Bob Lutz explains exactly why Volt delayed: batteries late, engineers want perfect software

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Bob Lutz had a long chat with bloggers at the Bob says Continental's batteries just arrived and A123 sent batteries but not enough for bench testing and test cars. Bench testing is going great on the A123 batteries but there is still a lot of testing that needs to be done. The second thing holding up the Volt test drive are the engineers that want more time to write better software. Bob wanted to develop limited software and just show the public a working car.

The Volt's engine will know how many miles you have to drive (I would guess from linking the engine to the GPS somehow) and the engineers wanted to write that software before the test drives. Bob was willing to show a car you would have to park on the side of the road and switch manually to charge the battery with the piston engine. The engineers convinced him when they said the drivable mules would get "zero to sixty in one minute" if they did not have more time.

Hey Bob, I think you are right and I would like to see the "zero to sixty in a minute mules." I would promise not write about performance, too. Heck, I would like to see the cut up Malibus waiting for electric engines because many of our readers don't believe GM is really honest about this at all. After all, there was an entire documentary about your first electric car that was not very positive on your role in its demise. Just a thought.

Go below the fold to read exactly what Bob said.

[Source: NextGear]
(Starting at 13:59 in the video) We were late getting some of the battery packs. We got a couple of battery packs from A123 and the ones we were suppose to get from Continental, I think are just now coming in. So, we have only really been able to test a couple of three A123 packs and these early packs have all been bench tested. Where we've been cycling them hot, cycling them cold, cycling them under maximum voltage draw, maximum voltage, maximum current draw, with the cooling system disabled to see what would happen if, under hot weather conditions like death valley on a 120 degree day, full throttle and the cooling system craps out. Worst case scenario. And we didn't have much of a temperature rise, I mean certainly not to where it would cause. That's not all the testing we're going to have to do. Over the next couple of years, we are going to have to do massive real world testing but still so far very encouraging. We just haven't had enough battery packs to put in vehicles at the same time that we are doing the benching testing.

Secondly and this is what the guys tell me is the big hang up, is creating all the software to monitor the battery's state of charge and tell the internal combustion engine exactly when it's time to cut in which would be when you get down to 30 percent charge that's when we want the I C engine to come in. And then the other thing we want to do is suppose you have used up the battery and you're only 20 minutes away from home. Wouldn't it be nice if somehow the software knew that you are only 20 minutes from your destination and you don't really need much running time on the IC engine to get you enough charge to get you home. So these are some very complex and sophisticated software issues that the guys are running through. And they would like to have that all worked out before they demonstrate the car because engineers never like to show work in progress. They always like to have it all finished.

I said guys that's not we are going to do. Even if we have to cut the internal combustion engine in with a switch, for the time being, that's perfectly okay because I don't want to demonstrate seamless automatic operation at this point. What I want to demonstrate is that the lithium-ion battery pack can drive the vehicle for 40 miles electrically and even if we have to pull off the side of the road and charge it manually. So what? I want to demonstrate the 40 miles electric drive and the rest, as far as I am concerned, it can come later and it will come later. So, that's sort of the little bit of the. But the guys have convinced me that there is a minimum of software creation and interaction that they have to do. Because they said we also need to get the electric motor or the battery, working properly with the drive-train. So that we can get the right step gear ratios into the electric drive to get decent acceleration. I said don't have to do that. We will take it with poor acceleration. They said 1 minute 0 to 60? (Everyone laughs) I said okay, do that part.

(Starting at 1:19 into the video) The Volt is exciting because we've never done anything like it before. It's uncharted waters. And because it's uncharted waters, I am very interested, almost on a daily basis: Where are we, how are the battery tests going, have we gotten the other battery pack, when are we going to have the first running car? I go to the engineering shops and I look at these old Malibus that have been cut up to accept the battery pack and the electric motor. So, they will basically be Volts but on the outside they will look like last generation Malibus and we still hope that by. I said I have been saying Easter. Turns out I kinda got overally optimistic. It looks like it's going to be about June before we will have drivable vehicles where, hopefully we can bring some or all of you in and demonstrate the 40 mile purely electric drive.

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