Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Voltonomics: A Detailed Analysis of the Chevy Volt's Profitability

UPDATE: LINKED BY POWERLINE! THANKS GUYS!
UPDATE #2: LINKED BY POINTS AND FIGURES! THANKS JEFF!
UPDATE #3: LINKED BY THE VOLOKH CONSPIRACY! THANKS TODD!
UPDATE #4: RESPONSE FROM GENERAL MOTORS (SEE BOTTOM)
UPDATE #5: INSTALANCHE! THANKS GLENN!
UPDATE #6: LINKED BY DOUG ROSS! THANKS DOUG!
UPDATE #7: LINKED BY TOM NELSON! THANKS TOM!

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This post will be the first in a series in which I attempt to bring some clarity to the profitability - or, more accurately, lack thereof - of the Volt.

There is a lot of misinformation floating around regarding the Chevrolet Volt.

Recently reporters have unearthed some very useful data about the economics of the Volt. Unfortunately, these reporters clearly lack the basic financial and accounting knowledge to turn that data into useful information, and instead have muddied the waters with foolish claims, such as Reuters' assertion that Chevy loses $49,000 on every Volt it makes. I explain why this claim is faulty in this post.

For this post, I have modeled out the current and prospective profitability of the Volt, using publicly available data and estimates, as well as some estimates of my own. My estimates are certainly open to debate, but on balance I believe that I have erred on the side of generosity to GM.

THE BOTTOM LINE: even with generous assumptions, the first generation of the Chevrolet Volt will consume about $1 billion in federal tax credits, and STILL result in an economic loss to GM shareholders in excess of $600 million over its lifetime.Without the subsidies, the cumulative loss would triple to $1.8 billion.

Let's start with a look at the Volt's cost of production.

Reuters published estimates of the Volt's marginal cost of production ranging from $20,000 to $32,000. That's an awfully wide range. For the purposes of this exercise, I will use the midpoint: $26,000.

At that cost of production, the marginal Volt is quite profitable. The MSRP is $39.995. Of course, even if someone pays the full sticker price, GM doesn't see the entire $39,995. Dealers have to eat, too. According to Bob Lutz, who ought to know, GM sees a dealer net price of about $37,000, implying an $11,000 profit margin on each marginal Volt sold.

That's nice work if you can get it, but there are some mitigating factors.


Margins Swollen By Subsidies: The first factor is that the buyer isn't actually paying the $39,995 MSRP because he's getting a $7,500 federal tax credit. In other words, fully 68% of the profit on the marginal Volt is the result not of GM's creation of economic value, but of GM's rent-seeking. The money is still green, but it suggests that the volume of Volt sales, weak as it is, is artificially propped up. Absent the tax credit, which expires after 200,000 qualifying sales, GM either sells far fewer Volts at the same profit margin, or the same number of Volts at a much lower profit margin.

Model Year-End Discounting: The second is that GM is actually employing some pretty significant incentives - reportedly about $10,000 per vehicle, mainly in the form of highly subsidized leases. This is probably the driving force behind the Volt's record sales volume in September. This isn't the end of the world; it's just the end of the model year. Presumably GM is moving aggressively to clear out the 2012 models, and will dial back the incentives once the 2012 models are gone. And if their marginal production cost really is around $26,000, then they are still eking out a modest profit on those heavily subsidized leases.

The one caveat is that leasing entails making assumptions about the Volt's residual value, even though there is little data on which to base those estimates, so the profits GM prints today could be illusory, and wind up being offset by writedowns when those 2-year leases begin expiring in 2014.

Low Margins On Fleet Sales: The third is that some proportion of Volt sales are to fleet buyers at substantially reduced margins. I haven't seen a lot of data on fleet sales. In fact, I could only come up with three data points from various media reports. Fleet sales accounted for 35% of sales in December 2011, 7% in March 2012, and 3% in June 2012. The 35% is certainly an outlier. The mid-point of the other two data points, or 5%, seems like a conservative placeholder in the absence of better data.

On the other hand, anecdotal evidence suggests that unless retail Volt sales significantly accelerate, the proportion of lower-margin fleet sales will rise. General Electric alone has said that it will purchase 12,000 Volts by 2015, and the Department of Defense is buying 1,500.

Despite this, in the model I assume that 95% of Volt sales are at the MSRP and earn GM $11,000, and 5% are fleet sales at $30,000, yielding a profit of $4,000. This gives us an estimated weighted average profit margin of $10,650 per vehicle, before accounting for development costs.

Development Costs: Reuters reported that GM spent approximately $1.2 billion bringing the Volt to market. If true, then at an average profit of $10,650 per vehicle, GM just needs to sell 112,676 Volts (total development costs divided by average unit profitability) over the next few years to break even, right?

Not so fast.

Capital Costs: That $1.2 billion spent to bring the Volt to market didn't just fall from the sky. To the extent it was borrowed, GM incurred interest expenses. And any money that wasn't borrowed belonged to GM's shareholders, and if GM is going to invest it on their behalf, it needs to earn enough of a return to make the risks worthwhile. Otherwise, GM should just return the money to shareholders, who can spend it, or invest it elsewhere, as they see fit.

The question of how much of a return shareholders require depends on things like the mix of debt and equity used, and how risky the investment is. There is no single, definite answer, and such discussions can quickly become very abstract, so in the interests of caution and simplicity I will assume a cost of capital of only 10%.

I will also make the generous assumption that the $1.2 billion was invested in equal $400 million increments in 2008, 2009, and 2010. In reality, some meaningful chunk of that money was spent in prior years - the Volt concept car was introduced in 2007 - and so the real-world compounded required return may well be higher than in my model.

Sales Volume: Finally, the big question is, how many Volts can GM sell? Ultimately, if they sell enough of them, they will earn back their investment, including the cost of capital, and can declare victory, albeit a hugely subsidized one.

According to publicly available data, GM sold 326 Volts in the U.S. in December 2010, 7,671 in 2011, and 16,348 through September 2012. The surge in 2012 is a bit misleading since 35% of the year-to-date sales came in August and September, concurrent with those margin-destroying incentives.

Foreign Sales Count, Too: On the other hand, Volt sales are not limited to the U.S. The Chevy Volt is sold as the Vauxhall Ampera in the UK, the Opel Ampera in continental Europe, and the Holden Volt in Australia and New Zealand. In the first five months of 2012 - the only data I could find - GM sold 2,284 Amperas, equal to 32% of sales in the U.S. during the same period.

I have no idea about subsidies, or the retail/fleet breakdown, or overall profitability of overseas sales, so let's err on the side of generosity, and assume that GM can sell one Volt somewhere overseas for every three it sells here, at the same pre-subsidy profit margin (despite the very real possibility that total auto sales in Europe may be more likely to collapse then grow).

For the purposes of this exercise, I assume that GM sells 2,000 Volts per month for the remainder of 2012 (lower than the August-September rate due to the presumed termination of model year-end incentives), rising to 2,500 per month in 2013, 3,000 per month in 2014 and 2015.

In other words, I assume no decline in first generation Volt sales even as the second-generation Volt starts coming to market in 2015. This again errs on the side of caution in judging the continued marketability of first-generation technology in a highly competitive market.

I concede that it is entirely possible that the Volt suddenly takes off, and GM sells many more Volts than I have modeled here. Or lots of the forthcoming Cadillac ELR Hydrid, which I have left out entirely although it ostensibly will further monetize GM's investment in the Volt's technology. But I am aware of no evidence to date that would support such speculation.

It is also quite possible that non-fleet, non-incentivized sales flatline. This uncertainty is why I have tried to give GM the benefit of the doubt with respect to various estimates. As noted above, one could quite reasonably assume a higher required rate of return on capital, lower sales and/or margins, and wind up with losses greater by an order of magnitude than what I have estimated.

Note that I also assume away tax effects. This is another act of generosity, since even if (as I expect) the Volt fails to turn an economic profit, it could still turn a nominal profit and incur tax liabilities.

Finally, this all assumes that there are no recessions or economic shocks over the remaining life of the first-generation Volt that could cause demand to collapse.

With all that said, here is the analysis. I lack the skills to insert an Excel table here (if someone knows how I'd be grateful if they'd let me know), so I'll just describe the numbers year-by year (all amounts pre-tax):

2008: $400 million in development costs, and the 10% cost of that capital, produce both an annual and cumulative loss of $440 million.

2009: Another $400 million in development costs, and another 10% charge for the cost of invested capital, produce an annual loss of $484 million and a cumulative loss of $924 million.

2010: Another $400 million in development costs, and another 10% charge for the cost of invested capital, along with an estimated $3.9 million in profit on the 326 Volts sold, leads to a $528 million annual loss, and $1.45 billion cumulative loss.

2011: No more development costs (we've already accounted for the full $1.2 billion in prior years), but a charge of $145 million on the total invested capital, against an estimated profit of $81.7 million on 7,671 Volts sold nets out to a $64 million annual loss and $1.52 billion cumulative loss.

2012: The Volt's first profitable year, as $152 million in capital costs are offset by $198 million in profit on 22,348 Volts sold in the US and $23 million in profit on 7,375 Volts sold abroad. Annual profit of $70 million reduces cumulative loss to $1.45 billion. One caveat: I have reduced domestic profits by $40 million ($20 million in August and $20 million in September) to account for the profits lost to the high model year-end incentives.

2013: $145 million in capital costs are offset by $320 million in profits on 30,000 Volts sold in the US, and $31 million in profits on 9,900 Volts sold abroad. Annual profit of $206 million reduces cumulative loss to $1.24 billion.

2014: $124 million in capital costs are offset by $383 million in profit on 36,000 Volts sold in the U.S., and $37 million in profit on 11,880 Volts sold abroad. Annual profit of $297 million reduces cumulative loss to $944 million.

2015: $94 million in capital costs are offset by $383 million in profit on 36,000 Volts sold in the U.S., and $37 million in profit on 11,880 Volts sold abroad. Annual profit of $326 million reduces cumulative loss to $617 million.

A $600 million loss after subsidies: So after accounting for all the costs, and trying to err on the side of caution with estimates, the Chevy Volt would have cost GM shareholders $617 million, and U.S. taxpayers just under $1 billion. And with less generous but eminently plausible assumptions about the cost of capital, and sales volumes and margins, the loss to GM shareholders could easily top $1.5 billion.

Without subsidies, the loss would be $1.8 billion: Just for fun, I ran the numbers on what the loss to GM shareholders would be without the $7,500 tax subsidy on each sale. Leaving all other estimates the same, the cumulative loss at year-end 2015 roughly triples, to $1.8 billion.

In subsequent posts, I will examine the economics of future generations of the Volt, and address some of the red herrings offered up by the Volt's defenders.

UPDATE: RESPONSE FROM GENERAL MOTORS

In the comments section at plugincars.com, Rob Peterson of Chevrolet Communications posted a response to the analysis above. He notes that this post's focus on the first generation Volt offers an incomplete picture (which is of course true; I have broken up the analysis into multiple posts because it was just getting too long to expect people to read), and raises some other valid issues. I have invited him to contact me, in the interest of making this analysis as accurate as possible. I hope he takes me up on it. Whether or not he does, in the interest of fairness, I am adding his comments in their entirety:

Blutarsky,

This is Rob Peterson from Chevrolet Communications.

Your analysis, while much more thoughtful, suffers from the same short-sighted assumptions made by Reuters.

First, conservative guesstimates of limited publicly available guesstimates does not make the information any more accurate, it only makes the analysis different. Second, as others have pointed out, the benefits of technologies developed are not limited to the first generation - they will benefit the second and third generations as well.

Like other analysis the fact that several technologies developed for the Volt have already found their way into other vehicles in GM's portfolio is ignored. Technologies such as the battery management systems for the Buick LaCrosse E-Assist and Malibu Eco, electric motors in the forthcoming Spark EV, low-rolling resistant tires on the Cruze Eco and the entire powertrain into the Cadillac ELR (which you did mention) were derived from the Volt.

Also ignored is the halo affect of being the leader in technology. Roughly 60 percent of vehicles traded in for a Volt are non-GM. Your analysis excludes the long-term benefits of attracting new customers who join the ranks of the most satisfied owners in the industry (based on Consumer Reports most recent owners satisfaction survey).

Cost and ROI calculations for automobiles are complex and highly competitive. They must account for tangible and intangible costs and benefits and reflect the impact to the entire portfolio over many years. You only need to look at the impact of the Prius to Toyota portfolio (a vehicle who's humble beginnings mirror those of the Volt) to completely understand that there is more than meets the eyes when introducing an all-new technology.

Thanks
Rob

34 comments:

  1. In the US it seems for the foreseeable future Volt sales will be to social/political buyers and technophiles, because it doesn't make sense economically. As an economic decision it seems more likely where gas is $6 or $8 per gallon. I think the assumption that sales in Europe will be 1/3 of North America is suspect. The European sales program began a year later than in North America and right now, because of the banking crisis in Europe the economy and new car sales are down significantly. However, assuming the European economy comes back I think European sales could equal or exceed North American sales, because gas prices in Europe make the Volt more viable economically. Of course if governments change their taxation scheme to make up for lost gas tax revenues from EV's and hybrids that could all change again.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Demand is indeed the big wild card.

      With respect to gas prices, I guess the big question is if gas prices spike, does the increased economic desirability of hybrids like the Volt offset the fact that in such a period of economic stress, far fewer people may be able to afford a significant premium for a more fuel efficient car.

      With respect to Europe, I agree that in a healthy European economy, estimated sales equal to 1/3 the US market are likely low. Opinions will vary, but my own is that we are years away from anything that might reasonably be considered a healthy European economy.

      But as you point out, things could very plausibly work out better, faster for the Volt than I have estimated.

      Delete
  2. It's hard to say if it will make sense as an economic decision since you don't know what to compare it with. I think it is safe to say that at the same overall price, including fuel savings, a Volt would be more appealing than a Cruze. Compared to a mid 20's priced vehicle, it starts to make sense why people would choose a Volt

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    Replies
    1. My Volt cost $32k on the road (with every option available) after the $7500 federal and a $3500 state credit. I'm saving about $100/month not buying gas, so $6000 after five years, assuming consistent prices. So really, the Volt for me was the same as buying a $26,000 car.

      I easily think my car's performance, ride, silent operation, and feature set justify a $26,000 price point.

      Delete
    2. One thing you can say for the Volt is that everyone who has driven one seems to really like it.

      Interesting point about the large state tax credit. That factor could make the Volt more profitable than I have estimated, I'll have to incorporate that in future iterations.

      Delete
    3. ... that being said, with out the subsidies, no way in hell I'd have even considered buying it.

      Delete
    4. As already demonstrated by early Toyota Prius sales in California about a decade ago, some people are willing to pay many thousands of dollars for the privilege of using the HOV (carpool) freeway lanes without having to actually carpool.

      Delete
  3. Interesting and well researched.

    Where did you get the figures of cost to the taxpayers? Obviously we know $7500 per unit sold, but $1B would suggest more than that?

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    Replies
    1. Thank you.

      The $1 billion figure is a slight rounding of $7,500 per car, multiplied by the 132,345 Volts that I estimate GM sells in the U.S. through 2015, when the second-generation Volt is to be introduced.

      Notably, at that pace, the tax credit is exhausted in 2017, at which point margins drop sharply.

      Delete
    2. Gotcha. I was curious as to if you were assigning "Bailout funds" to the Volt's development programs.

      Delete
  4. The assumption that everyone might run to the volt if gas prices spiked is a false one. The evidence already exists in western europe where gas costs ten dollars a gallon. Do Europeans flock to electric cars? No, they purchase low to midpriced high mpg vehicles like Smart Car and the smaller Fiats, and Renaults and Citroens. Why would anyone spend 40k on an electric car that gets forty miles per gallon? You can buy a smart car for twelve thousand that gets more than forty miles per gallon.

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    Replies
    1. "Why would anyone spend 40k on an electric car that gets forty miles per gallon?" It's pretty safe to say the Volt does NOT get 40 MPG. Out of 1790 Volts listed at http://www.voltstats.net/ only 5 get less than 40 MPG and those 5 currently get (39.46, 39.05, 39.05, 38.10, and 37.87), with the mean getting ~128 MPG (and the medial getting ~177 MPG). Ranking this list in MPG order, the car at the 10% (#179) gets 78.09 MPG, pretty close to twice the 40 MPG value. The EPA rates the Volt at more than 90 MPGe. If you typically drive less than 40 miles in a day, you might not pay anything for gas and only about $1.50 in electricity (with a Time-Of-Day electric meter this might be around 75 cents per day). This could be part of the reason why someone would pay 40k for a Volt. It is really far to compare cars in different classes to each other? The buyer for any compact car, such as the Volt, is not likely the same buyer for a 2-seater, “Micro car” (also called a “city car”), with manual windows, no radio, no cruise control, no air conditioning, non-power steering, and a “poor” IIHS safety rating.

      Delete
  5. How do these numbers compare with similar non-electric cars? How do they compare with other electric/hybrid cars? (is the Volt particularly successful or unsuccessful? I have no idea) How much of the development cost is unique to the Volt and how much of it is the cost of getting into the electric car business, making the development of future models cheaper?

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  6. The problem with this analysis is that you stop at 2015 and assume that all generation 1 development costs only apply to generation 1 volts. The reality is that generation 1 development costs should be amortized over all future product lines that incorporate voltec powertrains. Of course this is an uknowable number of product lines, and unit sales, but even reasonable assumptions (e.g. 20% of all GM vehicles by 2020)lead to profits for GM.

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    1. Forgot to add that (as far as I am aware) all those development costs are essentially zero to the New GM (post restructuring).

      Delete
    2. Last sentence of his article: "In subsequent posts, I will examine the economics of future generations of the Volt"

      Delete
  7. As GM (and Bob lutz) have stated publicily that the Volt is at break even ( see Bobs Forbes article)at these sales levels (3000 a month), you are making a fairly bold statement by disagreeing with them.

    Especially given the huge holes in your assumptions on worldwide sales having to stay at or below 60% of the current levels and assuming that the 2014 Cadi based on the Voltec ( out next summer ) will be cancelled... come on really? and then you stop at 2015, no way really? Your assumptions are making Fox news look good, althought I did notice that you did point to the fox news story that double counts the tax incentive ( thier 10K headline includes the leasing company claming the $7500 EV tax credit as part of the lease).


    If you want some real numbers on this just go ask someone who leased a volt, some of them have even posted thier great deals up on http://gm-volt.com/, a Volt user forum.

    The best deal so far is $12,500 off, a lease deal of course where the lease company is claiming $7500 ev tax credit, $2,500 local state and a a $2,500 deal incentive.

    The key is the last one $2,500 deal discount.. because that about the max GM is discouting at this point. But dont beleive me, do you own research, and stop quoting FOX, you know they have thier numbers wrong just to get the headline.

    As you have put so much effort into this, why dont you just fix the problems with your assumptions ( like stop double counting the $7500 EV tax credit) and come out with a real number.

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    1. I think this analysis is quite consistent with claims (I haven't seen them but don't doubt their existence) that the Volt is at break-even.

      Please note that I describe 2012 as the Volt's first year of profitability. I actually show them making money at this volume, which suggests that, if anything, my assumptions are too favorable to GM.

      I also don't think I suggested anywhere that the hybrid Cadillac would be cancelled. I just didn't include it because I limited this post to the first generation of the Volt. I did that because the post was getting very long already, so I decided to break up the analysis into more digestible pieces.

      As it happens, this analysis got some praise on the gm-volt.com forum today:

      http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?17403-Interesting-well-done-article-on-the-finances-of-the-Volt-program

      Thank you for the clarification on the leasing transactions, though, that's helpful. I agree that much of the reporting on the Volt is agenda-driven and unreliable, which is why I've undertaken this project.

      Delete
  8. Good analysis. I'm a Volt owner and love it. I buy no gas for regular commutes because I fit within the 40 mile on a charge limit I get the way I drive. I'll take it on trips sometimes and get over 40 mpg when the range extender fires up. Bottom line, I like driving it.

    Now, is it worth it? For me it is. I like driving it and like not going to the gas station. I save money even paying for the electricity to power it.

    Is it worth it for GM, time will tell. Technology is expensive to develop and deploy. Seems like great technology to me that will pay off in many vehicles in the future.

    Is it worth it for the government? Hard one to get definitive answer. The federal government subsidizes a lot of things "we" deem worthy. Everything from home mortgages, oil drilling, and trips to Mars. To me this is a good way to get technology into consumers hands that could or would not otherwise.

    Terry

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  9. Warranty claims run 10% + of a vehicles cost, and are carried as a liability on the books until exhausted per car or retired upon expiration. They must be offset by cash.

    I wonder what GM's reserve is per Volt?

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  10. Sen. Blutarsky,

    If you're going to talk about loss to current stockholders, you're going to have to exclude any money spent on the Volt project before the bankruptcy, so the projected exposure to stockholders will be closer to $200 million, not $600 million. Finances and politics aside, I think the Volt is an impressive bit of engineering. Every Volt owner that I've spoken to has been thrilled with the car. Some have volunteered that information, unprompted.

    FWIW, if GM got the Volt to market for only $1.2 billion that's pretty frugal. It normally costs about $1 billion just to develop a conventional new car. Add a new engine and that cost doubles. For the Volt GM had to develop a completely new way of hooking up electric motors and a combustion motor. So getting the Volt in at a bit more than a billion is impressive, particularly so because the Volt is very well developed.

    Ronnie Schreiber
    http://www.carsindepth.com

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    1. Considering the outcome of the technology, this is money well spent in America. The Voltec drive train technology can be reused in many upcoming vehicles and that ROI is priceless. This is hard to quantify but already it is being used in Cadillac ELR.

      The Voltec technology is the most practical one to get us off our addiction to foreign oil. Based on actual data of all current users, we have replaced 80% of total miles driven with American generated electricity. The remaining 20% can be more than met by local oil or oil from our allies, so that Chavez and OPEC won't get a penny while we save and create jobs in America.

      The Volt is something that all Americans should be really proud of. If many Americans will buy this practical gas saving job creating vehicle, its price will come down sooner.

      Of all the solutions out there to have a cleaner environment, getting off of our addiction to foreign oil, and bringing jobs to America, GM's Volt is the best one there is. Simply nothing has proven more practical.

      Delete
  11. One big mistake is that you don't understand what a tax credit is. IT IS BLATANTLY WRONG TO ASSUME THAT EVERY VOLT OWNER QUALIFIES for it. Do you know what a tax credit is, really?

    It is not a subsidy, not a grant money, nor money taken from the wealthy and given to those in welfare. So you would be an idiot to consider the tax credit a subsidy. It is money that you will not pay the government only in case you owe the government a tax if you buy a qualifying EV such as the Volt, Tesla, Nissan Leaf, Plug in Prius, Toyita Rav 4 EV. So you could buy a Volt and not avail of any tax credit if you don't owe any taxes. Many Volt owners do not qualify for the full $7,500 tax CREDIT!!! So it is wrong to assume that each Volt bought is subsidized by the government. In effect it only reduces the amount of money the government collects and is in accordance with Republican core principles in order to reduce spending.

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  12. As Rhodomel Meads pointed out above the $7,500 tax credit could be much lower. The author mentioned "the buyer isn't actually paying the $39,995 MSRP because he's getting a $7,500 federal tax credit." Yes, the BUYER is PAYING the $39,995 (in this example) and not $35,005 ($39,995 - $7,500). Unless GM pays back the federal government for this tax credit, the full amount ($39,995) should be used in the figures for GM, not the amount after the tax credit ($35,005). The $7,500 is not relevant to the GM computations.

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  13. Wow, nice post, there are many person searching about that now they will find enough resources by your post. Thank you for sharing to us. Please one more post about that..human growth hormone

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  14. Toyota invested huge sums to develop the Prius. It was subsidized by our government in the form of tax credits and other incentives.

    Toyota "lost" money on the Prius for years and they were subjected to numerous stories containing analysis similar to yours.

    Furthermore, their growing success in the middle of the last decade forced most (if not all) automakers to invest vast sums into developing competing hybrid systems. Like the Volt.

    Many of which are being subsidized by the government.

    By now, Toyota is making a huge profit as a result of its investment, but the follow on wave of development (like the Volt) is undoubtedly in the red according to an analysis like this. And tax payers have seen something close to zero ROI at this point.

    However, its kind of foolish and short sighted to base your analysis on this. The development of advanced powertrains will clearly be profitable for these companies if the technology propagates through their product line. The only way they won't be profitable is to assume that these advanced systems will ultimately fail and be abandoned.

    Except of course that the government is generally forcing these companies into widespread adoption of these technologies through CAFE standards and subsidies.

    And that's where we get to an eventual ROI for the taxpayer. Raising CAFE standards increases the size of the U.S. economy. Every dollar spent on imported oil reduces GDP by a dollar (not accounting for potential multipliers). Reduce oil usage until you eliminate imports and every dollar not spent on oil still increases the size of the economy by a dollar, because that oil will be exported.

    We spend hundreds of billions annually on oil imports, and hundreds of billions more on domestically produced oil. To the extent we can promote new technologies to economically reduce our oil usage we will become more wealthy as a country.

    Voltaic technology is clearly capable of doing that as companies achieve economies of scale and prices come down (a factor you completely have ignored to this point in your analysis).

    We can already see this as battery prices have dropped ~40% in the past 3 years, and recent estimates by battery companies project that trend to continue. To the extent that you choose to account for this, you need to be aware that the biggest factor in the "premium" charged for a Volt is the high cost of its batteries.

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  15. To Rob Peterson of GM:

    As a taxpayer, which means for the time being I am a partial owner of GM, I got your "halo" effect, right here!

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  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  17. For this post, I have modeled out the current and prospective profitability of the Volt, using publicly available data and estimates, as well as some estimates of my own. My estimates are certainly open to debate, but on balance I believe that I have erred on the side of generosity to GM.

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    ReplyDelete
  18. We can already see this as battery prices have dropped ~40% in the past 3 years, and recent estimates by battery companies project that trend to continue. To the extent that you choose to account for this, you need to be aware that the biggest factor in the "premium" charged for a Volt is the high cost of its batteries.

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  19. Voltaic technology is clearly capable of doing that as companies achieve economies of scale and prices come down (a factor you completely have ignored to this point in your analysis).

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