Letterman Mocks and Calls "Insane" Chevy Volt in Elon Musk (Tesla) Interview

Jeff Puthuff
by Jeff Puthuff

Dave: “The Volt has a range of forty miles. That’ll get you down the driveway and back.”

Elon: “Yeah.”


Jeff Puthuff
Jeff Puthuff

Early 30s California guy driving a 97 Infiniti I30. Past cars: 90 Cavalier, 82 Skylark, 78 Courier, 61 Beetle.

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  • T2 T2 on May 01, 2009

    Elon Musk came unstuck when he was persuaded to use a motor of half the size actually needed. The original electric motor was indeed able to deliver the 0 to 60mph ramp in 4 secs but it needed the complete 13,500 rpms that were available. To achieve the 130mph top end the intention was to use a two ratio gearbox. In which case changing gear meant going from a 14.4 ratio to a 7.4 ratio. The input at this crucial point in time is a mass of copper and iron rotating at 13,500 rpm. Gearheads here will recognise this as quite some feat had they been able to pull it off. As it turned out there would need to be an extensive research program to overcome the significant reliability issues encountered !! I understand they have now dropped the top speed requirement to 120mph and are using a larger motor with higher current semiconductor devices together with a single fixed ratio gearbox to make this a successful design. The GM's Volt is a completely different kettle of fish. First they should have resurrected the EV1 so they would have a platform on which to characterise their Li-ion battery pack. Second they should have experimented with a pure series hybrid platform. Hybrid in the sense that mechanical power is converted to electrical for superior powertrain flexibility. Third they spec out a 120mph top speed. This, obviously, is a marketing decision. A decision like this stresses the acceleration performance when dealing with fixed ratio drives as the Tesla fiasco revealed. The 100 mph Prius being the target, I would have set the Volt to a 85-90mph limit, since every reduction here will help improve the 0 to 60mph figures down below. Finally both these platforms would use an EV1 style single induction motor power train to cut costs. When it came to the series hybrid layout GM mistakenly selected a conventional automobile engine. It is unsuited to this type of duty but that's what they did. Consider that the electrical generator should be - as in the Prius - a robust concoction of fixed magnets on the rotor nesting inside a stator with a stationary winding not unlike that of a conventional car alternator. Such a machine will optimally require low torque and higher rpms. In fact considerably high rpms approaching peak power. Therefore you need the appropriate prime mover which in this case would take the form of something closer to a motorcycle engine, as someone mentioned before. Not that anyone here is likely to call me out on this but the hybrid would require an electronic inverter for the traction motor that would accept an input of a very wide range of bus voltage ranging from 100 to 650 Vdc but fortunately testing of this type of design can be conducted outside of an automobile setting. It is of course unrealistic to expect a TV celeb to be aware of any of these issues particularly on late night television. I remember Dennis Miller on one occasion quoting that he wouldn't drive a Prius "smug-mobile" unless it was fitted with a V8 engine. I would think Letterman would be more credible if he could find guests to comment on the future of television which is also in financial trouble. In Canada we have the Global Canwest network which is $4B in debt and has just sold off three of its 'A' channel holdings in the local television market. The Financial Post newspaper has announced it is eliminating its Monday edition to save on newsprint costs. I wonder just how Letterman's advertisers are going to react when they learn that terrestial TV transmitters are to be shut down after midnight to save on their electricity costs also ! T2

  • Lewissalem Lewissalem on May 01, 2009

    Meanwhile Jay Leno comes to the Detroit area to put on a free show for the struggling workers. He gets it. Letterman's ignorance is painful to watch.

  • Rev Junkie Rev Junkie on May 01, 2009

    Dave Letterman is such a douche. First off, the Volt has more than a 40 mile range. That's just with the engine off. And the electric car was just too slow and had too little range to be practical 20 years ago, and the battery technology was the same simple lead-acid battery. He's also a crappy comedian, at the time just before I could stomach no more of him, half of the punchlines were "George Bush is an idiot", and look at how Elon Musk is pretending to laugh at his retarded jokes.

  • Anonymous Anonymous on May 02, 2009

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