The only reason, he says, is the pending five-seat Ford plug-in hybrid has room for his wife and three growing children, whereas the Volt is a four-seater.
Lyle noted further that his wife used to have a three-row SUV but wanted a Nissan Leaf. Now that they have the Leaf, the two-EV family needs a five-seat long hauler, he said, and observed otherwise the Volt has been a great car.
“I have had the honor of owning the eighth unit off the production line since December of 2010,” he wrote today on his new blog site, InsideEVs. “So far I have driven the car 14,000 miles with a lifetime 190 mpg. It has been a fun high tech and dependable car. In fact I always imagined I would own the car for 20 or 30 years. That is until this summer.”
(Full disclosure: I took over for Lyle as the editor and writer for GM-Volt.com in late February 2011 after he sold the site to VerticalScope which also owns HybridCars.com.)
Lyle’s site accumulated a buyer list of over 54,000 names around the world helping convince GM the Volt would be viable, and eventually earning him a spot on GM’s Volt Consumer Advisory Board.
He was given opportunity to meet with, interview and in cases become friends with GM engineers, executives, and many others involved with – or cheering on – the Volt’s expedited development from 2007-2010.
Writing today of the C-Max Energi decision, he said he was surprised and disappointed when he first learned the Volt’s large T-shaped battery pack impeded rear seat room, eliminating the rear middle spot. But next month, Ford is launching the new plug-in hybrid he said, which should meet his family’s needs.
“The vehicle is a small wagon or crossover design and has a 7.5-kwh lithium battery pack mounted below and behind the seats,” said Lyle. “It offers a real world EV-only driving range of at least 20 miles (down from the  Volt’s roughly 36 miles). However in hybrid mode, the Ford delivers an impressive 47 mpg combined city/highway mileage, way up from the Volt’s 37 mpg. The car is also reasonably priced at $33,745 before a $3,750 tax rebate.”
On Friday out of sheer coincidence, after long knowing and pondering changes at GM, I offered a longish commentary discussing how little GM was willing to divulge about its plans for what it calls Voltec technology.
GM’s Voltec powertrain technology is of course the basis for the Volt, which has a gasoline generator to back up electric drive for no “range anxiety.”
The positive news is GM says it wants to continue with Voltec development and is contemplating other models. The frustrating part for some who have followed and believed in the technology is it has not yet said anything about introducing lower priced variants. Instead it is developing a more-expensive variant, the Cadillac ELR, which may likely be a four-seater also.
GM-Volt.com attracts engineers, scientists, IT professionals, and others who can appreciate its potential, and have no problem comprehending its vast potential to change the automotive paradigm.
It has often been suggested however that GM should show as much boldness now as it did in bringing the Volt to market. Various and repeated Volt enthusiast requests have been for GM to strike while it still has the lead and perhaps announce a Voltec crossover, a lower priced Volt version, a high-performance SS model, and so on.
Last year at an industry conference in Washington, GM’s former Volt media representative, Rob Peterson gave a speech touting GM’s policy of communications “transparency” during the dark days leading to and after its 2009 bankruptcy. With regard to the Volt, Peterson, who is now working in another capacity for GM communications, said this aided GM’s credibility and it was the beginning of a public perception turnaround that bought GM great faith from early adopters eager to see the Volt succeed.
But GM’s Voltec communications policy has since subtly shifted. Although it has not come out and stated a non-transparent policy, it is playing it conservative while the Volt has faced and seems to be overcoming much politicized criticism.
While saying he still likes his Volt and conceding the C-Max Energi may not go as far on electric power as the Volt – which for 2013 is EPA-rated at 38 miles because of its tweaked 16.5-kwh battery – and the Energi may not look as aesthetically pleasing, Lyle said the Ford is simply more practical for him.
“I am grateful to GM for launching the plug-in revolution, and I have enjoyed my two years of Volt driving. Change however is an inevitable fact of life,” he said. “After all the Volt’s greenlighting GM CEO Rick Wagoner is long gone, vehicle line executive Frank Weber is at BMW, vehicle line director Tony Posawatz is CEO of Fisker, and Volt spokesperson Rob Peterson is gone from the Volt team. And so it is that the Volts number one fan, and founder of GM-Volt.com has no choice but to trade in his car.”
In making this decision, Lyle said nothing actually negative about the Volt, and continues to believe in its technology.
Many others do too, and hope to see a five-seater, and other models priced down-market from the Volt, not just up. When this will be, is something GM has yet to announce.