Volt Birth Watch 17: It's the Batteries, Stupid

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams

At the risk of flagellating the proverbial deceased equine, the Volt's development team is falling right in step with what Rick Wagoner is saying about its possibility of seeing a showroom floor in 2010 (well, DUH!). Lyle Dennis, editor of www.gm-volt.com (no affiliation with GM) asked Rob Peterson, spokesman for the E-Flex development team, what he thought about all the negative press surrounding Rick's recent reneging. "I think people are reading more into this than what's really there. Program timing for the Volt has not changed, nor has our commitment to this program." But, taking a page from the boss' playbook, he added, "we continue to work aggressively toward our 2010 internal target, but that date is dependent on the availability of battery technology…. Only through rigorous testing of the battery…will we be able to accurately determine where we are in the development of the battery and the ultimate production date of the Volt." So there you have it: it's all about the batteries. And when they don't make their originally proclaimed date for whatever reason, they have an excuse already prepackaged and waiting on the shelf. Pretty convenient, huh?

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  • KixStart KixStart on Jan 08, 2008

    Redbarchetta, it could be that you're being too hard on GM in this case. The Altairnano battery's claim to fame is a super-high charge/discharge rate. The Volt doesn't need that; it only needs a GOOD charge/discharge rate plus REALLY GOOD energy density (both by mass and unit volume). It's not clear that Altairnano's battery offers those things. Oh, and GM needs reasonable cost and near-term availability in mass quantities. So, they have to go with something that's in a fairly advanced state of development. However, if you want to laugh at GM for celebrating the "birthday" of a car that doesn't exist... well, by all means, do.

  • Redbarchetta Redbarchetta on Jan 08, 2008

    Me hard on GM, never, ok maybe most of the time. And I will admit to being an electrical idiot. All I know is I don't like Li-ion batteries in my cell, mp3 player or laptop. But I hate the fact that GM is making excuses and putting the blame on the battery providers when just a few months ago they said Toyota would have egg on their face because Lutz 'knew' his new untested battery was going to do that job. I get tired of the constant lies and spin that come out of this company because the general pubic believes it and rarely hear the truth months later.

  • DaPope DaPope on Jan 08, 2008

    Ok, I've got a question for anyone with the patience: Do the potential batteries for these Cars of the Future (e.g. the Volt) need to be drained before the next charge in an effort to not to build a poor 'memory'? I know that in a lot of equipment with rechargeable batteries this is an issue. And, if this is the case, I guess we're screwed if we suddenly need to go to the hospital, or Sonic, if we just drained it dry and it is just starting to charge (during a time when the car is usually idle)? Thanks in advance. -C

  • David C. Holzman David C. Holzman on Jan 08, 2008
    KixStart: The Altairnano battery’s claim to fame is a super-high charge/discharge rate. The Volt doesn’t need that; it only needs a GOOD charge/discharge rate plus REALLY GOOD energy density (both by mass and unit volume). It’s not clear that Altairnano’s battery offers those things. This is a really interesting point (one I should have thought of myself) and one has to wonder if they could have done better with Li ion. With the series hybrid, they don't need much range, and a cooling method for the battery pack would probably be a lot cheaper than it is for Tesla.