Oct 20

Bob Lutz Insists Chevy Volt is Not a Plug-in Hybrid

 

A video sequence in two parts from Autoline Detroit surfaced on YouTube. It was recorded at the time of the Traverse City, MI CAR meeting when GM annouced the A123 contract. Lutz discusses the Chevy Volt, and among other things makes it clear he does not see the car as a plug-in hybrid, but as a range-extended electric vehicle. He indicates that a hybrid is by it’s nature parallel in design. Each segment is about 5 minutes and not-so-great in quality.

Part I:

[flash http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5F895jFHSg]
Part II:
[flash http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SW23T7_fmew]

Thanks to Rashid for the tip.

This entry was posted on Saturday, October 20th, 2007 at 8:00 pm and is filed under Video. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 35


  1. 1
    Szyszek

     

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    Oct 20th, 2007 (9:23 pm)

    Did he say the the design of the Volt is finalized? I thought that the E-Flex surprise in Detroit will be a conventional, currently sold vehicle, converted to plug-in hybrid (Sorry Bob, I mean range-extended electric vehicle). Now I think that it might be a production version of the Volt! I did not think that they would have the design completed for another year. I guess GM is much further along with the Volt that we thought. Maybe 2010 is not an optimistic date, but a conservative estimate.


  2. 2
    Computer-codger

     

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    Oct 20th, 2007 (9:31 pm)

    Lyle, thanks for posting the interview with Bob Lutz. I understand his explanation of not wanting to call the Volt a Plug-in Hybrid.

    In the interview Bob Lutz talks about the CAFE standards not being the solution to imported oil and CO2 emissions and that GM sees two transformational solutions to this problem: (1) Lutz states the best solution is Biofuels/E85; and (2) the next best solution is the electrification of the car.

    I think Lutz has the best and next best solutions reversed to the problem of imported oil and CO2 emissions. The best solution is the electrification of the car, and the next best solutions may be or may not be Biofuels/E85. I think it takes too much energy and farmland to produce Biofuels/E85. It may require more capital on GM’s part for the electrification of the car but that solution may be the thing that saves GM in the long run.


  3. 3
    Brian M

     

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    Oct 20th, 2007 (9:36 pm)

    Yeah I agree with Computer-codger. And alternative energy like solar, wind, geothermal, etc. gives more ways to charge batteries without generating CO2.

    Go Maximum Bob, keep kickin’ ass!


  4. 4
    Steven B

     

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    Oct 20th, 2007 (10:13 pm)

    I think that it is important to develop the concept of range-extending electric drive vehicle as something that market can understand immediately. I haven’t found any survey data showing the prevalence about understanding of the difference of mild and full hybrids. Auto-stop hybrid and plug-in hybrids. But I doubt that most drivers really know the difference. I don’t believe, however, that it would be at all difficult for people to understand the difference. I think it would be helpful for people to have short-hands for the difference of plug-in hybrids, like the 2009 VUE PHEV and Toyota’s plans for an off-the-lot PHEV Prius in 20XX. Personally I like, and if you’ve seen my postings before, use the shorthand RxEV. Make it easy on people, and keep it simple. Say that the standard electric range of a PHEV is 10 miles or so, which is good for the low speed, low efficiency driving, and 40 miles for an RxEV for most driving.

    I totally support GM’s position on CAFE standards and its push for electrification and its move against changing of CAFE standards. I also support the production and use of biofuels, which will in fact come from a variety of sources as soon as the market is developed. Cellulosic ethanol is on the way, and eventually, and there is no way of knowing exactly when, food-crop based ethanol is on the way out. This is great for America, and a true solution to our fossil fuel problems. But I think that V2G needs to be fully integrated into the product concept for all EDVs. That means that the car can cost more, but since there will be revenue from the utilities, as well as reduced cost for certain ways of using electricity, the economics does change. Elsewise you’re just buying into the advanced technology, gas-optional aspect of the product. And for those who don’t like biofuels, the only other options are gasoline, liquefied coal, compressed natural gas (which can come as biogas), or hydrogen. But that’s cool with me any way it goes.


  5. 5
    Mark

     

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    Oct 21st, 2007 (12:32 am)

    I thought this car was going to be a plug-in electric hybrid.

    Guess I’ll keep waiting until one does come out…


  6. 6
    Charley

     

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    Oct 21st, 2007 (12:42 am)

    Lyle,
    Thank you for another great update. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your efforts. CW


  7. 7
    mykallb

     

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    Oct 21st, 2007 (12:46 am)

    I also agree with Lutz and Co. that an E.V.R.E. is not just another PHEV or HEV.

    If it doesn’t have a separate acronym some people will never understand that there are more than minor differences.

    M.


  8. 8
    Szyszek

     

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    Oct 21st, 2007 (12:49 am)

    Comment from Mark, above, proves that GM will have a hard time explaining what Volt is to the general public.
    Mark, the reason Bob does not want the Volt called a plug-in hybrid is because a hybrid is a vehicle that may use both electric and gas motors to propel the vehicle. Since Volt only uses the gas engine to charge the batteries and the gas engine is not connected to the wheels, Bob calls it (correctly) an electric car with a range-extending gas engine. It is a plug-in vehicle and I guess you could call it a hybrid after all, although technically it is not.
    Trust me, this is the vehicle you are waiting for.


  9. 9
    Van

     

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    Oct 21st, 2007 (6:52 am)

    Yes, if you define “hybrid” as meaning parallel design, then the Volt becomes a Plug In Electric Vehicle (PEV) rather than
    PHEV. But the definition is an invention, for the Volt has two sources power, the battery and the ICE, with a different way of getting the power to the drive shaft, indirect rather than direct. So the Volt becomes a PEVwRx. How helpful is that?

    Or we could include S (series) and P (parallel) in the designation, a Volt would be a PHSEV and a Prius would be a PHPEV.

    This effort is ill advised, since the Prius is well accepted, to be considered similar has more up side than down side.


  10. 10
    Estero

     

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    Oct 21st, 2007 (8:19 am)

    I agree; RxEV says it all! The range extender generates electricity, the sole source of power to the vehicle wheels.

    Let’s all adopt RxEV as the acronym for the Volt technology.


  11. 11
    Rashiid Amul

     

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    Oct 21st, 2007 (9:37 am)

    Being the slow one on this blog, I get confused with all the acronyms and abbreviations. I’m lucky I know what PHEV and EV mean. Someone who doesn’t follow this will be totally messed up.

    So RxEV = Range extended Electric Vehicle ?

    You know, all of these acronyms and abbreviations would be good for the FAQ that Lyle wants to make.


  12. 12
    OhmExcited

     

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    Oct 21st, 2007 (9:56 am)

    I always enjoy listening to Bob Lutz’s interviews. He has a way of articulating a point in a simple but never too simple way.

    I understand why automakers don’t want to be boxed into CAFE requirements. Government doesn’t know better what consumers want, but judging from the inefficient engines and plastic interiors of many US cars, automakers don’t either.

    The struggle between government and the US auto industry is like a marriage having problems — one spouse is talking logic that flies over the head of the other — the other wants their feelings validated and are not getting any sympathy.

    CAFE may not be perfect, but Americans are trying to tell GM and others something through the arm of government. We’re fed up with technological stagnation and want to get serious about the environment and energy security. We’re not impressed with a few plastic pieces that make a car “flex-fuel” (and good luck finding that fuel for purchase in your neighborhood). We want something more radical. The Volt is a good first step, but ultimately some form of legislation may be needed to respond to the values Americans are screaming for. When your heart’s in the right place, and you’re validating our feeling with real actions instead of talk, then those divorce papers may never be filed.


  13. 13
    Tim

     

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    Oct 21st, 2007 (10:13 am)

    A hybrid uses two or more power sources to DIRECTLY power the wheels. The Prius with it’s small electric helper motor used to recapture breaking energy is an example of a hybrid. Batteries, hydraulics and pneumatics have all been used for this purpose. Cylinder deactivation and engine stop-start technologies are not technically hybrids as the motive power always comes from the ICE.

    Trains are series diesel-electrics because they don’t use batteries to power the wheels. The Tesla is a 250 mile range Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV-250) and the Volt is a BEV-40 with an auxiliary power unit in an attempt to cover 82% of commutes using off board power with a smaller, lighter and less expensive battery while still offering the security of a easily and quickly refillable auxiliary power source. The APU is a security blanket 82% of the time.

    Hybrids don’t have to have regenerative breaking to be considered hybrids, but it only makes sense to recapture momentum energy that would otherwise be lost as heat.


  14. 14
    Steven B

     

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    Oct 21st, 2007 (10:35 am)

    RxEV-40 can be used to describe the Volt. I’m just saying. You get all the info in 7 linked characters. Range extending electric drive vehicle with 40 miles of eletric range is the alternative. Plug-in hybrid is just wrong for this configuration. So I’m saying that instead of explaining every time, just use RxEV!


  15. 15
    Charley

     

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    Oct 21st, 2007 (11:06 am)

    It seems to me the kiss principal should apply here. pev says enough about the volt in my opinion. trying to figure out the difference between phev, pev, prev, pevwrx, phsev, phpev, rxev, bev-250 and bev-40 makes me dizzy.
    Now if i could just find a link to see if the Volt’s motor will be brushed or brushless?


  16. 16
    Grizzly

     

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    Oct 21st, 2007 (11:51 am)

    I thought I read that it was brushless even thought it was an induction motor, but I could be wrong.


  17. 17
    Mike G.

     

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    Oct 21st, 2007 (12:09 pm)

    tongue in cheek sort of:
    By the time the public understands all the terms and we as a whole have settled on the definitions of what each term means they will be meaningless becuase we will just call them cars! Just like people call there ICE cars, cars instead of ICE cars. When virtually all cars are electric we will just call them cars!


  18. 18
    kent beuchert

     

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    Oct 21st, 2007 (1:24 pm)

    Look at it this way, folks. The VOLT is obviously an electric car with a range extender. That range extender can be anything – a diesel or gas engine, a fuel cell, or ANOTHER BATTERY PACK. If GM is able to obtain a super affordable battery and decides to replace the gas engine with some of those, are you still going to refer to that car as a hybrid? Has anyone ever called a car with a fuel cell behind the battery a hybrid? Of course not.


  19. 19
    john1701a

     

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    Oct 21st, 2007 (2:14 pm)

    > Has anyone ever called a car with a fuel cell behind the
    > battery a hybrid? Of course not.

    Do a quick Google search for the FCHV term (Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle). The resulting 144,000 hits clearly show that is not the case.

    The shortcoming of fuel-cells is the fact that they are steady-state devices, which prevents them from being the only power provider in a vehicle… hence including a battery-pack.

    Debate semantics all you want, the typical consumer won’t care anyway. The nonsense around labels makes no difference when people are looking at purchase price and operating cost.


  20. 20
    Steven B

     

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    Oct 21st, 2007 (2:52 pm)

    It is a simple fact, electric drive vehicles, of any size, form, or power source, and fundametally different from hybrid, which are different from each other depending on hybrid configuration, and are different from ICE-powered cars, which are different from each other dependent on power source, engine size, and a variety of other powertrain characteristics. Max torque off the line is a fundamental difference between ICE-powered cars and EDVs. Diesels provide a lot of torque and that is a major selling point of the technology. EDVs and conventional vehicles are fundamentally different. The only debate here is whether a simpler way of saying so should be introduced to promote consumer awareness, which may ultimately affect buying decisions, as well as market choices.


  21. 21
    AES

     

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    Oct 21st, 2007 (3:11 pm)

    [quote comment="11592"]Now if i could just find a link to see if the Volt’s motor will be brushed or brushless?[/quote]

    [quote comment="11599"]I thought I read that it was brushless even thought it was an induction motor, but I could be wrong.[/quote]

    “Brushed” and “brushless” only refer to permanent magnet DC motors. GM is using AC induction motors.


  22. 22
    Charley

     

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    Oct 21st, 2007 (6:11 pm)

    I did a google search on AC induction motors and found that they have high reliability and no brush wear. This answers my question.


  23. 23
    Grizzly

     

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    Oct 21st, 2007 (7:03 pm)

    They have their advantages, but as I understand it need to be electronically controlled. I don’t see this as a problem for a co. with GM’s e-divisions and expertise in engine/electronic mgmt. systems.

    If I’m not mistaken, they can be more efficient under cruise conditions, and less under full throttle bump, even though they may deliver more “bump” under full throttle.

    Am I correct? ….AES…?


  24. 24
    AES

     

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    Oct 21st, 2007 (7:19 pm)

    For the record I’m not an electrical engineer but..

    [quote comment="11618"]I did a google search on AC induction motors and found that they have high reliability and no brush wear. This answers my question.[/quote]

    AC induction motors have no brush wear because they lack brushes altogether. The current is instead commutated using power electronics (an “inverter”), and the two opposing magnetic forces are set up entirely by electromagnetism. They are very durable, and are the most efficient for large, high-power applications. And yes, overall (average) efficiency for big AC induction trumps that of brushless DC.

    Much more authoritative voice on the subject:

    http://www.teslamotors.com/blog4/?p=45

    DC motors with brushes are pretty stone age. They’re used for electric drag racing because of high torque and efficiency off the line, but the brushes have a tendency to disintegrate into plasma.


  25. 25
    Charley

     

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    Oct 21st, 2007 (11:28 pm)

    Gentlmen,
    Thank you for the education.


  26. 26
    Paul

     

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    Oct 21st, 2007 (11:57 pm)

    IMHO, Mr Lutz’s definition of hybrid makes more sense (and is probably easier for the public to understand) than the serial vs parallel hybrid terminology.

    The term “hybrid” should refer to the power source(s) that drive the wheels, and that’s all. The presence of an IC engine running a generator should not change that definition. Just as the electric starter motor in my Trailblazer does not make it a hybrid.


  27. 27
    Tony Belding

     

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    Oct 22nd, 2007 (6:54 am)

    I have to strongly disagree with Mr. Lutz on this one. He’s trying to redefine “electric car” so it includes something you fill up at a gas pump.

    The buying public won’t care about how the Volt’s drive system works internally. There’s no reason why they should have to concern themselves with whether the engine is connected mechanically to the wheels or not. What concerns them is that it can accept energy from a wall socket or from a gas pump. That makes it a plug-in hybrid.

    This is exactly the car that PHEV advocates have been asking for. It’s the archetypal PHEV.


  28. 28
    noel park

     

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    Oct 22nd, 2007 (10:38 am)

    Well, I think that #19, John 1701a, and #17, Mike G., among others, have it right. Forget the semantics, just give us the car.

    As we always say, “Call me anything you want, just don’t call me late for dinner”.

    What an awesome bunch of bloggers. You guys are great!


  29. 29
    vernon-ga-tech

     

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    Oct 22nd, 2007 (8:54 pm)

    Listening to Bob say the Volt is going to be built on a compact frame gives me some pause. With oil hitting $100/barrel, I just hope GM is going full steam at electrification of their entire fleet. It would be nice to also see mid-size Chevy and Buick cars and SUVs all based on the RxEV model. (Maybe trucks also).


  30. 30
    Szyszek

     

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    Oct 22nd, 2007 (9:29 pm)

    Bob got me thinking: Volt is built on Cobalt’s platform. Cobalt is a $13k car. Swap its 2.2 4-cyl engine for 1.0 3-cyl turbo (even swap), swap tranny for electric motor (even swap), add some fancy electronics and materials ($2k) and $10k battery pack – bingo, you have $25k Volt. All you have to do is to make enough of them so you can get everything in bulk (engines, batteries, electric motors etc). Like… 60,000 of them?


  31. 31
    noel park

     

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    Oct 23rd, 2007 (2:29 pm)

    Szyszek, #30:

    Amen.

    Dude it up with some special styling cues and wheels to differentiate it from the base Cobalt, and get on with it.

    Honda has done a poor job of this with the Civic hybrid, which is not enough different from the base Civic, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

    As I keep saying, we are babying our 1995 Impala SS along until GM comes up with a car with enough better mileage to make it worth switching. The 1994-96 SS is a perfect example of making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. The base Caprice Classic was a styling disaster but, with a minimum of expensive changes, Jon Moss, et al, turned it into an effective buzz generating enthusiast car. I know, I know, too many doors and too big and heavy, but the Chevy faithful were desparate, and it really caused a stir.

    They are still popular in LA. You should see the homeboys shake their heads when they see my wife drive by in her SS.

    As I have said 1000 times, where is Jon Moss, now that we need him?


  32. 32
    GM-VOLT : Chevy Volt Concept Site » GM Calls the Volt an E-REV

     

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    GM-VOLT : Chevy Volt Concept Site » GM Calls the Volt an E-REV
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    Nov 23rd, 2007 (10:32 am)

    [...] We have had spirited discussion along the way about exactly what the Volt is.  Common misrepresentations have included calling it a hybrid or series hybrid, or more commonly a plug-in hybrid.  Bob Lutz has specifically said the Volt is not a hybrid (see post). [...]


  33. 33
    Guy Incognito

     

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    Nov 23rd, 2007 (8:18 pm)

    I don’t care what Bob Lutz or Lyle or the rest of them say what the Volt is defined as.
    The Chevy Volt is, in fact, a ‘serial plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.
    My advice to the good folks at GM would be to stop trying to define the Volt in their own terms.


  34. 34
    Storm Connors

     

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    Nov 23rd, 2007 (11:38 pm)

    I don’t know why GM is so uptight about CAFE standards. If they build enough Volts, they can keep selling Hummers and still meet the standards. If the CAFE was restrictive enough, then other mfgs wouldn’t be able to meet them at all!


  35. 35
    Zobeid

     

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    Nov 24th, 2007 (8:21 am)

    I know why GM (and other car makers) are so uptight about CAFE standards. Sure they can meet a 35 MPG standard. . . But if they admit that publicly, then Congress will demand 45 MPG or more. That’s how the game is played in Washington DC.

    All the car makers now understand they have to move toward more efficiency, but they want to go there on their own schedule, in response to the marketplace. They don’t want to be strong-armed by the government. That’s human nature. So, they fight against CAFE and tell congressmen “we can’t do it”, but meanwhile they are gearing up to do it. Some might call that dishonest, but they are highly motivated to behave this way.