I enjoyed going to annual auto shows when I was a kid, checking out the concept cars, getting that special “glimpse of the future.” But there was always this hollow undercurrent as I’d realize just how far away the future really was. It went something like, “Awesome – but it’ll never see the light of day. It’s just too crazy, sexy, cool to ever become real.” I had that same feeling when I saw the first electric car prototypes, my cynicism compounded by the knowledge that Big Oil and the Big Three would be dragging their feet Big Time. I wondered: “What’s it going to take to put Detroit’s back against the wall on this stuff?”
So there was something special about reading late last week that GM had released details on the warranty for the Chevy Volt, its electric-vehicle entry that’s due out in November. Indeed, in recent months there have been ongoing and accelerating signs that the next (first real?) phase of the electric-car era is about to become reality. Right here at EcoSalon, in fact, we’ve written about the Volt’s progress toward hitting the road, Nissan selling out pre-orders for the Leaf, and other car makers jumping into the electric game with both feet.
But this warranty news hits a particular nerve, striking me as something especially real – the sales details/fine print behind these things somehow gives the sense that all systems are go; they’re guaranteed now, ok to buy, ok to drive, ok to use like you would any other product. Maybe it’s that I’m “Old School Detroit,” but where I come from, warranties are a big deal, and this one means that a mass-produced electric GM vehicle is no longer an experiment. (Though, of course, it remains to be seen how the public will take to the $35,000ish car, which still faces some challenges on the electric highways, byways and general infrastructure front.)
The details of the warranty sound an awful lot like warranties for “regular” cars. In fact, they’re a little better: the Volt’s LG Chem lithium-manganese battery will be guaranteed for up to eight years or 100,000 miles, and is transferable to future owners. As reported in the New York Times: “The warranty will cover all 161 battery components – as well as other electric-drive components – and the battery’s liquid thermal management system, which heats or cools the battery while charging in a variety of weather conditions.”
The rest of the warranty looks like this: 100,000 mile/five-year transferable Engine Limited Warranty (for the Range Extender); 100,000 mile/five-year 24/7 Roadside Assistance Program; 100,000 mile/five-year 24/7 Courtesy Transportation Program; 36,000 mile/three-year no-deductible bumper-to-bumper transferable warranty; and 100,000 mile/six-year corrosion protection.
Nissan has yet to announce its coverage plans for the Leaf but, says Autoblog, the automaker is now reaching out to prospective customers (including some of those who made deposits to reserve the right to purchase the all-electric vehicle) to find out what they’re looking for in such a warranty.