Volt Birth Watch 36: New Design!

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
volt birth watch 36 new design

We've been flagging the fact that the sexy (to some) prototype electric – gas plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt failed its wind tunnel test by a mile. In other words, it will NOT look like the chopped roof show car still trotted-out at auto shows and featured heavily in GM's ads. (TTAC ME Frank Williams is convinced it'll look like a squished Malibu.) The Detroit News reports that "Larry Burns, GM's vice president for research and development, said that aspect of the vehicle's development is officially complete. But a group of reporters and analysts from around the country who will converge in Warren today won't likely get to actually see the car's design, even though they're in town for the latest news on GM's ambitious attempt to build an electrically driven car for the masses." Go on, give us a clue… "Designing the Volt was especially tricky because GM needed to fit a battery pack 'the size of a linebacker' into a car essentially the size of a Chevrolet Cobalt, with enough room for four passengers to fit comfortably inside, Burns said." Another one! "The finished Volt will bear a 'clear family resemblance' to the sporty vehicle initially shown at last year's Detroit auto show, Burns said. 'But it won't be a twin.'" TTAC will pay $500 for an exclusive first picture of the new Volt.

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  • Engineer Engineer on Apr 03, 2008
    However, can we logically expect any of them to produce the equivalent of 90 million barrels of oil per day, which is the approximate daily demand world-wide? Probably not, not in the short term anyway. But it looks like oil prices shot up as spare capacity dropped from 4-5 million bpd to 2 million, or less. So putting another 3-5 million bpd out there might make a big difference, at leasts as far as price goes. Saving the environment would have to wait a few years... I suspect the answer is a resounding no, and even if yes, it won’t be for $100/boe. Well, that would be the (nothing works) worst case scenario. Somewhere between 90 million bpd @ $100/boe and 9 million bpd @ $1,000/boe lies a future equilibrium. How much would you pay to drive? Or, to put it differently, how much would you "need to" drive @ $25/gal?

  • Paul Niedermeyer Paul Niedermeyer on Apr 03, 2008
    akitadog: I’ve kind of wondered why GM doesn’t release the Volt in two steps. First, as a simple engine-as-generator vehicle that powers the electrical motors directly, like in diesel trains. Contrary to popular belief, that's not as efficient as connecting the engine to the wheels mechanically. That's what makes the Prius efficient at speed. The only reason big locomotives are diesel-electric is because it's very difficult and maintenance intensive to have mechanical drive to the wheels. Also, electric drive makes wheel-slip easier to control. The Germans made diesel-hydraulic drive locomotives, and they were more efficient, but too maintenance-intensive. The Volt will be less efficient once it's running on the generator than the equivalent Prius running mechanical drive to the wheels. Stay tuned for a full article comparing the two.

  • Bozoer Rebbe Bozoer Rebbe on Apr 03, 2008

    Paul, I believe that the efficiency of serial hybrids in part comes from the fact that the combustion engine driving the generator is run at its most efficient rpm, at a steady state. ICEs have one speed that is most efficient. It's true that a direct mechanical drive has fewer energy losses than a generator system. I guess real world testing will show which system is ultimately more efficient. As for combustion/hydraulic hybrids, Dana is working on such a system for the military. The idea is to store energy in a hydraulic system that can be used for acceleration as well as recover energy from braking. The various Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems being proposed for F1 may also eventually have real world relevance.

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Apr 07, 2008

    Why not just develop the technology and apply it to an existing smallish vehicle (Opels anyone) and save all the cosmetic development costs of the Volt? Added benefit - the system would likely be modular and could be applied to more than one of the GM products.