Carnegie Mellon University Engineering Professor Jeremy Michalek is about to publish a study suggesting the Chevy Volt is "not cost effective in any scenario." Well, that's like... your opinion, man.
According to Michalek, at the Volt's expected $35-40k price point, "You're doing it at a cost that will never be repaid in fuel savings." We're not going to disagree with the good Prof's assertion, but let's say we view the findings skeptically. Pay-down on the price differential with hybrids and EREV vehicles is something incredibly shaky to calculate, it requires projecting the variability on individual driving habits, daily and yearly mileage driven, price of fuel, price of electricity, factoring unforeseen tax, parking, and HOV benefits among many others. Then there's also that unquantifiable factor early adopters and environmentalists are motivated by.
Is the Volt going to cost more than previous cars with similar chassis attributes? Certainly, but it's also not like other cars on the road. Comparing a Volt to the Prius is like comparing a scramjet to a Cessna. Is the scramjet far more expensive than a prop-driven Cessna? Definitely, but the scramjet pushes technology forward, and is changing the thinking and the paradigms in its industry, and the same can be said of the Volt.
Will the Volt succeed? We don't know, we don't even know if GM will survive long enough to deliver the car to dealers, but we can say its existence has helped push the industry in a new direction, and that's not something you can put into a pay-back model. [Bloomberg]