• 21
Scott over at PetroZero had the opportunity to pose some questions to Bob Lutz the other day and, as always, the responses were interesting. First off is the idea of the E-Flex platform operating entirely free of batteries, with the engine/generator simply running continuously and feeding electricity to motor. While this is certainly technically possible, the current E-Flex system is not architected for that possibility. The generator has no direct connection to the motor, rather it feeds the battery. The engine is designed to run at constant speed and wouldn't achieve anywhere near the efficiency if it had to provide transient operation. Because the motor requires more power on demand for acceleration, the engine would have to speed up. In this usage scenario, the efficiency losses of converting mechanical to electrical and back to mechanical power would come in to play as described by Toyota and others when they criticize the whole concept. A conventional parallel hybrid would actually be preferable in this case. The whole premise of improved efficiency from E-Flex is built on the idea that the vehicle will run off grid energy the majority of the time.

The other possibility that Lutz mentions is eliminating the engine/generator and going battery only. This is actually not a new idea and was discussed as a long-term possibility back in late 2006 when GM held the first background briefings on the Volt prior to its auto show debut. The idea is that if battery technology progresses to the point that a Volt type vehicle could provide a reasonable electric range without a range extender just by using a bigger battery, it could easily be done. The idea is mentioned in the first E-Flex technical description I wrote here. Finally, Lutz indicated that within the next two weeks he will be taking an initial test drive in a real Volt prototype. According to Scott this is an actual Volt prototype not a Malibu-based mule. I find that unlikely at this stage. A mule drive is almost a certainty though.

Update: Rob Peterson at GM confirmed that it is only a mule that Lutz will be driving. Actual Volt prototypes are still many months away.

[Source: PetroZero]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 21 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      mark:
      You're too late. Architected and the verb architect has been in use in computers/tech for over 10 years now.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Wow! I just realized that maybe eliminating the dead weight of the engine and gas tank along with the mechanical / maintenance would make the car lighter and simpler. Maybe the cost of adding a few more batteries would actually not cost much more. Now it makes sense why Toyota wants to keep it a Synergy Drive. I wonder why we never hear about the next Prius.
      • 7 Years Ago
      A smaller battery would also have less power, so there is a limit to how small they can make the battery and still have a practical car.

      Even so, there is a good argument to allow some selection in battery pack sizes. Some people might be willing to pay for a bigger battery just to get higher power and better performance. Others would prefer to save some money up-front, and would be happy with the more modest performance and shorter range in a smaller cheaper battery.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Chris wrote: "I want to see mileage estimates when taking one on a long trip where no plug is available."

      Derek wrote: "Chris, those estimates are all over the internet. Google the Chevy Volt website and I think they are there as well."

      Derek, Chris was being sarcastic. Picture driving from Reno to Denver in your 1500-pound battery-only Volt, and running out of charge 100 miles from Reno. Where do you plug it in? The best you can hope for our there right now is haggling with a gas station or motel manager to plug your car in for 8 hours.

      Others seem to suggest that plug-in hybrids are evil imposters to the virtuous purity that was EV1. I think that's self-defeating, because EV has a major chicken/egg problem -- the absence of a ubiquitous rapid-charging stations is a huge barrier. Plug-in hybrids will create a market for a nationwide charging infrastructure. Once that infrastructure is in place, EV can take over.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Once that infrastructure is in place, EV can take over.
        EXACTLY and electric is the easiest "universal fuel" infrastructure to develop. a coin box with a electric switch on a timer.
        Imagine, a parking meter, with a power switch. Every business parking spot can be recharge station. Charge slightly more and make profit off the power. Enough parking customers and your whole electric bill might be paid for. These devices are the lowest tech you can think of, a parking meter with an outlet. The biggest gain would be from the reduction of vehicle battery packs. With places to charge everywhere you deal with much shorter ranges and less batteries needed to get you safely around. Instead of building gas stations and then the transport of the gas, you can sell $100 meters that make money for the owners, everyone would want one. I dont mind charging my family a dollar a visit.
        Seriously this is the next necessary step in our future, our transport system must accept power generated from all sources. Then our cars are actually powered by wind, sun, water, coal, geo, nuclear, whatever we can figure out thats best for environment and our children's future. Putting all our eggs in to the dirty oil basket and waiting till its all gone to change things, isn't what our kids deserve of us. For the simple change of a gasoline motor to an electric motor, we can have it all. The infrastructure of a coin box with a electric switch on a timer, think about it. It would be so easy..
      • 7 Years Ago
      The Volt is being built on the next generation Astra platform. It won't be Malibu sized which has a 112 inch wheelbase.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I want to see mileage estimates when taking one on a long trip where no plug is available.
      • 7 Years Ago
      What they should do, is provide a smaller battery non plug in version. The battery is the major cost element here. Instead of a $15000 battery, put in a $3000 battery. The batter will have lots of juice for smoothing the transients and providing some EV only range, while knocking several hundred pounds of weight and $12000 off the production cost. This way they can sell more vehicles at a lower price point and better amortize the cost of other components.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Toyota is keeping its cards to its chest regarding the new Prius. The only thing we can know that it will come out in 2009.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "First off is the idea of the E-Flex platform operating entirely free of batteries, with the engine/generator simply running continuously and feeding electricity to motor. While this is certainly technically possible, the current E-Flex system is not architected for that possibility.

      The generator has no direct connection to the motor, rather it feeds the battery." !!!!!!!!

      Well call me hot dog and cover me with mustard.
      The generator is connected to the battery right ?
      And the battery is connected, via the controller, to the motor ? Ergo the generator IS connected to the motor.
      Aa a general comment why would a company of GM's size not have a design team heading up each of these variants ? Why leave credit for the battery free version on the table for Honda ?
      T2
      Minimum Bob is Robert Nardelli who is said to have minimal skills to run a car company. His record at Home Depot was not good either.
      Maximum Bob. I'm not sure where that originates but someone is bound to post.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Dave, 100+ miles and 35K is not going to happen soon. If you take figures that the current battery is 600# and $15K to get a 40 mile range you would need a 1500#, $37.5K battery to get 100 miles. Eliminating the (small) gas engine and fuel tank could never save the 900# difference in weight unless it was a diesel V8 (The Duramax 6.6L is close to 900#). At most the gas powered part of the drive train costs $10K, so you've still adding $12.5K to what Bob has said is more likely to be a $40K vehicle.
      The current concept is probably the best solution for our current level of technology, IMO. But, give it 10-15 years (or a big redesign with a chassis more like the EV1)
      • 7 Years Ago
      Why 'Maximum' Bob? I can understand why he's been given a silly nickname because lets face it, Bob is a 'Corporate Clown'.

      Perhaps some other 'Clown Style' nicknames would be appropriate. Like, say 'Bobo Lutz', 'Bob Putz' or 'Maximum Boob'.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I have an idea / invention that would make an All Electric vehicle's propulsion system so efficient that it would be able to get the 200+ mile range that everyone has been looking for without any larger battery then is presently in the Volt.
      If anyone has any suggestions as to who or where I can present this concept please let me ( wbishop321@comcast.net ) know so that it may be evaluated and if they find it to be as exciting an idea as I believe it to be then we can move forward quickly with prototyping, testing and implementing to make the True All Electric Vehicle finally a reality.
    • Load More Comments