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Volt sales continue to grow

General Motors has been pushing the Volt for well over a year as sales continue to rise and fall depending on the month. In March of 2012, GM suspended production of the Volt due to weak demand. Production of the Volt was started back up in April of 2012, earlier than expected, thanks to an uptick in demand for the extended range electric vehicle.
General Motors has now announced that in June 2012 it sold 1,760 Volts, which is double what it sold in June 2011. So far in 2012 General Motors the sold 8,817 Volts, which adds up to more than three times the 2,745 Volts that it sold in the same period of 2011. In fact, so far in 2012 GM has sold more Volts than in all of 2011. Total Volts sales in 2011 were roughly 7,600 units.
General Motors continues to outsell its closest Japanese rival, the Nissan Leaf by more than 3 to 1. That is no surprise considering the Leaf is a pure electric vehicle whereas the Volt has an onboard generator that allows for a much longer driving distance than the Leaf.
Compared to the Volt, sales of the Nissan Leaf plummeted 69% for June to 535 units. Nissan has only been able to sell 3,418 Leaf EV's so far in 2012, a decline of 19% over the same period 2011.

Nissan maintains that will sell 20,000 Leaf EVs in the US this year, but that seems far-fetched. Nissan would need to sell 2763 Leafs each month for the remainder of the year, which is more of the vehicles than Nissan has sold all year.

Source: Detroit News

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Ford Fusion FTW!
By twhittet on 7/5/2012 11:05:36 AM , Rating: 0
Eagerly waiting for the 2013 Ford Fusions to come out. Between the new looks, the even better mpg hybrid, and the Plugin "Energi" card - I don't see the Volt competing very well at all.

I liked the concept of the Volt - when the "generator" and the rest of the powertrain were completely independent. Theoretically any type of generator could power it.

When I found that the engine directly supplies power after a certain speed, I lost any respect I had for it. The volt is just another damn hybrid - an expensive one. The Energi will make a lot more sense, and I doubt it has wasted so much $ in the making.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By WalksTheWalk on 7/5/12, Rating: 0
RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By Jeffk464 on 7/5/2012 5:34:04 PM , Rating: 3
Supposedly the lighter the hybrid the quicker the payoff so cars like the fusion and camry hybrid should pay for themselves quickly.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By Jeffk464 on 7/5/2012 5:35:54 PM , Rating: 3
Mazda came up with an even lighter "hybrid" it has regenerative brakes that it just uses to run accessories and charge the battery. It should be interesting to see how this works out, if you designed the AC to run off a motor instead of the belt it could be significant.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By YashBudini on 7/5/2012 10:11:44 PM , Rating: 2
I'd like to know why a technology similar to this couldn't be used on auto struts/shock absorbers to generate power.

It would seem output would vary with the number of copper windings, magnet strength, and the proximity to the windings.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By Mint on 7/12/2012 2:45:19 PM , Rating: 2
I can't see that being particularly useful. The city MPG difference between a good hybrid and a good regular ICE is something like 50%, and even more for people in heavy stop-and-go areas. You'd need a really beastly AC system at continuous full blast year round to get even half of that difference.

Besides, if you have regenerative brakes, then why not use that generator as a motor as well, getting all the advantages of a hybrid? Even regular hybrids are getting rather pointless when all you need is a bigger battery and a charger to make it a PHEV and slash your fuel costs.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By jharper12 on 7/6/2012 11:54:45 AM , Rating: 2
Not to let this one walk away unscathed as well, WalksTheWalk also knows absolutely nothing about this topic. They could make this work with a 100% electric drive... you perfectly hapless idiot. In fact, the engine NEVER COMES ON AT ALL while the battery is charged. Repeat after me, "I'm an idiot, I don't know what I'm talking about." They chose to allow the engine to kick in AFTER THE BATTERY IS DISCHARGED, to gain a 5% efficiency in fuel economy.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By Masospaghetti on 7/5/2012 11:40:13 AM , Rating: 5
At certain speeds it's more efficient to drive the Volt directly from the engine as opposed to converting the energy to electricity and back again.

The direct drive feature of the Volt is an improvement, not sure why it makes you lose respect for it. The MPG numbers would be lower without it, with no improvement in functionality.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By NellyFromMA on 7/5/2012 1:29:42 PM , Rating: 2
Because when someone does something different than someone else, its instantly wrong. Duh.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By twhittet on 7/5/12, Rating: 0
By Dr. Kenneth Noisewater on 7/5/2012 3:22:19 PM , Rating: 4
Incorrect. Volt can run at full speed (up to a governed 100mph) solely on its primary electric drive motor. The only time the genset can engage with the wheels is when the battery's state of charge goes below its minimum level (the 'battery' gauge on the dashboard is at 0%, but the battery's charge is more like 30%) while the car's being driven at highway speeds.

The reason for this is that spinning the the ring gear makes the final ratio taller so it behaves as an upshift, so that the primary motor can spin more slowly and more efficiently. When there's adequate charge in the battery, the ring gear is powered by the motor/generator attached to the gas engine (but it's declutched from the gas engine at that time). Only when the state of charge is too low and the Volt is at highway speeds does the ring gear run while it's clutched to the gas engine. This is done because not doing so is less efficient, and GM has engineers, not whiny petulant fanboys who don't actually care about efficiency.

You really should do some more research before you spout off uninformed BS.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By twhittet on 7/5/12, Rating: 0
RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By Masospaghetti on 7/5/2012 3:14:14 PM , Rating: 2
GM could still make the versions you suggest by eliminating the clutch between the engine and drivetrain. They chose to couple the two together in the production Volt because it increased efficiency.

The motor has 149 hp and about 5,000,000,000 ft-lbs of torque. I doubt it would have any trouble maintaining highway speeds without the range extender.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By Dr. Kenneth Noisewater on 7/5/2012 3:28:18 PM , Rating: 3
It's actually 273lbft, but it certainly gets off the line quicker than most cars surrounding me in traffic. I guess the silence makes mashing the pedal a lot less obvious to outsiders..

Incidentally, from 0-50mph, the Volt feels like basically a turbodiesel in 2nd gear, but zero lag and a pretty high RPM limit. Between 50-60 there's an "upshift" when the ring gear starts spinning up and the final gear ratio gets taller to handle higher speeds more efficiently.

Oh, and btw, while the battery SoC is above its minimum level, Volt is all-electric all the way to its maximum limited speed of 100mph.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By twhittet on 7/5/2012 3:59:56 PM , Rating: 2
while the battery SoC is above its minimum level, Volt is all-electric all the way to its maximum limited speed of 100mph.

You are 100% correct, and I admit I am wrong on that concern. Admittedly a confusing subject, and has has been argued about in multiple other places before. GM's own marketing likes to downplay the use of the ICE engine for ANY propulsion, when it should stress the ability of the electric to do 100mph at full torque.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By Solandri on 7/5/2012 3:37:06 PM , Rating: 2
I lost respect because it was no longer an electrical car with a "range extender" - you now absolutely NEED the engine to hit certain speeds/acceleration!

Your opinion is based on the completely unsubstantiated assumption that pure electric is always superior to hybrid. From what I've read, it sounds like the GM engineers did their homework, and came up with a system which gives you the best of both worlds (electric and gas). Sometimes running on full electric is better, sometimes running on full gas is better, and the system they designed with the Volt will switch between the two depending on which is better.

Engineering solution spaces are typically complex enough that it's virtually impossible to hit an optimal design with a single solution.
The Fusion Energi is estimated to get BETTER MPGe than the Volt.

It's estimated to get better MPGe than the Prius as well. And for that matter the Volt gets better MPGe than the Tesla S, which is the only all-electric out there with comparable range. Which would seem to contradict your assumption that all-electric > hybrid.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By twhittet on 7/5/2012 3:54:12 PM , Rating: 1
Nowhere did I "assume" all electric > hybrid. I had hoped all the $ and R&D they put into the a serial/parallel hybrid would produce a superior car to a standard hybrid design.

Also, your explanation is pointless - read Dr Kenneth Noisewater's informed explanation. Your point didn't refute my frustration at the "range extender" being linked ("meshed") to driving the wheels directly at all.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By m51 on 7/8/2012 8:00:50 AM , Rating: 3
Your loss of respect for the Volt is only due to a lack of understanding on your part.

The direct engine coupling is controlled by the engine computer. A software change could disable the function and return the car functionality to the original design and performance, the way you prefer.

However the direct coupling design has almost nothing but advantages.
1) it improves efficiency (fuel economy) by bypassing the generator/charging/electric motor loop for driving the car in the regimes where it's advantageous to do so.
2) it increases available horsepower at passing speeds where the need for horsepower is the most critical( electric + ICE), thus improving acceleration performance at highway speeds.

The Volt still has all the characteristics of an all electric car. High Electric motor HP for good all electric performance, large battery capacity for reasonable range, Energy recapture on braking, etc.

The only drawbacks are in your preconceptions.

Your argument about different versions is not really valid:
1) no range extender cripples the car to 40 mile range only with minimal cost reduction. The range extender engine is not a large fraction of the Volt cost

2) replacing the range extender with extended batteries would bump the cost of the car up 10's of thousands of dollars. Considering the current sales rates almost nobody would buy that model. Also the volume in the car that would be made available by removing the range extender engine would not give you sufficient space to add sufficient battery capacity. A redesign of the car would be needed. Better to start from scratch with a new chassis.

3) Alternative fuels - Would severely limit where people could refuel the car and again would cripple the long range/ cross country driving capability. The whole point of the drive extender ICE is not restricting the driver to limited/scarce refueling points. Hydrogen is useless as there is essentially zero refueling infrastructure and virtually all hydrogen is produced by reforming natural gas, it offers no advantage efficiency, cost, or carbon wise.

The Volt is not supposed to be all things to all people. As poor as GM's reputation has become over the years and how much people like to bash the company (often deservedly) as an engineer I have become impressed with the Volt design and the engineers who designed it. It's a really smart piece of design and it's unfortunate to see people trashing it through ignorance.

I've overcome my own prejudices from rather dismal experiences working with Detroit companies and have become impressed with the Volt. I suggest you keep an open mind, at least in this case.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By YashBudini on 7/5/2012 10:26:29 PM , Rating: 2
Any combustion engine used strictly for powering a generator should have a constant load. Given that you can design an ICE for a very small power-band and camshaft configuration would be optimized for a narrow range. This should improve efficiency and lower emissions at the same time. It's also the reason a small diesel engine would be quite at home running at a constant speed, or not at all. A diesel engines lack of rpm range would become a non-issue.

The MPG numbers would be lower without it, with no improvement in functionality.

While that may hold true today it won't necessarily hold true in the future.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By Mint on 7/12/2012 3:02:15 PM , Rating: 2
It's not that simple. If your losses going from mechanical energy to electricity through the generator and then back to mechanical via the motor are greater than the losses of less than off-peak efficiency difference and drivetrain, then such a solution isn't optimal. It's unlikely that engineers are making bad decisions here.

ICE efficiency is not as significant in a PHEV, though. Chances are that you'll be doing less than 20% of your mileage on gas, so even if another PHEV gets 15% more MPG in extended range mode, it's only going to cut total fuel costs by ~5%.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By kensiko on 7/5/2012 11:43:17 AM , Rating: 2
It's not related to speed, it's related to torque:

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By kamk44 on 7/5/2012 11:49:48 AM , Rating: 2
No, it is not "just another damn hybrid." There are important benefits to having the engine directly power the wheels in certain circumstances. Why the hell does it have to be all electric all the time? Doing so would actually detract from the all electric range and from the driver experience. I spend a lot of money on gas commuting and the technology in the Volt makes sense but the cost is too high yet. Over time the technology will improve and the cost will come down.

As for the Leaf, with its design and limited (run out and be stuck) range, it amounts to an expensive toy.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By ilkhan on 7/5/2012 4:09:24 PM , Rating: 2
Because without being driven purely by electricity you cannot change the power source.

With pure electric long as you have some source of juice you can swap the power source at will.
Fuel cell, bio-diesel, solar, batteries, whatever.

Turning it into a complicated hybrid removed options.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By kamk44 on 7/5/2012 5:46:05 PM , Rating: 2
How many people who own a Volt will be swapping power sources in and out? This is a particular product that GM felt they could sell while still improving the technology. They could have made it all electric and with little effort they could still make it all electric with a different power source. In fact, while designing it they internally discussed various possibilities. The point was not to make the best electric car, it was to make the best electric car that could be used in the real world by people who want to minimize fuel use, don't want to be stuck somewhere for hours refueling and are not going to be carrying around various power sources.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By acer905 on 7/5/2012 12:26:32 PM , Rating: 2

Technically the Volt is a double hybrid. It is a hybrid gas-electric vehicle that operates as either a serial or parallel hybrid depending on the situation. Basically, they designed it as a full serial electric, where any power source will charge the batteries and power the wheels. However, because they were going to use a gas generator anyway, they created a totally new transmission that will allow it to either directly supply rotary motion to the wheels from the generator, or use the generator to create electricity to recharge the system or power the electric drivetrain.

The only reason that the wheels are driven by the generator is because the computer decides it would be more efficient. You could always reprogram the computer, and it would always be a serial hybrid.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By NellyFromMA on 7/5/2012 1:31:45 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't realize that was the way the drive-train (specifically the transmission) was designed. That's great engineering forethought...

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By Shig on 7/5/2012 2:56:53 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think anyone here realizes the versatility of the Volt's power train. You can pair the generator with *any* kind of engine that can produce power, not just an internal combustion engine.

It should also be taken into account that the Opel Ampera and Vauxhall Ampera (European Volts) are built in the same factory as the Chevy Volt. These 'siblings' to the Volt have already sold out in Europe. GM is projecting 10,000 units for this year for just the Ampera.

Ironically GM cancelled some production times for the factory, now they might not be able to make them fast enough.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By twhittet on 7/5/2012 3:06:13 PM , Rating: 2
You can pair the generator with *any* kind of engine that can produce power, not just an internal combustion engine.

That's the dumb part about attaching the engine to the wheels - you can't attach *any* kind of engine. Because it is no longer just a generator ("range extender") - it needs to provide proper torque and be hooked to the transmission, rather than just wired to the batteries.

If the Volt can be paired with *any* kind of engine, than so could a prius or a Fusion hybrid (2013 model).

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By Solandri on 7/5/2012 3:47:33 PM , Rating: 2
it needs to provide proper torque and be hooked to the transmission, rather than just wired to the batteries.

At that point, you're just using the batteries as a transmission. That's only superior if the energy losses and weight of the engine -> battery -> electric motor -> wheels are less than the energy losses and weight of the engine -> transmission -> wheels.

In particular, batteries tend to drop in efficiency (both charging and drawing) at higher current. That is, the more quickly you charge or draw power from the battery, the greater then percentage of energy which gets converted into waste heat. So aside from the low-torque regime of mechanical motors, batteries will tend to be an inferior solution any time you're demanding high power output.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By twhittet on 7/5/2012 4:20:03 PM , Rating: 2
Once again, everything you wrote is pointless, and partially wrong (when talking about the Volt specifically). See Dr. K's explanation for further details.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By twhittet on 7/5/2012 3:03:04 PM , Rating: 1
You could always reprogram the computer, and it would always be a serial hybrid.

And it would be a gimp at interstate speeds. The double hybrid actually limits its flexibility (see an above post of mine), and makes it nothing more than an overcomplciated hybrid.

The extra engineering and components make it more expensive, and not necessarily more efficient than a regular plugin hybrid. I hope someday it will pay off, but I'm not seeing the ROI with the current Volt.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By Masospaghetti on 7/5/2012 3:18:06 PM , Rating: 2
And it would be a gimp at interstate speeds.

Have you driven one?

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By Dr. Kenneth Noisewater on 7/5/2012 3:35:39 PM , Rating: 2
LOL don't bother asking, the dude's talking out of his @$$.

The only place anyone would see a loss of propulsion speed would be on a fairly constant incline at "0%" battery (think Pike's Peak or approaching the Rocky Mountains), because on level ground the engine generates enough power to propel the car at highway speeds. This is why GM put in a 'mountain mode' for such situations (which can also be used to set aside a certain amount of charge for use later, a poor-man's equivalent of the European market's Hold mode).

BTW, the decision to go with a liquid cooled active TMS for Volt is looking pretty smart this summer, particularly in Arizona, with Leaf batteries losing chargeability due to overheating (pavement can get to 140F or higher, right next to the air-cooled battery), and presumably in traffic with poor airflow conditions are just plain unfriendly..

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By twhittet on 7/5/2012 4:18:04 PM , Rating: 2
Dr K - so far you've been the only one I would say was 100% correct. Have you heard much about efficiency in cold climates? Normal energy loss from cold batteries would be the first question, but just as important - how well does the Volt heat up the interior?

When it's -20 out, it's annoying that I have to run my normal car 20 minutes before it's warm enough to sit in, let alone defrost the windows.

By Dr. Kenneth Noisewater on 7/7/2012 4:41:11 PM , Rating: 2
The Volt heater's not too bad, but it uses a lot of power. More power than the AC actually! It also has heated seats which use rather less power. The worst climate combo for Volt is in chilly, wet/humid weather, in which you end up running the heater, the AC (for defogging) and the rear defroster all at the same time, plus heating for the battery. Range in colder conditions on electric I've seen go down to 26mi or so, and that's in a Texas winter, while for the other 3 seasons 38mi is more common, and stretchable out to the mid 40s if driven like a Prius.

HOWEVER, if you leave the car plugged in to 240v Level 2 and do a remote start, you can warm it up without discharging the battery, and with 120v Level 1 you can offset some of the heater drain. Leaf's heat pump setup is more efficient, but possibly less effective in more extreme climates.

Also, in extremely cold climates (below 10 or 20 F) the Volt will run the engine in order to heat up the cabin and the battery as there are heat exchangers between the cooling systems, but it'll still get a charge off of that running time.

(Volt will also run the engine in a 'maintenance mode' if it hasn't run in like 6 months, in order to purge fuel lines and make sure the engine gets exercised.)

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By kamk44 on 7/5/2012 3:52:24 PM , Rating: 2
The ROI is not there yet but that doesn't matter. The current Volt is not for the masses, it is for the early adopters -- like those who bought flat screens TVs when they first came out at huge prices. If they keep the demand at a minimal level, the product does not die and progresses toward that magical point where technology and price meet to make it ready for mass consumption.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By ol' dirty ewok on 7/5/2012 2:52:33 PM , Rating: 2
engine directly supplies power after a certain speed

This statement is partially correct. As stated this is done for efficiency purposes.

However, where it is NOT true, is when the car is operating on battery only mode. In battery only mode (charge depleting mode), the Volt can go up to a computer limited 100mph. It can sustain this speed so long as there is a charge remaining in the battery. Again all on battery power, no gas gen.

Once the charge is depleted the gas gen kicks in and provides electricity to the electric motors. At higher speeds (can't remember exactly the trigger), the gas engine will provide direct power to the wheels (in conjunction with the electric motor) via their specialized transmission. here's a simple animation on how it all works.

RE: Ford Fusion FTW!
By jharper12 on 7/6/2012 11:51:12 AM , Rating: 2
First off, lots of companies have claimed they can/will make something better and release it to the public as a production vehicle. Over a year ago, I had to listen to the same comments regarding the Fisker Karma. Let's break down your comment:

1) Really? In a technologically driven vehicle/environment you don't see a vehicle that was developed and for sale in 2010 as being as competitive and relevant as a vehicle that may be released within the next year... three years later? Tip of the hat to you good sir. I'm just glad I didn't buy the original iphone since three years later I was able to buy an HTC Evo, which was way better technology.

2) "Ford has not released any of the Fusion Energi's key specs, such as all-electric range, charge times, price and so on." They are probably aiming to compete with the Prius, which will probably have an all electric range of around 13 miles. So, despite the better hybrid mileage, you'll still probably use significantly more gas during your commute with the Ford.

3) GM could have designed the Volt to have an independent generator, but they thought, "Hmm... if we allow this to be a part of the powertrain under certain conditions, we can increase the fuel economy by 5%!" Little did those engineers know that people are idiotic and hate efficiency. Really... really you want any kind of generator available? Like what?!

Here's how I envision you at the moment:
Ohhh, this really needs a diesel because it's sooooo efficient, despite the fact that I'm completely clueless about the fact that first, it's a lot harder to gain efficiency with a diesel engine that has to start and stop constantly, second, the whole point of the Volt is to not run the engine often, so you'll never reclaim the cost of a diesel with the additional mileage benefit given how many miles the engine will be running and the upfront investment of the diesel engine. WOOOO Diesel1!!1!!!

But, but... CNG!!! Yes, because people joking about an infinitely long power plug aren't going to be put off enough by an electric car, let's give them a substitute fuel that's barely available on a nationwide scale. Further, let's reduce the load capacity down from 750 lbs to 600 lbs, and leave no cargo room... because we're going to need a large CNG tank. Granted this option will cost an extra $10k, but people will love it, because over the life of their car they'll save at least $3k!!!!

The engineers that designed this car knew what they were doing, and the drivetrain is brilliant. You're backing a vehicle that isn't even released, without any production numbers. Would you like to explain yourself? Or are you ok with being viewed as a non-engineer know-nothing who spouts off hatred of good design?

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

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