A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

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A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ » Tue Jul 29, 2008 3:16 am UTC

I had never heard of this vehicle until I saw this on the blog over at the Stranger. Clearly, I need to read better news.


Electro-Shock Therapy
‘They’re Making a Huge Mistake’

When one of the world’s mightiest corporations throws everything it’s got at a project, and when it shreds its rule book in the process, the results are likely to be impressive. Still, even for General Motors, the Volt is a reach. If it meets specifications, it will charge up overnight from any standard electrical socket. It will go 40 miles on a charge. Then a small gasoline engine will ignite. The engine’s sole job will be to drive a generator, whose sole job will be to maintain the battery’s charge—not to drive the wheels, which will never see anything but electricity. In generator mode, the car will drive hundreds of miles on a tank of gas, at about 50 miles per gallon. But about three-fourths of Americans commute less than 40 miles a day, so on most days most Volt drivers would use no gas at all.

Because it will have both an electric and a gasoline motor on board, the Volt will be a hybrid. But it will be like no hybrid on the road today. Existing hybrids are gasoline-powered cars, with an electric assist to improve the gas mileage. The Volt will be an electric-powered car, with a gasoline assist to increase the battery’s range.

Electric drive is as old as the automobile itself. Anyone who has ridden in a golf cart has experienced it. Compared with the fire-breathing internal combustion engine, an electric motor is simple, quiet, and clean, and it provides marvelous acceleration and torque. For a century, though, the deal-breaker has been the battery. Any battery with nearly enough power to drive a full-size car was prohibitively large and heavy, prohibitively expensive, unable to go more than a few miles on a charge, or (usually) all of the above. Only recently has the advent of lithium-ion batteries brought a full-range electric car into the realm of the practical. Even so, the battery for the Volt doesn’t yet exist, at least not at a mass-market price, and building it poses formidable challenges. Loading enough energy into a sufficiently small, lightweight package is hard (the battery isn’t much good unless it fits in the car); keeping it cool lest it burst into flames is harder; making it durable enough to last 10 years on bumpy roads is harder yet; manufacturing it in high volumes and at mass-market prices may be hardest of all.

Given the challenges, standard procedure dictates first building and testing the battery, and only then designing a car around it. That process, however, would take until 2012 or 2013—time GM does not have if it wants to beat Toyota. The only hope of meeting the 2010 deadline is to invent the battery while simultaneously designing the car. Just-in-time inventory is common now in the car business, but just-in-time invention on the Volt’s scale is new to GM and probably to the modern automotive industry.




GM is trying to gain back the lead in the auto industry with the Volt. They're also doing it essentially publicly, which isn't exactly what the auto industry is known for.
It's heartening to me to see that some big companies are taking the next advances in engine technology by the horns and forcing them along. And by the time it comes out, I might be able to afford to lease one.
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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby Jahoclave » Tue Jul 29, 2008 3:36 am UTC

Well, in good news, by the time I will have enough money to afford to buy said hybrid cars the world will have ended in a nuclear apocalypse or they'll have perfected hybrid technology.

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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby clintonius » Tue Jul 29, 2008 4:09 am UTC

I'm not sure where they're at now, but a year ago GM was posting a 90% profit reduction from the previous year. Yeah, nine-zero. I think this whole "being ahead of the rest of the American auto companies" thing could be the move that saves their ass, provided they get this tech out in time to head off bankruptcy or a buyout.
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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby mazzilliu » Tue Jul 29, 2008 4:31 am UTC

they are most likely making it public because they fear going out of business. if i was an investor i would take it as a sign not to invest, rather then a good sign. but that's just me, and i'm not an investor :mrgreen:
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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby Pixel » Tue Jul 29, 2008 1:25 pm UTC

(note, I did not read the entire article, I read the first few sections and skimmed the rest)

I've been following the Volt thing since it was unveiled.

This is going to be a halo car for GM, their going to use it to show how "advanced" and "eco-friendly" they are so people think the rest of their cars are better. Even though there is (sadly) little to be impressed by on GM lots these days.

The article is behind the news on one important point. According to GM They've had the battery & drivetrain to reach the 40mile range target since May. *If* the Volt is released in-line with its current date of 2011, will be on-par or slightly better then the Prius slated to come out in 2010, which will also be a plug-in hybrid. However the Volt will likely cost around $48,000, far above the Prius.

This is not the game-changing car that article makes it out to be. It is (should it work) simply the logical next step beyond the current Prius.

GM (& Chrysler & (to a slightly less extent) Ford) are in serious financial trouble right now because they dumped all their resources into making big SUVs & pickups at incredible profits and ignored their car divisions. Now the SUV & pickup market is effectively gone (down 60-90% and getting worse, 150-400+ day supplies of nearly all large SUVs & pickups), and the american car companies have almost nothing worth buying in the small car market. GM further shot themselves in the foot with this as they canceled the EV-1 project to the protests of nearly everyone involved.
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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby Gunfingers » Tue Jul 29, 2008 1:42 pm UTC

Wow, that was intense. Seriously i'd watch a movie based on that article, it was that dramatic.

Ultimately, i applaud GM. They're taking huge risks, and i always support that. "He who dares, wins."

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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby aetherson » Tue Jul 29, 2008 3:03 pm UTC

butbutbutbut they have been dragging their collective asses on this project for the past couple of years.
the only reason, and i'm agreeing with Pixel here, that we're even hearing about the Volt anymore is because the SUV market is dying a slow and painful (and oh so deserving) death.
I'd be more impressed if this vehicle had a more competitive price point and was slated for some time more reasonable, like I don't know, next year?
Until that happens, i'm going to start riding my bike (motorcycle) to work because it gets 50mpg stock.
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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby Pixel » Tue Jul 29, 2008 4:31 pm UTC

Gunfingers wrote:Wow, that was intense. Seriously i'd watch a movie based on that article, it was that dramatic.


Dramatic? Yes. Lacking in accurate portrayal of GM & their actions and attitudes? Sadly also yes.

GM has ignored or paid lip service to building truly innovative vehicles for the last, oh, 50+ years. They still often act like they can expect people to buy whatever they build, they still discount the japanese car company's dominance of the market, they still act like they are big enough to throw their weight around and force the market to bend to their whim (while their market share has consistently dropped since the mid-70s). Bob Lutz talks a good game, but he, and the whole cooperate culture at GM is against the idea of truly changing. Challenging the status-quo is not encouraged, and can be dangerous to one's career there.
Look at Saturn. It was GM's poster child for changing, it was "a different kind of car company". But after a short while GM let the brand stagnant, then came out with half-assed updates to the cars, then replaced them whole hog with imported Astras from europe. Not one piece of the original Saturn concept remains and the brand has such a tiny market share as to render it irrelevant.
GM still hasn't gotten a clue. They revealed the Beat, Trax & Groove minicars at the NYC autoshow in April of 2007, and have recently (July 2008) announced they are going to produce the Beat as a 2009 model, but won't sell it in the US. We will be getting a larger version of one of the cars as a 2011 model. Because selling a minicar right now in the US during a time of massively rising gas prices is a bad idea. Definitely make it bigger (and therefore heavier and less efficient) and wait an extra two years.

Gunfingers wrote:Ultimately, i applaud GM. They're taking huge risks, and i always support that. "He who dares, wins."


The only reason they are taking the huge risk is that it is one of their few chances at not success, but survival. GM is spiraling the drain, and they are putting all their eggs in a Volt shaped basket.
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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby Jahoclave » Tue Jul 29, 2008 4:43 pm UTC

Pixel wrote:
Gunfingers wrote:Ultimately, i applaud GM. They're taking huge risks, and i always support that. "He who dares, wins."


The only reason they are taking the huge risk is that it is one of their few chances at not success, but survival. GM is spiraling the drain, and they are putting all their eggs in a Volt shaped basket.

And I'm not seeing so much giant risk seeing the success of the Prius. The market for a car like this is clearly there. The risk is in fucking up the design. I'm also interested in the idea of their putting a solar panel on the Prius. As much time as some cars spend outdoors it's not an insanely bad idea.

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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby Gunfingers » Tue Jul 29, 2008 5:40 pm UTC

That's exactly the risk, if this turns out to be infeasible it could break them.

Also, i read somewhere that solar panels don't generate enough power to make up for the weight they add to a car. They should really work on making them more efficient...

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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby Pixel » Tue Jul 29, 2008 5:49 pm UTC

Gunfingers wrote:That's exactly the risk, if this turns out to be infeasible it could break them.


*shrug* I don't see putting their eggs in one basket to be particularly impressive. The "hail mary car" has been a halmark of american car manufacturers for decades. Each time they come out with something "new" or "innovative" they think it is the thing that will save them. And if it doesn't immediately succeed they often dump it in favor of the next "big thing". The Japanese car companies instead come out with something good, then continue to try and improve and refine it to remove the less than optimal parts of it. It is pretty clear which policy has shown more success.

Gunfingers wrote:Also, i read somewhere that solar panels don't generate enough power to make up for the weight they add to a car. They should really work on making them more efficient...


They have, look up thin film solar panels. They hit 19.9% efficient, which is on par with traditional solar panels, and weigh a fraction as much. Plus they are flexible and once mass production ramps up they will be cheaper to produce.

the solar panels on the Prius are likely (though I can't find anything confirming one way or the other) to be this style as they are better suited to mobile applications. The Prius solar panels will help power the car's A/C to remove some of that load from the drivetrain.
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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby Jahoclave » Tue Jul 29, 2008 7:15 pm UTC

Pixel wrote:
Gunfingers wrote:Also, i read somewhere that solar panels don't generate enough power to make up for the weight they add to a car. They should really work on making them more efficient...


They have, look up thin film solar panels. They hit 19.9% efficient, which is on par with traditional solar panels, and weigh a fraction as much. Plus they are flexible and once mass production ramps up they will be cheaper to produce.

the solar panels on the Prius are likely (though I can't find anything confirming one way or the other) to be this style as they are better suited to mobile applications. The Prius solar panels will help power the car's A/C to remove some of that load from the drivetrain.

Plus, when you're like me and your car is parked outside 24/7 that's a decent amount of time for that solar panel to be helping to charge my battery. It's not so much about it helping me when I'm driving, but when I'm not driving. From my apartment to school round trip is about 20 miles. For the driving I do a car with solar panels would work out well for me as it means less time I'm going to have to plug it into something.

And if you're looking into solar panel development you might want to look at the German solar industry. They've (with a government subsidy on solar panel, or something like that) turned it into a rather large industry. They've made some strides in mass development over there.

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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby Pixel » Tue Jul 29, 2008 7:37 pm UTC

Jahoclave wrote:Plus, when you're like me and your car is parked outside 24/7 that's a decent amount of time for that solar panel to be helping to charge my battery. It's not so much about it helping me when I'm driving, but when I'm not driving. From my apartment to school round trip is about 20 miles. For the driving I do a car with solar panels would work out well for me as it means less time I'm going to have to plug it into something.


*nod* I remember talking with someone about 12 years ago about their school designed/built electric car. They had put a few solar panels on the hood & trunk. The goal wasn't to run the car off them, but to add that trickle charge to the overall range. His description was "Think of it like adding gasoline to your tank with an eye dropper all day long. You aren't going to fill the tank that way, but you'll have a extra gallon or two."
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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby Hawknc » Wed Jul 30, 2008 12:19 am UTC

It generally takes about five years for a car to go from program start to Job 1, especially if it's being designed from scratch. Some automakers can get that down to three, but with the amount of technology going into the Volt that's simply never been put together before by GM, a 2011-2012 release seems pretty reasonable. What interests me is the profit they plan on making from it...given GM's incredibly poor financial shape right now, I don't know if they can afford to sell any car at a loss, even their Hail Mary. And the Volt is not a cheap car to produce, thanks largely to its battery which will be larger than the next Prius'. Assuming GM survives to see its launch, I think the Volt won't be an incredible success on its own but more of a launching point for getting its technology into the next generation of vehicles. Whatever happens, GM is throwing its future behind electric drive rather than combustion engines, which is a smart move in the medium to long term.

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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby Indon » Wed Jul 30, 2008 12:46 am UTC

Or at least, it would have been a smart move 5-10 years ago, and now GM may well fold because they've waited so long to catch up with the program.
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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby nyeguy » Wed Jul 30, 2008 4:10 am UTC

What I think some people are missing, is that the really cool thing about the Volt isn't that it is a plug-in. I think the coolest thing is the way it designs. It is purely an electric motor. The gas engine serves only as a battery. This means it is easy enough for an alternative fuel source to come along, and they have an entire working architecture. They literally have to pull the gas engine out, through a, say, hydrogen engine in, and hook it to the battery. It is a flexible solution.
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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby Hawknc » Wed Jul 30, 2008 6:33 am UTC

Which is why they call the underlying architecture "E-Flex", from memory. ;) The Opel version that is likely being released in Europe runs on diesel (or even biodiesel, I can't remember) and hydrogen fuel cell versions have been discussed.

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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby Solt » Wed Jul 30, 2008 8:21 am UTC

God, this is so pathetic. I would be beyond embarrassed to be even remotely related to the American automotive industry at this point.

GM is LATE. They should have started designing this 5 years ago, when the Prius had already proven to be viable. They should have hedged their R&D efforts against gas prices. But no. Short term is the name of the game in Detroit.

Aptera is delivering a plug-in hybrid THIS YEAR. It gets 1000 mpg for the first 50 miles, and drops to about 130 mpg at its lowest. Sure it's a two seater that's technically a motorcycle, but the point is that GM isn't even doing that much remarkable on the tech side. They're playing catch up. And of course, lets not even talk about Tesla, who has already invented the battery, with a 220 mile range in an all electric performance car. And this is from a startup. If they had cared to look ahead, GM would have the necessary technology TODAY.


I'd like our automotive makers to beat out the foreign companies as much as the next guy, but I cannot with any seriousness say that they deserve to win; Toyota is smarter and just plain better. Toyota didn't even do anything special, they just didn't make mistakes while GM and Ford went out of their way to be idiots. Toyota invested in hybrid vehicles when they were already battling for first place in the market- the American car makers would have stopped and enjoyed dominance until it was too late and they were forced to do something dramatic to play catch-up, as is happening now.


nyeguy wrote:What I think some people are missing, is that the really cool thing about the Volt isn't that it is a plug-in. I think the coolest thing is the way it designs. It is purely an electric motor. The gas engine serves only as a battery. This means it is easy enough for an alternative fuel source to come along, and they have an entire working architecture. They literally have to pull the gas engine out, through a, say, hydrogen engine in, and hook it to the battery. It is a flexible solution.


This "really cool" technology has already been invented and it's been on the market for several years. It's called the Toyota Prius.
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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby 22/7 » Wed Jul 30, 2008 2:23 pm UTC

Solt wrote:Tesla, who has already invented the battery, with a 220 mile range in an all electric performance car.
Thank you so much for bringing this up. Reading the part of the article where they talk about not having the battery technology to go 40 miles on a single charge... ugh!
nyeguy wrote:What I think some people are missing, is that the really cool thing about the Volt isn't that it is a plug-in. I think the coolest thing is the way it designs. It is purely an electric motor. The gas engine serves only as a battery. This means it is easy enough for an alternative fuel source to come along, and they have an entire working architecture. They literally have to pull the gas engine out, through a, say, hydrogen engine in, and hook it to the battery. It is a flexible solution.
Two things, first, pulling a gasoline powered engine out of a car, even if it's not actually attached to the transmission, isn't quite that easy. Now, if you're saying that it gives GM a platform to redesign for, say, a hydrogen engine, then yeah, but again, that already exists. Second, am I way off base in remembering that hydrogen fuel cell technology is... well, kind of pathetic right now? And that there aren't really any foreseeable advances that will change all that?
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby Gunfingers » Wed Jul 30, 2008 2:35 pm UTC

Wasn't the issue not that the technology doesn't exist, but that it doesn't exist for less than about 100 grand a piece?

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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby Pixel » Wed Jul 30, 2008 2:38 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:
Solt wrote:Tesla, who has already invented the battery, with a 220 mile range in an all electric performance car.
Thank you so much for bringing this up. Reading the part of the article where they talk about not having the battery technology to go 40 miles on a single charge... ugh!


The Tesla is a 2-seater carbon-fiber bodied roadster for $100,000 that is designed to run solely on battery, the Volt is going to be a 4-5 seater 4-door sedan with a trunk, made of steel and/or aluminum costing $40-$48,000. In addition the Volt is going to be carrying around a gas engine & generator setup, fuel tank, etc. Vastly different vehicles made of vastly different materials at vastly different price points designed for vastly different purposes.

Saying the Volt is crap because it doesn't have the electric-only range that the Tesla does is like saying the Tesla is crap because it doesn't have the carrying capacity of an F-350 pickup.

EDIT: or what Gunfingers said.
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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby 22/7 » Wed Jul 30, 2008 3:01 pm UTC

Good thing I didn't say that the Volt was a piece of crap. What I did say was that the technology does exist already.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby Pixel » Wed Jul 30, 2008 3:15 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:Good thing I didn't say that the Volt was a piece of crap. What I did say was that the technology does exist already.


You implied it pretty strongly.

Saying the technology existed to get the Volt 40 miles on a charge because the Tesla can do 220 on a charge is false logic. The Volt is a bigger heavier car operating on a smaller battery pack. Also the technical requirements of the pack are going to be different given that the charging methods are different, the motor being powered are different, and it will be being discharged differently.
In fact Tesla is working on an all-electric sedan (codenamed "Whitestar") to follow the roadster. It is expected to go 150-200 miles on a charge. An alternate extended-range version is also planned that will got 40-50 miles on the batteries and then have a gas engine to extend the range to 400miles on a tank of gas(cite). it is not yet in production and powertrain mules have been spotted testing these drivetrains. So clearly they are at a similar place as GM with development of these battery packs & drivetrains. So if Tesla is still developing it, and GM is still developing it then clearly the technology didn't exist already.
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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby oxoiron » Wed Jul 30, 2008 3:24 pm UTC

GM already made an electric car ten years ago that could go farther than 40 miles per charge.
Wikipedia wrote:The Gen 1 cars got 55 to 75 miles (90 to 120 km) per charge with the Delco-manufactured lead-acid batteries, 75 to 100 miles (120-to-160 km) with the Gen 2 Panasonic lead-acid batteries, and 75 to 150 miles (120 to 240 km) per charge with Gen 2 Ovonic nickel-metal hydride batteries. Recharging took as much as eight hours for a full charge (although one could get an 80% charge in two to three hours). The battery pack consisted of 26 of 12 V, 60 Ah lead-acid batteries holding 67.4 MJ (18.7 kWh) of energy or 26 13.2-volt, 77 Ah nickel-metal hydride batteries which held 95.1 MJ (26.4 kWh) of energy.
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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby 22/7 » Wed Jul 30, 2008 3:35 pm UTC

Pixel wrote:
22/7 wrote:Good thing I didn't say that the Volt was a piece of crap. What I did say was that the technology does exist already.
You implied it pretty strongly.
No, I didn't. I said it was frustrating to see an article say that a technology doesn't exist when it does. Show me where I said or even implied that it was a piece of crap.

Pixel wrote:Saying the technology existed to get the Volt 40 miles on a charge because the Tesla can do 220 on a charge is false logic. The Volt is a bigger heavier car operating on a smaller battery pack. Also the technical requirements of the pack are going to be different given that the charging methods are different, the motor being powered are different, and it will be being discharged differently.
They've put constraints on themselves (pretty shitty ones, to be honest) and claimed that certain technologies don't exist. They do exist, and can be seen in the Tesla. No, it's not the same car. Yes, it's heavier. But is their new sedan really 5 1/2 times as heavy as the Tesla? Is the motor really that much more inefficient? There's a breakdown somewhere there, and I'm more than happy to hear where it lies. The Tesla roadster weighs about 2700lbs. That's about 200lbs lighter than my car (Mazda3) and about 100lbs more than a Honda Civic. That's right, it's a roadster, a 2 seater, and it weighs more than a Civic. That's not particularly uncommon, but lets face facts, the Tesla roadster is a "real sized" vehicle. It's not a Smart Car (which, to be honest, is a fucking stupid vehicle, but if you really want to get into that, PM me or start a thread). It gets about 250 horses output from its engine, which is respectable, to say the least, but to say that you can't put that engine and battery in a larger sedan and expect, say, 140hp and 75-100 mile range as a realistic baseline? Please.

Good point, oxoiron.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby Pixel » Wed Jul 30, 2008 4:08 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:No, I didn't. I said it was frustrating to see an article say that a technology doesn't exist when it does. Show me where I said or even implied that it was a piece of crap.


I misread the attitude behind your statements, I apologize.

22/7 wrote:They've put constraints on themselves (pretty shitty ones, to be honest) and claimed that certain technologies don't exist. They do exist, and can be seen in the Tesla. No, it's not the same car. Yes, it's heavier. But is their new sedan really 5 1/2 times as heavy as the Tesla? Is the motor really that much more inefficient? There's a breakdown somewhere there, and I'm more than happy to hear where it lies. The Tesla roadster weighs about 2700lbs. That's about 200lbs lighter than my car (Mazda3) and about 100lbs more than a Honda Civic. That's right, it's a roadster, a 2 seater, and it weighs more than a Civic. That's not particularly uncommon, but lets face facts, the Tesla roadster is a "real sized" vehicle. It's not a Smart Car (which, to be honest, is a fucking stupid vehicle, but if you really want to get into that, PM me or start a thread). It gets about 250 horses output from its engine, which is respectable, to say the least, but to say that you can't put that engine and battery in a larger sedan and expect, say, 140hp and 75-100 mile range as a realistic baseline? Please.


It isn't the same engine and batteries, because it isn't the same type of vehicle. The Tesla is an electric-only vehicle designed To optimize for range & performance, and to get all its charge from a wall socket. The Volt is a hybrid vehicle designed to run off gasoline, with a plug-in option to extend its range. The Volt is not, and has never been intended to travel extended distances on electricity alone. that 40 mile range is simply a secondary feature that allows one to use the Volt in electric-only mode for short hops, with longer trips using the gasoline engine to recharge the batteries.

Yes, if you stuck the Tesla drivetrain in a sedan and made an electric-only sedan that got all its charge from the wall socket you could probably get a range like you stated above. But it wouldn't be a comparable vehicle to the Volt.

See my commentary on the Whitestar sedan above. One drivetrain will give it 150-200 miles of range on plug-in electricity alone. Another *different drivetrain* will give it 40-50 miles of electric range with a gas engine to extend it to 400miles on a tank of gas. Different drivetrains, different design requirements/specs, different ranges & outputs. The electric only drivetrain is like the one in the Tesla, the gas/electic drivetrain is like the Volt. And they have completely different electric-only ranges.

Oh and as for your weight comments, the Tesla is all carbon-fiber, and is otherwise designed for absolute minimum weight, why? To compensate for the massive weight of the battery pack that allows it to go 220 miles. A 2008 Prius is 2932lbs, but on its battery pack alone it will go 4 miles before it hits 80% charge and kicks on the gas engine. So even if you defeated the programming and let it completely discharge to zero (which would permanently damage the battery's ability to hold a charge) you would have a range of 20 miles. Half that of the Volt, and the Volt won't be discharging to zero.
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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby 22/7 » Wed Jul 30, 2008 4:33 pm UTC

I'm aware of why the Tesla is designed the way it is, and I'm aware that different engine/transmission couplings produce different power outputs and different ranges, my point is that the technology to go x miles on a charge is there already. And I realize that they're going for a different type of drivetrain here, but even if you have to make the vehicle weigh 4000lbs (due to the gas tank, engine and battery), coupling the better battery technology seems like the obvious choice.
Totally not a hypothetical...

Steroid wrote:
bigglesworth wrote:If your economic reality is a choice, then why are you not as rich as Bill Gates?
Don't want to be.
I want to be!

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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby nyeguy » Wed Jul 30, 2008 5:26 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:Two things, first, pulling a gasoline powered engine out of a car, even if it's not actually attached to the transmission, isn't quite that easy. Now, if you're saying that it gives GM a platform to redesign for, say, a hydrogen engine, then yeah, but again, that already exists. Second, am I way off base in remembering that hydrogen fuel cell technology is... well, kind of pathetic right now? And that there aren't really any foreseeable advances that will change all that?

Yeah, GM is what I meant. I never really thought this car was that great, but it seems the only good thing was something I misunderstood - I didn't realize it was as similar to the Prius and such as it is.
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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby space_raptor » Wed Jul 30, 2008 6:59 pm UTC

22/7 wrote: And I realize that they're going for a different type of drivetrain here, but even if you have to make the vehicle weigh 4000lbs (due to the gas tank, engine and battery), coupling the better battery technology seems like the obvious choice.

Unless, of course, that makes the vehicle prohibitively expensive.
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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby 22/7 » Wed Jul 30, 2008 8:44 pm UTC

space_raptor wrote:
22/7 wrote: And I realize that they're going for a different type of drivetrain here, but even if you have to make the vehicle weigh 4000lbs (due to the gas tank, engine and battery), coupling the better battery technology seems like the obvious choice.

Unless, of course, that makes the vehicle prohibitively expensive.

Well, apparently top of the line materials and and a battery pack and engine that give 250ish hp and 220ish mile range cost $109,000 (the Tesla roadster). So cut back on the amount of battery you've got, put in a smaller engine, make the car out of steel and aluminum instead of carbon fiber, etc. I mean, they're already looking at about $50,000, right? So anything below that with better specs would be an improvement, no?
Totally not a hypothetical...

Steroid wrote:
bigglesworth wrote:If your economic reality is a choice, then why are you not as rich as Bill Gates?
Don't want to be.
I want to be!

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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby Solt » Wed Jul 30, 2008 10:33 pm UTC

Pixel wrote:The Tesla is a 2-seater carbon-fiber bodied roadster for $100,000 that is designed to run solely on battery, the Volt is going to be a 4-5 seater 4-door sedan with a trunk, made of steel and/or aluminum costing $40-$48,000. In addition the Volt is going to be carrying around a gas engine & generator setup, fuel tank, etc. Vastly different vehicles made of vastly different materials at vastly different price points designed for vastly different purposes.

Saying the Volt is crap because it doesn't have the electric-only range that the Tesla does is like saying the Tesla is crap because it doesn't have the carrying capacity of an F-350 pickup.

EDIT: or what Gunfingers said.


I never implied that they can just buy some batteries from Tesla, plop it in their car, and go.

What I AM saying is that if GM had started looking into this technology 5 years ago, they would most certainly have a battery that works for them by now. To support that claim, I brought up that Tesla, a startup company with nowhere near the resources of GM, in that time managed to develop a battery with similarly difficult requirements (though not the same requirements).
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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby Pixel » Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:52 pm UTC

Solt wrote:I never implied that they can just buy some batteries from Tesla, plop it in their car, and go.


For clarification, none of those comments were directed at you, they were responding to 22/7.
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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby Pixel » Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:58 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:Well, apparently top of the line materials and and a battery pack and engine that give 250ish hp and 220ish mile range cost $109,000 (the Tesla roadster). So cut back on the amount of battery you've got, put in a smaller engine, make the car out of steel and aluminum instead of carbon fiber, etc. I mean, they're already looking at about $50,000, right? So anything below that with better specs would be an improvement, no?


Once again, see the Tesla Whitestar sedan I mentioned above, Tesla is doing pretty much exactly that. But there are still significant technical issues to overcome.


Also correct language for the sake of clarity:
engine=internal combustion engine
motor=electric motor
Motor is often used in place of engine and while incorrect, it is common enough to be considered "right". An electric motor can not be called an "engine" with any degree of accuracy.
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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby 22/7 » Thu Jul 31, 2008 3:02 pm UTC

Pixel wrote:Also correct language for the sake of clarity:
engine=internal combustion engine
motor=electric motor
Motor is often used in place of engine and while incorrect, it is common enough to be considered "right". An electric motor can not be called an "engine" with any degree of accuracy.

That's true, I'm sorry I was being lazy. When talking about cars I tend to call anything attached to a transmission an engine.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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bigglesworth wrote:If your economic reality is a choice, then why are you not as rich as Bill Gates?
Don't want to be.
I want to be!

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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby Belial » Thu Jul 31, 2008 5:48 pm UTC

You realize that electric cars generally have no transmission, right?
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Re: A good first look at the forthcoming GM Volt electric car

Postby 22/7 » Thu Jul 31, 2008 6:16 pm UTC

Belial wrote:You realize that electric cars generally have no transmission, right?

Not a multigear transmission, no. But you've still got something that couples the motor to the driveshaft, yes?
Totally not a hypothetical...

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bigglesworth wrote:If your economic reality is a choice, then why are you not as rich as Bill Gates?
Don't want to be.
I want to be!


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