Feb 29

More Details on Pricing the Volt

 

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Recently we heard a statement from Dee Allen of GM about the Volt costing around $35,000. Since it’s of tremendous interest and importance, I decided to look into this in more detail. I managed to catch up with Mr. Allen who it turns out is GMs spokesperson on global product and brands, and pretty much Bob Lutz’ communication guy. We had the following discussion:

How is the $35,000 number generated, since the car isn’t built yet how do you know what it will cost?

We put together estimates, the vehicle itself and then estimates for the different kind of equipment it will carry and the engine. You go through and do a cost analysis. We’ve been working on that and one of the things, and I’m just repeating what Bob said, I’m not the expert on this, is, we were down in Dallas speaking to some of the reporters, and that’s where he said instead of around $30,000, its around $35,000 and the reason is that when we got started on this we didn’t anticipate so many of the vehicle systems that are currently in existence that we’re using on vehicles were building today are fairly high energy users. The examples are things like windshield wipers and 8-speaker sound systems and so on. We don’t usually think of them as big energy users particularly because we’ve got so much energy being generated by the gasoline engine. You don’t end up studying how much electrical draw there is normally on each of those things as your driving down the road. Now all of a sudden were tackling a vehicle that as you know were targeting for 40 or more miles on a charge. Thats when you realize that is your driving that vehicle when its raining or cold outside and your using a heater and your using the windshield wipers you using up motive energy.

So one of the things that the team has been doing is working on low energy usage systems that we would use on the Volt so that you don’t draw energy and reduce your driving radius.

When you did the initial computer modelling before announcing the concept wasn’t that idea of using lower power components considered?

As far as I know from what Bob was saying, some of those things were not considered. To some extent you take these things for granted. As people are used to high power stereo systems and A/C and it takes energy. What Bob was saying is he was absolutely amazed how much power the stereo uses. Most of us think of A/C as being a major energy user, but people don’t think that using the radio may impact their mileage. When you’re counting on the battery, then you all of a sudden realize that any load you put on it will reduce it.

Are you saying the new components will have to replace the ones that are typically used, since you cant use off the shelf components, and will that increase the cost?

Well yes you have engineering costs going into doing that and tooling costs and so on. Your essentially doing some new componentry that obviously has some design engineering and manufacturing cost associated with it. And one of the things that Bob explained was that there are things we could do, for example if we come up with a low wattage windshield wiper system, lets say, if we spend a lot of time on it there probably things we could do to take cost out of that system, as we’re designing it there are always improvements you can find. But when you are working against a tight deadline like we are, for us this is like a “moon-shot”and we set a goal for the team and were going to try like the devil to make that goal and so when you’ve got that kind of a time constraint on it we are going to go for a solution rather than perhaps the most cost effective solution.

Are you saying you will have to engineer design and manufacturing these components (i.e. windshield wipers) in house?

Or outsourcing them.

Is there a problem with finding suppliers or their ability to ramp up production?

Even if were not talking about the Volt and were talking about any product, there are two ways to go about that. GM can do the designing or we can go to a supplier and say this is what we need and these are the parameters and ask them to do the design work. Either way there is design work involved and of course the engineering of the design, what we call design engineering, and of course testing, etc. Using the windshield wiper as an example, you have to go through rigorous testing as this is essentially a safety device. So now you have to do testing and simulate usage over a long period of time and it has to be able to hold up to snow and ice.

Has GM actually started the process of designing these new systems?

Absolutely. This program is unique in the annals (of automotive history), but the way were going about this is were designing a unique powerplant, a unique vehicle, and unique components to go into the vehicle, and were doing it all simultaneously. It didn’t take long to realize that wed needed to use low power systems.

When we showed the concept to people, the design work was done without a whole lot of testing. When we made the call and put it in the wind tunnel, Bob likes to describe it as “a brick”. Aero work isn’t usually done on a concept that you’d show at an auto show.

With this type of vehicle that is going to use electric power, every part of the vehicle that draws off the power or anything aerodynamic can lead to a loss of range.

Don’t you have components from the EV-1 like the windshield wipers and stereo that you can use for the Volt?

In some cases yes, and I’ll tell you the things that we learned from the EV-1 as I’m sure Frank (Weber) has said, it gives us tremendous advantage because we do have experience. I don’t know about the (actual EV-1) parts, we didn’t exactly mass-produce EV-1s either. That was also a little while ago, and in many cases for example the windshield wipers have to be fitted to the type, size, and shape of the vehicle.

When Bob Lutz discussed the pricing update, did he say closer to $40,000 or exactly $35,000, what were his exact words?

What Bob said was that our original goal was targeted around the $30,000 mark and now as we’ve gotten into it more deeply and with the development work we’ve been doing, I wish it wasn’t so, but its probably going to be more like $35,000. The explanation was what you and I have already talked about.

Does the $35,000 price refer to actually owning the battery pack or not include leasing the battery?

I could say if I knew, but I don’t know. Maybe thats a question for Bob when we’re together in New York (Volt Nation).

Do you know if the issue of leasing the battery is still on the table?

I honestly don’t know. One of the things we’ve said consistently is that we are going to be a transparent as possible about this, I mean were no going to give daily reports of course, but were going to be transparent about it and were going to let people know how the development is going, and if we run into a hiccup were going to let them know, and if we get successes were going to let them know. Were working with the battery manufacturers right now and were testing battery packs. The batteries have not been an issue at all.

I still see things in the media that the battery will still be an issue because of computers that caught on fire and all that kind of stuff. As Bob says, saying lithium-ion is like saying beer. There are a lot of kind of lihtium-ions like there are a lot of kinds of beer. The lithium ion were using has been great.

Do you know how many packs are GMs possession right now?

I don’t know. I know we’ve had deliveries from both teams. I haven’t talked to Bob about this in the last two weeks, so I really don’t know where we stand.

Do you know if there is an actual pack in a mule yet?

I don’t know. I do know that Bob has said hes going to be driving a mule this Spring. But I don’t know where we stand with that right now.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 29th, 2008 at 6:00 am and is filed under Financial, GM Q and A. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 115


  1. 1
    NZDavid

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (6:26 am)

    Some good questions Lyle, a shame you couldn’t get all the answers.
    Keep up the good work.


  2. 2
    Estero

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (6:27 am)

    Thanks Lyle! You’ve come through once again!


  3. 3
    Nick

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (7:05 am)

    I would like to know how much electric range standard components would reduce. if it’s just something like 10 miles, wouldn’t it be worth it to just use standard parts, eliminate a lot of schedule risk and produce a more affordable car that still has 30 miles range?


  4. 4
    Jim I

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (7:26 am)

    What I am hearing, is that the Gen-1 vehicle is going to be technologically right, and delivered on schedule, but expensive. So I guess “two out of three ain’t bad”, is what we are going to have to live with.

    The Gen-2 version and the versions beyond that will then be worked on to get the price to a more “acceptable” level.

    Or I could be wrong, or maybe according to Tagamet, I am just not responding to my meds…. :)


  5. 5
    Jack

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (7:31 am)

    Nick, why not go for the better stuff and save the old stuff for last resort if need be.


  6. 6
    GM Volt Fan

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (7:34 am)

    Speaking of energy hogging stereo equipment …. it looks like GM will have a fairly inexpensive solution ready for saving energy with the headlights for the Volt by 2010. The lights in the interior will probably be LED too. LED headlights probably use 75% less energy than the headlights used today …. and you’ll never have to replace them as long as you have the car.

    You can already get LED headlights for the Cadillac Escalade:

    http://car-reviews.automobile.com/Cadillac/concept/2009-cadillac-escalade-platinum-preview/5500/

    http://www.ledsmagazine.com/news/4/11/26


  7. 7
    Brian

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (7:36 am)

    “wouldn’t it be worth it to just use standard parts, eliminate a lot of schedule risk and produce a more affordable car that still has 30 miles range?”

    No, the claim all along has been 40 miles and if they fail to make that, you will never hear the end of it.


  8. 8
    Kay

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (7:41 am)

    When do we find out how much it will cost to lease the battery?


  9. 9
    KenEE

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (7:50 am)

    Good News!
    Electric cars are very quiet and so you only need a fraction of the power to drive the stereo system.
    Living in Texas, I’m much more interested in the AC :)


  10. 10
    sheltonjr

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (7:55 am)

    I agree with you Nick, but the press and competitors would have a field day saying they didnt do what they said they would do, never mind being a great car that has slightly reduced range on very hot and very cold days.

    Note for GM: The car will not need a high power stereo system, because there wont be any loud ICE fight with.


  11. 11
    TOM M

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (7:57 am)

    I think the $35K range is pretty much in line with what is out there right now. Most of the EV’s that are comming out are only two seaters and the are priced @ $30K all the way up to $100K. and more.I for one am really looking forward to seeing this car in production.

    Thank you Lyle for all your hard work and dedication to this project.


  12. 12
    Jean-Charles Jacquemin

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (8:08 am)

    Thanks Lyle, I think the answers if not complete were frank.


  13. 13
    BillR

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (8:08 am)

    From my recollection, the Volt will have a 16 kWh battery pack, and will typically operate from 30 to 80% of charge. This means the Volt is designed to go 40 miles on 8 kWh. This equates to 200 watts (0.2 kwh) per mile.

    In the brochure for the recent Pontiac G8, the top-of-the-line stereo system has a 230 watt amplifier. Therefore, it would be conceivable that the stereo system could draw more power from the battery pack than the drive system, essentially halving the Volt’s range.

    I think these are the kind of issues that the Design Team is talking about.


  14. 14
    David L G

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (8:21 am)

    Seems like he was staying pretty safe with his answers – staying closely in line with what Lutz has said publicly, but good job on asking the right questions.


  15. 15
    TommyW

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (8:27 am)

    Americans addicted to overpowered cars??? Certianly this cannot be true! Can get discounted options with my volt? Perhaps windows that roll down instead of an A/C and maybe simply a 4 speaker sound system, Heck, toss in a few new warm coats for the winter time.

    While I applaud the manufacturer for rethinking these critical systems and attempting to make them more energy efficient, I must point out that purchasing a plug in vehicle is not all about gasoline savings or the environment. Its about a complete change in your lifestyle. The car is a major hurdle, and I promise you, when the first production electric vehicle makes it to the masses, more people will start thinking green. Consider cracking a windows instead of using the A/C, perhaps wearing a heavier coat or taking a lap blanket instead of running the heater. Think!

    Sadly though, I must maintain that with a price tag of $30k – $35k, the vehicle will never be obtainable for myself, and I dont see this changing any time soon.


  16. 16
    KariK

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (8:40 am)

    They seem to have a serious case of the Not Invented Here Syndrome. The interview with their top technical guy already made me think of that and this kind of enforces it. All they’d have to do is increase the size of the battery pack by a couple of kWhs. Sure that would increase the cost a bit, but not by $5000.


  17. 17
    Nathan

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (8:52 am)

    I think now is a good time to mention something that I have been thinking about. I live in Minnesota and people here often have remote starters to warm their cars up before getting into them. It seems like this could actually be a very good idea for the Volt on both hot or cold days.

    Imagine that your Volt is plugged in in the garage. You push a button 5 minutes before you get in the car and the Volt heats or cools the Volt drawing power from the outlet rather than the battery while you are driving. That could really extend your range and make you more comfortable. And you can “start” you car in the garage without worrying about CO poisoning!! :-)

    Just a thought on how squeeze more range out of the car.

    Nathan


  18. 18
    Jason M. Hendler

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (8:55 am)

    Great interview – hit every main question and pressed for clarification, so that we now know all that your interviewee knows.


  19. 19
    Dr. Ed

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (8:56 am)

    Good work, Lyle. I don’t know how you do it, but we certainly appreciate your efforts. My Apple powerbook is certainly better than my old mac, so why should we expect the volt to be the perfect solution. So what if on a cold day we have to use the ICE for a short while, that is the beauty of the design. I don’t thing anyone promised a 40 mile range under all conditions.


  20. 20
    Bryan K

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (9:35 am)

    Maybe GM could improve their entire fleet fuel economy just by replacing the energy hogs with the new, more efficient components. Then they’d get an economy of scale distributing the implementation costs across all vehicle lines.


  21. 21
    Eco

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (10:25 am)

    Nathan wrote:
    Imagine that your Volt is plugged in in the garage. You push a button 5 minutes before you get in the car and the Volt heats or cools the Volt drawing power from the outlet rather than the battery while you are driving. That could really extend your range and make you more comfortable. And you can “start” you car in the garage without worrying about CO poisoning!!

    Eco reply:
    Someone else asked that awhile ago, and it got a coy answer that implied they were thinking about it. My guess is that the button will be on your keychain, just like your current keyless entry.

    But the good news, and yes there is good news, is that this is a temporary price issue. Re-engineering the energy-hogging devices is not battery science–it just takes some more time and effort. For instance, who says you need two windshield wipers to work at the same time? Who says you can’t coat the glass with permanent water-repelling coating, meaning you don’t need the wipers except to clean off dirt and bird doo? As someone else said, who needs 8 speakers in a car that makes no noise? Who says you need all 8 speakers to listen to the news?

    With the price of gas climbing by the hour, the Volt and the announcement by VW today, I am looking forward to buying a totally new car.


  22. 22
    Marc

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (10:29 am)

    a quick comment about the new components, if they are developing new components with lower power consumption; would it not make sense to offset the costs by using the new technollogy throught out the GM fleet rather than just putting the price tag for the development on just one vehicle?


  23. 23
    nasaman

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (10:34 am)

    Regarding windshield wiper efficiency, extended driving in blinding rainstorms or heavy snow/sleet could require running the wipers at their highest speed for perhaps hours at a time. I’d focus on 1) developing very low friction blades; 2) reducing friction losses in the wiper gear/crank mechanism; and 3) improving wiper motor efficiency using high-strength Neodymium magnets, larger windings, etc.

    For the sound system, my suggestion would be to use small left/right speakers in both “shoulders” of EACH of the 4 seats plus one sub-woofer shared by all passengers ….and NO SPEAKERS IN THE DOOR PANELS OR DASH. This would dramatically improve the surround-sound effect & response for each passenger, while significantly reducing the amplifier power required. BTW, another advantage of speakers at each seat would be individual VOLUME, ON/OFF & SIGNAL SOURCE controls for each of the four seats (controls in the front & rear center consoles). For example, this system could allow the driver to listen to traffic updates while others listen to an MP3 player, a CD/DVD, or pop music from XM radio. Pretty snazzy, huh?

    A high priority for both audio system efficiency and HVAC efficiency should be extensive acoustic/thermal insulation:

    1) Use sound-absorbing material (e.g., “dyna-damp”) in the floor & the firewall, plus heavy acoustic/thermal insulation in the floor, firewall, doors & roof ….to absorb as much ICE & road/tire noise as possible & to improve cockpit warm or cool air retention

    2) Use a double-glass top (for the electrochromic glass top option) & thermal reflective glass in the windshield, rear hatch & door windows for further HVAC efficiency

    Then, from an assessment I did several days ago, the power drain for most of the Volt’s roughly 25 possible electrical accessories can be categorized as follows:

    Intermittent/Low Power: door locks, elec windows, rear hatch unlock, dvr/pass mirror adjust, ABS/traction/stability cntrl, auto-dimming rearview mirror, accessory outputs/cigar lighter, various solenoid actuators/controls. (Note all are very low duty cycle loads)

    Very Low Power: OnStar, dash/interior lighting (LED), anti-theft alarm system, heated cup holders (2)

    Low Power: front/rear wipers (only when needed), heated drvr/pass mirrors, displays (LCD, electroluminescent), cruise cntrl

    Moderate Power: seat heaters, rear defogger, electric brakes, power steering, headlights (LED), daylight running lights (DRL), XM/HD/AM/FM Radio/audio/navigation system (use seat-mounted speakers to reduce power & improve fidelity), HVAC (when in fan-only mode),

    High Power: HVAC (A/C or Heating mode), traction battery heating/cooling (Note both assume excellent thermal insulation)

    ======================================================

    Several days ago when I first offered comments very similar to those above, our “Pete K” said in response:

    (Pete K): “I can confirm nasaman’s calculations from a 2 year analysis of every recharge and discharge cycle of my own Citroen Berlingo EV: The range provided by my 26 kWh pack can be dented by a maximum of 1.5 miles through use of all my ancilliary services, but I AM able to vary the range between 45 and 60 miles depending on my driving style and or speed.

    (Pete k continued): “My EV (just like the EV1, and probably every other EV that came and went along with CARB’s ZEV mandate) runs all of the usual services plus (for the Berlingo) electrical brake servo and power steering from a normal 45 ah 12v battery fed in turn from the far larger traction battery via the dc-dc converter.”

    In other words, in spite of GM’s claims to the contrary, the Volt’s power consumption challenge can be met fairly easily —and any development costs should be amortized over the entire E-Flex global product line rather than recovered from Volt sales alone!


  24. 24
    MetrologyFirst

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (10:42 am)

    I was struck by the seemingly offhanded comment by Mr. Allen in the first question.

    “Now all of a sudden were tackling a vehicle that as you know were targeting for 40 or more miles on a charge.”

    A perfect opportunity to say “up to 40 miles” or “about 40 miles”. He specifically said 40 miles or more. I think that was intentional.

    I think GM DOES want the car to go 40 miles in about all conditions. I think in more optimum conditions, the range will be greater. Factor in some smooth driving and acceleration, it may be significantly more.

    Anyone else see it this way? Could be some subtle oneupsmanship with another certain car company.


  25. 25
    Thompsonite

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (10:42 am)

    Nathan,

    Great idea. I am from Manitoba and how the car works in the cold is one of my major concerns. I would be able to plug the car in both at home and at work but heating the car up to a reasonable temperature when it is -40 degrees outside is a real issue. I have a remote start on my Matrix that I generally only use in extream weather conditions.

    It looks like Think may beat GM to the punch with EREV vechicles, both 2 and 5 seaters. Check out:
    http://blogs.business2.com/greenwombat/2008/02/electric-carmak.html


  26. 26
    thomdbhomb

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (10:49 am)

    What about different trim levels? They could make a base model – a model without a lot of power drainers – that gets 40 miles. Doing so would allow them to achieve their concept (except the price concept, apparently). Then, they could offer a higher trim that provides lesser miles on a charge.


  27. 27
    omegaman66

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (10:56 am)

    People keep talking about 40 mile range all electric. I may be mistaken but from this article as well as a number of other articles printed here it appear that we can expect people to be thrilled with the fact that most people will be able to get 50 miles of range (maybe 60) when they first buy their Volt.

    Appears again that the 40 mile range is with a number of the systems on that are quite frequently off. Headlights, wipers, heater/ac. and this 40 mile range is suppose to be 40 AFTER 10 years of life not initially.

    I might be mistaken but it seems like I read that here.


  28. 28
    Jim I

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (11:03 am)

    nasaman: I think you are dead on with this.

    thomdbhomb: We have speculated about different models for months, and I think that most of us agree that it would be a good idea. But until GM releases some info, no one really knows.

    After all of the above ideas are put into place, the only other way to increase the AER is to make the battery pack bigger. Again, this could be an extra cost option for those that might want it.


  29. 29
    nasaman

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (11:25 am)

    28 Jim I

    Thanks.

    I just submitted my post #23 above as a formal suggestion at gmideas.com


  30. 30
    Tim

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (11:25 am)

    Great interview Lyle!

    Here is some relevant design information and how the Aptera design team dealt with these types of problems.

    Popular Mechanics Aptera Test Drive
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2Ke1VWhZJA&feature=related

    Here’s more info on Hella’s LEDs
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dokPD0B94Ns


  31. 31
    Schmeltz

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (11:48 am)

    Nathan:
    Excellent idea with the “remote starter” concept. PA winters aren’t usually as bitter cold as Minnesota, but they can get downright nasty for periods of time as well. This idea is a realistic approach to the populous of people like ourselves that get rough Winters. Hope GM is listening to this suggestion.

    Marc:
    Another good point about distributing cost of new engineering over the entire GM line, instead of trying to lump it all on buyers of Volts.

    Lyle:
    Great questions as usual.


  32. 32
    Brian M

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (11:49 am)

    omegaman66, #27,

    I am wondering if the 40 mile range is quoted for end-of-life (i.e. after ten years the battery has depleted somewhat, but gets 40 miles at that point), and therefore the range would be more like 50-60 when the car is new.


  33. 33
    Mike756

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (11:53 am)

    BillR #13

    For a 230 watt stereo to draw the same power as the motor, your’e talking about going a few miles an hour. 200 wh/mi is at highway speeds. For example at say 60 mph, one mile is one minute (0.016 hr). 200wh/0.0167hr= 12kw. We don’t know what the actual power vs. speed will be, but Lyle has previously posted that 65mph slightly uphill would be about 30kw. It is good they are working on the radio, but I don’t think it is that big a deal.


  34. 34
    Jon P.

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (11:53 am)

    NasaMan:

    with you 100% on that last post.

    Looking forward to meeting you, and Jim I at voltnation.

    What about a seperate smaller battery to run all of the non-essential options? setup where you could have a switch (economode) that wouldn’t kick the ice on to charge it unless the propolsion battery kicked the ice on.


  35. 35
    Jon P.

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (11:58 am)

    Lyle,

    Maybe on the home page under “Volt costs” we could get a little java app that you put your home state in and based off avg. state electricity price i can calculate how much it will take to full-charrge (6 hours) your volt. I don’t think people understand how cheap it will be to operate this thing if your daily commute is under 40 (or maybe 50) miles.

    Jon
    p.s. see ya at the Javitz


  36. 36
    Luke

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (12:02 pm)

    Thanks for a great article!


  37. 37
    George K

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (12:06 pm)

    From other reading, I had the impression that the 40 miles was at optimal driving conditions. IE, not aggressive driving, standard but minimal use of gadgets, like, radio on “talk radio”, no a/c or heater.

    It’s better to think of the 40 miles as starting point with average driving, and anything more aggressive will reduce it.

    Here’s where I very much hope the E-Flex engineers allow the “pulse and glide” capability which will extend the 40 miles. Try googling “pulse and glide”. I used the technique to win a 20 mile open road rally at HybridFest in my unmodified Prius. It simply requires a free wheeling capability on the pedal, between accelerate and decelerate.


  38. 38
    Mike756

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (12:13 pm)

    Jon P. #35

    Good idea. In order to make that somewhat accurate, we need to know the average AC kwh/mile.


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (12:38 pm)

    I have been looking for answers to my questions about the battery usage concerning A/C, radios, wipers, heaters (cold here in Ohio!). I knew those items were going to draw on the battery power. Now that the price is going to be jacked up higher and the battery not going to give me a full 40 miles, it is not worth it anymore. Before the Volt comes out, it will cost even more. I dont want to pay $40k plus lease the battery pack. I will buy a little honda that gets me great gas mileage. I am sad to realize that the Volt will not be in my future now. :(


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (12:50 pm)

    Excellent updates on the progress of the Volt.

    Does anyone know if the Volt designers are evaluating any of the battery-capacitor power systems such as the AFS Trinity system premiered at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show? http://www.afstrinity.com/

    AFS 2008 Saturn VUEs are already on the test track and report achieving 40+ miles on battery power alone, driving all-electric at freeway speeds, 150 MPG overall. They appear to have off-the-shelf parts, radio, headlamps, windshield wipers and air conditioning.


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (12:51 pm)

    Lyle,

    Again great interview. I don’t think I was alone in wondering about the carry forward of EV-1 electric components, and thanks for asking the question.

    As GM tackles these problems moving forward toward the targeted 2010-11 release date I have the utmost confidence that they’re going to pull this off. I also believe that 10K on the first run to limit liability might be a good idea despite the waiting list/demand. Any problems could be ironed out for a second gen 100K or so run.

    If anyone wonders whether or not GM has the prowess to pull this off I wanted to share a video you might or might not have seen. I came across this the other day, and even though it’s a little hard to hear it really outlines the sophistication of the EV-1. I hadn’t realized it was that advanced an automobile.

    There are two parts, the first can be found here:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=wLoI1jMWWuI


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (12:57 pm)

    It looks like we might have a solution on the way for the windshield wiper hogging too much electricity … the blade free windshield. :)

    http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2008/02/inventor-uses-n.html

    Hard to believe they can really do this. Anything seems possible these days. If GM uses this windshield technology they might be able to install an super efficient wiper blade motor that won’t need to run as often … as a safety precaution for when you are in a heavy downpour, etc.

    It looks like nanotech will be coming to the rescue again. I bet the new E-REVs coming out in the next 5 years will have all kinds of futuristic nanotech in the car.

    If I were in college, I would be studying NANOTECH and electrical engineering if you want to be an entrepreneur with a successful business someday. No doubt about it. Ultra friction resistant nanotech wheels maybe? That would save a lot of electricity or fuel. Nanotech tires that can last for 150,000+ miles? Who knows. :)


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (1:46 pm)

    If given a choice between these two options, which would you pick?

    [ ] A $30K Volt that has a 30 mile electric range if you are running the wipers and heater with the stereo cranked. Otherwise 40 miles electric.

    [ ] A $35K Volt that has a 40 mile electric range even while running the wipers and heater with the stereo cranked.

    I would be inclined to choose the former, since 30 miles electric is enough for me. It sounds like GM is designing the latter.


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (1:48 pm)

    I think I would tell Bob to stop thinking along traditional lines – the Volt is anything but traditional and a high powered stereo is
    NOT a priority with those I know who are interested in the Volt. Nor do we care that much about the power to drive wiper blades – I haven’t used my wipers in the past two months and could care less whether they draw a lot of current. A ten watt stereo system is about all I need. The idea that the typical Volt driver will be careening down the street with stereo blaring is ludicrous. Quit thinking in terms of a 17 year old buzzhead, Bob.


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (2:06 pm)

    Nasaman, if you didn’t roll this genericly into dashboard/interior lighting, I think you might have forgotten the all important light for the vanity mirror on the passenger side. Needs to be bright enough to apply makeup in the nighttime.

    My wife has refused to buy other cars previously because of this oversight. :-)

    Great information and analysis!

    Thom


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (2:18 pm)

    I’m surprised that a technical juggernaut like GM that is so far ahead of Toyota and is engaged in a “moon shot” did not foresee this. Especially with all their EV-1 knowledge (I am glad he mentioned it, because I was beginning to wonder after their recent “discovery” announcements). You would have thought they would have done this analysis before they selected a range and a battery size. Perhaps even before they announced they could build it. But how is a company like GM supposed to know the power draw of a car?

    It really isn’t that significant, even if GM is now far enough along that they can’t just throw “free” battery at a problem. I have to assume that this is smoke and mirrors to hide other issues… hopefully just related to pricing (see Lutz’s complete bull about a $25K Volt shortly before he raised the price by 40%).

    I have the solution to the stereo problem: use 4 speakers instead of 8. It is actually less expensive as well.


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (2:28 pm)

    Let’s hope that someday we will be charging up our Chevy Volt cars with electricity that comes from super efficient, environmentally friendly, inexpensive power plants like these new solar thermal plants that are going to be built in the next few years.

    This solar thermal technology by “SolarReserve” sounds pretty good to me. It sure as hell beats coal fired plants I know that.

    http://www.solar-reserve.com/pdf/solarreserve_technology.pdf

    http://www.technologyreview.com/Biztech/20356/

    It’s efficient and it sounds like it’s ready to be implemented right now. Maybe the photovoltaic solar companies will come up with something better before long, but this technology looks like it’s ready to go. With some heavy duty electrical cables like these, maybe we can transfer electricity from the desert Southwest to the rest of the country fairly cheap.

    http://www.abb.com/industries/us/9AAC751068.aspx?country=US

    I’m sure Vegas will have all the electricity it will ever need for those lights and the air conditioning once these power plants get built. It’s not like the sun will run out of fuel and stop shining anytime soon. :)

    People in Arizona will soon be getting a lot of their electricity from the biggest solar plant in the world in 2011:

    http://www.inhabitat.com/2008/02/25/world%E2%80%99s-largest-solar-power-plant-coming-to-arizona-in-2011/

    http://www.abengoasolar.com/sites/solar/en/sparaelectricas_torre.jsp


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (2:41 pm)

    Note to GM : Install an alternator…..


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (2:45 pm)

    #13 BillR
    I think it may be an “apples – oranges” comparison … 12v stereo amp vs. 330v battery and motor.

    (Been in Vegas all week… had fun, lost money.)


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (2:58 pm)

    #13 BillR

    What you computed is that the Volt drive would use 200 watthours per mile, not 200 watts. A 230 watt stereo takes an hour to use 230 wattshours, so playing the stereo for about 52 minutes would take about as much power as a mile of drive.


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    Statik

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (3:00 pm)

    Lyle, I’ve been a little critical sometimes, but this interview is all aces. Good job! You really pulled some info out of this guy.

    1.) “Does the $35,000 price refer to actually owning the battery pack or not include leasing the battery? I don’t know, talk to Bob.”

    Very worrisome, sounds like a ‘um yeah probably…but I like my job”

    2.) From under 30K to ‘around 35k’ — “the reason is that we didn’t anticipate so many systems that we’re using on vehicles were building today are fairly high energy users”

    The battery pack costs 7k (as theorized by Tony Posawatz, Vehicle Line Director for E-Flex). So for another 5K, why not just plunk another 12kw in that bad boy?

    Let me, as the consumer decide if I want to go 40miles with the stereo and the A/C blaring -OR- go SEVENTY MILES with the A/C off and the radio low.

    GM needs a common-sense-cicle sometimes. Kinda like they say they didn’t realize how much power a 200W stereo would draw? Hrm…I wonder. Geniuses.


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (3:35 pm)

    Is anyone else here old enough to remember when things like radios and heaters were extra cost options, let alone air conditioning, power steering, and power brakes? Our 66 big block Corvette didn’t have power steering or brakes, AC, or power windows, and it was just fine, thank you very much. It probably weighed more than a Volt with that big old iron 427 in front, and my wife drove it all over!

    Power windows and central locking are still “options” on Chevrolet cars – at least you have to step up to an LT package to get them. There are also several optional “radio” packages, I believe before you get to the 230w multi-speaker level. I sure don’t need it.

    Nobody had ever heard of power adjustable mirrors, heated seats, rear window defoggers or automatically dimming rear view mirrors.

    So, playing off of Statik’s comment at #51, how about going back to the old option list system and let the consumer trade off gee whiz gadgets vs. cost and range? If The Captain can build custom ordered Smarts in France, what’s the problem?

    BTW, here’s a whole thread almost completely without political comment, if it makes anyone feel any better.


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (3:45 pm)

    #47 GM Volt fan

    I’m amazed others follow such things…you’ll be happy to know that the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) passed today by a healthy margin.

    So that big-ole solar farm is a go officially today. If it didn’t get the rebates it was pretty much dead (they get about a 30 percent kick back on manufacturing costs).

    I will say this plant is TERRIBLY inefficient. Estimate is currently at 1.1 billion for 280MW, thats $3.92 a watt.

    Seeing how any ‘Joe Customer’ can buy panelling today for $2.95/w, inverters for .50/w and ground mount installation/wiring for about .40/w, thats $3.85!

    You’d think they’d get a discount on 280mW, rather than pay a premium, especially since they make their own gear. Cost should be more like $2.00-$2.50/w with new tech, therefore I am assuming this company is behind the curve on it’s own propriatary products.


  54. 54
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    Feb 29th, 2008 (3:55 pm)

    RE #47 by Statik

    Please tell me where I actually can buy solar PV panels at $2.95 /w.
    It is more like $4.50 /w for most retail PV panels, some are higher.
    Indeed post a link here.


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (3:56 pm)

    oops that was RE Statik post #53


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (4:00 pm)

    OK, so I broke out my Kill-A-Watt meter and I plugged my boom box into to it and turned it up as far as it would go: 5 watts. Well that was pretty disapointing, so I went downstairs and plugged the meter into my computer’s speaker set. I turned up the volume until it was uncomfortably loud: 20w. Then I cranked up the volume all the way as well as the bass; I could feel the bass all throughout the house. This was more impressive: the meter was spiking up to a wopping 65w, but the average was only about 30w.

    I’m not sure why we are talking about the radio.


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (4:16 pm)

    RE #56 – Mike756

    Yep, that’s about right.
    There are ways to design audio amplifiers that can burn huge amount of power to give “huge bass”, and “pure sound”.
    There are also ways to design audio amplifiers to run efficiently from a couple of D cells, with a slightly “less pure sound”.

    The speakers in my laptop are almost good enough to listen to in a quite car. Don’t forget you can have a radio driving ear buds that run off a single AAA cell. So it is not the radio, it is the amplifier that uses the power, and making low power amps is very well understood.

    Advice to GM:
    Let’s assume that Volt drivers are listen to talk radio, and don’t need enough bass to make them and the neighbors vomit.
    Let’s not put the speakers in the foot wells.
    Let’s have a quiet well insulated car.

    Then there’s no reason to have anything other than a low power efficient amplifier.


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (4:31 pm)

    #56 Mike 756, thanks for the measurements.

    That was my point… these 230W numbers are largely meaningless PR. A speaker with a decent sensitivity can put out 90+DB for 1W. A four speaker system in a closed area like a car could put out as much volume as you would reasonably want for about a dozen watts.

    Assuming it takes you one hour to drive 40 miles in the Volt, that would be 12W out of 8,000. Or 0.06 Miles. Or 300 feet.

    Why exactly is GM bringing this up? These are the notable complications of their “moon shot”?


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (4:31 pm)

    I didn’t realize “Dee” Allen was a “Mr.”, but I guess it must be one of those names that can be both.

    In any case, you quote Dee as saying that Lutz said originally the price would be “around $30k”… while my memory is you previously quoted him yourself as saying “comfortably under $30k”. If he did indeed originally say “around $30k”, then that could have even meant $32k, within range of “around $35k”… so not far off (but again “around $30k” isn’t what I remember).

    I too have to wonder what percentage of the average American’s driving time is spent with the wipers on? Maybe 5%? I don’t think you need to over engineer in a 1st production Volt the wipers to save a little extra juice for those (relatively) rare times. That’s something you tweak/change later on.

    Stereo as well… the Volt is under the “Chevy” brand name, not one of GM’s high end luxury brands. Nor is this a “sports” model. Does it really need a high powered 8 speaker system?


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (4:36 pm)

    Also as Mark said “Let’s have a quiet well insulated car.”… I also suggested (or assumed) the Volt’s cabin would be well insulated compared to a conventional car so it can be more efficiently cooled (AC) or heated. As such, as Mark said, that should also mean the audio system can get away with less power as that same insulation will also better muffle outside noises (not to mention the Volt itself will be generating less noise).


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (4:41 pm)

    #59 Jeff M:
    Don’t forget Lutz also recently said it would be more like $25K.

    This poor Dee Allen doesn’t know what to say anymore. Keeping up with Lutz’s Volt prognostications…er… Volt facts… is apparently more than a full time job:

    “…I’m just repeating what Bob said, I’m not the expert on this…”
    “As far as I know from what Bob was saying…”
    “What Bob was saying…”
    “And one of the things that Bob explained…”
    “I could say if I knew, but I don’t know. Maybe thats a question for Bob…”
    “I haven’t talked to Bob about this…”
    “I do know that Bob has said…”

    Heh.


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (4:42 pm)

    If you haven’t already done so … go to your nearest Wal Mart and try out some compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL). They come in that soft white yellowish light color and the outdoor white light color. They work great. Tell everyone you know about them … save them some money.

    They turn on instantly just like incandescent bulbs. You can also get 3 way CFL bulbs and “dimmable” CFLs too. Your Wal Mart should have a big aisle full of them.

    http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=5646244

    http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=5984213

    http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=5684722

    http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2903277 (your local Wal Mart does have these dimmable ones on the shelf)

    I just found this Excel spreadsheet that compares incandescent bulbs to the CFLs and LED light bulbs that will be coming out soon.

    http://www.productdose.com/LightBulb_Comparison.xls

    You will save some good money on your power bill and make sure there’s plenty of cheap electricity available once you get your Chevy Volt in 2010 or so. It’s good for your wallet and the planet. It’ll keep more polluting coal plants from having to get built.

    People will say “the Chevy Volt still pollutes because of coal plants”. Not if the American people do what they can to buy “green technology” products like CFL and LED light bulbs. I’ll be buying the LED light bulbs when they come out. They are even better for lots of reasons.

    The coal plant industry will gradually die out once the solar and wind industries get up to speed. Maybe the newest safer/cheaper nuclear plants like the Generation III+ and Generation IV nuclear plants will turn out to be very safe sources of electricity to put in the energy mix. I hear you can build Generation IV nuclear plants almost anywhere. Since they don’t use much water, you could put them out in the middle of nowhere where people don’t really want to live anyway.


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (4:43 pm)

    Re: #57 Mark,

    Someone mentioned putting speakers into the headrests (on this blog) a while ago. To me, that sounds like a great compromise between convenience, efficiency, and not getting harassed by the cops for wearing earphones (in some states).

    I guess the seat would cost a little extra — but you wouldn’t have to figure out where to put the speakers through the rest of the car, which might save a ton of work for the interior design team…


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (4:46 pm)

    Noel also just jogged my memory of some of GM’s other excuses regarding reducing acessory energy usage…

    As far as I know power locks, windows, side mirrors, seats, etc do NOT draw any standby power… they should only draw power when actually being used. If you are opening/closing windows, adjusting seats/side mirrors, that much, then you deserve to get less battery only range.

    And I do remember… my previous car was an ’87 Sentra. I drove around for 12 years in it with no sound system (it was an option, though I was going to buy one after market but soon found I didn’t need it), no power seats, windows, locks. I did pay an extra $700 for dealer installed AC… up here in the Northeast though I didn’t use it much.


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (4:55 pm)

    Mike #57: Just to be clear – I NEVER listen to talk radio. When I am in the car, jazz is playing…………. :)

    But I also do not need 12 speakers, 2 sub woofers, and 2000 watts of power to listen to it!!!!

    I kind of like nasaman’s idea of small speakers in the headrests…

    And to tie all this together, check out this system being installed on Fords. But Ford only has the exclusive on this product for one year. It does look pretty impressive, and although it is a Microsoft product, it will probably work pretty well after a few service packs have been released. :)

    Here is a link: http://www.syncmyride.com/

    Seriously, voice acticated phone, and real control of a wide variety of MP3 players (I don’t use I-Pod), makes this look pretty good. Now I wonder how much power ir draws????


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (5:03 pm)

  67. 67
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    Feb 29th, 2008 (5:12 pm)

    While writing a paper for a psychology course I learned that the threshold of pain is about 1 watt per square meter, and the threshold of hearing is about ten trillion times less. The human ear is pretty remarkable. It doesn’t need much power.


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (5:25 pm)

    NO NO NO NO DAMMIT NO

    A 230W stereo is not a power hog, nor are windshield wipers, etc. Anybody who thinks this is a priority is doing his math completely wrong. If you are driving at an extremely slow 30 MPH, your 40 mile range will last you 80 minutes. If you have a 230W stereo at **100% volume** for the entire trip, it reduces your all-electric range by **1.55** miles and **3.1 MINUTES** out of an 80 minute trip. By then you will be deaf.

    Please, everybody, stop coming up with “bright” ideas like more insulation, in-seat speakers, LED headlights, etc. They will just increase the cost of the car in an attempt to solve a problem that basically DOES NOT EXIST.

    The 40-mile range figure is just an approximation, like the EPA mileage estimates. Nobody turns on all his accessories to maximum and drives like a racecar driver and gets pissed off that his car isn’t getting the EPA estimated highway mileage. Same thing with the 40-mile all-electric range.

    GM must think we are all idiots who can’t do math. They are telling us that they are solving a problem that they know does not exist and consequently they’re raising the price of the car by $5,000. This is a pure money grab. Don’t pretend it’s anything else.


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (5:28 pm)

    Marty #66: But that thing is more ugly than a Prius!!!! I know, I know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder………

    Please GM, show us some pictures of the production Volt!!! Pretty Please?!?!?!?!


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (5:47 pm)

    RE #68 Tom you are right, 230W stereo will not reduce range much for the reasons that you say, and someone said that earlier on the thread too.

    Just use intelligent design, it does not have to be more expensive.

    There is no point fitting a 230W system when much less than even 50W will do nicely. I had a 100W amp at home that could make my head hurt and my neighbors two houses away complain to the police if I dared turned it up. I recall having a 35W car stereo that was plenty loud. Some equipment just burns energy due to bad design.

    Insulation will have more effect for the A/C and heating, and make for a wonderful quiet ride, another way to justify a higher sticker price as it will ride like a luxury car.

    The speakers have to be somewhere, I don’t see how it is more expensive to put them at ear level rather than in the foot wells.

    Sure we are only looking at a few percent of range, but when stuck in traffic having a few extra electric only miles are nice as long as it does not delay the production, and there is no reason why it should.

    We have about 1000 days to discuss before we can buy, so of course we’ll discuss the little things too much.


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (6:07 pm)

    JIM I #61
    February 29th, 2008 at 5:28 pm
    Jim I

    Please GM, show us some pictures of the production Volt!!! Pretty Please?!?!?!?!

    ***** ********* **********
    I’ve already seen it. They turned it around backwards to improve aerodynamics and save money. They cut a hole in the bottom so the range extender will be now be Flinstone-ian and will enhance the car’s green image ;) .


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (6:22 pm)

    Excellent interview!
    I wonder if they could have the motor/generator set to idle in order to extend the range of battery usage, maintain high mpg, and run those power accessories. Afterall, at idle the 3 cylinder would be getting terrific mpg. It may reduce the overall miles until empty factor. I just don’t see how at idle it could hurt the range until empty by much.


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (6:29 pm)

    Maybe the alternative materials for building the frame and body of cars will get CHEAPER as companies like Zoltek build more production facilities for carbon fiber in the next few years.

    http://www.zoltek.com/products/panexuses.php

    Maybe by 2010, GM can build more car parts out of this new high strength steel, aluminum, magnesium and carbon fiber. These new materials are as strong or stronger than what is in cars now. In 10 years, cars might be much lighter …. and thus more energy efficient. Try to make the ICE engine and other heavy parts out of aluminum and high strength steel if it doesn’t increase cost too much.

    http://www.zoltek.com/industrynews/85/

    “For example, Ford Motor Co. last month said state-of-the-art engines and power-steering systems will help it meet a portion the fuel efficiency mandates, and that greater use of aluminum and high-strength steel could help shed 250 pounds to 750 pounds per vehicle.”

    “The transition to high-strength steel started 10 years ago and today is “cost neutral,” Taub said, because automakers can use less of the material per vehicle for an overall 25 percent reduction in weight. Using a similar amount of aluminum provides up to a 45 percent weight reduction, compared with a decade ago, while magnesium and carbon fiber offer weight drops of up to 60 percent — but carry significantly higher costs.

    About one-fifth of domestic steel shipments currently go to U.S. automakers, and even if that figure shrinks, steel industry profits will be buffered by the higher prices paid for the high-strength metal.

    High-strength steel will remain the dominant car material for quite some time, Taub said, “but you’ll see a greater proliferation of other materials.”


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (6:30 pm)

    #72 Donan:
    >>Afterall, at idle the 3 cylinder would be getting terrific mpg.

    Actually, it’s the opposite. Pretty much the only time when the engine will be inefficient is when it’s producing less than 20% of its maximum output.


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    Eletruk

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (7:11 pm)

    You know, it’s funny but although people bitch about how they don’t get EPA mileage on their car (Your mileage may vary – now a common phrase) the fact that you could get less than 40 miles on a charge is freaking GM out. Welcome to the world of electric vehicles! I drive a Ford Ranger EV, and I can get 40 miles on a charge regularly. However, doing things like running the heater or AC seriously impact the range, up to 25%. With the ICE included in the Volt, it’s not that big a deal. If I go too far in my Ranger, I am S.O.L. It needs a 240V outlet (try and find one of those anywhere) to recharge, so it means either get towed, or haul a generator.
    EV drivers are well aware of what affects mileage. Heck, even the Tesla which has an EPA rating of 245 miles on a charge, got only 90 in a recent magazine test drive. How you drive an EV REALLY shows up in your mileage, way more than in a gas car. People will have to learn this when they go from gas to electric. Just as there are people who can get 70 miles per gallon in a Prius by driving economically, there will be people who will only get 10 miles in the Volt. Electric vehicles are fun to rabbit start with, but you don’t do that too much if you want to get back home. Maybe those GM engineers simply need to talk to actual EV owners to get a reality check.


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (7:29 pm)

    #70, Mark:
    >>The speakers have to be somewhere, I don’t see how it is more expensive to put them at ear level rather than in the foot wells.

    That’s really the whole point of this debate. If GM had plants producing electricity-friendly accessories that ramped up years ago, they’d likely not cost much more than their less-efficient equivalents do now.

    But at this point in time, RIGHT NOW, GM has plants producing certain kinds of amps, certain speakers, certain windshield wipers, etc. The plants are mature, they’ve already paid their start-up costs and dues, etc.

    So the question is not “are you willing to pay an extra $5000 to get low-power accessories” but “are you willing to pay an extra $5000 to subsidize ramp-up costs for producing low-power accessories.”

    Personally, if it only means a mile or two in range difference, I am NOT willing to help GM out with this out of the pure kindness of my heart.


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    Andy

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (7:53 pm)

    A 1961 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II (which even today is a luxury car) came with 1) AM/FM radio and a single speaker in the front and in back, 2) optional factory air, after market air, or no air. You could use an evaporative cooler eliminating compressor/condensor/evaporator, or use the 12 volt solid state space age cooling/heating system used by portable cool/heat food chests operating on 12 volts drawing 3 amps and a “cooling/heating tube” placed in the seat cushion/back/or lap like a seat belt for putting the cool/heat exactly where you need it, and seats with pre-warmed/cooled heat-sinks (similar to ice pack/hot water bottle) 3) employ “low friction” wipers which constantly dispense a coating on the glass (imbedded in the rubber) which sheds water and reduces the need for constant wiper use, 4) substitute power windows with crank windows to save weight and energy, old cranks were very reliable, 5) use manually operated door locks like the YALE oneson a Rolls, it’s easy to adjust to, though some of these items would use a trivial amount of power as has been mentioned. My Chrysler Town and Country’s electric seat heaters (bun warmers) get warm about as fast as the engine warms up – and then I have to turn them off because they get too hot.

    Hey, my point is – we are trying to reduce our appetite for foreign oil – for many of us who want to eek out a few extra miles range with the same car it would be nice to have some options.

    I listen to serious music in my home – generally on 20 mile (one way) trips and less I hardly have time to listen to traffic reports and get a little news.

    If we’re looking at a 40 mile distance round trip that will “eliminate” use of gasoline (20 miles each way) – driving 60 mph you are there in 20 minutes, even 30 mph in 40 minutes, this is not a very long time to be deprived of quad sound. Small AM/FM radios with lots of volume run for weeks on a 9 volt battery.


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (8:01 pm)

    73 GM Volt Fan:

    That’s what I’m talking about!

    “Simplicate and add lightness.”

    Clarence “Kelly” Johnson


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (8:14 pm)

    77 Andy:

    Absolutely right.

    My Dad used to say, “What ain’t there don’t give you no trouble.”

    My corollary to that is, “You don’t have to use no fuel to haul around what ain’t there.” Or to operate it.

    To road racers it’s more that you do’nt have to expend horsepower, cornering ability and brakes, but fuel economy clearly enters into it too. If you get better fuel economy, you don’t have to haul as much fuel around, which goes right back to the weight bottom line.

    Weight is the enemy.


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (8:17 pm)

    I don’t think the sound system is that big an issue. With highly efficient speakers 10-20 watts is more than enough. If spinning the CD/DVD motor drinks too many electrons, don’t include a CD player, just a memory stick plug in and I’ll copy them to micro SD. Problem solved.

    I’d hate for GM to spend too much time on the stereo. The AC/heat is not only more important, it consumes more juice. I wonder if future gens of the Volt will do away with an AC compressor and fashion AC around a Peltier module?


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    Statik

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (8:27 pm)

    #54 Mark

    RE #54 Statik

    Please tell me where I actually can buy solar PV panels at $2.95 /w.
    It is more like $4.50 /w for most retail PV panels, some are higher.
    Indeed post a link here

    Surely I shall. As a matter of fact sir. I shall post two!

    1.) http://www.atensolar.com/14.html — Ok, these are actually listed at $3.00 even…but you can buy other packages that get it down to under $2.90, you just have to call.

    2.) http://www.pv.kaneka.co.jp/products/index.html — $2.95 for 60w Kaneka panel

    Both retail, both in stock, both you can buy TODAY!

    If you want conventional panels (less area required) the best deal is for $3.24 at http://www.sunelec.com

    Enjoy!


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (9:45 pm)

    #80 Grizzly wrote:

    The AC/heat is not only more important, it consumes more juice. I wonder if future gens of the Volt will do away with an AC compressor and fashion AC around a Peltier module?

    I was initially thinking the same thing … but alas thermoelectric cooling (which uses the Peltier effect) is very inefficient compared with a conventional compressor: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermoelectric_cooling

    I have cooler chest that I can plug into the 12V system in my car that uses thermoelectric cooling/heating. I seem to remember than it can only cool or heat to a 10 to 15 C difference than the ambient temperature. I suspect that the Volt needs an operational range of -40 C to + 40 C … thermoelectric cooling/heating isn’t much use with these temperature extremes. :-(


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (9:48 pm)

    Mitsubishi unveils electric car for 2010, focus is on Japanese market, no promise to sell abroad.
    93 miles on a charge
    Aikawa said the planned mini-electric car, which will be available for test fleets next year, has a cruising range of 90 miles on a single charge and can be recharged in a regular home. The top speed is around 90 miles an hour.
    Although the price isn’t decided, it may sell for under $19,000, according to Mitsubishi Motors.


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    David L

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (9:59 pm)

    # 83 Rockroad wrote:

    Mitsubishi unveils electric car for 2010, focus is on Japanese market, no promise to sell abroad. 93 miles on a charge

    Uh, ya … this was announced more than 2½ years ago:
    http://www.google.com/search?q=Mitsubishi+unveils+electric+car+for+2010

    Here’s some more recent information:
    http://www.autobloggreen.com/2008/02/09/mitsubishi-testing-upgraded-i-miev-in-japan/

    The Volt is a significantly larger car and I doubt that the i-Miev will be directly competing with it …


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (10:11 pm)

    Every thing said in all the posts and this interview is a total non-issue, Save one thing (Were working with the battery manufacturers right now and were testing battery packs. The batteries have not been an issue at all.) end of story, Case closed ,,,, Done deal . If Li-ion really works then life as we know it will change in the next five years. And freaking out over your wipers & music just plain stupid . peace out


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (10:19 pm)

    OK, how many of you guys are driving cars that actually don’t have power windows? Or decent stereos? Or even power mirrors? It’s pretty much standard equipment even on the cheapest cars. My 2000 Ranger EV doesn’t have any of those, and I’ll tell you it sucks! Power seats, well that’s no big deal, I could live without that. I haven’t had to adjust the seat since I first got the truck. But both the mirrors, and the windows are manual. Especially I miss electric windows. Every time I go to a drive-up anything, I crank the window down, and crank the window up. And if I want to crank the passenger’s window to get some air? Forget it, I have to pull over because you can’t reach the crank from the driver’s side. So, OK, I can live without power seats. And really if the mirrors are more modern and the car wash didn’t knock them out of alignment, I can live without power mirrors. But I really think the car should have power windows. You don’t use then enough to affect mileage, but you use them enough to miss them if you don’t got them.
    Oh, and the stereo… At least have a decent one. It doesn’t have to be one that shakes the windows, just sounds decent. I’ve replaced the one in my Ranger, and it still isn’t quite there, so I am going to have to add another amp and subwoofer, just so it’s listenable. I don’t expect that to affect mileage much either.
    So here’s my 2 cent’s worth. Power seats, don’t need ‘em. Power mirrors, don’t need ‘em. Power windows, really would like to have ‘em. Nice stereo, really would like to have it. The thing is, taking out the power mirrors and power seats really won’t help mileage that much except by the lightening of the car, they are rather limited draw being seldom used, and not likely to affect the overall mileage (unless the kids are playing with them while driving).


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    Feb 29th, 2008 (10:56 pm)

    David L #82

    Currently the Peltier module is capable of about ambient +/- 40F. That may change with time, but I suspect that we’ll also soon see scroll compressors that are more efficient than any we have today, or even a compressor more efficient than the scroll.

    I also wonder if in the meantime just using a dedicated 12V for all the accessories as Nasaman suggested isn’t the way to go. I’ve seen several pure EVs using this method on youtube. Of course with the Volt and its ICE you’ve always got the option to get out of any battery taxing/low batt situation.


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    Andy

     

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    Feb 29th, 2008 (11:37 pm)

    62 GM Volt Fan – Please go checkout the website for the EEE (Evergreen Energy Inc.) technology solution for ALL coal fired plants – any of them can burn EEE’s coal and meet all EPA requirements without any anti-pollution equipment upgrade!

    Check it out – and help spread the word. There is no need, in this world of high speed internet, for something this important to continue to remain a secret.

    68 Tom – as has been cited earlier, it is thought the Volt will burn 200 watts per mile. If you have a requirement for 600 watt-hrs of heat during an hour round trip commute, there go 3 miles, and we are down to a 37 mile range. Now add a 230 watt sound system, and play it at 50% power level during your 1 hour commute, you consume an additional 115 watt-hrs of energy which reduces your range another .6 miles – and we have a 36.4 mile range – and so it goes with each option added and used. We can rely on the battery keeping a scrupulous score with no cheating!

    You sound very authoritative in your comments – we all want to believe.


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    engineer

     

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    Mar 1st, 2008 (2:58 am)

    I know how engineers think they want to re-invent the wheel I am a Electrical Engineer my self.

    However why not just use the EV1 parts the suppliers most likely still have the designs aval.


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    Mar 1st, 2008 (3:02 am)

    It just an idea that we may be thinking current the wrong way. It may not be driving limited 40 miles. I’m thinking it how well is the battery able to deal with a load in the car. It might get a sluggish run on the motor. Correct me if I’m wrong. I’m trying to think different that had nothing to do with the 40 miles range that many of the people is thinking. If I’m driving in the rain with the sound system with my LED headlight on. Every time sound system get a strong base. my headlight get dim. I don’t think that is the problem, but something.


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    Mar 1st, 2008 (4:47 am)

    #89

    Probably because of cost. And because not only was the EV-1 not mass produced, neither were its parts. The source could very well be long gone.

    All this second guessing and …. I guess I’m as guilty as the next person, but I’ve got faith in GM. So much so I’m willing to make a Gentleman’s bet that GM pulls this off… 1st gen and those to follow. Any takers? Any at all ???

    If you have any doubt, just look at the Ev-1. By far the most advanced of any of the EV’s entered in the Ca. mandate lottery.

    WRT to the EV-1, that was only a “skunk works” project, and this as we all know is the real thing. What I mean is, by all practical purposes, that was a “booby prize”, and the Volt is corporate commitment.

    I’m betting that the Volt will do 40 in less than optimal conditions, and that it’s battery will last 10 if you own the vehicle that long and don’t upgrade within that decade.

    Anyone want to “shake” on this one?


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    Jim I

     

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    Mar 1st, 2008 (8:25 am)

    I am with Grizzly on this one!


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    Mar 1st, 2008 (8:35 am)

    Another point I want to make is that with all this new technology we WILL be having recalls, and GM better be prepared for them. It is not only the development cost, but also the repair cost to fix problems that slipped through the testing. Using “old” technology would be considerably cheaper in that regard, and putting in a slightly bigger battery would not increase the number of recalls.


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    Mar 1st, 2008 (9:54 am)

    TommyW is absolutely correct, it is prudent to dress in layers for inclement weather, however he is a dolt. Some consumers live in places like Aint nowhere Minn. or Oswego Ny. Just running a defroster for a half hour would crush your reserves and limit your range. Let them get it right, not just get it right now.


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    Mar 1st, 2008 (1:54 pm)

    I believe someone who is math challenged came up with this idea that a 230 watt stereo system uses as much energy as the traction motor.

    As pointed out earlier the radio would use almost 2 orders of magnitude less power. So what are we talking about 1 mile total due to electrical loads? I can’t imagine why this is a concern unless the 40 mile range is already in jeopardy?

    I would think you could get the efficiencies in all the ways mentioned and it shouldn’t be that difficult that you have to redesign the windshield wipers.


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    Statik

     

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    Mar 1st, 2008 (2:24 pm)

    #95 jscott1000

    I’m with you here too.

    And just because you ‘have’ a 230 watt stereo, are people really hopping in their cars and cranking that bad boy to max? Is it even possible to listen to a GM stereo over 75% capacity without tearing your own ears off.

    People can make there own choices. Just put a sticker on the radio when you buy a Volt, “Loud music slightly effects range of vehicle”


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    Mar 1st, 2008 (2:45 pm)

    The more I think about it, the more I think the Volt should be offered with a variety of battery options. My daily commute is almost exactly 40 miles, so I’d be likely to opt for the 40mile version.

    But, for people with shorter or longer commutes, a different battery option (for a reduced or increased price) seems like a great idea. Someone who lives 5 miles from work might only want a 15 mile version. Someone who lives 50 miles from work may opt for a big or a small battery, depending on their daily pattern.


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    Mar 1st, 2008 (3:21 pm)

    Hi Luke,
    I like that option too. You could have 10 kWh and 20 kWh versions. The lower could do, say, 15 miles and cost below $30k. The higher one could do 40 or so miles and cost in the mid $30k range. Then stop worrying about the wipers and radio and get the Volt on the road! People not using the gadgets might get more electric miles, but the others still have the gas engine to keep them going.


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    David L

     

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    Mar 1st, 2008 (5:43 pm)

    # 90, cybereye wrote:

    It just an idea that we may be thinking current the wrong way. It may not be driving limited 40 miles. I’m thinking it how well is the battery able to deal with a load in the car. It might get a sluggish run on the motor. Correct me if I’m wrong. I’m trying to think different that had nothing to do with the 40 miles range that many of the people is thinking. If I’m driving in the rain with the sound system with my LED headlight on. Every time sound system get a strong base. my headlight get dim. I don’t think that is the problem, but something.

    This is a very good point. I haven’t heard any details about the maximum current (amperes) that the proposed battery packs can deliver. If accessories such as the headlights, stereo and AC are running off a 12V system, the amperage will need to be quite high – but with a higher voltage system (such as 300V), the amperage would of course be much lower. I’m not an electrical engineer, but I imagine that for some accessories, there must be a “sweet spot” for a balance of volts versus amps – leading to the lowest wattage. I doubt that 12V is consistently the most efficient voltage.

    Does anyone have further insight into this?


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    Mar 1st, 2008 (6:42 pm)

    99 David L

    I’m an EE (& physicist) and unfortunately, we’ve all been right about accessory current drains. The only reason EVs use higher voltage main batterys is to reduce losses in cabling to the high-powered traction motor(s), the same reason electricity is transmitted across miles of high-tension wiring at 125,000 volts or more then transformed down to 120/240V for local use. But all except perhaps the two highest power automotive accessories (A/C and heaters) can operate at 12V very efficiently (& the wiring to them can be modest in size without excessive losses). So using 300V (or whatever) won’t solve the problem. However, it might be worthwhile to design the Volt’s HVAC system, including the Li-Ion battery heating/cooling, to operate at 24V in terms of efficiency savings —but this would require space for two 12V batteries in series.

    However, cybereye is right that a current surge that’s heavy enough to dim the headlights is indicative of a problem. The way to minimize that problem is to use a 12V (or 24V) battery to keep the voltage almost constant, then charge the auxiliary 12 or 24V battery from a 300V-to-12/24V DC-DC converter (which is simple, inexpensive & highly efficient) from the main battery.

    There’s no way around the law of conservation of mass & energy, however, so simply using a different voltage or current than a device is designed to use won’t help —and the wrong voltage would shorten the life of the accessory. As several others have said here, this is really a minor problem (except perhaps for the HVAC system, which GM is undoubtedly designing from scratch to control the main battery temperature as well as to maximize its efficiency). No worries.


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    Mar 1st, 2008 (7:54 pm)

    Thanks nasaman for your in-depth analysis and explanation!


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    Eletruk

     

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    Mar 2nd, 2008 (1:21 am)

    And that is what most production EVs did (when they made them) The RAV4-EV, the EV-1, the Ranger EV, Solectria, etc all have 12V batteries to run accesories and a DC-DC convertor that runs of the main battery pack. Note that the 12 battery also drives the control electronics, and the main battery is disconnected when the vehicle is parked. So if the 12V drains too far, you can’t drive the EV, even if the main pack is fully charged. A limitation of EVs with mixed batteries. You may have a long life NiMH or Lion battery pack, but if you still use a lead-acid accesory battery, it will have to be replaced just like any other automotive battery, although probably a lot less often since the drain tends to be rather limited to basically between when you turn the vehicle on, and you engage the main battery.


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    RB

     

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    Mar 2nd, 2008 (7:43 am)

    99 David L and nasaman

    Certainly you are right that there is no magical saving of energy by going to a higher voltage.

    You also are right to bring up the wires. People tend to overlook the wires and connectors, as if they were incidental. They are not. They take a lot of space, are hard to work with, and are the source of endless failures and aggravation. Wires and connectors have a significant cost, and significantly affect important issues such as ease of assembly, the practicality of after-manufacture repair, and, importantly, safety in the field. Generally higher-voltage batteries have more cells, are more prone to failure, and are harder to assemble.

    Standardization and the cost savings from it have locked automotive into 12 Volt for years. All things considered, it’s not worth a change in standard 12-V for present cars. BUT, in the Volt one has a new set of starting conditions, since the most important battery apparently will be a higher voltage. Higher voltage = smaller wires for same efficiency, maybe = possibly greater efficiency (same size wire so lower wire and connector losses), possibly better space usage (more wires in smaller spaces), possibly better or possibly worse wire connections through the heat and cold of a car’s lifetime. Higher voltages are somewhat more “natural” for things with motors (where wire diameter is a big factor), but less “natural” for computer chips (where the solid-state device itself is just a few volts). There is the issue of wire insulation. And obviously higher voltage is not an automotive standard.

    So now there is a rare chance to rethink the balance, high voltage/low current as seems natural for the Volt main battery, low voltage/high current as in present cars, or somewhere in between. It is good that the questioin comes up at GM engineering. I hope GM does a good job in thinking through the choices. Whatever happens, mass production means we likely are stuck with their choice for a long time.


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    29 Andy

     

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    Mar 2nd, 2008 (11:46 am)

    Rather than carry the additional weight of two 12 volt, or one 24 volt, old tech. deep cycle lead-acid batteries for items needing a stable lower voltage/higher current power source, why not ask the 300 volt battery manufacturer to provide a third tap for accessing the desired lower voltage from the main battery and using only the required number of cells to develop the voltage desired? That way it could be 12 volt, or 24 volt, or multiple voltages – and the weight of the 2 lead-acid volts could be invested in equivalent weight of more 300volt battery – or in peripheral equipment.

    Can someone shed some light on this for me?


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    George K

     

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    Mar 2nd, 2008 (12:48 pm)

    #99 David L
    I read last year, some where, that the next standard automotive battery would be 36V, due to the high number of energy hungry items in today’s cars. As I recall, this was to happen w/i 3 years. Haven’t heard of it lately though.

    Not sure if Volt could lead the pack by being the first to upgrade. Might need some kind of Gov. standard?


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    Mar 2nd, 2008 (12:52 pm)

    Boy, I sure hope $35,000 estimate is considering owning the battery. It is very alarming that Dee could not give a definitive answer to this question. Battery not included, means the Volt is looking like a $40+k car, probably well over $40K. This would be OK for a Cadillac, but for a Chevy?

    Other than $ concerns, GM has done nearly everything right thus far in the Volt development (at least from what I’ve been exposed to). This concern about low energy accessory loads is doesn’t make sense, though. I sure would like to hear more from their engineering team on this. By now, they should have a metric setup to assess the relative cost of 1Whr for them to best execute parallel development. Much like feature creep in software development, they have similar concerns to guard against.

    Better insulation (to $/Whr point), IR coating of glass, reduced drag components (review mirrors, shielded wiper resting position), etc are low hanging fruit. AC redesign to be more efficient and reliable is certainly worth a look, but while more important for plug-ins, this is meaningful for ALL automobiles.

    Nasaman’s comments make a lot of sense, for the most part. I’m not sold on a separate auxiliary battery, however. What fundamental problem does this solve? Electrical conversion losses? Can’t the main battery be setup to deliver lower voltage DC output along with the higher voltage for the powertrain inverter? ;

    On a related note, I thought the car and car accessory manufacturers have been developing 48V accessory systems for years now. It makes great sense to consider implenting them in plug-ins.


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    Mar 2nd, 2008 (1:32 pm)

    Posts 103-106….

    I certainly see no obvious reason the main battery couldn’t be tapped at (say) 36-48V to supply accessories. But the tough practical questions are 1) did GM foresee this in the specs provided to the two battery suppliers (if not, it could cost them dearly –suppliers are famous for “getting well financially” on design changes. But more importantly, 2) are their suppliers for the 25 or so different electrical accessories able to redesign & recertify them all to a higher voltage without impacting the Volt’s overall schedule?

    And most important of all, 3) are 25+ newly-designed higher-voltage accessories going to be as RELIABLE as their 12V counterparts whose designs have been refined over many decades and millions of parts?!? It might seem trivial to simply scale the device input voltages up from 12V to 36V, but years of high-rel circuit designing have taught me some hard lessons that I often sum up by saying, “you can move a pebble & get a landside!”

    So if I were the Volt’s Chief Engineer/Program Manager I wouldn’t risk it!

    My bottom line: Try to get the traction battery tapped at 12V & keep all accessories on the Gen 1 Volt at 12V. For Gen 2, alert suppliers that you’ll want (say) 36-48V accessories —my guess is that they’ll want 2-3 years and a LOT of up-front $$$ to do all the development & testing to be SURE none of their new designs are failure prone. :(


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    Mar 2nd, 2008 (4:23 pm)

    It’s not a good idea to tap off various voltages from the battery; you want all the cells discharging at the same rate. The 12V, or any other, can be easily done with a DC-DC converter.


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    Koz

     

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    Mar 2nd, 2008 (4:31 pm)

    “My bottom line: Try to get the traction battery tapped at 12V…”

    Agreed, if not enough accessories ready to go now at higher voltage. If some are ready then GM could make a value decision, which could include a higher voltage voltage bus but still utilize some 12V accessories where they make sense. Converting 24, 36, or 48V to 12V at power load is easy and cheap.

    Andy, accessory voltage from battery maybe a little more complex than just fixed taps on cells. Battery loading and wear may require more “intelligent ” usage of the cells to provide this power. This is part of the engineering design decision on whether to use a second battery for accessories or tap the traction battery.

    Since we’re on the cost/risk/benefit topic, I REALLY wish GM would reconsider incorporating V2G (at least V2Home) into Volt v1. This has been discussed many times before, but I don’t see any risk to the program to work on this. Worst case, if it isn’t ready by the time affected components need to be locked down then bail and they’ll be that much further ahead for v2. And with such little risk, the reward is huge for those that want it. The vast majority of Volt customers will be homeowners. Many will be located in areas prone to hurricanes and other areas with significant power interruption threats (nearly everywhere with today’s grid structure). A properly installed whole house backup generator is $8,000 minimum. So, for these people a V2Home Volt has a LOT more value. If GM folks are reading, PLEASE, PLEASE consider this as an option.


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    nasaman

     

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    Mar 2nd, 2008 (5:29 pm)

    108 Mike 756

    You’re absolutely right that tapping the main battery will result in cell imbalances (which would shorten the main battery’s life)!!! What was I thinking? …..Tapping the main battery won’t work —just use a 12V battery for all accessories & keep it charged from the high voltage battery with a simple, low power dc-dc converter!

    Lyle ….it sure would be great if we could edit our own posts (as I’m able to do on several other blogs) so a mistake like this isn’t read out of context.


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    nasaman

     

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    Mar 2nd, 2008 (5:30 pm)

    108 Mike 756

    Mike, you’re absolutely right that tapping the main battery will result in cell imbalances (which would shorten the main battery’s life)!!! What was I thinking? …..Tapping the main battery won’t work —just use a 12V battery for all accessories & keep it charged from the high voltage battery with a simple, low power dc-dc converter!

    Lyle ….it sure would be great if we could edit our own posts (as I’m able to do on several other blogs) so a mistake like this isn’t read out of context.


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    nasaman

     

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    Mar 2nd, 2008 (5:32 pm)

    (sorry for the accidental duplicate –another reason it would be good if posters could edit or delete their own posts, Lyle)


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    Patrick

     

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    Mar 2nd, 2008 (6:05 pm)

    I think they are blowing it on not making the car more affordable for real working people. The ones who do the driving and living making the basic wages. This is a big opportunity for another company outside of the U.S. to continue to grow and dominate this industry. They are going to blow it.


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    nights

     

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    Aug 10th, 2008 (3:49 am)

    This sounds more like two Gm employess than an interview. It also sounds like Gm is apolozing in advance for what they already know is a dud, loser and another butt kissing from Gm to big oil.
    40 miles per charge? get real GM. mover over and let toyota take over the electric models market also.
    Several things are clear . In the future we will not be recharging car s as they can be charged as when driving them.
    In the future we will no buy hydrogen from gas stations as it can be amd while driving the car.
    We are not interested in 40 mile car. Try something in the 1000/100,000 mile range than call us GM. other than that just shut up.
    We will not be driving GM cars/trucks if this is their answer to toyota’s team.

    GM like ford still has a quality problem and it doesn’t look like they are even attempting to address that problem.
    GM and ford still has the 1950s fever which they rode to death until consumers like myself finey got just plain sick of them both.


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    NZDavid

     

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    Aug 10th, 2008 (6:43 am)

    Please Don’t Feed The Troll.