Answering Your Questions About the Chevy Volt

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In the event someone actually buys a Volt...
Answering Your Questions About the Chevy Volt http://tinyurl.com/yjw27fg
Answering Your Questions About the Chevy Volt
By LINDSAY BROOKE
Last Friday, we solicited you for questions on the Chevrolet Volt, which is scheduled to be released late next year. We forwarded some of your questions to Lindsay Brooke, who recently drove a preproduction Volt and wrote about his impressions for the Automobiles section last Sunday.
Mr. Brooke is a journalist with three decades of experience and is the author of Triumph Motorcycles in America (Motorbooks, 1993) and Ford Model T: The Car That Put the World on Wheels (Motorbooks, 2008). He has written extensively on hybrid and electric cars for The Times and other publications. His answers to a selection of your Volt questions are below. Q.
How will the batteries react to really cold weather? When it is 20 degrees below zero my iPod only functions for about one-sixth of its normal time between charges. Patrick, Minneapolis A.
General Motors recently began an intensive cold-weather testing program for Volt at a dedicated site in northern Canada, so there are no definitive answers yet. Stay tuned for more information on this program in the Automobiles section. Q.
What Mr. Brooke did not include in his article were any comments on acceleration performance once the Volt switched over to using the generator. Was the vehicle more sluggish or was the generator able to provide sufficient power to the battery so that the driver could not tell the difference between a fully charged battery and a depleted battery? If the test had been on a long uphill climb, would the generator have been able to continuously provide enough power to maintain speed? What will the expected miles per gallon be if making a long trip in gas-only mode? Regards. Mark, Rochester A.
My test of the Volt prototype included numerous and varied elevation changes on the G.M. proving ground in Milford, Mich., including climbing a long 16 percent grade used for trailer-towing tests. The generator proved capable of propelling the car more than adequately in all driving situations. When in extended-range mode, the Volts acceleration felt similar to when the car was deriving its power exclusively from the battery. Fuel economy in the charge-maintaining mode is an unknown at this point.
Q.
How much time does the Volt need to be recharged fully using the gasoline engine? G.M. says the Volt needs about six hours to be charged fully using a wall plug. Can the gasoline engine recharge the battery much faster than a wall plug? Harvey A.
The onboard generator will not charge the Volts battery. Its function is to maintain the battery charge at a predetermined level so that the car can keep moving after the battery has run down at about 40 miles. This is a deliberate choice on G.M.s part charging from a plug-in connection is far less expensive.
Although I did not test-charge a Volt using the plug-in method, the G.M. engineers did show me the compact standard 110-volt charging set that is packaged very neatly under the rear cargo compartment and accessed easily via a flip-up panel. There will also be an optional 240-volt kit with many of the same pieces in the 110-volt kit, and it will be configured for wall- or pole-mounting as the owner chooses.
The 240-volt kit is a faster charge, averaging less than three hours per charge. The 110-volt charge time from minimum state of charge is accomplished in approximately six hours in a moderate ambient temperature, to up to nine hours, depending on how much battery conditioning (warming) is done and needed. G.M. engineers said customers can expect an eight-hour charge during overnight off-peak hours. Both of the Volt charging sets will be capable of conditioning the battery while it charges. Q.
Why does it start recharging at 30 percent capacity? I was always under the impression that batteries should be completed before recharging to extend their life. Is it true that the engine is not fully optimized for running the generator? That a second generation engine will get even higher efficiency? Why is G.M. the only company building this kind hybrid car? What do other car companies think about it? It seems genius to me! Jens A.
G.M. decided on the 30 percent minimum state of charge to ensure battery durability and performance over a 10-year/150,000 minimum lifespan of the vehicle. G.M. is not the only car company pursuing series-type hybrid powertrains. Q.
About that 30 percent will the Volt have an emergency switch to tap into the battery another, say, 10 percent just to get a few extra miles, perhaps with an alert to OnStar? Ian A.
Yes, the Volts propulsion system is set up with a bit of additional range built in. G.M. is planning some very interesting ways to use OnStar with the Volt thats all I know. Q.
Is there a firm retail release date, and if so, what is the true price range? M Dickerson A.
No details yet on the exact start of production, only that its later next year. Nor is G.M. yet talking about pricing details. Q.
So, Lindsay, why dont you answer your own question? Was it a slug after the generator kicked in? And the article left out answering the most obvious question: How many more miles after the first 40 did the generator allow you to go? Michael A.
Lets tackle these questions one at a time. First of all, the words Volt and slug are incompatible, based on my drive of the prototype. The car proved to be quite sprightly around the Milford course (which would make a fine road-racing circuit). It was genuinely fun to drive in both battery-only and extended-range modes.
Secondly, my test drive covered 27 total miles on the proving ground, including eight miles depleting the battery before the generator kicked in (of course, the generator will continue to provide power to drive the car until the gas tank runs dry). The purpose of my time in the car was not to prove total range, but rather to evaluate the generators engagement and related performance and noise, vibration and harshness. Q.
What if you run on electricity most of the time, say for many months, and only rarely use the gasoline? Gasoline gets old, as you know if you have a snow blower and try to use the gas from a previous year. Is it possible that the gas could become so old that the engine could not recharge the Volt battery? LM Collins A.
The Volts control software will include a periodic starting regimen to address the very real issue of the generator engine never being called upon to engage because the 40-mile electric range covers the owners typical driving cycle. Q.
Do you envision the extended-range hybrid as a long-term product or merely a bridge to an all-electric future for passenger cars? Dave A.
Ive been writing about automotive technology for major publications for nearly 30 years, and Ive become a believer in the progress made by the auto industry in general regarding vehicle electrification. Yes, I think extended-range (also known as series-type) hybrids are an important, viable solution for the short- and midterm, until an extensive charging network from the grid is established.
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There is a whole new industry coming because of the plug in electric cars that will replace the outdated hybrids
I bought stock last year in a company that will install parking meter type plug in stations, in public places like parking lots and housing complexes, where one can plug in their car and pay the cost with a credit or debit card.

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Mike Hunter wrote:

A long, long time ago when I was in Alaska Fairbanks had plug-ins for cars, parking meter type as I remember. But that was for circulating tank heaters for the water jacket so cars didn't have to idle constantly. In those days -40F was common with colder not too unusual.
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Was that before the "Global Warming" that is killing off all the polar bears? ;)

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Jim_Higgins wrote:

They will not be using them for batteries. At -40 most batteries take forever if ever they charge.
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Once again our friend Canuck57 is telling us the sky is falling LOL

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A local, PBS radio station ran a story recently about a company being formed (or proposed to be formed) to service the "battery car" industry. This company proposes to open service stations across the country that would provide a drive-through service to swap depleted batteries with fully charged units. They claimed to be able to complete the replacement within a few minutes which would be comparable to time for a current, gasoline, fill-up. Their pricing model was a monthly, subscription basis. The customer would contract and prepay for a set number of replacements/month (and I assume be able to purchase additional replacements as necessary).
This company's approach, if it took hold, has some interesting benefits. The customer is not burdened to wait hours while their battery recharges. The customer could swap batteries at their convenience and not necessary be burdened to wait for the current battery to discharge completely. The battery wear and tear caused by the continuous charge/discharge cycles would be the company's problem not the customer's. The company could negotiate favorable volume discounts from battery manufactures.

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That would be OK if you went in very 7 to 10 days, but with the Volt 40 mile limit, that would be every day for me. My normal commute is 48 miles a day round trip. I'd have to set up a charging station at work. Unplug and plug every trip. That would be a PITA.
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Ed Pawlowski wrote:

I do about 40 miles, but one huge problem. I am sure that 40 miles is fair weather with the wind at your back. Add in -25 with the heater/defroster on bet I would curse the thing.
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I suspect the 40 mile issue, not to mention GM management's inability to anything right ( I'm still pissed about my experience with an '84 Buick) will limit the Volt to be nothing more than a $40K novelty toy. That said, I think the time is right for alternatives to the gasoline, internal combustion engine.

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JimG wrote:

I agree for city use. But why not turf the gas engine, add batteries to extend the range? Then some of the economics start returning a bit towards normal. For example, no gas engine to maintain. And 100% electric if designed correctly should have less maintenance than a gasoline vehicle. Even be more reliable as a transmission shouldn't be needed and motors can be switched to braking alternators to reduce brake wear. When you slam the brake on, no reason the motors can't take the kinetic energy and put it back in the battery.
Bu the Volt, a bad design, two drive trainjs to maintain and batteries... high maintance and high TCO guaranteed.
I will consider one when Walmart sells and services them Zenn Motors makes them for $12,000 or so, and no reason the units can't be serviced cheaply outside of an expensive dealer chain.
We will know electric autos are ready when:
- they are cheap. No reason to cost more than gasoline. - batteries are better and last longer, say 5 years on daily use. - 4 wheel independant electric drive, computer controled. - electronic braking, no brake pads to wear. - 100% LED lighting. - 5 year, 100,000 mi. bumper to bumper warranty included battery. - battery waranty includes minimum miles between charges, minimum charge efficiency rate etc. so if it falls under, you get a new set.
It is mostly for the name as Tesla electrics are expensive, but:
http://www.teslamotors.com /
But they say 244 miles is the new range.
But Zenn will sell them for a mortal price:
http://www.zenncars.com /
And the best part is, nether requires $100 billion of taxpayers money. They would be happy to sell them without picking your pocket via the tax system. While GM was pumping the poodle, these guys have 10000% more experience in doing electric right. The Volt will be an Edsel before the first one is sold.

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I agree, basically. I think the era of the internal combustion engine is winding down. I think the time is right to explore alternative energy sources and a transition into something less (expensive, political, and polluting) is necessary. I'm not a tree-hugger but I do think carbon fuels have become a liability . That said, I realize there are TONS of jobs at stake. How to proceed?
Detroit has no part in this transition. Chrysler seems to be lost, looking for a home. GM is looking for more spigots at the trough. Ford is struggling but I'm not sure they have a solution in mind. I'm not critical of the Big Three - their business model evolved in a time of cheap oil; became profitable in an environment when quarterly earnings was the only target; and, developed into a huge empire that is, considered by some, too big to fail.

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I would agree, but likely for differing reasons. The 50's, 60's 70's love of the auto is dying, they are now commodity items. Or in at least should be. The cost of affordability will hamper auto's growth here in. More and more will balk at the cost. People like me for example, used to have 3. One for each of my wife and I and one for weekend fun. Now down to one. Just one, as we can't justify the cost and have other things we want to do with the money.
It isn't just the cost of oil. It is the cost to a shrinking home budget. While Obama has put GM on expensive life support, he hasn't addressed that people are needing and buying less autos. What is more important, keeping the house or the second or third auto?
Then the Volt, expensive hybrid. Gas $20,000, Volt $40,000 -- $20,000 pays for an awful lot of gasoline and comes with no interest and comes with 1/2 the maintance costs of a hybrid. Plus, it will not move your energy needs from the pump to the utility bill. Volt isn't about economy, it is about ego centric status, that will soon fade when the real costs are realized. Those that buy gas, will get A/C and heat at no extra charge as there is no faster way to run a battery down than a heater or A/C. Volt doesn't even make practical sense for 99% of the population.
It is a political fad. At least Chryslers savior of the time, the minivan had desired value of space which made it have appeal. Volt will not have such a driver.
Jobs were lost when North Americans can't and are not buying as many autos. As the consumers scale down, demand more for the money and can afford less, any money pumped into auto is pure waste. Just taxes people more so they can spend even less and buy even fewer autos. Sort of like a fish eating it's own tail. A waste.
The jobs were gone 2+ years ago, now it is just pay for nothing, taking taxes from everyone to support the funnel of corruption. Returning only more debt in the end.
If DC wants to fix it, they have to find a way to leave more net income in the pockets of your average people. And given government is in denial that society can't afford ever growing statism - of this immutable fact of economics 101, we are in for a long recession/depression.
JimG wrote:

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Once again our friend Canuck57 is telling us the sky is falling LOL

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You forgot to mention Toyota, it to has been losing money as well for over a year and is wasting money pushing hybrids, old outdated technology, rather than bring a true eclectic to market.

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But Toyota has 3 big advantages over GM.
1) They were not that much in debt for past screw ups as GM was. 2) They pay their bills and have a better reputation. 3) Loses of Toyota are pale by comparison to GM whish is the biggest automotive loser in the WORLD!
And GM, they just keep on sucking....
Mike Hunter wrote:

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Once again our friend Canuck57 is telling us the sky is falling LOL

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Man, dont even reply to this khunt. He is the sourest of the trolls.
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But, but, but you forget to mention that Toyota has been subsides by the Jap government ever since WWII

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On 08/01/2010 11:37 AM, Mike Hunter wrote:

But you forgot to mention GM and Ford built the Lufwaffe and wanted war reparation damages from the US government that bombed the plants to rubble.
http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/randy/swas2.htm
GM isn't new to selling out Americans and picking the taxpayers pockets.
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