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Will the Chevy Volt Succeed?

PFFlyer@EdmundsPFFlyer@Edmunds Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,808
GM is still planning on the Volt coming to the market in 2010. Will the Volt actually be a practical vehicle or is it going to wind up being another step in the R&D process like the EV-1?

I'm leaning towards it being a step forward but nowhere near the completion of the journey. That will require some breakthrough in battery technology.

You can get a little more background on the current state of the Volt on Alternate Route and one of the newest addtions around here, Green Car Advisor


Moderator - Hatchbacks & Hybrid Vehicles



  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I don't think that you can compare the Chevy Volt to the EV1. While the EV1 was an impressive achievement it was somewhat mandated by the state of CA. GM's pursuit of the Chevy Volt is pure capitalism and image. They've seen what Toyota has accomplished with their Prius and they are attempting to leapfrog that effort. I hope they are successful.
  • PFFlyer@EdmundsPFFlyer@Edmunds Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,808
    The Volt is going to have a tough enough time on its own breaking through to become a practical electric vehicle.

    And GM seems to realize that the battery technology is still the biggest hurdle.


    Moderator - Hatchbacks & Hybrid Vehicles

  • Well, it seems the breakthrough on the battery system will be liquid cooling - reading from your new Green Car Advisor section. This will hold the overheat problem at bay - at a price. Hey, but it will get product out the door.

    It parallels the liquid cooling of the Prius inverters. I remember thinking that particular Toyota solution was a bit over the top, purely from industrial experience with much larger drives. Obviously they were able to meet the harsher conditions of the automobile; from a population of several hundred thousands, failures of their power modules appear to be minimal.

    Regarding the VOLT, using an HV battery together with a three cylinder engine is hardly something I would do if low cost were the aim, but this vehicle will provide a respectable entry into the hybrid arena.

    Neither power hybrids nor two seaters proved to be volume sellers fior Honda. But the Insight was not promoted. I don't know how universal this was but I have never seen one either on the road or at the dealership. What did they expect ?

    Actually even the Prius was not a fixture in the showroon either until 2003 and then only in the main dealership here.

    Honda's system needed three things to be successful.
    Its introduction would have gone better with the following:
    1. A well insulated battery pack.
    2. A thermal warming blanket.
    3. A trickle charger for the HV battery.

    The latter two to have a convenient single plug-in if the car is to be left for an extended period.
    Lack of those items, IMO, bought them a heap of dissatisfied customers in the snow belt. Edmunds boards fill with complaints come November. That problem not going away, as those vehicles grow older I think we will be hearing more.

    The VOLT'S system is also a scalable system like the Toyota HSD, and offers benefits as I've been propounding in the Advanced Hybrid thread elsewhere. I am sure that with this type of electrical transmission this vehicle is going to generate interest. It was said that the Prius was an enigma in that though its operation was straightforward its working was complex. The Volt on the surface looks simpler for troubleshooting you can seperate the genset from the induction motor transaxle so a mechanic's learning curve will be shorter.

    One other thing, $30k is a bit high, I would hope they bring out a stripper version with a 1.3Kwhr battery like the Prius so that the genset can power the traction motor mostly and still have all the advantages of the Prius with a lower price tag. The three cylinder might be replaced with that 900cc 105Hp turbocharged two cylinder small gasoline engine (SGE) that's been just been announced by Fiat for the Panda Aria.

    This car will generate traffic in GM showrooms and they could use that right now. And let's hope GM dealers are up to the task and start promoting them.

    Chevy VOLT 1 litre 3-cylinder turbocharged gasoline
    1500-1800rpm max 3200rpm
    12 gal fuel. 53kw generator.
    Traction Motor 160HP/236lbs-ft
    Battery 16kwhr 320-350v 140kw peak.
    max mechanical 120kw
    Cont electrical power 45kw,
    continuous mech power 40kw
    limited duration 120mph top speed
  • PFFlyer@EdmundsPFFlyer@Edmunds Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,808
    The batteries were overheating, they needed to be cooled. That's treating a symptom, not curing the disease.

    It's possible that there isn't going to be much of a "cure" I suppose. A breakthrough would be finding a way to transfer energy to and from the battery without generating any heat (or significantly less heat), something like that.

    I also agree the $30,000 price tag is too high. And if the goal of the Volt is to generate traffic in GM showrooms because they need that right now, then they're doing it for the wrong reason.


    Moderator - Hatchbacks & Hybrid Vehicles

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,679
    Many people paid $30k plus for the Prius II when it was in short supply. So I think they can get the money from those that have more than they need. I agree that cooling the batteries with water is just another complex system added to an overly complex vehicle. KISS is still my motto. I think it is all part of the push by industry to generate throwaway products. Hybrids are a big step in that direction. Most electronics are throwaway now. GM in hindsight sees the success that Toyota has with hybrids and want to try and capture some of that fake green color.
  • It is much too early to predict, since it is just a concept under development that won't be available until (at least)2010. The available info suggests that it at least is close to the ballpark, if not in it. $30K does seem a bit of a reach for a vehicle as described, but it's not otherworldly. I applaud GM for one of their rare forays into innovation, however, given their history, I wouldn't buy one 'til their reliability was proven.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Here's one vote hoping the Volt is a smashing success, with hundreds of buyers on waiting lists at every GM dealer in the country.

    (Not for the sake of GM, but for the sake of the environment.)
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    The batteries were overheating, they needed to be cooled. That's treating a symptom, not curing the disease.

    ICE's would overheat if it wasn't for radiators, fans, and oil. Do you consider that to be treating a symptom? It would be nice if batteries generated less heat because this represents wasted energy, which is why ICE's are so inherently inefficient.

    I agree that $30k is a little steep. However if the driver can expect to save $1k/year in gasoline he might start seeing it as comparable to a $25k vehicle. If states and/or the feds offer $3k tax credits, which is likely, then it really is getting into the affordable range.
  • nedzelnedzel Posts: 787
    I sure hope that the Volt succeeds. The big question mark is the battery pack: how much will it cost, how long will it last, and what range will it provide in Minnesota during the winter, with the defroster running and the battery pack cold-soaked?
  • 1stpik1stpik Posts: 495
    Since the words "General Motors" and "success" don't seem to go together anymore, I have to make this point: the Volt can only "succeed" if the GM actually MAKES the car. Right now, it's all hype.

    Telling everyone in 2007 that you'll build a revolutionary car by 2010 means nothing. The Big Three have been playing this game since the 1950s. We're all hip to the scam now.

    The Volt project only makes me wonder how advanced electric propulsion technology would ALREADY be if GM had not scrapped the EV-1 project a decade ago. The people who "killed the electric car" are now telling us they're going to build an even better one ..... in a few years.

    Yeah, right.

    I'll believe it when I see it.
  • PFFlyer@EdmundsPFFlyer@Edmunds Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,808
    Charging Up

    Still a big hurdle or two if Chevy is going to get the Volt to market by 2010


    Moderator - Hatchbacks & Hybrid Vehicles

  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    You can't compare GM's efforts regarding the Chevy Volt to their EV1. In the case of the EV1 they were mandated by CARB to produce this vehicle and they did so, kicking and screaming. The Chevy Volt is internally motivated and GM has promoted it to the extent that to not deliver would represent a major "black eye". I believe we will see the Chevy Volt. Whether or not GM meets their 2010 timeline will be dependent on battery technology, not their resolve. I believe that GM has seen the light and they realize the EV is the future. I think they also realize this is a chance to leapfrog Toyota and they aren't going to pass it by. I wish them success.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,679
    I agree with that analysis. I do not know how CARB and the state of CA get off the hook on screwing up the EV-1 project. Must be the Hollywood crowd that want to make GM look bad and CA look good. I am cheering for GM and the Volt also.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    ..but it has a lot of hurdles to overcome in 2+ years.

    The vehicle was redesigned as noted in Inside Line this week.
    The battery technology ...and the supplier/subcontractor hasn't been chosen yet.
    GM is floating the trial balloon about leasing the batteries. keep the cost down? ensure against premature failures? ensure against too rapid technological developments?
    The whole concept of plug-ins is still of questionable 'utility' for a large segment of the population ( park on the street in any large city? )

    Beyond that evertthing is going smoothly...
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    The whole concept of plug-ins is still of questionable 'utility' for a large segment of the population ( park on the street in any large city? )

    What's your point? No one is suggesting that everyone currently buying Accords and Camrys will suddenly transition to an EV. I personally have a garage and a place to plug-in an EV. I don't think that makes me all that unique, but I could be wrong. There is no single model of vehicle sold today that accounts for more that 4% of total sales. So apparently you don't have to appeal to everyone to have a marketable vehicle.

    The only question regarding the Chevy Volt is whether or not it will meet their 2010 timeline. There is no question in terms of its viability.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,679
    It is a segment that has no options at present. It gives GM a chance to lead rather than follow. Most of the subdivisions around my area do not allow overnight parking on the street. I thought that was the way most cities were headed.

    Apartments in Anchorage have plug-ins for keeping the car warm. It is a natural for the Volt.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    Right now any vehicle in the US can be purchased and 'kept' just about anywhere, on the street, in a home garage, in a parking lot, in a parking structure, in a field, on the front lawn, etc. All you have to do to get the present fleet of vehicles running is put fuel in the tank and a key in the ignition and turn it. This 'option' is open to everybody in the country right now no matter where you live or park or drive.

    If however a PHEV has to be actually plugged in to get power then for those parking in spots where there is no ready access to a socket the PHEVs have limited utility. A vehicle for the fortunate suburbanites, the inner city dwellers be damned. This is a tricky market conundrum for the vehicle makers. Are these to be seen as a gift to the more fortunate while the less fortunate have to use older less fuel efficient technology?
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,679
    This is a tricky market conundrum for the vehicle makers. Are these to be seen as a gift to the more fortunate while the less fortunate have to use older less fuel efficient technology?

    The same thing can be said about the OVERPRICED hybrids. It sounds to me like you are making excuses for Toyota dropping the ball on the plug in Prius. Toyota touted the plug in hybrids in the EU. I saw so many posts here at Edmund's about the 100 MPG Prius it made me want to puke. Now that GM is pushing forward on a PHEV you are very negative about the practicality. Glad to see you have come over to my side that thinks ALL hybrids are only designed to take our money and give very little in return. EVs will someday help with the energy problems. The Volt may help the GM image as the Prius has done for Toyota. I would not hope for much more than giving GM a green glow.

    'kept' just about anywhere, on the street, in a home garage, in a parking lot, in a parking structure, in a field, on the front lawn, etc.

    Not in Santee, CA you cannot. any vehicle has to be on pavement or concrete. No parking on gravel pads or dirt is allowed by city ordnance. Vehicles are not supposed to be parked on the street for more than 24 hours. That is not very well enforced.
  • 1stpik1stpik Posts: 495
    We're not negative on the practicality of an electric vehicle. We're just negative on the idea that GM will ever make one.

    Or, should I say, make one by 2010 (as promised) and at a cost of under $30K (as promised) that has a useful range ..... you get my drift. Even if they put a base price of $29,900 on the thing, it'll be $35K by the time you drive it away, which makes it cost prohibitive from a gas savings payback standpoint (unlike a hybrid).

    Look at the 2008 Malibu -- base price $19,900. But the one in the commercial says $26K in the fine print. That's a lot more than my Civic Hybrid cost, and I know it doesn't get these kind of mpg readings:

    My hybrid took $3,000 extra from me (vs. regular Civic price), and gave me $2,100 tax credit, plus $60/month in gas savings. BTW, I financed the entire purchase price @ 2.9%, so we can skip the "If you put that $21,000 in a CD paying 6%" scanario.

    Hybrids give plenty in return, and the giving gets more plentiful the higher gas prices go. So far, GM only gives promises of an EV, or PEV, or whatever.

    As I've said before, I'll believe it when I see it.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Are these to be seen as a gift to the more fortunate while the less fortunate have to use older less fuel efficient technology?

    When the automobile was first invented it was definitely a luxury item that only the most fortunate could afford. So would that have been a legitimate reason for not developing automobiles? Regardless the same argument can be made against any product or service that is too expensive for poor people to afford. That's the nature of capitalism.

    Before there were automobiles there were probably no gas stations.
    Amazingly when there became a need for gas stations they started popping up. I'm sure it's a lot cheaper to install charging stations than a gas station.

    As far as limited utility I'm not sure I follow you. The Chevy Volt can be driven without ever being plugged in and, according to GM, you will still be getting 50 mpg because the electricity will be generated by a very efficient 1.0 Liter, 3 cylinder engine that will always operate at its peak efficiency. Not having access to an outlet will prevent you from taking advantage of it's plug-in capability but you will still have a series hybrid that get's exceptional mileage.
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