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Is the Volt really a "Hybrid" or not?



  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Like I have said before - if you think ANY automaker is going to sell a "fire prone" battery system to the public, you are completely WRONG.

    They are not gonna put their reputation (and in the case of GM, BILLIONS of dollars) on the line by selling a car that might catch fire in a garage.

    It just AIN'T realistic to think that.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,753
    At this point in time Sony and probably Dell are bigger than GM and they did just that. Several home fires as a result of Li-Ion batteries. There is no real guarantee. They are playing the odds on Lithium batteries. Not the first time an automaker has done such a thing and not the last. Toyota is paying right now for trying to hide defects across their lineup. The Feds and their car company want a winner so bad, they will take the small risk. Go for it if you feel lucky.

    Starting Jan. 1, airline passengers will no longer be allowed to pack loose lithium batteries in checked luggage, the U.S. Transportation Department's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration warned late last week.

    Instead, passengers will be required to take loose batteries with them in carry-on baggage, packed in plastic bags. The new regulation, which will go into effect in order to lessen the risk of lithium battery fires, won't apply to lithium batteries that are already installed in electronic devices, such as laptops, cell phones, and cameras. Those can be checked in.

    Additionally, only two spare rechargeable lithium batteries will be allowed on airplanes per passenger in carry-on bags.

    The international rule will become U.S. law on Tuesday.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Gary - you must be still operating under the assumption that the same type of Li-Ion technology is going into the cars.

    It Ain't.

    No "laptop" battery that malfunctioned (i.e., spontaneously combusted) had a cooling system, or any method to keep it from charging too high or going too low. However, ALL the vehicles will have temperature-control systems and built-in safety systems to prevent problems.

    So how does the all-electric Tesla Roadster manage to pack 6,831 Li-ion batteries under its hood without risking a major blow-up? The Tesla's energy storage system that propels the car is equipped with a cooling system, which ensures the batteries don't overheat. It also regulates the speed of the flow of ions to keep them from re-charging or draining too quickly.

    That's in the Tesla. So far, no garage explosions in that one.

    And these companies understand that batteries for cars HAVE to be different.

    These catastrophes happen when a cell shorts out, gets hot, and starts an exothermic oxidizing reaction that kicks the temperature to hundreds of degrees Celsius in a fraction of a second. The heat then shorts out adjacent cells to produce a runaway thermal reaction that can be spectacular (just ask Sony). And, unlike a gasoline fire, the conflagration can’t be smothered, because it gets oxygen from the cell’s intrinsic chemistry.

    Field failures occur once in every 5 million to 10 million of the most common lithium-ion cells, those known as the 18650 design, according to Brian Barnett, a technology analyst at Tiax, a consulting firm.

    There are several ways to make the new technology safe enough for cars. One, perhaps transitional, approach is to link large numbers of small cells in networks--as the Tesla does--with safeguards to ensure that a problem in one cell cannot propagate to others. A123 and some other start-ups instead chose to focus on the fundamental reactions in the cell.

    Just keep believing they are dangerous if you want, but please don't spread that fallacy around.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,753
    edited August 2010
    There is more FACTS to back up my belief than yours that it is all fallacy. A123 brings up the Plug-in Prius that were catching fire while driving down the road. What happens when you are out in AZ at 120 degrees and the cooling system does not keep the batteries cool enough. Maybe that is why the Volt will not be sold in AZ. Try it in warm CA first. If not too many people complain of their homes being burnt to the ground, move to warmer places. Or are they being sold in the CARB states to save money on CO2 emission fines?

    Li-Ion batteries are potentially lethal until proven otherwise.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Volt will be sold in AZ, just as in ALL 50 states - just not RIGHT AWAY.

    They have to train the service departments, and make spare parts available. It would cost FAR TOO MUCH to try and do that for 3,000 dealerships. So they take it a chunk at a time.

    I'm sure they have a reason for the staggered rollout, probably to maximize profits in the states they feel will support the highest sales volume.

    Believe me, they have done TONS of market research. A lot is riding on this car.

    And SINCE so much is riding on the car, what do you think will happen if they start "Flaming ON" in gay-rages?

    That's right - a P.R. DISASTER.

    Don't think for a SECOND they are stupid enough to put a car out there that will damage their reputation at at time like this in the company's history. You must think they are REALLY STUPID if you think they will sell a fire risk.

    There are MILLIONS of Li-Ion devices in the world that have NOT "flamed up." So to say they are "dangerous until proven otherwise" - that's ludicrous.

    It's "proven otherwise" every single day around the world when batteries using this technology work as promised.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,753
    edited August 2010
    A couple points. To say that GM management is smart gave me a good laugh. They cannot run a company without wasting billions of tax dollars. They could not have built the Volt without tax credits and research dollars from US. Yes it would be a PR nightmare if they were to have a rash of fires. Hopefully their pared down engineering department got it right. I am not holding my breath. Second, there is a huge difference between a device with 3-6 cells of Li-Ion and one with thousands of cells. The odds go way up on a defective cell causing a chain reaction fire.

    Don't park your Volt at work where it is below freezing and expect it to take right off on battery mode. Batteries have to be 50 degrees to operate. That should be fun for the NE customers.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,753
    The battery is warmed up during plug-in charging, which is recommended particularly in cold climates, but we realize not everyone will do this. So at night, we plug-in some vehicles and some we don’t. We want to ensure the vehicles start in the morning, or if the battery is too cold, we want to be certain the engine-generator starts first to protect the battery. The engine-generator system will provide energy to heat battery if it was not plugged in or to supplement battery temperature. By the time you remote start the car, or remote cabin conditioning as we refer to it in the Volt, pack up your things and get in, the car is ready to go.

    An EV that has to have an ICE to get warmed up before it will move is not real practical in cold weather. Testing at 23 degrees F is hardly cold weather testing. It gets that cold here where I live in San Diego. They should have tested it in the Arctic like REAL car companies do. That is a test when it gets down to 40 below Zero. Should work fine in LA. It is targeted at the fat cat wanna look green crowd anyway. Nothing practical in its genetic makeup.

    At his point the only hybrid/EV I would consider is the Ford Escape Hybrid. If it does not get anymore than 31 MPG on the highway, it would be a waste of money as well. Just keep the old Porker Sequoia and save a lot of money on having the latest and not so greatest. Buying a Volt would be sort of like wasting money on the latest iPhone.
  • gfr1gfr1 Posts: 55
    I'm surprised that there are no entries here after GM disclosed the detils on the Volt power system, to include the fact that they have been misleading the public to protect pending patents. Such as, the vehicle is, in fact, powered by other than just an electric motor in certain circumstances! -- gfr1
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,415
    If the Volt is moving, the wheels are being turned by electric motors. The electricity is either coming from storage (battery) or generation (the gas motor used to generate electricity when the batteries are down). The Volt is NOT a hybrid. Cut the wires to the electric motors and it's not going anywhere.


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  • stephen987stephen987 Posts: 1,994
    Does it really matter, and if so, to whom?
  • gfr1gfr1 Posts: 55
    With all due respect, the same could be said about the wheels, as the wires, but what does that prove? Did you read the release, or are you speaking fom what you think you know? If you read my comment that you are responding to, I said that there is a case where the engine can assist in the motive force of the vehicle, which is in deference to previous GM claims. The drive transmission system is quite a bit more involved than previous explanations from GM.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Way to go. Finally someone agrees with me.

    Without the electric motors running, the Volt is a speed bump.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,415
    edited October 2010
    This is really simple. The engine does not move the vehicle, period. In fact, the engine is simply an emergency generator being carried around by the vehicle.

    This is a silly argument about semantics. Yes, the engine generates the electricity that is NEEDED to move the vehicle when the batteries are low. There is no transmission mechanically connecting the engine to the wheels. The Volt needs a person to drive it as well. Does that mean the driver "assists with the motive force of the vehicle"?

    And this is all probably moot anyway. Since the Volt is not going to make a dime of profit, it's not going to be around very long. Speaking as an unintended and unwilling shareholder in Government Motors, I don't want MY company setting out to market vehicles that they know from the start aren't going to do anything but increase the red ink. :shades:


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  • gfr1gfr1 Posts: 55
    "pf", you're getting a little petty with me here, - calling my position "silly", etc. Copied just below, is from "Edmunds", no less. Note, that I have not ever claimed what the Volt can do with, or without electric power, but only that there can be a mechanical connection betwen the ICE power plant and the drive train components under certain comditions. Then, compare the following with what you have claimed, vs. Edmunds article.

    Edmunds article statement, followed with coments:

    Comment: In fact the Chevy Volt is a plug-in hybrid and it has more in common with conventional "series-parallel" hybrids like the Toyota Prius than the marketing hype led us to believe. There are circumstances in which the Volt operates with the internal combustion engine directly driving the front wheels. That's right, like a Prius.

    At the heart of the Volt is the "Voltec" propulsion system and the heart of Voltec is the "4ET50" electric drive unit that contains a pair of electric motors and a "multi-mode transaxle with continuously variable capacity." This is how GM describes it:

    "Unlike a conventional powertrain, there are no step gears within the unit, and no direct mechanical linkage from the engine, through the drive unit to the wheels."

    The 4ET50 is, however, in fact directly bolted to the 1.4-liter, four-cylinder Ecotec internal combustion engine. When the Volt's lithium-ion battery pack runs down, clutches in the 4ET50 engage and the Ecotec engine is lashed to the generator to produce the electric power necessary to drive the car. However, under certain circumstances — speeds near or above 70 mph — the engine will directly drive the front wheels in conjunction with the electric motors.

    As in the Prius, the Volt's drivetrain includes a planetary gear set that acts as a transmission. The intricacies of planetary gears are many, but in rough terms each element (electric engines and internal combustion engine) of the Prius or Volt drivetrains are hooked up to different elements of the gear set. In the Volt, its Ecotec engine is clutched to the outer ring gear and as the car's speed reaches the edge of efficiency for the electric motor, that ring is set from its normally rigid mounting in the 4ET50's case and allowed to spin. That has the Ecotec driving the front wheels.

    The Volt's Vehicle Line Executive Doug Parks confirmed that there is, on occasion, a mechanical connection between the internal combustion engine and drive wheels in an interview with Norman Mayersohn of The New York Times. This isn't idle speculation or educated inference; it's an admitted fact.

    (gfr1s parting comment): Now, GM has lied before, for patent reasons (they claim), So maybe things will change with our understanding of the Volt's drive, but I was only tying to convey what the news release addressed and not get a put-down from you!
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,415
    ...under certain circumstances... at speeds near or above 70 mph...

    The fact that under those specific set of circumstances, the engine may be mechanically coupled to the front wheels does not mean that the engine moves the car. I had not read the Edmunds piece, but that really doesn't change my view. The electric motors are moving the car, correct? And now we get up to 70 mph on electric power. The engine doesn't turn on until the batteries are depleted, so just how does the engine get involved here? If the batteries aren't depleted, the engine's not on. But if through some mechanical coincidence, the engine winds up being mechanically coupled to the front wheels, wouldn't that be a drag on the system? Or is the story now that those set of conditions turn the engine on?

    And let's assume it's all true, GM looks even more foolish for pushing this idea than ever. I've said all along I think the Volt is a bust. It might be a necessary experiment, but it doesn't seem to be a ready-for-prime-time player by any stretch of the imagination.

    Sell my stock, please :P


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  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,415
    I don't think you're silly, or even your position (given the Edmunds assertion)... but getting into a knock-down, drag-out about whether the Volt is a "hybrid" when GM says it isn't has seemed silly to me since the inception of this discussion.

    But you can still sell my stock... if anyone will buy it ;)


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  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    May I join the discussion?

    The electric motors are moving the car, correct?

    In some situations the gas motor provide direct mechanical assistance, so I'd say both do, in parallel.

    This is the opposite of what we usually think of as a hybrid. We are used to seeing a gas engine move a car, with electric assist and quick-start after engine shut-down.

    Volt seems to be just the opposite. The electric motor moves the car, with gas motor assist.

    Call it a Mild Hybrid - but it is indeed a hybrid. To be fair, GM wasn't entirely forthcoming, but now that we now the gas motor does indeed have a mechanical connection and provides direct propulsion assistance, this is indeed what we've been calling a mild hybrid.

    Think about the Honda Civic Hybrid, a mild hybrid.

    The electric engine cannot move the car by itself - same as the Volt. So that argument doesn't disqualify the Volt as a hybrid, else the Civic would not be a hybrid either!

    The HCD electric motor only helps once in a while - same as the Volt.

    Electric assist only is used when it will increase efficiency - same as the Volt.

    The Volt is a Mild Hybrid, only in reverse from what we're used to.

    Funny thing is I actually came here to complain that the gas engine requires PREMIUM fuel (so dumb!) and has a heavy iron block, but the debate about the semantics drew me right in.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,415
    edited October 2010
    Oh, the premium fuel thing makes NO sense at all, same for the smart.

    Back to the "engine assist"... assuming what the Edmunds piece says is correct, why only at 70 mph or above? And the other question still remains in my head, the only thing moving the car otherwise is electric. So if the batteries are drained, but the motor is generating electricity to keep the Volt moving, why isn't the engine mechanically moving the vehicle too?

    Sell my stock just to be sure ;)


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  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,753
    The big Volt Tax rebate was sold to the tax payers as promoting electric powered vehicles.

    Volt Fraud At Government Motors

    Posted 10/19/2010 06:55 PM ET

    Green Technology: Government Motors' all-electric car isn't all-electric and doesn't get near the touted hundreds of miles per gallon. Like "shovel-ready" jobs, maybe there's no such thing as "plug-ready" cars either.

    Volt Fraud

    While the Volt does fit the Plug-in Hybrid category. It is not what it was advertised as:

    Extended Range Electric Vehicles (EREVs). Only the electric motor turns the wheels; the gasoline engine is only used to generate electricity
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,415
    I'm not as much concerned about "fraud" as I am that GM certainly doesn't seem to be doing anything with the Volt but going for "image". It's great to want to be seen as green, but if this is any indication of how they're going to run MY company, maybe we should have let them slim down through the bankruptcy process like any other mismanaged company


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  • I apologize if this has already been asked and answered here.

    What is the kWh of electric consumption required to re-charge a fully deleted Volt battery pack? There's a lot of hoopla about the gas mileage and not much talk about the electric bill. At least not that I've seen.

    Thanks in advance.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    why only at 70 mph

    That assumes GM is telling the truth, and they were misleading before, so I'm skeptical to say the least.

    If they are telling the truth this time, unlike before, then perhaps it's because batteries get hot when you extract a lot of power over a short amount of time. Acceleration at high speeds requires the most power to counter the added wind resistance. That's probably the reason.

    why isn't the engine mechanically moving the vehicle too?

    GM was hiding behind their patents, who knows what the truth is?

    The media is a bit miffed, so I bet several Volt test drives will have a private-investigator approach to see when the engine really turns on, and in what situations it provides propulsion assist.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Makes you wonder if it's 100% legally entitled to that $7500 credit, doesn't it?

    That's 7500 very good reasons to lie. ;)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Very good point.

    We should look at cost per mile, versus miles per gallon.

    A horse gets more than ONE BILLION miles per gallon, but that's meaningless too since it will never drink that gasoline.

    You'll incur costs in horse feed, water, stall rental, training, horseshoes, etc.

    So we should look at cost-per-mile. Electrics do well, so no reason not to. CNG cars also do well in that sort of comparison, but you should add the cost of the "Phill" station in that math as well.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,753
    The Volt has a 16KWH battery. However it is designed to work between 80% and 30% charge levels. About 8KWH usable. That is good for 40 miles according to Chevy. 8 KWHs @ my cost in San Diego is approximately $2.80. Cost about the same as a vehicle that gets 40 MPG. The question is will gas prices rise faster than electric utility prices. At this point the Volt cannot compete with the Prius or any of the small diesel cars on the road. Both cost per mile or initial cost.

    One of the most critical facts we obtained from GM is that the 40 mile all-electric driving range will occur within 50% of the batteries maximum charge, or 8 kWh out of 16 kWh total. This translates to 200Wh/mile of energy consumption. ls-and-clarifications/
  • brybrybrybry Posts: 25
    The volt is 100% driven on electricity. All you naysayers that claim only plug ins are electric better think about where their hydro is coming from. If it's coming from a coal fired hydro facility then I beleive that particular car would be an electric/coal fired driven vehicle. The volt is the most advanced electric car in the world. You can jump in a Chevrolet Volt and travel as far as you would like without being burdened by a plug-in-only electric car. Apparently the owners are claiming that the Volt is getting better mileage and a longer range on the battery than GM is advertising. It's also got some room and style. I'd buy one.
  • I saw on the Chevrolet website that they estimate $1.50/day in electricity consumption for the Volt. I certainty hope that's not calculated using a $0.04/kWh industrial rate. Consumers in most parts of the country pay $0.10 - $0.12/kWh and as gagrice noted, you could push $3.00 per re-charge pretty easily.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,753
    The issue I have with EV type vehicles is the radical utility charges in CA. At least in San Diego the price goes up incrementally the more you use. So an EV would be at the higher rates. I try not to use any AC unless it goes over 80 degrees in the house. Yet I almost always get up to the 34 cents per KWH rate using well under 1000 KWH per month. If a person worked in downtown San Diego they would need to charge at work as we are 35 miles from the city.

    For me a straight EV would be fine for my errand running if the vehicle used less than the Volt to get around. It would have to be at least 80 miles on a 8 KWH charge to be at all practical.
  • brybrybrybry Posts: 25
    I totally agree. That's why the Volt is such a great car, you don't need to worry about charging your vehicle because the gas engine would take over until you got home to plug it in. I didn't realize that CA pays more for hydro the more you use, do other states do this?
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