Wednesday, July 23, 2008


General Motors Spawns a Super Hero to Save The World!

Will the Chevy Volt save the General? To be blunt - it has to.

"TheGMSource - If we can cut through all of the bad news that GM plans to close 4 large truck plants and increase production of small cars we learn that the Chevrolet Volt concept has been approved for production. Rick Wagoner made the announcement today at the GM shareholder meetings in Wilmington, Delaware. In addition to the announcement that the Volt is a go, it was revealed that the Volt will be produced at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck facility that currently produces the Buick Lucerne and Cadillac DTS. The Volt will be in GM showrooms before the end of 2010 available for retail sale. "We believe it's the biggest step yet in our industry's move away from its historic, nearly complete reliance upon petroleum to power vehicles," he said. "We believe the Volt is an important investment for the future of our company and our shareholders."
Source: ChevyVoltForum (Josh E. Oliver)

What is the Chevy Volt?
The Volt is radically different than any car on the road today. Although agreement about definitions vary, GM doesn’t not consider it a hybrid. Current hybrids cars, such as the Prius, are defined as parallel hybrids, meaning they have a small electric motor that moves the car when it is going slowly, but when speed or acceleration increases, a gasoline motor kicks in. The Volt, however, is considered an extended-range electric vehicle (E-REV). It has a very powerful all-electric 161-horsepower 45KW (100 KW peak) motor that is the only engine to power the car at all times. This engine should be capable of moving the car from 0 to 60 in 8.5 seconds, and have a top speed of at least 100 mph.

The electric engine gets its power from a very powerful high-voltage battery pack that can store enough energy to drive the car up to 40 miles in standard driving conditions. That battery pack is recharged by plugging the car into your home 110 (or 220) volt wall outlet, just like you do your iPod or cell phone. The full-charge cycle should take about 6 hours (3 hours at 220). Yes, this will increase your electric bill, but you will charge the car overnight when rates are lower. Much more importantly, you will need NO GASOLINE for drives up to 40 miles. So, if gas prices continue to go through the roof, you really won’t care. In most areas, your electricity costs should amount to a gas equivalent price of 50 cents per gallon. Studies suggest that 78% of drivers drive less than 40 miles per day. SOURCE

The Volt's gas engine does not engage the vehicle's transmission in any way. In fact is runs at a single RPM thus maximizing efficiency and economy. It could also be called a generator. When the batteries are nearing depletion the gas engine will automatically turn on and start charging the batteries. It is estimated that the gas engine will attain 50 miles per gallon.

Bob Lutz, GM's head cheerleader for the Volt is betting the future of an American icon - the Bow Tie symbol - on the Volt. GM has been surprised by the reaction to the Volt. There is a real clamoring in America for a change from the petrol based shackles and that a solution could be coming from an American manufacturer is all the more satisfying. But... They need to get it right - and they need to have it soon!

I worry about the price - if they wait to optimize the technology from a price point stance they will undoubtedly lose to Toyota or Honda like they did with the hybrids. A 2010 debut is a must and therefore the hopes of a sub $30,000 price is unlikely. The price will come down with subsequent model years but GM needs this victory now.

Is this GM's moon shot?
LUTZ: GM's credibility is rapidly returning and it's beginning to be reflected in the marketplace. But there is no doubt you'd like to be able to leapfrog Toyota and come out with a car they aren't ready to do. There's nothing magic about the technology. Two or three years after the Volt is introduced, everybody will have something like it. We'd just like to be first for once.

I don't think it would be a vast overstatement to say the Volt is in many ways symbolic of a renaissance in the American auto industry. If we pull it off successfully, it can really put us back at the top of the heap of automotive technology instead of being called laggards that are being left behind by the Germans and the Japanese.

The company is so focused on it; we have more than 300 people working on this, and we're hiring more and entering into some interesting collaborative research opportunities with several universities.

Being a GM guy I am really pulling for them. I will seriously consider buying one of these when the price comes down a little. $30,000 + is a little more than I would spend for a car, any car.