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. It's unclear how much the car will cost, though the relatively unproven lithium-ion batteries could drive the cost close to $40,000. Government incentives could help drive that cost down closer to the $30,000 mark.
It's not an exaggeration to say that the Volt is probably the most important car in the company's history. At a time when GM is hemorrhaging billions of dollars each quarter, the Volt is an attempt to revive the company's reputation and steer it in a "greener" direction. For the past five years, GM has been best known in some circles as the giant corporation that killed the electric car; the Volt, GM hopes, will change that.
Today's reveal was widely expected. Last week someone at GM accidentally posted several photos of Volt execs posing with the production design, and the photos quickly spread across the Internet. Bloggers and online commenters pretty much panned the production design, which is a major departure from the "electric Camaro" look of the concept car that GM unveiled at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
But the design's dramatic lurch toward normalcy was probably inevitable. The Volt concept had terrible aerodynamics, and to get 40 miles of range off a battery pack small enough to allow for a backseat, GM designers had to do all kinds of aerodynamic tweaking and polishing on the way to the design you see today. Our take: While the production Volt doesn't look like the plasma-powered time-traveling car of the future, it's a fine looking compact car. And did we mention that it goes 40 miles without using any gas at all? No telling what will happen to oil prices between now and November 2010, but we'd bet that they'll continue to rise, and that the Volt's detractors will soon get over their disappointment.
looks like they waited until Ironman was released to design it
I wonder how far I could drive at -30c on batteries alone? That's what it gets down to in winter where I live.
That car looks pretty big, maybe they could make a smaller commuter car with no back seat that wouldn't need the gas engine at all. Most people commute by themselves.
Too bad GM failed to incorporate photovoltaic cells into the Volt. If GM had looked into thin-film solar panels for the roof of the car, they could have drastically improved its range. Companies like Nanosolar have proven the cost-effectiveness of thin-film solar panels. For the minimal cost, the Volt could sit out in the company parking lot and charge from the sun during the day, rather than sucking power from the grid at night. Too bad GM, you almost hit it perfect this time. We can only hope that the Volt will still sell so that the thin-film solar roofs can be implemented on future models. Maybe an upgradable option on future Volts? Just a thought...
Forty miles? That's it? Depending on the battery used, the EV1 got up to 160 miles on a single charge and that was over 10 years ago! Also, this looks like yet another boring GM design. I'll hold out for the foreign equivalent!
Indeed, if you removed the weight of the gas engine and fuel then you could add a lot more batteries. Electric cars still suck for highway driving though. I would like to see a system where battery packs could be standardized. That way on long trips instead of waiting for a battery to change the entire pack could be changed out a charging station for a fresh one.
It would be nice if people knew what they were talking about. The EV1 everyone loves to talk about had 2 problems:
1) it was ONLY an electric car. This vehicle can continue PAST the battery stage using the flex fuel to charge the battery.
2) the EV1 battery only lasted 3 years and cost $10K. This one is guaranteed for 100K miles.
For the photovoltaic cells mentioned, they plan to for year 2 or 3, but they didn't want to hold it up while they figured out the logistics of it.
Finally, the reason it has a back seat (though very small trunk) is because studies showed that people wouldn't buy it unless it did.
Personally, I'm very psyched about the vehicle. This could be GM's Miata or Prius.
Well those same studies made GM a second rate automaker. They had studies in the late 70's that said no one would buy a small econobox car like the corolla that ended up dominating the market. More studies in the 90's said concentrating their efforts on huge gas guzzlers was a good idea. Screw the studies and use common sense. They should create at least one 2 seater model option that was full electric. I watch people drive around in smart cars all the time that have two seats. I also know people with no car at all because they won't pay the fuel costs. I say give people the option to go full electric with two seats until you have mastered the technology to make it efficient with 4 seats. They can still make the flex fuel car. GM would be the only major automaker with a full electric, but then again its GM, so don't expect any miracles. I'm sure Honda or Toyota will appreciate the opportunity to take even more business from them.
Better yet instead of a flex fuel engine then what about compressed air engine. Some automakers in India can get respectable ranges out of them. They are easily refilled and can be used to supplement the electric.
I think some of the posters here don't realize this is a car designed to include U.S. car buyers. I certainly don't want a car designed for the Indian consumer or the Smart Car buyer. If it's a battery only car you can forget about A/C a decent heater and many of the other creature comforts expected by the traditional car buyer. I'm not living in the third world and I don't want a third world car. If everyone thinks we need and will flock to buy electric kiddie cars they are mistaken. As far as GM building SUV's and trucks, they made what the public wanted back then and sold all they could build. Get real folks, they wanted and deserved to make a profit. They built what people wanted to buy. People seem to think that GM is responsible for the oil crisis. Wake up, they're not. And if GM waited to include every new item lke solar panels they would never get it released and it would just raise the price. And not everyone gets great amounts of sun all the time. It's all about a mass production product designed for the automotive mass market. If it's successful they surely will make more specialized models in the future. Give the GM folks the credit they deserve. If you want to bash GM then just buy a foreign car.
This country is in problem economic for 2 reasons first how rustics car we make and the second we are buying every thing foreign we have to make restrictions with all the imports to see a better country.
Now if GM could build a car that ran on hot air, they could supply fuel for their own cars for centuries.
if I may correct you...when the battery runs down to a 1/3 charge the 1.4L flex fuel engine will NOT drive the electric motors...the engine runs a battery charger...the GM Volt ONLY runs on battery power...the engine is for recharging the batteries NOT driving the vehicle.
Also...the lithium ion batteries have been tested to -50f with no problems.
to the person waiting for the import...lol...smarten up...
GM has won practicaly EVERY quality award there is for the last 5 years...so keep buying your foriegn crap...its people like you why the economy is in the state it is...
(stupid people piss me off)
Early next year Phoenix Motorcars of Ontario, California will be selling 5-passenger electric SUVs and SUTs that will make the Volt obsolete years before it even gets to market. No one will want to be stopping at gas stations anymore when they can recharge their cars overnight for the equivalent of 150 mpg., and if they do need to drive farther in one day than the batteries can provide for, they can recharge at special charging stations in less than ten minutes, and for just two or three dollars. At those prices, it would be much cheaper than refueling a hybrid as gasoline supplies continue to shrink and prices skyrocket.
Tesla Motors is already cranking out very sexy, ultra-high-performance EV sports cars selling for just under $100,000., and hundreds of customers have already paid full deposits for them. Tesla will have EVs ready for market at mainstream prices before the Volt even enters the showrooms. Other startups are working to produce viable EVs as well-- some of them are sure to fail, but it's likely that at least some of them will survive to prevail in a market once dominated by GM.
The Volt is not even competitive with today's hybrids-- its 1.4 liter reciprocating engine is old-school: today's hybrid engines are smaller, less complex, more efficient, and will require less attention. If GM insists on selling a hybrid rather than a full electric, they would be far wiser to use a purpose-built turbine driving a simple small generator-- it would only have a single moving part, would be far quieter, cleaner-burning, more efficient, and owner- serviceable. Maybe it scares GM to think of selling cars that won't require lots of work in their service departments, but if they can't be ahead of the curve, it'll be game over.
Yes we should buy whatever is made domestically no questions asked, and what is a domestic anyway? Toyota has plants in the US while many GM models are made in Canada, so those lines have become blurred anyways. Go ahead, assume because a technology comes from India it must be inferior. I don't disagree with a company making money but when is the last time GM made any money? Thats why they are coming out with the Volt in the first place. The U.S. market is going to resemble Europe's in a few years where gas has always been expensive so why not have some foresight and gain some engineering and production knowledge on full fledged electrics? It doesn't have to have two seats anyways, it was just a suggestion, fine, make a four seater with more batteries. If GM wins all the awards then they should be able to tackle the engineering challenges, there are backyard tinkerers that make plug in electrics in their spare time. The US economy sucks because they are dependent on foreign oil, high prices affect everything we buy, there are high prices because we USE TO MUCH!!! It is not because people buy foreign cars, the freedom to buy the best product from the most competitive company is what the US capitalist system is based on.
If you want a car made for the "US buyer" which is a pretty broad generalization anyways,(the US buyer buys a huge range of different vehicles) then buy a gas guzzling detroit V8 and pay through the nose to do it. Why would you be interested in a greener vehicle anyways? If you are to vain to drive a full electric because it doesn't seat 8 and have 500 horsepower then don't, thats your option, I don't care, I work in the oil industry, thats just means more money for me. The Volt wont be up to your standards with or without a flex fuel engine anyways. Just buy a Canyonero, 100 feet long, two lanes wide, 64 tons of American pride, Canyoneroooooooo!
Your the man billdale.
re billdale: are you kidding me? you are comparing a $100,000.00 car truck to a $30,000 car? heres the TRUE facts:
Tesla motors vehicles are priced in the $250,000.00+ range
they use the same batteries that you have in your car now...times 25 (approx 1500lbs) all going to landfill after approx 50 - 100 charges...
Tesla motors have not even been given regulatory approval to sell thier vehicles to the public yet.
lol you really comparing these 2 vehicles? lol
GM Volt will be priced in the $30 - $40,000.00 range NOT $250,000...GM Volt batteries are lithium ion (can you say watch battery) and the pack will be able to be carried in 1 hand...good for 100,000 miles +...
I cant believe that anyone would even try to compare these 2 vehicles. Just goes to show the hatred that some people have toward north american auto companies...they will make up false claims and out right lies to try and justify thier ignorance.
more food for thought billdale
when you are driving your $250,000.00 tesla motors vehicle, say for vacation, and you are in the middle of nowhere and your 150 mile charge is gone (actual miles/charge closer to 50) what do you do?...got a ten mile long extension cord?
GM Volts flex fuel engine kicks in when its batteries get to 1/3 charge...the engine powers a battery charger and can go an aditional 600+ miles on that 1 tank of gas (15gal)
Oh...and just to clarify...the GM Volt is NOT a highbred...it IS an electric vehicle that runs solely off battery power...u plug it in and get 40 miles+ out of the charge b-4 the engine even starts... 90% of the population travels less than 40 miles a day (work commute...groceries...etc )
Tesla motors is a very small company making a high performance electric, GM is a huge company that needs to make a low performance commuter car. GM has the huge advantage of being an economy of scale producer, of course it can be done. I don't have a hatred for North American cars, quite the opposite, I would much prefer to buy a domestic vehicle. I just miss the can-do attitude that made North America great, now it just seems like a bunch of excuses, oh we can't do this, we can't do that. We are better, so lets prove it and make the rest of the world follow our lead. On another note hmm... relax.
They still don't get it!!!!
to hmm: you're making a fool of yourself! Check your facts! You say Teslas are $250,000 and have not even gotten regulatory blah blah blah... CHECK YOUR FACTS!
Not only has Tesla been DELIVERING their cars to buyers for months now (their first dealership is just a few miles from me in West Los Angeles, CA), but they most certainly do NOT cost $250,000-- they cost $93,000, which means that anyone that can afford a Toyota Corolla and drives it a thousand miles a month can afford a Tesla, since a Tesla owner would be paying a few hundred dollars a month in car payments rather than a few hundred dollars a month for gas... and the Toyota buyer would have to continue paying for gasoline as long as he owned the car, whereas the Tesla owner would only be paying $10. or so per week for electricity until he finished paying off his mortgage (unless of course he installs solar panels on the roof of his home to charge his car, in which case it costs him nearly nothing to drive... and that's an option the Corolla driver does not have. Tesla, BTW, supplies a list of solar panel installers if their car buyers are interested.)
You undoubtedly do not live in southern California, otherwise you would not make such an embarrassing statement... you'd already be SEEING their cars driving on the street like we do here. So far 27 customers have received their cars, and 50 more are currently on the assembly line. Although I have not yet test-driven one, I have been to the dealership but did not have time for a test drive since there were several people waiting already. I plan to take a test drive in the next week or so.
The Tesla has a range of 244 miles between charges-- which means that unless you're driving for more than four hours, it's unlikely that you'd need a charge-- and if Tesla is smart and savvy enough to be cranking out the cars already, I'm sure they'll be smart enough very soon to be using batteries such as the NanoSafe or the A123 Systems batteries that can be charged in less than 10 minutes rather than the hours that even a cell phone or a laptop requires today.
Don't humiliate yourself with plainly false data anymore... check before you say something. Hybrids are nothing more than a stopgap: once there are even a few charging stations in any given area, all of the cars in that area will be full electric without hybrid chargers-- there will be no need for them. Most people will not be charging at public charging stations, but will be trickle charging at home overnight when it will be cheapest and most convenient-- they will not be wasting several minutes several times a month to stop and get gasoline like you do now. It only takes about two seconds to connect a vehicle to a home charger, and another two seconds to disconnect it-- that's true convenience, and time saved.
Hybrids carry heavy generators and gas tanks even if they are not used for weeks, so once a charging infrastructure is available, smart owners of hybrids will ditch the generator and replace it with a battery pack that will extend the range. That generator still runs off of gasoline, a source of pollution... and the money that is paid to Saudi Arabia, Iran and other countries that support terrorism is used against us. We do not need to be funding our enemies any more.
You're right-- the Volt is not a highbred-- it's a HYBRID! By definition, any car that uses both gasoline and electricity is a hybrid. Learn to use a dictionary.
Ok children, let's settle down now. Enough of the petty disagreements. I think we can all agree that the chances of other electric cars being produced will only benefit the entire economy. Our economy is built on competition driving down prices and driving up innovation. Rather than arguing about which option will win out in the end, why don't we enjoy the fact that eventually the best product will win out. Btw, glad to hear that the Volt will eventually incorporate photovoltaics into their design.
hmm: more corrections! Do you know how to get anything right? Your comments are so full of inaccuracies it's difficult to keep track of them!
The batteries used in the Tesla are most definitely NOT like the batteries we use to start cars-- what you use to start your car is what is called an FLA, or Floating Lead Acid battery... if you tried to use them to power a home-converted electric vehicle, it would likely only last 500 charges or so-- but the first-generation GM EV-1 is the last electric vehicle that used them, and even GM switched to nickel-metal-hydride after a few months.
The Tesla uses a proprietary lithium ion battery, which is good but not the best-- lithium titanate, lithium iron phosphate, and several other formulas give faster charges and longer useful life. The lithium titanate batteries from Altair Nanotech will last for 20,000 charge cycles conservatively, but will probably last in excess of 35,000 cyles-- the equivalent of 82 years of daily service. In tests, they have yet to have a failure, so they still don't know how long they'll last.
The batteries used in the Tesla don't last for 50 charge cycles-- not even the worst batteries made will fail that fast! Even an FLA will last for 500 cycles. And there are not 25 batteries used in the Tesla-- anyone with even the slightest knowledge of Teslas know they have THOUSANDS of small, round batteries the approximate size of AA batteries-- in fact, there are exactly 6,831 of these cells in each Tesla Roadster (69 X 11 X 9)... the size of the batteries are a standard used in laptop computers: 18 mm diameter by 65 mm length.
I find it so ironic that you'd be accusing ian1108 of lying: "they will make up false claims and out right [sic] lies to try and justify thier [sic] ignorance." (For your information, the word you should have used is "outright"... look it up in a dictionary... and you also misspelled "their".
You keep pulling numbers out of the air that have no reality in fact. You say the Tesla can only go 50 miles on a charge: even under hard usage, the Tesla will give a driver 200 miles between charges. You could get more than 50 miles with an old EV-1 running on FLAs. The Tesla will give an average of 244 miles per charge, and the batteries are warranted for 100,000 miles or 5 years.
Again, where in hell did you get your information from?! "GM Volt batteries are lithium ion... and the pack will be able to be carried in 1 hand...good for 100,000 miles +..." !!! Stop pulling numbers from thin air... I didn't have to look it up first to know that one was also a complete fantasy. Look it up yourself on GM's web site: the batteries will weigh 400 lbs. Do you expect us to believe you can hold that battery pack in your hand?!
Lead acid batteries ending up in landfills? Where? In China?! No landfill in this country would accept an FLA-- they are always sent to lead recycling facilities where the lead is used to make new or rebuilt batteries. Who do you work for that you are so desperate to spread so much disinformation? Exxon?!
Sorry, there are other outrageous fabrications in your comment as well, but I have to leave now. I have a fantasy car to create.
I think the Volt project is great!!! A car that can be driven most days on electricity alone, and when needed, use a littler gas to increase it’s range to the hundred’s of miles, is the perfect vehicle for the single car owner in these days, when there's few to no charging stations around, be it the US or most other countries in the world. By the way, I do live in a “third world country” (your friendly neighbors to the south) were a few GM cars are sold, so I can tell you with out your nationalistic bias, that imho this is a very good product and a smart business decision on the part of GM; the Volt caused an uproar when it was unveiled, it caters to the mainstream ecologists, it will save gas money to it’s owner, and it’s price will be accessible to the middle class (I don’t have a study, but I am pretty sure that’s the market share with the most cars). Finally, GM is a private owned company, isn’t it? I think they are entitled to their decision, and I for one, really wish them success in this particular project.
I’ve been a Ford guy most of my life, but this would be the second GM car that catches my interest, and the one that I may actually buy, if they decide to sell it here (the other one has a crossed flags emblem).
OK this artical realy makes me really mad. In a good way though. Has anyone here seen the documentary Who Killed The Electric Car. I forget what company it was but they had a full production test car out and booming in Califoria. They were leasing the car to people to see how they liked it and it was well accepted. The company was ready to sell to the masses but because of multiple things the plug was pulled, so to speek. Big oil companys were affraid that they would not make anymore money so they made a deal with the car company to stop production. It could go for even longer than this Chevy volt and PEOPLE LOVED IT!!! I can't believe that no one knows about this. It happened like in 2001 and UGHHH!!! It makes me so frustrated. POPSCI sould make an artical about this car.
Anyway, to the good part. It is good to see that companys are finaly seriously looking at this mode of energy transportation.
responding to akrembug:
The car you're referring to was the GM EV-1... google EV-1, Sunraycer, GM Impact and "Who Killed the Electric Car?" for more info. If you look back over the previous comments by myself and others, you'll see that it is mentioned several timse.
You can also see the entire documentary of "Who Killed the Electric Car?" on YouTube. It's broken up into a bunch of shorter segments, and there is no way to follow the story line as it appears in the movie, but it's all there.
Many of the facts you gave were incorrect, such as the oil companies making a deal with GM to keep the EV-1 off the market. GM did not want EVs (electric vehicles) any more than the oli companies did, for the same reason: GM's profits would plummet.
Here's what happened: GM made a prototype EV called the Impact that was only intended to appear at car shows. It was based in part on the GM Sunraycer solar powered race car that won the first World Solar Challenge in 1987; at that time we were having a horrible problem with air pollution here in California, so some politicians saw the car and thought, wow, here's the answer to our smog and acid rain. They mandated that any carmakers that wanted to sell cars in California had to make 1% of their production pollution-free, which in essence meant an electric car since there is no other vehicle type that is pollution free.
Any EV is extremely simple mechanically-- the electric motor only has one moving part rather than the hundreds of moving parts in automobile engines, and electric motors need no reverse gear as engines do-- to back up an electric car, you only need to reverse the motor itself. And electric motors do not need complex transmissions as engines do-- an EV can get by without any transmission at all, and at most would need two forward gears.
Since EVs are so simple and require no tune-ups, air filters, oil filters, oil changes, smog tests, mufflers, catalytic converters, fan belts, alternators, starters, etc., EVs need virtually no maintenance-- even the brake pads last much longer than ones on a gasoline-driven car. Once an EV leaves the showroom, it will not be back for regular maintenance every three or four months as gasoline cars require, eliminating a huge source of income from their service and parts departments.
GM sabotaged their own EV program by creating TV ads that were deliberately ineffective, and discouraged customers from ordering the cars by stressing how many hours it took to recharge the batteries and that they could not drive very far on a single charge.
GM tried to prove to California regulators that there was no demand for EVs when in fact GM did everything they could do to kill any demand; the documentary revealed what really happened. Chelsea Sexton, Wally Rippel and others that
worked for GM at the time blew the whistle on what was really going on, and today are EV activists. Chris Paine, who produced the original documentary, is currently producing a sequel called "Who Resurrected the Electric Car?".
With some of the money he made on the first movie, Chris has ordered a Tesla Roadster EV that is due to be delivered to him next month.
Responding to billdale:
Thank you for the responce. I guess I should have looked more into the subject before I wrote that comment. I have wanted an EV for years and just got flustered when I saw this artical. I rewatched "Who Killed the Electric Car" and I did misunderstand quite a few things. I am the type of person who can watch a documentary and completly miss something the first time around and watch it a second time and see it in a whole new light. My comment about oil companies and GM was one of those big misunderstandings. Thankyou for clearing that up for me. Anyway thank you for this info and I would like to hear more about what GM is planning in the future. Of sourse I will look into it more before I make any comments.
I have read and enjoyed POPSCI for many years and assumed the writers had thoroughly investigated the subject, but in reading the sidebar on EESTOR, you assume more than you know.
EESTOR is not the same as Maxwell's Ultracapacitor, since it should hold 157KWH/pound of power - more than enough for the Chevy Volt without the ICE.
Chevy may have a huge winner in it's hands. Not only are people ready to eat up a real hybrid vehicle made by an American company, but this car has some serious looks to it! Hopefully GM can stay afloat to see this released.