Your Chevy Volt may draw adoring smiles from that cute, crunchy barista you’ve been eyeing at the coffee shop, but be advised: it may also draw rats. At least that was the experience of Cars.com correspondent Joe Wiesenfelder, who was forced to confront an unforeseen problem with the website’s Volt after a rodent made a cozy home among the car’s warm batteries.
Yesterday, GM announced that it would start using an advanced lithium-ion electrode material developed by Argonne National Laboratory. Turns out that an early version of that material is already blended into the Volt’s batteries. But that’s not the end of the story: Expect dramatically better EV batteries based on the compound very soon
There was a puzzling moment in the conference call GM held yesterday to announce its licensing of a new high-energy battery-electrode chemistry from Argonne National Laboratory. Mohamed Alamgir, research director for LG Chem's subsidiary Compact Power, which builds the battery cells for the Chevy Volt, mentioned that the new license covered technology the companies were already using. This didn't seem to make sense: LG Chem has always said that the Volt's batteries were built on a compound called lithium manganese spinel.
As if it further needed to drive home its eco-friendly, anti-oil message, the Chevy Volt will soon boast a body made partially of recycled equipment originally used in the Gulf oil leak cleanup efforts. Specifically, GM will use recycled plastic from oil booms, which are sort of floating containment walls meant to keep oil in one place.
That the Chevy Volt exists at all is something of a miracle. The project, which was announced at the Detroit Auto Show nearly four years ago and goes into production next month, has survived two CEO shakeups, major bankruptcy, and an unprecedented rescue by the Federal government. For every wave of goodwill, the Volt has endured a backlash of bile and skepticism. By now, the car has become a political football, a proxy for anger over the bailout of GM and Chrysler and a symbol of the future of the American auto industry. That's a lot of baggage for a compact car to carry. And it's a remarkable amount of baggage to accumulate before anyone even knew how the finished car would drive.
Now, after several hours and nearly 200 miles driving and riding in saleable Volts, we know how the finished product drives. And the news is very good.
When the Chevy Volt concept first materialized a few years back, there were a lot of questions surrounding America's first mass-market electric car. While answers to most of those questions dribbled out over the last few years, GM remained mum on one critical aspect: price. But today it's official: the Chevy Volt will cost $41,000 before a $7,500 federal tax credit, and the cars will arrive in driveways later this year.
With GM's Volt extended-range electric car set to arrive in dealerships by early next decade, some are asking whether US buyers will be switched off by a $40,000 Chevy. But would those buyers -- essentially early adopters of GM's new plug-in, gas-electric propulsion technology dubbed Voltec -- be more likely to plunk down such a wad of cash on a Caddy?
An electric Humvee may still sound like fingernails on a chalkboard to environmentalists, but the company developing a plug-in Hummer H3e claims its green version can get 100 mpg on average. And what's a little boasting without taking a shot at the competition?
Since early last year, two companies -- the Watertown, Massachusetts startup A123 Systems and Compact Power, Inc., a division of LG Chem -- have been battling for the contract to build lithium-ion batteries for General Motors's Hail Mary, the Chevy Volt, an electric car with a small gas engine on board for backup.
GM has yet to officially announce the winner, but Reuters reports that Compact Power is the victor. From our current issue, here's a look inside the fight to power the Volt.
After months of anticipation, Chevy releases its final Volt design
By Seth FletcherPosted 09.16.2008 at 12:41 pm 33 Comments
Today, after a nearly two-year tease, General Motors unveiled the final design for the car that it hopes will save the company: the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, the world's first production plug-in hybrid. The Volt is designed to drive 40 miles on a single charge of its giant lithium-ion battery; after that, an onboard 1.4-liter four-cylinder flex-fuel engine kicks in to power the electric motors that drive the car. GM will most likely make 10,000 of the cars in the first year of production; it's expected to go on sale in November 2010.