don't have a purchase price? Toyota's, maybe? Nissan's?
    "if you have the right equipment you could charge in as little as 45 minutes."
    LOL. What a stupid comment. You think Joe Average Buyer has that equipment or even lives where that kind of power is available? Put down the bong and set aside your fantasies. The present is waiting for you to become present.

  9. hey kent,
    go peddle your crappy gm stuff to someone dumb enough to believe it. the writing is so on the wall, that only a dummy could not see it.
    the ev1 was well liked, and sold well. gm crushes them all, and chevron ends up with the nimh battery patent. even a moron could figure that one out.
    today, gm and toyota were the only 2 car companies who had said they were gonna stick with the hybrids. at least with toyota, they already had been selling one.
    there was no reason for gm to come out with a gasoline engine in the volt, except to further gas sales.
    the release of the volt as it is now, hurts the ev industry as opposed to helping it. or put another way, the ev industry would have benefited more if gm had come out with an all electric vehicle, like nissan, and everyone else did.
    gm will pay for its stupidity. it will fail at its attempt to keep gasoline going, and that very attempt will hurt future gm sales.
    General Motors is Genuinely Moronic.
    i agree that most execs can be bought, but gm has prostituted itself to the oil industry at everyone else's expense for a long time. i would love to see them lose more market share, so everyone can see what dummies they are.

  10. @ Kent, Admit it the only reason you've posted a comment is because you're a GM fanboy. Don't worry their still going to make Camaros, and we don't have to worry about little Joe Average, EVs are just starting to grow they will get better and less expensive. Besides do you look over your comments before you click POST, you didn't even get the name of the site correct in your first post.

  11. a word to the wise - as a general rule, when one stoops to using fear or smear tactics, it is because he does not have a strong case. which is why so many politicians use it, cuz all they know how to do is to try to manipulate people.
    if you cant use reason, try to dazzle them with bs.

  12. Noel and two have no clue about EVs. And what a lie saying it is real. If you two had any intelligence about EVs and the EV Project, you would know that there will be thousands of charging stations before the LEAF is delivered in Dec. AND some of those will be DC fast chargers that can charge the car in as little as ten-fifteen mins., depending on how many miles you've driven. More than 90% of drivers drive less than 100 miles a day and we will be charging them at home with our FREE charging stations using our pvs. So before you two spout such FUD, do your homework and you may learn something.

  13. I do not worry so much about range anxiety from the perspective of being stranded as I do from suddenly needing to go somewhere (that I hadn't planned on) that I don't have the range for. Things come up unexpectedly away from home where the only car you have available is the one you are driving. I really like the extra AER of the leaf over the volt but I really wish they would add some kind of mimumal range extender. It would not have to be efficient or powerful - just be there in those rare situtations that I really need it.

  14. The leaf and volt are to be the first production electric cars. The EV1 was limited production and the successful electric cars of the early 1900 (and the Tesla) were/are hand made. The series hybrid idea behind the Volt has a place, but it may be more useful as a detachable trailer for a BEV. For my original analysis of GM "advertising" see;_ylt=AnUtZTPbEL8Ay5NB0C9ypgHty6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20100728111446AA4DiG5 Resorting to fear tactics does cast doubt on value in the product. But after the EV1 our doubts about GM have never really been displaced anyway. We are continuing to ask if the Volt is a serious offering or expected to fail?

  15. @All ...look guys we all think we are right. Here is the reason I would prefer a Volt to an EV. When my family had to evacuate for the last hurricane, we sat in traffic for 5 HOURS before we could start driving and had to drive from Texas to Kansas before we could find an available hotel room. I know that a ICE or EREV could accomplish that. Do you KNOW that an EV could respond so well in a traffic jam/long trip? I realize you could have a ICE car for that, but would you want to leave your NEW car behind for the flood and take your OLD ICE car a long distance? Maybe the answer is a VOLT and a LEAF?

  16. how could that be the answer for you ? you would be leaving behind a brand new leaf.
    do you think that your automobile purchase should be predicated on hurricane evacuation ? how often have you had to evacuate ?
    the volt is nothing but an excuse to sell gasoline. it goes 40 miles on electricity and then uses gas.
    you may not be a good candidate as a first purchaser of an ev. that is true of lots of people.
    i dont care what year they put on the vehicle, 2011 is basically the first year that evs will be purchased. those vehicles have been reserved. the following year will more than likely also have waiting lists.
    so we already have way enough demand to sell those vehicles. as each year rolls around, there will be more improvements, including battery range. and this will continue to drive more and more people towards evs.

  17. at some point, it will fit your needs, and you will move in that direction.
    i do a lot of local bicycling, so the following is something that i perhaps notice moreso, because of it. it used to be that when gas stations closed down, they got renovated, and were back up a year later. for the past 5 years, they never re-open.
    for those in the know, this ev introduction has been planned for some time. the dwindling of gas stations will spur on the drive towards evs.
    i would not be surprised to see an all electric volt, but i doubt that it will be made with a gas engine for more than a couple of years.
    i would not want to be one of the stupid people who buys a volt, and finds out that its value has dropped to a pittance after two years, cuz no one else wants to buy it.
    after 2011 and 2012, the typical perception of evs will change dramatically. "range anxiety" and the hybrid volt will take their place in automobile history along side the edsel.

  18. Just like "Beyond Petroleum" (BP) making a limited number of solar panels while increasing oil production and fighting environmental regulations, GM is using a halo vehicle for greenwashing while trying to preserve the status quo. GM is trying to undermine true electric vehicles that offer a threat to the status quo while offering a limited number of its expensive plug-in hybrid and a millions of gas guzzlers.
    GM is trying to make it look like they support electric vehicles while actively opposing true electric vehicles in marketing, lobbying and industry organizations. We have seen this before.

  19. Keep up the good work, HGM, the more you say "range anxiety", the more the message gets out!
    Mwah, hah, hah, hah, hah, haaaaaaaaa.....

  20. Well said Alec! basically most of the people who have written here are morons or a clearly being paid by gm or works for gm. Who the hell would come to a site is they supported petrol only cars. Like the mere though of all cars electric would never cross their mind unless they had a different sneaky agenda which they probably do. Range anxiety is fear mongering since as said by Ev enthusiast we travel within the range of electrics every day if that. Its amazing how dumb people are. directly after ev's post some moron totally contradicted the opinion with some bull crap jabber that was just stated only to the contrary. Also some next monkey talking crap about the Corvette. Sure I am for EV but you idiot the Corvette Z06 is the best sports car for your money in the world-without a doubt. The only reason why EV have not been massed produced is because companies like GM lobby against them along with oil company. The government also provides over 12X the subsidies for non renewables compared to renewables. Its amazing how so many Americans are so patriotic yet they are addicted to sucking on the oil producing teats of Saudi Arabia and be so pro oil even though the majority of the oil YOU use funds terrorists that want to kill you. LOL

  21. Sorry Nikki but, this article doesn't make much sense. Kinda like saying the Volt is obsolete because you'll never drive the Leaf more than 50 miles in any one direction.
    If you're going to attack the Volt, focus on it's price (like everyone else)...

  22. it makes perfect sense to me. most everyone today could easily get by on 100 miles per charge.
    range anxiety exists only in the minds of those who are not yet knowledgeable, and fear the unknown.
    and those are not the people who are gonna be buying during the first several years. so it dont make a hoot of difference.
    for the first several years, we will probably continue to see reservations and waiting lines, as companies ramp up production.
    they cant afford to put a zillion cars and a zillion models out right away - cuz we will have problems that need to be addressed. and these problems wont be known until people start driving them.
    if it were up to gm, no evs would be sold. had they really wanted to be part of the ev industry, they would have come out with a non-gas car.
    we already know what they did when they were the only ev game in town. now they are ridiculously trying to stop the snowball from falling, and using an icepick.
    evs are coming. i hope gm gets run over, blown out, and disintegrated. but assuming they want to get some business, they need to abandon they hybrid, and go full on ev, which is what they will probably do with the volt.

  23. @ev enthusiast: Dude you forgot your meds....

  24. Lessee, we're going to sell electric cars by attacking them. Scare tactics worked so well for the EV-1, let's try it again! Oh, and let's give the car the most negative electricity-inspired name we can think...Shocker? No, that's too "on the nose." I know: Volt, like a nasty jolt of eletricity! And let's make the styling agressive and mean.

  25. Think about this. If everyone had a electric car we would have power shortages around the world. We would be in a world of trouble.

  26. Ever been in a traffic jam? Even an electric car uses energy: the radio, the fan, maybe even (god forbids) airco? And then the start/stop in the jam all the time.
    I live 35 kilometers from work, not that far. But I don't want to beg my employer for electricity for my car because I wouldn't get home otherwise. And in Belgium, the average speed you get in morning traffic: 50 km/h. No, I welcome the ER-EV.

  27. yea, think about this. if everyone had an electric car, the sun would stop shining, and the earth would freeze solid.
    dont you oil shills feel ridiculous ? if you want to feed someone that garbage, dont come to an electric car site, where we are way past that.
    you still need to find someone naive enough to believe your trash.

  28. The author seems to weave facts into a conclusion that GM is doing something remarkable; using fear to market a product. Virtually every advertisement uses fear to market a product. This article raises fear-mongering to a new level, not a particularly good level.

  29. What happens if one is driving a Nissan Leaf and their around town driving needs change after the trip begins, requiring more than 100 miles of driving capability? They are stranded! The Chevrolet Volt gives one the ability to make such changes and still return to the starting point.

  30. what happens when an oil shill comes to an all electric car site, and starts using those same fear tactics ? they get laughed at, hysterically. LOL.
    what happens when you are making your daily commute of 75 miles, and you are driving a volt ?
    YOU BURN GASOLINE. now i get it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. I fear that hybrids will be obsolete before the ten year life of the Volt ends. All it would take is one good battery breakthrough.When, not if, better batteries become available, gasoline stations will close and auto mechanics will find other kinds of jobs. Maybe Chevy Volt buyers should have range anxiety.

  32. Lets all think of it this way, todays electric car is similar to the first flat panel TV. The first one I had seen when flat TVs first came out cost $24,000 it didn't come with speakers they were extra, it wasn't HD,it was four inches thick, and it needed a tuner box so you could plug-in cable TV and your other accessories. Now TVs are half an inch thick, with speakers the plugs are in the back, there HD 1080P and can cost less than $1,000. We are able to develop technologies faster than any other point in history, it won't be long before electric cars are able to make the same leap that would make it available to every one from every brand. So the GM employees who have posted comments on this article need to back down and leave those of us looking to the near future alone. We are all aware GM has been paid off by major oil companies to attempt to halt progress and keep us all as oil junkies but this time will be different, going green is no mere trend.

  33. hi desert and cd,
    one thing i have mentioned in the past, that i will repeat. it is not that we dont have the technology.
    they simply wont release anything more than they need, in order to sell what they want to sell. they dont want us too satisfied with our current product, or we may hold on to it for longer.
    right now, there is a huge demand, and a small supply. so prices are up. it may take a few years before the auto companies can ramp up production enough to meet demand. but when they need it, something new will be out, you can bet your boots on that.
    that is the way of the world since long before i was born.

  34. i dont know if you guys saw my post on solar roads, but apparently that is where we are headed. if all 25,000 square miles of asphalt were covered with solar roads, it would generate 3 times our current use in electricity.
    our cars will be charged as we drive. the roads will serve as our new power lines.
    they plan to start in parking lots of large businesses, like wal mart, and macdonalds. businesses that have stores all over the place, from a geographical situation.
    venture out onto residential streets, and finally on the highways. it is a 50-year plan or so, but at least we can have a better understanding of where we are heading.

  35. This isn't a scare tactic, its the truth. I live in Orange County Calif, if I wanted to go to my buddies house in San Diego, a mere hour trip I would not be able to use the Leaf. San Diego is not far at all under normal circumstances from Orange County but the Leaf would be completely useless for me in that scenario hence the word "range anxiety". The Volt on the other hand would allow me to travel to San Diego with no thought at all while accomplishing pure EV during the work week.
    I don't understand your refusal to understand this. EV's do not work as a primary car for exactly the reason I just stated. The Volt can, period.

  36. it depends on who you are, and what you define a "primary car" to be.
    most people use their car less than 100 miles on any given day. therefore, it can be recharged at night, and used the next day.
    the next question to ask is how many times do you or someone similar drive from oc to sd ?
    for many, many people the best solution is to own an ev, and rent a gas car if and when they have the need.

  37. i think we all agree that not everyone is a good candidate for this year's leaf. but for each person like you, i bet there are 10 people who drive between 40-100 miles a day, such that they would need to burn gas with the volt, where they do not with a pure ev.
    the volt is a pure excuse to continue the burning of gasoline. that is its only real reason for existence.
    people who buy them will no doubt have regrets down the road. every year, the batteries will continue to add more range, making the volt less and less desirable, from a resale standpoint.
    it simply isnt needed. a person such as you might be better off buying a used prius/hybrid.
    it is simply a poor choice to put new bucks into a car with a gasoline engine in it. keep going used to meet your needs, until there is an ev that will do so.
    this is exactly what the majority of people will do, and how the spread of evs will occur.

  38. Truly bewildering statement and direction by GM. "Range-anxiety"? - ridiculous. None of the lessees of their previous BEV complained about their range. In fact, they all agreed that range was not an issue as they knew the limitations and so naturally compensated. Most domestic drivers would never exhaust the range of the vehicles on day to day (90% of the time) driving.
    The only "anxieties" demonstrated by their previous EV customers was down to - a. Not being able to extend their lease or buy their cars outright, b. Having their beloved EV's taken away from them and c. Outrage at seeing their cars crushed.
    Honestly, Big Oil and conspiracy theories aside, GM make great cars but terrible (some would say moronic) decisions.

  39. About EV battery technology:
    Needs must as the devil drives, in other words – if there is profit in developing smaller, lighter, more powerful batteries, then smaller, lighter, more powerful batteries will come – and sooner than we think.
    Try googling ‘battery technology 2010’. You will find a plethora of companies racing to developing the portable power needs for the new electric generations. A year ago MIT announced that they had successfully developed a Li battery which far exceeded the current Li ion batteries – recharging to 80% capacity in 10 minutes, 30% lighter, 40% more capacity and environmentally friendly.
    This is just one example of dozens of new technologies under development.
    New advances in solar (photo-voltaic) panel efficiency including a PV paint, and dramatically lighter and stronger materials (i.e. carbon nanotube amalgamates), could mean that in a few years for 90% of the time we could be driving for free!
    No need for a backup gas guzzling, high maintenance charging engine – just a waste of electricity to cart the damn thing around with you.

  40. Just buy a Prius instead:) We get 49-50 MPG all day long, so we have the best of range, economy and comfort. I would buy another one again, Drive one and then do the math. Simple:)

  41. As long as your Prius doesn't surge and burp and bump cars around you, that is. Toyota is doomed, the quicker they're gone the betta.

  42. Personally, I'm sick of propaganda and scare tactics. We get enough of that on Fox news. If GM decides to go ahead with its range anxiety fear campaign, they will be driving me away from the Volt and into the seat of a Leaf.

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