Volt Birth Watch 37: Believe! (Sneak Peek)

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Detroit News columnist Scott Burgess has picked-up the proverbial pom-poms on the Chevy Volt's behalf, cheerleading with Nietzschean abandon. "To the hundreds of people working double shifts around the world to make the Volt a reality, every disparaging comment is fodder for the bulletin board. It doesn't defeat them, it inspires them. Somehow, one of the world's largest automakers, facing declining market share, especially in the United States, has a new-found swagger." While it's nice to know that our Volt Birth Watch is doing its bit to help General Motors git 'er done, the word "swagger" sets off that big honking air-horn buzzer they use for basketball games. And if that doesn't do it, GM PR is pushing GM Car Czar Bob Lutz' "challenges of success" story line TTAC identified at its New York Auto Show infiltration: "Thousands more problems could creep up as one solution presents another obstacle. For example, in a car that may not run its gas engine for months at a time, how would GM design it to withstand long periods not running. That also means the gas tank would need special attention to handle fumes normally burnt off by running the engine. 'It's a good problem to have,' Gray said." Meanwhile… "'If I was preparing to produce this car by 2010, I'd be picking out the wood grain on the dashboard by now, not still working on the battery,'" Bill Reinert, national manager of Toyota Motor Corp.'s advanced technology group, told the Los Angeles Times."[thanks to RobKubler for the link]

Robert Farago
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  • Paul Niedermeyer Paul Niedermeyer on Apr 04, 2008
    jolo: So is the ICE just a large generator that should be able to pump enough juice to run the car at highway speeds AND charge up the battery in a reasonable time, all at the same time? Is this correct? Anyone know? The generator creates enough juice to run the car when the batteries run down. Normally, it won't also re-charge the batteries too, because that would negate the benefit of it being plug-in (electricity is cheaper from the plug that the generator).
  • SloStang SloStang on Apr 04, 2008
    I’m curious about the ICE and its use in the Volt. It’s supposed to be used to recharge the batteries. While the car is moving. Which means it will be using juice from the batteries. Which is coming from the ICE. So is the ICE just a large generator that should be able to pump enough juice to run the car at highway speeds AND charge up the battery in a reasonable time, all at the same time? That's my understanding. I recall reading something about it taking about 30 minutes to recharge the battery while driving, so on a long trip the engine would be running about half the time. It's an interesting concept. Since the engine is only running a generator, it never has to run at idle or part throttle, which is where engines are least efficient. So the inefficiencies in generating electricity and charging a battery are somewhat offset by the engine operating at peak efficiency all the time.
  • Stein X Leikanger Stein X Leikanger on Apr 04, 2008

    @Paul Stein: Remind me again, what’s cutting edge about the Volt? It’s just a variation on HSD, with some actual unnecessaries added. Actually, it’s not. It’s essentially an electric vehicle (EV) with an on-board generator (serial hybrid). That is very different than Toyota’s HSD. Not necessarily better, depending on the useage cycle and other criteria. But the demands on the batteries (to drive the vehicle all-electric for 40 miles) is no comparison to the current Prius and HSD. That’s the big challenge: the batteries. Yes - the batteries. Actually, what GM have lined up will work fine, if they eliminated the self-regeneration part -- particularly if they envision that the gas portion of the equation could be "not running for months." Adding all those variations on the theme is also adding a lot of weight to this vehicle. Lithium-Ion does distinguish it from the Toyota HSD, but then l-ion is proving to be quite a problem as automotive juice, not just for GM. Again - let's hope it works out -- not holding my breath, though.

  • L47_V8 L47_V8 on Apr 05, 2008
    gawdodirt : April 4th, 2008 at 11:51 am ” Mr. Lickanger, Please elaborate. Define ‘very efficient fuel cell hybrid.’ Throw some facts out here. The GM is, I beleive, on an Equinox platform, also a 5 seater. And the Two Mode Hybrid is a really nice package!. The transition is seamless. I’ve driven it and the Prius and there’s no comparison. Other high end manufacturers bought in to the Allison drive, not the HSD. Yeah. Can't get much more high-end than Chrysler and their yet-to-be-released Aspen/Durango quasi-hybrids. As reported here a while back, Daimler and BMW are cutting their losses on the pointlessly expensive/complex two-mode system. Only GM has real faith in it.