Thursday, August 12, 2010

Facts on the 2011 Chevrolet Volt

There seems to be some confusion about the Chevy Volt - here's a few facts:

The Chevrolet Volt uses a gas engine to make electricity when the batteries run down.
The 1.4 liter gasoline engine never powers the wheels.
Chevy suggests premium fuel but it will work on regular unleaded.
Fully charged, the range is 40 miles total - that's 20 miles each way.
While driving, the gasoline powered generator kicks on automatically but you really can't feel it.
It is possible for the gas engine to charge the batteries and store some electricity.
In "Mountain Mode" the car's gas engine can run and will put a little power back in the batteries.
The retail price is $41,000 - some people will qualify for an IRS tax credit - not cash back.
The Volt will not qualify for HOV status in Calif.
Many dealers have already said they will mark the car up $5,000.
The Chevrolet Volt is built in the US, including most of the battery pack.
Chevrolet will warranty the batteries for 8 years or 100,000 miles.
Not all Chevy dealers will sell the Volt - high demand areas like California will get the cars first.

1 comment:

  1. - GM has lately revealed that the gasoline engine can power the drive wheels directly under certain circumstances. (This is a good thing actually, since it improves efficiency over a true series hybrid configuration,

    - There is a lot of confusion about the actual battery capacity of this vehicle. While gross capacity of the battery bank is stated as 16 KWH, that is not usable. Battery life is reduced by deep discharge. Figures from 50% to 70% maximum discharge have been stated.

    - No total energy budget is offered. The stated 40 mile electric-only range is subject to operating conditions and assumes best case use. Lower temperatures require electric heating and require the car to plow through denser air. We are now hearing about ranges of 26 miles under cold conditions.

    - As mentioned above, discharge efficiency is not properly accounted for in the (limited) specifications for the Volt. Neither is charge station efficiency. What little that is published about the car seems to assume the charger is 100% efficient.

    All in all, the Volt is a well-engineered solution to the electric vehicle challenge. It suffers from a hugely expensive battery pack that may or may not learn down to a reasonable cost. The consuming public is used to continuous improvement, as in computer performance vs cost and size, but this is a matter of material and packaging cost. The cell phone market has taken a big bite out of this, so the learning curve is no longer at it's top. In fact, the existing sources of refined Lithium may undergo considerable strain if they are asked to ramp up to the huge volume that would be required to service a growing electric car industry.