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Chevrolet Volt
General Motors' all-electric Volt to reach consumers in late 2010

General Motors is quite confident these days. The company recently priced its highly-anticipated full-size hybrid SUVs and showed off a concept version of its full-size hybrid Chevrolet Silverado. GM CEO Rick Wagoner also noted that his company will release one hybrid per quarter for the next four years -- lofty goals indeed.

Likewise, the company's brand new Chevrolet Malibu mid-sized sedan has been generating an overabundance of praise and its new $32,000 second-generation Cadillac CTS just walked away with Motor Trend's Car of the Year award.

GM is hoping to use this momentum and high level of interest in its vehicles to push the electric motor-powered Chevrolet Volt to customers by the end of 2010.

GM vice chairman Bob Lutz has heard all of the critics who question GM's aggressive ramp for the Volt, but is still committed to moving forward.

"There is a lot of skepticism within the company about the timeline," said Lutz. "People are biting their nails, but those of us in a leadership position have said it has to be done."

GM is hoping to use the Volt as a halo car to further strengthen its brand and its commitment to fuel economy. Dodge used the Viper to enhance its image for performance and styling in the 1990s. Toyota used its Prius at the turn of the century to shroud the entire company with a green image despite the fact that gas guzzlers like the Tundra and Sequoia share the same showroom space.

"When they think of GM, the iconic brand is, unfortunately, the Hummer," continued Lutz. "That perception needs to change.

The GM Volt features a 1.0 liter, 3-cylinder gasoline engine which is solely used to recharge the onboard lithium-ion battery pack. The battery pack, which will be manufactured by Compact Power and Continental Automotive Systems, powers the Volt's electric motors for forward propulsion.

GM says that the Volt can travel for up to 40 miles on battery power alone. After the 40 mile threshold has been reached, the gasoline engine kicks back in again to recharge the battery pack.

The entire industry has its eyes on GM and its Volt. Toyota took a big risk with its Prius and it has paid off dearly for the company.

"We have since realized that letting Toyota gain that mantle of green respectability and technology leadership has really cost us dearly in the marketplace," Lutz added. "We have to reestablish GM's leadership and the Volt is, frankly, an effort to leapfrog anything that is done by any other competitor."

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RE: Lets see real world performance
By Oregonian2 on 11/21/2007 5:42:12 PM , Rating: 1
I bet the electricity you get from the wall is a bit cleaner than my car, and that's what really matters.

Also, a lot of the time it may not come from oil. Around here, electricity is something vaguely like 40% hydro, 40% coal, 12% natural gas, and the rest being small portions of nuclear, wind, etc. None likely imported from the middle east.

Of course, they're trying to make coal illegal (releases the carbon that previously was in the atmosphere when the stuff that made coal was growing), so it should get interesting.

RE: Lets see real world performance
By TomZ on 11/21/2007 5:59:45 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure you realize already that Canada is the US's #1 supplier of crude, and that just a fraction of our oil comes from the Middle East. In other words, the dependence on the Middle East is kind of an exaggerated potential problem, if you ask me.

That's not to say that OPEC couldn't spoil the market and cause us lots of trouble, however. We just have to look to recent past history to see how this can happen.

As an analogy, we could say that we would face a large crisis in consumer goods if China decided to stop selling to us. That would have a huge short-term economic impact on the US just like oil could, but nobody seems concerned about that at all.

RE: Lets see real world performance
By Hoser McMoose on 11/21/2007 6:27:16 PM , Rating: 3
and that just a fraction of our oil comes from the Middle East.

Two points. First off that "fraction" that comes from the middle east is actually about 25-30%. Yeah, Canada provides more as a single country (though not much more than Saudi Arabia), but the Middle East as a whole provides quite a bit more than Canada.

Second, just because that is where the U.S. gets it's oil doesn't really change much. The fact of the matter is that the Middle East is where about 50% of the worlds oil comes from and oil is an international market. If the Middle East stops selling all their oil than there will be 50% less oil to buy.

RE: Lets see real world performance
By masher2 on 11/22/2007 12:22:35 PM , Rating: 1
> "but the Middle East as a whole provides quite a bit more than Canada."

Actually, according to Sep 07 data, US imports from the entire Middle East are roughly equal to those from Canada.

> " The fact of the matter is that the Middle East is where about 50% of the worlds oil comes from "

No. All of OPEC combined (which includes all the major Middle Eastern suppliers, plus nations like Venezuela, Libya, Nigeria, etc) only accounts for some 40% of world oil production.

OPEC is important not because of the raw production numbers, however, but because it controls the vast majority of spare capacity. That means it has the ability to control prices, by and large. Other nations could potentially raise prices by cutting production, but only OPEC can lower them.

RE: Lets see real world performance
By Hoser McMoose on 11/21/2007 6:13:27 PM , Rating: 5
FWIW the U.S. average power grid is made up roughly as follows:

Coal: 50%
Nuclear: 20%
Natural Gas: 17%
Hydro: 7%
Oil: 4%
Everything else: 2%

In Canada the breakdown is roughly:

Hydro: 60%
Coal, oil and gas: 28% (didn't see a breakdown, but probably 20% coal)
Nuclear: 10%
Everything else: 2%

Other countries will vary.

As for making coal plants illegal, I don't think most governments are going that far, but it sure as hell should be cleaned up at least! In the U.S. it's estimated that 26,000 people die prematurely every year from pollution from coal plants alone (in China that number is well into the hundreds of thousands). Coal pollution also costs HUGE amounts of money for the U.S. health care system, with estimates ranging from about $50B to a $160 BILLION dollars a year. That money is paid for through higher health insurance premiums and higher taxes (~50% of the health care system is paid for through taxes). It also costs several billion dollars worth of damages to the agricultural sector.

There's a LOT more coming out of those smoke stacks than just CO2!

RE: Lets see real world performance
By just4U on 11/25/2007 9:59:52 PM , Rating: 2
That's the key for Canada and one of the reasons our government doesnt like the Kyoto accord. Other countries can get huge bonuses by moving to more effiecient power grids (kinda like brownie points) but .. unfortunately our country doesn't have that luxury since we moved away from coal years ago... AND if I am not mistaken are one of the world leaders for alternative power (such as Hydro ect)

Coal no long plays a major factor in our power grid and If I had to guess I'd say it was significantly lower then 20% usage with it.

RE: Lets see real world performance
By NullSubroutine on 11/22/2007 5:34:13 AM , Rating: 2
Unless you are in a third world country coal power plants do not emit polution in the way you apparently believe. US coal power plants, like the one I lived a few miles from my whole life, have what is known as scrubbers which reduce take out 99.7% of all sulfer from the fires. All (if not almost all) of the material that burns or emitted from the fires is collected into what is known as fly ash, which is rather safe I assume as we used it to cover C-stone drive ways/roads on farms (good at keeping dust down on C-stone or gravel).

What you see come from those power plants are steam not smoke. I have not seen information on if these clean coal plants put out CO2 or not, or how much, so I cant comment on that.

RE: Lets see real world performance
By Hoser McMoose on 11/22/2007 12:24:02 PM , Rating: 2
At last check only about 25% of all coal power plants in the United States have scrubbers on them. The remaining 75% are pumping a LOT of their waste into the air we breath.

This IS changing though, new regulations are finally forcing more and more plants to install scrubbers.

As for "clean coal" plants (aka "less dirty coal"), they generally emit little other than CO2 in their flue gas, and not even that if they use sequestration (though that is unlikely if/when large scale deployment occurs since sequestration is expensive). However they do this because they've already taken out the pollution in coal and captured it in waste water instead. Clean air, dirty water. Possibly not a bad trade-off since the water is easier to purify of pollutants. However calling the process "clean" is still a misnomer if you ask me, just less dirty.

By Oregonian2 on 11/26/2007 1:56:59 PM , Rating: 2
Problem nowadays (and why Coal is starting to by attacked by our state government and governor) has not to do with traditional sulfur and the like, but the new global warming anti-carbon attack. Burn carbon based stuff (including coal) and you get carbon dioxide in the air which is what they're against -- "scrubbing" doesn't get rid of the CO2.

By Screwballl on 11/23/2007 3:13:40 PM , Rating: 2
My dad has worked in a coal power plant in western South Dakota for as long as I have been alive (30 years). He stated that most of the power plants around the central plains have a recycle system (not an official scrubber) that recycles much of the pollution into a generator system that produces a bit more power from it before being released. Some of their most recent studies indicated this is much more efficient and better for the environment than the "scrubber system" you mention.

Perfect example of what it does as the primary pollution output industry in the area:

Air pollution trends in Rapid City, SD

Pollutant: Particulate Matter (PM10) Weighted Annual Mean at 2 sites: 21.3 µ/m3 in 2005 (it was 26.4 µ/m3 in 2000, 32.5 µ/m3 in 1990).
Pollutant: Particulate Matter (PM2.5) Weighted Annual Mean at 2 sites: 7.4 µ/m3 in 2005 (it was 8.3 µ/m3 in 2000).

taken from:

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson
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