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Will the Chevy Volt Succeed?



  • 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: 4,098
    "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: 31,179
    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".

    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.
  • 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: 31,179
    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: 4,098
    "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 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.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    The battery technology is still to be is not yet no matter what GM says

    All GM's press releases have stated that their 2010 time frame is predicated on the battery technology being ready by then. Most reasonably intelligent people would see that as an admission by GM that the battery technology is not ready "right now". In case you haven't looked at a calendar in a while it is 2007, not 2010. So what's your point?
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    First to clear the air. I'd buy one. I'm all for the new technology and using our own national resources rather than enriching others. I'd drop off my Prius and plugin to the first valid, reliable vehicle I could.

    My whole issue with these right now is that putting a lot of hope into the PHEVs taking the market by storm is a dream. The point about the technology is that this is not something that happens overnight; i.e. 12-31-09 it's unproven and on 1-1-2010 it suddenly proven technology. There is still a lot of validation to be done beginning right now. Are 2 years time enough to make the decision on the supplier, ramp up production and do the necessary validations to put this in widespread usage? I was a direct vehicle maker supplier. We normally had 5-7 years leadtime notice.

    But even more important to me are the Marketing issues. I think the technology will be well proven by at least 2015 so that's not a long term issue. But all the other considerations may take far longer than that to resolve/overcome. There are some still ( amazingy :P ) that don't believe at all in anything related to 'hybrid technology'.

    I think Lutz is correct to keep the whip cracking every month in order to push his people to hit the 2010 deadline. GM needs this vehicle far more than any of the others do, but widespread success on 1-1-2010 is not guaranteed by any means.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,179
    There are some still ( amazingy ) that don't believe at all in anything related to 'hybrid technology'.

    Yes there are, many are much more influential in the auto world than I am. My skepticism is based on the over complexity of the current hybrids and the poor economics they offer. You want an ICE get a diesel. For in town make em all electric. Hopefully the battery technology evolves faster than the rise in the price of oil.

    On one side are Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Corp. Both have played down all-electric cars in favor of developing gasoline-electric hybrids, though they disagree on the best technology and how quickly it can be implemented.

    On the other side are two allied car makers, France's Renault SA and Japan's Nissan Motor Co., as well as Honda Motor Co. The three have expressed skepticism about the economic wisdom of hybrids and are talking up all-electric cars.

    Renault-Nissan Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn and Honda President and CEO Takeo Fukui, in separate interviews yesterday, argued that all-electric vehicles make more sense -- environmentally, politically and economically -- than do hybrids, provided there are advances in lithium-ion-battery technology.

    In an interview in Tokyo, Mr. Ghosn said the allied French and Japanese companies he leads are working to field significant numbers of all-electric vehicles as early as 2012, in the belief that gasoline-electric hybrids won't satisfy regulators in key markets.

    "We think in cities -- Paris and London -- we think cars will be forbidden unless they are zero-emission" vehicles, Mr. Ghosn said. He said Renault-Nissan's plans reflect a judgment that lithium-ion-battery technology will soon be mature enough to power purpose-built electric cars in cities.
  • Both types of vehicles will have a place in our commuting future. The sooner they are both available, the happier we will all be for the option and availability of whichever best suits our particular needs/wants. :)
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    GM's CEO is cautioning that the Volt might not be ready by the 2010 target date. He's not saying it won't be just stating it's no sure thing. I think that even if the Volt isn't ready for mass production by 2010 GM should still try to get some prototypes on the road by that time. Similar to what they will be doing with their fuel cell Equinox.

    volt update
  • 1stpik1stpik Posts: 495
    GM is running TV commercials featuring the Volt. The guy from the Washington Mutual Bank commercials stars. He tells a bunch of kids standing in front of the Volt that it goes 40 miles on pure electricity.

    So I guess they HAVE to make the thing now. But hyping the car two years (or more) before it's even built is a bit much.

    Good luck, GM!

  • rcf8000rcf8000 Posts: 619
    GM is also running magazine ads for the Volt. What purpose could possibly be served by such ads? I don't get it.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I'd say these ads will serve no purpose if Chevy doesn't deliver. I'd like to think it reflects GM's confidence. If that's the case it isn't a bad idea to educate the consumer as to what this vehicle is all about. I suspect there are still a lot of people that have no idea what a PHEV is.
  • 1stpik1stpik Posts: 495
    Obviously, GM has too much money! So much that they have to waste it on ads promoting a car that doesn't exist yet.
  • They are probably just hedging their bets that they will be able to get enough people exited about the possibility of the vehicle that they'll be saving their money and be ready to purchase if it actually happens. Although I'm sure they've lost a lot of people due to past actions, they might be able to draw back quite a few if they come through on this promise.
  • you ask a good question

    the answer imo, is that GM spends more on promoting how green they are than they do on the technology.

    There's a great deal of pressure from the investment community to see if GM is looking out to the future because 5 years after the Prius hit the showroom floor, GM still has nothing worth buying in the land of hybrids.

    The Volt is a great looking car show piece. I'm guessing by 2110 Toyota will have something 5 years more advanced than GM in the hybrid world. You just cant catch up overnight by putting mock ups at the car show.
  • 1stpik1stpik Posts: 495
    GM keeps talking about the hybrid car it plans to build ..... while honda and toyota just build them.

    Japanese car makers sell cars. U.S. car makers sell promises.

  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Japanese car makers sell cars. U.S. car makers sell promises

    What does that mean? It seems to me that the domestic auto manufacturers actually do sell cars. How would you go about selling a promise?

    A couple years ago Toyota was saying that the next generation of Prius would be out in 2008 with significantly better mileage and using Li-ion battery packs. That's not going to happen. Toyota is also publicly stating that they'll have a plug-in Prius available in 2010.
  • 1stpik1stpik Posts: 495
    Are you following me? Every post I make you're right there to disagree with it.

    Unfortunately, engaging in semantic hyperbole, and offering the popular tu quoque challenge to Toyota simply doesn't refute any assertion I made.

    Anyway, a car maker that promises it will build a hybrid SOME DAY, and a car maker that simply delays an update to a hybrid that it ALREADY makes, are two different things.

    To paraphrase you -- it seems to me that Japanese auto manufacturers actually do sell hybrids. How would you go about driving a Chevy Volt?

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  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    GM does make hybrids. Whether or not you want to consider them hybrids is up to you. GM refers to them as "mild hybrids". The name kind of says it all. I suspect that GM could have simply done what Nissan did with their Altima hybrid, which was to pay Toyota to use their technology. GM chose not to do this.

    On the other hand GM's two-mode hybrid system does provide significant fuel savings. They're choosing to incorporate this into full sized vehicles first because that is their customer base and that is where the greatest fuel savings will be achieved.

    The way you'd go about driving a Volt is to wait until 2010. If you still can't drive one then it will be due to a delay in the battery pack. You've already stated that this type of delay isn't the same thing as not fullfilling a promise. All GM's press releases have stated that this production date is contingent on the battery pack being ready. In 2006 when Toyota was announcing what the third generation Prius would be capable of I don't remember reading these types of disclaimers.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I'm not sure why anyone would make a parallel between the Chevy Volt and a turbocharged Geo Metro. Unless they're stating that they're both ridiculous. Maybe so but Toyota, Ford, Chysler and some lesser knowns have also apparently jumped on the ridiculous bandwagon. At the same time Nissan and Mitsubishi are aggresively pursuing an EV with no range extending capability.

    When you're testing these battery packs for endurance that will take time. GM's next milestone to reach is April of this year when they have stated they will have a fully functioning prototype.
  • i think he makes a good point.

    there are thousands of happy Prius owners driving the roads.

    GM's hybrid is just talk and no walk

    we're talking about a 4-5 year lead in the hybrid world by Toyota - that's pretty significant imo

    May GM will deliver us a hybrid hummer? :confuse:
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    GM's hybrid is just talk and no walk

    Which of GM's hybrids are you talking about? Saying that GM's "mild hybrid" doesn't match up to Toyota's "full hybrid" doesn't make much sense. It's comparable to stating a Ford Ranger can't tow as much as a Ford F-150. It wasn't designed to. Whether or not the minimal mileage benefit from this mild hybrid technology makes any sense is a subjective opinion. Even if it's only 2 more mpg that's better than nothing. So if the price to achieve this is cheap enough then the customers will choose this option.

    Now GM's two-mode hybrid system is another matter. It provides significant fuel savings.

    GM is the first to admit that they made tactical errors in discontinuing their EV program and letting Toyota take a big lead in hybrid technology. So anyone criticizing GM in this regard is simply echoing GM's own position. I believe they are aggressively trying to make up ground. It doesn't happen overnight.
  • "Which of GM's hybrids are you talking about?"

    I guess the Volt would be a good start if you want to call it a hybrid.
    Then there is the Chevy Maibu Hybrid.
    And there was a truck hybrid they introduced last year which didn't provide much.

    Just because GM admitted to their own blunder by pulling the plug on their Electric Car, doesn't make their black eye go away. Not until they bring something of substance to the market.

    The two hybrid system sounds great? When can the public buy it?

    I think GM is out promoting themselves as green when they really don't have anything hybrid worthy to offer yet. Are they hoping people will put off leaving for another manufacturer who have better options here and now?
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