Volt Birth Watch 92: Lithium Ion Reality Check
In all this heady Volt-o-mania, it should be remembered that GM is trying to boldly go where no lithium-ion battery has gone before. The vehicle’s success (i.e. its ability to live-up to the performance-related hype perpetrated its corporate shills) depends entirely on its li-ion battery pack’s ability to hold a suitable charge, discharge that charge, recharge that charge, and do so for a good long time, without losing its ability to charge, discharge and recharge appropriately. A Reuters article [via Planet Ark] kinda makes you wonder about all that… “Among the challenges to overcome are extending the life of high-power lithium batteries and bringing down their relatively high cost, Tien Duong of the US Department of Energy said on the sidelines of a lithium battery conference held at this government laboratory. ‘Life means 10 years, plus. For hybrids we know (their batteries) last 10 years plus. For the PHEV (plug-in electric vehicle), we don’t know… One of the phenomenons that cuts short the life of the battery is power. You may have a lot of energy, but if you run out of power, that’s no good.'” You might even say it’s bad. Speaking of which, “Toyota is making quite an effort to build a lithium-ion battery,” Toyota’s Noboru Kikuchi told the attendees. “Simply giving up nickel metal hydride batteries seems like a bad idea.” And so they’re not going to do it. [thanks to JT for the link]
The tech to manage a battery is available on a $20 battery charger from Harbor Freight. Nothing to crow about. If the Pious has just gotten this ability, then they're a bit late. Then Japan has always relied on dated but tried tech in I.C.E.'s so what's new here? And , even the toy industry can manage Li-Ion batteries. The R/C cars have had this tech for years now. Their chargers for racing Li-ion cars are really pretty advanced, and from the U.S. GM has always been technology over rich in their vehicles, believe me. The general public has no idea how controls intensive the Tahoe Hybrid really is. It rivals machines 10 times more costly, in computing capability. What is visible to the consumer is simple user interface. If there is a way, to utilize the Li-ion tech, it's going to come from the U.S.
monkeyboy: "GM has always been technology over rich in their vehicles, believe me. The general public has no idea how controls intensive the Tahoe Hybrid really is. It rivals machines 10 times more costly, in computing capability." Retort #1... Well, there's the justification of the Tahoe hybrid's $55K MSRP... GM packs the computing power of a roomful of Xeon servers into each and every one. In addition to its other advantages, your new Tahoe hybrid can run all your web apps. No propellerhead should be without one. Retort #2... You mean it rivals the computing capability of a machine (the Prius) which is available for about 40% of the Tahoe hybrid's price. Yes, the Prius solves the same basic problems for a fraction of the cost. Either way, GM's sold perhaps 3K of these beasts this year, so it's no big deal whether the Tahoe hybrid works well or not. The recent price promotion and rebate finally moved another one off the local Chevy lot after 4 months sitting out in the weather. The Prius, by comparison, sells really fast. I know which dealer I'd prefer to be.
monkeyboy: “GM has always been technology over rich in their vehicles, believe me. The general public has no idea how controls intensive the Tahoe Hybrid really is. It rivals machines 10 times more costly, in computing capability.” Tahoe is a limited quantity vehicle group to start debugging the tech. GM limits exposure of MTBF and corrects it before it hits the VOLT. GM better treat those pissed off rich people real good.
blindfaith: "Tahoe is a limited quantity vehicle group to start debugging the tech." When does this limited volume test/debugging pre-production business end for GM? The Tahoe hybrid was introduced in late 2007. They sell a few hundred a month. The BAS system vehicles... also practically zilch for volume, introduced in 2007. One could count the weird-oh BAS Silverado from 2006 or so (limited geographically for some sort of CARB-type benefit - I'm not sure they sold any). Announced Volt volume for 2011 is 10K. That's 3 years from now. The Saturn Vue two-mode hybrid is promised for 2009. In volume? I wouldn't bet on it. Memo to GM: The hybrid era started in 1997. Toyota stated the Prius was selling at a profit in late 2002. The time for experimenting is over. Look at GM's financials... they can't afford to screw around with expensive low-volume, admittedly unprofitable cars that may be likely to fail expensively inside the warranty period; they need high volume cars that they can sell for decent margins.