Coverage of the Chevrolet Volt continues to make headlines as each new detail is revealed piece by piece. Fuel prices continue to be high and consumers remain interested in seeking fuel-efficient alternatives. It is in this tumultuous market that GM has found the opportunity to prepare the all-electric Chevrolet Volt.
And unlike unsuccessful electric car predecessors, the buzz and demand for the Volt seems justified. Furthermore, a neurologist named Lyle Dennis created a website, GM-Volt.com, which collects a waiting list of interested individuals ready to purchase the vehicle after its launch. Today, the list surpassed the 40,000 milestone.
Though there is high demand for the vehicle, consumers are not yet ready to dish out the more than $40,000 that it will cost GM to produce the car. The website showed that the average consumer was willing to pay $31,261 for the vehicle, well under manufacturing costs. The vehicle plan is to use a new generation of lithium-ion batteries, which are reported to have greater energy capacities.
In order to generate a steady supply of these batteries, the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium has awarded an $8.2 million contract to the Johnson Controls-Saft joint venture to develop the batteries, according to Automotive News. The Advanced Battery Consortium is part of the U.S. Council for Automotive Research, which is composed of many leading auto manufacturers looking to release lithium-ion batteries for their next-generation hybrids and electric vehicles, such as Ford, GM and Chrysler.
A major drawback is the infrequency of recharging stations. Japan, however, is preparing to bolster its infrastructure with a campaign to install thousands of “quick charge” locations throughout major metropolitan areas. Supported by the government, car manufacturers and utility companies, cities are encouraged to promote the surge and will receive tax incentives for participating.
According to the Financial Times, Kanagawa prefecture will install 3,000 such stations over the next five years.
Enthusiasts were polled in SEMA’s recent Automotive Lifestyles survey regarding their future vehicle forecast. One of the more salient statements made by automotive enthusiasts was their interest in electric vehicles. When asked to select the fuel type of the next vehicle they plan to purchase, electric vehicles were highest (values do not equal 100%).
This article highlights two major opportunities for SEMA members. As demand for these vehicles grows, electric vehicles will begin to enter the marketplace, providing a new market for specialty-equipment manufacturers. As the supply of lithium-ion batteries increases and the market for hybrids continues to grow, so will the sale of specialty equipment for these vehicles.
For more original market research, please visit www.sema.org/research.
"JCI-Saft battery venture wins $8.2 million U.S. contract," Craig Trudell, Automotive News, 8/12/2008
“Japan fuels electric car revolution," Jonathan Soble, Financial Times, 8/25/2008