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.
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.
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.