According to GM's Executive Director of Hybrid Powertrain Engineering,
Larry Nitz, the Volt will be ditching
the complex turbocharged three-cylinder engine in favor of a more
conventional naturally-aspirated 1.4 liter four cylinder engine. For its given
application in the Volt, Nitz says that the four cylinder engine provides
better fuel economy which is key in a eco-friendly vehicle like the Volt.
Another advantage to going with the four cylinder engine is
in refinement. While four cylinder engines aren't always known for smoothness
or utmost refinement, they are much better in these respects than three
cylinder engines. "The objective is to keep the engine off and when the
engine comes on, you don't want to know it's on," said Nitz. "You
want it really smooth and four cylinder is smoother than a three."
When it comes to packaging, the naturally-aspirated four
cylinder engine doesn't have to accommodate the turbocharging or its requisite
plumbing; thus it's lighter than original three cylinder engine envisioned for
the Volt. The four cylinder engine, however, is still slightly longer than the
three cylinder engine with its attachments, so changes to the vehicle packaging
had to be made.
Nitz went on to say that the Volt's 16 kWh battery will
provide the best range of performance for the vehicle when operating at a 35%
to 85% charge. Once the four cylinder gasoline kicks in at below 35% charge, it
will provide 50 kW to power the vehicle instead of the usual 100 kW provided by
the lithium-ion battery pack.
Even when operating in this reduced capacity, the Volt will
still be able to respond on command when a surge of power is needed. "Zero
to sixty, passing maneuvers, you'll be fine, the ability to actually use more
than about 50kW doesn't exist very frequently," explained Nitz.
The Chevrolet Volt has made the news quite frequently over
the past month. Most recently, GM announced that it would work with utility
companies to provide
the infrastructure necessary to support electric charging facilities for
electric vehicles like the Volt.
Earlier this month, it was reported that GM reduced
the capacity of the fuel tank from 12 gallons to 7.2 gallons -- this cut
the estimated driving range from 600 miles to 360 miles. Finally, GM Vice
Chairman "Maximum" Bob Lutz in mid-June expressed
his confidence that the Volt will arrive in showrooms in 2010.
quote: is actually an all-around decent competitor to anything else in its class
quote: And oh yeah, here's how bad the Suburban loses to it...
quote: Both of these SUVs are orders of magnitude better than their predecessors in comfort, capability, and civility. In the end, the Expedition EL's edge in price, performance, and interior trim/features/space utilization earned it a split decision. Like our sole dissenting judge, we suspect few dedicated Suburbanites will even consider switching allegiances from what's long been viewed as the de facto king of this hill.
quote: Pretty sad, perhaps if you knew anything about vehicles,
quote: But they had no back up plan and no effort to improve effecency- until the bottom fell out of the market.
quote: As far as fuel efficient cars, again, the big 3 all made fuel effiecient cars... remember the original Ford Fiesta for example?
quote: Car manufacturers always shift to the market.
quote: When that market disintegrated overnight, they were totally caught off-guard.
quote: Rebranding a Suzuki is not exactly innovation at least adapt it to the American market.
quote: Again just because you put a turbo on an American car doesn't make you some kind of oracle.
quote: How is this some stroke of genius they did not control the weight or bother working on the suspension just think of the car it could have ben if they dropped some weight and made it handle.
quote: A complete market shift in 1-2 years is common it is almost clockwork.
quote: Potentially a bad example, since GM had turbocharged cars in the 60's as well. My point was they had an internal push to convert ALL thier cars to turbos in the 80's, yet market conditions and perceptions of turbos back in the 80's (heat/oil bake) caused a shift of product. I find it ironic now that the average DT readership is now clamoring for Turbos. That was the point I was trying to make.
quote: You should have thought of this 20 years ago!
quote: Way to go, let's help the environment and lower our dependence on foreign oil by bringing a car to the "masses" that can make daily commutes on electricity alone.
quote: Sure, Ed Begley, Jr. might bite, but let's get realistic, not that many people who care have $40-$50K to do their part.
quote: GM should have used their leading market position to be innovators starting in the 1970s and 1980s instead of buying up all the patents that would put them out of business only to sit on them and maintain the status quo.
quote: My dad drove a 1980 VW Rabbit for years that got 40+ MPH. My mom drove a naturally aspirated 1.6L diesel 1985 VW Jetta that could get 50+ MPH on long trips. These were not expensive cars. Obviously, with today's technology, we should be able to do even better while even boosting performance a little.
quote: Way to go GM, wake up and smell the 90s if you can pull your head out of your arse long enough to get a wiff. I'm all for buying American, but look where GM is now. This has been a long time coming, prepare to reap the whirlwind gentlemen.
quote: American car companies cry about the upcoming environmental regulations on fuel economy and add that the prices of cars will have to go up by $5000. You should have thought of this 20 years ago! Our culture of excess and instant gratification has not helped things.
quote: We all need to take a page out of the book from foreign countries where they've been paying the equivalent of $10 a gallon for some time now.
quote: Power is force multiplied by distance - so in our metric case, the engine pulls its 20kg mass (200N force) 6 meters and a bit per engine revolution.
quote: Torque is how much force (like weight pulling) is at the end of a bar with a 1-unit length connected to the engine shaft.
quote: I can't imagine that they'd consider running it with 1 gear.
quote: Speaking of, does the gas engine have like a 2 speed transmission to help charge the battery faster?
quote: Will this get better mileage in the city or the highway, as the Prius gets better city mileage.
quote: Is there any regenerative braking?
quote: If they used a diesel engine [...] they could easily boost their MPG from 50 to ...?
quote: when that gallon of diesel is burned over a longer distance, it has fewer greenhouse emissions than the gas.
quote: What if you have to go up a long steep grade such as the Grapevine in so cal?
quote: The 1.4L 4 cylinder will be off the shelf in 2010, going into virtually all of the small cars. No development money that way.
quote: The Volt is for publicity. It will last 1 model cycle at best.
quote: the electricity, which originates mostly from coal-fired power plant, used to charge the car
quote: the eletricity, which originates mostly from coal-fired power plant, used to make the battery
quote: You also have to take into account all of the additional maintenance a standard combustion engine requires, like oil filters, transmission fluid, engine oil. While the Volt conceivably only gets rid of one of these it's an additional savings versus parallel systems.
quote: Wrong, wrong, and wrong.
quote: I guess that's why Toyota is investing billions in creating their own serial hybrid. Serial hybrid is far superiour to parallel.
quote: Please explain to me how an engine like that in every production car right now which has to operate in a wide RPM range is more efficient than an engine that is tuned to optimally run at a single RPM range.
quote: They weight more, they cost more, they give you less power, and they have less efficiency.
quote: They are fundamentally inferior to the parallel hybrid power train found in Toyota cars.
quote: bollocks. The way the fuel is delivered to the combustion chamber does nothing to the harmonics of the engine. You are on the right track though. It's the variable valve timing and lift which have everything to do with the flow dynamics of the combustion chamber. The direct or in-direct fuel injection contributes only to the quality of the air-fuel mixture. Series hybrid is already in use in Lexus 600H, so Toyota does have such a system. The series hybrid is better for the high power systems as the electric motor/generator is integrated into the automatic gearbox. You don't need to change the design and construction much to equip a rwd luxury saloon with the hybrid power train. You get the best of the both worlds, phenomenal acceleration, reasonable fuel consumption and virtually silent city cruising.
quote: Series hybrid is already in use in Lexus 600H,
quote: A unique drawback of the Li-ion battery is that its life span is dependent upon aging from time of manufacturing (shelf life) regardless of whether it was charged, and not just on the number of charge/discharge cycles. So an older battery will not last as long as a new battery due solely to its age, unlike other batteries. This drawback is not widely published.
quote: Li-ion chemistry is not as safe as nickel metal hydride or nickel-cadmium, and a Li-ion cell requires several mandatory safety devices to be built in before it can be considered safe for use outside of a laboratory. These are: shut-down separator (for overtemperature), tear-away tab (for internal pressure), vent (pressure relief), and thermal interrupt (overcurrent/overcharging). The devices take away useful space inside the cells, and add an additional layer of unreliability. Typically, their action is to permanently and irreversibly disable the cell.
quote: 2. They should switch to NiMH. Sure, you need to be a tad more careful about when to charge and when not to charge those batteries but they are still using them in Toyota Prius cars.
quote: Performance (and I mean this in a MPG sense, not HP) is not what drove GM into the hole it's in, it was the quality of their vehicles.