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GM's Bob Lutz  (Source: Photobucket/willfusion)

Production Chevrolet Volt
GM gives a thumbs up to the Volt's battery pack

General Motors' Bob Lutz made headlines earlier today for his comments on crash testing for European-designed vehicles. Lutz argued that differing crash testing standards are preventing the GM from bringing over smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles from Europe that would help the company boost its Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE).

When Lutz isn't championing GM's efforts to pump the U.S. market full of high quality, fuel efficient vehicles with traditional internal combustion engines (ICEs) and drivetrains, he is singing the praises of the upcoming Chevrolet Volt. In the latest saga of the Volt's development, Lutz proclaims that testing of the vehicle's lithium-ion battery pack is going smoothly.

"We haven't hit any obstacles so far for the batteries," remarked Lutz to Kicking Tires. "They are all performing flawlessly. It's almost scary we are not seeing any problems with the batteries."

Lutz went on to explain that the batteries have been subjected to numerous reliability and durability tests which encompass rigorous road testing and extreme temperature variances. That being said, the battery life of the lithium-ion battery is a concern for GM. As a result, the battery along with other powertrain components will be covered under a 10-year warranty.

"We're being conservative on battery life. For our cost calculations we're assuming each car will need a replacement during the warranty period," added Lutz.

Lithium-ion batteries -- when used to provide 100% propulsion for a vehicle -- have largely been untested on a large scale in the U.S. auto market. There have been niche players like Tesla Motors with its Roadster, which features a 6,381 cell lithium-ion battery pack, but it also carries a hefty $100,000+ price tag.

GM's Volt, on the other hand, is expected to carry a much more palatable price of around $40,000 to $45,000 before the requisite government rebates and tax credits.

The Chevrolet Volt was recently spied on the set of the “Transformers 2” set wearing what appeared to be production bodywork. Shortly before the exterior was spied, picture of the Volt’s interior was also leaked for the world to see.

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RE: 10-year... how many miles?
By Doormat on 9/3/2008 1:42:37 PM , Rating: 3
Actually, I would expect the ICE to start up at least once a week for at least 30 seconds to make sure everything is OK and still works. You don't want to not use the ICE for 3 or 4 weeks and then find out its not working when you need it. GM will probably advise drivers to always have at least 1 gallon of fuel in the tank (which would be burned through about once every 4-6 weeks).

RE: 10-year... how many miles?
By therealnickdanger on 9/3/2008 2:10:43 PM , Rating: 3
That's what I'm thinking. It must come on automatically from time to time. Surely the largest auto-maker in the world wouldn't forget this fundamental of ICEs. I suppose it will have some algorithm to know when to activate it based upon all sorts of causal factors.

RE: 10-year... how many miles?
By Spuke on 9/3/2008 2:14:39 PM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't that be dangerous to have an engine coming on by itself in a garage?

RE: 10-year... how many miles?
By Doormat on 9/3/2008 2:35:35 PM , Rating: 2
I would assume it would be while you're driving around somewhere (e.g. vehicle is not in park). If you dont drive it more than once a week, well, you'd have been better off spending it on a Civic.

RE: 10-year... how many miles?
By FITCamaro on 9/3/2008 4:26:34 PM , Rating: 2
Not for 30 seconds. Unless you make a habit of pushing used newspaper under your car so high its packed against the tail pipe.

And this does make sense. One potential problem I see with the Volt is that gas eventually goes bad. If you constantly only use the battery during the day, you might go months on one tank of fuel. Sales of fuel stabilizer for Volt owners may be high.

RE: 10-year... how many miles?
By Siki on 9/4/2008 4:13:45 PM , Rating: 3
I regularly use 1+ year old fuel for my lawn mower. I don't see several month old gas as being a problem. Maybe I'm just optimistic.

RE: 10-year... how many miles?
By Spuke on 9/3/2008 2:13:27 PM , Rating: 2
I have a 60 mile commute (round trip). Can anyone do a quick calculation on how often I'll need to fill up with that commute? I heard the range was down to ~360 miles. It seems I'll still be filling up every week but the cost to fill would be lower. Doesn't seem like enough of a savings for me to justify the price of the car.

RE: 10-year... how many miles?
By therealnickdanger on 9/3/2008 2:33:32 PM , Rating: 2
At 50MPG with an 8-gallon tank and 20 miles/day using ICE, $4/gallon, and $1/charge, I came up with a daily operating cost of $2.60. I'm bad at math though... :P

Doesn't seem like enough of a savings for me to justify the price of the car.

Very few vehicles can EVER justify the expense of a new one. To me, this car looks cool, has reasonable performance, and would serve my commute very well. The $40K price range is where I like my cars anyway, so if I'm already going to spend that much... Volt becomes a very good option because it will save me at least $30,000 over 10 years. That's a small downpayment on a house... a college fund... diapers... LOL

RE: 10-year... how many miles?
By Spuke on 9/3/2008 3:14:18 PM , Rating: 2
Very few vehicles can EVER justify the expense of a new one.
True, but I usually compare my old car with the new one to see if the extra expense is worth buying the new car or keeping the old car until a new car is worth the extra expense or buying a less expensive new car.

I'm comparing the Volt to a new MINI Cooper S. The MINI would be more fun but, if the Volt is not too slow (or too heavy), my wife could have fun in that car too. The present PR says 0-60 in 8.5 seconds or so. A bit slow but maybe the production car can do better. She says she doesn't care but I know she doesn't want a slow car.

We'll see what happens in a couple of years. It'll be about that time anyways when I'll be in the market.

By Mojo the Monkey on 9/3/2008 5:37:19 PM , Rating: 3
8.5 may sound a bit slow if you're reading about sports cars all the time, but if you take a few moments and go to a comprehensive car review site, you may find that a lot of sufficiently powered cars and "powerful" SUVs are in that ballpark.

Unless you find yourself at the red-light-race in front of a freeway onramp, needing to get over to beat another driver who is aware of your intentions... I don't think you'll be the car holding up traffic in the volt.

RE: 10-year... how many miles?
By Doormat on 9/3/2008 2:53:23 PM , Rating: 2
So to add on, $13/week (5 days commuting), plus any weekend driving not on gasoline, plus the $5 in electricity. if you drive 300 miles a week now, and even at 30MPG, you'd be paying $35/wk on gas, so you'd save about $15/wk, more if you get less MPGs.

RE: 10-year... how many miles?
By Digimonkey on 9/4/2008 9:21:09 AM , Rating: 2
He figured in gas being $4 a gallon not $3.50. So it'd be closer to $20 a week in savings.

RE: 10-year... how many miles?
By walk2k on 9/3/2008 4:25:28 PM , Rating: 2
If you can plug it in at work it'll go 30 miles 1 way just on battery alone.

Friend of mine has a plug-in Prius conversion and charges it from the solar panels at work (a winery in Napa). His commute is about 30 miles (round trip) but he charges it at work for free off the solar excess (during the day they generate way more electricity than they use so it's totally free energy). During the summer he doesn't even charge it at home at all.

RE: 10-year... how many miles?
By Spuke on 9/3/2008 4:45:05 PM , Rating: 2
No battery chargers where I work.

RE: 10-year... how many miles?
By srue on 9/3/2008 5:15:33 PM , Rating: 2
I would agree, but Bob Lutz and others at GM have repeatedly said that if you drive less than 40 miles/day, you'll never use a drop of gas. Clearly if the engine is coming on occasionally for maintenance you'll use some gas.

Also, think of a backup generator. Do those have to be run occasionally? I thought they often sit unused for years, ready to spring into action when the power goes out. The Volt ICE is essentially that.

RE: 10-year... how many miles?
By JediJeb on 9/3/2008 6:38:32 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, backup generators do run occasionally. I know someone who has one of the natural gas ones at his house and at least once a month or maybe every two weeks the thing fires up automatically and runs for about 5 minutes just to keep the engine lubricated. If you don't run ICEs occasionally the oil can settle to the oilpan and when you start it you will have more wear on the bearings than you should.

RE: 10-year... how many miles?
By AE3Wolfman on 9/19/2008 1:31:18 PM , Rating: 2
Worse is corrosion between the piston and cylinder walls. Will cause all sorts of problems.

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