Tag: erev

By on November 2, 2010

OK, so the EMAV PRU (Electric Motors and Vehicle Company Power Regeneration Unit) isn’t expected to go on sale until sometime next year, but it’s one curious approach to the “range anxiety” problem that caused GM to develop the Volt as a range-extended EV rather than a pure battery-only EV. The PRU takes a simple concept, a trailer that can both store goods and generate 25kWh of electricity from a 750cc diesel engine in order to extend range, and makes it considerably more complicated than it needs to be. For one thing, it’s self-propelled, necessitating on-board lithium-ion batteries, as well as an electric drive unit.

As a result, the projected pricetag comes to a prohibitive $15,000, and the weight reaches an EV range-sapping 1,220 lbs. And for all that, wouldn’t a $15k hatchback make a better “range extender” than this cumbersome trailer? On the other hand, a trailer like this just might work as a rental item, offering a portable generator as well as range extension that its makers say will work with any electric car. But would something like this be more appealing as a simplified, lighter unit (non-self-propelled), or will add-on range extension always struggle to offer more for money than having a gas car as a compliment to an electric car? Given that American families typically have several cars anyway, the answer would appear to be yes… [via GM-volt.com]

By on October 25, 2010

For a vehicle named after a unit of measure, the Chevrolet Volt is a difficult car to pin down. From its drivetrain to its efficiency rating, the Volt defies categorization. From price point to performance, it defies comparison. It’s a rolling contradiction, this car, part electric car and part gas-burner, part high-concept moonshot and part workmanlike commuter. And yet for all its mysteries, contradictions and (yes) compromises, the Volt is also a deceptively simple car to use. Which makes it what exactly?

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By on October 12, 2010

If the recent flap over the Volt’s drivetrain has taught us anything it’s that A) GM’s internal-combustion-assisted plug-in is more complicated than we thought, and B) GM is fine with simplifying its complex reality in order to make it appear as attractive as possible. Which is just fine: they’re the ones trying to sell a $41k car, and as such they’re entitled to do what they can to make it seem worth its many shortcomings. What the automotive media needs to take away from the brou-ha-ha isn’t necessarily that GM’s hesitance to bring forward “the whole truth” is an intrinsically big deal (let’s just say this wasn’t the first time), but rather that knowledgeable writers should focus on explaining the Volt in ways that are both comprehensible and fully accurate. In this spirit, the most important question isn’t “what should we call the Volt?” but “how efficient is the Volt in the real world?”And on this point, there’s plenty of room for some truthful clarification.

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By on October 12, 2010

The autoblogosphere is agog at the revelation that the Volt’s gas engine occasionally powers its wheels. The GM-created “category” of Extended-Range Electric Vehicles (EREV, or E-REV) as uniquely epitomized by the Volt is suddenly revealed [by Motor Trend via GM] to

[have] more in common with a Prius (and other Toyota, Ford, or Nissan Altima hybrids) than anyone suspected.

So, why did the putative “Father of the Volt” (aka “Maximum” Bob Lutz) tell the car’s primary fan site gm-volt.com that the Volt was born because

My desire was to put an electric car concept out there to show the world that unlike the press reports that painted GM as an unfeeling uncaring squanderer of petroleum resources while wonderful Toyota was reinventing the automobile, I just wanted something on the show stand that would show that hey we’re not just thinking of a Prius hybrid here, we’re trying to get gasoline out of the equation entirely.


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By on October 11, 2010

As GM finally begins to let journalists drive its Chevy Volt, the two-year-long trickle of bad news about the project is turning into a raging torrent. The latest bit of bashing: InsideLine claims that, in direct contradiction to GM’s hype, the Volt is in fact powered by its gasoline engine under certain circumstances.

At the heart of the Volt is the “Voltec” propulsion system and the heart of Voltec is the “4ET50” electric drive unit that contains a pair of electric motors and a “multi-mode transaxle with continuously variable capacity.” This is how GM describes it:

“Unlike a conventional powertrain, there are no step gears within the unit, and no direct mechanical linkage from the engine, through the drive unit to the wheels.”

The 4ET50 is, however, in fact directly bolted to the 1.4-liter, four-cylinder Ecotec internal combustion engine. When the Volt’s lithium-ion battery pack runs down, clutches in the 4ET50 engage and the Ecotec engine is lashed to the generator to produce the electric power necessary to drive the car. However under certain circumstances — speeds near or above 70 mph — in fact the engine will directly drive the front wheels in conjunction with the electric motors.

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By on August 24, 2010

TTAC has a long, proud tradition of tearing into puffy automotive journalism, so it was not without a little trepidation that I wrote in the comments section of Michael Karesh’s excellent review of Zero To Sixty that

Toothless reporters put execs at their ease… which allows them to say naive or revealing things that toothy bloggers can then rip into. In a weird way, the worse the reporter, the better the reporting (as long as the quotes are then duly digested). As time goes on, I find myself more and more at peace with this evolving media food chain… and TTAC’s place in it.

To be clear, this is not an endorsement of toothless coverage per se, it’s just a pragmatic response to the reality that auto industry coverage will continue to be dominated by PR-approved puff. And this video provides yet more proof that non-threatening journalists are actually the most effective at snagging scoops, even if they’re totally unaware of said scoop. Which is where the bloggers come in.
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By on June 28, 2010

Accelerating up the motorway slip road, the Ampera charges hard and deceptively quickly up to 50mph, but by then the single-speed electric motor’s flat torque curve has begun a nose dive and acceleration at high speeds is poor.

The 0-62mph time of 9 seconds and top speed of 100mph are an indication of this – most family hatchbacks with that sort of sprint capability will have a top speed of nearer 130mph

The Telegraph‘s Andrew English lays into the Chevy Volt/Opel Ampera’s high-speed acceleration, in an early test drive on European roads. Apparently an Opel engineer was embarassed enough by the performance to tell English that

We are considering driving the wheels directly from the petrol engine


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By on June 23, 2010

The simplification of the automobile that’s set to take place with the transition to electric drivetrains is a troubling trend for the industry. As Bertel Schmitt has already explored, switching to electric drive could see component counts cut by as much as 90 percent, meaning the suppliers who build most of the components in modern cars are staring down a steep drop in their business. As Automotive News [sub] reports, even electric motors, which were once thought of as a growth area for suppliers looking to get in on the EV shift, are being largely built by OEMs, freezing suppliers out of potential growth. Toyota, Nissan and GM supply their own electric motors, leaving suppliers like Remy International behind in the dust. So how can suppliers stay competitive as EVs become more popular? Counter-intuitively, the answer may be gas-powered range extenders.

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By on May 14, 2010

Hybrid/electric cooperation between Volkswagen and Suzuki appears to be yielding fruit already, as the Japanese automaker is announcing a plug-in hybrid version of its Swift subcompact. According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the new plug-in will combine lithium-ion batteries supplied by Sanyo, paired with a 660cc three cylinder engine. An electric-only range of just under ten miles is being thrown around, after which the gas engine will apparently be used to generate electricity along the lines of GM’s Volt Extended-Range Electric concept. 60 test units of the plug-in Swift will be delivered to Japanese dealers for testing “later this year,” although official plans regarding when and where the vehicle will eventually go on sale have not yet been announced. Suzuki had previously said that one of the goals of its cooperation with VW was to develop electric vehicles for the Japanese market.

By on May 7, 2010

Bob Lutz may have left GM, but TTAC’s not through with the man of Maximum just yet. One quote in particular, from an “exit interview” with gm-volt.com, exemplifies the kind of candor that seems likely to disappear from GM along with Lutz. Possibly for good reasons. Well, good PR reasons, anyway. After all, with Lutz unable to deny that GM will lose money and/or battle sticker shock with its forthcoming Volt EREV, he’s the kind of guy who will tell the unspeakable truth instead of playing coy like a good PR man. To wit:

How do we get the cost down without in any way diminishing the value of the car in the eyes of the customer? By just doing some more elegant engineering than we did the first time around where we inadvertently did some belt and suspenders stuff because we wanted to move fast. Now as we look back at the car we say ‘gee I wish we’d done his different,’ …’ gee I wish we’d done that different’ because this is a very expensive solution and we could have done that for a lot less money.

That faint sound you just heard was Ed Whitacre expelling fillet of rattlesnake out his nose after reading that little nugget. Meanwhile, you’ve heard it from the horse’s mouth: the Mk.1 Volt will be expensive, unprofitable, and unpolished. Or, to use a PR term, “belt and suspenders.”

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By on April 28, 2010

Former EV-1 driver and “science guy” Bill Nye hams it up while promoting GM’s Volt Extended Range Electric Vehicle. And actually, according to a recent gm-volt.com interview with Bob Lutz, GM now prefers that you refer to the Volt as “an electric vehicle with range extension.” Huh? Sounds like they’re gonna need a science guy to break this one down…

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By on April 20, 2010

Patent drawings of what appears to be a compact/subcompact MPV bearing the Chevy Volt’s grille have surfaced at GMInsidenews, setting off much speculation as to what it all means. And boy is there room to speculate. Initial impressions are of a Chevy Orlando/Buick Granite with a Volt-alike grille, but upon closer inspection the line drawings appear to show a smaller vehicle. After all, Orlando is supposed to offer a seven passenger option, and it’s hard to imagine sitting aft of those rear doors. And yet the Volt drivetrain was built around GM’s Delta II platform, which underpins both the Orlando and Granite (in concept); why would GM downsize its expensive EREV to the Aveo’s Gamma II platform before building out Delta II variants?

(Read More…)

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