Will the Chevy Volt Succeed?



  • coldcrankercoldcranker Member Posts: 877
    Thanks for the commentary. I don't see how NiMH batteries could possibly be more expensive than the newer Li-Ion stuff. Maybe somebody reading this knows. And you can bet GM is worried about long term durability with Li-Ions, as a bunch of batteries out there erupting into flames (right next to the gas tank, no less) or just failing quietly, either scenario, could give them a black eye. We all remember what Dell went through with a bunch of laptop Li-Ion batteries going up in flames, a very scary scenario. I just hope the Volt has a metal plate between the Li-Ion batteries and the adjacent gas tank, in close proximity as they have shown it so far.
  • larsblarsb Member Posts: 8,204
    There are different types of Li-Ion battery technology.

    Some types are not prone to meltdown like laptop and cell phone batteries are.

    No carmaker in their right mind would put a battery in a "revolutionary" car like the Volt is expected to be and take the risk of the cars melting down in people's garages and killing the family.

    Before any vehicle from a major manufacturer hits the road with Li-Ion technology, you can pretty much "bet the farm" that it's not going to be at risk of immolation.

    The "safe" technology is even mow leaking into laptop batteries:

    "Safe" laptop batteries, as opposed to kind you might need to extinguish

    Panasonic parent Matsushita today announced what it claims is a "safe" lithium-ion rechargeable battery. The secret: inserting a layer of heat-resistant insulating material to prevent fire-starting internal short-circuits of the kind that ignited a number of notebooks in 2006.

    Typical lithium-ion batteries embed the positively charged anode and the negatively charged cathode in power-generating chemicals separated by a polyolephine plastic barrier. That, said Matsushita, isn't sufficient to prevent short-circuits and the build up of heat that can lead to the explosive destruction of a battery.

    These cars will not hit the showrooms as any more of a fire risk than a Silverado.

    More on safe new battery factories:

    Another battery factory in Japan with safety on the mind

    The new plant will be the main manufacturing site, employing an integrated manufacturing system controlling everything from electrode production, cell assembly and charge-discharge testing to packaging and shipping. Especially, the electrode production facilities will ensure the safety of lithium-ion battery products as well as a safe manufacturing process. The plant will be strategically located in Osaka City to provide logistical advantages when working with its other plants in Osaka and Wakayama Prefectures.
  • larsblarsb Member Posts: 8,204
    The Smart Guys and Gals at Sandia National Labs are working on it too:

    Battery safety research

    Researchers in the Power Sources R&D group at Sandia National Laboratories have been driving nails into batteries, heating them to extreme temperatures, overcharging them, and putting them into some of the most adverse conditions possible to see how much abuse they can take before they blow up.

    And for certain types of lithium-ion batteries the answer is a lot.

    The research is part of the DOE-funded FreedomCAR program that is looking at lithium-ion batteries to be part of hybrid electric-gasoline powered vehicles and eventually plug-in hybrids.

    Current hybrid vehicles run on gasoline and use nickel-metal hydride batteries as the energy storage device for the electric motor. The intent of the battery portion of the FreedomCAR program is to replace the older type batteries with safe lithium-ion batteries that have six times the energy density of lead-acid batteries and two to three times the energy density of nickel-metal hydride batteries.

    “Lithium-ion batteries, generally found in laptop computers and power tools, have greatly improved over the past few years,” says Peter Roth, lead researcher for Sandia’s FreedomCAR battery efforts. “In fact, they have improved so much that we expect to see them in hybrids later this year and possibly even in short-range plug-in hybrids within two years.”

    He notes the battery industry has made great strides in manufacturing safe, long-lasting, and affordable batteries. Sandia has played a role in assuring that the lithium-ion batteries are indeed safe and can operate for long periods of time.

    Sandia is a National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) laboratory.

    One way Sandia researchers have helped determine how safe and long-lasting batteries are is by testing them in adverse situations to determine when and how they can fail or leak their electrolyte.
  • coldcrankercoldcranker Member Posts: 877
    larsb, Excellent post. Awesome info. I wonder how worried GM (and us) are about battery cost. With all the new innovations coming out in Li-Ion chemistry, I know they would function OK. However, like fuel cells, which also work well and are safe, you have to pay an arm and a leg for it. A Volt above $40,000 will be a slow-seller. Even above $30,000 it would be tough selling. Remember the Prius is getting better and sells in the mid $20,000 range. Also, Honda will have a Prius fighter that will sell for right at $20,000 (or so they say now). Tough competition.
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    No carmaker in their right mind would put a battery in a "revolutionary" car like the Volt is expected to be and take the risk of the cars melting down in people's garages and killing the family.

    Don't be so sure about that. There is a real rush by GM and now Toyota to get the first PHEV on the market. Sony is pretty big and they are still having overheating problems with laptops. The technology is far from perfected.

    Published: September 6 2008 03:00 | Last updated: September 6 2008 03:00

    Shares in Sony were knocked yesterday after the Japanese consumer electronics group was forced to recall thousands of defective laptops because of a risk that they could overheat and cause burns.

    The recall affects 440,000 laptops in Sony's Vaio TZ series that were sold across the world between May 2007 and July 2008.

    Sony has heard of 209 cases of laptops overheating, including seven in which the users suffered minor burns.

    Tesla is using 6000+ laptop type cells in their $100k car. Of course no one is saying they are of a right mind.
  • larsblarsb Member Posts: 8,204
    Gary says, "Don't be so sure about that. There is a real rush by GM and now Toyota to get the first PHEV on the market."

    You showed exactly why I'm correct in your above statement. Thanks much !!!

    BECAUSE there is such a Rush - why is there a rush? Because they want the prestige and the marketing gold mine which would be theirs if they are first. Correct.

    But then what happens when the risk safety and are first and someone burns to death in their car or it burns down a house and kills 3 kids?

    Then ALL the benefits of "being first" are lost and they pay millions in suit money and possibly lose HUNDREDS of millions of dollars in marketing and image problems.

    Trust me on this one: Neither Toyota nor GM will put a PHEV in your garage until it is THOROUGHLY and COMPLETELY safety-approved.

    And you keep coming back to laptop batteries. Did you not read my last post? The batteries in these PHEVs are not going to be chemically similar to those batteries in regard to fire risk and are going to have FAR FAR more safety technology in place.

    The technology is moving along at a rapid pace. Those battery companies and R&D firms and think tanks working on this technology are not going to let something unsafe get put into the cars.

    I could car less what Tesla is doing.
  • coldcrankercoldcranker Member Posts: 877
    For the Chevy Volt to succeed, GM should put out a cheaper version of the Volt, that still uses Li-Ion batteries (not NiMH), but only uses half as many Li-Ion batteries as the 40-mile EV-only range version, getting 20 miles EV-only and costing less. Call it "Volt Lite", where the consumer gets to choose how many Li-Ion batteries they want on board. Then, the overall MPG will still be high, in a cheaper vehicle, because the batteries cost so much in the deluxe 40-mile version. Replace the reduced battery volume with more fuel tank, and then you've got a 20-mile EV-only range, 50 MPG on a full tank of gas.

    I guess the question is: How much battery cost can you save using only half the amount of batteries? I'd guess you could reduce the price of the animal by $4,000 while still having 20-mile EV-only range, and still get 50 MPG. (The deluxe Volt would get 40 mile range and 80 MPG.)

    Also, think of the weight savings, in addition to the obvious cost savings, of doing a 20-mile range Volt Lite. That weight savings translates into an increase in the EV-only range, better handling, and better acceleration. You could even downsize the gas engine just a bit due to the lighter vehicle weight. They could do this in the same Volt chassis, just using lighter springs for the decreased weight. Two flavors of Volt. OK, lets start the letter writing campaign now. Get the cost down folks.
  • michael2003michael2003 Member Posts: 144
    While on the surface it appears to be a good idea to reduce the all electric range by reducing the quantity of batteries, I think there might be a concern that doing this might reduce the ability of the batteries to produce sufficient current to provide the necessary performance to run on battery only.
    I think this might be one of the reasons why some car companies plan on using the ICE engine to run in parallel, at least when additional performance is needed.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Member Posts: 9,372
    Check out Straightline for photos of the Volt
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    The EPA is not sure how to rate the Chevrolet Volt's fuel economy, and GM isn't at all happy about it.

    the confusion stems from the EPA's classification of the Volt. Is it an electric vehicle (EV) with an onboard generator, or a hybrid vehicle that relies heavily on its electric drive? It's actually a little of both and a little of neither. The driving habits and battery-charging routines of the operator play a huge role in the classification of the Volt.

    In this configuration, the Volt can slip through about 85 percent of the EPA's test cycle without even firing up the gasoline engine. Using the EPA's standard formulas to calculate fuel economy, the Volt averages over 100 mpg. The EPA doesn't think that astronomical number is fair and has revised its tests with the requirement that the Volt finish the test with its batteries close to full charge, which means the internal combustion engine must run for the entirety of the test, dropping fuel economy to about 48 mpg.

    GM, of course, argues back that the EPA's new test isn't fair because the test isn't representative of the way the Volt was designed to operate and doesn't reflect the Volt's plug-in option for battery charging.

    The truth lies somewhere in between, but the EPA rating assigned will play a big role in whether consumers think the $40,000 Volt is a good deal compared with the Toyota Prius and the upcoming, and even less expensive Honda Insight.

    Just as I have always said. The EPA's one size fits all test STINKS. The lazy bums need to set up realistic tests for EACH technology.... Or fire the whole department and hire a private company to do the tests. Then we will have accountability.
  • coldcrankercoldcranker Member Posts: 877
    Here's what I would do: First, run the EPA fuel economy tests with a fully charged battery pack. Secondly, without recharging the battery pack from the first run, run the test again, and average the MPG from run #1 and run #2. That should be a good compromise, and the average would reflect that on some days, you have a fully charged battery, and on some days you don't. Kind of like life in general. ;)
    Running the test twice preserves the position of many that the EPA-defined driving cycles used in the test are sacred and standard (no deviations) while also satisfying the camp that wants to demonstrate the real-world benefits of a plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHV).
  • larsblarsb Member Posts: 8,204
    OMG, VW did not get screwed. The car tested the way it tested. Just like the hybrids lost 20% on the new test. Big Whoop. Drivers will get what they get. Estimates are estimates.
  • twmarktwmark Member Posts: 41
    If the Volt looks like the car in the official pictures Edmunds posted on 9/8/2008 (http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/News/articleId=131766) the car will be a definite flop. I think the car looks ugly and lacking in personality. The prototypes of the Volt were beautiful but if the Volt actually looks looks another Malibu, I don't think too many people would want to buy it. GM is going to screw this up once again.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Member Posts: 9,372
    I'm a concept car lover myself, and usually disappointed that most of the concept doesn't make it to production. I don't think that the Volt's looks are going to be the major stumbling block if it flops. Performance and price are going to be the measuring stick.
  • coldcrankercoldcranker Member Posts: 877
    I agree that styling is really not the main issue with the Volt, fuel economy and usability as a commuter car are the main issues. That said, everybody likes styling anyway. The changes from show-car to production make the car more practical (interior volume) and aerodynamic, both good things. And I don't think it looks bad.
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    Just like the hybrids lost 20% on the new test.

    The Prius buyers got the Tax Credit based on the flawed tests. VW GOT SHAFTED BY THE EPA. My guess is GM will get the same slimy treatment from that bunch of losers.

    The EPA has never responded. Just the letter passing the buck. So much for oversight on what the EPA does. Probably too busy with the sex & booze parties put on by big oil.
  • larsblarsb Member Posts: 8,204
    Don't be so impatient fellow. When did you mail that letter - 10 days ago? Give them time.

    VW DID NOT GET "SHAFTED" by the EPA. The EPA tests are what they are - an estimate. You can bet your last retirement fund dollar that there will be MANY Jetta TDI owners who get LESS than the 29/40 results. It's inevitable.

    And like I said - get OVER the dang tax credit issue !!!

    Most people who get the car will get hit with AMT and will not even GET the full credit anyway !!!?
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    Most people who get the car will get hit with AMT and will not even GET the full credit anyway !!!?

    Don't get me started on the STINKING IRS. That is for a different forum. :P

    I don't want to hear you moaning when the PHEVs get the same EPA 48 MPG rating of the hybrids and NO ONE wants to buy them. That should put an end to the whole PHEV idea.
  • larsblarsb Member Posts: 8,204
    Like I said yesterday in a post, owners of the Volt will get VASTLY different miles per gallon, based on how they use the car.

    People who drive in mostly electric mode will get high numbers.

    People who take it on the road and drive it long hwy distances will get lower numbers.

    This could be the first production car EVER when some people get 100 mpg and other owners get 35 mpg.

    Whatever the EPA shows will be irrelevant to the owner after purchase, as it has always been.

    The EPA mileage sticker is and has always been a "PRE-SALE" comparison tool.
  • stevedebistevedebi Member Posts: 4,098
    "This could be the first production car EVER when some people get 100 mpg and other owners get 35 mpg. "

    Where did you get the 35 MPG figure for series hybrid mileage?

    I don't expect many people to take it on road trips. This is a series hybrid, where the gas engine does not touch a transmission, but rather generates electricity. I think if this were more efficient, Toyota would have already done it. Instead they went for dual mode.
  • larsblarsb Member Posts: 8,204
    The Volt is not a hybrid. It only has one method of propulsion. If the gas generator has to run all the whole time the car is in motion to charge the battery, it will get very low mileage, even if starting with a full battery.

    My 35 is just a guess. It might be higher. Only time will tell.
  • larsblarsb Member Posts: 8,204
    I think someone already posted this link, but it makes my point for me...

    What MPG are you going to get?

    The Chevrolet Volt raises a lot of questions. From its public unveiling in January 2007 people wondered, is it a hybrid or an electric car? Right from day 1 in December 2006 before the auto show, GM officials have called it a range extended electric car. They use the electric car terminology because, unlike what we think of as hybrids today, only an electric motor drives the Volt. The engine, a normally aspirated 1.4L (not turbocharged as Motor Trend indicates) just drives a generator (not a two mode hybrid unit as MT says) instead of the wheels. However, the presence of the range extender causes the EPA to consider it a hybrid and they expect it to have almost a full charge at the end of the test cycle. The design intent is that the battery would be run down after having run more than its 40 mile electric range during the test. As designed, the engine would only run 15 percent of the time during the current EPA cycle and would yield over 100 mpg. But, using the EPA's methodology and having the engine keep the battery near full charge - which completely defeats the purpose of a plug-in vehicle with a 40 mile electric range - the Volt would only get about 48 mpg. While not a bad number, it's no where near reflective of what the Volt could achieve in the real world for most drivers. Clearly the EPA needs to work with manufacturers to change the testing methodology and come up with something that more closely approximates real world conditions for plug-in vehicles. Insisting on something else would force automakers to calibrate plug-ins to meet those requirements at the expense of real world efficiency, helping no one.
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    That is exactly what I am saying the EPA needs to get its head out of you know where and design tests for the technology. Not just ONE test fits all.
  • coldcrankercoldcranker Member Posts: 877
    Most would probably agree that the starting battery energy storage level state is an issue in the EPA MPG tests. My solution in post #265 above should do the trick, although one could modify my approach by requiring:

    (1) A full battery charge in the first run-through of the EPA test cycle and
    (2) Zero charge in the 2nd run.
    (3) Average the two runs, and its representative of what one would get if they can't get to an electrical outlet every night or takes long trips.

    I totally disagree that VW got "screwed", as another poster put it, on the EPA test. The VW diesel is not a hybrid and doesn't belong in this discussion. The VW diesel ran the standard city/highway like any other fossil-fueled vehicle. The EPA tests are real and very representative of typical driving accel/decel/cruise/idle in a running vehicle.
  • coldcrankercoldcranker Member Posts: 877
    The Volt is a hybrid. It gets its energy from battery storage and a gas tank. It doesn't matter that the engine is not mechanically coupled to the electric motor. This is the way all big railroad trains work, and many large city buses, and they are correctly called "hybrid". Technically, the Volt is a series hybrid, and Prius is a parallel hybrid.
  • coldcrankercoldcranker Member Posts: 877
    stevedebi said: "I think if this [series hybrid like the Volt] were more efficient, Toyota would have already done it. Instead they went for dual mode."

    The Prius didn't do it because it would have required too many batteries. Weight and cost was a problem. That may not be true in the future. Remember that operating an engine to solely recharge batteries (Volt's series hybrid arrangement) is helped a lot by noting that the engine is free to operate at a very limited range of RPM and load, the engine's sweet spot, at which it is much more efficient.
  • toyolla2toyolla2 Member Posts: 158
    The Prius didn't do it because it would have required too many batteries

    Let's get something straight. The Prius is not about being an electric car. The Prius is about being an electric transmission. It is also about low emissions. That is why it has a fuel tank bladder, and a coolant reservoir thermos flask, and will run the engine occasionally just to keep the oxygen sensor at its operational temperature. The Prius is not specifically about fuel economy either.

    If the Prius was to be serious about fuel economy they could have fitted a three cylinder, or two cylinder engine even, with little drop in performance - that's my opinion.

    If the Prius was to be serious about fuel economy they would have eliminated the battery and therefore the battery assist and gone series hybrid. Such a system would have had nearly all the other advantages of hybridisation except the recapture and storage of electrical energy through braking. On that subject...

    Lugging this battery around takes energy. It has been calculated that to spend more than 45 minutes at 60mph out on the highway cancels any benefit of storing recuperative energy on board. In fact you are lugging this battery around just to have a place to store the kinetic energy regenerated when you do begin to stop. These exotic chemistries slowly self discharge when parked so the energy savings can be minimal. Even so, kinetic energy regeneration is still a good idea - more later.

    The Toyota HSD circulates a lot of power when cruising. At 50mph a total of 33 Hp is floating around of which only 8hp is sent into the transaxle reducer. The other 25 Hp flows electrically from MG2 to MG1 and then mechanically from MG1 to MG2 in an endless circle. Each electromechanical conversion exacts losses. But I've done that analytical post elsewhere on Edmunds. Suffice it to say if you do much hiway running the HCH is probably a better system but only because its engine is 1.3L !

    A series hybrid, like the Volt, OTOH only circulates the 8Hp actually needed by the wheels so its losses are going to be significantly lower than the Prius.
    Not only that but the Toyota HSD constrains engine rpms ; not as badly as a manual transmission but significant just the same. As a way of example at 20mph the engine cannot exceed 3644rpm limiting the engine to just 55Hp. Engine revs reach 5000rpm only at 51mph. Rather late in the day, wouldn't you say ?

    A series hybrid would allow this engine to run at 5000rpm at any road speed so at 20 mph the engine would now be able to develop its full 76Hp and wouldn't miss the 28Hp coming from an assist battery quite so much. Of course having 76Hp from 51mph and up rather than the 104Hp which the Prius has today may mean less performance, but this may be compensated by the reduced vehicular mass in the absence of the HSD and the NiMH battery.

    Finally for those who appreciate braking by regeneration.
    In the absence of the battery, regenerated electrical energy could be dissipated instead in components commonly referred to as dynamic braking resistors. Several braking kilowatts could be immediately absorbed as well by overiding cabin cooling or heating thermostats in the short term. Why go to all this trouble if mileage is unaffected ? Well because the reduction in mechanical brake wear is known to be significant.

    I was hoping a batteryfree Volt was in development which would make it compatible with the new Prius and Civic pricewise. Instead we have this PHEV nonsense by adults who are obsessed by electric cars, off-oil, sticking it the Arabs etc. The real answer in my view is to go off a helluva lot of oil. The way to do that is with downsized engines that still give impressive performance. I-4s with turbos are not going to cut it, still too much power lost in conventional transmission through poor efficacy.
  • coldcrankercoldcranker Member Posts: 877
    toyolla2, Where do I begin? There is a one word answer to your post: "No".

    "The Prius is not specifically about fuel economy either."
    Huh? Why else would you buy an egg-shaped poor-handling econobox that does 0-60 in an anemic 10 seconds or so for an inflated price of $22,000 when a Corolla would be $18,000.

    "If the Prius was to be serious about fuel economy they would have eliminated the battery and therefore the battery assist and gone series hybrid."
    With no battery I believe you would have a weird-looking version of the Corolla, not a hybrid.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Member Posts: 9,372
    I know it's easy to get off on a tangent, but let's be sure to keep this discussion about the Volt. Thanks!
  • larsblarsb Member Posts: 8,204
    GM says the Volt is not a hybrid.

    The definition of a hybrid car is a vehicle which uses more than one method of propulsion.

    The Volt uses only electricity for propulsion - gas engine NEVER drives the wheels.

    No big deal, but I just don't want people getting the idea that the Volt is a hybrid when it clearly is NOT.
  • toyolla2toyolla2 Member Posts: 158
    Well pf_flyer we would talk about the Volt....but there's little to tell. The car won't be here for two years, meanwhile there seems to be a lack of understanding exactly what a series hybrid is. I am not here to discuss pedantic subjects but as regards hybrids it boils down to energy and power. Some say that two forms of energy gasoline and battery make a hybrid. Others say that is much too tight and put forward a more encompassing description. It is when there are two or more forms of power, mechanical and electrical that makes a hybrid.

    In the Hybrids News and Views in the Press stevedebi just wrote MSG #476

    "This is a "series" hybrid, a category that also includes the diesel electric locomotive. They aren't always referred to in this fashion, but that is the correct terminology."
    And Morparbad concurs in #477
    i.e. No Battery and only one source of energy but two forms of power.

    In fact all the energy in a Prius originates from gasoline - by your definition that would make it not a hybrid.
    That said I am perfectly happy to refer to it as a gasoline-electric.

    And a gasoline electric is what the Volt should be. Fiat is showing the world right now that a subcompact with a two cylinder is driveable in a conventional powertrain providing it is state of the art like the engines of Honda and Toyota.

    A two cylinder is also driveable in the larger midsize vehicles like Prius and the Volt but performance will not be acceptable here if a conventional powertrain continues to be used. In this case the efficacy of the transmission needs improving.
    This means the engine has to be completely decoupled from the wheels, even the partial decoupling of the Prius falls short. Too much engine power gets left on the table in the important 20-35mph range. Hence the Volt architecture.

    Call it a gasoline electric or a series hybrid architecture, unless we start installing really small engines into our cars we won't see 70mpg while cruising. That's why the 1.4L in the Volt is a disappointment.

    There are some who would not contemplate a two cylinder powered vehicle. Well this Friday morning in Ontario gas prices spiked at $1.36.6/litre, the highest ever and said to be due to Hurricane "Ike". A rise of 13cents overnight !! I don't know how many wakeup calls we need in North America but the availability of a $40,000 Chevy Volt is going to solve nothing whereas a 900cc batteryfree gasoline electric vehicle at half the cost with 10sec performance is going to be a huge improvement over vehicles whose owners are simply abandonning them in their driveways whenever gas prices spike.
  • bhw77bhw77 Member Posts: 101
    I wonder how government is going to deal with tax revenue loses from rechargable vehicles such as Volt, Prius and other?
    Don't forget we pay taxes per gallon we use.
    Are they going to come up with "Transportation Electricity" tax?
  • stevedebistevedebi Member Posts: 4,098
    "I wonder how government is going to deal with tax revenue loses from rechargable vehicles such as Volt, Prius and other?
    Don't forget we pay taxes per gallon we use.
    Are they going to come up with "Transportation Electricity" tax? "

    There was a big discussion on this over on the Prius board. Some states were considering a "hybrid tax", so that the highway funds would be maintained.

    Some of the suggestions were to charge by mileage, or by weight, or (my favorite) higher taxes for larger engines.
  • larsblarsb Member Posts: 8,204
    Volt introduced

    Volt Revealed

    It's not as boring and ugly as those earlier "unofficially released" pictures showed it to be.




    That dash looks rather nice.
  • coldcrankercoldcranker Member Posts: 877
    Taxes for roads? Just keep increasing the gasoline tax per gallon, and that should take care of any dropping consumption habits. Simple.
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    Just keep increasing the gasoline tax per gallon

    In CA the gas tax is about 65 cents per gallon. If the MPG double from current average that would mean they would have to charge about $1.30 to keep the same revenue. I prefer the tax by mile that is being tested in Oregon. With a car like the Volt you could conceivably not buy any gas. Trying to keep track from your electric bill would be difficult.
  • larsblarsb Member Posts: 8,204
    Gary says, "Trying to keep track from your electric bill would be difficult. "

    Not really. Spend $24 on a Kill-A-Watt and you can track usage and dollars for any given electric plug. Very simple.
  • tpetpe Member Posts: 2,342
    The Volt is accurately described as a "series" hybrid but the question is whether a series hybrid should really be called a hybrid. What if I had an EV and decided to put solar panels on it's roof to help recharge the battery. Would that make it a hybrid?
  • larsblarsb Member Posts: 8,204
    For my money, and from what GM is saying, the Volt is not any kind of hybrid AT ALL.

    Using two methods of PROPULSION, not two methods of FUELING, is what correctly describes a hybrid. So adding solar panels would not at all affect it's "hybridity."

    For example, in the current crop of hybrid vehicles, the electric motor AND the gasoline motor contribute to the turning of the wheels at some point - providing PROPULSION.

    In the Volt, the ONLY form of propulsion is the electric engine. At no point does the gasoline engine, which is there with a sole purpose of recharging the electric batteries, contribute ITSELF To the propulsion of the Volt.

    Unlike other hybrid vehicles which use either the petrol or electric engine to move the car, or some hybrids like Honda’s IMA which uses the petrol all the time with no electric-only mode and uses the electric motor only for assist, the Chevrolet Volt runs on the electric motor at all times. The electric motor produces 150 horsepower and 370Nm of torque and gets power from a 16-kWh lithium ion battery (220 lithium ion cells) which is recharged via brake energy regeneration or the internal combustion engine.

    The combustion engine (powered by gasoline or E85) only kicks in to charge the battery and because that is its only function it can be tuned to be extremely efficient at this, working best only at a certain RPM range required to drive a dynamo and charge the battery. GM calls this type of hybrid an E-REV or Extended-Range Electric Vehicle.

    So even GM is not calling it a hybrid. It's not one. It uses only the electric motor to propel the car forward.
  • tpetpe Member Posts: 2,342
    I agree. I don't consider the Volt to be a hybrid. What does it matter whether you plug into a generator via the grid or carry that generator along with you? However the Volt does fit the definition of "series hybrid", which I personally believe to be a misnomer. Are fuel cell vehicles being labeled as series hybrids? I don't think so and the only difference here is that instead of a gas tank and an ICE generator you have hydrogen tanks and a fuel cell stack.
  • reddroverrreddroverr Member Posts: 509
    This may be one of those ideas that appeals to you and a select group. Not so sure it is a wise or practical move.

    Say the Volt runs $38k. Are there really enough people willing to buy a reduced ev capability at $34k that would not buy the full at $38k? Can it possibly justify the extra model design, production and inventory?

    Let's face it, the all electric capabilities are what the volt is selling. Some insulation against gas prices, some insurance in case of supply disruptions, and the cool or enviro factor of going mostly EV. Whittle that down and the lure fades and the less expensive alternatives gain.

    Maybe some day, but not now...and hopefully, even someday, the electric storage will improve in functionality and price so the norm is higher and not lower ev mile capabilities.
  • reddroverrreddroverr Member Posts: 509
    Are fuel cell vehicles being labeled as series hybrids? I don't think so and the only difference here is that instead of a gas tank and an ICE generator you have hydrogen tanks and a fuel cell stack.

    Are they being called EVs? ;)
  • tpetpe Member Posts: 2,342
    Are they being called EVs?

    I don't know but they should be.
  • edkleinedklein Member Posts: 34
    You know, I have been watching the development of the Volt with interest. But, after Ike came through Houston, nearly 5 million people lost electricity and most are still without it. Reports we're hearing around here are that most areas are still WEEKS away from getting electricity back on.

    Many gas stations are without power, but more are coming on and the lines are noticeably shorter today vs. yesterday. So, a gasoline driven car remains viable transport in this area.

    To continue to operate a Volt, I'd have to have a gasoline powered generator at the house to charge it up each night. Not too promising.
  • tpetpe Member Posts: 2,342
  • reddroverrreddroverr Member Posts: 509
    Yikes! Sorry you got hit.

    The Volt can also run on gas alone. Actually a bit more flexible for disasters.
  • hoyahenryhoyahenry Member Posts: 399
    First, somebackground. I drive a 97 Chevy Cavalier. It gets 27-28 mpg in 60/40 city/highway driving. It will have 80K miles on it in a few weeks and the most serious repair it has had just occurred - new alternator. I drive it between 7-40 miles per day to/from the park n ride and ride the bus, which costs $3 to get to work. I have no car payment.

    I've been watching hybrids - the cabbage patch era continues (to my amazement). I won't buy one. At the end of the day, it's lubricated and propelled by dinosaurs.

    Here's the bottom line America. We need a transportation infrastructure that runs on electricity, preferably produced by means other than combusting dinosaur remains.

    So, the Volt - they did it again. They have the design spec and they ended up with a car that has an engine that needs to be lubricated with processed fossils. Maybe the next engine can be anything and this is the future, but that's too far away with these types of stall tactics, imho.

    In college, any rational engineering professor would give this an 'F'

    The Volt may succeed, but it does not yet deliver what Americans really need, whether they know it or not. :confuse:
  • coldcrankercoldcranker Member Posts: 877
    hoyahenry, Its a step in the right direction. Remember that the cost has to be affordable, and, yes, GM can and has built fuel cell prototypes powered by hydrogen, which comes from natural gas, and various other prototypes. Trouble is the cost of such a vehicle would be $100,000 each and GM wouldn't sell enough of them. Remember that gas/diesel/naturalgas is still the most energy dense on-board storage method available, as pure batteries are still too expensive as well. We engineers face the cost/performance equation constantly. What we can do is often just too expensive.

    I'm now listening to Bob Lutz talk to Steven Colbert on the Colbert Report on Comedy Central. Colbert just asked Lutz if he could plug the future Volt into Colbert's Hummer (like he has one..) and Lutz said, truthfully, "yes, the Hummer has a 115v AC outlet which can recharge the Volt". There is a joke in there somewhere.
  • kevperro2kevperro2 Member Posts: 13
    I think it will attract the eco-yuppies but it just doesn't look economically viable. It is hard to believe GM is betting the farm on this with so many variables unknown.

    Don't get me wrong, I love the engineering but I just bought a $10,600 Hyundai that has been getting me 36mpg. It basically moves the same amount of people from point A to point B. It does so comfortably using well fleshed out technology. I can drive it for 250,000 miles @ $4.00/gallon for $27,777 and be at about the same price as a Volt. Obviously the cost of money still favors the Hyundai and there is no uncertainty about battery life and bleeding edge technology. I'm also not considering the cost of electricity in that figure. Plus, we are seeing lower oil prices, which eventually will make it's way to the pump. It is feasible we will see $2.50/gallon gasoline again so that erodes away at the equation even more.

    Like most all hybrids, it is cool but they have to be cost effective to be attractive to me.
  • carswipecarswipe Member Posts: 6
    Wow, the interior design of the car looks great. it even has a battery monitoring system. Really quite different from the Chevrolet Models I have seen so far. I haven't read the entire post but I think it's going to be really expensive
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