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Published on May 27th, 2009 | by Frank Weber

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How GM is Making Electric Vehicles Relevant

Editor’s Note: Frank Weber is the Global Electric Vehicle Development Executive for General Motors. Here he discusses the Chevy Volt and the future of transportation. This post was written for Gas 2.0 and reposted at the GM FastLane Blog.

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A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak at EVS 24 in Norway about extended-range electric vehicles (E-REVs). Attendees and presenters were some of the brightest minds from around the world working to make electric vehicles an everyday reality, but frankly, I sensed many of those minds think electric vehicle development is better suited to small, entrepreneurial companies, some with little or no automotive experience.

There seems to be in the minds of many some sort of inherent conflict between being a large, traditional automaker and the ability to develop cars of the future.

I couldn’t disagree more with that sentiment, and GM is on a mission to prove it.

Developing electric vehicles is no longer a nice little “green” story; it’s absolutely crucial if we are to alleviate our dependence on petroleum. Electric vehicles aren’t simply for niche markets; they are the future of a sustainable global automotive industry.

There are nearly 1 billion vehicles using petroleum on the road today. If we are going to make a difference in reducing our dependence on petroleum, GM and other automakers must offer large volume production solutions. Hand-built vehicles may capture the imagination of some, but we need millions of cars to truly address this global issue.

At GM, we have a level of product research, testing and development as well as a supplier network that is unmatched. When you consider the very real distribution, volume and quality issues some of the smaller start-ups have experienced, it’s hard for me to see how they are better equipped than us to deliver the volumes necessary for real change.

But the real key to making electric vehicles a success is to make them relevant for consumers.

Customers expect more out of their vehicles than ever before, so a relevant EV must be capable of being your primary vehicle. Although it would be nice to have a commuter car for the daily drive to work, a family hauler for recreational activities and a roadster to go cruising whenever the urge strikes, very few people have their own fleet of purpose-built vehicles – nor should they for environmental reasons!

We realize that some people can get by with just one of these choices, but we’d rather you didn’t have to settle.

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  • Brett

    I agree with everything you said but I believe there are other issues.

    Having two motors on a car vs. one invites an opportunity for one to suffer from inefficiencies. With two motors the energy required to obtain gasoline, convert it to electricity and then make the car move is not as efficient as merely using electricity to move the car only.

    While you point out well that the Volt overcomes any range anxiety issues, and reduces battery expenses, an improved battery will someday in the future clearly overcome these obstacles and ‘replace’ the range extending vehicles. It also is preferable for several reasons to have one motor, not two.

    Until that happens, the Volt is an excellent car and I would be thrilled to own one. I consider the Volt a great bridge technology.

  • Brett

    I agree with everything you said but I believe there are other issues.

    Having two motors on a car vs. one invites an opportunity for one to suffer from inefficiencies. With two motors the energy required to obtain gasoline, convert it to electricity and then make the car move is not as efficient as merely using electricity to move the car only.

    While you point out well that the Volt overcomes any range anxiety issues, and reduces battery expenses, an improved battery will someday in the future clearly overcome these obstacles and ‘replace’ the range extending vehicles. It also is preferable for several reasons to have one motor, not two.

    Until that happens, the Volt is an excellent car and I would be thrilled to own one. I consider the Volt a great bridge technology.

  • Tim Cleland

    I’m all for anything that helps the US use our own abundant natural energy resources: coal, natural gas, hydro, solar and wind (biofuels would be nice too, if we could make them economically competitive).

    I’d prefer if we could have a higher percentage of solar and wind right now in our electricity generation, but the electric car could very well be the vehicle (pardon the pun) that drives the market in that direction. After all, the more electricity your lifestyle uses, the more quickly you will get a return on

    investment from going solar.

  • Tim Cleland

    I’m all for anything that helps the US use our own abundant natural energy resources: coal, natural gas, hydro, solar and wind (biofuels would be nice too, if we could make them economically competitive).

    I’d prefer if we could have a higher percentage of solar and wind right now in our electricity generation, but the electric car could very well be the vehicle (pardon the pun) that drives the market in that direction. After all, the more electricity your lifestyle uses, the more quickly you will get a return on

    investment from going solar.

  • http://www.electricarpub.com/ Carlectro

    Weber makes an excellent point that the Masters Of the Universe/Hollywood Starlets valet-parking their few thousand Fisker and Teslas aren’t going to really make any difference at all when it comes to the real issues confronting our nation and planet: oil consumption and atmospheric carbon production.

    It’s foing to be the rest of us who need to get to work and bring the kids to birthday parties who will save the planet. For this, as Weber says, we need a “normal” car with an advanced propulsion system. Thanks, GM for staying in touch with the needs of real people.

    Read the latest on lectric vehicles at Carlectro (http://www.electricarpub.com/)

  • http://www.electricarpub.com/ Carlectro

    Weber makes an excellent point that the Masters Of the Universe/Hollywood Starlets valet-parking their few thousand Fisker and Teslas aren’t going to really make any difference at all when it comes to the real issues confronting our nation and planet: oil consumption and atmospheric carbon production.

    It’s foing to be the rest of us who need to get to work and bring the kids to birthday parties who will save the planet. For this, as Weber says, we need a “normal” car with an advanced propulsion system. Thanks, GM for staying in touch with the needs of real people.

    Read the latest on lectric vehicles at Carlectro (http://www.electricarpub.com/)

  • Levi Novey

    Frank, I like your enthusiasm but personally I find it a little hard to give GM much of my trust. The overt destruction of the EV1s as documented in “Who Killed the Electric Car” makes it clear that GM’s priorities are a little suspect.

    You write: “While I admire the technological prowess and tenacity of the smaller start-up companies, GM is better equipped to deliver electric vehicles in large volume globally. After all, we have been bringing relevant vehicles to consumers for more than a century.”

    The EV1 was relevant long before today and the economic crisis. I know we should look forward, but seriously, I have a hard time viewing GM’s efforts right now through anything but a greenwashing filter.

  • Levi Novey

    Frank, I like your enthusiasm but personally I find it a little hard to give GM much of my trust. The overt destruction of the EV1s as documented in “Who Killed the Electric Car” makes it clear that GM’s priorities are a little suspect.

    You write: “While I admire the technological prowess and tenacity of the smaller start-up companies, GM is better equipped to deliver electric vehicles in large volume globally. After all, we have been bringing relevant vehicles to consumers for more than a century.”

    The EV1 was relevant long before today and the economic crisis. I know we should look forward, but seriously, I have a hard time viewing GM’s efforts right now through anything but a greenwashing filter.

  • Jack Johnston

    Having seen the Honda Clarity in action, I wonder why GM is wasting its time on this path, unless this is just a bridge car. The Clarity as a hydrogen car is THE platform to get us off foreign oil for our cars, and we have all the hydrogen we need right here. All we need is infrastructure for the filling stations. Honda has these cars on lease in California here, and they are HOT. GM should be putting their resources into this as an ultimate solution, or Honda will whip them again in the long run. GM=no long term vision.

  • Jack Johnston

    Having seen the Honda Clarity in action, I wonder why GM is wasting its time on this path, unless this is just a bridge car. The Clarity as a hydrogen car is THE platform to get us off foreign oil for our cars, and we have all the hydrogen we need right here. All we need is infrastructure for the filling stations. Honda has these cars on lease in California here, and they are HOT. GM should be putting their resources into this as an ultimate solution, or Honda will whip them again in the long run. GM=no long term vision.

  • Bill

    This is all well and good. I am all for getting us of petroleum but I have some questions:

    1) Every summer, here in Ontario we are asked to not run our home air conditioners etc. because the electrical grid is over-worked as it is. Will the wholesale switch to electric cars not simply further burden an already overtaxed electrical grid? How will we generate all of the extra required electricity? How well will the batteries last in frigid temperatures?

    2) Don’t you think that the government is going to want to make up the tax dollars that it won’t be getting from the sale of fuel? Where will that money come from?

    We may wind up spending the same or more as we do now for petro fuel. (Likely more)

    I’m not suggesting we stay with petro products in any way. Is electric cars really the answer.

  • Bill

    This is all well and good. I am all for getting us of petroleum but I have some questions:

    1) Every summer, here in Ontario we are asked to not run our home air conditioners etc. because the electrical grid is over-worked as it is. Will the wholesale switch to electric cars not simply further burden an already overtaxed electrical grid? How will we generate all of the extra required electricity? How well will the batteries last in frigid temperatures?

    2) Don’t you think that the government is going to want to make up the tax dollars that it won’t be getting from the sale of fuel? Where will that money come from?

    We may wind up spending the same or more as we do now for petro fuel. (Likely more)

    I’m not suggesting we stay with petro products in any way. Is electric cars really the answer.

  • http://snewpy.com/ Jerry A. Pipes

    I agree with Levi. I’m skeptical of GM’s commitment to electric vehicles given the company’s history with the EV1.

    No mention of it is made in this article. Are we supposed to ignore it and pretend that it never happened? Or that it was other people at GM that were responsible and they have nothing to do with the current EV endeavor? That’s a bit hard to swallow.

    And if you want to make electric vehicles relevant for consumers, how about eliminating the need for a proprietary cable to plug the thing in? Why not design it to use a standard extension cord?

    GM deserves to fail, and fail miserably. But in the end, the government will bail GM out in some fashion, and, sadly, they will learn nothing from this “close call.”

  • http://snewpy.com/ Jerry A. Pipes

    I agree with Levi. I’m skeptical of GM’s commitment to electric vehicles given the company’s history with the EV1.

    No mention of it is made in this article. Are we supposed to ignore it and pretend that it never happened? Or that it was other people at GM that were responsible and they have nothing to do with the current EV endeavor? That’s a bit hard to swallow.

    And if you want to make electric vehicles relevant for consumers, how about eliminating the need for a proprietary cable to plug the thing in? Why not design it to use a standard extension cord?

    GM deserves to fail, and fail miserably. But in the end, the government will bail GM out in some fashion, and, sadly, they will learn nothing from this “close call.”

  • http://greenoptions.com Clayton B. Cornell

    I think GM has been beaten up for too long about the EV1 project. Yes, they scrapped it. Yes, it’s too bad that they weren’t able to break into the market with a disruptive technology that was ahead of its time. You can’t expect a company to spend itself into the ground to prop up a program like that.

    Even now, electric vehicle technology is barely (or not) able to compete without major subsidy or what some would call crazy new approaches (like battery exchanges).

    The true test, which will prove whether this is hype or reality, is whether GM can stay afloat while producing a $40,000 electric car ($32K after tax credit). If GM is successful at that they’ve really accomplished something.

  • http://greenoptions.com Clayton B. Cornell

    I think GM has been beaten up for too long about the EV1 project. Yes, they scrapped it. Yes, it’s too bad that they weren’t able to break into the market with a disruptive technology that was ahead of its time. You can’t expect a company to spend itself into the ground to prop up a program like that.

    Even now, electric vehicle technology is barely (or not) able to compete without major subsidy or what some would call crazy new approaches (like battery exchanges).

    The true test, which will prove whether this is hype or reality, is whether GM can stay afloat while producing a $40,000 electric car ($32K after tax credit). If GM is successful at that they’ve really accomplished something.

  • adam

    Wow, a GM rep selling GM propaganda – quelle surprise. My only question is why is gas2.org publishing this GM advertisement as an article? Having a small disclaimer under a picture that most would assume is just a description of the picture itself doesn’t really cut it. Adding this place to my list of propaganda regurgitators.

  • adam

    Wow, a GM rep selling GM propaganda – quelle surprise. My only question is why is gas2.org publishing this GM advertisement as an article? Having a small disclaimer under a picture that most would assume is just a description of the picture itself doesn’t really cut it. Adding this place to my list of propaganda regurgitators.

  • http://greenoptions.com Clayton B. Cornell

    @adam: We’re not going to apologize for facilitating a discussion. You are welcome to your opinion and choice of sources.

  • http://greenoptions.com Clayton B. Cornell

    @adam: We’re not going to apologize for facilitating a discussion. You are welcome to your opinion and choice of sources.

  • steven c wilson

    I want an affordable American made electric car. The problem is China’s state directed capitalism will probably make everything but the American part available to me faster. Overpaid American CEO’s don’t have the intelligence and innovative capabilities to respond as quickly to the consumer.

  • steven c wilson

    I want an affordable American made electric car. The problem is China’s state directed capitalism will probably make everything but the American part available to me faster. Overpaid American CEO’s don’t have the intelligence and innovative capabilities to respond as quickly to the consumer.

  • john s

    Levi,

    GM destroyed the EV1′s for a reason. Are you really going to buy an electric vehicle for 6 figures? What about maintenance? Also, the size of the batteries only enabled the vehicle to be a 2-door.

    Today, thanks to GM’s R&D, they have made the batteries more efficient and smaller, as well as more affordable for the consumer.

  • john s

    Levi,

    GM destroyed the EV1′s for a reason. Are you really going to buy an electric vehicle for 6 figures? What about maintenance? Also, the size of the batteries only enabled the vehicle to be a 2-door.

    Today, thanks to GM’s R&D, they have made the batteries more efficient and smaller, as well as more affordable for the consumer.

  • Phil Colley with GM

    Some quick clarifications:

    Levi and Jerry: As Frank details, the Volt overcomes the limitations of the EV1, mainly range anxiety, and is a no compromise electric vehicle. I think it’s also safe to say Chris Paine is a big fan of the Volt and that will come through when his next movie is released. And remember, we may have made mistakes with the EV1, but we were still the first automaker to bring a production electric vehicle to market. Also, working with SAE, we expect to have a common standard for the charge cord receptacle in place in North America by the end of the summer to alleviate proprietary cords between the major automakers.

    Jack Johnston: The architecture the Volt is built on is flexible to accomodate a hydrogen fuel source. In fact, we have the largest fuel cell demonstration project on the roads right now in the hands of real people with Project Driveway. As you mentioned, infrastructure is a big issue for all hydrogen powered vehicles, and with the Volt, public charging infrastructure must be addressed. But as well with the Volt, you can fill-up at any fueling station when you can’t recharge, so the infrastructure is already in place.

    Bill: The Volt compares to a plasma TV when referring to its impact on the electrical grid, and we’re also anticipating most owners will charge their Volt overnight when rates and load levels are down.

  • Phil Colley with GM

    Some quick clarifications:

    Levi and Jerry: As Frank details, the Volt overcomes the limitations of the EV1, mainly range anxiety, and is a no compromise electric vehicle. I think it’s also safe to say Chris Paine is a big fan of the Volt and that will come through when his next movie is released. And remember, we may have made mistakes with the EV1, but we were still the first automaker to bring a production electric vehicle to market. Also, working with SAE, we expect to have a common standard for the charge cord receptacle in place in North America by the end of the summer to alleviate proprietary cords between the major automakers.

    Jack Johnston: The architecture the Volt is built on is flexible to accomodate a hydrogen fuel source. In fact, we have the largest fuel cell demonstration project on the roads right now in the hands of real people with Project Driveway. As you mentioned, infrastructure is a big issue for all hydrogen powered vehicles, and with the Volt, public charging infrastructure must be addressed. But as well with the Volt, you can fill-up at any fueling station when you can’t recharge, so the infrastructure is already in place.

    Bill: The Volt compares to a plasma TV when referring to its impact on the electrical grid, and we’re also anticipating most owners will charge their Volt overnight when rates and load levels are down.

  • Chris

    I wish more people would talk about the chemicals that make up these batteries. Lithium is not a pleasant chemical and as far as I have heard it isn’t easy to dispose of these battereies or recyle them. Am I wrong? How long until we have a landfill problem with leaking lithium? Is that better than a CO2 problem?

  • Chris

    I wish more people would talk about the chemicals that make up these batteries. Lithium is not a pleasant chemical and as far as I have heard it isn’t easy to dispose of these battereies or recyle them. Am I wrong? How long until we have a landfill problem with leaking lithium? Is that better than a CO2 problem?

  • Allison Yochim

    Agree with Levi and Jerry. Although, Jerry, he does mention the EV1 here in page 2: “If our experience with the EV1 taught us anything, it’s that customers love driving electric so much that they want to be able to plug-in wherever they go, and with both 120v and 240v capability, they will.” In the movie “Who Killed the Electric Car?” GM says there was no/not enough demand to continue making the electric vehicle. Although the film depicted a number of people who petitioned and fought for GM to continue making the EV1, for a company of GM’s scale, it’s dubious as to whether this was “enough” demand. In either case, it appears GM is equivocating.

    The electric showroom vehicle that GM has had for years is a straight up marketing gimmick. Not only is this featured in the movie, but a friend of mine who also worked on a project with GM addressed the potential of mass producing the showroom car. The GM exec’s response to her was that it was possible, but openly said the car for for marketing only.

    If Frank Weber can provide a response about the company’s past EV endeavors that commenters are bringing up HERE, in the comments section where the regular consumers are, then I will think GM is actually listening to the demand of consumers. Otherwise I will continue to believe GM is greenwashing as Levi said.

    This is an easy test, GM. Let’s see if you are actually interacting with and listening to your target market.

  • Allison Yochim

    Agree with Levi and Jerry. Although, Jerry, he does mention the EV1 here in page 2: “If our experience with the EV1 taught us anything, it’s that customers love driving electric so much that they want to be able to plug-in wherever they go, and with both 120v and 240v capability, they will.” In the movie “Who Killed the Electric Car?” GM says there was no/not enough demand to continue making the electric vehicle. Although the film depicted a number of people who petitioned and fought for GM to continue making the EV1, for a company of GM’s scale, it’s dubious as to whether this was “enough” demand. In either case, it appears GM is equivocating.

    The electric showroom vehicle that GM has had for years is a straight up marketing gimmick. Not only is this featured in the movie, but a friend of mine who also worked on a project with GM addressed the potential of mass producing the showroom car. The GM exec’s response to her was that it was possible, but openly said the car for for marketing only.

    If Frank Weber can provide a response about the company’s past EV endeavors that commenters are bringing up HERE, in the comments section where the regular consumers are, then I will think GM is actually listening to the demand of consumers. Otherwise I will continue to believe GM is greenwashing as Levi said.

    This is an easy test, GM. Let’s see if you are actually interacting with and listening to your target market.

  • David

    It frustrates me when I see people knock a type of electric car technology over another. The whole point is really just to get the technology out there and being used. It doesnt matter what brand or underlying tech is used, the important thing is numbers. Get the numbers up and then it becomes economical to start providing public charging infrastructure.

    Secondly we all want the full electric car but the technology is just not there at the moment to take us all the way. This is where the range extended vehicles come in. They give us a chance to start using the technology and to see what works and what doesn’t and to improve the technology over time.

    Dont think of the petrol motor as a cop out, think of it as a place holder for more advanced battery power. I think of it as a way of getting the electric car into mass production earlier than it might have been.

    It really is a long term commitment to a full electric car because as the technology improves and is refined, the range on electricity only will steadily grow and the public charging infrastructure will grow until the petrol motor is basically a dead weight and can be removed.

  • David

    It frustrates me when I see people knock a type of electric car technology over another. The whole point is really just to get the technology out there and being used. It doesnt matter what brand or underlying tech is used, the important thing is numbers. Get the numbers up and then it becomes economical to start providing public charging infrastructure.

    Secondly we all want the full electric car but the technology is just not there at the moment to take us all the way. This is where the range extended vehicles come in. They give us a chance to start using the technology and to see what works and what doesn’t and to improve the technology over time.

    Dont think of the petrol motor as a cop out, think of it as a place holder for more advanced battery power. I think of it as a way of getting the electric car into mass production earlier than it might have been.

    It really is a long term commitment to a full electric car because as the technology improves and is refined, the range on electricity only will steadily grow and the public charging infrastructure will grow until the petrol motor is basically a dead weight and can be removed.

  • the outsider

    Seems we needed these cars 30+ years ago. Unions, Oil and greed have kept us driving basically the same design for the last 100+ years. Will it change? Now that government control has stretched into the auto industry, what can really be expected?

  • the outsider

    Seems we needed these cars 30+ years ago. Unions, Oil and greed have kept us driving basically the same design for the last 100+ years. Will it change? Now that government control has stretched into the auto industry, what can really be expected?

  • Aaron

    Its time to believe in Detroit, its time to believe in GM. While the country certainly can’t bare the burden of a failing auto industry, they can certainly ride on their wheels to success. Here’s to hope, and here’s to dreams of an innovative and successful GM.

  • Aaron

    Its time to believe in Detroit, its time to believe in GM. While the country certainly can’t bare the burden of a failing auto industry, they can certainly ride on their wheels to success. Here’s to hope, and here’s to dreams of an innovative and successful GM.

  • azryan

    I think the Volt’s a good start. It’s not out yet and the pure electric Tesla Roadster is, plus they’ve revealed a mid-sized, more mainstream project, and the intend of the third project being very mainstream so I find it lame to insult companies like that as small when GM does not have anything out now.

    The concept of the Volt is great though. A modest distance electric and a gas back-motor for long distance, but it is just a half-way solution.

    It’s all about battery design. Once the designs in the labs now that double and triple what the Lith Ion batteries do now…. there will be no need for anything but pure electric.

    No doubt Tesla owners will retro their cars to gain trunk space and lower weight when that happens and the Volt with turn into a pure electric.

    Rent a gas car if you’re going cross-country for the rare few who do. The rest can be electric.

    The thing with the Volt though is that it’s not a great looking car. The show version was cool. Both of Tesla’s are cool.

    The technology inside the Volt could go in ANY car and should go in most new cars cars now.

  • azryan

    I think the Volt’s a good start. It’s not out yet and the pure electric Tesla Roadster is, plus they’ve revealed a mid-sized, more mainstream project, and the intend of the third project being very mainstream so I find it lame to insult companies like that as small when GM does not have anything out now.

    The concept of the Volt is great though. A modest distance electric and a gas back-motor for long distance, but it is just a half-way solution.

    It’s all about battery design. Once the designs in the labs now that double and triple what the Lith Ion batteries do now…. there will be no need for anything but pure electric.

    No doubt Tesla owners will retro their cars to gain trunk space and lower weight when that happens and the Volt with turn into a pure electric.

    Rent a gas car if you’re going cross-country for the rare few who do. The rest can be electric.

    The thing with the Volt though is that it’s not a great looking car. The show version was cool. Both of Tesla’s are cool.

    The technology inside the Volt could go in ANY car and should go in most new cars cars now.

  • Richard

    Having been a 70+ MPG hybrid owner since 2000, I have a little experience with squeezing the most out of limited resources (fuel and money). I do hope GM succeeds with the Volt as I would like to be able to upgrade to a 4 door vehicle in the future, but I wonder about a few things:

    1) vehicle quality/fit and finish. GM hasn’t been a leader in this area as long as I have bought vehicles (20+ years), and with cost reductions it brings up additional concerns.

    2) Why did GM decide to spend money to develop their own battery production facility? Since they are just getting their feet wet in this propitiatory technology and it’s still unclear how the public will accept the Volt or other EREVs, if it doesn’t take off immediately, everything is dependent on a single battery production plant. The entire EREV line will be dead in the water if anything should happen. Why didn’t they just partner with or outsource the batteries from an existing/established/high volume battery manufacturer? Is it the NIH syndrome that almost killed IBM and HP all over again?

    3) Will GM only offer the Volt for lease? This was one of the most stupid things GM did with the EV1. It’s almost like they planned to kill it off from the beginning. I won’t rant on about the EV1, the “Who killed the Electric Car” movie does that well enough.

    4) Frank mentions their other EREVs, but other than the Opel, I haven’t heard of anything else that’s planned or announced. Maybe I have missed something here, but perhaps GM should learn to walk before they run, especially if they’re doing it with my tax dollars bailing them out for making bad decisions since they haven’t released or sold a single EREV yet.

    5) I hope that they will look into making the ICE and the battery modular and/or upgradeable, even if it’s not announced/advertised as such. That way a new, higher capacity battery or smaller gas or better yet, bio/diesel ICE could be swapped/upgraded for increased efficiency. After all, wasn’t the Volt built on a platform that touted modularity (remember the skateboard concept from a few years ago?)

  • Richard

    Having been a 70+ MPG hybrid owner since 2000, I have a little experience with squeezing the most out of limited resources (fuel and money). I do hope GM succeeds with the Volt as I would like to be able to upgrade to a 4 door vehicle in the future, but I wonder about a few things:

    1) vehicle quality/fit and finish. GM hasn’t been a leader in this area as long as I have bought vehicles (20+ years), and with cost reductions it brings up additional concerns.

    2) Why did GM decide to spend money to develop their own battery production facility? Since they are just getting their feet wet in this propitiatory technology and it’s still unclear how the public will accept the Volt or other EREVs, if it doesn’t take off immediately, everything is dependent on a single battery production plant. The entire EREV line will be dead in the water if anything should happen. Why didn’t they just partner with or outsource the batteries from an existing/established/high volume battery manufacturer? Is it the NIH syndrome that almost killed IBM and HP all over again?

    3) Will GM only offer the Volt for lease? This was one of the most stupid things GM did with the EV1. It’s almost like they planned to kill it off from the beginning. I won’t rant on about the EV1, the “Who killed the Electric Car” movie does that well enough.

    4) Frank mentions their other EREVs, but other than the Opel, I haven’t heard of anything else that’s planned or announced. Maybe I have missed something here, but perhaps GM should learn to walk before they run, especially if they’re doing it with my tax dollars bailing them out for making bad decisions since they haven’t released or sold a single EREV yet.

    5) I hope that they will look into making the ICE and the battery modular and/or upgradeable, even if it’s not announced/advertised as such. That way a new, higher capacity battery or smaller gas or better yet, bio/diesel ICE could be swapped/upgraded for increased efficiency. After all, wasn’t the Volt built on a platform that touted modularity (remember the skateboard concept from a few years ago?)

  • Bruce

    Jack Johnston: Although it would be nice to imagine a future of hydrogen cars, I just can’t see it happening. For one thing, the fuel cells are built using platinum, which is incredibly expensive. Did you happen to notice you could not buy a Honda Clarity? There is good reason for that, because Honda would have to charge you a million dollars and still likely not make a profit. Instead, you can only lease them.

    Secondly, the infrastructure is not in place to handle hydrogen cars. The domestic oil companies have built 180,000 gas stations in the US alone, is it reasonable to expect they will convert them all to hydrogen? The answer is no, since the cost is prohibitive, not to mention hydrogen is a competitor to oil. So who will front the cost?

    On the other hand, the Volt is an evolution to the EV1, whose greatest Achilles Heel was the lack of alternative fuel source. What do you do if you drove it too far away from home, too far away from its recharger? In a word, you were screwed. But the Volt does give you an option to make use of the existing gasoline infrastructure, and ALSO fill up at home. That fact alone (eliminate dependency on finding a hydrogen station) is what gives the Volt a huge plus over any hydrogen vehicle. It will be BluRay vs HD-DVD all over again, and just like HD-DVD which didn’t have the key studios backing it, hydrogen just doesn’t have the infrastructure.

    Bruce.

  • Bruce

    Jack Johnston: Although it would be nice to imagine a future of hydrogen cars, I just can’t see it happening. For one thing, the fuel cells are built using platinum, which is incredibly expensive. Did you happen to notice you could not buy a Honda Clarity? There is good reason for that, because Honda would have to charge you a million dollars and still likely not make a profit. Instead, you can only lease them.

    Secondly, the infrastructure is not in place to handle hydrogen cars. The domestic oil companies have built 180,000 gas stations in the US alone, is it reasonable to expect they will convert them all to hydrogen? The answer is no, since the cost is prohibitive, not to mention hydrogen is a competitor to oil. So who will front the cost?

    On the other hand, the Volt is an evolution to the EV1, whose greatest Achilles Heel was the lack of alternative fuel source. What do you do if you drove it too far away from home, too far away from its recharger? In a word, you were screwed. But the Volt does give you an option to make use of the existing gasoline infrastructure, and ALSO fill up at home. That fact alone (eliminate dependency on finding a hydrogen station) is what gives the Volt a huge plus over any hydrogen vehicle. It will be BluRay vs HD-DVD all over again, and just like HD-DVD which didn’t have the key studios backing it, hydrogen just doesn’t have the infrastructure.

    Bruce.

  • PJ

    Detroit has failed. GM has failed. GM doesn’t give a fig about electric cars or the environment or anything except for their bank accounts. They are only making the Volt because they have to, not because they want to. I would much rather see a company that actually WANTS to make electric cars succeed, like Tesla. A company that isn’t just doing it because lawmakers or the economy are forcing them. Let GM die. All their good workers can be put to better use at other companies…

  • PJ

    Detroit has failed. GM has failed. GM doesn’t give a fig about electric cars or the environment or anything except for their bank accounts. They are only making the Volt because they have to, not because they want to. I would much rather see a company that actually WANTS to make electric cars succeed, like Tesla. A company that isn’t just doing it because lawmakers or the economy are forcing them. Let GM die. All their good workers can be put to better use at other companies…

  • Harrier

    The problem you have in believing is GM already developed an electric car 10 years ago that was better than anything driving today. Their entire business model is a lie. The foreign market is way ahead of GM The US gave away the TV market and are now giving away the Auto market. I have a 10 year old Camery that runs great. But holding off buying a new car until a better come across that offers at least 50MPG or electric at 300 miles per charge. I’ walking more and riding my bike

  • Harrier

    The problem you have in believing is GM already developed an electric car 10 years ago that was better than anything driving today. Their entire business model is a lie. The foreign market is way ahead of GM The US gave away the TV market and are now giving away the Auto market. I have a 10 year old Camery that runs great. But holding off buying a new car until a better come across that offers at least 50MPG or electric at 300 miles per charge. I’ walking more and riding my bike

  • http://greenoptions.com Clayton B. Cornell

    @PJ Does the motive really matter?

  • http://www.ACHWorks.COM Joe Real

    With EREV like GM’s Volt, it would make an ideal car to have. It handles 80% of my trips which are commuting needs in pure electric mode. The occasional long trip, I should be able to use the Volt over snowy terrains or the hot desert, at an excellent 50 mpg and higher depending on the distance and state of charge, without having to stop and recharge if the trip goes beyond 40 miles. This would eliminate my need for renting or buying another car for the occassional long trip.

    The cool thing about EREV is that you are given a choice to switch between charging in an outlet or on-board charging via gasoline, or mixed mode, depending upon the price of electricity or gasoline. Thus you can make a habit of really going pure electric with an assurance that you can go long range on those emergency long trips if needed be. And you won’t have dead batteries. The state of charge management prevents deep discharge and recharge cycling prolonging the battery pack.

    The onboard generator can be easily replaced like those of much better rotary engines such as those with very low emissions and a lot lighter, designed to operate efficiently at constant RPM for recharging. These onboard generators can even be fuel cells if such technology would ever pan out. Moreover, in case of emergencies, we can use these onboard generators to provide real electricity in case the grid fails for other electric applications in more remote places, as you are carrying a generator with you. Generator designs are more easily optimized than a regular car internal combustion engines.

    With pure EV, you only have an option to recharge via electric utilities. The batteries and quick charge infrastructure are not there yet to match that of the current ICE vehicles. The Tesla for example, while a nice sporty car, is confined to the electric utility charging with a limited range of 220 miles per full charge and then an agonizing 3.5 hour recharge using 220 Volt line to go on. With EREV like the Volt, you get at least 40 miles on pure electric plus 260 miles on generator gasoline, and then just fill up within 5 minutes to continue on your long trips.

    If you used a Tesla on a one way trip from San Francisco to San Diego at about 75 mph, your total drive time would be 6.68 hours, and then you would need to recharge twice, adding whopping time of 7 hours if you can find a 220 volt outlet on your one-way trip.

    If you used an EREV like the Volt, the total time of one way trip would be 6.8 hours, with only one 5-minute gasoline refill. GM-Volt would be ahead of Tesla by 7 hours, unless PBB has built an infrastructure for quick change battery for Tesla, but that isn’t happening anytime soon.

    An EREV would be the perfect interim solution while we await for the 5-minute quick recharge high energy density batteries. Because 80% of our trips are within 40 miles, the EREV is THE ONLY type of practical vehicle that will dramatically reduce in the fastest time of mass adoption, our non-point source emissions and pollutions, while significantly reducing our oil consumption.

  • http://greenoptions.com Clayton B. Cornell

    @PJ Does the motive really matter?

  • http://www.ACHWorks.COM Joe Real

    With EREV like GM’s Volt, it would make an ideal car to have. It handles 80% of my trips which are commuting needs in pure electric mode. The occasional long trip, I should be able to use the Volt over snowy terrains or the hot desert, at an excellent 50 mpg and higher depending on the distance and state of charge, without having to stop and recharge if the trip goes beyond 40 miles. This would eliminate my need for renting or buying another car for the occassional long trip.

    The cool thing about EREV is that you are given a choice to switch between charging in an outlet or on-board charging via gasoline, or mixed mode, depending upon the price of electricity or gasoline. Thus you can make a habit of really going pure electric with an assurance that you can go long range on those emergency long trips if needed be. And you won’t have dead batteries. The state of charge management prevents deep discharge and recharge cycling prolonging the battery pack.

    The onboard generator can be easily replaced like those of much better rotary engines such as those with very low emissions and a lot lighter, designed to operate efficiently at constant RPM for recharging. These onboard generators can even be fuel cells if such technology would ever pan out. Moreover, in case of emergencies, we can use these onboard generators to provide real electricity in case the grid fails for other electric applications in more remote places, as you are carrying a generator with you. Generator designs are more easily optimized than a regular car internal combustion engines.

    With pure EV, you only have an option to recharge via electric utilities. The batteries and quick charge infrastructure are not there yet to match that of the current ICE vehicles. The Tesla for example, while a nice sporty car, is confined to the electric utility charging with a limited range of 220 miles per full charge and then an agonizing 3.5 hour recharge using 220 Volt line to go on. With EREV like the Volt, you get at least 40 miles on pure electric plus 260 miles on generator gasoline, and then just fill up within 5 minutes to continue on your long trips.

    If you used a Tesla on a one way trip from San Francisco to San Diego at about 75 mph, your total drive time would be 6.68 hours, and then you would need to recharge twice, adding whopping time of 7 hours if you can find a 220 volt outlet on your one-way trip.

    If you used an EREV like the Volt, the total time of one way trip would be 6.8 hours, with only one 5-minute gasoline refill. GM-Volt would be ahead of Tesla by 7 hours, unless PBB has built an infrastructure for quick change battery for Tesla, but that isn’t happening anytime soon.

    An EREV would be the perfect interim solution while we await for the 5-minute quick recharge high energy density batteries. Because 80% of our trips are within 40 miles, the EREV is THE ONLY type of practical vehicle that will dramatically reduce in the fastest time of mass adoption, our non-point source emissions and pollutions, while significantly reducing our oil consumption.

  • CarGuy

    A small point: zero to 60 in 9 seconds is considered slow in today’s market, particularly when you try to compare it to current V6′s. Most V6 powered family sedans (Accord, Camry, Malibu, Fusion, Altima) will hit 60 from a standing-start in the mid-6 to mid-7 second range. Even the 4-cylinder variants hit 60 in the 8-second range. The Jetta TDI, with its low-RPM and flat torque curve, would demolish the Volt in a straight-line contest, and still get crazy-big mileage.

    The other issue in this performance comparison is that none of the target cars in the Volt’s general segment have V6′s. This is sized to go up against the Prius and Insight directly, and to lure Civic, Corolla and Mazda3 buyers. None of those have a 6 available, and all will run 0-60 in 8s or better.

    Leaving performance aside, the issue I see for the Volt is its price: it’s priced higher than the Accord/Camry family sedan segment, but only offers Prius/Insight/Civic/Corolla space and utility (not a bad thing, just not the same). Even at $4/gal gas, it will take a very long time to make up the price difference (and the extra cost on your home power bill) vs. the savings in gas. Yes, for some this is more than about economics, but for the majority of car buyers, its about dollars on the bottom line.

  • CarGuy

    A small point: zero to 60 in 9 seconds is considered slow in today’s market, particularly when you try to compare it to current V6′s. Most V6 powered family sedans (Accord, Camry, Malibu, Fusion, Altima) will hit 60 from a standing-start in the mid-6 to mid-7 second range. Even the 4-cylinder variants hit 60 in the 8-second range. The Jetta TDI, with its low-RPM and flat torque curve, would demolish the Volt in a straight-line contest, and still get crazy-big mileage.

    The other issue in this performance comparison is that none of the target cars in the Volt’s general segment have V6′s. This is sized to go up against the Prius and Insight directly, and to lure Civic, Corolla and Mazda3 buyers. None of those have a 6 available, and all will run 0-60 in 8s or better.

    Leaving performance aside, the issue I see for the Volt is its price: it’s priced higher than the Accord/Camry family sedan segment, but only offers Prius/Insight/Civic/Corolla space and utility (not a bad thing, just not the same). Even at $4/gal gas, it will take a very long time to make up the price difference (and the extra cost on your home power bill) vs. the savings in gas. Yes, for some this is more than about economics, but for the majority of car buyers, its about dollars on the bottom line.

  • http://www.nerys.com/ Chris Taylor

    The volt is a steaming pile of crap. I would not take a volt if you GAVE it to me except maybe to strip it for parts.

    Let me get this straight. Using OLD battery tech from 10 years ago they made the EV1 which could go 120-160 miles on a charge 110 if you abused it.

    Toyota use the SAME old battery tech to make an otherwise gas stock converted to electric RAV4EV go 80-110 miles on a charge (some of those are STILL on the road today with over 150,000 miles on them and ZERO loss of capacity in the batteries so far)

    all this was done over 10 years ago.

    NOW they make a crazy expensive VOLT and just by coincidence it only has a range about equal to that of your average $10,000 Lead Acid car battery powered home conversion electric car (40 miles)

    and you guys think this is both a coincidence and a good thing?

    Have Obama and Congress REVOKE the E95 NIMH patent that GM intentionally sold to Texaco/Chevron (who off course REFUSES to license the patent who would have guessed)

    Mandate that GM build a battery factory with ovonics HERE in the US.

    Do that and Here is how you can SAVE both our economy and our environment at least put one hell of a dent into it.

    Here is what I want.

    100mile range 4 person Aluminum and Plastic Direct Drive single centrally mounted motor NIMH Powered Battery Electric Car.

    Amenities? NONE just A/C and HEAT. that’s it nothing else.

    No fancy computers. No fancy regenerative braking if it adds to much to the cost.

    I want a STUPID SIMPLE DUMB electric car

    No stinking hub motors. No special multi motors no gps no how am I driving special computers.

    Think Econobox.

    You can do that for $15,000 full retail.

    at that price the car is FREE for many american’s since for many of us we ALREADY SPEND MORE a month in gas than the monthly payment on such a car.

    I spend $3500 a year in gasoline.

    I actually figured it could be done for $13,000 but I added an extra $2k cushion because the aluminum frame is required.

    Here is how I got that number. Go verify it for yourself and you will see unlike GM and the other auto makers I am NOT full of shit on this.

    Battery Pack.

    QUOTED PRICE right from the mouths of GM and Ovonics (the creators of the battery pack)

    $4500 full retail price. This battery is good for at least 250,000 miles. thats 22 years for the average american. Owe and thats not dead thats to 80% capacity. that means if you got 100 miles today in 250,000 miles it might only hold enough juice to go 80 miles. Probably more based on real world data from ON ROAD e95′s still driving around today.

    The Motor? about $2,000 the Controller about $2,000 the charger about $500.

    these are actual prices. you can BUY these components for around those prices RIGHT NOW today. Oh and to sweeten it even further those prices are for COTTAGE INDUSTRY hobby grade niche small run productions. Imagine how much cheaper they could be when SERIOUSLY mass produced!

    so with the battery we are at $9000 so far. All we have left is the car.

    KIA was selling a simple gasoline car for $8,000 so I KNOW they can do an $8,000 gasoline powered car. (even today you can buy $9,000 brand new cars from kia and toyota and probably a few others)

    now take the ENTIRE engine and transmission and throw it away. There goes 95% of all your moving parts (ie the stuff that tends to break and fail and cost lots of money to fix)

    Oh and get rid of the gas tank and its associated gear. The entire exhaust system. Gone.

    The ENTIRE emissions and pollution systems ALL GONE

    No O2 sensors No smog sensors No mufflers or catalytic converters No ECU’s computers tranny computers pollution computers NONE of that. All of that goes away. That EASILY gets rid of MORE than half of the expense of the car.

    BUT lets be fair here and pad in some more profit so figure $4000 for the car.

    $13,000 FULL RETAIL for a barebones simple get it on the road into consumer hands 100+mile range 4 person electric car.

    NOW add in another $2k for an aluminum frame and plastic body.

    Why? well its lighter which is why they designed the EV1 that way. IE more range from the battery.

    there is another bonus which GM really hates.

    Aluminum and Plastic are basically rust and corrosion proof. They just don’t rust or corrode.

    Imagine that. You now have a $15,000 car that will last FAR FAR longer than you will.

    It won’t Rust

    It won’t Corrode

    It pretty much won’t ever break down.

    It pretty much will be maintenance free.

    It will use ZERO gas.

    The power it uses from the grid is TINY compared to the pollution saved

    and in fact might be NET GAIN since Estimates say that our CURRENT gasoline infrastructure uses more GRID POWER than the CARS IT FUELS if they were electric. IE the net load on the grid will go DOWN on switching to electric cars NOT UP.

    Now lets look at more advantages.

    They are cleaner longer lasting.

    They are faster. They are more powerful

    they are more consistant.

    They are quiet.

    There is NO DOWNSIDE in reality to electric cars.

    What happens when I want to go more than 100 miles.

    well thats actually pretty easy.

    YOU DRIVE THE GAS CAR YOU HAVE NOW

    duh :-)

    if you can only have 1 car RENT ONE. the rental fee will be far far smaller over the period of a year than the amount of money you SAVE not having to buy gas every again for your daily grind.

    I assure you employers will GLADLY install charging outlets for there employers. My employer has already stated he will have an outlet installed for me within a WEEK if I ever manage to get an electric car. (he subsidizes my gas the few DOLLARS a month it would cost him (literally just a few dollars) in electricity far outshines the FUEL he buys now.

    and this even ignores adding a solar roof etc.. to your home and what not.

    They simply DO NOT WANT electric cars. all those benefits I listed above means LESS PROFIT for them and they hate that.

    thats why killing the electric car was not enough for GM.

    that is why they had to sell the patent to Texaco/Chevron to make sure no one else could make them affordable.

    you see lithium might have better power density than NIMH (and it does) but it has a shorter life span is less efficient and COSTS a shit ton more.

    100miles is MORE than enough for 95% of all my driving every year and before you say well you don’t drive much.

    My work commute 6 times a wee is 54 miles ONE WAY and I rack up 40,000 miles a year.

    I would trade my $3500 gas bill for the $300 electric bill increase (FOR THE YEAR) in a heart beat.

    so SCREW GM.

    I want them to rot in hell.

  • http://www.nerys.com/ Chris Taylor

    The volt is a steaming pile of crap. I would not take a volt if you GAVE it to me except maybe to strip it for parts.

    Let me get this straight. Using OLD battery tech from 10 years ago they made the EV1 which could go 120-160 miles on a charge 110 if you abused it.

    Toyota use the SAME old battery tech to make an otherwise gas stock converted to electric RAV4EV go 80-110 miles on a charge (some of those are STILL on the road today with over 150,000 miles on them and ZERO loss of capacity in the batteries so far)

    all this was done over 10 years ago.

    NOW they make a crazy expensive VOLT and just by coincidence it only has a range about equal to that of your average $10,000 Lead Acid car battery powered home conversion electric car (40 miles)

    and you guys think this is both a coincidence and a good thing?

    Have Obama and Congress REVOKE the E95 NIMH patent that GM intentionally sold to Texaco/Chevron (who off course REFUSES to license the patent who would have guessed)

    Mandate that GM build a battery factory with ovonics HERE in the US.

    Do that and Here is how you can SAVE both our economy and our environment at least put one hell of a dent into it.

    Here is what I want.

    100mile range 4 person Aluminum and Plastic Direct Drive single centrally mounted motor NIMH Powered Battery Electric Car.

    Amenities? NONE just A/C and HEAT. that’s it nothing else.

    No fancy computers. No fancy regenerative braking if it adds to much to the cost.

    I want a STUPID SIMPLE DUMB electric car

    No stinking hub motors. No special multi motors no gps no how am I driving special computers.

    Think Econobox.

    You can do that for $15,000 full retail.

    at that price the car is FREE for many american’s since for many of us we ALREADY SPEND MORE a month in gas than the monthly payment on such a car.

    I spend $3500 a year in gasoline.

    I actually figured it could be done for $13,000 but I added an extra $2k cushion because the aluminum frame is required.

    Here is how I got that number. Go verify it for yourself and you will see unlike GM and the other auto makers I am NOT full of shit on this.

    Battery Pack.

    QUOTED PRICE right from the mouths of GM and Ovonics (the creators of the battery pack)

    $4500 full retail price. This battery is good for at least 250,000 miles. thats 22 years for the average american. Owe and thats not dead thats to 80% capacity. that means if you got 100 miles today in 250,000 miles it might only hold enough juice to go 80 miles. Probably more based on real world data from ON ROAD e95′s still driving around today.

    The Motor? about $2,000 the Controller about $2,000 the charger about $500.

    these are actual prices. you can BUY these components for around those prices RIGHT NOW today. Oh and to sweeten it even further those prices are for COTTAGE INDUSTRY hobby grade niche small run productions. Imagine how much cheaper they could be when SERIOUSLY mass produced!

    so with the battery we are at $9000 so far. All we have left is the car.

    KIA was selling a simple gasoline car for $8,000 so I KNOW they can do an $8,000 gasoline powered car. (even today you can buy $9,000 brand new cars from kia and toyota and probably a few others)

    now take the ENTIRE engine and transmission and throw it away. There goes 95% of all your moving parts (ie the stuff that tends to break and fail and cost lots of money to fix)

    Oh and get rid of the gas tank and its associated gear. The entire exhaust system. Gone.

    The ENTIRE emissions and pollution systems ALL GONE

    No O2 sensors No smog sensors No mufflers or catalytic converters No ECU’s computers tranny computers pollution computers NONE of that. All of that goes away. That EASILY gets rid of MORE than half of the expense of the car.

    BUT lets be fair here and pad in some more profit so figure $4000 for the car.

    $13,000 FULL RETAIL for a barebones simple get it on the road into consumer hands 100+mile range 4 person electric car.

    NOW add in another $2k for an aluminum frame and plastic body.

    Why? well its lighter which is why they designed the EV1 that way. IE more range from the battery.

    there is another bonus which GM really hates.

    Aluminum and Plastic are basically rust and corrosion proof. They just don’t rust or corrode.

    Imagine that. You now have a $15,000 car that will last FAR FAR longer than you will.

    It won’t Rust

    It won’t Corrode

    It pretty much won’t ever break down.

    It pretty much will be maintenance free.

    It will use ZERO gas.

    The power it uses from the grid is TINY compared to the pollution saved

    and in fact might be NET GAIN since Estimates say that our CURRENT gasoline infrastructure uses more GRID POWER than the CARS IT FUELS if they were electric. IE the net load on the grid will go DOWN on switching to electric cars NOT UP.

    Now lets look at more advantages.

    They are cleaner longer lasting.

    They are faster. They are more powerful

    they are more consistant.

    They are quiet.

    There is NO DOWNSIDE in reality to electric cars.

    What happens when I want to go more than 100 miles.

    well thats actually pretty easy.

    YOU DRIVE THE GAS CAR YOU HAVE NOW

    duh :-)

    if you can only have 1 car RENT ONE. the rental fee will be far far smaller over the period of a year than the amount of money you SAVE not having to buy gas every again for your daily grind.

    I assure you employers will GLADLY install charging outlets for there employers. My employer has already stated he will have an outlet installed for me within a WEEK if I ever manage to get an electric car. (he subsidizes my gas the few DOLLARS a month it would cost him (literally just a few dollars) in electricity far outshines the FUEL he buys now.

    and this even ignores adding a solar roof etc.. to your home and what not.

    They simply DO NOT WANT electric cars. all those benefits I listed above means LESS PROFIT for them and they hate that.

    thats why killing the electric car was not enough for GM.

    that is why they had to sell the patent to Texaco/Chevron to make sure no one else could make them affordable.

    you see lithium might have better power density than NIMH (and it does) but it has a shorter life span is less efficient and COSTS a shit ton more.

    100miles is MORE than enough for 95% of all my driving every year and before you say well you don’t drive much.

    My work commute 6 times a wee is 54 miles ONE WAY and I rack up 40,000 miles a year.

    I would trade my $3500 gas bill for the $300 electric bill increase (FOR THE YEAR) in a heart beat.

    so SCREW GM.

    I want them to rot in hell.

  • Steve W.

    I like the idea of the Volt, but the price tag of about $40k is unrealistic. A Prius is also unrealistic for many people when they can get a Corolla for $6k less. Would you buy a $40k Prius? OK you can plug the Volt in, but most people can’t afford it.

    It would be interesting to see what an electric-only version of the Volt would cost.

    A stripped-down version (think Tata or even the old Bug) would be the way to go to get mass appeal. This car would be for short commutes and around town. It has to go on the highway. Top speed 75mph, seats 4.

    Make it like this:

    1. Ditch your unsustainable unions.

    2. Start with something like a Tata Nano (with air bags), or a Yaris. Bells and whistles like air conditioning and electric windows are extra!

    3. Make it electric only. It will be much easier and cheaper to make.

    4. Squeeze out extra costs through component integration.

    5. Make several models with different ranges like 20,35,50,100 miles.

    6. DON’T put 10-year batteries in it yet! Better batteries are coming. Save the money! You might be able to use batteries like the Firefly Oasis foam-carbon/lead acid for the low-end.

    7. Sell for dirt cheap, starting under $12k.

    8. You can make a car with knobs and door handles that don’t fall off, right?

    Now you have a car for the masses. They might need a second car for longer distances, but most families have 2 cars anyway. The range issue will go away over time as better batteries become available and more charging infrastructure is built.

  • Steve W.

    I like the idea of the Volt, but the price tag of about $40k is unrealistic. A Prius is also unrealistic for many people when they can get a Corolla for $6k less. Would you buy a $40k Prius? OK you can plug the Volt in, but most people can’t afford it.

    It would be interesting to see what an electric-only version of the Volt would cost.

    A stripped-down version (think Tata or even the old Bug) would be the way to go to get mass appeal. This car would be for short commutes and around town. It has to go on the highway. Top speed 75mph, seats 4.

    Make it like this:

    1. Ditch your unsustainable unions.

    2. Start with something like a Tata Nano (with air bags), or a Yaris. Bells and whistles like air conditioning and electric windows are extra!

    3. Make it electric only. It will be much easier and cheaper to make.

    4. Squeeze out extra costs through component integration.

    5. Make several models with different ranges like 20,35,50,100 miles.

    6. DON’T put 10-year batteries in it yet! Better batteries are coming. Save the money! You might be able to use batteries like the Firefly Oasis foam-carbon/lead acid for the low-end.

    7. Sell for dirt cheap, starting under $12k.

    8. You can make a car with knobs and door handles that don’t fall off, right?

    Now you have a car for the masses. They might need a second car for longer distances, but most families have 2 cars anyway. The range issue will go away over time as better batteries become available and more charging infrastructure is built.

  • http://yahoo.com bob hope

    what took so long?

  • http://yahoo.com bob hope

    what took so long?

  • huston

    While I like the volt, I do not see it boosting GM into the lead here. GM is too slow to new ideas and to what the people want. GM thought everyone wanted huge gas guzzlers. Now they think everyone wants an EV that is perfect from the start. Ford didn’t make the Taurus as its first model. Range would be great but not nearly as important as cheap and freeing from gas.

    Most importantly, there are several EV companies out there with a head start. While GM has muscle to push the start-ups around, I don’t see how it can compete with a 250mi range, 80mph, 5min charge car from Zenn. Zenn’s only weakness is road trips; what happens at 251mi? Sure 5min charge is nice (at home), but when will the gas stations be getting charge stations?

    GM needs to think outside the box for once. The “little engine” it uses is almost the same size as the one in my car. It is not little. GM thinks there can only be one engine and thus that engine has to have a certain amount of power at a loss of efficiency. Not so: dump the inefficient, heavy transmission on all vehicles. Next, make the most efficient small engine that can be made (I bet it’s a one cylinder or a two cylinder diesel hemi). If one engine is not enough to power the car, add another. The engine(s) power the batteries that transfer said power to the motors. Now we have an EV that can be trusted on road trips too.

    If Niel Young can get 100mpg in a steel monster I bet we can do better.

  • huston

    While I like the volt, I do not see it boosting GM into the lead here. GM is too slow to new ideas and to what the people want. GM thought everyone wanted huge gas guzzlers. Now they think everyone wants an EV that is perfect from the start. Ford didn’t make the Taurus as its first model. Range would be great but not nearly as important as cheap and freeing from gas.

    Most importantly, there are several EV companies out there with a head start. While GM has muscle to push the start-ups around, I don’t see how it can compete with a 250mi range, 80mph, 5min charge car from Zenn. Zenn’s only weakness is road trips; what happens at 251mi? Sure 5min charge is nice (at home), but when will the gas stations be getting charge stations?

    GM needs to think outside the box for once. The “little engine” it uses is almost the same size as the one in my car. It is not little. GM thinks there can only be one engine and thus that engine has to have a certain amount of power at a loss of efficiency. Not so: dump the inefficient, heavy transmission on all vehicles. Next, make the most efficient small engine that can be made (I bet it’s a one cylinder or a two cylinder diesel hemi). If one engine is not enough to power the car, add another. The engine(s) power the batteries that transfer said power to the motors. Now we have an EV that can be trusted on road trips too.

    If Niel Young can get 100mpg in a steel monster I bet we can do better.

  • Jacob

    Wow… So you brought the electric car to america with Saturn and then you tell them you can’t make them anymore they aren’t selling and we are taking them all back and then you turn around and get rid of saturn and take their idea from 10 years ago. Good job GM, you wouldn’t be going bankrupt if you didn’t get rid of the electric vehicle in the first place.

  • Jacob

    Wow… So you brought the electric car to america with Saturn and then you tell them you can’t make them anymore they aren’t selling and we are taking them all back and then you turn around and get rid of saturn and take their idea from 10 years ago. Good job GM, you wouldn’t be going bankrupt if you didn’t get rid of the electric vehicle in the first place.

  • Bubba Nicholson

    The people at GM have known for many years that the USA is importing too much oil, yet they have been producing ‘styled’ cars such as the Volt instead of aerodynamic cars like the Aptera. GM needs laws to level the playing field that specify highest allowable coefficients of drag for vehicles by class, so that all cars can be manufactured to be aerodynamic all at one time. Most of the energy of most GM vehicles goes into pushing air out of the way. Indeed, if GM’s vehicles were all aerodynamic now, we would have no middle-east oil dependency and our country would have a big trade surplus.

    GM should make bigger cars with better aerodynamics that go much faster and have much, much better gasoline mileage. Add boat tails, belly pans, and enclose those absurd wheel wells. see aerocivic dot com for an example.

  • Bubba Nicholson

    The people at GM have known for many years that the USA is importing too much oil, yet they have been producing ‘styled’ cars such as the Volt instead of aerodynamic cars like the Aptera. GM needs laws to level the playing field that specify highest allowable coefficients of drag for vehicles by class, so that all cars can be manufactured to be aerodynamic all at one time. Most of the energy of most GM vehicles goes into pushing air out of the way. Indeed, if GM’s vehicles were all aerodynamic now, we would have no middle-east oil dependency and our country would have a big trade surplus.

    GM should make bigger cars with better aerodynamics that go much faster and have much, much better gasoline mileage. Add boat tails, belly pans, and enclose those absurd wheel wells. see aerocivic dot com for an example.

  • Ron Wagner

    To me it is all about the overall cost of my car. I recently bought a new Chevy Aveo LS automatic for $9,400. It was built in South Korea. We love it, and it meets most of our needs. No other vehicle can beat a small conventional econocar for driving value. We use it for 80% of our driving. We also have a minivan and a 1999 full size van. I am keeping the full size van for camping,fishing, and kayaking. People will keep their old vehicles unless paid to junk them. I am afraid that cars built in America will not be able to compete with Asian cars on price. On the high end, we will be in competition with everyone. BYD has already beaten GM’s Volt to market, and will beat it on price.

  • Ron Wagner

    To me it is all about the overall cost of my car. I recently bought a new Chevy Aveo LS automatic for $9,400. It was built in South Korea. We love it, and it meets most of our needs. No other vehicle can beat a small conventional econocar for driving value. We use it for 80% of our driving. We also have a minivan and a 1999 full size van. I am keeping the full size van for camping,fishing, and kayaking. People will keep their old vehicles unless paid to junk them. I am afraid that cars built in America will not be able to compete with Asian cars on price. On the high end, we will be in competition with everyone. BYD has already beaten GM’s Volt to market, and will beat it on price.

  • Ron McGill

    But didn’t you already have a GREAT electric car that you scrapped and replaced with HUMMERS?

    You are suspect AT BEST.

    I’ll stick with my Toyota for now thanks…

  • Ron McGill

    But didn’t you already have a GREAT electric car that you scrapped and replaced with HUMMERS?

    You are suspect AT BEST.

    I’ll stick with my Toyota for now thanks…

  • Blogmeire

    GM is going out of business. Now all of a sudden they are talking green and electric. Why? Because they want a government handout, that’s why.

    They’ve had 30+ years to do all these things, yet they didn’t. So why listen to their PR? Do it GM. Stop talking BS and just do it. Then the public might believe you. But in the meantime, they are in bankruptcy so they don’t have any investment capital. Just a lot of obsolete factories that would need $100′s of billions to modernize and actually build anything modern.

    There is no question GM has the engineering capability. It’s a question of will at the management level. And again, they haven’t had the will for 30+ years of building non-competitive vehicles.

    Sometimes the simplest explanation is best.

  • Blogmeire

    GM is going out of business. Now all of a sudden they are talking green and electric. Why? Because they want a government handout, that’s why.

    They’ve had 30+ years to do all these things, yet they didn’t. So why listen to their PR? Do it GM. Stop talking BS and just do it. Then the public might believe you. But in the meantime, they are in bankruptcy so they don’t have any investment capital. Just a lot of obsolete factories that would need $100′s of billions to modernize and actually build anything modern.

    There is no question GM has the engineering capability. It’s a question of will at the management level. And again, they haven’t had the will for 30+ years of building non-competitive vehicles.

    Sometimes the simplest explanation is best.

  • Christopher DeMorro

    My only concerns are whether or not people actually buy the Volt. GM has in a sense been backed into a corner and its hand has been forced in producing a car that costs as much as an entry-level luxury sedan. Will people buy the Volt if gas hovers between $2-3 a gallon?

    I doubt it. I surely wouldn’t, as I could buy a gas-sipping petrol car for half the price, and even if I spent a grand a year on gas it still wouldn’t pay for itself.

    But GM is pushing the boundaries of car-tech, and I hope it pays off, because if the Volt does suceed than it won’t take too much longer before the prices come down and the technology ends up in more affordable, practical cars. But from where I am sitting right now, that seems like a distant maybe, at best.

  • http://winfordtek.com Teratech

    Clayton, thanks for acting as the catalyst for this discussion. Many good points have been made here. I have a question about your comment, ” what some would call crazy new approaches (like battery exchanges).” Why do you feel that way when Project Better Place has a working service station exchanger and Winfordtek has the small and personal swapping stations under development now. Please talk to the crazy aspect of battery swapping. You can see the small swappers at winfordtek.com. Thanks Clayton!

  • http://winfordtek.com Teratech

    Clayton, thanks for acting as the catalyst for this discussion. Many good points have been made here. I have a question about your comment, ” what some would call crazy new approaches (like battery exchanges).” Why do you feel that way when Project Better Place has a working service station exchanger and Winfordtek has the small and personal swapping stations under development now. Please talk to the crazy aspect of battery swapping. You can see the small swappers at winfordtek.com. Thanks Clayton!

  • http://gas2.0 skip cassesso

    The Volt may do some things well.remains to be seen………

    we need the volt now…….

    not the end of 2010………..

  • Art Rivera

    Thank you for the insight Frank. I’m glad to see that GM has designed the Volt within a realistic set of parameters. These new vehicles have to be capable of being our “primary” vehicles. The average consumer does not have the economic capacity to purchase a $100K car and so we must have more affordable vehicles like the Volt, Fusion, Prius, Insight, and others in order to introduce these technologically advanced cars into the mainstream and truly make a difference in our carbon footprint as well as our energy consumption. Even the expensive EV’s (like Tesla, Fisker, and others) are also serving a useful purpose in this respect. Specifically, new technologies have to be expensively introduced at some time to those who can afford them, which is what is happening with Tesla and Fisker. The fact that the more affluent get the first bite of the apple doesn’t mean that the rest of us will do without. All new technologies tend to be horridly expensive at the beginning and become more affordable and technologically advanced as they mature. It happened with PC’s and it will happen with these new EV’s too. Batteries will become more powerful and cheaper. Drivetrains will become more efficient and lighter. Automotive materials and parts will become lighter and yet stronger. You can see where this leads. Other technologies may actually show themselves as well such as fuel cell vehicles. I welcome them all because I know all my future cars will incorporate these advanced technologies and I will have just as much fun as the guy (or gal) who’s driving one today. It is worthwhile to note that Tesla itself has already announced the $49K Model S sedan. I guess they are becoming more affordable faster that anyone could have predicted. This will pressure their competitors to pick up the pace and so life goes on.

    Incidentally, when I say EV I’m including full electrics as well as hybrids and fuel cell vehicles.

    Thanks Gas2.0 for this and many other fine articles.

  • Art Rivera

    Thank you for the insight Frank. I’m glad to see that GM has designed the Volt within a realistic set of parameters. These new vehicles have to be capable of being our “primary” vehicles. The average consumer does not have the economic capacity to purchase a $100K car and so we must have more affordable vehicles like the Volt, Fusion, Prius, Insight, and others in order to introduce these technologically advanced cars into the mainstream and truly make a difference in our carbon footprint as well as our energy consumption. Even the expensive EV’s (like Tesla, Fisker, and others) are also serving a useful purpose in this respect. Specifically, new technologies have to be expensively introduced at some time to those who can afford them, which is what is happening with Tesla and Fisker. The fact that the more affluent get the first bite of the apple doesn’t mean that the rest of us will do without. All new technologies tend to be horridly expensive at the beginning and become more affordable and technologically advanced as they mature. It happened with PC’s and it will happen with these new EV’s too. Batteries will become more powerful and cheaper. Drivetrains will become more efficient and lighter. Automotive materials and parts will become lighter and yet stronger. You can see where this leads. Other technologies may actually show themselves as well such as fuel cell vehicles. I welcome them all because I know all my future cars will incorporate these advanced technologies and I will have just as much fun as the guy (or gal) who’s driving one today. It is worthwhile to note that Tesla itself has already announced the $49K Model S sedan. I guess they are becoming more affordable faster that anyone could have predicted. This will pressure their competitors to pick up the pace and so life goes on.

    Incidentally, when I say EV I’m including full electrics as well as hybrids and fuel cell vehicles.

    Thanks Gas2.0 for this and many other fine articles.

  • David Mustoe

    I agree that GM could do a fine job with EV’s. But with out the threat from outside, they haven’t. It still remains to be seen if they will. They have a massive ability to talk, with out action. They have minimum ability to truly change direction. The sharp engineers at GM may end up moving on to use their skills.

  • David Mustoe

    I agree that GM could do a fine job with EV’s. But with out the threat from outside, they haven’t. It still remains to be seen if they will. They have a massive ability to talk, with out action. They have minimum ability to truly change direction. The sharp engineers at GM may end up moving on to use their skills.

  • fabian

    I hope GM considers using the high efficiency diesel motors as this would be a perfect application due to the steady RPMs required for generating, and because we could use biofuels to fill’er up.

  • fabian

    I hope GM considers using the high efficiency diesel motors as this would be a perfect application due to the steady RPMs required for generating, and because we could use biofuels to fill’er up.

  • http://www.biodiversivist.com Russ Finley

    The Volt is being marketed as an electric car. You never see GM refer to it for what it is, a plug-in hybrid.

  • http://www.biodiversivist.com Russ Finley

    The Volt is being marketed as an electric car. You never see GM refer to it for what it is, a plug-in hybrid.

  • http://www.greeninventions.info Neil Lizotte

    Until GM makes use of the most powerful Yet environmentally friendly MYT Engine I don’t want to even hear the word GM.

    In April of 2006, Mr. Raphial Morgado and his company, Angel Labs LLC, received First-Prize in the “Create the Future” Design Contest by Emhart-NASA Tech Briefs.

    The MYT Engine can burn any type of fuel including Hydrogen.

    No need to change the infrustructure, until Hydrogen on demand is available.

    The MYT Engine is the most powerful Engine in the world yet its very low pollution.

    The MYT Engine will give an SUV the same fuel economy of a Toyota Prius or better but with more power and faster take offs.

  • http://www.greeninventions.info Neil Lizotte

    Until GM makes use of the most powerful Yet environmentally friendly MYT Engine I don’t want to even hear the word GM.

    In April of 2006, Mr. Raphial Morgado and his company, Angel Labs LLC, received First-Prize in the “Create the Future” Design Contest by Emhart-NASA Tech Briefs.

    The MYT Engine can burn any type of fuel including Hydrogen.

    No need to change the infrustructure, until Hydrogen on demand is available.

    The MYT Engine is the most powerful Engine in the world yet its very low pollution.

    The MYT Engine will give an SUV the same fuel economy of a Toyota Prius or better but with more power and faster take offs.

  • Pingback: Chevrolet Volt Test Drive: Video of Driving GM’s Electric Car : Gas 2.0

  • cnewman

    GM destroyed 999 EV1 cars because they did not want the American public to abandon the gas guzzling, oil burning, maintenance needy cars they have been producing since 1908.

    They lobbied for Carbon Tax on America, now pretend to be our savior with the electric vehicle.

    Now we can have the electric car after forcing gas vehicles on the public for thirteen more years since the destruction of the EV1.

    Now we have Government Motors Carbon tax enforcers and leader in electric cars.

    Criminals.

  • cnewman

    GM destroyed 999 EV1 cars because they did not want the American public to abandon the gas guzzling, oil burning, maintenance needy cars they have been producing since 1908.

    They lobbied for Carbon Tax on America, now pretend to be our savior with the electric vehicle.

    Now we can have the electric car after forcing gas vehicles on the public for thirteen more years since the destruction of the EV1.

    Now we have Government Motors Carbon tax enforcers and leader in electric cars.

    Criminals.

  • Pingback: How GM is Making Electric Vehicles Relevant | Green Energy Panels - How to Save Energy

  • Pingback: How GM is Making Electric Vehicles Relevant | Green Energy Global - Daily Green Energy News

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