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Chevrolet Volt  (Source: automobilemag.com)
The production halt was expected to last four weeks, but will resume a few days early

After a temporary halt in March, General Motors (GM) has announced that production of the Chevrolet Volt will start back up earlier than expected on April 16.

On March 19, GM put a halt on Chevrolet Volt production in order to get rid of some of the older versions of the plug-in electric hybrid and make room for those with the recent battery fix. Also, new Volts with the changes made for the California market are making their way into the inventory.

The production halt was expected to last for four weeks. However, new reports show that Volt production will resume a few days earlier than planned. GM has already started notifying Detroit-Hamtramck plant employees, where the Volt is assembled.

It's a good time to bring Volt production back to life, since it seems that Volt popularity has risen recently. In March, U.S. Volt sales shot up to 2,289, which is its best month yet since release. Of that total, 2,129 were sold to retail customers while 160 were sold to fleet customers.

Even former Republican President George H.W. Bush jumped on the opportunity to buy a Volt, and gave it to his son, Neil Bush, as a birthday present.

This surge in sales couldn't have come at a better time, either. The Volt had a difficult year throughout much of 2011 and during the beginning of 2012 due to problems with battery fires.

In May 2011, Chevrolet's Volt caught fire three weeks after a side-impact crash test conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Volt was parked in a NHTSA testing facility in Wisconsin, and was so severe that it ended up catching nearby cars on fire as well. This led to an investigation into the safety of lithium batteries.

Later, in November 2011, NHTSA conducted three more side-impact crash tests on three separate Volts. Two out of three ended up sparking or catching fire while the third remained normal.

GM moved quickly, offering loaner vehicles to customers and even buying Volts back from scared owners. In January 2012, GM recalled 8,000 Volts off the road as well as another 4,400 for sale in showrooms to fix the batteries. The fix entailed the addition of steel to the plate that protects the EV's T-shaped, 400-pound battery. This aimed to prevent penetration into the battery in case of an auto accident, and would stop both coolant from leaking and would evenly distribute the force of a crash.

The investigation placed a bad image on the Volt for awhile. Customers were afraid to purchase it, and dealerships wanted nothing to do with it since it wasn't selling. Sales plunged in January 2012 with only 603 Volts sold.

But it looks as if the Volt's luck is turning around, with March sales at its best and an early production start beginning in 10 days.

"It seems like we've sustained ourselves through this difficult period," said Dan Akerson, GM CEO. "We hope to get up to 3,000 plus in the coming months and are certainly positioning it."

According to Mark Reuss, president of GM North America, the Volt made a comeback because people are beginning to get to know the car well and understand how it works.

"We're matching production with demand," said Reuss.

Source: Automotive News



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RE: Good news
By toffty on 4/6/2012 11:36:43 AM , Rating: 2
QFT!

While I don't have a Volt, I do have a Leaf and I love driving on electricity!


RE: Good news
By RDO CA on 4/6/2012 11:48:36 AM , Rating: 2
I do have a Volt and in my first year I used 2.4 gal of gas.
Great car and I love it


RE: Good news
By freedom4556 on 4/6/2012 12:34:10 PM , Rating: 4
Problem is that electrics don't make financial sense. Look at the 2012 Ford Focus EV as a good example. (It's a good example b/c it's available in electric and regular drive trains). I did the math for over in the UK where gas is ~$8 a gallon and electricity is $.14 a kWh and it took 4 years driving a tank a week (and the equivalent distance in the EV) to pay for the DIFFERENCE in cost between the EV and the MOST expensive gas-powered trim. The EV is nearly 50% more expensive. Then there's charge times to consider. At 6hrs a charge (conservative estimate on 120V) it takes 32hrs a week to charge the EV, or almost a full work week. Not all of us have a garage we can put a 240V charge point in. Then you have to consider that after 4 years of driving the battery will be nearly shot and estimates are those will cost thousands to replace.

And MPGe is the biggest joke ever. Who cares about the energy equivalence, what matters is the energy usage! kWh/mi people. MPGe is just propaganda...

Fueleconomy.gov http://www.ford.com/cars/focus/models/ and google are my sources.


RE: Good news
By MasterTactician on 4/6/2012 1:30:28 PM , Rating: 4
You have to start somewhere... As always, the early adopters will bear the cost of these innovations until advances in efficiency bring a much improved version to the masses.


RE: Good news
By freedom4556 on 4/6/2012 1:31:06 PM , Rating: 2
...and bad ideas are just bad ideas. Need I pull out my laser-disc player I didn't buy? Or where did I keep that Beta tape deck I never got...

I hope Congress figures it out eventually, then we can funnel money into real solutions like diesel and hydrogen and electric hybrids of those.


RE: Good news
By martin5000 on 4/6/2012 2:36:14 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe these are the equivalent of Beta tape, but then if no one had bothered working at the technology and risking mistakes along the way then you'd still be listening to records on your gramophone (or iGramophone as it would now be called) rather than blurays.


RE: Good news
By semo on 4/6/2012 3:12:47 PM , Rating: 1
Diesel and hydrogen? First of all, diesel comes from the same place as petrol and you might as well use both. I don't think fossil fuels need more investment.

Hydrogen is just a form of energy store. The technology is more expensive than owning a battery and you still have to go to a garage to fill up. At least with battery electrics, people have a choice to trickle charge at home (cheap to install), fast charge at home (expensive to install) or at a public charging station. It is much easier to install a quick charging station than it is to have a specialized hydrogen station.

Another advantage of pure electric is that you won't need truck deliveries. I would argue that just the national grid is more efficient at transmitting energy than a hydrogen garage.


RE: Good news
By semo on 4/6/2012 3:15:47 PM , Rating: 2
Should be "I would argue that the national grid is more efficient at transmitting energy than a hydrogen infrastructure."


RE: Good news
By tng on 4/6/2012 5:22:03 PM , Rating: 3
There is a hydrogen infrastructure?


RE: Good news
By Jeffk464 on 4/6/12, Rating: 0
RE: Good news
By semo on 4/7/12, Rating: 0
RE: Good news
By Mint on 4/7/2012 4:40:55 PM , Rating: 2
Diesel is a dead end until you're sure that biodiesel can be made at low cost and without agricultural land use:
http://www.caranddriver.com/columns/should-america...

Hydrogen requires too much infrastructure.

CNG is the closest to a realistic substitute, but it also has an infrastructure problem (not as bad as H2, but its there). Building a garage CNG pump is a lot more involved (and dangerous) than a 240V outlet.

PHEV is not a bad idea in any sense of the word. They're essentially just regular hybrids with a bigger battery and a charger. The former is already cost effective (400k hybrids sold per year in the US), and the latter is pretty much there over vehicle lifetime (5000 cycles of 10 kWh displaces ~4000 gallons of gas), though the payback time needs to be shorter for mass market appeal.

The tax credit unquestionably spurring demand. It's only going to be a total of $1.5B as it is ($7500 for 200k EVs), and by the time runs out, EVs will be competitive with gas, unless we get another crisis that drops the price of gas.


RE: Good news
By Jedi2155 on 4/7/2012 7:59:13 PM , Rating: 2
CNG filling at home does not make sense. Nor do CNG powered vehicles for consumers. It takes just as long to fill up as electric, and the primary benefits of low fuel cost and longer range (versus electric) are offset by higher vehicle cost (you're paying $10k more for a CNG Civic versus a conventional civic), less performance, less efficient and less places to fill up outside the home (far more EV charging stations than CNG fill ups).

Keep in mind that filling up your CNG vehicle at home uses up about around ~1.4 KWh/gallon equivalent so for a 8 gallon tank is the same as charging an Volt.

Plus natural gas burned a power plant is more efficient than it being burned in your engine.

The only place where I see CNG powered vehicles make sense, is large fleet owners where the infrastructure cost is a smaller part of the total cost for the vehicle/fuel and overhead cost of NG compression and fill-up is less of an issue. Having more CNG fill ups would make sense, but until that happens I can't recommend CNG over EV.


RE: Good news
By tng on 4/6/2012 5:21:15 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
I do have a Volt and in my first year I used 2.4 gal of gas.
I would ask how many miles did you travel?

This is not aimed at you personally, but at all the people who have EVs or Volt type cars that drive hundreds of miles on our roads, contributing to the wear on infrastructure, without contributing to gas taxes to help repair them.

There are some serious issues that will have to be solved if EV adoption becomes a large percentage of the driving population. I would propose a specific tax on EVs that will fund local, state and federal road construction and repair, but that is just me.


RE: Good news
By Jeffk464 on 4/6/2012 8:14:51 PM , Rating: 3
I propose a special tax on whatever niche you fit into. :)


RE: Good news
By Reclaimer77 on 4/7/2012 8:23:54 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
I propose a special tax on whatever niche you fit into. :)


We're already paying that. It's called a "gas" tax and other taxes that EV owners get massive breaks on and we don't.

It's time to end the subsidy for EV's and ALSO level the playing field (favorite slogan of the left). Tax EV's just like any other vehicle that uses the roads and stop paying people to buy them, THEN we can see how the Volt sells.


RE: Good news
By Jedi2155 on 4/7/2012 8:01:09 PM , Rating: 2
Lets consider it an incentive for EV drivers, until the EV market reaches mass appeal. Then you can tax us for it. To tax an emerging market is to kill it, which is completely opposite of the point of the tax credit to begin with.


RE: Good news
By Reclaimer77 on 4/8/2012 8:53:45 AM , Rating: 1
The job of the Government is not to "incentivise" people to buy certain goods over others. That's called picking winners. And damages our market. Especially when the company it's backing took billions in taxpayer money. Conflict of interest much?

You people act as if we have a moral imperative to "get off oil" and go EV. That's rubbish and has no place in this discussion. If we have to pay people to do so, we're no better off than when we started!

I get the point of the tax credit, Jedi. You don't have to explain the rationale behind it for me, thanks. But that's missing MY point.


RE: Good news
By RU482 on 4/8/2012 6:10:31 PM , Rating: 2
doesn't the higher MSRP, and thus higher yearly tags/tax rate you pay for an EV/PHEV accomplish the same thing inherently as a fuel (or energy) tax, when compared to a similar class car?

in other words, if I buy a Volt, I'm paying a much higher tax/tag fee to the state DOT every year than a comparably sized vehicle, thus at least leveling the playing field on how much money gets applied (in theory) toward road maintenance.


RE: Good news
By tng on 4/8/2012 10:04:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
...if I buy a Volt, I'm paying a much higher tax/tag fee to the state DOT every year than a comparably sized vehicle, thus at least leveling the playing field on how much money gets applied (in theory) toward road maintenance.
So all those poor people who bought a $40K car that uses gas should get a refund for all the gas taxes they have paid?

Sorry you don't get it, license fees and registration fees are typically state, and fund state motor vehicle departments. Gas taxes are federal and are used for road maintenance. One does not support the other


RE: Good news
By Qapa on 4/7/2012 3:30:02 PM , Rating: 2
Do you know if this kind of problem could also affect Leaf?
(I have really no idea on this)

Also, I like how they call it:
"battery fix"
"fix the batteries"

Well, the battery is the same and they only added a plate to protect it...

A fix should be: "it cannot happen anymore in 99,9999% of normal crashes"

And I say "normal crashes" because, if a train or a plane rip the car apart, it should be acceptable that it might still happen since, in that case it wouldn't matter anyway.


RE: Good news
By toffty on 4/9/2012 2:29:21 PM , Rating: 2
Are you talking about the Volt battery bursting into flame? No it cannot happen in the Leaf because the Leaf's battery is not liquid cooled. The Volt caught fire because the liquid short-circuited the battery.

Also, in normal use you'll never see this problem even without the 'fix'. Durring testing they took the battery from the volt - after the first crash - and reinserted it. They then crashed the car again. Then they left the Volt parked for two weeks with the battery still charged. Then the fire occured. If the rules for battery-powered cars was followed correctly, the battery would have been discharged - easy and quick to do - this would have never happened.


"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov














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