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Print 60 comment(s) - last by Mint.. on Jul 12 at 3:02 PM

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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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
quote:
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
quote:
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.
quote:
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.

quote:
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%.


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