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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 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.


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