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August 23, 2007


Adam Galas

I would never consider buying a GM car, except that is, the Volt.

Such a vehicle, built in such large numbers, could very well bring about the salvation of America, in a world of soon to be declining oil production.

It looks like GM is very serious about the Volt, and that they learned from the ass beating Toyota handed them with the Prius.

Now GM is planning on leap frogging Toyota, who bet on the wrong Li+ battery by staying with panasonic.

Honestly I think Toyota isn't prioritizing a plug in because now that their Hybrid Synergy Drive is profitable, they want to squeeze out as much profit as possible from the current design, and not design a plug in.

This may cause them to be left in the dust when the Volt comes out with 60,000 in 2010-2011 and quickly ramps up from there.

By summer of 2010 oil will be $100/barrel, gas will average $5/gallon and the public will be clamoring for the Volt.

GM could probably find 60,000 people who would be willing to offer a massive downpayment to get on a waiting list for the first Volts.

They could probably sell out all 60,000 a few months before deliveries begin.

Of course what is likely to happen is that GM will become obsessed with the E-Flex and focus on it and not design a full EV, which is the be all and end all of vehicle transportation.

Perhaps Honda or Ford will then leap frog GM and Toyota by building an EV.

Perhaps Tesla motors can be that brass upstart, buy selling their $30,000 blue star sedan by the end of 2012 as planned.

Or maybe Toyota, with its 14 billion profit will just buy the best EV maker.

The important thing is, that by 2015 we have millions of EVs, whether full BEVs or PHEVs, on the roads, where they can decrease demand for liquid fuels and thus keep gas/diesel prices low enough to not destroy the economy.

I applaud GM for taking up the Crusade of saving America with the volt.

Now its time for Toyota to get their heads out of their asses and ditch panasonic and its cobalt oxide batteries and move to LiFePO4.

If Toyota can bring out a plug in Prius by late 2009 then GM is dead in the water, but if Toyota is in fact 2 years late with the plug in prius than GM will be King once more, maybe even reclaim the title of world's #1 car maker.

As for my 2nd favorite car company, Honda, I wish they would stop screwing around with the FCX, fuel cells are a fool's errand, and focus on BEVs.

Of course, maybe Honda is secretly working on BEV, and the FCX represents the basic engineering and body strucuture.

They may shock the world by releasing a pure electric FCX in late 2009,2010 and leap frog both Toyota and GM, and beat both to the finish line, since nothing will ever replace the BEV.

Whoever develops the best BEV tech will become the #1 car company in the world till the end of time.

So let the great and final automotive race begin, and may the great titans of the automotive world shake the world with new, thunderous technology that can finally free the world from the tyranical grip of petroleum.

May the small upstarts, like Tesla, Phoenix and Miles Automotive, struggle valiently to become history's last Ford.

And may automotive consumers the world over experience the magic that is BEVs, with the incredible reliability and low maintenance costs they entail.


Adam your posting was a great read! If only I knew what the "B" in BEV was it would be even greater... ha-ha. Anyway, I have the same thoughts. Let the great race begin. I hope the big guys don't buy the small guys because it would be refreshing to have more auto companies out there.


Roses are red
Violets are blue
The volt will save us!
It's true, It's true!

David Grenier

I can't wait for this car to come out. I just hope that it doesn't suffer from the same quality problems that have plagued the American car manufacturers for... well... most of my adult lifetime.

I've been saving up for a plug-in for a little while now. I'm hoping to get a Volt when they come out.

Adam Galas

BEV stands for Battery Electric Vehicle, its a 100% pure EV, no range extenders.

As for reliability, consider this.

The motors on the volt are brushless, meaning 0 friction, so oil required, and almost no wear and tear.

The 1 liter ICE will be used less often than in a normal car, so it will also hold up better, and most importantly, it will be run at a constant, peak efficiency RPM, so wear on the engine will be minimal.

The Volt will almost certainly be the most reliable car GM has ever made, because it incorporates many of the advantages of a BEV, such as the fact that they require 0 maintenance.

You just plug in an BEV and it goes.

Since there are almost no moving parts there is almost nothing that can go wrong.

Therefore, not only will a BEV cost almost nothing to maintain, and fuel, since electricity is so much cheaper than gas, but they will last for decades.

The weak link is the battery, but A123 has developed a battery for the Volt that they tested with 3800 100% DOD,(depth of discharge) cycles.

They found that the battery still had 86% capacity.

This means, that for the volt, you could drive 152,000 miles, which would take about 10 years, and after that time your range would be 34.4 miles.

So basicly you won't have to replace the battery for 15 years or so, at which point you may as well buy a new car.

P.S note, that with the advent of solid state electronics, and now LiFePO4 batteries and brushless electric motors, BEVs will have life spans measured in decades.

The only maintenance will be replacing the batteries once ever 15 years, and you could literally be driving the same car at age 80 as you got on your 16th birthday.

So replacing a car will be mostly a matter of choice, after all, you will eventually want access to the latest and greatest gizmos and gadgets.


Brushless does not mean frictionless. Although eliminating brushes does enhance the mototrs lifetime and reliability quite a bit, there is still a normal bearing subject to mechanical loads.

For example, the fans in your computer are probably brushless, but still require a bearing (sleave or ball type generally) to suport the spinning shaft.


Adam, it's been said that the 40 mile range of the Volt is only a 50% discharge of the battery (the software won't allow the battery pack to discharge below that level), not a 100% discharge. Factoring that in, I imagine after 150,000 miles, the range depletion is far less than 14%. Maybe something closer to 7%? If that's the case, you're talking about a depletion in range from 40 to 37.2 miles.

Adam Galas

Todd, you are partially correct.

Since range would be 80 miles if Dod was 100%, then 3800 cycles would in fact be over 300,000 miles, and so 152,000 should be much less than 86%.

However, you and I are foregetting something imporant.

1. Li+ batteries degrade with time.

So if you were to buy a Volt, park it in your garage and not drive it for 15 years you could expect some degradation, though it would certainly be less than if you actually charged it 3800 times.

2. Since range is declining slightly with each cycle,(though the degradation from each cycle is 8.36 feet on average) over time you will have to plug it in more frequently,(though people who plug it in every night won't care, unless their commute is on the cusp of 40 miles and they suddenly lose the coveted ability to go 100% ev).

Throw in fact 1, and you notice an excellerating rate of capacity loss.

For example after 20 years, you could probably expect only 75% of initial capacity.

Still when you start talking about 20+ years, it becomes a non issue, especially since you still have the range extender, and the car is a series hybrid that gets optimum highway mileage at all times.

Then again, maybe Altair Nano isn't full of shit and can deliver on their Titanate batteries, which they claim can last 25,000 cycles, on 10 minute fast charging no less.

I would love for someone like Richard Branson or the X prize foundation to make a prize for the best battery tech.

Give people 3 years to develop and then have each competitor put their rechargable batteries to the test by fully charging and discharging them until capacity dips below 50%.

Whomever can do this in the most cycles wins, lets say $15 million.

I would love to see the testing on that live on the internet.

Imagine cheering on your favorite battery team and checking in daily to see what cycle their on and what their capacity is.

That would be exciting as hell, and would prove to the world that batteries are ready for BEVs.


Good points Adam. No question that GM will concentrate on E-Flex at the cost of larger and cheaper batteries. That is when Honda and Nissan will overtake GM (and Toyota?) with a BEV or a very light-serial PHEV.

Besides, the engine is only half the car. In the other half, user comfort, reliability, precision, drivability, suspension, etc., the Asians will still dominate. And the Asian manufacturers will concentrate on cutting costs and increasing performance, while GM will go for mass, size, bargeiness, etc, which does not work well with the BEV concept.

Also, the battery life is proportional to the battery size, due to its dependence on the DoD. So a 70 KWh BEV will have a longer battery life than a 10 KWh SPHEV, even if the batteries are identical except for capacity.


Commentators at Tesla, which is using laptop Li-Cobalt batteries and has to liquid cool them, are claiming that the A123 nano-phosphate also needs to be liquid cooled in a Tesla (54 KWh, 200 KW).

I find this a bit of a fig-leaf and am convinced that nano-phosphates do not have to be liquid cooled, even in a performance vehicle like Tesla, and certainly not for the Volt.

Adam Galas

Some important points.

A123 batteries are not being used in the Tesla.

Tesla is useing today's laptop batteries which are Lithium Polymers, meaning an Anode of Cobalt Oxide, which is prone to thermal runaway if some flaw is present.

That is why Tesla is going to such lengths to make their battery pack un-explodable.

They have tested it by punturing and dropping from 10+ foot heights, no problems.

A123 and their LiFePO4 batteries, also called nanophosphate, are incapable of thermal runaway, due to the much stronger bonds in the anode.(These bonds can thus absorb kinetic action, ie, heat, and survive, unlike Cobalt oxide, which break much easier. In Nanopohasphate anodes, the bonds act like water, a cooling agent that can absorb heat which can later dissipate).

Also, and this is vital, while current Li+ Polymer batteries do face some Dod issues, (though much less than Nimph and NiCad) Nanophospate has much less Dod issues.

Basically A123 is claiming you can charge and discharge 100% Dod with no loss in capacity.

This would seem to indicate that the 86% capacity after 3800 cycles test they ran was a result of the batteries degrading with time and not the 100% Dod.

The point is that with A123 and other Nanophospahte batteries, (though I trust them most since they were set up my MIT to commercialize battery breakthroughs researched at the school) allow battery packs of any size, 8 Kwh, 16 Kwh, 50 Kwh, 100 Kwh, and all will function for the same length of time, theoretically.

I say this because obviously if you have a 100 Kwh pack with a range of 500 miles, and you lose 15% of capacity due to age, you don't really care, since your range is still more than you need in day to day driving.

On the other hand a 10 Kwh pack with 50 mile range may find a 15% decline in capacity a deal breaker, and thus require a replacement, while the 100 Kwh pack could go on for another 10 years.


For most people, there are serious diminishing returns for pure no compromise (long range) EVs. This is because for most people, that extra range will not be used most of the time. It's just a deadweight and a dead investment for them, compared to a relatively inexpensive genset for the plugin.

Consider: 100KWh in 10x10KWh plug-ins would almost always save more petroleum than 1x100KWh pure long range EV.

Only in the most extreme case will it make economical sense:

- where the EV owner uses most of the battery's energy every day (e.g. some taxi drivers)
- where/when there are very low discount rates to borrow the extra money for the larger battery, or when advanced batteries are extremely cheap.
- where/when there are extremely high petroleum prices.

Plug-ins offer a more pragmatic and rational route to petroleum fuel independence than pure long range EVs

Roger Bedell

After so many years of seeing the ever larger Tahoes and Suburbans from Texas flooding our streets here in Taos, I'm still bearing a grudge against GM. However, if they really do deliver the Volt, I might reconsider. I'm a little worried about quality control and maintenance though. Toyota has always been fanatical about these issues, and GM, well, not so well known for this. Plus, I'm not sure I trust my local GM dealer with high voltages.

As to Calamity's well reasoned BEV vs PHEV comment - I agree somewhat. A big battery is really just dead weight unless you also use it for V2G revenue as well. However, adding an ICE genset smells up the garage and you have to maintain it with oil changes, and all the rest of the ICE maintainance baggage we've carried so long. Over all, I'll agree with Calamity for now though. Most of my driving is around town, so I'll only fire up the generator when I need to go to Santa Fe.


Keep in mind that in case of any of the above situations, an SPHEV with 200 miles range is essentially an EV. The genset will just be rudimentary most of the time so there won't be much oil to change. Also, gensets running @ constant RPM not only means peak efficiency, but also 'peak cleanness', low noise, and low wear (i.e. potentially lower MTBF).

One problem with this of course is that drivers might just forget about that 'rudimentary' part of the car, and when they finally need it, it won't start anymore!

The genset ultimately doesn't have to be an ICE though. It could also be swappable, so it could be removed from the car if desired. I've got some doubts about the usefulness of this last option; the added weight will be small and it won't use up much space, especially if designed well.

Pure EV's will need at least some kind of infrastructure. Or an insanely large battery, a dead investment which most people can't afford anyway.

From an emissions viewpoint, pure EV will only make sense if most electric generation is extremely low on emissions.

Unless those emissions are in your garage. Why would the genset be on in the garage?

Kit P

H2 and BEVs are elsewhere emission vehicles (EEV). That is why these idea are so popular in California. Having turned paradise into a concrete jungle, California has a plan to pour huge amount of concrete to hold down windmills and solar panels in other states.


Kit P said: H2 and BEVs are elsewhere emission vehicles (EEV).

This statement is worthless because of several omissions:

1. No quantification of emissions.
2. Electricity can be generated in various ways with various sources.
3. These sources can be largely domestic i.e. energy security and independence.
4. Electric vehicles cause less polution in the city itself.
5. Electric vehicles cause less noise.

Also, naming both H2 vehicles and BEVs in one sentence as if they were the same is proof of your disconnection to reality.

Jim R.

When is GM going to start building the nuclear power plants to supply the new electric power distribution network so we can charge the electric batteries on the volt? I drive 20 minutes to work and use more power in my vehicle in one day than I use in a month of my current electric usage.

Ames Tiedeman

The GM Volt will become the best selling electric car in history. The people who suggest GM is behind the eight ball will wake up hard. I have studied the Volt. The technology will sell. They stye will sell too.

AAmes Tiedeman

The Volt appears to be doing well a the Frankfurt show this week. The press has been generally good.

Ames Tiedeman

Another reason we need to learn to be self sufficient:

In the U.S. interest rate are going lower, Gold is going higher, Oil is going higher, inflation is going higher, the dollar is going lower. What is wrong with this? Everything! At some point the FED is going to have to raise rates bigtime. We are in a very, very, precarious situation at the moment. I think Gold will tripple to over $2,000 an ounce when the market finally wakes up and sees the real inflation. Last I checked a lower dollar = higher import prices. There is no inflation deflator here. With commodities on fire you can forget about that. Bernanke should have never lowered rates last week. However, the Fed might be doing something that few have talked about. Maybe the Fed has abandoned the dollar to crush the trade deficit. Good luck, it will take 20 years to correct our 6% of GDP trade deficit and move it back to under 1% of GDP, unless you want to seriously disrupt the global economy. We are in for tough times people. Very tough! The FED will not be able to save housing with lower rates. We are in for a 10 year decline in home prices. It is called a cycle!

Ames Tiedeman


The Volt may not say "us", but it may save GM.

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I think electric cars will be part of things that will shape the 21st century

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It's a wonderful idea!!!!!!!!but how much?


Adam, it's been said that the 40 mile range of the Volt is only a 50% discharge of the battery (the software won't allow the battery pack to discharge below that level), not a 100% discharge.

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Four times the sales of Toyota Motor Corp.? are you sure?!!! That's incredible guys and amazing too.Congratulations!

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I see the model of the Volt!

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How high can be the price of this car?

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It will be built in less than a year?


The hybrid will be ready by 2010?

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Very cool post, thanks a lot!

Eco Eagles

GM funds our project. I am apart of Embry Riddle's Eco Eagles club. We are Embry Riddle's branch of the EcoCar challenge. We work to design, build and integrate solutions into an existing production vehicle. Solutions such as hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell drive train technologies will be explored. For further information visit www.ecoeagles.org

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Good luck, it will take 20 years to correct our 6% of GDP trade deficit and move it back to under 1% of GDP, unless you want to seriously disrupt the global economy. We are in for tough times people. Very tough! The FED will not be able to save housing with lower rates. We are in for a 10 year decline in home prices. It is called a cycle!

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Such a vehicle, built in such large numbers, could very well bring about the salvation of America, in a world of soon to be declining oil production.

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It is hybrid as I know electric and with fuel

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GM is not a real business, go with Ford instead.

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Adam, er det blevet sagt, at de 40 sømils området af Volt er kun en 50% afladning af batteriet, ikke en 100% afladning.

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Very tough! The FED will not be able to save housing with lower rates. We are in for a 10 year decline in home prices. It is called a cycle!

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