• May 7, 2007


GM wants its leadership back -- if not in sales, then in technology, and the Volt is going to do it. The General has put the car into the official production pipeline. Typically a 36-month process for GM, the car could go on sale as early as 2010, though no production date has been set.

The Volt has been chosen to ride on the next generation Delta platform, which will also carry the next Cobalt or Astra. GM has set aside the funds, and started engineering a car that will be tailored for international markets. Bob Lutz has said the development of the car would cost at least $500 million dollars, which includes a plug-in gasoline version and a fuel cell version. The gasoline model would be a "series hybrid," in which a gas engine charges a battery pack that in turn powers electric motors at the wheels. The car could then run as long as there's gas in the tank, yet could also be plugged in overnight to recharge the battery. Charged up, the battery by itself would be good for 40 miles. Fuel cell Volts, too expensive for volume production, would be sold mostly in China. European versions of the Volt could get diesel engines, and a South American Volt could get an ethanol-powered car.

Though a world car, GM wants to build the Volt in the US. The leading option right now is the assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio. However, the key to all of this, says Lutz, is suppliers to come through with a reliable lithium ion battery. If that's done, the company is even willing to initially lose money on the car in order to get it produced and sold. The Volt is expected to be a low volume vehicle and not a big money maker, but it could battle the Prius and burnish restore GM's green credentials.

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd, AutoblogGreen]



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  • 42 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      "40 miles is too much and unrealistic. According to the US Census, the average commute is 25 minutes, and 29% of workers commute less than 15 minutes. That means to me that a good third of the US work force could sail along without buying gasoline if they had a 15 mile battery range. And I believe that is feasible today."
      If the average commute is 25 minutes, then you aren't going to get there and back with 15 miles of range.
      Your commute times are not very relevant - we need to know commute mileage. GM did a study (and therefore they know a great deal more than you do) that showed that 78% of commuters could get to work and back with a range of 40 miles.
      They settled on that figure as arange that could mak a large dent in crude imports. Your 15 mile range would be woefully inadequate. You alos fail to understand that the issue isn't just range - the battery pack must have a lifespan of more than 10 years and be able to propel the car at highway speeds, something any of the older battery types can do without using a ton of them (like the EV-1 - its battery pack of NiMH batteries was gigantic - it weighed 1200 pounds). It's obvious that none of the bloggers here understand all of the characterisitcs of a battery that need to be considered. It's far more complicated than apparently you believe.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I do not care what you naysayers are screaming. I am saving my $$$$$ for the VOLT, 40, 30, 20 miles, who care...Plus solar panels...Wow. I still will get to work and come back home, stop at friends house, park the Volt where the sunshine, playpool, head home, stop at the supermarket and buy milk and whatever the woman of the house say she needs..Yes, since I don't buy no more gas, I am even getting roses for her too...On my way to work I will stop at the BP/exxon.... station and buy COFFEE.. Yes, Coffee. I rather give my $$$$ to those farmers cultivating my coffee and not those Soudismideasters biaaches. Consider this a pay back. Now you can drink your damn oil. GM, if you build it (Volt), I/we will buy it. Now, can you imagine the near future in a Volt. I can!
      • 7 Years Ago
      "The Volt is expected to be a low volume vehicle and not a big money maker"

      By the time GM comes out with this thing gas is probably going to be $10 a gallon. If that's not enough to make a car like this a hit, then we're doomed. If it DOES become a hit and GM totally underestimates demand, then they deserve to go bankrupt.

      • 7 Years Ago
      The interesting comment here is that GM is willing to lose money on the car. This means that they KNOW the technology hasn't reached a competitive price point yet. This also means the car is likely to have a big fat dealer markup on it. If you're expecting an affordable Volt in your garage in 2010, you're going to be disappointed.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Charged up, the battery by itself would be good for 40 miles.

      Does that seem like a short distance to anyone else?
      • 7 Years Ago
      If GM can pull this off, it will be revolutionary: who else now offers a series hybrid plug-in? The internal combustion engine must be of sufficient power to run the entire vehicle when the batteries are discharged, so it needs to be 50-100 HP. Another advantage is the ICE is available for additional power boosts, which could be a very impressive performing car.
      Still another advantage is in the event of a battery failure; the ICE can power the entire car. And likely there will be multiple electric motors: again redundancy should a motor or controller fail.
      The ICE has another big advantage: it can be a diesel or gasoline, and is quieter and cheaper than a gas turbine.
      GM, the same company that killed the electric car so they could replace it with the Hummer (in the same month) must redeem itself and I see this car as the best possibility.
      The styling of the concept Volt appears way over the top with outrageous sculpting; let's hope GM tones this down so we can actually tolerate looking at it.
      If you look into the design of the EV-1 you'll see an amazing accomplishment technically, in the choice of a 3 phase induction motor, 100 KW "stereo amplifier" power controller, electric air conditioning, and unique high power battery charger. And that was all designed in the early 90s. Here is a golden opportunity for GM to show the World what it can do. And this is my only hope to buy a GM vehicle again.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I don't think you 40 miles people understand properly. The cars petrol/ethenol/fuel cell/diesel engine runs continuiously to recharge the battery, efficetly (spelling) replacing the alternator. This car can do over 750 miles according to some press releases.
      • 7 Years Ago

      I live in oregon where gas prices are the highest in the country behind california.When I go on the road I see prius everywhere.If gm gets these cars built and does a good job of it there should be just as many on the road as the prius.
      I got my money saved and my gm credits built up to buy plugin if they sell it.If they dont then a prius will be parked in my yard.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Forty miles doesn't seem like a whole lot, but my Camry Hybrid can't even do half that soley on battery power. Besides, my drive to work is less than that round trip, so while it could be better, it's still better than anything that's out there today on the dealer's lots.

      I know I'd get one. Oh, and if they could make solar panels on the roof then it may help with the recharging of the battery and perhaps go even longer. Perhaps. Just a thought.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "Therefore you only need an engine large enough to charge a battery which really can be 1 hp or less ie say a lawnmower engine."

      Yikes! That's totally incorrect! Please understand that this is not true. There is no way to get more power out of a system than is put into the system. That's why there isn't a perpetual motion machine and free energy.

      A generator driven by an ICE must convert energy by converting:
      Chemical (gas) -> Mechanical (rotation)
      Mechanical (rotation) -> Electrical

      And then if use right away:
      Electrical -> Mechanical (motor)

      Or if recharging a battery:
      Electrical -> Chemical (battery)
      Chemical -> Electrical
      Electrical -> Mechanical (motor)

      Each conversion has it's own inefficiencies. A normal car just has a Chemical -> Mechanical conversion! So, while an ICE may only be 25% efficient at extracting mechanical energy from the energy available in gasoline, a generator would be 15%-20%(ballpark).

      The advantage in an series hybrid is the regenerative breaking. You can use the momentum of the car to "refuel" the battery. There will never be an ICE that can put gas back in your tank. Plus there is no idle waste. If you're at a stop, the generator (if it's running) is still recharging the battery.

      I still love the idea of a series hybrid because it provides the best of both worlds. I also think a series hybrid running on just the generator with as many efficiency optimizations as possible built in (regen braking, engine specifically optimized for 3600 RPM, etc..) should be able to get 30-50 MPG.

      That would be good enough for those longer trips. Here's a good post from the Tesla blog about this topic. While their logic is right, I disagree with their decision.

      http://www.teslamotors.com/blog2/?p=27
      • 7 Years Ago
      #12 - cyclopticgaze:

      FWIW - I think Ramsey meant that sales would start in 2010, not that they expect 2010 units sold.

      As for the Volt - GM has already tried an all-electric vehicle (EV1), and I'm sure that alot of the old control software, etc is around somewhere. So in that sense, if you add an engine controller, you have a basic form of the Volt already.

      And you could argue that GM made a series-electric for decades (though they were diesels and had no batteries). I wonder what residual agreements (e.g. on control software, etc) it has with its spun-off ElectroMotive Division...

      I'd say it'd be good PR for GM to even make the Volt even if it had NiMH batteries and a 10-mile electric-only range. Heck, even if it takes a long time to develop a proper battery, GM could use all the good press it can get.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Not with that body it's not sellable.

      Looks like the same demented idiot who designed the Aztek and the current crop of Cadillacs designed it.

      Great engineering in an ugly package just won't sell.
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