New Chevy Volt Ad Hits Back At Critics With 'Just The Facts'

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To say the Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car has become a political punching bag would be to understate the obvious.

Now, GM is slowly, carefully trying to get the facts about the Volt out to the public at large, hoping to win hearts and minds in a larger battle involving electric cars, image, and politics.

A new ad appeared today, entitled "Just the Facts".

The ad starts out, "There's been a lot of talk about the Chevy Volt lately."

Yep. Sure has.

The voiceover efficiently covers the awards the Volt has won, the 395,000 hours of testing GM put into developing its lithium-ion battery pack, and--"most importantly"--the Volt's top safety ratings from both the NHTSA and the IIHS.

"The extended-range, electric Chevy Volt," it finishes. "Hard to argue with the facts."

On the screen is a sentence saying, "Gas-powered generator provides electric range," in type small enough that we suspect many viewers will miss it.

2011 Chevrolet Volt charging port

2011 Chevrolet Volt charging port

Enlarge Photo

The Volt has been called a sales failure (we think it's too early to make that call), the car Obama forced GM to build (absolutely false), and useless because it has only 25 to 40 miles of battery range (which is correct--but ignores the fact that the car switches on its gasoline generator to provide 300 more miles of range).

With the U.S. government still owning a substantial portion of the reconstituted General Motors [NYSE: GM], the company may feel it cannot directly attack its most vociferous and fact-free critics.

And doing so could run the risk of simply giving further exposure to their arguments, however disconnected from reality they may be.

But many electric-car advocates have criticized the marketing of the Chevy Volt, and suggested ways to fix it. A revolving door of no fewer than five marketing managers hasn't helped the car either.

What do you think? Will this ad help the Volt's public image? Does it go far enough?

Or should Chevy work to counter the criticisms of the Volt more aggressively?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.


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Comments (31)
  1. When the Volt can get up to 150 miles on their battery, then they can call themselves an electric car and brag, and why didn't they present "Just the facts maam, just the facts" before this? I think the Volt is the best GM can do.

  2. Just the facts? Let's see, now. $42K for a blah-humbug slow moving plain Jane vehicle that can't do better than 35 MPG and may or may not have a battery that lasts 8 years and whose replacement may cost an arm and a leg. You can bet that GM won't be citing THOSE facts. The Volt has flopped, big time, and it ain't got nothin' to do with adverse publicity. They couldn't sell those back when there was no adverse publicity.

  3. Actually I think style wise the Volt is one of the best looking cars in Chevrolet's lineup. And you are getting quite an advanced car for your money.

  4. Yeah, Ramon, $42k for a car that actually costs $34.5 after the tax credit and will save $5k-$10k in fuel costs over the first five years... And, for the 20th time, what part of the eight-year battery warranty don't you get? If it doesn't last eight years, it gets replaced for free. Is that too difficult for you to grasp?

  5. I thinks it's funny when people call the Volt "slow moving". :D
    It just shows the've never really driven one.

  6. When I test drove one from the dealer, i put it in sport mode and launched from every traffic light. It may not have Ferrari-like speed but, it sure turned some heads pulling ahead of everyone first!

  7. There are more comments in this thread
  8. I continue to believe that if the government were not part owner of GM, a portion of the visceral quality in Volt coverage discussions would diminish. IMHO, fantastic GM took a risk and my hope is that the car posts solid sales growth and, perhaps more importantly, provides important technology/learnings for future projects. While timing will be important, I continue to believe the sooner the company can convince the government to sell it's stake (even at a loss), the better as that will at least remove one simmering/under-lying theme driving some of the tenor in discussions about individual vehicles (in this case the Volt).

  9. Start the education campaign with the commenters here. Most people are well within the battery-only operating range of the Volt and that when you need to go further there is no limit to how far you can go. (A) the car doesn't cost $42K, even before the federal tax credit, unless you add options, (B) anyone who has actually driven one knows it is not slow moving, (C) plain jane... (see Coda), (D) that 35MPG official estimate is a far cry from the 40+ actual drivers get, (E) battery replacement cost will be much cheaper than the original price as battery prices are already falling. Any more so-called facts you want answered or are you like most nay sayers who don't really want to hear actual facts?

  10. To be fair, in a run of 1300 miles with average cruise set at 90mph about 70% of the time will yield 31mpg.

  11. 90 mph. Slow down!

  12. I agree with J R, if your doing 90 mph your speeding. And at 90 mph, 31 mpg isn't exactly bad.

  13. Since we're talking FACTS here, I think I'll pipe up...
    I had the cruise set at 100mph through eastern Montana for over an hour and got 34mpg. That's totally awesome.
    From LA to Vegas then Denver up through Wyoming and across Montana I averaged 42.3 mpg and I had my foot in the accelerator the whole time.
    The car is still accelerating strong when the limiter kicks in at 101mph and you can feel it.
    My black Chevy Volt (#3219) is the finest example of brilliant automotive engineering I've ever had the pleasure to drive.

  14. There are more comments in this thread

  16. What we all get is that people who write in all caps are brilliant, all the time... You don't get it, the Prius doesn't get 55-57 MPG to begin with, you're using electricity rates double what I'd pay here off-peak and the Volt is a far better looking car, to say the least.

    Here's a very simple option for haters like you: don't buy the Volt. Nobody here attacks your choice, but you absolutely have to attack a vehicle that many here, myself included, strongly prefer over a Prius.

    Using actual electricity rates here, if I drive 80% in EV mode, I would save about $4k over five eyars compared to the Prius V, even using your made-up mileage. So, $34.5 after the tax credit becomes $30.5. To drive in EV mode 90% of the time, worth it to me.

  17. The Volt is like driving a Porsche 911 compare to the Prius.

  18. I compare it to a car that handles better than some 911's, my 914, and it comes close. If not in the actual cornering limits, at least in the way it addresses corners and the solid feel, the lack of body roll that makes the Volt almost as much fun!

  19. Bad at math much? $39995, say 40K - $7500 is 32,500, so no soup for you. At 8 cents a KWH times 10.4 KWH = 84 cents to fill in my book, AND I get 40 miles for my 84 cents, plus 40MPG once I'm burning gas, so even if I use today's Costco price for Premium, $4.37, my Volt costs $4.11 to go 70 miles. Prius runs on Regular, so you get to pay only $4.17 per for your 70 mile run @ 57MPG, which works out to $5.12. The real difference is that no matter where you go you burn gas. I on the other hand have not taken any long trips yet, but I have driven 5800 miles while only using 1 gallon of dealer provided gas. Even if I was to spot you an extra MPG, at 58MPG your Prius would need 100 gallons to do that distance. And my 5800 miles ran me about $154.

  20. Is that Tim Allen speaking?

    I like that ad. It sends a positive realistic message about the vehicle.

    No matter what the eventual sales numbers are for the Volt, GM should be applauded for bringing to market a technology that bridges the gap between BEVs and ICEs. The E-REV technology is brilliant, its future is uncertain, but GM put it on the map. Well done.

  21. I think the premise behind the car is brilliant. Most day trips and commutes are under 30 miles. Then you can plug it back in before needing to switch to gas. And if you take a trip longer than 30 miles you still maximize the battery use before you switch over to gas. Brilliant thinking and worthy of praise.

  22. Drive a Volt and you will realize that it is a premium drive, incredibly smooth and quiet, great handling. A leaf is a fine car, but it can't be taken on any trip over about 70 miles. So on, say, a 100 mile trip, while a Volt would get about 60 mpg, the leaf would cause consumption of whatever the owner's other car, a gas burner, uses (average car is about 28 mpg)

  23. The 25-40 mile all electric range is brilliant engineering optimization achievement.

    The average Volt driver (as calculated by real world data on [Volt Stats DOT Net] ) gets 116MPG and uses the battery only (not gas) just under 70% of the time... With 0 range anxiety.

    @James Davis
    A bloated battery coupled with range anxiety reduces its appeal considerably.

    @Ramon Leigh
    Based on your comments, I am guessing that you have not driven a Chevy Volt. Please get in one, put it in sport mode and where safe accelerate 0-40. No one who has driven my Volt in sport mode had anything negative to say about the driving experience.

    My Volt cost $160/month per month in lease payment... however I am saving almost that much in fuel.

  24. "The average Volt driver (as calculated by real world data on [Volt Stats DOT Net] ) gets 116MPG and uses the battery only (not gas) just under 70% of the time... With 0 range anxiety."

    Latest data (over 3 million miles!) is 120MPG and 71% on battery. Right now 680 cars signed up with 471 of those 2012 models. S/N's from B00044 to C19726.

  25. It's sad the fire situation got so blown out of proportion because the car was never at fault. People still love the Prius even though it and a few other Toyota models had an unintended acceleration issue not too long ago.

  26. too short range. people want high tech. not outdated tech.

  27. Yes, Joe, because the market has been saturated for decades by cars you can drive in electric mode for 35 miles, then seamlessly switch over to an ICE for hundreds more miles.

    How's that hater thing working out for you?

  28. I think the Volt is a good idea. Last week I was with a couple of GM haters. They said the Volt only gets 19 MPG and THEY catch on fire. People should read the Motor Trend 25K test. 103 MPG battery and 36 MPG gas.

  29. I own a 2012 Volt. I LOVE IT!! $42k ($7,500 credit pulls it down to $35k). I drive 94 miles round trip to work everyday and get 62.5MPG since I have owned the car! If you want all electric that's fine, but as compared to something like the Prius it is a huge step up in almost every category. People love the looks of my Volt, the commute is significantly easier due to the electric car driving (slows down when you pull you foot off the gas in L), and the net gas mileage is fantastic! If my commute was shorter I'm sure I would be the 80MPG+ range. I really could not be happier with my Volt. It's the only car I drive, no need for two cars like most electrics. To figure your gas mileage take the first 35 miles off your day and then divide by 37

  30. The way to market the Volt is to stop saying it has airbags, and stop saying it's an electric car, and start saying what it is: a well built plug-in hybrid. Then explain how a plug in hybrid is the best possible solution to save money, and save the planet. (Unless you have a two car family, and then a pure electric, and a gas car is better. - and then GM should make some electrics!) Then show some people showing their calculations of exactly how much money they've saved by owning their Volt. -That's all. The car will sell.

  31. Really, non-owners of the Chevy Volt have no credibility in their commentary. Ask a Chevy Volt owner or lessee if they have ANY buyer's remorse. I got rid of my BMW to lease my Volt at $281 a month including tax! That's hundreds less than a BMW and price comparable to a "regular" car on the lease. What I have now is a vehicle that ACTUALLY gets 39 to 44 miles on pure electricity. Charging overnight, I pay $0.13 cents to FULLY charge the vehicle. Yes, I drive 1,200 miles for $3.90, and compared to $180 a month for my BMW. Some of you pay even more per month for just gas. OH, and your subject to gas price changes and availability. SMH..keep doing things the way you always have. THE PROOF IS IN MY BUDGET!

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