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Published on April 12th, 2014 | by Tina Casey

87

GM Doubles Down On “Moon Shot” Volt EV

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April 12th, 2014 by  

GM is throwing down a cool $449 million for an upgrade of its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly and Brownstown Battery Assembly plants, and that’s good news for anybody who wants to wrap their hands around a next-generation Volt EV, which company officials have hinted is a “moon shot” compared to the current model.

The Hamtramck plant is the manufacturing home of the Volt as well as the Cadillac ELR. The upgrade, along with the hinted-at technology leap for the Volt, puts GM in a position to compete with Tesla in the market for a $30,000 EV with a 200-mile battery range.

next generation Volt concept car

Next generation Volt concept car (cropped) by Ross M. Karchner.

A New Home For The Volt And Two Mystery Products

The infusion of cash will mainly go the Hamtramck plant, with $384 million for a number of upgrades including new Body Shop tooling and equipment.

Along with the next-generation Volt, GM hinted at “two future products” that will be manufactured at the upgraded facility.

The rest of the pot goes to revamp the Brownstown Battery Assembly plant. If you recall the “web” of advanced battery plants funded by the Recovery Act that we wrote about back in 2010, that included the Brownstown facility.

Also worth noting about the two facilities, Hamtramck is the site of a 516 kW solar installation that can charge 150 EVs daily, and Brownstown is a landfill-free operation.

We’re also guessing that both plants were, or will be, upgraded to a new energy-saving operating model that GM developed a couple of years ago in partnership with GE, in which conveyors on the assembly lines are synchronized with lights and other equipment.

Advantage, Volt?

That 200 mile mark is quite a leap for the Volt, which is currently designed with both a short-range battery and a gas tank for extended trips. The car always runs in electric drive even when the gas tank is in use.

The concept of an all-electric drive with full gasoline backup is a straightforward solution to the “range anxiety” issue. Hesitant EV buyers get to experience the quality of an all-electric drive while riding on a cushion of gasoline, which could soften them up for eventually buying an EV with no gas tank.

That gasoline cushion is especially important for car owners in traffic-congested areas, where unexpected delays are the occasion for all sorts of anxieties let alone range anxiety. The owner of this Volt we spotted on a crowded Los Angeles freeway last month certainly didn’t seem anxious.

Chevy Volt on LA freeway

GM Volt on LA freeway (photo by Tina Casey).

As expected, many Volt owners are keenly aware of the savings from using the battery and have modified their driving habits to use as little gasoline as possible. The company also reports that avoiding the wait at gas stations is an added incentive for owners to favor the battery over the gas tank.

Volt is also being marketed as a straight-up American car for everybody, which could help it win the popular vote when compared to Tesla, which is also an American car but — perhaps unintentionally — is drifting toward the Google Glass crowd.

All else being equal, the next generation Volt could give Tesla a run for the money.

Moonshot, btw, is the historic program that vaulted the US over Russia in the race to put a man on the moon. No word yet on whether or not GM plans to put a Volt on the moon but stay tuned.

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About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • level ten

    Ridiculous idiots, the whole lot of them. There is ZERO chance of this working out. It is such a stupid idea that It is hard to believe that anyone intelligent is involved

  • TinaCasey

    Best. Discussion. Ever (okay, so I said that about the last comment thread but you get the drift). All things being equal a 200-mile range battery with a solid quick-charge network wouldn’t need a gasoline backup but in the US mainstream, which is still dominated by right wing (okay, so Koch brothers) pushback against EV tech, I think GM is making a realistically smart move by accommodating a market that needs a conventional cushion to transition up to the commitment to full EV.

    • CaptD

      I disagree, since Tesla will continue to push for high quality100% eVehicles and they will have their own world class battery tech to make that commonplace even with 200+ mile range; if that happens then GM will be “stuck trying to market old tech and fall even farther behind the 100% eCurve…

      • mds

        I agree with Tina. Also, GM has an all-electric, the Spark. …so they already have an all-electric in the game. …unlike Toyota who is falling behind.

        • CaptD

          One in the game is just a token amount as compared to all the vehicles that GM is selling US.

          Yes one is better than none, but if GM wants to increase its market share then it needs to step up or it will get left behind!

          I be most of these decisions are being made by decision makers that grew up with Big Iron and are now telling all their youthful employees to tow the line…

          • mds

            “but if GM wants to increase its market share then it needs to step up or it will get left behind!”
            True for all of them. Toyota is resting on their mild hybrid laurels. Do they even have a pure EV? Disruptive change market transitions are tough to play in. One thing we agree on: the change to electric is happening now. Time will tell us who wins.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “Do they even have a pure EV?”

            One:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_RAV4_EV

          • mds

            Man, I forgot all about the Rav4.
            thx

          • A Real Libertarian

            No problem.

          • CaptD

            I think Tesla, probably with a partner like Nissan and/or Hero (India) will wiln because they are leading already! Fiat will be a competitor but GM and even Dambler/MB are too slow to shift in a big way.

  • WeaponZero

    The next volt will not be a 200 mile EV hybrid. It will be a lower cost volt with an improved gas engine. This is for 2016.

    After that, they plan to introduce a new platform which will be 100 miles + gas hybrid or a 200 mile pure electric(replacing the engine). 200 mile hybrid is not in the works. That said, this is not going to be out any time soon to compete with the Tesla Model E.

    • Bob_Wallace

      A 200 mile PHEV makes about zero sense. People would be hauling around an ICE and all its systems 95+% of the time when they could simply use rapid charging stations.

      I wonder if GM would do well with two Volt range options? The bottom a bit higher than the Prius plug-in and then something a little higher than today’s Volt? Perhaps break the 50 mile range number.

      • CaptD

        I agree with you Bob and suggest that hauling around a detachable pod or bumper mounted spare battery pack/pod would do the same thing (add additional range but only when needed) at a much lower cost overall coast, especially if that same battery pack/pod was used to also store household generated energy when not being used by the eVehicle.

        • Bob_Wallace

          If we look at what car manufacturers are doing – mostly EVs, no space for spare batteries, no accessory battery/genset trailer, no battery swapping ability – one might assume that they are looking toward decent range EVs not too far away.

          You know that every car manufacturer has some crackerjack engineers who understand batteries on staff. And that they have access that lets them look behind the curtain at battery manufacturers to see what the next acts will be.

      • Otis11

        I’d really prefer something a little more generous on the electric range – like today’s EVs. Say 60-80 miles range before the range extender kicks in. Right now it’s non-ideal to start the motor for just a few miles as it’s really rough on the engine to start and stop repeatedly for just a few miles. Many people have average commutes of ~35-45 miles, which means they are either fully depleting the battery (hard on the battery) and some are just kicking the engine on for the last mile or 2 (hard on the engine). For this design, you really want a range where the only time the engine kicks on is when you’re driving significantly more than normal. 50 miles is starting to get sufficient, 60 miles might be more ideal though.

        (Even though I drive less frequently than most, I tend to drive longer trips, so I’d prefer the 80 mile range though… that way I only need to kick on the engine when I travel between cities.)

        • jeffhre

          It’s not rough on the engine at all – when the motor/generator spins it before firing up to slosh around synthetic fluids; before the motor fires up without incurring a heavy propulsion load.

          The ICE with no load, pre-lubricated and the primary motor is electric, so it doesn’t much matter IMO, what the ICE is going through.

          • Otis11

            Thermal expansion stresses? Especially as only parts of the motor heat up and the whole engine block may not get fully warmed…

          • jeffhre

            Seriously, it’s about a foot across, water cooled and synthetically lubricated. Perhaps a maintenance problem for a coal fired plant…but a 1.4L four?

          • Otis11

            So apparently it’s not as big of an issue any more as I thought. I’m not a mechanical engineer… but I know when they used to make the pistons and cylinders out of different materials thermal expansion stresses could be an issue with wear. After running it by a few MEs now, apparently they’ve switched to different materials which make the coefficients more similar.

            Anyway way, you are correct, between the new materials and the pre-start spin to lubricate the parts, I’ve been told it’s no longer an issue. Thanks for correcting my “out-of-date” notion.

          • jeffhre

            Wow, someone who picks up new information, learns and runs with it, I’m floored! (you’re a better man than me sir)

            But seriously, yeah, the same questions a lot of us had when the Volt was a concept, and they put a lot of engineering into making it reliable, which we learned over time.

          • Otis11

            See, that was one of the biggest complaints I had had against the Volt, I thought the range needed to be ~50% more to minimize the wear issue. I’ve used that as an argument many times and never been corrected. Very glad to find out it’s no longer an issue. While I supported the concept of the Volt, I was really concerned that it was going to have issues later in the lifecycle.

            Thanks for taking the time to clarify that and bring me up-to-date.

    • CaptD

      WeaponZero – I predict that GM will yet again look the other way while the public is demanding in a loud and clear voice that what they really want/need is a low cost high quality commuter (2 seater and 4 seater version) vehicle (think a modern eVersion of the 60′s VW Bug) that they can use to get to work and/or go shopping in, without ever having to buy gasoline.

      While GM stumbles ahead maintaining its old school “Detroit’ mindset, India, China, . Korea and other European manufactures will flood the USA with their own versions of the above TINY eVehicles, which will sell like hotcakes!

    • jeffhre

      Dang Weapon your crystal ball is crushing mine.

  • JamesWimberley

    “That gasoline cushion is especially important for car owners in traffic-congested areas, where unexpected delays are the occasion for all sorts of anxieties let alone range anxiety.”
    EV owners may have all sorts of worries but being stuck in traffic should not be one of them. When an ev isn’t moving, its motors are not idling but stopped. OK, the batteries are running the a/c and radio. This meme looks like misdirection from GM’s PR.

  • mds

    I’m guessing they’ll be providing options on battery size this time.

    • CaptD

      Yes, it makes good sense for eVehicles designers to leave room for an additional battery for those drivers like you that require the extra range. It would be safer and just like having a larger capacity and/or dual fuel tanks installed in a truck or some other vehicle like a 4X4 which often come from the factory with much larger fuel capacity tank since they get much less mileage when being driven in low range off road or when they are being used to plow snow.

      You might look into a customized eVehicle, where someone would converts a small ICE pickup truck to electric for you. They could then use part of the pickups bed space to provide all the battery capacity you require! This should be a no brainer since all they will be doing is adding additional batteries and the wiring to connect them. I think a VW Bus would also make a great eConversion vehicle because it has lots of space for extra batteries and enough ground clearance to handle the extra weigh of the batteries.

  • mds

    Very nice! Now, if GM could just make that a small SUV EREV or small pickup EREV like the Volt, with better ground clearance, …for around $40,000, then I’d be really happy.
    VIA is there, Tesla will do this, but I don’t want to pay $80,000 for either of those options.

    • mds

      My mistake. Tina, you are confusing the Volt which is an EREV with the Spark which is an EV. They’re talking about a 200 mile EV, like Tesla who does not make EREVs. Too bad for me. I drive long distances to remote areas at times. I’d like the above mentioned EREV so I can drive all-electric on a daily basis and drive hybrid-gasoline on longer trips to more remote spots. $80,000 is too much to pay for that. I might as well buy two different cars for that price. GM would be playing to a strength if they pursued an SUV/Truck EREV like the Volt. Maybe there’s a little too much “me too” mentality here.

      • Otis11

        Well, I can tell you that there’s at least 1 other person on this forum looking for a EREV pick up (preferably Tacoma sized), and I know 2 others who would be very interested (one looking for Tacoma sized, the other for F250 sized.) The 2 tacoma sized will be looking for a new vehicle in the next 2 years, the third is interested in a new truck, but won’t actually need to make a purchase for ~4 years so he has time to wait for this to come to fruition…

        • Bob_Wallace

          Watching for something more like a small SUV (seating for four, room to sleep two in the back with the seats folded down). At least 150 miles range. 4wd. The last one is the most important.

          I don’t know that I’d bother with a 4wd PHEV. My driving is almost all

          • Otis11

            Oh, 4wd is a must for the pickup… though only allowing 4wd with the gasoline engine running would be an acceptable solution as well. (aka run ev only in 2wd but engine has to run to switch to 4wd.) IDK if that would be necessary, but would not be a big deal. If it’s EV only, I’d really say 200 mile range is bare minimum – 300 would be more prefered (Texas has spread out cities. For anyone who regularly drives between them a 150 mile range would be a deal breaker while a 200 mile range would make it inconvenient…)

  • CaptD

    RE: “All else being equal, the next generation Volt could give Tesla a run for the money.Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2014/04/12/moonshot-gm-volt-in-the-works/#JXGAiassArFO6j8o.99
    If history is any indication, GM PR machine is giving everyone a *Moon Shot* all right but there is no guarantee that it is not of the *dark side* of the Moon!

    Lets compare *PR machines*:

    This is the same GM PR machine that is now trying to *spin* avoiding fixing a defective poorly designed ignition switch that they knew has killed far too many of their customers, as nothing to worry about!

    Tesla on the other hand ranks #1 in customer loyalty and it continues to grow globally, while committing to building ever more free Supercharging stations and the world largest battery manufacturing plant, so that its customers can do more with the electricity they have, which includes storing the energy from their rooftop PV systems in both their eVehicles and any additional Tesla batteries they might want to add to save (pun intended) instead of pumping their own excess generation into the Grid, for Utilities to make a profit from!

    Unless Tesla has decided to cede the “entry” market to others, I expect that by the time GM unveils its new hybrid Volt, Tesla will have introduced yet another eVehicle that not only will have much greater range than todays model (thanks to Tesla’s gigantic new battery factory) but it will be 100% electric which will eliminate gas station waiting in-line and their high prices forever!

    BTW: I do not own stock in either Company but if I did, I would be all in on Tesla.

    • mds

      GM leapfrogged the Toyota Prius when they can out with the Volt EREV. This is a spectacularly great car. Reviewers and customers agree on that. I give them credit for this. Many said the same thing about the GM PR machine before the Volt came out.
      Maybe they’ve learn something. Maybe this isn’t just PR.

  • dgaetano

    “That gasoline cushion is especially important for car owners in traffic-congested areas, where unexpected delays are the occasion for all sorts of anxieties let alone range anxiety.”

    Traffic increases the range of an EV. Driving slower increases range dramatically, and they don’t idle when standing still. It’s counter intuitive for all of us used to ICEs, but that’s been my experience in three years of driving a Leaf in San Diego.

    • Dan Hue

      That is exactly true. Driving a Volt here, I would add that as someone conscientious about waste and emissions, it’s been a partial stress relief for me.

      • Phil McCracken

        What about using air conditioning in very hot weather? San Diego is blessed but what about Phoenix which isn’t so blessed?
        I’ve always assumed AC would be a terrible battery drain regardless of traffic congestion.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Moving from conventional AC/heaters to heat pumps seems to be the solution.

          http://www.nissan-global.com/EN/TECHNOLOGY/OVERVIEW/heat_pump_cabin_heater.html

          I found this comment on a Leaf owner forum….

          “I can attest that this A/C works great, based on two years experience here in the Phoenix, AZ area. Worst case, I’ve driven the car after it has sat in the 120 degree heat of July, and it cooled just as quickly as any gas-powered vehicle I’ve used. In that situation, it was drawing about 3kW from the battery for a short while, then settled down to 1Kw or less in a few minutes.

          Typically, 80-90 degree days only take about 0.5kW.”

          Obviously with the heat pump/AC on you’re going to have less range.

          • Ronald Brakels

            And I’ll mention that solar cells on the roof and/or bonnet (hood) are a very logical way to power air conditioning. While this might sound like it would add a significant extra cost, it’s only expensive to set up. One the process is settled on the the machinery is set up the cost to produce each solar car roof would be quite cheap. This is because a lot of the cost of a solar panel is in the backing and that has to be paid for whether solar panels are put on it or not.

          • CaptD

            Ronald Brakels – Perhaps in the very short term but I’d suggest that a little better battery tech will result in not having to put solar cells all over the roof and/or bonnet to help add a bit more range/capacity, since overnight charging is far more cost-effective, especially if you own your own PV panels.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If AC pulls 0.5kW once the initial surge has passed then 0.5k W/h. If someone is getting stuck in two hours of congestion on hot days that would burn up about 3 miles range. (Assuming 0.3 kWh/mile. 0.5 * 2 / 0.3 = 3.3)

            Perhaps 6 miles in extreme heat.

            That’s with Nissan’s heat pump, not compressor type AC units.

          • CaptD

            Bob – I don’t have the exact cost numbers but I bet that translates to less than a nickel a day worth of electricity to keep cool in heavy traffic if not less.

            It would also tend to reduce road rage because it would keep tempers of hothead drivers down.

          • Bob_Wallace

            25.4 minutes = average daily US commute. 50.8 minutes per day. 12 cents @ 12.5 cents/kWh.

            It’s not the cost, but the range loss. Insignificant for almost all who live within EV commute range.

          • CaptD

            Bob – Well said!
            So it make no sense not to remain cool when driving an eVehicle in almost all commuting situations plus keeping the windows closed might even help add some distance since the eVehicle will be more aerodynamic.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Just need to see all EV/PHEVs move to heat pumps and away from compressors and resistance heaters.

            We’re still in the training wheels phase of learning how to use electric vehicles.

            Things will keep improving. We’ll find more ways to lighten vehicles, better batteries, and even better motors. Here’s an example of something that may be coming – a lighter weight, smaller electric motor which uses much cheaper rare earth metals. (The title is misleading.)

            http://www.greencarcongress.com/2014/04/20140411-motorbrain.html

          • WeaponZero

            AC induction motors like in the Tesla and Volt use no rare earth metals already.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If the inclusion of small amounts of less costly REMs would mean a smaller, lighter motor that could be money well spent.

          • Doug Cutler

            Very interesting link about new electric motors. It makes me wonder if they can do this for motors shouldn’t they be able to do something similar for generators, as in wind turbine generators?

          • CaptD

            Great you beat me to asking the same question because both motors and generators depend upon the same physics.

          • jeffhre

            AC induction motors do not need any rare earth metals. Note: WeaponZero noted this earlier.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Where I am it’s 33 cents per kilowatt-hour for grid electricity while the feed in tariff is 7.6 cents or 6 cents if our brave leader makes it safe once again for the world to huff coal. So having a solar panel on the car roof sounds like a good idea to me. Especially if the current goes directly to the electric motor and/or air conditioner when the car is in use to save wear and tear on the battery.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Down there in Upsidedown Land doesn’t the Sun shine at night when you’re parked and plugged in?

          • Ronald Brakels

            Only when I bend over.

          • mds

            Spot on. Solar on the roof powering AC is also a very nice feature to keep your car from cooking in sunny parking lots. Burns a lot of juice cooling the car down initially when it’s been left in the sun …and it’s just a really nice feature to be able to hop right into a reasonably cool car.
            Add windows that can go electronically opaque (already available for homes) and you can save more juice from the solar roof when parked. It’s the green-house effect that really gets cars hot in the sun. Block off the light from getting into the car and it’s much easier to keep them cool …at least while they’re parked.

          • Ronald Brakels

            These photovoltaic windows that people have been working on could come in handy for cars.

          • CaptD

            Yes, just imagine clear, one way or better yet electronically opaque PV “glass” window panels that not only generate electricity but also serve as windows that help protect the inside of the car and its contents by keeping the heat and prying eyes out!

            BTW: For hot climates, allowing the heated air inside the vehicle to escape helps keep the vehicle much cooler than having the vehicle sealed up if you are OK with leaving the windows down just a bit or better yet you have some Vent Visors and/or Window Deflectors installed which provide a safe air path that allows the heat to escape.

            https://www.google.com/#q=side+window+vent+shades

            I’d like to see a separate tiny fan circulate outside air through the cars air filtering system, which could be temperature controlled to turn on if the cockpit reach a set temperature. I can imagine an aftermarket/cheap on-off version of this that plugs into the vehicles cigarette lighter socket but I’m sure somebody will soon (if it is not being made now) probably make a USB powered version that would also have a temperature sensor built into it.

            I’ve used something similar that is like a computer cooling fan:

            http://www.amazon.com/Valterra-A10-2606-FridgeCool-11-28-Switch/dp/B002N5W8Q4/ref=pd_sim_sbs_e_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=0XT5625B8ZXBM9K3QNE7

            It can make an RV’s refrigerator 50% more efficient, so I know that it could also keep your ride much cooler on a hot day!

          • mds

            Good point. That would help, as well. Thx!

          • jeffhre

            The greenhouse effect only goes so far in a climate like Phoenix. For commuters that have their cars sitting for eight or more hours, opaque windows delay but do not stop the cars from reaching their expected terminal temps.

          • mds

            No, the rate of heating and the terminal temp will both be greater if the windows are clear glass and not opaque. Simple physics and rate of energy/heat in verses rate of heat out. Make some measurements.

        • jeffhre

          EV drivers are finding that AC is using much less energy than heating, with the existing vehicle HVAC configurations. Just not much power involved in comparison to propulsion. (can toss a solar panel on the roof or burn alcohol as has been suggested, not a large draw relatively)

      • CaptD

        I use to live back east in an old house had a big old fuel oil fired boiler that used an electric pump to circulate the water it heated to all the homes radiators. When the price per gallon of fuel oil went to a dollar a gallon, every time the heater boiler kicked in, I cringed! I saw the writing on the wall, and installed at the time what was a high efficiency modern natural gas fired boiler which although was tiny in size easily replaced my old much larger fuel oil boiler and it’s large 200 gallon holding tank. The new NG boiler not only took up far less space in the basement but using it caused my heating bill plummet, which meant that I could both relax and enjoy a warmer healthier indoor environment for a major portion of the year.

        I see now eVehicles in the same way as that old inefficient fuel oil boiler, the time has come for most commuters that are cringing because their monthly gasoline/fuel bills have gone through the roof, to upgrade to an eVehicle that will allow them to pay pennies per mile instead of ten or more times as much! Those that commute large distances need to either have large rooftop solar systems or relocate, it is that simple, otherwise your are doomed to remain a wage slave that has ever less money at the end of the month.

        I don’t own an eVehicle yet, since I don’t have to drive many miles per month but I still cringe when I have to pay $4+ per gallon, even if it is only once in a while!

        • NorskeDiv

          Electric vehicles are great, however my concern is that electricity rates will go through the roof as they have in Germany and Ontario. ($.40 per KWH in Berlin, $.14 in Ontario and quickly rising).

          • Bob_Wallace

            The wholesale price of electricity in Germany is rapidly dropping.

            Retail customers pay a lot for electricity due to taxes on top of electricity prices.

            As more renewables come on line prices will continue to fall.

          • CaptD

            Bob – Wonderful chart, I especially like the Sunshine Yellow being used as the rates bottom out due to Solar, nice touch.

            The concept of electricity being too cheap to meter may one day come close to reality but we will probably always see GRID charges, meter connection fees and soon even eVehicle road taxes being billed since that way the Big Utilities and the Governments that regulate them can always add their taxes onto everyones monthly billings, that they can profit from.

          • Bob_Wallace

            There will be grid costs as far into the future as we can peer. And it will cost money to build and maintain roads.

            Most of us live in democracies and if we are properly exercising our voting rights then governments are not profiting. They are collecting money from us and spending it on things we want and need.

            I think it very clear that electricity prices will fall significantly from where they are today. We must not forget the external costs we pay for burning fossil fuels. Those costs may not show at the meter, but we are paying them day in and day out.

          • CaptD

            Bob – Yes “our” generation will see electricial rates start to come down just like we have seeing mpg number go upward. Happily, rooftop PV will allow most home owners to have their electricity bills be almost nothing in the long run, since they can even now get PV installed at great rates which will allow them to pay off their own PV panels quickly, especially if they also use them for their eVehicles.

            + Here is a chart I bet you will enjoy:

            pic.twitter.com/veMRLrSaCB

          • CaptD

            All the more reason to install as many solar PV panels on your roof as you can, at least that way you are paying yourself instead of your Utility!

    • http://electrobatics.wordpress.com/ arne-nl

      Ditto, congestion is mostly good, with the exception of total gridlock. A blocked road due to an accident will slowly drain your battery from running the onboard computers and HVAC while moving a meter every now and then.

      • Ronald Brakels

        Sounds like solar on the roof would be helpful in this situation. But I think onboard systems are already pretty economical and I would suppose that an economy mode for gridlock would be able to minimize power loss from everything except running the air conditioner. I’d be a little surprised if this sort of thing wasn’t already in place given the countries electrics are made in.

        But imagine if most people were driving electrics. You could be stuck in the middle of a traffic jam and open the windows and breath nothing but fresh air!

        • http://electrobatics.wordpress.com/ arne-nl

          Solar on the roof: In your country, home of the WSC, yes, Where I live, the sun shines during that gridlock only if you’re lucky. Without direct sunlight, a small solar panel produces negligible power.

          But the idea of a gridlock without stinky and noisy engines all around is certainly a pleasant vision of the future.

          • Ronald Brakels

            I hear you arne-ni. But no sunshine on your car means less need for air conditioning. And while it’s not something I’ve looked up, I’m sure certain an electric car would lose less kilometers of range per hour of stop start traffic than a gasoline mobile. In fact, that’s supposed to be one of its advantages.

        • jeffhre

          RB, that is an interesting scenario, driving without emitting pollution, EV’s slowing and stopping without emitting a sound, could all be very a relaxing way to deal with traffic.

          Regarding economy mode, in an EV, anything under 50 miles per hour is economy mode! Above 50 it makes a huge difference to do things like closing the windows tight to improve airflow over the vehicle, closing grill vents and lowering ride height.

          Looking at this chart, Tesla’s S has 450 miles of range at 20 miles per hour. Lower speed = economy mode. http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/model-s-efficiency-and-range

    • CaptD

      Great post, and it speaks to the point that the conversion from ICE to eVehicle will be due to education, since many beliefs are no longer valid, once your have some actual experience.

      As roadways get more congested, eVehicles will become more efficient as compared to ICE vehicles which will make them even a better investment!

      Imagine what even one day of gridlock cost the commuters using ICE vehicles in SD and/or especially LA; who can afford that any longer?

    • jeffhre

      Perhaps it is counter intuitive. Or maybe it’s just common sense that if you are sitting in a vehicle using minimal or no motor power that the batteries are not being taxed. I drive a Volt and clearly using start stop technology means the ICE will not be running/idling in slow moving traffic. That is true of “ANY” car equipped with stop/start. GM may think this type of misdirection is helpful – but is it really.

      GM clearly has the engineers to make this happen, but GM’s marketing people…

  • Phil McCracken

    The current Volt seems overly-complicated resulting in a very high production cost. Hopefully the next plug-in version will use a more simple one or two cylinder backup flex-fuel power plant.
    By 2020, most new vehicles will be plug-in hybrids.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “By 2020, most new vehicles will be plug-in hybrids and the oil industry will still be Top Dog.”

      That’s an interesting prediction. I wonder why so many car manufacturers don’t agree with you and are marketing EVs rather than PHEVs?

      Still Top Dog?

      Another interesting prediction. If most vehicles sold were PHEVs then oil usage (for those vehicles) would drop by at least 75%. Given that 50% of all US driving is done with five year old or newer vehicles I’d say that the oil industry would be a Dying Dog.

      Or at least a Great Dane morphing to Chihuahua….

      • CaptD

        GM has to placate its huge Dealer base will make them far less competitive as Tesla and probably several other international Corporations compete for the US commuter market in the next 5+ years!

        Remember the saying: “Old dogs won’t learn new tricks”

  • Jimbo Jones

    I saw a black guy driving one a few years ago.

    • Benjamin Nead

      Uh . . . welcome to the 21st century, Jimbo. I sure hope EVs are getting driven by everyone!

      • Jimbo Jones

        That is quite an invitation you are offering. Are you going to put your money where your mouth is, Mary? Are you going to put $50,000 on an experimental car brought to you by the same people that gave us the Cobolt?

      • Benjamin Nead

        Well, I see the original comment I was responding to above was deleted, which is probably just as well. The Disqus system informed me via my email that this same poster directed an additional tersely worded one towards me (I don’t see it here on the site, thankfully) that basically questions the validity of the Volt, referring to it as “a $50K experimental car by the same people that gave us the Cobolt.” Here’s me reply to that.

        1) As of mid 2013 (per Wikipedia, which was the quickest source I could locate,) there were something like 61K Volts and Amperas produced. The car is available around the world and across the United States. That hardly makes it “experimental.”

        2) Anyone who has driven the Volt (a local dealer loaned me one for two weeks in late 2012) can attest that it is a reliable and well built vehicle. The car has also received almost universal acclaim from the automotive press and, knowing more than a few who own one, I can personally attest that owner satisfaction is very high. Not everything with a GM nameplate has been a classic and, indeed, every automaker I can think of has produced their fair share of duds. I don’t think the Volt is one of them.

        3) To answer Jimbo’s question directly: no, I’m not in the market to buy a Volt. Having also driven several pure electric vehicles for extended periods and honestly appraising my particular driving criteria, I will be on the hunt for a plain EV (not a PHEV) when finances are available. Beyond that, it will probably have to be a used one and the diminutive Mitsubishi i-MiEV is my current favorite.

        4) Where I’ve been critical of GM (and so many of the other major auto manufacturers, for that matter) is the perilously slow rollout of EVs and PHEVs in general. The Volt’s PHEV drivetrain is a gem. Rather than seeing the next one in GM’s lineup to use it be the Cadillac ELR, I would have much preferred to see a minivan or small SUV get the plug-in and range extender technology. GM also currently produces a pure electric – the Spark EV – but it is only available in California, Oregon and a few other select markets. My hopes is that they will offer this – or some other similar small format pure EV – to a nationwide market.

        • Jimbo Jones

          Are you Jewish,faggott?

  • TinaCasey

    I know, right? Quite a contrast from the relatively clunky EV charging cables you see today. But, it is connected to a car (to clarify, the source photo is identified as a Volt concept but a much earlier version judging from the date — 2007!).

    • Matt

      with nothing for scale a little hard to tell what it is. That does look like a metal panel. Just can’t tell size of plug. ;)

    • CaptD

      I believe it is only a mockup and therefore is just eye candy.

      When UL and/or other international regulators approve a new connector/charging cable design then we all will know what eVehicles can use in the real world, until then I consider anything shown in a promo image as automotive sci-fi at best.

    • jeffhre

      2007 was when the original and different-in-nearly-every-detail Volt concept was shown.

  • Robby

    I think you have the wrong image for the new Volt concept. Instead, there’s a blurry, close-up picture of a USB-style cable.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      The wheel below it gives it some sense of scale.

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