TMC is an independent, primarily volunteer organization that relies on ad revenue to cover its operating costs. Please consider whitelisting TMC on your ad blocker or making a Paypal contribution here: paypal.me/SupportTMC

GM Fully Committed to E-Flex & Chevy Volt

Discussion in 'Electric Vehicles' started by tonybelding, Nov 14, 2007.

  1. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2006
    Messages:
    1,091
    Location:
    Hamilton, Texas
    AutobogGreen brought this to my attention. . .

    http://www.gm-volt.com/2007/11/14/my-chevy-volt-question-to-bob-lutz/

    The funny part was the comment about aerodynamics.

    The more important part was that GM is "fully committed" to Chevy Volt production and no longer sees much likelihood that battery technology will be a hindrance.

    It's been great to see how GM's (particularly Lutz's) attitude has changed over a relatively short time. When they first showed the Chevy Volt, the talk was all about how this represented something they'd like to do someday but "the batteries don't exist yet". That brought forth a lot of skepticism and even ridicule.

    After the huge public response, I think GM felt compelled to look closer at the idea, and the closer they looked the more doable it seemed to be. You can follow the changing attitude in their public comments, which started out very timid and full of caveats and disclaimers, but every new comment from GM has been more confident than the one before.

    Now they've reached a point where batteries don't look like a problem, and Lutz is talking casually about producing up to 100,000 units in the first year. If it even hits a quarter of that production level it'll send a shock wave through the auto industry.
     
  2. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Messages:
    17,252
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    There are still many who are very skeptical about the Volt.
    Don't forget that this is GM, and they could draw everyone into their "vision", then cancel it like they did with the EV-1.

    Until they are mass producing Volts and offering them for sale, I will remain dubious.

    Also, they better get much better MPG than a Prius...
     
  3. DDB

    DDB Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2006
    Messages:
    590
    Why? If you drive in all electric mode, you don't burn any gas? I could care less if it burned 20 MPG in gas mode if I get 40-45 miles EV range.
     
  4. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2006
    Messages:
    14,792
    Location:
    CA CA
    Wow this makes me optimistic.

    Cautiously optimistic, but still optimistic.

    Another comment of note is letting a civilian drive a Mule. Considering this person is a member of the press (a Blogger) that shows trust from GM.

    I have not followed the auto world to know if there is any precedence for this. I would have to believe it's pretty rare.

    Even Tesla did not have that kind of play in the public eye
     
  5. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Messages:
    17,252
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    GM more or less said that the excitement from Tesla helped prompt them to put the Volt concept into the public space as a response.

    I suspect that the Volt blogs are also a retort to the success of the Tesla blogs.

    I am sorry, but personally, I don't find the Volt (in its' current form) exciting enough for me to want to join that community.

    Someone will have to work up the numbers of real world plug-in usage combined with pure EV mileage equivalent and actual MPG when running on gas (factoring in how often the gas motor will be used on average). There will be some sort of "effective MPG" that results, and that is what I would hope/expect to be much better than a Prius for this to be worthwhile.

    If it turns out that 90% of Volt customers never plug it in it might not be that great a concept...
     
  6. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2006
    Messages:
    1,091
    Location:
    Hamilton, Texas
    I think Bob Lutz admitted that. I can't help thinking Toyota's much more low-key announcement that they were going to make a PHEV must have influenced GM's decision too. It didn't get much press at the time, but when Toyota makes a move other car makers take notice.


    I don't know if "retort" is the word I'd choose. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

    Oddly, Tesla and GM (notably in the persons of Martin Eberhard and Bob Lutz) seem to have plenty of good things to say about one another. I sense that there is some mutual admiration and a sense that they're both on the same side of the revolution.

    It's a contrast to the sniping that so often occurs between the various EV startups.


    I personally don't have any interest in buying one. Also, I find the Volt's styling unattractive. However. . . I do believe it could appeal to a lot of people and be the start of something big.


    I have a hard time believing in that scenario. If they didn't intend to plug it in, why buy a Volt in the first place? I'm confident plugging in will prove more convenient for most people (at least those who have a garage or carport) than going to a gas station. I'm also confident that many of them will become addicted to quiet battery-powered driving and will feel quite annoyed when the ICE fires up.
     
  7. DDB

    DDB Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2006
    Messages:
    590
    Supposedly Lutz gave a November 2010 production date with a 2011 model year:

    http://www.gm-volt.com/

    Pretty cool.
     
  8. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Messages:
    17,252
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    I will just have to reserve judgment and sit on the sidelines and see what happens. The whole EV1, & Cobasys situation has me questioning motives or at least resolve until proven otherwise.

    Lets hope you are right. I do see silly things like people buying 4WD vehicles with large ground clearance and never driving them off road. Or buying a 5 passenger luxury sedan and only ever having one or two people in it.
     
  9. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2006
    Messages:
    14,792
    Location:
    CA CA
    "GM more or less said that the excitement from Tesla helped prompt them to put the Volt concept into the public space as a response"

    I think we have to give credit to "Who Killed The Electric Car" for the Volt as well. I know that Bob has admitted that Tesla forced his hand with the Volt but WKTEC had to smart like a mutha.

    Oh to be a fly on the hallowed walls of GM when WKTEC came out. Did they get a preview copy? Did the execs put on overcoats and hats and sneak into the theaters? Did any heads roll? We will probably never know.

    I know I felt a lot of strong feelings about GM when I saw the film and now we know "Flea" and Jason were moved to buy a Tesla (and who knows how many more did the same). Jason went on to say he would never buy another GM product.

    Lutz has said that crushing the cars was a bad PR mistake and I bet that started as a slow stew that rose to a boil as the film did better and better. 1.6M http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=whokilledtheelectriccar.htm Then the DVD release saw another stinging wave into GM's offices.

    The Volt might have been part of the healing salve that Bob needed to feel good again.
     
  10. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2006
    Messages:
    14,792
    Location:
    CA CA
    Another comment on GM's transparency on the Volt.

    Autoblog Green says they may get to drive the Mule. The ground breaking is so unheard of that AG even has to explain what a Mule is.
    http://www.autobloggreen.com/2007/11/16/chevy-volt-mules-are-based-on-old-malibu-production-cars-on-sma/


    And this interview:
    http://www.autobloggreen.com/2007/11/16/autobloggreen-qanda-denise-gray-talks-batteries-state-of-charge/

    Pre-Tesla this kind of access would either be a total fluff piece or would be a clandestine operation. I'm impressed.
     
  11. DDB

    DDB Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2006
    Messages:
    590
    I agree. I follow the gm-volt.com forum and GM has gone way out of their way to include the editor over there in events, to the extent that they fly Lyle to meetings and include him in phone conferences. GM wants this car to work, thank goodness. A $30,000 40-mile range practial EV sounds good to me. We're getting closer to flipping the bird to OPEC.
     
  12. edwong3

    edwong3 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2007
    Messages:
    3
    The quest for a battery

    The part I find really funny is the big deal they are making about the battery pack that is to power the Volt, as if though getting 40 miles per charge is such a big challenge. That's why I also question their motives.

    EVERYBODY knows that battery technology has evolved to the point where getting the target range of 40 miles is NOT an issue at all! Heck even though it's a PHEV, they should really be shooting for 60-80 miles, and that way reduce the possibility even more of ever having to use the fuel engine. The only reason it should ever be used is for a long road trip of over 50 plus miles.

    Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I think the mainstream auto industry is simply refusing to let go of the dependency on oil. It makes one wonder what those "bigwig" execs talk among themselves on the golf course or secretive board meetings.

    Anyone else feel the same way?


     
  13. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2006
    Messages:
    1,091
    Location:
    Hamilton, Texas
    I don't see it that way. They have to cram batteries into the vehicle along with the piston engine, exhaust system and fuel tank. The batteries they are using are optimized for cycle life and power density, not energy density. Also, GM have said it should still have forty miles electric range at the end of its lifespan (meaning after eight or ten years, I reckon), even after the batteries have degraded.

    Take that all into account, and 40 miles of electric range is a pretty aggressive target for GM to aim for. Other companies I believe are aiming for 20 miles. A GM exec said they weren't sure if they could manage 40, but it was easier to start aiming for 40 and revise downward if necessary, rather than start at 20 and try to revise upward. :rolleyes:


    Big Auto and Big Oil are like conjoined twins who despise one another but can't be separated. GM are definitely not going out of their way to do oil companies any favors. I think they would love to get off oil.

    GM execs are very fearful of two things going forward: consumers and governments.

    GM are afraid nobody will buy any kind of alternate fuel car unless it works just like their familiar gas cars and can do everything the gas cars can do, at the same or lower price. The lesson they learned (rightly or wrongly) from the EV1 is that nobody except a handful of highly vocal eco-freaks will buy an electric car -- unless it can go 300 miles on a charge, recharge in five minutes, and costs no more than $30,000. The Chevy Volt is designed with that lesson firmly in mind.

    GM are also afraid if they show that alternate-fuel vehicles can be made, then the government will pass some crazy law requiring them to convert all their cars and trucks to that alternate fuel overnight (and by "overnight" I mean sometime in the next 20 years), which is impossible (and by "impossible" I mean that consumers might not buy them, see above!).

    These fears are shared by all the major car companies. Yet GM, unlike the others, actually overcome their fears from time to time and push forward with things like the Impact, the EV1, the Chevy Volt. I have to give them a bit of credit for that.

    The one thing that historically has lured GM into producing electric cars is the prospect of getting the jump on their competitors. It was the same way with the EV1. When the California ZEV Mandate first came into effect, GM actually cancelled the EV1 program. They figured they could meet the requirements with some cheap-ass cobbled-together conversions just like the other companies. But when the ZEV Mandate was weakened, Ford and Chrysler dropped their EV programs, and GM secretly restarted the EV1 program! They saw a chance to get the jump on Ford and Chrysler, and they went for it.

    Now they're gunning for Toyota.
     
  14. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Messages:
    17,252
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    Well, with companies like Tesla advertising vehicles with 200+ mile range, it makes GM sound silly when they gloat about their "40 mile range" "BEV".

    Looking at eFlex, and even my RangerEV, I realize that many BEV efforts are actually done with "cast-off" components from fuel-cell experiments. The RangerEV (for instance) uses an eMotor and interverter that came from a Ballard partnership.

    (See this topic, Hydrogen Highway Hits Dead End)

    To me it is rather bizarre watching how GM is trying to expose and hype the Volt right now. It seems like they are "engineering fans", and putting some marketing muscle behind a half-formed concept.

    By the way, would the Volt be the first "street legal" production vehicle in the USA using hub motors? I know Tesla stayed away from them saying that the unsprung weight and safety regulations made them less practical. So far all of the eFlex/Volt concepts I have seen use hub motors.
     
  15. Brent

    Brent Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2007
    Messages:
    242
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I wonder what range TM would be able to produce (by 2010-2011) in a car selling for $30,000.

    I really hope GM can delivers the car with the promised features. It's not perfect, but it will be another step towards helping us achieving the environmental and political goals many of us hope for.
     
  16. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2006
    Messages:
    1,091
    Location:
    Hamilton, Texas
    I've seen a few comments about that. But I think I've explained pretty clearly why that's not a fair comparison. Whether the general public will get it, I don't know.

    And I still think GM is making a huge mistake in referring to the Volt as a "range-extended electric car". They think they are being clever, but it will come back to haunt them.


    That's news to me. I haven't heard anything about them using hub motors.

    As far as I know, the Chevy Volt concept car was powered by a golf cart motor and a few lead-acid batteries, which is why it could barely move under its own power.
     
  17. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Messages:
    17,252
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2007/04/gm_unveils_seco.html

    "The Volt fuel cell variant also showcases GM’s two third-generation wheel hub motors, packaged inside the rear wheels to add torque for all-wheel electric drive capability. The new motor technology reduces mass and produces more power (25 kw and 500 Nm /368 lb-ft per motor) compared to the first generation shown in 2003."
     
  18. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Messages:
    17,252
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #18 TEG, Nov 25, 2007
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2007
  19. edwong3

    edwong3 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2007
    Messages:
    3
    Yes but...

    ...the piston engine, gas tank and exhaust system on the Volt would occupy less space than a 100% fuel car. However I agree with your assertion that they are probably optimizing the batteries for cycle life. Too bad ultra capacitor technology hasn't been fully developed yet:frown:

     
  20. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2006
    Messages:
    14,792
    Location:
    CA CA
    Don't leave out the effect of big advertising budgets. If the giant publicity machine of GM (and the other makers for that matter) would begin spinning and pushing the EV1 and it's ilk down our throats they would havel a lot more than the token amount of tree hugger sales. They need to convice much of the American public that this is the answer.

    Should be interesting to see what kind of money will be put onto the Ad campagian for the Volt. No matter how you slice it, they have an image problem. If this (green car) is good, then all their other cars are bad.

    This might be s good one for Lyle to ask the GM execs.
     

Share This Page