• Jan 14th 2010 at 11:46AM
  • 41
2011 Chevrolet Volt – Click above for high-res image gallery

During the Detroit Auto Show media previews this week, General Motors vice-chairman Bob Lutz reportedly told a reporter the automaker would indeed proceed with production of a battery-only version of the Chevrolet Volt. Way back in December 2006 when we got our first preview of the Volt concept, the powertrain was still called E-Flex rather than Voltec as it is today. The name arose out of the fact that it was designed to accommodate a number of variants as technology developed, including a fuel cell range extender and a full battery electric drive. The BEV was predicated on the availability of adequate battery range and cost.

Apparently, GM is feeling the pressure from the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus Electric and will proceed with a comparable version of the Volt sooner rather than later. It should be interesting to compare an ER-EV Volt against a BEV with a bigger, heavier pack for a 100-mile nominal range.

Even with the current pack configuration, it's no secret or surprise that the electric range will vary depending on driving conditions. Lutz also reportedly told reporters that driving a pre-production Volt home recently during the cold snap that we've had here in Michigan he only got 28 miles on a charge. Lutz acknowledged that electric vehicle range varies more based on conditions than a comparable ICE vehicle, something that correlates well with the experiences of other EV drivers.


  • 11/29/09 7:17:39 -- Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A Vehicle Chief Engineer Andrew Farah and the new Chevy Volt during the Dodger Stadium ride and drive.

[Source: ABC News]
Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.


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  • 41 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Tesla Motors battery pack design still has the best energy to weight ratio and the best energy to price ratio currently available, so GM might be considering getting a Tesla designed pack for their battery only Volt EV. Depending on size and price, it could get a range from 160 to 220 miles per charge, at a price similar to the "range extended" Volt.

      That could explain the talks between Lutz and Musk!
      • 5 Years Ago
      A BEV variant of the Voltec EREV configuration has been in the product plan all along. As you say, competition from Tesla Motors, Ford, Nissan and countless others would lead GM to pursue a BEV variant before a fuel cell variant. In 2015, when Toyota begins offering their FCV's, you will see GM reveal their FC EREV variant, probably in the Converj.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I really hope they don't, the Converj is a nice car and sullying it with a high six-digit pricetag is not the way to go.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This brings up the question of what will the range be? First, we know that the range should be greater than the 40 miles the standard volt will get due to weight savings of not having a massive engine/generator system. Additionally the Volt only uses about half of it's battery capacity to get those 40 miles of electric range. Doing this increases battery life... but doing this on the all electric volt would mean people could be stranded with a "dead" battery that is really at 1/2 capacity.

      So with the reduced weight and assuming the all electric Volt will be able to completely drain the battery, could it hit 100 miles per charge? It's possible!
        • 5 Years Ago
        A Pure EV version of the Volt will probably use a higher energy (smaller) battery as opposed to the high power (larger) battery used in the current iteration of the Volt.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Most will designed EVs should have a limp-home mode which should let you eke out extra miles out of the pack at reduced power. With a PHEV like the Volt, this isn't really necessary since you have gas as a backup.

        Let's say that the pack normally lets you discharge to 25% "full" at full power. Once you hit that point, it may let you continue another 5% charge percent at 50% power and if you still need to keep on going, go another 5% at 25% power. Obviously doing so isn't recommended, and I suspect that EVs will have guidelines to maximize range in cold weather (use only enough heat to remain comfortable and keep the windows clear, reduce speeds, etc).

        The percentages used are completely made up, but you get the point and are probably in the right ballpark, anyway.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Thank you GM. It's about time you mention EV. It will be a long time coming but you said it. That is a start. The Volt EV will go a 100 miles and compete with the Leaf and Fords EV. The pack will be warrantied for 7 years and operate with a 20% DOD floor and have trade in value to be utilized in the power grid, IMO.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Solve the problem. Pack a Honda generator around with you and if your Volt dies at the side of the road, lift it out and hook it up. Maybe six hours later you might get home. Seriously, to be effective, the car needs to guarantee a certain range of miles in any conditions. The customer will then decide if the commute can fit into that range. If not, buy a hybrid.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Surely not, without a change in the battery pack. The sense of it is also lost to me. A big, relatively heavy 5 passenger car suitable only for a short one way commute to work? Modification of an Aveo would make more sense. But I suppose that would take them another 10 years.
        • 5 Years Ago
        A Volt EV would make sense if it had rapid recharge capability and at least 100 miles of range. If it doesn't have rapid recharge capability, then it would need 200+ miles of range, like the Tesla Roadster.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Jason M. Hendler

        The Tesla Roadster has "rapid recharge capability", it can be charged with a current of up to 70amp (limited by the charger, not the battery). Tesla has also announced that they are working on a new charger that can charge the Roadster to 100% in just one hour.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The volt is a 4 passenger car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I can see now that GM took a calculated risk by developing a technology (Voltec) which can adapt to any trend.

      Remove the ICE engine and it's a pure EV. Replace the battery with fuel cells and it's a FCHV.

      Plus, they get to reduce the manufacturing cost with each iteration and get to reuse the software.

      Maximum Bob is a genius!
        • 5 Years Ago
        @meme
        I was thinking that in the back of my mind too. Many of the ICE fans think that way too about EVs. They think it's as simple as plopping in a electric motor and a battery.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Leave the batteries, replace the engine with a fuel cell, and you have an electric vehicle with a FC range extender
        • 5 Years Ago
        Precisely why the Hydrogen Fuel Cell vs. Battery Electric vehicles argument that's been so common around here, is a moot point (moo?); A fuel cell vehicle is a serial hybrid electric vehicle which doesn't directly use fossil fuels.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Meme and Jake

        Maybe people (not Bob) think that EVs are easy to build because of all the EV enthusiasts who talk about how cheap and simple EVs are to build (you know who you are, you bash Audi and BMW and Honda constantly here on ABG). About how batteries can be bought cheaply from places like Thundersky, and how all an EV is is a battery and a motor (simpler than any ICE!!), and how all you need to have one is a socket in your garage...

        EVs are not simple to build, nor are they cheap. Batteries are expensive, heavy, and need extensive safety systems to keep them cool and reliable. I admire EV enthusiasts' devotion, but they have seriously oversold EVs' capabilities in their current and forthcoming forms.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oops left out the link. GM built one EV or was it Aerovironment. Any way I believe they should be familiar with what it takes. They could just hire Aerovironment again, the car would be ready sooner if they did.

        Here is the link I meant for earlier.

        http://www.evalbum.com/
        • 5 Years Ago
        Very astute. Not many people can see through to the core product development strategy of a company, much less an automaker. GM had a product development flowchart that showed how 2 mode hybrids would be followed by the EREV, which itself would spawn BEV's, FCV's and plug-in FCV's.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Maximum Bob" is again suffering from the same "I've never done it before, but it'll be easy!" mentality that led to his initial gross misestimate for the price of the Volt (he didn't understand that EV drivetrain components are currently expensive).

        Converting a PHEV into an EV isn't as simple as taking out a generator and putting in a bigger pack. They're going to need to use a lower power, higher energy density chemistry than they're currently using, which will mean revalidating everything. Weight distributions will change. The heating system they've been designing for the Volt, which requires the generator to come on every now and then, will need to be replaced. It'll probably be replaced by a reversible heat pump, which means changing the AC, too. And on and on down the line.

        It's not going to be hard as designing an EV from scratch, that's for sure. But it won't be a trivial task.
        • 5 Years Ago
        meme, jake and letstalkawalk.

        Here is place where over 27 hundred people working from their garages ploped in a electric motor and batteries, after removing dirty inefficiant ICE's. A few other components were needed. Motor controllers, BMS, DC to DC converters and so on.
      • 5 Years Ago
      GM fanboys on autobloggreen.... I didn't think the day would come...
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think this is a dumb move -- there is no reason to think that this generation of electric vehicles will be successful
      Range anxiety s big drawback for all electric vehicles


      the Volt addresses Range anxiety and differentiates itself from all other electric vehicles

      why confuse public with an all electric version?
        • 5 Years Ago
        And some of us are households with two cars, one of which have never seen more than 100 miles in any given day.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Because some of us see no need in hauling an engine around, burn gas, or pay more on the engine maintenance (parts and service).
        • 5 Years Ago
        I would rather have the range extender on a small trailer rather than hauling around a bunch of useless components that I don't need most of the time. That way I can upgrade/rent the range extender that is most advanced/efficient/affordable and runs on
        gas/ethanol/diesel/bio-diesel/hydrogen/batteries/supercapacitors etc.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It not a surprise to most people that the cold weather reduced battery only miles, whether it's from cold batteries or running the heater or both. Even at 28 miles, that is exactly 28 miles more than any other production car can go on battery power. Except the Tesla I guess, but the point is, 28 miles is very good compared to most other options.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Losing touch with reality? "other production car" ? The Volt is not a production car yet. So you can't say other. When it is finally a production car there may be other production EVs.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yep. And people forget that range is reduced in normal vehicles as well in cold weather.

        The cold weather causes the engine warmup to take longer, running lights, wipers, heat all affect range as well.

        It's worse in city type driving than highway where the engine generally wastes enough heat to spare.

        You also tend to notice this more in more fuel efficient vehicles since running those accessories take up a larger amount of available engine power.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What's 'cold'? Because I live in Florida and have a different threshold for what I consider to be cold.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Too bad GM made the massive mistake of having that T-shaped battery and thus limiting it to being a 4-passenger car! I suspect that car is going to be percieved as rather cramped due to that choice. Quite limiting for console design as well, which will likely damage the perception of the interior.

      Ever sit in a C4 Corvette? It's like sitting in a bathtub! I worry this car may have that effect as well.

      That layout in also fundamental to the platform, so there's no "designing it out" for the next model year. It's essentially going to take an entirely new platform to correct this.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Where would you put the battery? Keep in mind it needs to be low and within the wheelbase in order to maintain weight balance and driving stability, and we need to keep the trunk as big as possible for utility... we also need to keep the space between the occupants and the doors as thin as possible to maximize ingress/egress...

        So, where would you suggest the battery go?

        • 5 Years Ago
        The Mercedes A-class uses a sandwich-floor design...

        http://www.umweltbrief.de/pdf/Mercedes_A-class_electric_zebra.pdf

        ... but it required a major electronic stability reprogramming after failing the infamous "moose test".

        The Nissan Leaf also places the battery under the floor... so there is an alternative placement.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Exactly, I mean how are kids supposed to lose their virginity in this car?
        Doesn't GM understand that this is how men become vintage car buffs?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I understand your point. Isn't the leaf battery under the floor? (not sure) How about in the trunk or underhood? I guess the pass-thru from trunk to rear seat is already gone. Are all EV's doomed to have a giant brick between the seats? I'm no packaging engineer, but there are other option - just not as easy to integrate.
        Will the E-Focus have this? Leaf? Let's see...
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