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April 07, 2008



Oh, its November of 2010 now, is it? My prediction: that date will slip.

Electric conversions can go 40 miles today. Other than the fact that it is GM making the car, I don't see what's so great about the Volt.

I still believe GM is the Microsoft of the nascent electric car market, stifling innovation through its vaporware announcements. Whatever delivery items were promised will be reduced, in order to meet a constantly adjusted timeline.

To be successful with this strategy, GM must fend off enough innovators to keep the competition to a minimum, while also closely monitoring the progress of established competitors already assuming the risk in this new market. Phoenix Motors, Subaru, Tesla Motors, Miles Electric, etc. to name a few, never mind the conversion market that could blossom once LiON batteries become more widely available.

I hope A123 is not so locked into GM that it can't compete with AlairNano, Valence, etc. should (when) the Volt arrives in a form less than promised and later than promised.


And.......why is it that the EV1 could travel 70 miles and now the Volt can only make it 40 miles? GM seems to be going backwards in their distances. Maybe they should have their EV1 engineers meet with the Volt engineers. What a crock.

And the oil companies keep getting richer, but they see the writing on the wall. GM is supporting the oil companies I think.


While I'm not a GM fan, the decision to only make the all electric range 40miles is likely an economic tradeoff. Battery cost/weight scales roughly linearly with range, whilst end user utility doesn't, as most trips will be short enough to be fully electric mode, and cross country travel will see little benefit from a modest improvement in all electric range. I would expect the first generation of plugin hybrids to have relatively short 10-50 mile all electric ranges for this reason.

Just Watching

Even if they were afforadable to the masses there isn't enough electricity in the grid to keep them on the road.

Bob Wallace

We have surplus off-peak/nighttime capacity that would provide for the initial fleet.

It would take many years to replace the existing ICE fleet with PHEVs/BEVs and during that time we will continue to bring more power on line.

BTW, I could be charging one right now off my home PV system. My house batteries are charged and the sun's going to be shining for several more hours....

Carl Hage

Even if they were afforadable to the masses there isn't enough electricity in the grid to keep them on the road.

You only need a photovoltaic panel about the area of a carport to meet the needs of a car. Even at today's high prices for solar PV, it's still cheaper than gasoline. Thus it would be possible to add solar electric at the same rate as adding electric vehicles. They could be charged whenever there is surplus electricity.

By contrast, corn or switchgrass requires about 2 acres to meet the biofuel needs of 1 car (maybe 1 acre with more efficient cars and high yield switchgrass). Though I believe in biofuel, I just read that in 2007 20% of the grain crop went to ethanol that supplied 4% of automotive fuel. That means using current technology, 100% of the grain harvest would supply 20% of automotive fuel-- far less than the savings from adding gas-only hybrid technology to a car (what Vinod Khosla dissed).

Hybrids don't preclude all-electric cars. The point is that combining a battery and engine, you can use a smaller weaker and hence cheaper battery, and a smaller weaker and hence more fuel efficient engine. Plus you don't need to rely on electric charging stations to travel long distances.

In the future, when cheap fast-charging batteries are available, all-electric will be more desirable. In the mean time, plug-in hybrids will build the market for batteries and charging stations.


on the above comment,
'you only need a photovoltaic panel the size of a carport to meet the needs of a car'
if that's true - why not put panels on the car? (a lot of cars are parked outside most of the day).. Of course the sun isnt shining all the time but its a step to relieving the grid.

Bob Wallace

Cars don't always live in the sun. They go under bridges/trees, they park in garages, they find an empty parking space on the shady side of the building....

You can place panels where they don't get shaded and are optimally oriented toward the sun. It's hard to crank car mounted panels up to face the low-in-the-sky winter sun.

Additionally if you place the panels on the car then once the car batteries are charged additional potential electricity is discarded.

Better to hook to the grid.


@bigTom: "While I'm not a GM fan, the decision to only make the all electric range 40miles is likely an economic tradeoff." And I bet they're kicking themselves for aiming THAT high. I agree with your 10-50 mile range for 1st-gen pluggable hybrids. Toyota probably has it right with their plan to make a ~10mi electric range on the pluggable Prius they're planning. Maybe GM wouldn't be looking at a $48k price tag if they had just aimed for a kick-ass serial hybrid with a 10mi all-electric range.


point taken Bob,
I work in an light industrial area where all the buildings around here have flat roofs.. They get a lot of sun in the summer (here in Vancouver)
cover the roofs with panels (people could recharge or send back to the grid - which would reduce air conditioning costs on those hot days.)


To JD:

I had the opportunity to speak with the Chevy Volt engineering team at the NY Auto Show, and they went over the math that pointed them to the 40 mile range. Simply, they wanted a range in which the majority of trips could be taken without ever turning on the gasoline engine.

At one point, someone asked about the possibly of a cheaper "Volt Lite" with a smaller battery. They explained the math in detail, and showed that a car with a 10-mile battery would result in the gasoline engine coming on during 90% of the trips taken, bit the 40-mile battery resulted in the gasoline engine coming on during only 3% of the trips taken. At that point, putting in a bigger battery added cost without much benefit.

One encouraging fact that came up was that the Volt has a pressurized fuel tank. The reason for this is that the engineers felt that it may take weeks or months to go through a tank of gas, and the pressurized tank prevents the fuel from going stale (apparently, E85 takes even longer to go stale). If they're thinking about this, then they're serious about this being a primarily-electric vehicle.

Paul F. Dietz

And.......why is it that the EV1 could travel 70 miles and now the Volt can only make it 40 miles? GM seems to be going backwards in their distances.

Don't be silly, Gregor. The Volt is a hybrid, so it doesn't need to go to great lengths to maximize electric-only range. Indeed, it is ecnomically ludicrous to do so, if long trips are sufficiently infrequent. You never pay back the extra cost (direct and indirect) of the larger battery pack.

There's also the small matter of the Volt being a potentially commercially successful vehicle, as EV-1 never could be.

Benny Peak Demand Cole

The electrical grid is well able to handle nightime charging demand from PHEVs. Even if we need to juice the grid, we can tap much more wind, geothermal, hydro, and nuke power if we want.
The PHEV is a transformative technology. Energy demand shifts from liquid fuel, to anything that powers the grid.
Powering the grid is easy. Finding oil in stable countries is hard. Not only that, PHEVs promise to make city air cleaner, and more quiet.
PHEVs seem likely to result in a cleaner and more prosperous world. I really see few drawbacks, and we kick the crap out of OPEC along the way. What's not to like?


@Swimdad623: dude, don't get me wrong: I LOVE the fact that it's trying for a 40 mile range--the reasoning you describe as being behind the decision is already well-publicized, and I definitely appreciate the concept; however, THERE WASN'T MUCH THOUGHT ON HOW MUCH 40 MILES WORTH OF NEXT-GEN BATTERY TECH MIGHT COST before promising...well...40 miles of next gen battery tech.

Nobody is going to pay $40-48k for a car that actually only gets fantastic mileage on 40-mile-or-shorter trips. I'm just hoping they don't sour the public on plugins with their final price tag, and I'm looking forward to Toyota releasing a plugin--yeah, it only goes 10 miles, but they're aiming for a similar price as the current Prius. If that just makes for a current Prius + 15% better mileage, that's still a great improvement.


A few relevant points not mentioned in the previous posts:

1. Dependency on Lithium resources displaces Geopolitical vulnerabilities to Boliva from OPEC. There are references on lithium scarcity and sources on this site. To keep critical infrastructure resources within the continental US better to use Aluminum/air chemistry or nanotech lead foam, super caps, anything but lithium limited to Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Russia. Let's not repeat the oil mistake and this time think long term.

2. The Aptera getting 300 MPG underscores that the big auto makers are ignoring high school physics. 60% of fuel consumption is aerodynamic drag alone. The entire Aptera 3 wheeler has less drag than the windshield wipers and rear view mirrors on existing vehicles. A jet aircraft "styled" to look like a Chevy Volt would simply never leave the ground. The rest of the Aptera's performance derives from low mass (1500 lbs) through use of carbon fiber = lower mass to accelerate/decelerate and the elimination of the transmission, drive shaft losses by driving the wheels directly. Let's recruit Bert Rutan's genius in aerodynamics and advanced composite materials to get such results right now.

3. The above points are painfully obvious. Deliberately and willfully ignoring them is equivalent to sabotage. Personally I don't care for the "our surveys show the public really want better cup holders" mentality. This "think" has undermined the major car makers progress to date.

4. Apple, in contrast, is a technology company demonstrating the viability of "skating to where the puck will be" and public surveys be damned. If you know what is true then you educate the public on what they would want if they knew the hard numbers. Form follows function. Todays rejected styles become tomorrows boutique fashion. I'd rather side with the visionary than the "lowest common denominator consensus" that pitted Galleo against the Catholic Church.

5. Regarding the internal combustion engine as an alternate source of stored energy in serial or parallel hybrids: The piston engine is 30% efficient max. The Texas A&M Starrotor engine is a low RPM brayton cycle engine, a sort of low speed jet engine. With 2 and possibly 3 times the thermodynamic efficiency of the piston engine and 10% of the parts count and 10% of the wear, no piston rings or even seals, no reversal of masses but pure circular rotation.

6. Add to #2, 3 and 5 above the immediate technology available to produce pure hydrogen and pure oxygen on-demand on board the vehicle through high freqency current through stainless plates in a potasium hydroxide electrolyte. This does not require high pressure tanks or fuel cells and acts as a booster to gas/diesel/ethanol combustion. Add to that plasma spark plugs and water vapor injection.
These in combination can double mileage in the entire existing fleet of cars and even the largest trucks 90% of which will still be on the road 10 years or more from today.

7. All these points are existing and proven basic technology not based on hype. The future is already here. It's just unevenly distributed.

8. This situation is a perfect storm combination of lowest common denominator, dumbed down stupidity mixed with various status quo entity hidden agendas and power, rendering national governments as puppets providing subsidies on top of obscene profit margins.

Mikes Air Conditioning Repair

This happens everytime in our response to a crisis we rush towards a bit of dylight to solve a problem without seeing the unintended consequences

James Wittington

We have the knowledge. We have the technology. What we lack is a government who seems capable of devising , supporting, and implementing a plan to free us from our dependence on foreign oil. American's also on the other hand seem to have a very short attention span. Our economy is going down the tubes and fast. This isn't the first time, we have been there before. Our memory seems to blot that all out when fuel prices drop we waste no time wasting, producing, buying and using cars that get low mpg etc. Only when it truly hurts us in the pocketbook do we suddenly switch into our conservation mode. We need to be in this for the long haul, permanently and totally. We need to elect a president who will commit to rapid deployment of a plan of energy independence. We need to use every resource available to us to reduce consumption of fossil fuels. We need to take full advantage of natural energy sources such as wind power and solar power. We need to use our technological knowledge of hybrid cars, v2g technologies etc. They all play a vital role in reducing our dependence on foreign oil and improving our environment not to mention relieving our suffering economy.


Kit P

“We have the knowledge.”

James the only thing you have is BS. Is anyone buying your book?

Hybrid Car Rental

Thanks for the Volt status update, that's really helpful. Keep up the good work.


Ok, its now February and no notable updates based on a quickee Google search. Could be that GM is keeping things under wraps because of their oh-so-public financial tribulations. Or it could be that this is there is nothing to report which tells me the American Giant is going to continue to waver on its deliverable. Any major project has to hit milestones. After this many months... still in limbo?

With Mr. Lutz (GM's lead senior manager on Volt) now apparently due to retire at the end of this year - its starting to look more bleak to me, I'm sorry to say.

Mr. Wagoner, if your people are monitoring forums like this: I'm an American consumer who would buy the Volt or at least consider it as a step in the right direction, and I want it to be a success... But the Volt initative is looking like its got the earmarks of half-measures that will go by the wayside since its such as small portion of your business. Too bad.

Give us something to believe this is still going to happen, before we give up on buying American and get a Prius instead.

oilfield equipment

we need to get this done. the technology that we have.

cheap computers

I believe that GM is the Microsoft of the nascent electric car market, stifling innovation through its vaporware announcements.

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Thanks bob for the advice.

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Used trucks

Gm is taking too much time in launching the Volt. I think they are out of ideas.

Used cars

Today electric cars more demanded, Because fuel prices increase day by day. We seen today many automaker concentrated on electric vehicles.

plantronics cs55

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Big Trucks

Chevy-volt battery is well know for their long life and this will even add to its feature.If this is successful than most of the electric car of the future will follow GM's way.

Office 2010

You are great! But I still did good! Hey!

Auto Lease Broker Los Angeles

Glad they were so gung-ho about electric cars, but I don't know if Volts really became popular, did they? I'm trying to think if I've seen one around or not.

Cheap Furniture Glendale

I really haven't seen any Volts around at all.

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