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Artist sketch of the production Chevrolet Volt  (Source: General Motors)

Chevrolet Volt Chassis  (Source: General Motors)
GM now says that the 2010 deadline is plausible, but not set in stone for the Volt

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 automotive powertrains.

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 competitor."

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 done."

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 progress."

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 vehicle.

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.





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Sooner the better
By Operandi on 1/4/2008 12:12:15 PM , Rating: 5
This is exactly the kind of vehicles GM (Ford also) need.

Even if the Volt is an low volume vehicle this will be a good real world learning platform for the technology that will hopefully give them a good head start on the competition.




RE: Sooner the better
By pattycake0147 on 1/4/2008 12:56:07 PM , Rating: 2
I'd throw Chrysler in there as well. None of the American auto makers have a great standing when it comes to non-conventional power trains.


RE: Sooner the better
By mdogs444 on 1/4/08, Rating: 0
RE: Sooner the better
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 1/4/2008 1:05:17 PM , Rating: 4
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.


http://www.dailytech.com/Chrysler+Jumps+on+Hybrid+...


RE: Sooner the better
By mdogs444 on 1/4/2008 1:26:07 PM , Rating: 2
Very nice. Must've missed that article. I like the V8 modeled hybrids that keep the power trend. I am not so much for these little 4 cylinder motors being placed in crossovers and compact SUV's. Just a personal preference.


RE: Sooner the better
By eye smite on 1/4/2008 1:29:33 PM , Rating: 4
Let me say nuh uh. This is all BS, we done been over this ground. GM produced the EV1, totally battery powered in 1996, made 800 of them and discontinued the line. They couldn't make the same money off them for maintenance such as oil and filter and other expendables so they scrapped it. It would more than do posted spead limits and had a 100 mile range on one charge. California put in recharge stations for this car that is gone. They bought a battery company with patented battery technology that was superior to lead acid. They sold that company and the patents to Exxon/Mobil who 86'd the patents so they couldn't be used and the whole project was canned, Why? So you would stay a slave to gasoline, but hey, no one remembers the EV1.


RE: Sooner the better
By mcnabney on 1/4/2008 1:40:55 PM , Rating: 5
I couldn't agree more. I still hope GM burns for the catastrophic F-up they did to the EV. They could have been a decade ahead, but they decided to be stupid instead.


RE: Sooner the better
By eye smite on 1/4/2008 1:54:03 PM , Rating: 2
I do too, and they count on people forgetting. Their latest farse is the malibu hybrid. If you go to their site they list the mpg as 24 town, 32 hwy. I'm saying big deal. I have a 93 Oldsmobile 88, it gets 25 town and 30 hwy. How is this hybrid an improvement? It's not. It's there to make people feel like their doing the environment good and there's no benefit from this vehicle at all.


RE: Sooner the better
By michal1980 on 1/4/2008 2:18:43 PM , Rating: 2
its funny the only people that remeber the EV1 are the ones that remeber it wrong.

Did gm make a mistake? in hind sight yes. But you monday morning quaterback probably dont even remeber gas prices or this car. Just the propaganda film.

with oil prices 75% of what they are now. (in the 20-30 dollar a barrel range). a 2 seat car (similar to that ever popular honda insight. (that same great 2 seater that honda no longer makes ethier).

heck honda killed the accord hybrid, and might kill the civic hybrid.

And the prius hybrid didn't sell well until it looked goofy.

the ev1 was a car that could only work in warm weather states. (because range decreased if the temprature was below like 60 degrees). And costs apporaching 1 billion dollars. Yes the project was killed.

But to blame the company for what they did when they did it, knowing what you know today.


RE: Sooner the better
By Oregonian2 on 1/4/2008 2:20:49 PM , Rating: 2
The purpose of hybrids is to make the buyer feel good. They still are 100% gasoline powered vehicles. That's why Honda hybrids failed, they couldn't be easily differentiated from the regular ones so the owners couldn't properly feel green with it. They're to show off. So long as the Malibu is clearly visible as being a hybrid it should do well.

Your Olds does impressively well. My wife's '94 Honda Accord doesn't do as well as your car does either. She gets maybe upper 20's on the interstate.


RE: Sooner the better
By Ringold on 1/4/2008 2:42:34 PM , Rating: 5
Oh, stop the whining and dismount the "mightier than thou" Environmentalist horse.

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.

As for the Exxon/EV1 conspiracy theories, you're just making yourself look like a tool, except to that tiny sliver of the left wing prone to such theories. Clearly you're ignorant of your history, anyway. You say Exxon took over the battery technology patents, but you'd be wrong. That would of been Texaco, which took a controlling stake in what is presently, essentially, Energy Conversion Devices. Then Chevron bought Texaco. Now many of these hybrids out there today? Guess what. Powered by latest iteration of the same battery technology used in the EV1, with a 50/50 joint operation between ENER and Chevron, with ENER providing the license and Chevron the production capacity as I understand the arrangement. Actually the entity created to serve out this arrangement is Cobasys, but trying to keep it simple for leftists.

Some the other users of their technology include:
http://www.ovonic.com/al_alliances_licensees_batte...

Don't let reality get in the way of conspiracy theories, though. Whatever lets you sleep at night. Perhaps ENER is just a front for the Illuminati, after all..


RE: Sooner the better
By Pandamonium on 1/4/08, Rating: 0
RE: Sooner the better
By bhieb on 1/4/2008 5:10:49 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think he blindly said switch to diesel. He said if you want higher milage then switch. And he is right, as you so cleverly pointed out gallon for gallon diesel gets better milage just as he said. It may or may not be more effecient, but it does do well milage wise and that is all the consumer cares about $$$ in the pocket.


RE: Sooner the better
By Hoser McMoose on 1/4/2008 5:59:09 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
The question is whether diesel engines are more efficient than gas engines.

And the that question is a resounding "YES".

Typically a diesel engine will be a good 15-20% more efficient (as measured by kinetic energy out vs. potential energy in) than a gasoline engine. Add in the ~15% higher energy density and you get the 30-35% better fuel efficiency (as measured by distance per volume of fuel) that diesel's achieve.

The downside to diesel is that it burns much less cleanly and therefore tends to require a lot more filtering of pollutants. This is why there was a grand total of ONE model diesel car for sale in North America in 2007, all others failed the emissions tests. Similarly Europe's tightening emissions in 2009 will cause most current diesels to fail, which explains why the car companies are rushing to make better filters and catalytic converters for their diesels.

Now, all that being said, the gasoline engine is not dead yet. Some new designs are pushing it's efficiency (kinetic out vs. potential in) up toward diesel levels. HCCI (combustion caused by compression rather than a spark) is a VERY promising technology, especially for use in a serial hybrid like this Chevy Volt. It offers much better efficiency AND cleaner burning too boot. It's problematic now because it doesn't handle variable RPMs very gracefully, but with the Volt that isn't a problem since it's gas generator runs at a pretty constant, ideal RPM. Of course, most of the shortcomings of diesel are also eliminated by running at only a constant RPM too.


RE: Sooner the better
By masher2 (blog) on 1/4/2008 7:36:03 PM , Rating: 2
> "If every car were retrofitted to take diesel, we'd have to drastically increase drilling to keep up with demand."

Nonsense. Due to low diesel demand, we're already splitting diesel-length chains to produce gasoline in many refineries...we can as easily reform hexane, heptane, and octane to produce diesel.

> "The question is whether diesel engines are more efficient than gas engines."

That's not a question. Diesel engines are more efficient. It's simple thermodynamics...the Otto cycle has a higher compression, which means a larger temperature differential, and higher

Interesting enough, there's a technology on the horizon (HCCI) which allows gas-powered engines to run on the Otto Cycle as well, giving them very nearly as much efficiency as diesels.


RE: Sooner the better
By goku on 1/4/2008 9:30:31 PM , Rating: 2
Why do you keep saying otto cycle? Both diesels and gasoline based engines are generally otto cycle. How many LEGAL 2 cycle gasoline engines do you see on the road in cars?? 2 Cycle engines can be found in motorcycles but that's about it, otherwise it's completely irrelevant to mention that these engines are otto cycle.

There are 2 stroke and 4 stroke diesels and gasoline engines, 2 stroke isn't common due to incomplete combustion which makes it environmentally unfriendly. 4 stroke=otto cycle, remember that.. And if anything is interesting it's the 6 cycle engines, they're basically 4 stroke engines except at the end of the 4th stroke, they squirt water into the cylinders, water expands and then it's exhausted out, starting the cycle of air/fuel mixture once again...


RE: Sooner the better
By masher2 (blog) on 1/4/2008 10:09:19 PM , Rating: 2
> "Why do you keep saying otto cycle? Both diesels and gasoline based engines are generally otto cycle."

Actually, I meant to say Diesel cycle (for Diesel engine) and Otto (for gas). It takes more than a four-stroke process to make Otto Cycle...it also implies constant volume during combustion, whereas the Diesel cycle uses constant pressure.


RE: Sooner the better
By tdawg on 1/4/2008 3:56:09 PM , Rating: 3
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.


It can be argued just the same that Hummers, Durangoes, Escalades, etc are all bought just to show off, since they are used as status symbols.

As hard as it is for people to believe, there are some of us out there that would love to be able to go to the gas station less often. Simple as that. I'll gladly take a Hybrid or a Volkswagon TDI and only have to fill up the tank once a month or less.No status increase or anything. I'm not going to get more women just because I drive a Prius or whatever. It doesn't matter how they increase the fuel efficiency, I just want it increased.

That "more-energy-to-make" argument was put to bed months ago right here at Dailytech. Just wish I could pull up the article for you.


RE: Sooner the better
By BuddyRich on 1/4/2008 4:11:22 PM , Rating: 2
You are 100% correct on all of this except for one thing.

Cobasys has refused and still refuses to license their NiMH technology for full EV use (even though it is suitable for and was used in the past by full EV cars such as the EV1).

The only reason why they license for hybrid use was due to a patent dispute with Panasonic a full 4 years after Panasonic started making the batteries for the Prius/Insight hybrids. A dispute that wasn't initiated until after GM sold their stake in Ovionics to Texaco. The resolution, which came in 2004, was a cross-licensing agreement between Panasonic and Cobaysys/Ovionics. Luckily those patents expire in 2014 as does their cross-licensing agreement. Granted they are looking into Li-ion tech now, NiMH was and still is a perfectly viable solution for the interim if only it was allowed to be. One important fact you also left out was that Chevron maintains veto power over any sale or licensing of Cobasys' NiMH technology. Do you wonder why the technology hasn't been licensed out?

Is them refusing to due business a conspiracy? Absolutely not. It's not in their parent companies best interest (at least as they see it - I think alot of money could be made from it, but like most, their is a fear of change, certainly not worth the risk to their virtually guaranteed oil revenues)

However, by not licensing the technology and holding a monopoly over NiMH technologies for automotive use it has stalled the industry and/or forced it to look for alternatives (such as Li-Ion which isn't patented all to hell yet - though its not yet viable for automotive use).

To some that is business as usual, that's how the system works. Go market forces! To others that's just an example of the "corporatizing" of everything and how much they control us. Is this bad/evil? I suppose it all depends on your own personal philosophy. I don't like it personally but it is what is...

If anything its just another example of the negative of the patent system and the monopoly it allows. I honestly don't know how broad and/or vague the patents in question are, maybe they are specific and should be protected - that is more a failing of the overworked US patent office if they allowed a patent that is too vague - though you could question the ethics of a company for even trying to patent something that is purposefully broad and/or vague.


RE: Sooner the better
By Hoser McMoose on 1/4/2008 6:17:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
NiMH was and still is a perfectly viable solution for the interim if only it was allowed to be

NiMH is an acceptable solution for a parallel hybrid, but a poor choice for a plug-in serial hybrid and worse still for a pure electric vehicle. It wastes a lot more energy for charging/discharging when compared to Li-Ion and the energy density is much lower.

With a parallel hybrid, like the Prius, only a fairly small amount of battery power is required (I believe the Prius uses 1.3kWh worth) and the charging and discharging comes mostly from what is otherwise waste energy (regenerative breaking).

A plug-in serial hybrid like the Chevy Volt uses a lot more batteries, 16kWh worth. Even with Li-Ion you're still looking at something like 200kg worth of batteries, with NiMH it would be more like 400 or 500kg. A pure electric needs even more battery power, the Tesla Roadster has 56kWh worth of batteries. They're also spending a higher percentage of 'real' energy to charge these batteries instead of just waste energy (though that is used as well).

There are some downsides though that GM and others are having to work through. The number of charges and discharges is a key one, many Li-Ion cells can only handle a few hundred cycles. Battery lifespan is another with many Li-Ion cells dying, or at least losing their maximum charge capability, within 3 years or so. There are also some safety issue, which are always fairly critical in the automotive sector.


RE: Sooner the better
By masher2 (blog) on 1/4/2008 7:45:38 PM , Rating: 1
> "Cobasys has refused and still refuses to license their NiMH technology for full EV use "

Nonsense. Cobasys already provides batteries for the Saturn Vue, the Saturn Aura, and the Malibu Hybrid, and they're also funding development on Li-Ion batteries for full-electric vehicles.

Furthermore, Cobasys licenses their technology out to a number of battery manufacturers, any of which are free to produce for any market they desire.

The notion that Cobasys is intentionally trying to restrain the EV market is one that's attractive to conspiracy theory nuts, but not born out by the facts. The truth of the matter is there really isn't much demand for NiMH batteries in an all-electric vehicle. As other posters have pointed out, they're not a very good choice.


RE: Sooner the better
By BuddyRich on 1/5/2008 11:35:09 AM , Rating: 2
Nonsense?

I fully acknowledged that they were licensing for hybrids, however not for BEVs. Again I am not so sure its a conspiracy, and perhaps the blame is misguided. We we just don't know if a company has come forward to place a large order to license the tech for use in a BEV. To date, their licensing deals to third parties (such as Panasonic) exclude the third party from making a battery with Cobasys technology for a BEV. Cobasys can still control how their tech is used by third parties via the licensing agreement.

I suspect that Cobasys' aggressive patent litigation was designed more to protect the US large format NiMH market for itself. That is what Ovonics has said from time to time, and that makes sense. I doubt that Chevron is using Cobasys to keep NiMH batteries off the market and thus protect its market for gas.

However, regardless of the reasons, Cobasys has effectively kept NiMH batteries off the US market for automotive applications. Patent law entitles them to do that.

I also acknowledged that they are actively developing Li-Ion for automotive use. This technology has promise and will likely surpass NiMH in the future if it hasn't already.

But the thing with NiHM is it's ready now. (actually it was ready in 95!). One other thing that NiMH has in its favour is that the Nickel is recyclable... and we have alot more of it. Not to mention its longevity.

The RAV4-EVs are still going at 100% with 150000 miles on them. The batteries will outlive the bodies.

Of course if patent law can do this to NiMH, what can it do to Li-Ion?

The University of Texas has already joined Hydro-Quebec, its exclusive licensee on 2 Li-Ion battery patents, in suing Valence Technologies and A123 Systems. Black & Decker and China BAK Battery, Inc. were also named in the suit against A123. The patents at issue are U.S. Patents 5,910,382 and 6,514,640, both titled "Cathode materials for secondary (rechargeable) lithium batteries."

Patent lawsuits certainly won't help in getting reasonably priced Li-Ion batteries for automotive applications on the market. If the royalties demanded are outrageous, the market may yet turn to the technologically inferior, but cheaper (after litigation) NiMH, especially when the NiMH patents expire and can be produced royalty free.


RE: Sooner the better
By masher2 (blog) on 1/5/2008 12:00:59 PM , Rating: 2
> "We we just don't know if a company has come forward to place a large order to license the tech for use in a BEV"

So why did your first post categorically and emphatically claim Cobasys had "refused" just such a request?

> "Cobasys has effectively kept NiMH batteries off the US market for automotive applications"

You've admitted Cobasys-manufactured batteries are being widely used for hybrids, so you've already contradicted yourself. Also, the EV1 and RAV4 all-electric vehicles used NiMH as well. The production of those vehicles wasn't halted because Cobasys refused batteries...it was because GM and Toyota refused to keep losing billions on cars so few people wanted to buy.

The fact is, its just not possible to produce a cheap, effective electric vehicle with NiMH batteries. Sure they have a great lifespan, but they waste far too much power in charging, their energy density is too low, and their cold-weather performance is abysmal.


RE: Sooner the better
By eye smite on 1/4/2008 4:15:00 PM , Rating: 2
Really, you don't think the oil companies and car companies would stand to lose millions if not billions in profit if electric cars were mass produced? It only worked well in southern states where warm that's true, but wow 1996 to now, think maybe they could have made advancements in that time? If oil companies are so environment, no people, ammerican peole friendly, then why did the fed gov't pass a law saying no state could set standards on fuel mileage some 30 yrs ago? Can you answer those questions? It's not a matter of being left or right wing, or CT's. It's a matter of nothing gets done in this country unless there's money to be made. There's no profit in making a car that uses no gasoline. There's no profit in calling global warming the BS that it is. It's not a conspiracy, it's outright BS lies in black and white right in front of you.


RE: Sooner the better
By Spuke on 1/4/2008 7:05:15 PM , Rating: 2
Actually car companies make money selling cars, be it electric or gasoline. Doesn't matter what powers the car.


RE: Sooner the better
By Steve Guilliot on 1/4/2008 8:07:52 PM , Rating: 2
They also make $$$ from maintaining those cars. Electric cars are more reliable in principal, so it can be said that they will lose money from that angle. I'm skeptical if that's a real motivating factor.


RE: Sooner the better
By masher2 (blog) on 1/4/2008 8:17:12 PM , Rating: 2
> "They also make $$$ from maintaining those cars"

The bulk of that money goes to the dealerships. Automakers do make some money on aftermarket parts, but the share that's actually devoted to engine-specific parts is negligible in comparison to total revenues. It's certainly not a reason for their to avoid switching to a more reliable engine technology, especially when the entire automotive world has seen how well Toyota's done with their image of reliability.


RE: Sooner the better
By lagomorpha on 1/7/2008 2:57:04 AM , Rating: 2
1) cars last longer
2) people keep their cars longer and buy new less often
3) auto makers lose sales


RE: Sooner the better
By masher2 (blog) on 1/7/2008 11:18:14 AM , Rating: 2
> "cars last longer...auto makers lose sales..."

You're forgetting the most important factor: customer choice. If Automaker A has a car that lasts 20 years and Automaker B has one that only lasts 10...A gets all the sales, and B gets none.

This explains why Toyota has become the #1 Automaker worldwide, based on its image of reliability, and also why cars from ALL automakers are more reliable today than they were 20 years ago, despite government requirements which have added a huge amount of complexity.


RE: Sooner the better
By Hoser McMoose on 1/5/2008 8:45:23 PM , Rating: 2
Similarly most "oil" companies are actually energy companies and stand to make money selling electricity to power those electric vehicles too. This is even more true for things like ethanol and (heaven forbid) hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. No other companies have the infrastructure and capital to really push such things to the mainstream other than the large energy companies of the world.


RE: Sooner the better
By Spuke on 1/5/2008 10:34:30 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Similarly most "oil" companies are actually energy companies and stand to make money selling electricity to power those electric vehicles too.
Hush now, you don't want to give away ALL of the secrets. :) Once we all start pluggin in our cars at night, prepare for electricity costs to skyrocket. I'm already paying $250 a month during the peak summer months and I have interior insulated walls, Low E glass, wood plantation shutters, and I keep my thermostat at 80 F (26 C).

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. What happens when a few million people leave their cars plugged in overnight? What happens when the electricity is shut off when you need to plug in your car? Hmmm.


RE: Sooner the better
By masher2 (blog) on 1/5/2008 10:41:38 PM , Rating: 2
> "What happens when a few million people leave their cars plugged in overnight?"

Luckily, peak usage for SoCal (and most places) is in the noon-4pm time bracket, a period in which most people won't be charging their vehicles.


RE: Sooner the better
By Spuke on 1/6/2008 12:15:48 AM , Rating: 2
But they don't always turn the electricity back on after the peak period ends. And our peak usage has been getting closer to 5pm in the last few years.

I don't think we have the infrastructure to support a few million plug-ins but we shall see.


RE: Sooner the better
By Hoser McMoose on 1/7/2008 1:39:07 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Once we all start pluggin in our cars at night, prepare for electricity costs to skyrocket.

Simply supply and demand does indicate that costs likely will go up, though the fundamentals from the supply side aren't changing so supply will tend to increase to meet demand.

Put more simply, a sudden large-scale deployment of plug-in electric vehicles would cause prices to skyrocket, but that is a very unlikely scenario. What's more likely is that we'll see a gradual deployment and new supply coming on-line to meet the demand, so relatively little, if any, increase in costs.
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.

If that is the case then you need to start actively writing your politicians in charge of the grid to fix this, pronto! An unreliable electrical grid will damage your economy about as bad as any infrastructure-related issue possibly can!

Now, you have mentioned a few downsides here, how about some upsides to things.

First off, this Chevy Volt is expected to get about 5 miles per kWh from electricity or about 45 miles per gallon when running off the gas generator. With $3/gallon gas that works out to $0.333/kWh, or about twice the cost of electricity in California now and up to 6 times the cost of electricity in some parts of the U.S.

Second, usage patterns for plug-in hybrids will actually tend to track rather well to low-use periods for electricity. Peak electricity is typically about mid-afternoon, usually sometimes between 2 and 5pm. Most people will tend to plug their cars in either after they get home from work (6pm?) or overnight. More and more areas are actually looking at time-of-day billing where electricity will be extremely cheap at low-use periods. Here a simple timer on your plug will ensure that the vehicles are being charge at the lowest usage/cheapest point of the day.

Continuing on with this theme, this is actually a HUGE boon for electricity companies! One of the real problems with electricity generation is that you need to build capacity for twice what you're selling most days and it's usually the infrastructure that is the expensive part. Selling more electricity for $0.05/kWh overnight is, in many ways, more profitable then selling more electricity for $0.15/kWh during the day since the daytime usage requires new infrastructure while the overnight usage leverages existing capacity. Going back to the old supply and demand thing from above, this is a positive effect for the supply side of the equation when plug-in hybrids are used.


RE: Sooner the better
By Spuke on 1/9/2008 4:04:57 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If that is the case then you need to start actively writing your politicians in charge of the grid to fix this, pronto!
This is an ongoing issue and one that is not likely to be fixed for quite a while. I wouldn't be surprised if this problem still exists when plug-ins are already on the market.


RE: Sooner the better
By masher2 (blog) on 1/4/2008 7:05:22 PM , Rating: 2
> "you don't think the oil companies and car companies would stand to lose millions if not billions in profit if electric cars were mass produced? "

The first company able to cheaply produce an electric vehicle that consumer are actually willing to buy stands to gain tens of billions of dollars, not lose them. There's no need to fabricate conspiracy theories here.

> "but wow 1996 to now, think maybe they could have made advancements in that time?"

You seem to believe that, since the computer industry can revolutionize itself in a decade, every other industry should be able to as well. The fact of the matter is most mature industries see very little change in a decade's time.

Still, we've seen progress. We now have a battery technology (LiIon) that's actually practical for electric vehicles. The only thing holding it back is cost...and within another 5-10 years, that problem will hopefully be addressed as well.


RE: Sooner the better
By eye smite on 1/4/2008 10:08:38 PM , Rating: 2
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, thats why all of those products have the delco name, owned by GM. 66% of the car's cost is taxation by the fed gov't. That's right, the button that rolls down your electric window, that's taxed and so is every other part on the car. GM's real money maker is the expendable parts such as filters and belts. Where the dealership makes it's money is the labor charged on your bill when you have the car serviced or repaired. How many of you techies have actually worked in the mechanic or car industry. I know I can raise my hand, I've seen how this game is played first hand. If you have an electric car you eliminate 75% of those perishable items they make their money off of. That's why the EV1 failed and why they'll 86 this new car as well in 2 years or less and no one will notice because you'll all forget, just like you forgot about the EV1.


RE: Sooner the better
By masher2 (blog) on 1/4/2008 10:41:56 PM , Rating: 2
> "GM makes more money off that than selling cars"

Lol, no. The GM parts division is GMSPO, which also owns ACDelco. Total revenues for that division are just over $1B annually, and 15% of that is aftermarket accessories, not original manufacturer parts. GM as a whole has some $180B in annual revenue.

Got it now? Parts sales are a tiny fraction of the total pie. GM used to make substantially more off parts, before it spun off Delphi and some other parts manufacturers. But its not true any more.

> Lets see, oil filter, air filter, belts, hoses, windshield wipers, radiator flush and fluid, egr valve, headlights"

Do you think an electric car won't need headlights, windshield wipers, or a radiator? An electric car still needs parts. A few less, true...but certainly not nearly enough to cover the vast amount they'd gain in market share from increased reliability.

If any automaker could cheaply make a more reliable car that required less maintenance, they would. The sales (and thus profits) from such a vehicle would be enormous.

As for oil changes and radiator flushes, anyone silly enough to think GM (or any automaker) makes substantial profits off that is beyond rational debate. Most carowners don't even use a dealership for that, and even when they do, the dealership itself takes 95% of the profit.


RE: Sooner the better
By lagomorpha on 1/7/2008 3:04:50 AM , Rating: 2
What would an electric car need with a radiator?


RE: Sooner the better
By AlexandertheBlue on 1/5/2008 1:09:24 PM , Rating: 1
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.


You claim to "work in the industry", yet you seem to be saying that the manufacturers make most of their money on the parts. They don't. They make their money on the car as a whole before the consumer even buys it. They sell it to the dealer who sells it to the consumer (yes a simplification). You are right that the dealer and other service providers make most of their money on labour, but it is not on the perishables. Brakes, supension and driveability is where the real money is. Most oil changes are offered at a loss to get the car in the shop. Then the "free inspections" are used to find items to upsell, such as belts, coolant flushes, brakes, etc.

Just to illustrate my point I will show you what the break down is at the shop where I work.

oil change 0.3 units labour @ $86/unit(hour) =$25.80
upto 5L of oil @ ~ $1.35/L =$6.75
oil filter from $4-$8 (surcharge if >$8) =$8.00
________
total =$40.55

We charge $28.99 for an oil change and your car is in the shop for roughly 1/2 an hour.

Cooling system work is a more break-even proposition once you factor in the time to bleed the air out of the system.

Avg charge for thermostat 0.8-1.0 units
avg time for job 0.75 - 1.5 hours

Brakes on the other hand make us and the tech some real money.

Avg labour charge for disk brakes 1.6 units
Avg time to complete the job 0.5 - 0.75 of an hour.

Front end (suspension) work can be a good money maker as well.

Outer tie rods 0.6 units
Alignment 1.3 units
Time to do job about .75 - 1.5 hours

No shop or technician is making money unless thay can at least equal the clock on a car they are working on.

Electric cars will still need brake and suspension work.

There have been times when I have given away that parts to get a customer to do a job. Anything that you can giveaway is not a major profit maker.

Driveability concerns could become straight time operations as they will be electrical diagnostics (wire tracing can be a real bitch).

From the service point of view cutting out the oil change and the cooling system isn't really all that bad, and that is pretty much all you lose an a fully electric vehicle. On hybrids you lose nothing.

In case you should choose to bring up exhaust systems, they do not need regular service. Also, the condition of the remaining parts and the difficulty in making things fit properly often means that, like cooling system work, you win some and you lose some.


RE: Sooner the better
By Steve Guilliot on 1/4/2008 8:17:56 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, when the "energy to make the vehicle" argument comes up, I can only shake my head. This has been debunked so many times it's not funny anymore. While we are at it, let's bring up the "dirty nickel mine" argument too.

The Prius is a good strong hybrid that get's better fuel efficiency than any deisel on the road (45-50mpg). I'll give the diesel people their props, but don't drag out half truths to bash the efficiency competition.

That said, I agree with your comments on the EV1. It's not a conspiracy, just economics and a short-sighted GM.


RE: Sooner the better
By Ringold on 1/4/2008 8:53:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The Prius is a good strong hybrid that get's better fuel efficiency than any deisel on the road (45-50mpg).


That would be gloriously incorrect.

http://www.autoweek.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=...

Green badge of liberal honor Prius: 42mpg
Volkswagen Jetta TDI Diesel: 49mpg

They do note, in your defense, that when they drove the Prius like an old lady it did indeed get 50mpg-ish. They also openly wonder about how magnificent it would be to have a diesel-hybrid, where real gains might actually be made over current technology. I did go to public schools, but my eyeballs say the Jetta is comparable in size and my limited math skills say its 16.6% more miserly.

Nice shot, though! ;)


RE: Sooner the better
By Hoser McMoose on 1/5/2008 9:00:34 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
While we are at it, let's bring up the "dirty nickel mine" argument too.

Nickel mines ARE horrible polluting, but that's hardly a reason against making hybrid vehicles, the amount of nickel used in them is relatively minimal. Also one needs to factor in things like the amount of steel and/or aluminium, two other metals that also cause a fair chunk of pollution to manufacture and dispose of. Some other metals could potential be worse still.

Put quite simply, making ALL vehicles creates a lot of pollution. To a rough order of magnitude, the environmental impact of making a vehicle is proportional to the mass of the vehicle. All else being equal making a hybrid DOES take more energy to make than a near identical conventional drive (eg. Civic vs. Civic Hybrid), but anyone who thinks that making a Prius takes more energy than to make a Hummer has rocks in their head!


RE: Sooner the better
By masher2 (blog) on 1/4/2008 3:33:03 PM , Rating: 2
> "I have a 93 Oldsmobile 88, it gets 25 town and 30 hwy. How is this hybrid an improvement?"

I tend to take your figures with a grain of salt, as they're considerably higher than others are reporting. According to mpg figures posted to gasaroo.com, an 89 Oldsmobile 88 was getting 17 mpg combined, and a 91 getting 22 mpg.

Perhaps you're able to drive a car in a more efficient manner than anyone else....but if this really is true, then you'll get a higher value than the EPA estimates for this hybrid as well.

Finally, I have to point out that emissions requirements are considerably stricter for 2008 models than they were 15 years ago. This alone, in the absence of any other technological improvement, would account for a reduction of at least 5% in overall mileage.


RE: Sooner the better
By eye smite on 1/4/2008 4:24:28 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sorry, I had an 89 olds 98 regency that got the same gas mileage, a 91 buick Le Sabre, now have this 93 Olds 88, and my wife drives a 95 Le Sabre. Same engine, same mileage, +/- 1 mpg. My Father has a 2k2 Le Sabre, he gets 31 on the hwy. Same, same, same. This is GM pulling the wool over the eyes and counting on people not researching. Don't believe me, go rent a buick for a week and drive it around logging your mpg. More stringent emissions controls=same amount of oxygen through the intake, same amount of exhaust through the catalytic converter, same mileage. The fed gov't passed a law some 30 yrs ago so that individual states could not regulate mpg requirements on cars. They have no reason here to make more efficient cars.


RE: Sooner the better
By Spuke on 1/4/2008 7:13:18 PM , Rating: 2
My 1992 Sentra got worse gas mileage than my 2004 Sentra despite being 200 lbs lighter, having 35 less hp, and a .5 liter less displacement motor. My current sports car, a 2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP, gets better gas mileage than both of those cars. I would say there have been improvements just not with all cars.

92 Sentra - 20 mpg
04 Sentra - 22 mpg
07 Solstice - 28 mpg


RE: Sooner the better
By masher2 (blog) on 1/4/2008 8:07:42 PM , Rating: 2
> "More stringent emissions controls=same amount of oxygen through the intake, same amount of exhaust through the catalytic converter, same mileage"

No. Some emissions controls have no effect on mileage, others have a very real impact. For instance, EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) lowers emissions dramatically, but impacts mileage. PFI (port fuel injection) is another; it reduces emissions (particularly NOx) over GDI, but it reduces engine efficiency slightly. Changes to ignition timing are usually a tradeoff between efficiency and increased PM emissions. The list goes on and on.

> "GM pulling the wool over the eyes and counting on people not researching"

So your theory is GM is intentionally making cars less efficient, hoping no one "will notice", on some weird notion that it'll make them more profitable? Did you need your tinfoil hat to come up with that one?


RE: Sooner the better
By goku on 1/4/2008 9:44:39 PM , Rating: 2
I think you're confusing efficiency and power. Just because you get more power, doesn't make it more efficient.
"A properly operating EGR can theoretically increase the efficiency of gasoline engines via several mechanisms:

* Reduced throttling losses. The addition of inert exhaust gas into the intake system means that for a given power output, the throttle plate must be opened further, resulting in increased inlet manifold pressure and reduced throttling losses.

* Reduced heat rejection. Lowered peak combustion temperatures not only reduces NOx formation, it also reduces the loss of thermal energy to combustion chamber surfaces, leaving more available for conversion to mechanical work during the expansion stroke.

* Reduced chemical dissociation. The lower peak temperatures result in more of the released energy remaining as sensible energy near TDC, rather than being bound up (early in the expansion stroke) in the dissociation of combustion products. This effect is relatively minor compared to the first two."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exhaust_gas_recircula...

Efficiency is a function of how much work you get from a given amount of energy, just because you get more power from an engine, it doesn't mean that you're using the fuel you've already got more efficiently. If you have anything more than 1:1 ratio of increase in fuel to engine power, you're not improving efficiency. And the reason for things like carbon monoxide are due to incomplete combustion, the more complete combustion, the more efficient the engine can be. It doesn't mean that the engine is more powerful, it just means that it's more efficient. A 2 stroke engine is quite powerful, but it fails efficiency and environmental standards due to lots of incomplete combustion. 2 stroke engines are notorious for exhausting large amounts of unspent fuel because that's their design, maximum power.


RE: Sooner the better
By eye smite on 1/4/2008 10:25:03 PM , Rating: 2
No, they hold the efficiency back because of the kickbacks they get from the oil companies. It's rather obvious. EGR valve changes do not affect mileage, if they change the chemical contents of the catalytic converter they and enlarge the the throughput so it yields the same exhaust volume. Here's where you all are uneducated. You're techs that have never worked on cars or in the auto industry and you think black and white tells the truth. Here's some truth for you to chew on. The Chevy Impala is sold as the Holden Epica in Australia. It has a different engine and 5 speed transmission. Oh guess what, it also gets 37% better gas mileage than the chevy impala. So, again, I say this is all BS lies, you're all full of BS, you haven't done your homework bright people and need to dig a bit further for the truth, cause that's the whole thing you're missing.


RE: Sooner the better
By masher2 (blog) on 1/4/2008 10:47:27 PM , Rating: 2
> "they hold the efficiency back because of the kickbacks they get from the oil companies"

Did you receive this information via radio signals beamed through the fillings in your molars, or a more conventional source? If so, perhaps you could share it with us?

> "The Chevy Impala is sold as the Holden Epica in Australia. It has a different engine and 5 speed transmission. Oh guess what, it also gets 37% better gas mileage than the chevy impala."

Perhaps that different engine and transmission (along with a totally different emissions package and a lower curb weight) accounts for that better gas mileage, eh?


RE: Sooner the better
By eye smite on 1/4/2008 10:53:41 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, it's obvious you have nothing but sarcasm. Go to Holden.com.au and do your own research bright boy. You want to believe car and oil companies aren't in bed together, stay stupid in your little world and remain a slave to the gas pump. It's no skin off my back.


RE: Sooner the better
By Ringold on 1/4/2008 11:32:52 PM , Rating: 2
Okay, Holden apparently sells a few nice looking cars in back-water Australia. Your point? They don't even look that inexpensive.

Anyway, what would further your argument is evidence, of which you provide zero except your own rhetoric, which unfortunately doesn't even make economic sense on the part of GM. Given that the kick-backs you describe would be illegal, if liberals in America had anything close to evidence, just like if they had anything close to stained dress on Bush, they'd bring GM to court and impeach Bush.

Go do some homework, "bright boy", in GM's public financial reports, locate these supposed kick-back payments there, and report back. Many corporate scams have been busted by reporters digging through reports and figuring out shell accounts, fake businesses, etc. I wouldn't be interested in a link to some web page with an axe to grind, I'd want links to the reports with notes on what page and line to look at, etc. Again, GM's information is in the public sphere; it has to be, being a public company. You're the one trying to uproot conventional wisdom on GM, as well as what microeconomic theory would suggest GM's incentives are, so the burden of proof is on you, Comrade Smite.


RE: Sooner the better
By eye smite on 1/5/2008 12:07:39 AM , Rating: 2
Oh WTF ever dude. You expect they would leave paper trails or that some politician would blow the whistle when they're just as much a part of the whole game? If you want to live in a shell waiting for black and white documentation that will never appear because you're unable to read between the lines, be my guest. You're a slave to the gas pump, they lie about how efficient they can be with mpg as they produce cars that get more overseas. You obviously enjoy paying $3 a gallon for gas and don't want to change and that's fine to. GM is an unscrupulous company because of the people running it who do everything in the name of greed like so many companies today. It's not after profit, it's all about greed. You can't sit there at your keyboard and tell me that in 100 yrs they can't make a more efficient mpg car than we have today. I'll say BS everytime. There's no money in making more efficient mpg vehicles and that's why it hasn't happened here.


RE: Sooner the better
By Ringold on 1/5/2008 12:56:10 AM , Rating: 2
I knew you'd refuse to seek fact. That'd be like asking a Greek to prove that roses are red due to Aphrodite's blood being on them. Unable to construct a logical argument backed up with by real world scientific observations, they'd resort to song and tale told to them as children by their forefathers or the crazy village uncle. It also would've required work on your part. Easier to collect an ideological welfare check.

Thanks for proving that religion is far from dead, simply taking new forms.


RE: Sooner the better
By Fritzr on 1/6/2008 4:55:07 PM , Rating: 2
When large aounts of money are transferred there is a a paper trail. If the people transferring the money think it's illegal there will be an attempt to disguise the purpose, but banking laws and corporate accounting rules do not allow elimination of the paper trail.

What was suggested earlier is that you research the public disclosure records that the corporations you accuse are required to file and find the paper trail. If you are correct then the records exist. If they don't then you'll find illegal holes in the records and matching incriminating documents at other banks and corporations who handled the money during the transfer.

Yes pure cash payments are done. However when the money is being paid by or to a corporation the money is deposited in a bank or withdrawn from a bank and a document is filed stating a reason. You'll find that when the bribes go over $100k that the person paying the bribe is rarely using money that was not held in a bank. When the reason fails the sniff test, then you can dig a little more to find the other end of the transfer. For example a clerk earning 60k a year making 75k in debt payments. This has been the downfall of many an embezzler or graft taker who thought that Federal Reserve notes were untraceable ... they are, but the side effects of their use is clearly traceable.

As for offshore accounts ... remember Enron


RE: Sooner the better
By masher2 (blog) on 1/5/2008 12:03:37 PM , Rating: 2
> "Go to Holden.com.au and do your own research bright boy"

After doing so, I find that a car with a different engine, drive train, emissions system, and curb weight gets different mileage.

What exactly do you think this is proof of again?


RE: Sooner the better
By Alexvrb on 1/5/2008 4:00:21 PM , Rating: 2
It's proof he's an idiot. The Holden Epica is nothing like the Chevy Impala. The Epica uses two inline 6 engines, a 2.0 and a 2.5L. In fact, both the engines and the platform are from Daewoo. There's no direct equivalent here, but if you wanted a better comparison, the Epica is closer to a 4-cylinder Malibu in terms of weight and performance. Its actually still a bit lighter.

Holden's Caprice (not to be confused with the US Caprice, which was a RWD B-Body last produced in 96) is more similar to the Impala, in terms of design. In terms of engines, the Pontiac G8 is very similar to the Holden Caprice.


RE: Sooner the better
By Hoser McMoose on 1/5/2008 9:26:06 PM , Rating: 2
The worse part of this?

Holden Epica with a 2.5L I6, 154HP and 5-speed automatic transmission, 1499kg curb weight: 9.3L/100km on the Australian test

Chevy Impala with a 3.5L V6, 211HP and 4-speed automatic transmission, 1666kg curb weight: 9.7L/100km on the old EPA test (the old EPA test is already more stringent then most other tests in the world, let alone the new test).

So the Epica has a better transmission (maybe?) but 27% less power and 150kg less weight to lug around, but only slightly more than 4% better fuel economy.


RE: Sooner the better
By Oregonian2 on 1/4/2008 1:21:01 PM , Rating: 2
Chrysler has traditionally "owned' minivans as well.


RE: Sooner the better
By Spuke on 1/4/2008 1:23:17 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, Dodge trucks haven't been selling very well and they may end up being out of the top 10 list next year.


RE: Sooner the better
By tallcool1 on 1/4/2008 3:10:55 PM , Rating: 2
The 300 is one of Chrysler's cars, and won Motor Trend Car of the Year when it came out in 2005.
http://www.motortrend.com/oftheyear/car/112_05_cot...
Not sure why you would want them to ditch the car lineup all together... if anything they need to continue and build on it as gas prices will never come down to the levels they used to be at, which will put pressure on sales of bigger SUVs and Trucks.


RE: Sooner the better
By mdogs444 on 1/4/2008 3:31:35 PM , Rating: 2
Gas Mileage of SUV's have nothing at all to do with the prices of gasoline on the market right now.

The price of gas is a politically created problem, not a supply problem. Of course there is more demand, as demand always increases, but OPEC has CHOSEN not to increase supply. They are manipulating the market on purpose.

By creating every car on the road to get better mileage, all that will do is stump the demand growth, lead to stagnant or decreases in supply, and keep gas prices just as high if not higher.

However, gas prices will come down - but not to the $1.00/gallon that they used to be at. Not unless the US overtakes Canada & Mexico to steal their oil.


RE: Sooner the better
By andrinoaa on 1/4/2008 5:02:16 PM , Rating: 2
Son, you have a lot to learn. God is out there making oil every day just for you. lol


RE: Sooner the better
By Ringold on 1/4/2008 8:43:25 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think he's too far off, at least in his conclusion that SUV sale reductions wouldn't lower gas prices much. I'd get to that conclusion by taking a different path, though; there's still massive numbers that will for decades remain on the streets, and the government can't effectively eliminate those without the second largest attack on private property rights since the 1860s. The effect would therefore be small and on the margin as new cars enter the fleet. However, we, unlike Europe, have babies, and therefore have long term population (and economic) growth. More new little people, ever increasing numbers of vehicles on the road.

Therefore I doubt the quantity of gasoline & diesel demanded by the market will ever go down, until it's replaced in the market by another fuel. If the price of gas is to go down, there is only one ethical, legal path: more refinery capacity. A secondary event must also soon happen; refineries are getting killed on the crack spreads, as gasoline prices have not gone up in tandem with oil prices, so refineries need lower input costs or they wouldn't expand capacity even if they were allowed to. There is only one real solution here as well in the short term: expanded drilling.

In the long run, this all takes care of itself anyway.


RE: Sooner the better
By Komrade Chaos on 1/5/2008 4:59:42 AM , Rating: 2
Chrysler is the worst. Their Jeep line is horrible. Every Jeep I've owned has been plagued with problems due to cheap parts and shotty engineering. There are widespread problems with most of the vehicles, most notably the WJ's.
The Japanese really know how to make a vehicle.


RE: Sooner the better
By Hoser McMoose on 1/4/2008 5:43:06 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think it's just GM that needs this, the whole auto industry needs it. This has the potential to be a huge (possibly revolutionary) step forward in the way vehicles are designed.

That being said though, execution is going to be critical, so I'd rather see it be a year late but work WELL then come out too early and fail miserably and have no one make another attempt for 10 or 15 years (eg. the EV1).

If GM is successful though it'll put them nearly 10 years ahead of every other vehicle manufacturer out there. The only other major car company I've seen with a similar design is Volvo/Ford who showed off an early prototype of a serial-hybrid C30 a few months back. Toyota, Honda, Chrysler et. al are no well behind the 8-ball at the moment.


New Tech
By mendocinosummit on 1/4/2008 12:48:17 PM , Rating: 1
Wouldn't this make a shit load of a difference http://www.dailytech.com/Stanford+Researchers+Buil...

Again as soon as the big the big three catch on its too late.




RE: New Tech
By Ringold on 1/4/2008 2:54:19 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is taking something that exists in the lab and creating an affordable industrial process to mass produce it, reliably, day after day, and one that doesn't consume any particular resource scarce enough that GM would drive up commodity prices by running the production -- which is what we see happening across a lot of the "green" energy sector.

There's probably a lot of cool, potentially useful things that get cooked up in labs and universities but ultimately can't be commercialized at all. If it cant make money, theres no reason for it to exist at a loss.


RE: New Tech
By andrinoaa on 1/4/2008 5:12:43 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry to blow the bubble. How many transistors are on a new quad core chip? 800 million odd? When did we last go to the moon? These don't seem like big issues any more.
I think the problem is resources are going to the wrong areas. How much is spent on military research every year? Arn't enough nuclear weapons already in stockpile?
Isn't the threat of very expensive gas a very real threat to your way of life? Pretty soon, your country will have to revise its priorities I would say! lol
Here in Australia we are looking at $1.50 a litre in the next week - and this is still relatively cheap compared to the rest of the world


RE: New Tech
By masher2 (blog) on 1/4/2008 7:54:25 PM , Rating: 2
> "Sorry to blow the bubble. How many transistors are on a new quad core chip?"

So your theory is, since we can build a quad-core cpu, we should be able to instantly solve any other possible problem in science or technology? You might want to rethink your logic there.

The simple fact of the matter is that the price of gasoline really isn't that pressing of a problem. Not that long ago it was selling for $1/gallon here. Even at $3/gallon, its not a huge expense for the average middle-class family....which explains why we're buying more of it (and still buying large gaz-guzzling SUVs) despite the recent price rise.

If gas hits $6+ a gallon here in the US, however, you'll see a wealth of alternatives suddenly start to show up, all made economical by gas that's no longer cheaper than milk from the local cow.


RE: New Tech
By andrinoaa on 1/5/2008 4:41:43 PM , Rating: 2
You missed my point. (probably wrong analogy my fault ). WHY WAIT for the problem to get nasty when solutions are close at hand. Leaving it to market forces will hurt a lot of people and is painfully slow. This can be avoided if some planning is implemented. It wouldn't take too much thinking and relatively painless, just a small push in the right direction. 35mpg by 2020 is SLOW by any standard. I personally think the technology is here now. Hybrids that get 100mpg would be a quantum step forward, giving us many more years of breathing space before oil runs out. BUT
look at what we are presented with. Prius. This is predominantly a petrol car with an auxillary electric motor.
It has pissy range on electric and cannot be charged at home. Typical , conservative, toyota. bah. GM, tonka toy hybrids!!
Assuming most people use cars to commute less than 20miles per day and going by what I have read about new developments in batteries and cars, 100mpg hybrids are relatively easy to implement. Just look at what the aftermarket boys are doing and what 100 times more money could acheive. 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!


RE: New Tech
By masher2 (blog) on 1/5/2008 6:21:03 PM , Rating: 2
> "WHY WAIT for the problem to get nasty when solutions are close at hand"

With $40B+ a year being spent on alternative energy research, we're hardly doing nothing. However, the fact remains that, in 1996, building a huge fleet of NiMH-powered electric cars would have been a vastly expensive waste of resources, a mistake of collossal proportions.


RE: New Tech
By Spuke on 1/5/2008 6:24:38 PM , Rating: 2
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!
And those aftermarket boys spend a ton of money to do it. On a large scale the costs would be reduced but you're still talking about a good chunk of money that WE are going to have to pay for. Do you think the car companies are going to give us all that tech for little or nothing? And I would appreciate it if your response didn't including volunteering MY wallet to pick up the tab. You are free to pay however much you want, of course.


RE: New Tech
By andrinoaa on 1/7/2008 5:25:15 AM , Rating: 2
I didn't volunteer your wallet. Market forces will rip more than your wallet out if we continue thinking paradise will last for ever. My concern is that by reacting instead of planning, we may pay even more!


RE: New Tech
By Spuke on 1/5/2008 6:01:35 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. In my own household, it will take $7/gal for me to justify a third car to replace the truck my wife currently drives full time.


RE: New Tech
By andrinoaa on 1/7/2008 5:17:35 AM , Rating: 2
You will have to buy a new car some time in the future, no?
In my case , its before 100,000km (about 5yrs ) They don't seem to hold together too well after that ( not without, pricy, nigly maintenance ). Besides, I love the multiple airbags, ABS brakes, ESP, better handling , better economy, less polution and most importantly a better looking car than the previous one! Ok, Ok, they cost more, but so does everything else


RE: New Tech
By Spuke on 1/9/2008 4:41:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You will have to buy a new car some time in the future, no?
Of course but I'm talking about a THIRD car not a replacement for the two I already own. One of my cars is a truck and if that's replaced then it will be with another truck. Unless trucks are getting 28 mpg when gas prices hit $7/gal then I'll have to get a third car.


Volt is 10+ years late
By MKct on 1/5/2008 2:31:10 AM , Rating: 2
For all the point/counterpoint going on here, the fact was that GM had produced the EV1 in the early 90s and it was a viable electric vehicle for consumption by certain segments of the public. Many are quick to point out the EV's shortcomings such as range, lower performance in cold weather, etc. but they're missing the point. Had this technology and product been allowed to flourish (or even progress into a follow up model, maybe an EV2 sedan?), we wouldn't have our hopes set on a GM Volt in 2010 (or maybe later at this point), it would have already been here and be several generations old by now. The EV1 might not have been for everyone, but it had a small foothold back when it was released and its popularity was growing as gas prices started to climb and environmental consciousness began to grow in the US. Also, bear in mind that GM had the technology in the early 90s to make a production electric vehicle capable of normal road speeds, yet their current hybrid vehicles barely provide an improvement in mileage. The car companies fought legislation to mandate Zero emissions vehicles in California, and once the govt folded, the plans for electric vehicles were either scrapped or shelved. You can make an argument that sole blame for killing off these cars over a decade ago cannot be completely put on GM's shoulders, (lack of public demand for/awareness of EVs, lack of govt support via legislation, etc also played a hand in it) but I find it hard to believe that GM, oil companies, and business associated with maintenance and repair of fossil fuel cars did not have some conspiracy-esque thinking going on at the time to ensure that their current cash cows remained in place for years to come. Until more public pressure is put on the auto manufacturers and public demand for EVs and alternative fuel vehicles rises, we can expect the current snail's pace of fuel economy improvement we've experienced for the past 20 years to continue.




RE: Volt is 10+ years late
By masher2 (blog) on 1/5/2008 1:16:59 PM , Rating: 2
> "Had this technology and product been allowed to flourish"

Products don't flourish unless consumers buy them....and consumers didn't have much of an interest in the EV1. Wasting billions to manufacture products no one wants helps no one.

GM did the right thing. Scrap the EV1, go back to the lab, and wait for a battery technology that actually makes electric vehicles viable. LiIon batteries, coupled with $3+/gallon gas, just might be enough to finally get us there.


RE: Volt is 10+ years late
By andrinoaa on 1/5/2008 5:11:51 PM , Rating: 2
Why is it that we see all around us the opposite happeneing? How is it that extreeme quad cores seem to sell at horrendous prices? "consummers didn't have much of an interest" They are leading edge products. It takes time to mature the technology. We want them to get on with it not act like boat anchors!


RE: Volt is 10+ years late
By masher2 (blog) on 1/5/2008 6:27:53 PM , Rating: 2
And there is such a thing as a product being made too soon, before technology makes it practical. That explains why consumers didn't rush out and buy millions of Babbage Engines in the 1860s, or why the first steam-built car in the 1600s didn't supplant horse-powered transportation.

In the 1990s, the technology didn't support all-electric vehicles. That doesn't mean the technology itself wasn't continuing to mature. It simply meant automakers refused to squander hundreds of billions of dollars building products that no one wanted. A very wise decision, both for them and for us.


RE: Volt is 10+ years late
By andrinoaa on 1/7/2008 5:58:58 AM , Rating: 2
You are partially right, but the technology is so close I can smell it!
Samsung now has SSD available, woopie. Too bad most of us couldn't justify the cost. And in 5 yrs time when it's old technolgy, it will just get dumped, no?
Whats good for one ins't good for the other?
not that dumping is PC. lol lol


RE: Volt is 10+ years late
By Hoser McMoose on 1/5/2008 10:06:54 PM , Rating: 2
Hindsight being 20/20, I think GM probably now realizes that they maybe shouldn't have scrapped the EV1, even if it was a bit of a failure at the time. I suspect that if GM had known how quickly we'd hit $3+/gallon gasoline and increased consciousness of environmental impacts and dependency on foreign energy sources then they might have acted differently. Had they continued pursuing and refining the design they might have been able to bring out the Volt (or a similar design) already.

The EV1 was a commercial failure, but it could have made a VERY useful research vehicle. The last prototype of the EV1 had the same basic drivetrain as the Volt uses and the design could have been perfected by now if they hadn't taken a few years off in the late 90's and early 2000's.

That being said, it's tough to blame GM too much, there were no obvious indications that in 1996 we would run into the sorts of economical and political situations we're in now in 2008. Back then we had cheap gas and batteries were crap. Predicting that gas would dramatically outpace inflation over 12 years and that battery technology would advance at a mind-boggling pace (mainly due to things like laptop computers and cell phones) is something no one managed. Not GM, not Toyota, Honda or anyone else.


RE: Volt is 10+ years late
By MKct on 1/10/2008 2:13:45 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
...and consumers didn't have much of an interest in the EV1


Says who? By the time the program was canceled there was a waiting list of people interesting in leasing the car that went unfulfilled . And after the last EV1 was returned to GM, many leasee-s offered to buy the car outright (many even willing to sign waivers absolving GM of all legal obligations associated with the car) but GM turned them down and destroyed all but a handful of the vehicles. Not to mention, GM was not "wasting" billions on the program, the Clinton administration had provided millions in subsidies for the development of alternatively powered vehicles, which was offsetting a large amount of the R&D money spent on the EV program. As for electric vehicles not being viable (at that time); that's a very short-sighted opinion on the matter. Even if the cars were only sold in certain markets (most notably California), the range and charging methods were acceptable to many people, notably ones with short commutes who didn't need a family sized car. As for the battery technology at the time, the Gen 1 cars got 55 to 75 miles (90 to 120 km) per charge with the Delco-manufactured lead-acid batteries, 75 to 100 miles (120-to-160 km) with the Gen 2 Panasonic lead-acid batteries, and 75 to 150 miles (120 to 240 km) per charge with Gen 2 Ovonic nickel-metal hydride batteries. Recharging took as much as eight hours for a full charge (although one could get an 80% charge in two to three hours). Seems reasonable to me, heck, even with the use of LiIon batts in the Volt, it only manages to achieve 40 miles per charge (and yes I know it has a generator ICE engine to extend range). The critics of the EV1 and similar electric cars were operating on the idea that if the electric vehicle couldn't compare directly to a fossil fuel car (in terms of range, speed, power) then there was no market for them and no benefit to keeping the EV programs alive. The point i'm trying to make is that had the program continued, even with a limited production of 1,000 or so vehicles a year, it would have made an impact because charging infrastructure could have expanded, public awareness increased, and a significant number of vehicles would have been on the road that were NOT using gallons of fossil fuels and NOT producing large amounts of harmful emissions.


Let me simplify this all : Blame Human Greed
By rushfan2006 on 1/4/2008 4:26:50 PM , Rating: 1
I think a lot folks make good points for and/or against reasons for going hybrid - but let's cut out all the BS the reason we as a nation (actually even the world itself) isn't MUCH farther ahead with energy saving vehicles is simple human greed.

No one - and you can link all the websites you want, you can even give me hand written letters from corporate CEOs, no one is fooling me for a second the real hard truth of it all - there is too much money made by big oil (and the conventional vehicle industry - car parts manufacturers, mechanics, etc.) to just "allow" innovation ideas and technologies free reign to sprout up and hurt their bottom line$.

that's all it is. Every thing else you read or talk about is just added spin and/or political BS.

We should be at least 10-15 years (being conservative) ahead of where we are today in this area by now.

I just want 4 things from my car:

1) Decent price - if I can't afford it, there is no point.
2) Good mileage using a relatively cheap(er) fuel when compared to current gasoline prices.
3) Something that looks "cool" enough that I don't feel either like a dork or 30 years older than I really am when I'm driving it.
4) Quick enough that it does not increase my commute times to work, school or whatever.




RE: Let me simplify this all : Blame Human Greed
By eye smite on 1/4/2008 4:51:57 PM , Rating: 2
It is all BS. I've said in this article and several others nothing gets done in this country unless there's money to be made. Why don't we fix the borders? There's no money in it. Just about all the companies in this country are greed driven. Not profit, greed. It's rather simple to see.


By andrinoaa on 1/5/2008 5:28:27 PM , Rating: 2
Hello, thats why we have GOVERNMENTS. If the government doesn't do its job or loses sight of its reason for being, greed is the next best thing!! LOL LOL LOL


RE: Let me simplify this all : Blame Human Greed
By Fritzr on 1/6/2008 5:17:49 PM , Rating: 2
The system is called Capitalism. The form you suggest, Socialism is the one that made the USSR a super power. The problem with socialism is that the government decides what is needed & based on that government defined need, what is funded. US government does this also. We have some spectacular successes such as the internet that got it's start when DARPA funded interagency computer networking to make it easier to share data. Some failures also such as the USAF flying saucer and many Skunk Works projects that have never been heard of since they started as Black Projects and due to failure got filed never to be seen outside the research facility with rare exceptions such as the USAF flying saucer.

In addition to the secret projects there are many failed public projects and many successful projects whose consequences are today regretted. One such was the intended side effect of wiping out the Native American salmon economy. Today the project is to reverse that success without losing the hydroelectric plants that were the most visible publc benefit of the earlier plan.

The advantage of Capitalism is that most of the time venture capitalists pay the cost of taking basic research done by government researchers and government paid unerversity researchers and converting it to commercially viable technology. The LiOn research being invested in now is an example of venture capital being invested in upgrading a known tech. The famous Moore's Law is another example of capitalism at work. The funding for the year over year improvements is being paid for by sale of the products.

Red China is a country where the warlords favoring Russian style socialism won the battle to control the country. Many successes in government leadership there such as the Great Leap Forward have resulted in the present day leadership converting to Capitilism, Party controlled Capitilism, but it is still essentially a system where the corporations pay the cost of improvement and the direction of the funds is directed by a belief that the investment will be repaid.

In a Capitilist system if there is no money to be made then there is no reason to invest. If secure borders are seen to provide a net benefit to the bottom line then secure borders will get invested in. Politicians see a net gain in campaign contributions when Secure Borders is correctly packaged, so this is a current political priority. Whether or not the politician's version of Secure Borders works or not is for the next Congress to worry about, but that is another story for another time :P


RE: Let me simplify this all : Blame Human Greed
By andrinoaa on 1/7/2008 5:45:55 AM , Rating: 2
Were did I say socialism?
I suppose there is no money to be made in law and order.There is no money to be made from prisons. I suppose there is no money to be made out of water, henseforth, there will be no government funded dams.I suppose there is no money to be made out of the military, so the government can stop funding them. There is no money to be made from hospitals so the government should stop subsidising them. CAN I GO ON?
This according to your Gospel this is socialism, is it not?
You need to explain to everyone what the role of government is, because you have confused me.
I find it hard to beleive you can argue that the only motivation is the most base of human instincs. I thought we were superior because we had a brain and planned for the future.


By bobsmith1492 on 1/7/2008 10:44:02 PM , Rating: 2
Protection of the country (military and police) is the primary concern of the government. Beyond that and some other public services that individuals would not do on their own (i.e. pollution controls, roads, mail... maybe) the best policy is for the government to keeps its hands out of things. The instant the government steps in, waste and inefficiency steps in alongside.


By andrinoaa on 1/8/2008 2:20:53 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry bobsmith1492, but chanting the same mantra over and over about government being no good and only private enterprise is doesn't wash with many folks anymore. Its pure mantra. MANTRA, MANTRA, i repeat MANTRA.
Show us the figures.
Either way can be wastefull. By definition, private enterprise doing government work is at least 20% inefficient. Whats the name , Hali, Hali...Haliburton.
Great example of private enterprise doing government work.
So great I am pissing myself laughing at how much money Chaney has pulled!!!

If your government is wastefull, it should be held to account. That doesn't mean its inefficient, just that the checks and balances haven't worked. In a country so full of lawyers, you would think this would get cleaned up wouldn't you?
Would you consider making sure most people's basic needs are met a basic government funtion?
Security military, and law enforcement
Medical everyone should have adequate access
Infustructure, roads, water, power ,food
Economic regulation to stop the excesses
Care of old people
In the modern world, a civilized country takes care of all the above.


By brucewagner on 1/5/2008 1:43:43 AM , Rating: 2
We need the PLUGGED-IN models... If the manufacturers refuse to make them this way, then buy the after-market add-on packages that are now available.

For example, for the Toyota Prius, with the Plugged-In package, you get 180 mpg.... with no limit on the range per charge.

Awesome!

Better yet... Don't buy a car until they give you a plugged-in model!




By someguy743 on 1/5/2008 8:58:17 AM , Rating: 3
You will be able to plug in the new Chevy Volt into a standard electric wall outlet. If you can plug in at work you could really save some money on gas.

http://www.chevrolet.com/pop/electriccar/2007/40mi...

http://www.chevrolet.com/pop/electriccar/2007/60mi...

http://www.chevrolet.com/pop/electriccar/2007/long...

If Chevrolet makes sure to make the exterior design look good as well as have nice looking interiors like you might find in the new Malibu, Accord or Camry, they are going to have a VERY hot selling car. I bet a LOT of the high school and college crowd will want one.

Chevrolet should try to sell the Volt to the same people who would buy Civics, Camrys, Malibus and Accords .... people who want a nicely designed, highly reliable, efficient car that is a "smart buy" according to the car reviewers at JD Power, Motor Trend, Consumer Reports, etc.


By Spuke on 1/5/2008 6:31:39 PM , Rating: 2
What makes you think this will be the same price as a gasoline car? Look at the price of hybrids compared to their gasoline equivalents. Do you really think a mostly electric, bleeding edge tech car is going to cost the same as an all gas Civic or Camry?

LOL!


By andrinoaa on 1/7/2008 6:13:25 AM , Rating: 2
In australia, the fastest growing car sector is the "highly prized" luxury cars from $50,000 - $110,000 range. Most of us plebs own cars in the $15,000 -$35,000 . This suggests to me that the market will take the hit for the right product. We may not all be able to aford them now, but when the products get better and cheaper it will change.


By masher2 (blog) on 1/5/2008 12:13:34 PM , Rating: 2
> "For example, for the Toyota Prius, with the Plugged-In package, you get 180 mpg.... with no limit on the range per charge. Awesome!"

No. For a plug-in hybrid you essentially get infinite mpg for the few miles until the charge is exhausted...at which point you begin getting the same mpg the hybrid normally gets.


By andrinoaa on 1/5/2008 5:02:21 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry masher2, you missed the point. If most people only commute 20miles everyday, so the stats say. You will hardly ever pay for gas. MPG becomes irrelevant because then it becomes cost per mile which is what most people are really thinking. MPG is just a brag factor which clouds what we are really saying. MPG is what we have traditionally used when gas was very cheap. As it rises quickly, we need to use less word-speak.


Hydraulic Hybrid Technology
By daftrok on 1/4/2008 2:06:34 PM , Rating: 2
http://tyler.blogware.com/hydraulic.bmp

With this technology, I'm surprised this isn't being pushed onto more pickup trucks and SUVs. Granted these can't be used on 4 door sedans and such but this can easily make the F150 a 30 mpg vehicle.




RE: Hydraulic Hybrid Technology
By Andrwken on 1/4/2008 2:59:53 PM , Rating: 2
Hydrostatic drive with regenerative braking. Interesting design. It works great in things like forklifts, lawnmowers, tractors. But I have never seen any good designs for higher speed apps like automobiles. I have heard cost as the biggest problem in making efficient hydrostatic drives for automobiles. Is there any other limitations?


RE: Hydraulic Hybrid Technology
By daftrok on 1/5/2008 2:12:39 PM , Rating: 2
No. It costs 1000-2000 dollars to place in CURRENT vehicles, meaning a whole new car doesn't have to be made for this. Its cheap, its effective, and for some reason its not available. Blargh!


RE: Hydraulic Hybrid Technology
By Spuke on 1/5/2008 6:37:50 PM , Rating: 2
Again, 1000-2000 dollars for some backyard mechanic to do this doesn't mean WE will be charged that much to have it done in a Camry. Does ANYONE have the slightest clue how much R&D is done to make a car last 100k+ miles in rain, sleet, snow, or going up a steep grade in 115 degree heat with the A/C on full blast no matter what idiot is behind the wheel?

Does ANYONE realize that WE will have to pay for this tech to get designed, tested, AND implemented into mom's Accord?


RE: Hydraulic Hybrid Technology
By Hoser McMoose on 1/5/2008 9:41:13 PM , Rating: 2
It only costs a few thousand dollars for all the parts and labour to MAKE a car. The rest of the cost is tied up through R&D costs (HUGE due to the requirements to make the car safe and reliable), recouping capital costs, taxes, distribution costs, dealer markup, etc. etc.

Adding $1000 to the parts and labour cost of a vehicle would likely add at least $5000 to the final sales cost, probably more than the additional cost for a ICE/electric hybrid and likely less effective (at least for smaller vehicles, maybe for buses things would be different).


RE: Hydraulic Hybrid Technology
By daftrok on 1/7/2008 6:03:15 PM , Rating: 2
Its not intended for smaller vehicles because it won't fit. Its intended for trucks, buses, etc.


Toyota's lithium-ion plan
By encia on 1/4/2008 5:36:53 PM , Rating: 2
http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2007-12-25-toy...

Toyota also said it was preparing to start mass producing lithium-ion batteries for another low-emission vehicles.




RE: Toyota's lithium-ion plan
By usbseawolf2000 on 1/4/2008 10:19:19 PM , Rating: 2
Toyota is studying to mass produce Li-ion battery for Plug-in use after in-house development.

GM is still at an experimental stage to prove the validity of their concept by Easter. GM has not decide which battery chemistry to use nor know if they will meet their requirements.

A huge difference.


RE: Toyota's lithium-ion plan
By encia on 1/5/2008 5:07:12 AM , Rating: 2
My post was for Bob Lutz's "We have to reestablish GM's leadership and the Volt is, frankly, an effort to leapfrog anything that is done by any other competitor." statement and similar assumptions i.e. comparing the current Prius against future product (e.g. Honda’s future products, Peugeot’s future 308 Diesel Hybrid).

GM's, Honda's and Peugeot's press statements are assuming Toyota’s technology being static.


RE: Toyota's lithium-ion plan
By andrinoaa on 1/5/2008 4:51:01 PM , Rating: 2
Remember GM's fuel cell stack? Its all BS!! They are all privy to the same ideas. They all know about hybrids, diesel, cvt transmissions etc. They may not know how to do everything great but why bother when you just have to pay royalties? Why reinvent the wheel? The ONLY thing lacking is the push. We, collectively need to find the formula for the push before a 4x2 hits us from behind.


RE: Toyota's lithium-ion plan
By Spuke on 1/5/2008 6:27:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
We, collectively need to find the formula for the push before a 4x2 hits us from behind.
We have shale oil and more drilling to do before we get blind sided with anything. Quit getting your info from Fox 11 news and do some reading for yourself.


By Hoser McMoose on 1/5/2008 9:52:49 PM , Rating: 2
Shale oil?!?!?! <shudder>

I REALLY hope we don't get to the point that we're converting shale into gasoline to drive our cars, though I don't doubt that it will happen. This is a HORRIBLY polluting industry that will cost us MANY billions per year in health care costs and lost agricultural productivity from the huge air and water pollution it causes.

Of course, that won't stop most companies since it's you and I that will foot the bill for such pollution through increased income taxes and medical premiums, but if you LIKE paying high taxes and medical premiums so that some guy down the street can drive his Hummer or Lambourgini, go right ahead.

Personally I'd rather keep my taxes low.


By someguy743 on 1/5/2008 11:07:26 AM , Rating: 2
You want to talk about excellent miles per gallon? Wait until the GM Volt integrates this new solar technology from Nanosolar into the car. Miles per gallon might go up to 200 mpg or more. Your car could literally become like those solar powered calculators.

Nanosolar makes super thin solar panels that could be cheaply integrated into the roof and maybe other parts of the car. On sunny days, your car could sit in the sun and not even have to be plugged in. The internal combustion engine wouldn't have to kick in much at all unless you were making a long trip.

http://www.gm-volt.com/2007/12/31/nanosolars-plan-...

http://www.nanosolar.com/

http://www.cnbc.com/id/15840232?video=525102373

" We are excited about electric cars and are planning to offer a solar panel kit that people can install together with their car charging unit to allow them to go 100% green . The solar panels allow people to charge their car, and the car’s storage capability extends the availability of solar electricity into the evening and night. It’s a perfect symbiosis. Solar car ports are one form of this–so that while your car is idle at work, it is loading up on energy from the sun!"

This solar technology with the GM Volt will get more and more important as the GM Volt becomes popular and starts selling mainstream. It will take a lot of pressure off the electric utilities having to race to build new power plants to deal with the new electricity demands.

In fact, if the electric utilities aren't already planning new electricity plants they better get busy NOW. Build them as green as possible. It would be awesome if the scientists came up with a huge FUSION energy breakthrough and we could get that rolled out in the next 10 years.

Til then, the electric utilities need to ramp up photovoltaic solar, solar thermal, wind, and safe/inexpensive nuclear ... and maybe ... if we absolutely have to ... these new clean coal plants with carbon capture technology I've read about.




By masher2 (blog) on 1/5/2008 12:10:12 PM , Rating: 2
A simple back-of-the-envelope calculation easily demonstrates that roof-mounted solar panels aren't really practical for widespread use in the automotive market.

For the 1% of the nation that lives in a low-latitude sunny climate AND drives less than 5 miles to work AND parks their car outside in a non-shaded location for 8+ hours, it would be viable...assuming Nanosolar can indeed reduce the weight of solar panels dramatically. But for the rest of us, it just doesn't pay off.


By Spuke on 1/5/2008 6:41:57 PM , Rating: 2
Solar just plain doesn't work unless you live in a place that's sunny MOST of the time.


By Hoser McMoose on 1/5/2008 10:11:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Wait until the GM Volt integrates this new solar technology from Nanosolar into the car.

Why in the hell would you want to lug around solar panels on top of your car?!?! The added wait would hurt fuel economy and any time you park the car in a garage or underground parking you lose the benefit.

Put the solar panels on the roof of your house where they belong! Your house doesn't move (hopefully!) and therefore doesn't require extra energy to lug around. Leave them OFF your car where added weight wastes energy.


By bobsmith1492 on 1/7/2008 10:11:37 PM , Rating: 3
Chill out, these aren't panels. It's basically printed on whatever surface so they could more-or-less paint your car with solar panels. Still it wouldn't be much power but, if it were cheap enough, it would help out a bit on the mileage.


Please no Lithium-ion
By roadrun777 on 1/4/2008 7:01:36 PM , Rating: 2
I really hope that they find some other battery material. I have read about so many advances in battery material, yet they are still using the most expensive and short lived battery chemistry available -> Lithium ion. Ugh!
Why? Just because it can charge a little faster? Or maybe because it's already widely available? I say pay the royalties to the companies that invented the new battery materials and lets move away from Lithium-ion




RE: Please no Lithium-ion
By bobsmith1492 on 1/7/2008 10:17:28 PM , Rating: 2
Actually it's because it has the best energy density, i.e. the batteries are smaller and lighter for the amount of power they carry. What new battery materials do you refer to?


RE: Please no Lithium-ion
By bobsmith1492 on 1/7/2008 10:19:32 PM , Rating: 2
Here's a table showing Li-ION as having the most energy/weight. Unfortunately it's also the most expensive.


RE: Please no Lithium-ion
By bobsmith1492 on 1/7/2008 10:20:17 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Please no Lithium-ion
By bobsmith1492 on 1/7/2008 10:36:06 PM , Rating: 2
Here's an excellent article about battery technologies. I learned a lot:

http://www.buchmann.ca/Article4-Page1.asp


If we'd listened to Carter
By geezerpk on 1/4/2008 5:14:08 PM , Rating: 2
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.

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.

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.




RE: If we'd listened to Carter
By mdogs444 on 1/4/2008 9:52:35 PM , Rating: 2
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.

Not true at all. Do you even know the first reason why Jimmy Carter enacted policy to start producing up to 2 million barrels per day of synthetic oil? Lets start from the beginning...

The Shah of Iran went into exile, and the Iran - Iraq war was taking place. Opec then raised the prices of oil from $14/barrel to $37/barrel. Carter then put in a policy to try and create synthetic oil in order to gain energy independence from OPEC. Once word of this got out, not even 12 months later, OPEC went crazy and dropped the price of oil back to $14/barrel. It was all a politically created crisis by the Mideast and OPEC - and had nothing to do with an actual shortage of supply.
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.

When Reagan came into office, oil was already reduced down to $14/barrel and was as cheap as its every been during that section in time. Not just Reagan, but the Congress as well, voted to stop the synthetic oil creation because 1 barrel of synthetic cost over 3x as much as oil from OPEC - thus proving it was not a cost worthy process.
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.

You can call Carter a President who saw in foresight, but the fact is that it was under his term that he allowed the oil to triple in price, causing a crisis to the middle class & auto industry, before he even attempted to do anything. What he did was too late, too sorry for it to even be worthwhile, because the fact was that it was a politically created crisis, not an oil shortage.

If you want to talk about who had foresight, then look no further than Nixon in this case. There were articles in the newspapers, and it has even been admitted since, that he has congressional approval to overtake a country, put them under US rule, and take control of their entire oil supply & refineries. OPEC cringed, dropped the prices lower than they were before the crisis of his time, and eliminated the need to take by force.

Not saying that would or would not have been the right choice - but I have a feeling that the way things are going with OPEC refusing to increase the supply to meet global demands, and Anti-US Dictators of oil bearing countries (Venezuela, Iran), I would not be surprised if this type of discussion makes way again.


RE: If we'd listened to Carter
By Ringold on 1/5/2008 12:46:42 AM , Rating: 2
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.


His program, broadly generalized, had three goals.

1) Massive, overlapping systems of price controls on what just as well could've been a completely nationalized energy complex.

2) Oil replacement through sythentic means, via the same methods that failed Germany

3) Massive demand destruction, inflation and unemployment be damned.

This didn't make any sense, because.. well, I'll get to that.

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.


The American Economic Association is meeting today and tomorrow, roughly 8000 professional, government, academic and student economists. Easily 90% would likely wax poetic on Reagan's first glorious day in office. Why?

Carter's policies, since you didn't notice then or are just reading what NPR or someone has told you in recent times, made no sense. Why were their energy shortages? Why wouldn't there be? It was not OPEC that caused shortages, it was Carter price controls. If a marginal unit of production costs $1.01, but the price ceiling is $1.00, then no more will be made, nevermind millions willing to pay much more then $1.00. No incentive to expand production. Carter's desire to ram down the economies throat what his personal opinion of a fair price for energy ensured shortages, and if we stuck with his model there's no reason why production wouldn't of slowly declined -- not increased, as you suggested. In the shorter term, as long as equilibrium demand price was above the price ceiling, perpetual gas station shortages would exist.

As far as even nationalizing industry, which he might as well have just done, that wouldn't of turned out well either. The historical record there is just as abysmal; take a gander at Mexico's state oil firm, for example. Just as supply-siders like Reagan's economic advisers would've predicted, a wreck.

There was, however, massive incentive for a black market as you might imagine. Had that regime not ended on Day 1 of Reagan's presidency, there could've ultimately been a rise in crime and corruption just as prohibition created. We see this today in every last country I'm aware of that has enacted price controls on petrol. Most conspicuous, probably, is Iran's Revolutionary Guard, who buy petrol at cheap prices domestically and smuggle it out at massive profits. Carter's good-buddy-pal friend Mugabe, the butcher dictator of Zimbabwe, would also know all about price controls.

Moving beyond energy price controls, Venezeula's got them on food. Guess what? Food shortages. Go ponder that one.

The reason why Carter was a failure is ultimately simple. He attempted to engage in government control of a market, with almost Communist enthusiasm, though with slightly more progressive Socialist mechanisms. Economists understand now, and many did then, that there are too many moving pieces in any market to be controlled effectively. Just as we can't know everything about a particle without disturbing it, the government can't know everything about market participants without massive cost and inefficiency. Free market forces exert the optimal incentives on all parties, and are self-arranging at no cost to government.

An interesting link that came up while I refreshed myself on Carter's energy plan is from the Heritage Foundation, 1977.

http://www.heritage.org/Research/EnergyandEnvironm...

Note their prediction that we'd be buying nuclear reactor technology from France and Germany if we backed away from nuclear power in this nation. Guess what? We backed away, and now European reactor designs are competitive, to say the least. They also forecasted more inflation and unemployment -- Carter delivered them both.

I'll just stop here. Carter was IMHO the worst president of the 20th century, next possibly to Hoover, who along with Kennedy goes to show you how much academics really counts in the White House. His plans had no foundation in economic reality; just like everything else about his train wreck presidency, he operated purely on ideology rather than sound policy ideas.


RE: If we'd listened to Carter
By andrinoaa on 1/7/08, Rating: 0
By someguy743 on 1/4/2008 4:13:17 PM , Rating: 3
GM should get their battery partners to FAST TRACK this new battery breakthrough:

http://www.technologyreview.com/Nanotech/20000/

This battery breakthrough could give Lithium Ion batteries TEN times more capacity! This could be HUGE if they can make these kinds of automobile battery packs small, fairly cheap, and proven safe.

When the electric car industry comes up with batteries that can give you 400+ miles between quick charges in a car that costs about $30,000 or less it is going to be a huge development.

The internal combustion automobile will be DEAD when they can build electric cars like this that will last 150,000+ miles and also have no downside as far as acceleration, speed and towing capacity. That is when the oil and gas industry will be in big trouble. The oil and gas industry folks will have to find a new line of work. Their gravy train will be over with.

At the rate things are changing with technology, I wouldn't be surprised to see cars like this by 2015-2020. No joke. I can't wait til these new electric cars come out and we don't have to use Middle East oil and pollute the world. Mother Nature will be very proud of us. Everyone knows that it is just a matter of time. It's not an "if" but a "when". I want it to happen SOON. BEFORE there's a freakin' oil crisis in the Middle East ... BEFORE we have more problems due to global warming.




By Hoser McMoose on 1/5/2008 10:25:48 PM , Rating: 2
Fast tracking of technology does NOT happen in the automotive industry, not from GM, Toyota or anyone else. There are just too many risks involved, too much R&D required, long development cycles, etc.

Going from something in the lab to being included in a commercial vehicle in 10 years would be EXTREMELY fast. 20 years is more typical.
quote:
The oil and gas industry folks will have to find a new line of work.

You mean like selling oil, gas and other energy sources for electricity production?


By someguy743 on 1/4/2008 10:03:34 PM , Rating: 2
People living in super polluted cities like Beijing, China should get cars like this new Subaru electric car ASAP. It's coming out in 2009. They should pass laws encouraging electric cars in China as soon as possible. They have big problems over there.

http://car-reviews.automobile.com/news/subaru-s-el...

For people that only use their cars less than 50 miles a day, this is a good idea. Until they come up with electric cars with a range of 300+ miles, these cars should be fine for a lot of people.

You should see video and pictures of the pollution in Beijing. It is unbelievably bad ... much worse than LA or Houston ever was. America will see how bad it is for the Summer Olympics pretty soon. The Chinese need these kinds of cars SOON. Make them cheap, double the range to 100+ miles as soon as possible.

The Chevy Volt coming out in 2010 is going to be similar to this car except it has a "range entender" in the form of an internal combustion engine that will run on gasoline, ethanol, and who knows what else. It will run have a range of 640 miles because the engine will regenerate the battery as you drive.

http://www.chevrolet.com/electriccar/

http://www.gm-volt.com/

Hopefully the internal combustion engine will be a super efficient gas sipping one with ultra low emissions like the latest Honda engines are. It needs to have decent power though. Americans expect that you know. 0-60 in 8-9 seconds or less and a top speed of 100 mph is expected my most people. Make it have decent power and 80-100 mpg and GM will have a winner.

That 640 mile range number and the mpg alone should make this Chevy Volt a hit ... IF ... they make the enterior design look good. GM should just make it look a bit like the new Malibu, Accord or Camry. Sometimes, it's better to be a bit conventional with the exterior design and the interiors but make everything else as high tech as possible. The Apple iPhone proves that well though out design DOES matter. Gotta have function AND form ... aesthetics AND good engineering under the hood.

As new models come out based on the Volt, they'll have much improved battery technology. The better the battery technology, the less the engine comes on. Hopefully, by 2020, the engine won't be coming on much at all except for very long trips. Eventually the car will be 100% electric with no compromises on acceleration, towing capacity, etc. Most of all NO more internal combustion engine whatsoever and NO emissions. The range will be so good and recharging so convenient that the idea of burning fuel to run a car will become a ridiculous idea.




By andrinoaa on 1/5/2008 5:25:03 PM , Rating: 1
I like your dream, because thats all it is at the moment.
Don't hold your breath on GM though. They don't have any runs on the board yet and are not a leading edge company.
As such, they will try to hang on to easy profits and follow others. Thats just what they do.


By Hoser McMoose on 1/5/2008 10:33:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
People living in super polluted cities like Beijing, China should get cars like this new Subaru electric car ASAP.


Given that an enormous part of Beijing's pollution comes from their horribly inefficient and highly polluting coal power plants, I'm not sure that this is all that great of an idea. I'd rather see more widespread use of scrubbers on their coal plants first! (something that us North Americans should REALLY be working on too!)

Electric cars (or plug-in hybrids) are an excellent idea, but they need to be combined with good management of the electrical grid and electricity generation, something that China is failing miserably at right now.

quote:
Hopefully the internal combustion engine will be a super efficient gas sipping one with ultra low emissions like the latest Honda engines are.

Given the design requirements the engine in the Chevy Volt should be MUCH better than any Honda engine on the market. Running at only a signal, constant RPM gives you all kinds of advantages and opens up all sorts of new opportunities (eg, HCCI engines) that just aren't available when your engine needs to be effective from ~1000 - ~7000 rpm.


Research continues
By Fritzr on 1/6/2008 5:43:41 PM , Rating: 2
I the beginning of autmobile development there were pure electric, steam, gasoline & diesel powered vehicles. Due to the historically low cost of fueling IC gas and diesel and the lack of efficient batteries and electric supply for the electrics and a lack of R&D support for the steamers we have the modern gasoline or diesel auto economy. Times are a changing, petroleum is no longer cheap, the end of the petroleum mining industry (drilling, coal, shale etc.) is now in sight, battery tech is improving, electric generation and distribution is increasing in efficiency.

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 and a commercial plant was at that time planned to be built in Ireland. Americans had no interest in making oil at a cost above what OPEC charged :P

Here are a couple of Wikipedia links to give a jumping off point to this tech that will be a necessary supporting industry regardless of what power source is used. Think greases, oils and lubricants in general :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroleum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_depolymerizat...




RE: Research continues
By masher2 (blog) on 1/6/2008 7:14:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
the end of the petroleum mining industry (drilling, coal, shale etc.) is now in sight
In the 1970s, pundits predicted the end of the petroleum industry within 30 years. In the 1920s, they were predicting oil would be exhausted within a decade. As far back as the 1880s, people have been saying the end of the oil industry is "just around the corner".

It will end someday, of course...at least for natural petroleum. But I'm confident it won't happen in my lifetime.

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
I think you're referring to the Discover article on CWT's "Thermal Depolymerization" plant. That 2003 article predicted they'd soon be making oil at $15/barrel. In 2005, they predicted they'd soon be making oil at $80/barrel. That was a few months before the state Governor ordered the plant closed.

The plant is reopen now, but doesn't seem to be much closer to commercial viability than it was in 2003.


GM's sleight of hand
By dswanson2609 on 1/8/2008 6:39:06 AM , Rating: 2
GM does this to try to make people feel good and buy it's garbage. The reality is that electric cars are no solution to our energy problems, they don't save much energy and push the problem to systems that will soon be in crisis, especially in the western US.

GM is also not an innovator, and has most of it's parts are built by suppliers that they have abused so bad financially that they have no chance of being a survivor in the lower energy world that we are facing in the next 10 years.




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