The battery-powered Chevrolet Volt is an important vehicle
for General Motors. The significance of the Volt lies not with a large volume
of production units (not likely to happen within the first few years) or
bargain-basement pricing like the current
Toyota Prius (the Volt will likely cost considerably more), but the Volt is
instead a crucial building block in solidifying GM as a leader in advanced
Toyota is currently the 800-pound gorilla sucking all of the
air out of the room when it comes to hybrid vehicles and advanced battery
technology. GM positioned the Volt as its own revolutionary vehicle aimed
at lowering dependence on fossil fuels.
"We have since realized that letting Toyota gain that
mantle of green respectability and technology leadership has really cost us
dearly in the marketplace," said GM Vice Chairman "Maximum" Bob
Lutz in Late November. "We have to reestablish GM's leadership and the
Volt is, frankly, an effort to leapfrog anything that is done by any other
Lutz added that the Chevrolet Volt would be delivered to
customers before the end of 2010. Lutz also tried to silence the critics that
were skeptical of the 2010 timeline. "There is a lot of skepticism within
the company about the timeline," Lutz continued. "People are biting
their nails, but those of us in a leadership position have said it has to be
Despite Lutz's confidence, there is a slightly
different tone coming down from GM CEO Rick Wagoner. The company is still
adamant on meeting the 2010 deadline, but is throwing in a bit of a crutch to
allow for a slightly later launch.
"We continue to put massive resources into production
as soon as possible," said Wagoner who fielded questions in an online chat
with automotive journalists. "2010 would be great, but [we] can't
guarantee that at this time. We'll keep you posted regularly on our
The uncertainty comes from the fact that GM
is still working with outside parties to develop lithium-ion batteries
suitable for operation in the Volt. GM's E-Flex
architecture, which underlies the Volt, is dependent on the massive
lithium-ion battery pack to provide the energy basis for forward propulsion on
The use of such large lithium-ion battery packs in
production automobiles has proven to be problematic for both GM and Toyota.
Toyota announced during mid-2007 that it will
not offer lithium-ion batteries on its next generation Prius due to safety
concerns. Those concerns haven't stopped Lithium
Technology from providing retrofit lithium-ion batteries for the Prius and
UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies' Plug-In Hybrid Center from providing
Californians 100 Priuses equipped with lithium-ion batteries.
The Chevrolet Volt is capable of traveling up to 40 miles on
battery power via its lithium-ion battery pack. When the battery power level
drops below a predetermined threshold, a 1.0 liter turbocharged internal
combustion engine (ICE) steps in to recharge the battery pack -- the ICE does
not provide forward propulsion.
GM will be in Las Vegas next week for the Consumer
Electronics Show and DailyTech will
be meeting with the Volt's chief vehicle engineer. We'll also be providing DailyTech readers with more insight into
GM's fuel cell vehicles at the show.
quote: I'd throw Chrysler in there as well
quote: Although - with the popularity of their line of Jeep (Grand Cherokee, Liberty, and Commander mostly) & Dodge trucks, it would be nice to integrate some type of electrical motor and still keep the raw power and towing capacity of their large Hemi V8 and V6 as well.
quote: The question is whether diesel engines are more efficient than gas engines.
quote: You don't get a hybrid for the mileage in any mass-market car out there, even the Prius; the Prius is a badge of green honor, and takes significantly more energy to make then a standard vehicle. If you want fuel efficiency, everybody knows you get more bang for your buck with a diesel.
quote: NiMH was and still is a perfectly viable solution for the interim if only it was allowed to be
quote: Similarly most "oil" companies are actually energy companies and stand to make money selling electricity to power those electric vehicles too.
quote: Once we all start pluggin in our cars at night, prepare for electricity costs to skyrocket.
quote: Here's the funny part, LA County currently shuts off electricity in parts of the county during peak usages, normally during the summer because they can't handle the CURRENT load.
quote: If that is the case then you need to start actively writing your politicians in charge of the grid to fix this, pronto!
quote: What do I have to do, break it down for you all. Lets see, oil filter, air filter, belts, hoses, windshield wipers, radiator flush and fluid, egr valve, headlights and more.GM makes more money off that than selling cars.
quote: GM's real money maker is the expendable parts such as filters and belts
quote: If you have an electric car you eliminate 75% of those perishable items they make their money off of.
quote: The Prius is a good strong hybrid that get's better fuel efficiency than any deisel on the road (45-50mpg).
quote: While we are at it, let's bring up the "dirty nickel mine" argument too.
quote: Come to think of it, electric cars with 100miles range are doable right now. Like I said it just needs a push. If we wait too log we may need a hefty boot!
quote: You will have to buy a new car some time in the future, no?
quote: ...and consumers didn't have much of an interest in the EV1
quote: We, collectively need to find the formula for the push before a 4x2 hits us from behind.
quote: Wait until the GM Volt integrates this new solar technology from Nanosolar into the car.
quote: If this country would have pressed forward with Jimmy Carter's "equivalent of war" on energy policies introduced 30 years ago, we wouldn't be in the current energy mess.
quote: In 1980, Ronald Reagan's first official acts of office included removing Jimmy Carter's solar panels from the roof of the White House, and reversing most of Carter's conservation and alternative energy policies.
quote: What a setback that was for the electric auto and the world. Everyone seems to remember Carter's failures, but few recall some of the foresight he had in other areas.
quote: The oil and gas industry folks will have to find a new line of work.
quote: People living in super polluted cities like Beijing, China should get cars like this new Subaru electric car ASAP.
quote: Hopefully the internal combustion engine will be a super efficient gas sipping one with ultra low emissions like the latest Honda engines are.
quote: the end of the petroleum mining industry (drilling, coal, shale etc.) is now in sight
quote: Also coming into it's own is cost effective synthetic petroleum. The pilot plant converting waste from a Butterball turkey processor proved a process that was expected to be commercially viable if oil ever went above $55 per barrel...the price was pushing at $50 when Scientific American wrote their article