Bob Lutz: GM Not Losing $49,000 Per Volt

I was surprised to read Ben Klayman’s piece on alleged astronomical per-unit losses on the Chevrolet “Volt.” Ben is usually a solid professional who checks his facts.

The statement that GM “loses” over $40K per Volt is preposterous. What the “analyst” in whom poor Ben Klayman placed his faith has done is to divide the total development cost and plant investment by the number of Volts produced thus far. That’s like saying that a real estate company that puts up a $10 million building and has rental income of one million the first year is “losing” 9 million dollars, or several hundred thousand per renter.

Listen, Ben and Micheline: that’s not how car business cost accounting works.

Let me provide a look at how a car company tracks profitability of a product program: measured are material cost and labor, and these are deducted from the selling price. The positive difference is called “gross margin.” Then, one allocates per-unit “fixed cost” (advertising, general overhead, etc.) plus per-unit depreciation and amortization of the initial investment, based on the TOTAL NUMBER TO BE PRODUCED OVER THE LIFETIME of the product. If the margin, after all deductions, is still positive, then we call it a “fully accounted profit,” and the car is a winner.

via Bob Lutz: GM Not Losing $49,000 Per Volt : #evworld.

Categories: Energy, Finance, Transportation