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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 Hoser McMoose on 11/21/2007 5:45:40 PM , Rating: 4
Fortunately it's unlikely to have a huge impact on the power grid for two reasons. First of all we aren't talking about a huge number of vehicles to start with, maybe 60,000 if GM is lucky. Second, and perhaps more importantly, is that the electricity use patterns are likely to be rather different from peak use patterns, and peak use is what counts on the power grid.

Typical peak use in warm weather areas occurs on hot weekdays mid to late afternoon when air conditions are working full out. These vehicles are likely to be charge mostly when people get home from work, ie starting somewhere around 5:00-7:00pm and going for the next 6 hours. In areas where people are on "smart metering" systems (ie they pay a different rate for electricity depending on the time of day) then pretty much everyone is likely to charge their car at the time of minimum rates which, for obvious reasons, corresponds to the time of minimum usage as well.

In reality, these vehicles might actually HELP the power situation by providing more revenue with zero investment required in infrastructure. One of the trickiest parts of a power grid is that normally half of your generating capacity has to sit idle half of the time because demand fluctuates so much.

RE: Lets see real world performance
By Spuke on 11/26/2007 1:07:10 AM , Rating: 3
Granted this is still quite a ways away but isn't part of the intended purpose of these vehicles to replace our current gas only engines? If everyone is charging their cars on off peak hours, then how long will take before off peak is no longer off peak? CA doesn't have any plans, that I'm aware of, to upgrade their infrastructure to accommodate future electricity usage. Shouldn't we be planning for this eventually now instead of adding to the burden?

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