Tag Archives: gm

GM claims Volt gets 230 mpg; Saudi scream heard worldwide

Any of you who watch Hulu (and that’s probably a pretty big chunk of you, ’cause free on-demand TV rules) might have seen those mysterious “230” ads with the smiling outlet doubling for the zero. Yesterday, we finally got our answer – and unsurprisingly, it had to do with the Chevy Volt plug-in series hybrid. (I mean, they were using the same font they’d always used for the Volt advertising. You don’t have to be Batman to figure that out.)

GM CEO Fritz Henderson announces 230 mpg car, an end to world hunger, and that he killed Hitler again.

GM CEO Fritz Henderson announces 230 mpg car, an end to world hunger, and that he killed Hitler again.

The big news, however, was what that 230 represents. General Motors announced they estimate the Volt will receive an EPA rating of at least 230 miles per gallon for city driving.

Now, before you poop your pants, let’s take a second to read the fine print. First of all, this number doesn’t directly refer to the amount of miles the car will go on a single gallon of gasoline – it’s a conversion of the amount of electricity it will use.

The EPA judges the efficiency of electric cars not in mpgs (unsurprisingly), but in kilowatt-hours per 100 miles. According to GM, the Volt will use 25 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles during urban driving, which translates into around 230 mpg.

Secondly, that number is only for city driving. Unlike conventional cars, electrics tend to be more efficient in the city, because they don’t waste energy idling or have nearly as many of the bad habits associated with oil-powered vehicles. Chevy says they anticipate a combined fuel economy of 100 mpg or so for the Volt. Out on the highway, you’re gonna see your “fuel economy” drop – especially once the gas engine kicks in to generate more juice.

Thirdly, this number is based on a draft report from the EPA about rating plug-in hybrids. Draft. As in, unfinished. A lot of things can change between drafts. The first draft of this very article had forty-three uses of the word “booger,” for God’s sake. Until the EPA actually tests a production Volt, this is all conjecture.

Now, this isn’t to downplay GM’s accomplishment. The fact that the good General is giving us the first mass-produced series hybrid is impressive enough, and doubly so in light of their recent financial…clusterf**k. But let’s not go counting our chickens before we can plug them into our garages every night to let them recharge for tomorrow’s commute.

The Volt will probably have plenty of bugs when it comes out, and there are plenty of questions still to be answered. How effective will the engine be at recharging the battery? Will anyone actually pay $32,500 for a compact Chevrolet, no matter how “green” it is? Where did I put my wallet?

But if nothing else, GM is taking a bold step in the right direction, and they deserve kudos for that. So, Kudos, GM! Now how ’bout letting us borrow a Camaro for a review?

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Ford’s Fiesta Movement

No, this has nothing to do with your toilet habits on Seis de Mayo. Get your mind out of the gutter. (Though I’ll admit that’s where mine resides about 85 percent of the time.)

You see, everyone, while Ford may simply be seen as Those Guys Who Make Your Mom’s SUV here in the States, elsewhere in the world, they actually make some pretty sweet cars. In Europe and Asia, Fords are well-made, popular vehicles that proudly stand up to any Honda, Toyota, BMW or Mercedes in their price bracket.

Here, however…well, the best news to come out of Ford in the last few year is that their finances are just good enough and their sales just high enough to avoid a government bailout. Which is sort of like bragging that your pay was cut to minimum wage instead of going on welfare – sure, it’s better, but when the guy next to you is still making most of what he used to, you kinda look like you’re clinging to some pretty thin straws.

So what’s the obvious thing to do? Try and rub some of that high-quality European image off on your American product, of course. Beer companies have been doing it for years, and isn’t that who car companies should be associating themselves with?

In Ford’s case, this means bringing over one of their most popular European cars, the Fiesta. (It was Europe’s best-selling car in March, and anything popular in Europe must be popular here!) It’s a small hatchback, around the size of a Honda Fit, and like the Honda (and unlike most of Ford’s U.S. lineup), it’s proven surprisingly fun to drive. Power isn’t great – U.S. specifications haven’t been released yet, but expect around 120 horses – but it should be fine for day-to-day driving, and the suspension keeps its European tuning (read: fun). Plus, an estimated fuel economy of high 30s/low 40s will make the Obama administration happy (and allow Ford to keep making Mustang GTs).

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The Fiesta will be showing up in U.S. showrooms in summer 2010 if all goes according to plan. (This probably means we’ll see it sometime around the next presidential election, but we can hope.) However, not content to twiddle their thumbs and watch America’s youth snatch up Fits and Scions in the meantime, the marketing gurus at Ford decided to raise awareness of their new car by putting 100 of them in the hands of their target audience – young, trendsetting people like you – and having them fulfill “missions” and post online about their experiences.

Does this mean there’s Twitter involved? How did you guess?

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Yes, the world’s most idiotic fastest-rising social medium plays a key role in the Ford Fiesta Movement. The “agents” frequently post on their own Twitter accounts, being sure to throw in the requisite “#fiestamovement” tag –  so everyone knows they’re not part of an unauthorized Fiesta movement. (That one is sponsored by GM, and does involve what you do on the toilet.) Luckily, you don’t need to go to Twitter to follow their feeds – you can catch all the Fiesta fever on the movement’s homepage, letting you sample such brilliant observations as, “Utah!” and “I peed on a mountain!” (Those courtesy of @BrooklynHilary and @supricky06, respectively.)

The “missions” vary from month to month; this month’s theme is travel (way to stretch there, Ford – what do you expect people to do with cars?) and the missions range from cliche to corny to cool. “Take a road trip with three of your friends” is pretty trite, and “Have a party in your car” sounds like a dare in Truth Or Dare Jenga – but “Go to farmers (sic) market, visit one of the stands’ farms, and milk an animal” takes some serious guts.  (Note: they don’t specify whether it has to be a farm animal.)

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I stumbled upon one of the Fiestas two blocks from CCO’s East Village offices here in NYC yesterday, so these people are really out there. (If you happened to be the driver of the maroon Fiesta parked on 5th Street between 1st and 2nd avenues on May 19th, shoot us an email at collegecars@gmail.com, or tweet us @collegecars.) They’ll also be holding ride and drive events across the country throughout the summer, which you can find out about via the program’s website.

Personally, I hope the Fiesta finds healthy sales here in the States. If it does, it will hopefully convince other automakers to send us their affordable Euro-candy (Damn it, Volkswagen, I want a Scirocco!). If you happen to be part of the Fiesta Movement, score a drive in one, or even just see one on the streets here in the U.S., let us know. We’ll keep trying to score a drive in one so we can let you know what we think of the car firsthand.

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GM and Ford really, really want you to drive their cars

Here’s a new one: according to Business Week, GM and Ford are offering NYIAS visitors $50 gift cards if they test-drive one of their cars at the dealership.

Now, some of you may have heard about the auto show presenters being heckled by passers-by at this year’s show. But this just seems like Ford and GM are asking people to make fun of their employees. “Hey lady, my taxes paid for that gift card!”

You know what would be great? If people bartered with them for more money. “Pal, I ain’t getting behind the wheel of your damn Focus for less than $100. Or lemme take home the Cobra logo on that Shelby GT500.”

And what about Chrysler? Are they gonna just claim the high ground? “We don’t pay people to drive our cars. We just plead with them. We’re not whores – we’re beggars.” Or will they offer more, setting off a price war of gift cards between the Big 3? “Come on down to Sheffield Chevrolet, where we give you a $15,000 gift card with any test drive!”

Anyway, if you’re planning on hitting up the auto show before it closes, be sure to ask about the promotion and snag your card. GM’s cards are only good at restaurants.com, while Ford takes the classy road and lets you use your anywhere you want.

(You can read the Business Week story here; find the nearest Ford dealership here, or the nearest GM dealer here.)

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