Chevy Volt Hybrid Design

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Drew Rattray
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Chevy Volt Hybrid Design

A lot of the latest buzz in green technology has been about the announcement of the Chevy Volt production design.

If you've been living under a rock, here's a brief overview:  The Chevy Volt is a plug-in hybrid compact car targeted for release in 2010 that features a revolutionary electric propulsion system that goes beyond just battery power.  The lithium-ion battery itself will have an estimated range of 40 miles, but there will be a variety of range-extending on-board power sources to recharge the battery once you pass its range.  These power sources will include gas and in some cases e85 ethanol(3). The engine is maintained by the small combustion engine instead of assisted by one.

Functionally, this sounds great.  The average daily commute for about 78 million Americans is 40 miles or less. The Chevy Volt, with a first generation sticker price of $40,000,  could presumably keep those 78 million people from using gas during the work week.  Charging the car won't be too much of a pain with the option of plugging it into a standard household 120v outlet, which will take about 8 hours for a full charge, or a 240v outlet, which will only take about 3 hours to charge.

But...if you're going to design a green car and market it as a solution to our environmental woes, maybe you should not design it around a nonrenewable power source.  70 percent of the United States electricity production comes from non renewable fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas.  Want to really "Wow" me?  Figure out how to cleanly dispose of nuclear waste and design a car around nuclear power.  That would really be a technological advancement.

Also, if you want to talk about straight up physical design...it's a down right bland looking car (image).  What happened to the intense concept design that was unveiled at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit?  The company states that the design required something more aerodynamically efficient, which I understand, but something more could have been done.   If Chevy is going to go through the effort of trying to stun me with technological advancements, they should spend a little more time making me want to actually be seen in the car. I know it's shallow, but how many of you out there drive a car solely based on its gas mileage?


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3 Comments

I and about 50% of the Chevy Volt registered buyers, like the production design more than the concept design.
"Bland" is a brainless characterization. One could even call it a bland comment. The concept Volt had several
problems with its design that made it impractical to those who actually were interested in buying one - iut had a "chopped tp" which made side views narow and confining. The front was way too angular. The top and rear were by far the best parts of the original concept, and I'm happy to say that they remined largely unaffected by the smoothing redesign. There is also the stupidity of claiming that the Volt will be the only E-Flex coming out of GM. Already there are 4 more models in design and ready to hit the showrooms as soon as the initial Volts complete their 6 month shakedown. If you don't care for the Volt, then at least stop misleading
folks into thinking that this will be GM's only desigm.
Pontiac and Cadillac are to be among the next out of the gate.

I'm not impressed with the Chevy Volt. 40 miles will only get me 1 way to my office (30 miles). I then need to plug in and I doubt my company would appreciate me sucking electric power for my own personal use.

Further, the GM EV1 electric car was introduced in 1996 (12 yrs ago) and it had better specs, but was killed.

According to the March 13, 2007, issue of Newsweek, "GM R&D chief Larry Burns . . . now wishes GM hadn't killed the plug-in hybrid EV1 prototype his engineers had on the road a decade ago: 'If we could turn back the hands of time,' says Burns, 'we could have had the Chevy Volt 10 years earlier.

So if you want some controversy, take a look at GM's EV1 electric car, which sported fuel economy of 60 to 100 mpg and 390 miles range. Conspiracy theorists think the oil companies forced GM to kill the car. Who knows. But when you read this info below (borrowed from wikipedia) you wonder why we don't have a decent electric car or electric hybrid with decent range.

via: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_EV1

On June 30, 2006, a documentary film debuted entitled Who Killed the Electric Car?. The subject of the film is the demise of the EV1. Much of the film accounts for GM's efforts to demonstrate to California that there was no demand for their product and then to reclaim every last EV1 and dispose of them. A few vehicles were disabled and given to museums and universities, but almost all were found to have been crushed.

According to the film, many EV1 lessees offered to purchase their vehicles from GM at lease-end for the residual price. For instance, US$1.9 million was offered for the remaining 78 cars in a Burbank storage lot (or $24,359 per car). Apparently GM did not entertain any of these offers. Subsequently, the film depicts nearly all of the EV1s being decommissioned by GM crushed and recycled as scrap metal. These are some of the reasons why many analysts question GM's motives. Several weeks before the debut of the film, the Smithsonian Institution announced that its EV1 display was being permanently removed and the EV1 car put into storage. Although GM is a major financial contributor to the museum, both parties denied that this sponsorship contributed to the removal of the display.[39] According to the museum, the removal of the EV1 from display was a necessary aspect of its renovation.[40] The space where the EV1 stood has been filled by Stanley, the unmanned Volkswagen Touareg SUV which won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge.

EV1 series Hybrid (gas)
A fuel tank capacity of 6.5 gallons (24.6 l) and fuel economy of 60 to 100 mpg (3.9 to 2.4 L/100 km) in hybrid mode, depending on the driving conditions, allowed for a highway range of more than 390 miles (627.6 km). The car accelerated to 0-60 mph (96.6 km/h) in 9 seconds.

EV1 parallel hybrid (diesel)
The parallel hybrid variant featured a de-stroked 1.3 L turbocharged DTI diesel engine (Isuzu Circle L), delivering 75 hp, installed in the trunk along with an additional 6.5 hp DC motor/generator; the two motors drove the rear wheels through an electronically controlled transaxle. When combined with the AC induction motor which powered the front wheels, all three power units delivered a total output of 219 hp, accelerating the car to 0-60 mph (96.6 km/h) in 7 seconds. A single tank of diesel fuel could keep the car running for 550 miles with a fuel economy of 80 mpg.[citation needed]

A similar technology is used in the 2005 Opel Astra Diesel Hybrid concept.