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Is the Volt really a "Hybrid" or not?



  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,748
    The only reason I can see to buy or lease the Volt is to look green. Even if you are not. Kind of like De Caprio driving a Prius to be seen and flying a Gulf Stream as his main transportation.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Well, actually it is a free lunch.

    If you do not buy the Volt, you still get a lower lease payment because GM is getting the $7500. Your payment would be far higher than $350 is they were passing the rebate on to you.

    So it's a win-win for GM and the Volt driver (whether or not you buy or lease) and a lose-lose for the taxpayers who are funding the $7500 rebate.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Good point.

    If you buy, I think the residuals on these will be a HUUUUUGE gamble, as we really have no idea at all what they'll be worth 5 years from now.

    If it flops, values will plunge.

    If they're a hit, manufacturers will make huge improvements on batteries and other technologies, and people will want to buy the new and improved ones.

    How many people do you know who are looking for Gen I Priuses used? Nobody? That's what I thought.

    That's why the lease makes sense, to mitigate risks.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,414
    edited October 2010
    I don't think it matters WHEN the charging will take place, as it's charging that is not taking place now. It's a new load on the grid. Yes, it's true that it's not going to be a lot of vehicles for now, but if numbers increase it IS going to affect power rates, and not just for EV owners.


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  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    I'm not sure I agree.

    At what level can the utility companies "blame" any increase in usage on EV charging?

    5,000 EVs sold?

    10,000 EVs sold?

    5 % increase in electric usage?

    10 % increase in electric usage?

    15 % increase in electric usage?

    And how would they even be able to quantify that?

    How is increased usage not just a function of more people owning more electronic devices, which are becoming ubiquitous these days - iPads, iPhones, laptops. Just about every level of economic classifications in the USA now have multiple electronic devices in the family.

    How much increased usage can be attributed to population growth?

    How much is increased cooling/heating loads?

    I just think there are far too many "unknowns" at this juncture for the utility companies to say ANYTHING about increased usage.

    I think the ONLY WAY they could attribute any increases in load to EV charging is in the cities where the Volt and Leaf are sold first, and ONLY by measuring nighttime usage in those areas.

    But then again - If they see a 3% increase in nighttime usage, how can they attribute that directly to EV charging anyway?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Didn't the rolling black-outs occur during peak use periods? In other words, during business hours?

    I don't think the Volt will add much burden to the grid because everyone's going to charge them at night. Especially since it has the gas engine to extend range.

    The Leaf and other pure electrics may use charging stations during the day, and indeed that could be a valid concern if the grid is already at capacity.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,748
    I think your earlier post was closer to reality. People will come home and plug in the Volt at 6 PM. That is a peak usage time in So CA where the Volt will be sold. Rolling blackouts did not occur this year for two reasons. First we averaged about 10 degrees below normal all summer long. Second, in San Diego the utility offered a discount if you allowed them to install a device on your AC unit. When the load gets too high they turn off your AC until the load comes back down. We were visiting an 83 year old friend on one of the few hot days last summer. At 7 PM her home was at 85 degrees and she was suffering in the heat. They had shut off her AC at 5 PM. It did not come back on till 8 PM. I refused the option as it was not worth the risk that woman felt compelled to take.

    The Volt plugged into 110 volts will draw over one KW per hour. A few hundred of them could have an impact on the current grid. Most people are not going to worry about plugging it in after that peak as we have NO night rates for electric usage.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: US 25 & US 40Posts: 19,400
    The draw at 1000 watts is less than two normal size TVs. Less than 1 big screen plasma, I am guessing. Slightly more than toaster.

    I don't see those as being huge current draws. That's about 8 amperes.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,748
    I am figuring that it takes 8 hours to charge about 8 KWs. Give a little to loss in the charging. A standard 20 amp breaker would be more than adequate. I would expect most owners to install a 220 Volt outlet to shorten the charging time.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,414
    Has nothing at all to do with blame. It's just simple supply and demand. The quantification is simply going to be the increased load, which can be measured. It's not a conspiracy to punish EV's, just a consequence that nobody seems to want to see.

    We're about to go through deregulation of electric rates here in PA because forcing "competition" didn't work. A few years back, they gave everyone a choice of electric companies to use. You would have had to be an idiot to not choose the company with the lowest rates. Well, SURPRISE, as I said at the time, there was no way that company would have the capacity to supply everyone who might choose to get their power from them. So what's the company to do? They have to buy the more expensive power from the other companies to meet the demand. Do you think they're going to sell that power to customers at a loss?

    Now the government is telling me forced competition didn't work. I'm SHOCKED I tell ya.

    So pardon me for getting edgy when people start talking about how adding demand to the grid isn't really going to affect anything. Electric power is a commodity just like unleaded gas. And gas does a pretty good job of fluctuating around times of increased demand like holiday weekends and summer driving season, right?


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  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Well, again, you make some good points.

    But I fall back on the unanswered question:

    HOW ON EARF are the utility companies going to be able to measure, and definitively quantify, the "increased usage" brought on by a few thousand EVs charging at night?

    And at what point do they want to use that as an excuse to raise rates?

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,748
    Something you are leaving out in your thinking. Not all companies pay the same amount for electricity at any given hour. Many places in CA will bring on higher cost gas generators when the load is higher. They may get cheaper power from a coal plant in AZ for the steady load times. Then many utilities do their maintenance on generators over night. It is not like they have so many megawatts available at all times. When the sun is down the solar does not produce. When the wind dies the windmills do not produce. Yet we want electric when we hit the switch. The only way to have a stable day and night power source is with coal and nuclear. The rest are subject to down times. Backup for less than steady solar and wind costs a lot to maintain, ready to be turned on. Someone has to pay for that. Currently it is subsidized to a large extent by the government. That is not sustainable energy.
  • HOW...are the utility companies going to be able to measure, and definitively quantify, the "increased usage" brought on by a few thousand EVs charging at night?

    They're not. The impact will be so minimal, there is no point in trying. Now 20 years from now if we have 40 million electric vehicles on the road, then you'll see a blip on the radar screen. A small blip at that. U.S. electric generating capacity is on the order of thousands of billions of kWh. We're talking quadrillions of watts available.

    I live in the midwest where a manufacturing plant closes it's doors and moves production to China or Mexico or India or Taiwan or somewhere almost every day. One small plant closing opens up thousands of mWh of capacity, that's millions of kWh. 10,000 Chevy Volts all re-charging at the same time only pull 40 mWh tops. It's next to nothing.

    Until tens of millions of these vehicles are on the road, it's a drop in the bucket, and even then it will be far under 0.01% of our nation's electric consumption.

    Read more here:

    U.S. Energy
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,748
    That is a good link. Something else to take into consideration. Power companies are in the business of providing electricity for a profit. The more the demand the more they will make. The oil companies would be the losers.

    PHEVs will have to come down in price to overcome the negatives presented by the Volt.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Interesting story (no A/C from 5-8pm). The afternoon sun feels hottest.

    Again, this makes the idea of a timer for charging all the more appealing. I'm sure GM has taken that in to consideration.

    Can't you use your iPod to check the battery level? Or was that for the Leaf?
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,966
    If you committed to purchasing or leasing a Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf, a reporter wants to interview you. Please email no later than Friday, December 3, 2010 and include your daytime contact information including a few words on your decision to get your new vehicle.


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  • tdivertdiver MinnesotaPosts: 18
    My wife and I were going thru the Badlands in South Dakota on Monday 10/17/11 when about 5 or 6 Volt's all in a row went by us going the opposite direction. Does anyone out there know what was going on? I figure it may have been a car mag doing a story but really don't know. Just curious!
  • eliaselias Posts: 2,083
    edited March 2013
    the volt's drive system is a pure electric, thus its not a hybrid drive.
    neither is the volt's generator system a hybrid, it is pure gas-powered/atkinson engine.

    one could argue that the Volt is an electric car whose charging can be done two ways , but not at the same time. Can't "hybrid-charge" a volt both via plug and via gas engine at the same time, or can you? If yes, then it looks like we can say Volt is an electric car with a hybrid-charging system !

    Can the Plug-in-Prius be charged via gas engine as well as plug-in at the same time? IF yes then the plug-in prius is a hybrid-drive car with a hybrid-charging system! Hybrid^2 .

    according to the current terminology, if Volt's gas power went direct to the road via even a 0.0001 hp rubber-band-drivetrain, then Volt would be a hybrid.
    NewSpeak can be applied to automotive tech too, though, so maybe "hybrid" has been redefined via the Brave New Dominant Paradigm People.

    ps - volt badlands convoy sounds nifty. car mag is a good guess, or some raging GM Promotional Road Trip, like maybe to PAX EAST.

    pps - possibly by 2014 I'll select VW Golf GTD over a Volt, but seems like their prices will be close, and I will probably "cross shop" .
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I thought GM admitted that the gas motor does provide direct assist in certain conditions?

    They were scarce with details but they reluctantly admitted as much.

    So mild hybrid in reverse. The opposite of a Honda Civic - gas can't move it by itself but does assist.
  • eliaselias Posts: 2,083
    edited April 2013
    that's interesting, teix !
    ?GM said the volt had direct assist from the gas engine at some times?
    I'll keep reading/googling to find more about that, maybe will ask the salescritter or techs about it if i visit the dealership to testdrive the volt some day. maybe there's a way to test it. turn off the electric motors via some software override, step on the accelerator, see if car moves.... (give it a slight downgrade where it won't roll in neutral but will roll with the slightest torque/force... maybe do it on a dynamometer at whatever mph the gas engine is supposed to assist, see if it can be measured somehow?! some car nerd out there has probably done it already!)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    edited April 2013
    I'm sure GM doesn't want people to know so they'll be very secretive and hide behind patents whenever they can.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Ok, found the story, was hard to find as AB had 17 pages of hits on stories on the Volt! heels/
  • eliaselias Posts: 2,083
    thanks teix.
    the patents should be public too by definition - so no 'hiding' there.
    also the answer to the question is all reverse-engineerable and measurable via testing now that the car is so available. (i want one!)

    that article seems to be a 'prediction' from before the volt was available (?).
    the GM repair manual for it would probably cost a pretty penny but might be a cool place to find the details...

    whatever it is, we know the volt it has unlimited range.
    no range-anxiety for owners. that's the big win...
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: US 25 & US 40Posts: 19,400
    >whatever it is, we know the volt it has unlimited range.

    And if the engineering is done to make the car perform better at highway speeds when a demand is made for more power, I call that a positive. If that weren't the case, we would have been hearing about lack of performance: GM should'a done this, should'a done that to make it better. They engineered it for the customer's benefit.

    If this were a foreign brand vehicle, we wouldn't be hearing a word about this engineering improvement trying to landscape it as a negative.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    edited April 2013
    This isn't a foreign/domestic issue at all. Why even go there?

    The issue is would it still qualify for $7500 in federal tax credits. I don't think anyone will go after GM to take those away, though.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: US 25 & US 40Posts: 19,400
    edited April 2013
    >Why even go there?

    Because that's what continues the debate. Why even question it? :)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I disagree.

    The Volt has become a political issue inside the US. For whatever reason it's become both a green symbol and a political target. Imports don't even come in to the picture at all.

    I think the reason GM got defensive/secretive was they wanted to make sure the Volt still qualified for the $7500 EV credit even if it was not categorized as 100% EV.

    For the record, I was pro-bailout and I'm even in favor of the $7500 incentive. I'd even go one step further and make it a direct credit instead of a tax rebate. Though I do think it should be phased out over time.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,748
    For the record, I was pro-bailout and I'm even in favor of the $7500 incentive

    That is where we are opposed. In the case of the Nissan Leaf all $7500 ends up in foreign coffers. With the Volt 60% ends up out of the USA. We have a horrible history of subsidizing the rich off shore. It does not help our economy in any real significant way.

    We will soon know how much of the Leaf is built here.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    edited April 2013
    I know our opinions differ (not always, maybe half the time), but I still enjoy our civil debate.

    Nissan moved production to the USA just recently:

    So now made in Smyrna, TN. The battery is made right next door, in the USA, too.

    Alternatively you could get a Cube, but that uses 12 barrels of oil per year (per EPA), over a 10 years period that's 120 barrels, with our capacity limited that'll basically be all imported.

    You pay $92.65 a barrel but here on the East Coast we use Brent Crude and it's $103.70 even at today's mega-cheap prices.

    120 barrels would basically send around $12 grand overseas for imported oil. Of course the alternative depends on where exactly your electricity comes from.

    But that $7500 helps keep $12,000 from being added to the deficit.

    I'm with you on carefully placed incentives, and keeping the money domestic.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,748
    I know our opinions differ (not always, maybe half the time), but I still enjoy our civil debate.

    Me Too

    Of the two cars in the debate, I would be more apt to buy the Leaf. If I needed a commuter car. It would get me off the fence on installing Solar Panels as well. I am not likely to live long enough to justify either.
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