Volt Birth Watch 45: "I Can Almost Say the Battery is the Least of Our Problems"

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
volt birth watch 45 i can almost say the battery is the least of our problems

Would it be churlish of us to suggest that GM Car Czar's Volt-related pronouncement is the most unintentionally ironic statement we've ever heard? Never mind then. Anyway, in a characteristic burst of unbridled bravado optimism, Maximum Bob Lutz is declaring a major victory in his employer's efforts to kick Toyota's ass with the electric – gas hybrid Chevrolet Volt. "Today is the first day [Volt drivetrain mules are] running on the street on battery power," Maximum Bob proudly told Edmunds Auto Observer. What's more, GM's Hail-Mary-on-wheels is "reliably meeting its objectives. Even with a rough calibration, even with the wrong drive unit, the wrong body, etc. etc., it has been hitting its 40 miles on electric power." Hey, who put the wrong drive unit on this thing? Anyway, the winner of TTAC's 2008 Bob Lutz Award didn't mention the speed used to achieve this triumph, and Edmunds didn't ask (surprise!). But who's quibbling– other than us? And we're just glad Bob's back to trash-talking the press and Toyota. Bob says the Volt [test] triumph shows "the fallibility of Toyota and the American press, which is totally enamored with Toyota… When we say lithium-ion is good and Toyota says they don't trust them and they are unproven, people say we're taking a huge risk." Huh? Toyota has already announced that lithium ion cells will power the plug-in Prius as of 2010. Oh right, we forget stick to the spin. Sorry, we were too busy gazing longing at all things Toyota.

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4 of 18 comments
  • Bunter1 Bunter1 on May 16, 2008

    Well, since Mark Verbrugge at GM wants to test the batteries for 3-4 years there are still many questions. Really though, what is the big deal with running a car 40 mi on electricity? People do that with garage builds. I have not doubted that the Volt can meet it's performance goals. They aren't that tough. The real questions have been, and remain, how much $$$ and when. The stance of Mark V. at (director of)GM Materials shows us that it can't happen RESPONSIBLY before 2011-12. So much for when. The price question is open but GMs estimates have continued to go up and independant scientific opinion is not encouraging. Bunter

  • Gamper Gamper on May 16, 2008

    I think that the debate about Toyota's hybrid vs. GM's was aimed more at Parellel vs. Series hybrid. Toyota of course claims Parellel is the only solution and a series hybrid is stupid and impossible. I dont think anyone would really disagree that L-Ion is the future regardless of the drive system.

  • AES AES on May 16, 2008

    The plug-in Prius currently being demoed has a 13km all-electric range. That's 8miles. What's more, it will be for limited release to fleets only. That said, the series-vs.parallel debate WAS the one that spawned the official Toy line that the kind of batteries GM was after were "theoretical" and that people's shouldn't get all excited: http://blog.toyota.com/2007/09/hybrid-tech-par.html From Toy's official blog: Yes, there was a high-profile showing of a series-hybrid prototype called the Chevrolet Volt at the Detroit auto show last January. But keep in mind that the advanced lithium-ion batteries that the Volt would use, batteries suitable for the long-term rigors of every-day automotive use, don’t exist. Indeed, several firms are working hard on perfecting them for automotive use. But for now, the 40 miles between charges that the Volt’s engineers talk about, and that have so many people fired up, are purely theoretical. In fact, when the first Volt prototype hits the road next year, its engineers say that it will be capable of no more than 10 miles between charges. So the original TTAC post (which has since been edited I notice) was a bit off-target and skewed the context of Lutz's comment, which were, I think, a reasonable defense of GM's progress on the Volt.

  • Johnson Johnson on May 18, 2008
    The plug-in Prius currently being demoed has a 13km all-electric range. That’s 8miles. What’s more, it will be for limited release to fleets only. Once again, that Prius is nothing but a prototype. Once again, this prototype will NOT be the same as the *production* plug-in Prius we will be getting with li-ion batteries. This prototype uses NiMH batteries.