Aug 06

Volt Battery Packs Ready By Year End

 

wsj_prius.jpg

Wall Street Journal author Joe White had the opportunity to test-drive a plugin-in modified conversion Prius, with Li-ion batteries made by A123 systems.  He describes the effortless joy of driving such a car, and the fact it can go gas-free up to 40 miles with a 160-pound battery pack that costs $10,000.

He goes on in the article to mention the Volt and discussions he’s had with Tony Pozawatz, GM’s Volt vehicle line director.

Mr. Pozawatz does not say the Volt will definitely arrive, but certainly makes allusions close to that end.  He is also quoted as saying that GM will have prototype battery packs in hand from the two suppliers by the end of this year.

You can feel the momentum building!

This entry was posted on Monday, August 6th, 2007 at 10:02 am and is filed under Battery, PHEV. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 26


  1. 1
    OptimisticMF

     

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    Aug 6th, 2007 (10:17 am)

    WTF? I thought these battery systems were being designed exclusively for the Volt? How did Toyota get their mitts on them with GMs specs and a $10K price tag?

    Don’t tell me that an American company is going to get beat to the punch on one of the most compelling automotive transport ideas in decades!!!


  2. 2
    Steven B

     

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    Aug 6th, 2007 (10:21 am)

    The A123 Systems product they’re talking about are the popular Prius conversions, that Toyota has fiercely criticized. The conversion company that uses them is American. It is not the exact same propietary product that’s in development.


  3. 3
    Dave

     

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    Aug 6th, 2007 (12:04 pm)

    I know Hymotion (which I think that A123 acquired) is Canadian and may have co-developed this product. What I don’t understand is the $10,000 price tag. If that’s true, it would mean that the plug-in with a 40 mile EV range is widely available for the masses.

    Hell, I’d drop the ten grand conversion plus the used Prius price without thinking twice about it. GM had better make one hell of a good product because it sounds like this is already a reality.


  4. 4
    Hoang

     

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    Aug 6th, 2007 (3:18 pm)

    In the year 2010, the conversion battery pack for Prius will most likely be 5K or even less. And who knows, at that time, people don’t need to convert their Prius anymore because they can buy fully functional plug-in Prius with afordable price. what else, admit it, people associate Toyota name with quality and efficient car. Need I say more! Ok, one last thing, even If Volt’s project is true and they come out with the Volt in 2010, I doubt the price is able to compete with Prius or whatever they call their plug-in car because building somthing from scratch is much more expensive than modifying somthing is already there.


  5. 5
    kent beuchert

     

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    Aug 6th, 2007 (5:21 pm)

    What will be interesting is what GM decides to do if both battery companies are very close in terms of price, etc. Will GM use one for the Opel and the other for the VOLT and Saturn?


  6. 6
    Steven B

     

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    Aug 6th, 2007 (7:23 pm)

    The whole deal is a wait and see thing for me. Because the economics of the plug-in, range-extending electric car will be different in 2010. Personally, I don’t think that Toyota has the will to make a plug-in Prius or other HSD vehicle that effectively competes with the Volt, but I could be completely wrong. Also, if anything slows development enough, Tesla or some other company may be come out of the blue with a car that’s better than the Volt. All I know for sure is that, right now, the Volt concept is awesome and I want one. I don’t know what the market will look like in 2 and 1/2 years. I hope the Volt is the ‘Prius-slayer’ some have called on it to be.


  7. 7
    Drake

     

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    Aug 6th, 2007 (8:57 pm)

    I would love for an American company like GM to become a leader in plug-in technology, but I’m not tied to GM. I do hope they continue and create the Volt.

    Don’t forget guys that 2010 is only 2.5 years away. We are witnessing the birth of new technology here that will replace the 100+ year-old ICE technology. This is an exciting time to be alive.

    P.S. the current tax break in the U.S. are $4000-$6000 for each plug-in purchased. As the inevitable disruptions of oil continue to happen, we can expect this incentive to grow. Plug-in cars will be very competative with their old-fashioned ICE-only companions when they finally arrive in 2.5 years.


  8. 8
    Mark Bartosik

     

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    Aug 7th, 2007 (12:29 am)

    You cannot buy the Hymotion system at the moment. It is for fleets only. They plan to have a consumer version in early 2008. The downer to invalidating the car manufactures’ warranty. In 2008 they may even have a “light” version that will take you 20 miles on all electric for about half the price.

    I’m not sure what the rules are for the tax credit, but if a 20 mile battery only conversion would qualify for $4K. Then it might only cost 1 to $2K for a light version. Now there’s a deal! For me that would be tempting since my commute is only 19 miles round trip. That would make my payback less than 2 years (my electricity is free since I have a huge solar array with about 3000KWh spare generation).

    Hymotion only give a 1 year warranty on their battery pack. GM will be giving much much more.

    I would only likely go for the Prius conversion (or other) if the Volt looks like slipping schedule to 2011.


  9. 9
    Brian

     

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    Aug 7th, 2007 (12:36 am)

    the warranty is a big issue here, like others have said. imagine buying one of these aftermarket kits and after a year or so you start having problems (either related to the batteries or not). you would be completely hosed because you invalidated your original warranty and the Hymotion warranty leaves much to be desired.


  10. 10
    omegaman66

     

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    Aug 7th, 2007 (6:27 am)

    My crystal ball shows me that:
    The prius will continue to be a big winner in the publics eye due to it being a lower cost plug in electric than the volt.

    But about 4 years or so after the volt is out it superior design will start to win converts. The mechanical reliability of the volt design over the current hybrid designs will finally shine through to the public.

    At least that is what I hope. It is stupid to design an electric car to have two propulsion motors (one ice and one electric) when a single more dependable last a lifetime electric motor does EVERYTHING better than an ice engine.


  11. 11
    OptimisticMF

     

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    Aug 7th, 2007 (8:33 am)

    I think your crystal ball has a flaw, for this reason. Would you spend $30K for a serial hygrid/PHEV with a full factory warranty, or would you rather spend ~$25K plus $5K to $10K for an aftermarket battery system that voids the warranty on your parallel hybrid/PHEV?

    One thing I am fairly sure of (my crystal ball is pretty iffy), is that gas prices will continue to climb and there will be enough market share for GM, Toyota, Ford and anyone else to market a product. I would be really nice to see the kind of creative and competitive spirit that auto makers used to create every kind of SUV and minivan under the sun, applied to sensible, PHEV and fully electric vehicles.


  12. 12
    Steven T

     

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    Aug 7th, 2007 (10:35 am)

    I’m new to blogging but I’ve been following the Volt since January. I tend to agree with OptimisticMF. I think gas prices will continue to go up, and down slightly from time to time, and the time is right for PHEV and electric vehicles. I think he is right in saying there will be fair market shares for everyone. I think once it takes hold in one or two vehicles the will be a crossover into almost all vehicles with this platform. Thanks for allowing my two cents


  13. 13
    Matt986

     

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    Aug 7th, 2007 (10:40 am)

    Mark,

    Remember, a ‘tax credit’ on a PHEV is not a discount on the price, it’s a discount on the amount you pay taxes on.

    For instance, a $6k tax credit on a $30k Volt would work out like this: You pay $30k for the Volt, plus taxes, but the taxes you calculate are only on $24k of the price of the vehicle.

    Sure, you’ll save some money, but not $6k!


  14. 14
    Jack the R

     

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    Aug 7th, 2007 (11:33 am)

    What I don’t understand is why the Prius 2 conversion can get 40 electric only miles out of its batteries when the Volt gets “only” 40 electric miles with a battery pack that looks to be at least twice as big.

    If the Prius 3 continues to carry its battery in the trunk, it still won’t compete with the Volt even if it has a 40 mile ev only range. With its batteries slung low in the center of the car, the Volt is going to handle like a sports car. The Prius will handle like any hum drum Toyota. No one likes to feel like they’re going to topple over.


  15. 15
    Brian

     

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    Aug 7th, 2007 (12:20 pm)

    Matt986:

    Actually you have that wrong. What you are describing is called a “tax deduction.” A $6000 tax credit would actually save you $6000.

    For instance when a friend of mine bought a Prius, the tax credit was $1575. The next April he payed $1575 less on his taxes than he otherwise would have.


  16. 16
    Dave

     

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    Aug 7th, 2007 (12:50 pm)

    I think it is dollar for dollar on tax credits. You take it when you file your income tax and just subtract it out at the end.


  17. 17
    Matt986

     

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    Aug 7th, 2007 (1:16 pm)

    Ahh… ‘credit’… ‘deduction’…

    our tax system sucks, and is a pain to interpret.

    So you’re STILL going to pay $30k for the Volt, but when you file your tax return, if you paid more than the ‘credit’ amount, you’ll get at least that much back. Not too shabby.


  18. 18
    Hoang

     

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    Aug 7th, 2007 (1:45 pm)

    When I was taking about the future plug-in Prius, I was talking about the equal or better design than the Volt. Did GM patent the serial design and Toyota is out of luck if they want to go for that route? If this is true, then GM might win this time.

    I hope every car builder can do serial design not just GM so the consummers have cheaper and cheaper plug-in cars.


  19. 19
    Steven B

     

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    Aug 7th, 2007 (3:11 pm)

    The series-hybrid design was invented at the dawn of the automobile be Ferdinad Porsche. The technology is actually over a century old and no longer subject to patent protection. Only the battery pack will be a propietary technology. And, unless GM buys rights to both battery packs that are being developed, there is going to be a second product available to another automaker for building an electric hybrid. My bet is on Ford considering its hydrogen fuel cell Airstream concept was a plug-in electric design when it was shown at the auto shows in January this year, too.


  20. 20
    OptimisticMF

     

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    Aug 7th, 2007 (4:00 pm)

    What I don’t understand is how Toyota can get 40 miles for $10K with existing battery technology in a modified Prius. Shouldn’t the added weight of the conventional ICE and drivetrain alone make this impossible? I hate to speculate, but I’m not an engineer and can’t give you any data to back up my assertion. But I have read that one of the biggest factors when calculating performance (distance) of the battery pack is weight. Anyone want to take a stab at this?

    My point is, is Joe White quoting test data from Toyota, or some theorectical result? Now that he works for News Corp, they might have cut his budget and he just regurgitated whatever info they gave him. I find it hard to believe that GM would hold up a multi-billion dollar roll out to perfect its battery technology while Toyota flies in to A123 and cobbles something together with off the shelf parts.


  21. 21
    Matt986

     

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    Aug 7th, 2007 (5:42 pm)

    Optimistic,

    I don’t think Toyota is getting a 40 mile range with the $10k batteries. I think the battery units are what Hymotion is selling to fleets for upgrading their Prii, but they don’t get 40 miles out of it.

    I think you may have made a false connection between these aftermarket battery units, and whatever Toyota has/is using/is testing that they claim is getting them 40 miles.


  22. 22
    Hoang

     

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    Aug 7th, 2007 (7:23 pm)

    Matt986,

    40 miles/10k battery is about right. I quote from Hymotion’s FAQ:

    “While driving range will depend greatly on driving style and road conditions, under optimal conditions the L5 module will provide an all-electric equivalent range of approximately 30 miles on the Toyota Prius. Heavy use of air conditioning can shorten this range.”

    Also the price for 1000-car fleet is $6500:

    http://www.soultek.com/clean_energy/hybrid_cars/hymotion_plug_in_conversion_kit_announced_today.htm

    “For a single system the cost is $9,500. For those interested in starting a Prius conversion operation or for fleets, the Hymotion system is $6500.00 for orders of 1000 or more”

    What the price will be for 100000 car or 1 million car. Yes, I am talking about automakers. The point is who can put things together faster will win. I bet Toyota or any Japanese’s automaker will.

    I think in a few more years, $2000 / 40 miles is very possible.


  23. 23
    Matt986

     

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    Aug 7th, 2007 (10:03 pm)

    Hoang, mass production is a very good way to get the cost down!

    I think if the Prius gets a battery unit with a good enough range at a good price, the unit for the Volt couldn’t cost much more, so it’s better for the Volt if the Prius is successful.

    I really do hope you’re right, a $2000-ish battery unit would be excellent. It will bring the cost of the Volt down to very affordable levels.


  24. 24
    Drake

     

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    Aug 7th, 2007 (10:42 pm)

    I agree with OptimisticMF too- gas prices will only continue to go up. Here are a *few* of the reason I see:

    1) Massive increases in demand for oil (specifically from India & China).

    2) Terrorism – just imagine if those terrorists (?) a few months back HAD actually hit that Saudi refinery.

    3) Aging oil infrastructure- old refineries are the main concern here. There is a refinery near my town that has gone down a number of time over the past year.

    4) Iraq. Every time there is a flair up there prices go up a bit.

    5) Iran. Nuff said..

    6) Venezuela.

    7) Riots in oil-producing African countries.

    I am sure there are more. Thank goodness for GM (did I just say that?) and Toyota.


  25. 25
    Greg E

     

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    Aug 8th, 2007 (9:57 am)

    I think GM would be smart is offering 3 battery options.

    1 option 30 miles ( Smaller Battery but cost less)

    2 option 50 miles ( Larger Battery Cost more)

    3 option 100 miles ( Most expesive battery)

    This way let the consumer decide how far they can go on electic charge. This way they can bring it out sooner. By offering a much larger range but charging the customer for it will allow the car to market to all segments.

    The larger battery model could also have a more powerfull electric motor for faster 0-60 times.

    GREG


  26. 26
    H. Hulseman

     

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    Aug 8th, 2007 (10:39 am)

    The Toyota Prius has limitations as an EV. First, the electric drive was not designed to provide all the torque. The ICE is supposed to help under hard acceleration. If the ICE is disabled the acceleration will be sub standard.

    Also, the Prius can only operate as an EV up to 42mph. There is a component that will be damaged if the ICE isn’t spinning do to the speed difference of the shafts.

    Rumor has it that the Prius3 will be able to operate as an EV up to 60mph.

    Extended EV range of the Prius will improve gas mileage but it is a hybrid and will still burn some fuel under certain circumstances during most drives.