Chevy Volt: Where Is GM's Electric Car?

  • Published on January 14th, 2008 by
 

ChevyVolt

During the frenzy of PR announcements yesterday, I had the opportunity to sit down with Tony Posawatz, Vehicle Line Director for GM’s Chevy Volt. If you aren’t familiar with the Volt, here’s a short introduction: it’s a plug-in electric hybrid vehicle, capable of 40 mile trips before relying on a small internal-combustion generator to repower the battery system. For more background, see Jeff’s posts from last year (Will GM Revive the Electric Car? Part 1).

Here’s a summary of our 10 minute conversation (believe me, I had to be torn away from this interview):

What major issues are keeping the Volt from an earlier release date (I’ve been told 2010):

Posawatz: GM is relatively certain it will be the first auto manufacturer to produce a plug-in hybrid model (regardless of the actual release date), but we want it to be right. The two major factors holding back the Volt’s release are extensive testing requirements and lithium ion battery technology. The batteries aren’t cheap, and they’re produced out of country. They also require extensive testing both in and out of the car before things go into production. Basically, GM won’t release the Volt until it’s proven safe and the batteries work.





The Lithium Ion Batteries:

Posawatz: GM has been pursuing battery technology from two different partnerships with two different chemistries: lithium ion phosphate batteries from the same group that manufactures Black and Decker, and lithium manganese batteries from from another supplier. GM looked at 27 different battery companies before choosing to work with these two, and it’s important to understand that not all lithium ion battery technology is equal. For example, Tesla Motors is using the same type of battery that you would find in a laptop, but GM decided to take a different route to avoid the prohibitive cost of this system.

What about battery recycling after their reported 10-year lifespan?

Posawatz: After 10 years, the batteries still have 80% of their capability intact. GM hopes to swap the batteries out for use in a secondary market, such as backup power stations or some other use.

Could you expand on the ‘range extender’ that uses ethanol or biodiesel?

Posawatz: The Volt will have a range extender that uses an onboard internal combustion generator to repower the battery system. The generator will be either gas or diesel powered, meaning it can run on either E85 or biodiesel.

See Also:  How to Get Infinity MPG: Fisker’s Eco-Chic Karma vs Chevy Volt





About the Author

In a past life, Clayton was a professional blogger and editor of Gas 2.0, Important Media’s blog covering the future of sustainable transportation. He was also the Managing Editor for GO Media, the predecessor to Important Media.

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  • Viva Volt! I might as well go with the flow, in this case… it is a step in the very right direction. Now all we need to do is convince the American people (which includes me) that the “American Dream” is not home ownership, or car ownership, but the ability to discover the greatest life of fulfillment without persecution, and with respect for the planet. This would entail, as I see it, less consumerism and more caring… but look, the Volt is a step in the right direction. That is where I will stop.

  • Viva Volt! I might as well go with the flow, in this case… it is a step in the very right direction. Now all we need to do is convince the American people (which includes me) that the “American Dream” is not home ownership, or car ownership, but the ability to discover the greatest life of fulfillment without persecution, and with respect for the planet. This would entail, as I see it, less consumerism and more caring… but look, the Volt is a step in the right direction. That is where I will stop.

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  • Mike

    What is the expected MSRP of the Volt?

  • Mike

    What is the expected MSRP of the Volt?

  • I think GM’s Flex Fuel SUV’s are a pathetic joke. The company is losing 1 billion dollars a month and they aren’t doing shit to save the company(eg. make better cars that get 40mpg that ppl will drive) Just like the banks they feel we should “bail them out” Fuck GM, let those greedy bastards starve. If my company was near bankruptcy there isn’t a goddamn thing they government would do about it, what makes banks or GM any different. Don’t even get me started on the Oil companies, or the CFR or how the banks and oil company’s have paid off lobbyist to “speed up” the bailout, must have been a coincidence this happened right before election. I wish more “Americans” would start thinking for themselves and stop believing all the propaganda from Cnn, Fox,MSnbc, etc. If GM truly wanted to be saved they would have done so by now. They’re expecting a handout and are making the company go under intentionally.

  • I think GM’s Flex Fuel SUV’s are a pathetic joke. The company is losing 1 billion dollars a month and they aren’t doing shit to save the company(eg. make better cars that get 40mpg that ppl will drive) Just like the banks they feel we should “bail them out” Fuck GM, let those greedy bastards starve. If my company was near bankruptcy there isn’t a goddamn thing they government would do about it, what makes banks or GM any different. Don’t even get me started on the Oil companies, or the CFR or how the banks and oil company’s have paid off lobbyist to “speed up” the bailout, must have been a coincidence this happened right before election. I wish more “Americans” would start thinking for themselves and stop believing all the propaganda from Cnn, Fox,MSnbc, etc. If GM truly wanted to be saved they would have done so by now. They’re expecting a handout and are making the company go under intentionally.

  • Anonymous

    The plug-in hybrid is better than electric-only because it does not require homeownership while the EV does. The condo owner or renter can use the plug-in hybrid but loses the benefit of the plug-in feature. (actually the renter does get the benefit of self-rescue if they run out of gas!)

    As a renter, if I could afford a plug-in hybrid I would due to the breakdown self-rescue feature of the enlarged battery pack. But as a renter the EV does me no good. I seriously doubt employers will set up chargers for employees and many will fire you if you try it as “theft of company property”. There are a LOT of backward greedy employers!

    By the way, the EV has another hidden problem. If the homeowner gets foreclosed on, he has only one last charge!Unless they buy a gasoline generator to install in the trunk. (the only way a renter can use an EV)

  • Anonymous

    The plug-in hybrid is better than electric-only because it does not require homeownership while the EV does. The condo owner or renter can use the plug-in hybrid but loses the benefit of the plug-in feature. (actually the renter does get the benefit of self-rescue if they run out of gas!)

    As a renter, if I could afford a plug-in hybrid I would due to the breakdown self-rescue feature of the enlarged battery pack. But as a renter the EV does me no good. I seriously doubt employers will set up chargers for employees and many will fire you if you try it as “theft of company property”. There are a LOT of backward greedy employers!

    By the way, the EV has another hidden problem. If the homeowner gets foreclosed on, he has only one last charge!Unless they buy a gasoline generator to install in the trunk. (the only way a renter can use an EV)

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