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Courtesy of MSNBC
We can make it bigger, drive longer, not that much faster, we have the technology, kind of.

General Motors announced last week the revival of its electric car.  Their new design, the Volt, will mass market the electric car and use little to no gasoline. 

The Volt draws its power from a next generation battery, the E-flex system, which is recharged by a small onboard engine.  According to GM, when the battery is depleted, a 1L, three-cylinder turbocharged engine spins at a constant speed to create electricity and replenish the battery.  The motor will not provide forward propulsion and is only used to recharge the battery. The car is said to reach 40 miles on one charge and save close to 500 gallons of gasoline a year.

This new development sprouted from the failed EV1 project GM began in 1996 and abandoned in 2003.  They were heavily criticized for abandoning the experimental electrical vehicle program, but with the Volt, GM hopes to improve on their previous ideas of the EV1.

Some improvements on the new model include more passenger space, longer battery life, smaller battery size, and higher cruising speeds.

While most ultra-clean and efficient vehicles on the market today use hybrid gasoline-electric powertrains, the Volt will use E85 fuel which is a blend of 85% Ethanol and 15% gasoline.

Since the project is still in the concept stage, a final production version of the car is not projected for another 3 to 5 years.

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GM Electric Concept Car
By HiTech1 on 1/7/2007 10:21:13 PM , Rating: 2
GM technology is 5 years behind the times. Tesla Motors has a car in production that gets 250 miles on a 8 hour charge with their new Lithium battery technology.

Tesla Motors is another Silicon Valley start up company that will revolutionize the car industry like going from mainframes to pc server's and the internet.

It will take another innovated Hi tech company out of Silicon Valley to create a electric car not the big 3 or other big car corporation

RE: GM Electric Concept Car
By jularroyo on 1/7/2007 10:45:39 PM , Rating: 2
Tesla will eat GM's lunch. PBS's WIRED Science TV show just interviewd one of Tesla's Co founder on on TV. He was quoted as having slated a sedan type in the 50K price range in the 2008 timeframe and a 30K price range in 2009/10 timeframe. Their current 100k sportscar has a faster 0-60 mph time than everything on the road this side of a Ferrari Enzo.

RE: GM Electric Concept Car
By Fox5 on 1/7/2007 11:23:42 PM , Rating: 2
I'd assume this GM concept car is not going to cost $100k like Tesla does. Tesla likely has a better engine and a bigger battery though.
Of course, we can tell the Volt won't be produced as is just by its looks, it's got that futuristic look that only concept cars have.

Seems silly to have a car that uses gas to charge a battery to power an engine. Assuming it even charges fast enough to charge the battery while the engine is being run, that's going to unnecessarily put a lot of wear on the battery, and wouldn't it be more efficient to skip that step and just power the engine directly with gasoline? Like hybrids currently do?

RE: GM Electric Concept Car
By drebo on 1/8/2007 1:41:51 AM , Rating: 2
Seems silly to have a car that uses gas to charge a battery to power an engine.

Why? This is how trains have worked for a very long time. Electic motors are more efficient and generate far more torque than combustion engines of any kind. It makes perfect sense.

RE: GM Electric Concept Car
By kkwst2 on 1/8/2007 10:55:11 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly. It's not silly at all.

Also, combustion engines ar inherently much more efficient at one RPM. Specifically, they are very inefficient at low-RPM, high torque loads. So, although it might seem strange, using an ICE to regenerate a battery has the potential to be much more effient than using an ICE to drive the powertrain directly. In fact, this concept is not new and is used in some industrial vehicles.

RE: GM Electric Concept Car
By aGreenAgent on 1/8/2007 3:36:46 AM , Rating: 3
Also, I think that wasn't to suggest that it would be the sole power source for the battery, but rather, their solution to the issue that there are few places to change their car, and it takes a long time...the gas engine just refills the battery as you drive. Then when that runs out of gas (probably after a looong time - I'd hope), you stop and fill it up.

Makes sense to me.

RE: GM Electric Concept Car
By Lord 666 on 1/7/07, Rating: -1
By slashbinslashbash on 1/7/2007 11:17:37 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, that Tesla car is awesome, but it's a tiny hotshot roadster, not a 4-door people-hauler.

This car sounds like a great compromise. Finally someone's designing a battery-operated car with a small generator to recharge the batteries -- when you consider it, it's really a better idea (and much less complicated) than the hybrids we have nowadays.

RE: GM Electric Concept Car
By RyanM on 1/7/2007 11:26:53 PM , Rating: 2
Tesla themselves have said that in 3 to 5 years, their battery pack will lose 30% of its charging capacity due to wear down.

That technology isn't suitable for GM, who isn't selling high-end luxury performance roadsters to people who can afford to throw them away after 5 years. GM is trying to make mass-marketable cars, something Tesla can't do yet because the technology doesn't exist yet, period.

Don't fault GM for the state of battery technology, that's just stupid.

And the Tesla motors car isn't in production yet. Those 200 orders have yet to be filled. All they've got is a working prototype.

RE: GM Electric Concept Car
By p3ngwin on 1/8/2007 7:20:09 AM , Rating: 2
don't fault GM for battery tech?

do you know that GM bought controlling shares in the company of the inventor of nickel metal hydride batteries?

GM controlled the company and FORBID by law that any car that wants to use NiMh batteries must run on at least 50% gas or be restricted to using "D cell" sized NiMh batteries.

so GM totally halted the development of battery car technology and then they killed off their own EV1 project once the California state legislation was killed too.

RE: GM Electric Concept Car
By masher2 on 1/8/2007 11:00:42 AM , Rating: 2
Why do people choose to believe such nonsense? Human nature, I suppose.

RE: GM Electric Concept Car
By Oregonian2 on 1/8/2007 1:41:02 PM , Rating: 2
Hopefully not the kind of Lithium batteries that will catch fire (like those relatively tiny laptops) in very colorful ways. Lithium can be nasty stuff. Could have pretty major lawsuit if one did.

RE: GM Electric Concept Car
By Oregonian2 on 1/8/2007 6:35:50 PM , Rating: 2
Tesla has sold 270 cars in the history of the company. That would include their sell-out of 2007 production for their new one. Meaning their total number of cars actually manufactured, talking in auto terms, is "none". At the end of 2007, it'll be up to "none". Unless they can license their design to a "real" auto company, it really doesn't matter what their car does. They can't make any. They've 140 employees. GM lays that many off daily (probably, if not more than that). Or they need to get a LOT of capital really fast to ramp things up. And "lot" is an understatement I think. And wait until the UAW organizes their plants to see where their prices go.

RE: GM Electric Concept Car
By FITCamaro on 1/8/2007 6:50:31 PM , Rating: 2
Uh yeah and that Tesla car is also $100,000. And that's 250 miles depending on how you drive. It's a sports car. Is anyone going to not keep their foot on the gas? And consider how much in 3-4 years its going to cost to replace all the batteries on that thing. GM is obviously going for cost over longevity. And someone like myself, 40 miles is enough to go to work and back. The only question is can the gas engine recharge the battery fast enough to keep up with demand while the car is cruising. If so, its a great concept. And it keeps the battery weight down.

And no its not going to revolutionize anything. It's a niche market that only the wealthy can afford. Building $100,000 electric super cars doesn't pave the way to anything. And only the major car companies even have a chance at building a successful electric car.

Are you going to buy a car without a warranty? Or with one but you have to ship the car across the country for a week or two just to get it worked on? Electric cars don't just run forever without any problems. They need maintenance like any other car. And no startup is going to have the resources to build a nationwide infrastructure to sell and service an entire line of vehicles. They can design a car and try to sell it to a larger company, thats about it.

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner

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