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Will the Chevy Volt Succeed?

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  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Or, should I say, make one by 2010 (as promised) and at a cost of under $30K (as promised) that has a useful range

    I've read a lot of GM's press releases regarding the Chevy Volt. I've yet to see one that "promises" anything in regards to production dates and price. They've simply set targets, which I believe they are sincere in trying to make. If the battery technology is not there by 2010 that is somewhat outside of their control. I do believe that the rest of the vehicle will be ready by that date.

    What do you mean by useful range?

    What would be GM's motive for promoting this vehicle if they have no intention of producing it?
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    Those were much much different, less sensitive times, when the auto was first introduced. As I mentioned it's a marketing conundrum initially.

    The utility I was speaking about is that it's of no use to buy a plug-in from any maker unless you can plug it in somewhere. For a huge part of the population this is not an option. What vehicle now do you know that can't be purchased because the power is not available? Yes the Volt has the advantage that it never needs to be plugged in ( purpose then? ) because it can be driven just as a 1.0L gasser or diesel that's powering an electric motor set.

    I wouldn't be sure about getting exceptional mileage with the vehicle unless it's using it's plugin capability. If it's being used as a series hybrid and it's running on the ICE all the time inorder to charge the battery in order to drive the e-motors then it's no different than anyother ICE on the road, except that it's also pushing the battery pack without any benefit from it.

    The PHEVs are a key part of the future but I'm guessing that it will be 5+ yrs before there's a decent infrastructure for plugin stations ( LT parking facilities, Hotels, etc ).
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    I too am pretty certain that the vehicle will be ready well before 2010. That's the easiest part frankly and GM has the part well in hand. The questions that still have to be answered are..
    ..which technology? A123 or LG and their partner?
    ..which company is a better fit for GM with the best prospects for large volume production and longterm suvivability and reliability?
    ..how to market this innovation? Who's actually going to buy it?
    ..how to warrant the battery/hybrid system?
    ..sell or lease the battery pack?
    ..
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    For a huge part of the population this is not an option

    And for a huge part of the population it is an option. Regardless, I've read GM's plan is to sell 30,000 units per year initially. That' about 2/10ths of 1 percent of all vehicle sales. Whether or not this vehicle has a large market is an issue that won't be relevant for some time. It will be like most new products. At first you'll have the early adopters that will pave the way for these vehicles becoming more mainstream.

    If it's being used as a series hybrid and it's running on the ICE all the time inorder to charge the battery in order to drive the e-motors then it's no different than anyother ICE on the road

    The ICE will not be running all the time. It will only kick in whenever the battery falls below a certain level of charge and as soon as this level is brought back up the engine will shut off. I'd guess that the only situation where it might be running all the time would be if you were travelling 80 mph down the highway. This series hybrid setup still has merit even if you never plug it in. I'm sure the electric motors will have a higher power rating than the ICE charging it so you can have a car with considerable power and torque with the high mpg that a small ICE running part of the time can deliver.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,719
    "The ICE will not be running all the time. It will only kick in whenever the battery falls below a certain level of charge and as soon as this level is brought back up the engine will shut off. "

    Oh, like the Prius, which can go about 2 miles or so on battery only, even if kept below 40 MPH? Batteries can only sustain so much discharge. In practice, I think that a series hybrid with current battery technology may not make as much sense as the HSD.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    Actually the first goal I've heard is 100,000 units, which I believe is optimistic. 30,000 sounds much more attainable. I know that it's going to be a small part of the total vehicle population whenever it's released but I'm looking at it from the front line pov. A customer comes in and hears all this wonderful news about the new PHEV technology that will get you up to 100 mpg in the right circumstances. But he/she can't buy it..'Sorry sir, this vehicle isn't for you.' Now pick the wrong audience to say this to and the salesperson, dealership and manufacturer all will have a mess on their hands.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    A customer comes in and hears all this wonderful news about the new PHEV technology that will get you up to 100 mpg in the right circumstances. But he/she can't buy it..'Sorry sir, this vehicle isn't for you

    You've stated previously that that people living in urban areas that have to park on the street wouldn't be able to take advantage of a PHEV. Let's say I agree. Why would this person after hearing about PHEVs ever walk into a dealership thinking that he could take full advantage of this type of vehicle? Your comment implies that the salesman will have to inform this person that he has no place to plug it in as if the customer doesn't already know this. It's an implausible scenario and even if this customer was so dense as to not realize he didn't have a garage I don't believe car salesmen put a lot of effort into talking customers out of buying vehicles. Do you think that when people buy hybrids the salesmen spend much time in pointing out how many years it will take to recover the premium through gas savings?

    If I was a car salesman and a customer was reluctant to buy a PHEV because he didn't have a home outlet to recharge from I'd point out that as these vehicles become more commonplace there will certainly be charging stations installed on streets and in parking lots. It was happening in CA during the few years of the EV1. In the meantime he'd be driving a car that got 50 mpg. Now If I was in this car buyers position a PHEV would still have some appeal.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I think that a series hybrid with current battery technology may not make as much sense as the HSD.

    You're correct in saying that a series hybrid does not offer the same efficiency as the HSD primarily because of an additional conversion loss. However a series hybrid does offer the advantage of being simpler, which could theoretically make it cheaper to manufacture. Also as battery technology improved you could upgrade your battery pack to give it more pure EV range and potentially pull the ICE out altogether since it was never used for propulsion to begin with. You can't separate the drives in an HSD in fact the electric motors don't have enough power to be the sole source of propulsion for most driving circumstances. And a series hybrid definitely has an advantage over the ICE because an ICE does not allow for recapturing energy through regenerative braking. I don't think you can regenerate gasoline.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    Why would this person after hearing about PHEVs ever walk into a dealership thinking that he could take full advantage of this type of vehicle? Your comment implies that the salesman will have to inform this person that he has no place to plug it in as if the customer doesn't already know this. It's an implausible scenario and even if this customer was so dense as to not realize he didn't have a garage I don't believe car salesmen put a lot of effort into talking customers out of buying vehicles.

    Not really implausible simply because there are people in this society that are looking for every chance to pick a fight or file a lawsuit. 'Why should only the privileged few living in certain privileged areas be afforded the latest and most efficient technology to save money?' "So {fill in manufacturer name] you specifically designed this vehicle knowing that only those living in certain areas having access to plugin capabilities would be able to buy it - and power it up - but those living in other areas would not?"

    Now if the manufacturers at least make an honest effort to get plugin capabilities made available all across the country in all sections and to all social strata then at least they will be seen as attempting to develop the infrastructure to assist the whole population. Otherwise there will be complaints, lawsuits and demonstrations about being forced to ride in the back of the bus ( technologically speaking ). It a huge marketing issue to address and overcome.

    The whole purpose of the plugin concept is to be able to charge it during offpeak hours ( generally at night as the owner sleeps ). Charging during the day is adding additional load at peak usage time which is counterproductive. It may even be banned. For example plugin capabilities are only activated from 8PM onward. This is another marketing issue to address with the local power companies.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    good points.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Not really implausible simply because there are people in this society that are looking for every chance to pick a fight or file a lawsuit. 'Why should only the privileged few living in certain privileged areas be afforded the latest and most efficient technology to save money?'

    Based upon that rational I guess Honda's going to be facing lawsuits when they start selling fuel cell vehicles to the public in a couple years. First off they'll be too expensive for poor people to afford. That's one lawsuit. Secondly very few areas will have hydrogen refueling stations at that time so these vehicles will primarily be sold in CA. Very unfair, another lawsuit. If you own any stock in Honda Motors it might be time to start dumping it.

    The whole purpose of the plugin concept is to be able to charge it during offpeak hours ( generally at night as the owner sleeps ).

    Really, that's the "whole" purpose. So I guess reducing oil consumption and transitioning to domestically produced forms of energy serves no purpose. If that's the case then the current hybrids on the market serve no purpose. I agree that charging off the grid at night would be preferrable to charging off the grid during the day. The utilities will control this with pricing and load management switches. There's even trials going on of V2G (vehicle to grid) systems where PHEVs plugged in during the day could be used as a source of backup power for the utilities. In this system the utilities would pay for any power drawn from the cars battery pack and subsidize vehicles that participated in this program. On top of that there's the possibility of charging during the day off solar power. Try refueling an ICE with solar power.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    Ahh the difference, and it's all in the marketing approach. Honda if I'm not mistaken has specifically identified this a 'limited edition' ( certain CA counties ) for feasibility studies. It has not been promoted as a mass market vehicle for the whole country. That's a huge difference between several thousand vehicles and a goal of 100,000 units nationwide. Now if GM comes out and says that the Volt is just being marketed as a limited edition for specific areas to test the ability of the US economy and infrastructure to absorb a new technology then it may get a free pass for a while like Honda is.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,719
    "Also as battery technology improved you could upgrade your battery pack to give it more pure EV range and potentially pull the ICE out altogether since it was never used for propulsion to begin with. "

    I must point out that you did say "improved" battery technology; my point was that the current state of technology isn't there yet.

    "And a series hybrid definitely has an advantage over the ICE because an ICE does not allow for recapturing energy through regenerative braking. I don't think you can regenerate gasoline."

    I think there were some early attempts to use a flywheel to capture the kinetic energy for use when starting up the ICE-only vehicles, but I don't think it panned out. I assume you are referring to "ICE only" because the HSD does recapture part of the energy.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    my point was that the current state of technology isn't there yet.


    I don't know about that. You'd have to define what "there" is. The Prius has a battery pack that costs around $3,000, weighs 100 lbs, can provide maybe 2 miles of all electric driving and allows this vehicle to achieve about 25% better mileage than a Corolla. For a lot of Prius owners that represents the battery technology being "there" for this application.

    There definitely are battery packs that exist today that will provide for the 40 mile all electric goal that Chevy is striving for. The main questions are. How much will they cost? How long will they last? How much will they weigh? And what are the answers to these questions that represents the technology being there. For me this battery pack would have to cost less than $8k, last 10 years/150k miles, and weigh no more than 300 lbs. There are currently battery manufacturers claiming to be able to meet the cost and weight criteria. The longevity question won't be answered until these battery packs have actually been in service for this amount of time. Maybe they will last that long but we can't know for sure until they actually do.

    My reference to improved battery technology was meant to convey that no matter how good battery technology may be today it is reasonable to assume that it will continue to get better in the future.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Well if this is the best argument you can come up with against PHEVs than they have a bright future.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,694
    Why should only the privileged few living in certain privileged areas be afforded the latest and most efficient technology to save money?' "So {fill in manufacturer name] you specifically designed this vehicle knowing that only those living in certain areas having access to plugin capabilities would be able to buy it - and power it up - but those living in other areas would not?"

    What was your argument against Toyota when the following was announced? Were you the driving force that got Toyota to shelve the Plug-in Prius?

    Toyota's revelation Tuesday that it will develop a new "plug-in hybrid" - which uses a wall socket at night to charge and relies on an electric motor to go many miles before sipping any gasoline - could presage a major shift in automotive technology, some industry analysts say.

    Toyota itself had steadfastly denied any interest in plug-in technology. A senior Toyota engineer told the Monitor early last year the company had little interest.

    But gasoline prices have since soared to more than $3 a gallon. On Tuesday, the president of Toyota's North American subsidiary, Jim Press, said the company is looking at developing a plug-in vehicle that can "travel greater distances without using its gas engine." The technology would "conserve more oil and slice smog and greenhouse gases to nearly imperceptible levels".


    http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0720/p02s01-ussc.html

    This is only for the privileged few! Or is this only Toyota vapor ware?

    Ultra-Green: Radical 100-MPG Toyota Prius in the Works for 2009

    Due in two years as a 2009 model, the next Prius is set to be an evolution, company sources say. The hybrid will retain the same basic 1.5-liter hybrid drivetrain. But Toyota is now on a mission to do two things: drive the economy ratings skyward, and cut the associated costs by 20-30 percent.


    http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/News/articleId=109981
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    In addition to the Chevy Volt, Mitsubishi plans on releasing an EV in 2009. Nissan hopes to have an EV ready by 2012. Of course there are already the producers of neighborhood EVs like ZAP and ZENN plus several companies offering electric bikes and scooters. All these vehicles require an outlet to recharge. So apparently a lot of companies are making the mistake of marketing to the privileged few.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,694
    I have considered several myself. The problem is the CA laws. They will not allow the 25 MPH vehicles on any road posted over 35 MPH. I would not be able to leave my street for the 3 mile trip to shop. The Xebra gets around the law by registering as a motorcycle. It will go maybe 40 MPH. The Xebra PU with the solar panel on top is tempting. I think I can get one for about $11k. With a possible tax credit from both the feds and state.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,719
    "here definitely are battery packs that exist today that will provide for the 40 mile all electric goal that Chevy is striving for. The main questions are. How much will they cost? How long will they last? How much will they weigh? And what are the answers to these questions that represents the technology being there."

    Yup, I agree, and I was expressing my opinion - the technology isn't there yet.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    Ever since the Prius came out there has been a vocal minority of current owners who wanted a plugin version. Some spent their own money at times up to $10000 or $15000 to convert existing ones to plugins. Toyota has for at least the last 5 yr been downplaying it's interest in developing a PHEV.

    Yes now GM is promoting the Volt and there seems to be more interest from the market other than from just a small minority with lots of free cash to spend. But IMHO the technology is right now ( and that's the key phrase ) not ready for prime time.

    The battery technology is still to be prefected..it is not yet no matter what GM says. They haven't even tested it on the roads yet for any length of time.
    The warranty issue is not resolved.
    The pricing issue is not resolved.
    The total number of potential buyers I think is still very very small. It's a small segment of the very small number of hybrid buyers.
    The infrastructure for powering this technology to the entire population is not there.
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