GM hopes to have E-Flex test vehicles by June (Volt)
DETROIT -- General Motors plans to have vehicles powered by lithium ion
batteries ready to demonstrate by June and remains confident in its
ability to build the Chevrolet Volt by 2010.
" I'm confident in the batteries," said Bob Lutz, GM's vice chairman of
global product development.
Lutz is sticking to GM's target to have a production version of the
E-Flex vehicle -- the Volt -- available by 2010. Lutz admitted it is
risky. " It means everything has to go right," he said. " So far,
everything has gone right."
But the development, particularly of the lithium ion batteries that
would power the Volt, is " complicated," he added.
Said Lutz: " You don't know what you don't know. Could it go later than
GM's urgency to get the Volt into production underscores the hybrid
vehicle's emerging arms race with Toyota Motor Corp.
Late Sunday, Jan. 13, Toyota showed several new initiatives to bring
more hybrid vehicles into production. They included plug-ins that use
lithium ion batteries. Toyota CEO Katsuaki Watanabe said the automaker
would meet 2020 corporate average fuel economy deadlines well in advance.
At GM, engineers think the Volt should be able to travel around 40 miles
per day at regular highway speeds using only battery power. When the
batteries run down, the gasoline engine turns on and charges them up. At
night, the Volt can be plugged into a regular wall socket to charge the
GM also says it can use the Volt's E-Flex powertrain with a fuel cell or
Lutz had hoped to have test vehicles powered by lithium ion batteries
ready for the public by early spring, but GM pushed it back to June
because of acceleration issues.
Lutz didn't initially care about acceleration on the test cars – until,
he said, he learned it would take one full minute to go from 0 to 60 mph.
In other GM-related product news, Lutz said:
-- 2008 will be a slow year for GM product introductions, but 2009
will be " another blockbuster" .
-- GM will go to maximum production on its Car of the Year winner,
the Chevrolet Malibu, at both plants that build it. The mix for the
Malibu is " very rich," with more fully loaded V-6 engine options than
GM had anticipated.
-- The average transaction price for the Malibu is higher than GM had