Jan 15

Video: Exclusive GM-Volt.com Interview with GM vice-chairman Bob Lutz

 

I had the special opportunity for a one on one exclusive interview with GM vice chairman Bob Lutz. I apologize for the sound quality as we had to go to a place where the mobs of reporters wouldn’t besiege him, and there was a lot of background noise. You may have to turn up the volume to hear it well. The video appears below. I have summarized our conversation as follows:

I asked him about whether the Cadillac Converj would be produced. He said he wanted it to be and said the production clay model is already built and essentially identical. He notes financial difficulties limit the certainty for moving ahead. He also said the government would have to clear it as being worthy of advanced technology loans. He said it would be an internationally accepted vehicle.

I asked him how much the car would cost, he said about “two Volts”.

I asked if he believed GM was responsible for the auto industry’s recent rapid focus towards electrification, and he said he did.

I also asked him why electrification was so important for him. He mentioned the need to displace oil and to achieve legislative efficiency requirements.

He also explained how he believes in three years battery packs will be “way down” in price.

I asked him whether GM could build packs for other companies as a new business considering their new pack assembly plant plan, and he said he saw no reason why not, although said it hadn’t been contemplated yet.

He said the Volt program production volumes remain unchanged despite GM’s financial situation.

Lutz said he does feel Volts wouldn’t sell as well if gas stayed at $1.50 per gallon, and that at first they won’t make GM a profit.

He said the Converj would cost only slightly more than the Volt to build but yet could be sold at double the price and actually make money for GM, and that’s one of the reasons why he said he’s so enthusiastic about bringing the Converj to production.

Bob Lutz GM Interview January 2009 from Lyle Dennis on Vimeo.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 15th, 2009 at 7:51 am and is filed under Cadillac, Original GM-Volt Interviews, Video. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 132


  1. 1
    Rashiid Amul

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (7:59 am)

    Like I said before, the high price cars for the rich can pay for the R&D and eventually bring the price down for the rest of us.

    Interesting that he thinks the cost of the batteries can go way down in 3 years. I certainly hope that happens. That will be a huge break for the rest of us and really help the masses.

    As the gas prices have started to climb again, I am anxious to see this Volt. But I do not car if gas is $1.00 a gallon. I want off of oil, the end of terrorism, the safety of our troops, a cleaner environment for our children, etc


  2. 2
    RB

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (8:03 am)

    Thank you for this outstanding interview. As always with Mr Lutz, some actual truth shines through. And you have to love that genuine enthusiasm for things automotive.


  3. 3
    nuclearboy

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (8:04 am)

    It is great news that he predicts Battery prices to be way down in a few years.

    Lyle should have brought up the Ford test drive… I think I would have mentioned it.

    The E-REV technology is a bridge to totally electric cars down the road with multiple hundred mile ranges. Perhaps one could get by with a much much smaller motor and generator in the future if the generator is still needed.


  4. 4
    Rashiid Amul

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (8:05 am)

    Lyle, Thank you for summarizing the comments. I am unable to listen to this here at work. It will have to wait about 9 hours until I get home.
    Did you ask him when you can drive the Volt?


  5. 5
    RB

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (8:16 am)

    Audio-wise, it helps a lot to listen with stereo headphones and watch the speakers. That way one’s natural brain-power filters out much of the distraction. I had to listen carefully, but I think I understood everything.

    I was impressed when Mr Lutz was talking about how much battery technology had IMPROVED during Volt development over the last three years.

    Regarding government funds, I’m not sure that using public money to build Converj “for rich people around the world” is going to go down well with taxpayers. In reality, though, Converj may be the path that gets electric cars on the road to profitability, which has to happen to pay for more development and drive down costs.


  6. 6
    Lunoir

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (8:17 am)

    Cheaper Batteries, tougher regulations or how to create the perfect market for the Volt…
    NPNS!


  7. 7
    Joe

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (8:21 am)

    I’m not surprised the battery price will go way down on price in about 3 years. If anyone knows how to automate a product, it’s GM!!

    Go GM go!!


  8. 8
    dave b

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (8:28 am)

    Does anyone else find it frustrating that GM can produce the Converj for slightly more than the Volt, yet sell it for double? If GM would pass the savings onto the consumer, it won’t get slammed so bad when the Chinese and other EVs hit the markets soon. HELP A BUYER OUT, GM!

    Otherwise, carry-on and let’s see the production version of the Volt.


  9. 9
    Eric

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (8:48 am)

    I really like the Volt idea. I just would have liked to see the Volt with a bio-disiel generator option. A bio-disiel genset would be even more effiecient, eco friendly and fuel made right here in America creating jobs. Hope they consider this option in the near future.


  10. 10
    Jason M. Hendler

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (8:49 am)

    Lyle,

    Great suggestion to Lutz that they should sell battery packs to other automakers. Funny that they hadn’t contemplated that, but I am certain that Chrysler (should they still be around) would dive on that.

    Did you ask him for a test drive of one of the Volt mules? I am surprised they haven’t let you drive one, since you are in town.


  11. 11
    statik

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (8:57 am)

    Nice get on the interview Lyle. Too bad the place was so busy…and there was kind of machinery perpetually going in reverse.

    I can honestly say that I have never listened so intently to a interview, but I enjoyed it.

    Side note: New converj platform = Pink Tie V2.0?


  12. 12
    Gsned57

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (9:07 am)

    I figured it couldn’t cost too much more than the volt to build and Lutz pretty much confirmed that one. Although I figured they would sell for 10 – 15K more than the Volt but 2X? Seems like they’d be pricing themselves out of the market. It’s still a delta 2 platform, it’s still only 40 miles AER, and how much of a better drive can it be for 40K more? I guess he’s talking about marketing it to people who don’t think 80K for a car is much money. Good luck.

    If battery costs are going to go way down in 3 years does that mean the 2012 Volt will be under $30k? I’m glad they haven’t settled on a price yet and I just hope if they know that in 3 years battery costs will go from $25K down to $10K they’ll keep the volt MSRP lower from the beginning. Otherwise they run the risk of doing what apple did with the iphone and gouging the loyal fans who waited in line for the debut then lower the price %25 in 2 months for the rest of us.


  13. 13
    Dave G

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (9:13 am)

    Great job Lyle!


  14. 14
    Dave G

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (9:26 am)

    #9 Eric Says: “I just would have liked to see the Volt with a bio-diesel generator option. A bio-diesel genset would be even more efficient, eco friendly and fuel made right here in America creating jobs. Hope they consider this option in the near future.”
    ————————————————————————————–
    As I understand it, a normal diesel engine will run bio-diesel just the same as regular diesel. In other words, you don’t need to design an engine specifically for bio-diesel. Note that this has huge implications for the trucking industry, which accounts for 17% of our oil consumption.

    In the U.S., pollution restrictions severely limit the efficiency of diesel engines and increases their cost. In Europe, new emission restrictions are now having a similar effect. So it appears that diesel cars are becoming less popular world-wide.

    But you may already have what you want with the Volt, since it runs on electricity, gasoline, or E85. Corn ethanol has given the whole ethanol industry a bad name, but the fact is that ethanol is being made from non-food sources for as little as $1/gallon, and this can replace up to 35% of our current gasoline consumption. See here for details:
    http://www.coskata.com/EthanolFeedstockPotential.asp

    Note that Obama has promised a federal mandate that all new cars sold in the U.S. are Flex-Fuel by the end of his first term in office. It only costs car manufacturers $100 to add Flex-Fuel capability.


  15. 15
    Todd

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (9:33 am)

    The wealthy will buy the Caddy because of what it is, no matter what the cost. This is the right direction to take the company. Many people forget that these are businesses. They are there to make money, not be a social charity case for the people. I think that Caddy is great looking and it will sell without any doubt. The quicker that GM can get its R&D costs back the quicker the price of (I still like E-Flex) technology will drop and be incorporated into other GM products.


  16. 16
    Jason M. Hendler

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (9:37 am)

    I want to see GM create a compressed air vehicle. It can be similar to a Volt, except that it has enough NiMH batteries for regenerative breaking, and uses a compressed air generator to power it along.


  17. 17
    Jean-Charles Jacquemin

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (9:48 am)

    Jason #16,

    Well we still wait for Guy Negre and its Aircar to sold on the market, there are good videos, funny shaped concepts, and so on but IMHO no public price, no showrooms … and he sues everybody who uses the name Aircar …

    Regards,

    JC NPNS


  18. 18
    RonR64

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (9:52 am)

    Don’t get too excited about the cost of batteries coming down. I see that savings needing to be split 3 ways. First and most obvious would be the price of things (the Volt) using the batteries coming down. But also GM would need to keep some of that savings to offset the loss on making Volts. 3rd would be increased performance of the batteries or increased quantity of the batteries put into the Volt.

    Hypothetically lets say the Volt battery cost $10000, and the price cuts in 1/2 in the next 3 years, don’t expect the price of the Volt to drop $5K. Maybe they increase the performance 25% to 50 miles all elec. That would take $1250 in our hypothetical example. $5k * .25 = $1250. Then GM takes 1/2 of the improvement to offset losses and/or move into profitability for the Volt. That would be $2500. In our example that would leave only $1250 left of the savings for cost reduction of the Volt itself. Of course this is all hypothetical BS pulled from… thin air. The concept is valid though. Think of computers during the 90′s. Advancements were extremely rapid and prices were dropping daily, even hourly for some components. Did the price of computers drop? Not much. Instead performance increased. A drop in RAM cost meant more RAM, not a drop in the price of the computer.


  19. 19
    Aspherical

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (9:59 am)

    I heard that Ricardo Montalban passed away. GM should now have a “Corinthian Leather” edition of the Volt to remember his legacy, as many of you have requested before (with Chrysler’s permission of course, since they “created” that type of leather). RIP.


  20. 20
    N Riley

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (10:07 am)

    Like I said yesterday, the price of the Converj was going to be around $80,000. Let them build it and there will be plenty of Cadillac owners lining up to buy it. It would be another status symbol and become very popular around the world. That’s good for all of us. Go get them, GM.


  21. 21
    Keith

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (10:24 am)

    There is a nice read on this car at

    http://evworld.com/evworld_wire.cfm

    It has all the important specs as well.

    Lyle , you and Bill should get together sometime

    you two are so dedicated and of one common mind type.

    Thank -You Lyle for the interview

    I hope that GM gives you one of the first Volts produced.


  22. 22
    TSquare

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (10:25 am)

    Don’t expect the price of future Volts to be lower because the cost of the battery is less. GM is counting on the less expensive battery to be their profit margin.


  23. 23
    DonC

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (10:32 am)

    #15 Todd says “The wealthy will buy the Caddy because of what it is, no matter what the cost. ”
    #20 N Riley says “Let them build it and there will be plenty of Cadillac owners lining up to buy it.”

    This greatly overstates the case. I can see a premium but 2X seems the stretch. I’m in the demographic, and I can see a premium, but not that much. If the Volt sells for $37K I can see the Converj at $55K but not $75K.

    Not only is there the price differential but Cadillac is not perceived as a brand with the same level of refinement as BMW or Lexus. Still $20K more when the cost of manufacturing is not all that different is not a bad outcome from GM’s point of view. Using this premium to amortize the joint costs is also a win-win proposition. Sort of like selling the U2 versions of the iPod for a couple of hundred dollars more. :-)


  24. 24
    ThombDbhomb

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (10:43 am)

    “…the Converj would cost only slightly more than the Volt to build but yet could be sold at double the price.”

    No matter what it cost to build them, they will price them according to market demand. Declining battery costs doesn’t necessarily translate to lower MSRP. The competition will affect cost more than anything. Go competition!


  25. 25
    Michael

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (10:43 am)

    Aspherical @ 19 GM should now have a “Corinthian Leather” edition of the Volt to remember (Ricardo Montalban’s) legacy.

    With the price of “Corinthian Leather” these days, I’m sure it would have to be put in the Converj to help justify the X2 price. :-) As far as Chrysler’s permission is concerned, weren’t they maybe going to merj with GM anyhow?


  26. 26
    Tagamet

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (10:54 am)

    STILL no mention of Lyle’s GM ride.
    Simply unacceptable.
    Tag
    Let’s get an alternative fuel vehicle on the road. NPNS


  27. 27
    Texas Tea

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (10:56 am)

    Black Gold is trading at $35.64 at 10am today.
    Look for gas prices to drop in February.
    At these prices the whole EV market looks foolish or is it fuelish.
    Later Dudes.


  28. 28
    omnimoeish

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (11:16 am)

    @#7 Texas Tea

    Black Gold is trading at $35.64 at 10am today.
    Look for gas prices to drop in February.
    At these prices the whole EV market looks foolish or is it fuelish.
    Later Dudes.
    ______________________________________

    The Volt is still two years away. Who cares what the price of oil is now. Besides that, GM had unrelenting demand for the EV1 when it was only a 2 seater and gas prices were just as cheap back then as they are now anwyay. Oil prices in February mean nothing. If you have a crystal ball that could tell what oil prices would be in 2011, then I might be slightly curious, but I’m sure the Volt will still do fine regardless. There are hundreds of thousands of people who just hate the idea of burning gas in their car because they don’t know what they could be paying tomorrow to drive, they don’t like polluting, they don’t like contributing to global warming, they want the image of being green (this is the case for many delivery services, taxis, utility companies, etc. etc., the government will probably like to have some of these.) and some people will just buy it because they are the latest and greatest cutting edge technology and they want to be the first one on their block with it. This isn’t just a new cup holder, this is a whole new era of transportation.

    Plus the European market is paying at least $6/gallon even on the best day so there will be plenty of international demand.


  29. 29
    kent beuchert

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (11:19 am)

    The R&D costs are obviously not well understood, to read some of these comments. They aren’t as much as one might think, assuming they are amortized overa large number of vhicles. and there are
    R&D costs associated with a particular car, and those shared by more than one model (as usually the case for all manufacturers – i.e. much of the Lexus is also found in Toyotas). For example, a billion dollar R&D effort (like the Volt) would mean that $1000 must be added to each of a million of these cars sold. As long as the cars employ what was developed, the amortization can continue for many years, over many models. Some of that billion was spent developing parts/systems specifically for the Volt, and only the Volt, and cannot be amortized over any sales other than Volt sales. But expecting a million cars to be sold before the Voltec system is replaced, doesn’t seem unreasonable. And, of course, at least some parts/systems will still be relevant to cars of the next electric generation. And those costs can be further amortized. So, you see, it’s possible for the per car development costs to end up being around $1000 per car. Of course, GM can’t know exactly how many cars can profit, and so cannot know what those per car development costs are until the end of the game, many years from now, and so is guessing when prices are set. If the guesses are way off, then either the buyer or the car builder suffers.


  30. 30
    Redeye

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (11:20 am)

    # 22 TSquare

    Maybe a little of both.


  31. 31
    Gary

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (11:20 am)

    The Converj would be one of the better-looking elecric cars on the road. Better than the Volt, and most certainly better than a certain “mechanical cockroach”.


  32. 32
    Mike-o-Matic

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (11:28 am)

    @8 Dave B.,
    >> Does anyone else find it frustrating that GM can produce the
    >> Converj for slightly more than the Volt, yet sell it for double?

    Frustrating? Troubling? Not really. After all, the money has to come from somewhere, if Voltec/E-Flex/EREV technology is really going to help GM survive and thrive long term. Better from status-seeking wealthy folks than a gov’t bailout!!

    If somebody’s able and willing to pay double for a car that’s, say, 20% more technologically advanced and/or luxurious, then more power to them. It’s not coming outta my wallet, and it’ll help fund future development.

    In the meantime, if it’s affordable and makes economic sense in my situation, then I’ll be driving a \Volt with just as much pride as they’re rollin’ with in their Caddy!


  33. 33
    k-dawg

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (11:31 am)

    #5 RB Says:

    I was impressed when Mr Lutz was talking about how much battery technology had IMPROVED during Volt development over the last three years.
    ———-

    Ditto


  34. 34
    Murray

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (11:31 am)

    Nice Lyle…

    I found it somewhat troubling that Bob still doesnt know your name being that he called you ‘Dennis’ at the end there…what a shame…

    …either way keep up the good work…


  35. 35
    k-dawg

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (11:36 am)

    #8 dave b Says:
    Does anyone else find it frustrating that GM can produce the Converj for slightly more than the Volt, yet sell it for double?
    ———
    Not really. If you buy funiture, jewelry, designer clothes….etc.. you should be used to a 200% to a 900% markup. They haven’t sold one for double yet.. that was just Lutz throwing out a SWAG. A market study would have to be done to determine the actual price.. just know that it will be (alot) more than the Volt.


  36. 36
    noel park

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (11:39 am)

    Just show me a Volt I can buy.

    LJGTVWOTR!! NPNS! DBNGCMEMV (Thanks Casey!)


  37. 37
    Mike-o-Matic

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (11:39 am)

    @19 Aspherical,
    >> “Corinthian Leather” edition [...snip...]
    >> (with Chrysler’s permission of course, since they “created” that
    >> type of leather)

    I submit there is a high probability that Corinthian tanners would be rather indignant at this supposition ;-)


  38. 38
    VancouverJon

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (11:40 am)

    On the same note as selling battery packs…has anybody heard of a mild hybrid technology (such as GM’s) being used to retrofit conventional cars? My understanding is that one of the big advantages of a BAS system is that it doesn’t require modification of the engine layout (with the batteries in the spare wheel well). Wouldn’t this be a great way to increase the diffusion of hybrid technology into the market? And if GM did this through their dealers it would increase revenue and decrease the cost of their mild hybrid cars by improving the economy of scale.


  39. 39
    Cautious Fan

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (11:45 am)

    Great job Lyle.


  40. 40
    N Riley

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (11:56 am)

    Lyle, put me in the group of people asking why GM hasn’t let you drive the Volt mule. You have done more for the Chevy Volt than anyone outside of GM. Its about time GM got off the stick and let you drive the damn thing. Get with it, GM. So, what is the problem?


  41. 41
    Rashiid Amul

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (12:03 pm)

    @#7 Texas Tea says

    Black Gold is trading at $35.64 at 10am today.
    Look for gas prices to drop in February.
    At these prices the whole EV market looks foolish or is it fuelish.
    Later Dudes.

    ————-
    For me, it doesn’t matter for the reasons I stated above in #1. But I will state it again.
    I do not care if gas is $1.00 a gallon. I want off of oil, the end of terrorism, the safety of our troops, a cleaner environment for our children, etc


  42. 42
    John S.

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (12:15 pm)

    Lyle, you are my hero. Keep their feet to the fire and let us know when you finally get that test drive.

    NPNS


  43. 43
    N Riley

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (12:17 pm)

    #34 Murray

    “I found it somewhat troubling that Bob still doesnt know your name being that he called you ‘Dennis’ at the end there…what a shame…”
    ————–

    Being an old Marine, Lutz speaks military speak where one is usually called by the last name. Nothing unusual about that.


  44. 44
    Luke

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (12:20 pm)

    DaveG @ 14,

    As I understand it, a normal diesel engine will run bio-diesel just the same as regular diesel. In other words, you don’t need to design an engine specifically for bio-diesel.

    You’re mostly correct, and practically speaking, you can just dump biodiesel into the tank of most diesel vehicles and get back on the highway.

    I used to own a 2001 VW Jetta TDI, which can be run off of biodiesel. However, there are a number of quirks that you have to look out for, if the designer of the vehicle didn’t think you might run biodiesel:

    Biodiesel usually has a little bit of methanol in it, so the hoses and seals in the fuel system have to be able to tolerate methanol. In my 2001 VW Jetta TDI, the system wouldn’t degrade — but the experts say that that the seals expand and contract based on the amount of methanol in the fuel. So they suggest that you pick one blend and stick with it seasonally. A fuel system with newer materials can tolerate a changing biodeisel blend more easily.
    Quality of biodiesel made in small batches — the quality of biodiesel can very widely. The best quality biodiesel can be better for an engine than dino-diesel. The worst can destroy an engine. Caveat emptor.
    Lubricity — good biodiesl has better lubricity than low-sulfur dino-diesel and can be used like STP to help cut engine wear. But the lubricity is critical since the fuel pump in the Jetta TDI (which generates thousands of PSI worth of fuel-pressure) is lubricated only by fuel — if you run it off of bad biodeisel, you might be ponying up $2500 for a new one.
    Low-temperature performance. Biodiesel tends to gell at higher temperatures than dino-diesel. They say that Biodiesel can gel as high as 50 degrees F, in some cases — so, if you live in a cold climate, the fuel will need some sort of chemical supplement to stay burnable — that may be a problem for people with a strong ideology. On the Jetta TDI, removing gelled fuel from a pump often involves disconnecting the fuel-injector lines from the engine and draining some fuel. On the other hand, the Jetta TDI has a system to preheat the fuel built-in by the factory — so if you can get it started, it’ll usually run just fine for the duration of your trip.

    Nearly all of these problems go away if you just buy your biodiesel from a reputable vendor, and use modern methanol-resistant plumbing in your vehicle.

    And, practically speaking, you can just dump some biodiesel into the tank and go down the road. These items that I mentioned are mostly for the long-term maintenance of the vehicle, and to prevent the occasional roadside hiccup.


  45. 45
    Luke

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (12:26 pm)

    And, yes, I’d love a biodiesel volt, too. When I first found out about the Volt, I was dating a girl who lived 300 miles away, and biodeisel seemed to be the Right way to do that trip.

    Now, I’m living with said girl and we’re doing a lot of DIY projects around the house — so I’d rather have something electric with a pickup bed. A diesel-electric compact pickup truck with 4-independent wheel-motors would be totally awesome (and I could tell my brothers that my truck was related to a freight-train)… But, really, I just want to be able to haul a 4′x8′ sheet of plywood from the hardware store that’s 10 miles away without necessarily requiring fossil fuels (yeah, most of it comes from coal — but not all of it!), and without funneling money to the middle-east (Given the choice, I’d rather pay some West Virginian coal miners or, better yet, Kansan wind-farmers).


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (12:29 pm)

    Luke, #44

    That was very educational. Thanks.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (12:33 pm)

    #41 Rashiid Amul:

    Amen. Me too.

    #44 Luke:

    One major issue with biodiesel is that it has many of the same problems as corn ethanol. First, food crops are diverted into fuel production. Second, the investment of fossil fuels into growing and refining the feedstock crops takes almost as much energy as the product produces. Third, massive amounts of marginal land and/or critical wildlife habitat have been and are being cleared to grow same. Prime orangutang habitat in Indonesia cleared for palm oil plantations to deliver biodiesel to people in Europe who think they are being “green”, for example.

    Be careful what you ask for, you might get it.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (12:55 pm)

    #18 RonR64 Says: “Maybe they increase the performance 25% to 50 miles all elec. That would take $1250 in our hypothetical example. $5k * .25 = $1250.”
    ————————————————————————————–
    GM said they won’t do this:
    http://gm-volt.com/2008/12/24/future-volt-generations-will-offer-cheaper-smaller-batteries-not-longer-ranges/

    40 miles covers around 80% of the population’s daily driving. 80/20 marketing says you don’t burden 80% of your customers with extra cost to try and satisfy the remaining 20%. That’s a classic no-no. 80/20 marketing also says you don’t go after the remaining 20% with specialized products until you are a dominant player in the 80% market segment. Basic marketing 101.

    For some reason, America has trained us to want more of everything, so let’s put it this way: As battery technology improves in the future, EREVs will have more passenger space, more acceleration, and be more economical to buy.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (12:58 pm)

    The ford is a whole lot better! Doesnt use GAS…even if you want to! The 100 mile range will cover 99% of the population daily during a normal week. On vacations, just rent a car from hertz for 250/wk.

    This range extender is stupid! First, the weight of the engine and generator may be a good reason the volt can only go 40 miles, then once the engine/genset starts to run you will be lucky to get 25 MPG.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (12:58 pm)

    #43 N Riley…
    ________
    “I found it somewhat troubling that Bob still doesnt know your name being that he called you ‘Dennis’ at the end there…what a shame…”
    ________

    Being an old Marine, Lutz speaks military speak where one is usually called by the last name. Nothing unusual about that.

    ——————————————-

    Point well taken sir… ironically most of my friends know and refer to me in the same way as “Murray” is certainly not my first name…
    I shoulda picked up on that…either way….
    Dennis needs a test drive !!!


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (1:08 pm)

    #47 noel park says “One major issue with biodiesel is that it has many of the same problems as corn ethanol.”

    The big problem is that we’ve never actually tried to find materials for bio-diesel. For example, Proboscidea Louisianica or Devils Claw is a weed with a 40% oil content, well above the 30% target. And then of course there is algae. Basically unless you start looking for this stuff you’ll never find anything. I have no doubt that there are all kinds of possibilities out there.

    The appointment of Steven Chu to head DOE is really a big deal. He’s totally committed to finding new sources of energy and has done very good things with JBEI. Look for all kinds of great new discoveries. it’s going to take some time but there isn’t much to be done about that. We’ve wasted the last eight years and, as in other areas, we are paying the price for incompetence.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (1:16 pm)

    #48 Dave G says “GM said they won’t do this:”

    To follow up on your point, not many people understand how complex the battery issue is. Think about it: how many great experience have you had with batteries? They’re always somewhat problematic.

    Getting the right combination of serial and parallel connections and matching the cells correctly means that producing a battery pack that you can maintain will be really hard and quite tricky. it’s not like you can just start throwing a few more modules in the pack and just keep going. Consequently, once GM has something they know will work and they can maintain they will be loathe to change it, at least for a while. And in truth you don’t want them to change it because the results may be less than desirable. If you want a 50 mile range the best approach is to drive slower. That works.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (1:26 pm)

    Dave G. (and also DonC)

    Didn’t that same linked item also point out that in a ‘smaller battery does the same job’ world, modularization could make increased AER a seperately priced option?

    Lyle:

    See if you can get a test drive from the BYD that’s at the show. That ought to really ‘drive’ the point home and get a Volt ride out of GM (besides, I’d be eager to hear your take on the Chinese car).

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/blogs/automotive_news/4299096.html


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (1:36 pm)

    Thom #49 says,
    This range extender is stupid! First, the weight of the engine and generator may be a good reason the volt can only go 40 miles, then once the engine/genset starts to run you will be lucky to get 25 MPG.

    ——–
    Actually I think the engine/genset is supposed to get 50-53 MPG in the Volt.


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    Speedy

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (1:38 pm)

    Thom, # 49 I can see you have never driven a all- electric car before and been stranded on the side of the road, because of it. And the volt will go longer then 40 miles.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (1:40 pm)

    Lots of talk about lower cost batteries in 3 years. Personally I have never seen the price of a car come down because their parts prices have gone down. It’s usually absorbed as gains for profit margins.
    I’m not holding my breath on this.

    Just build my Volt DANGIT!


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (1:43 pm)

    Lyle knows how to pick brains.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (1:50 pm)

    #56 CaptJackSparrow

    The Volt isn’t just another car. When the Prius came out, it commanded relatively high prices due to availability and little competition. Dealers could get MSRP+.

    Competition and maturation will eventually drive the price down. Even if Volt prices never go down, low-end Voltec vehicles will be avalable at affordable prices (eventually). That was the concept.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (1:53 pm)

    Lyle, on the next Q&A, ask about the generator, who makes it?, electrical specs, is it PMG or Inductive AC Generator (Self excitation)……etc.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (1:57 pm)

    @ThombDbhomb 58

    I was comparing GM product to GM products. I haven’t seen much on price reduction other than “End of year sale” or “Employee pricing”.
    Take Saturn for instance, Each year the same model concept is priced more than the previous.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (2:17 pm)

    #18, Rob,

    Unlike RAM, however, the amount of space the battery uses and the amount of weight it contributes to the vehicle is very substantial.

    Consequently, a drop in price is not too likely to lead to a proportional increase in AER. For significant AER range increases, batteries with higher capacity by volume and weight are necessary.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (2:19 pm)

    Looks like I buy can 3 new Toyota Prius for price of 1 electric caddy or 2 new Prius for price of 1 electric Volt. This automatic not make cents.

    New 2010 Prius will hit store this Spring !!

    Here are just a few Prius features:

    - Lower Drag Coefficient compared to boxy 2nd gen model
    - Adaptive Cruise Control (very nice)
    - Intelligent Parking Assist
    - Lane Departure Warning
    - Lane Keeper Assistance
    - Solar Roof (to maintain way cooool interior)
    - 50 MPG !!!
    - and much much more.

    Why wait for a Volt tomorrow when you can have a Prius TODAY.

    Did I mention FIFTY MILES PER GALLON.

    FIVE O


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (2:25 pm)

    Lower gas prices is only a bridge to make the transition to BEVs. There are enough people in this country that don’t want to send their money off to terrorist, they just simply want off oil, lower prices wont stop the revolution, it will get us through it.

    I couldn’t hear the video very well so I read the posts to get the Giff of it. Lyle did you make the video before you drove the Ford EV and is that why you didn’t mention it to Lutz?

    Noel Park, you are very welcome, thank you

    NO PLUG NO SALE, LJGTVWOTR, DBNGCMEMEV, (my house)=D~~~(my volt)


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (2:29 pm)

    @Chung Mong Koo 62

    These features seem a little, umm…….stupid.

    - Intelligent Parking Assist
    If you can’t park your car you should be allowed to drive!

    - Lane Departure Warning
    If you need this, your probably a common drunk driver and you shouldn’t be on the road.

    - Lane Keeper Assistance
    If you need this, you definately don’t deserve to drive PERIOD!

    Not hatin on the Peeus but it doesn’t allow for an ALL ELECTRIC RUN further than 10 miles.

    So if you were to compare collectively in your percieved hybrid class, Why wait for a Peeus when you can get an Insight?


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (2:30 pm)

    Looks like GM is already projecting to come up a couple million cars below the ‘baseline’ for viability it submitted to the gov’t in December–hot off the wire:

    GM cuts US sales forecast
    General Motors reduces its industrywide US sales predictions for 2009 to 10.5 million units

    NEW YORK (AP) — General Motors Corp. is cutting its 2009 industrywide U.S. sales forecast to 10.5 million vehicles.

    The Detroit automaker previously said it expected industrywide sales of about 12 million for the year, with 10.5 million seen as a worst-case scenario for the industry. It revised its prediction in an analyst conference Thursday where Chief Executive Rick Wagoner is speaking.

    GM says the lower sales outlook will force it to make hard decisions that will result in a stronger viability plan and better position the company for long-term growth.

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/GM-cuts-US-sales-apf-14073806.html

    …naturally shares are up slightly on this news, lol


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (2:32 pm)

    Chung Mong Koo brings up a good point. Well, kindof…
    Why do the auto mfgrs have to go through so much to “Protect” drivers from themselves?


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (2:41 pm)

    #64 Captain Jack

    Just pointing out some of the advanced electronic features of the new Prius. It has the most technologically advanced dashboard in the industry. Me suggest you purchase new Prius this spring and when the Volt finally ships then trade in your mighty Toyota if it make cents to you. Toyota has set the bar very high for the competition. While you dream for Volt, I will be cruising in a Prius. I can always switch to Volt LATER if it is truly better.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (2:42 pm)

    Capt Jack, I got a good laugh from Chung Mong Koo but your answer to him was even better. lol

    NO PLUG NO SALE, LJGTVWOTR, DBNGCMEMEV, (my house)=D~~~(my volt)


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (2:48 pm)

    @#7 Texas Tea says

    Black Gold is trading at $35.64 at 10am today.
    Look for gas prices to drop in February.
    At these prices the whole EV market looks foolish or is it fuelish.
    Later Dudes.

    ————-
    For me, it doesn’t matter for the reasons I stated above in #1. But I will state it again.
    I do not care if gas is $1.00 a gallon. I want off of oil, the end of terrorism, the safety of our troops, a cleaner environment for our children, etc

    ____________________________________

    Texas tea don’t expect gas to stay cheap for a extended period of time. As soon as the economy picks back up(which no one knows how long that wil last) the price of gas will go back up and up. The only reason we are not paying more for gas right now with the trouble in the Middleeast, is it is trumped by the bad economy. I am tired of the oil companys using ever excuse in the book to raise the price of gas. The Volt will start a new era in the auto manufacturing business and I am glad to see it finally coming. So what if you have to pay a little more for the Volt compared to a gas only car. Not to mention the fact that you won’t have to worry about a hurricane coming through the Gulf of Mexico and shutting down gas production because most(not all) of the people that own the Volt won’t need gas to get to work, buy food, and run errans. As the credit card commerical says about that feeling…..priceless!!!!!!


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (2:54 pm)

    #12 Gsned57 (On Converj)

    “It’s still a delta 2 platform”.
    ————————————–
    Actually, from inspection of the wheelbase dimension, I believe the Converj may be on the Epsilon II platform, which is the same one used for the Opel Insignia. I believe the Volt’s WB is 105.7″, while the Insignia’s is 107.8. The Converj specs list the WB as 108″.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (3:00 pm)

    #64 CaptJackSparrow Says:
    “Not hatin on the Peeus but it doesn’t allow for an ALL ELECTRIC RUN further than 10 miles.”
    ======================================================
    I thought the electric run of 10 miles was for the future Plug-In Prius. I don’t think the regular 2010 Prius can go more than a couple of miles all electric before the ICE kicks on.

    http://www.egmcartech.com/2009/01/12/detroit-naias-2009-2010-toyota-prius-debuts-with-50-mpg-and-solar-panels/

    From the article in the link above: “The new Prius will offer three alternative driving modes. EV-Drive Mode allows driving on battery power alone at low speeds for about a mile, if conditions permit. There is also a Power Mode, which increases sensitivity to throttle input for a sportier feel, and an Eco Mode, which helps the driver achieve their best mileage.”

    Not a bad vehicle at 50mpg but not American manufacturer and no plug so for me it’s a no sale.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (3:12 pm)

    #23 DonC

    “This greatly overstates the case. I can see a premium but 2X seems the stretch. I’m in the demographic, and I can see a premium, but not that much. If the Volt sells for $37K I can see the Converj at $55K but not $75K.”
    —————————————–
    The Cadillac XLR sells for about $75K, but that is a Corvette based premium car. So I agree with your pricing estimate of $55K.

    The aspect we all need to remember now, is that GM is moving towards production. The design of the Volt is frozen, most of the components are specified, and the battery contract has been awarded. This is a real vehicle.

    GM, at this juncture, does not need to give the competition any more information than they already have. Pricing is included in that confidential information.

    At introduction, GM will have to make some major decisons. If the batteries are flawless, and warranty costs are expected to be low, GM can lower the price. Also, if increasing volume has a major effect on battery pricing, then GM may choose to lower the price in an effort to sell high volume. We will not know of these decisions until the launch date (and rightfully so, this is info that GM needs to keep secret).

    However, if battery tests are exemplary, and GM shoots for high volume (lower manufacturing costs), the Volt pricing could come in let’s say in the low 30′s, well equipped. Take your $7500 tax credit, and you have the best value in a commuter vehicle, one that provides insurance against runaway oil prices.

    For the Converj, I agree with the $55k proposed by DonC. This may not be quite 2x the Volt’s low 30′s price, but it is still a $10k premium over a well-equipped CTS.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (3:32 pm)

    Rashiid Amul @54 wrote:
    Actually I think the engine/genset is supposed to get 50-53 MPG in the Volt.
    —————————————————————————-

    Where did you get the 53MPG? All I have every seen claimed was 50 MPG, and a number of people theorize that is high.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (3:37 pm)

    #62 says “Looks like I buy can 3 new Toyota Prius for price of 1 electric caddy or 2 new Prius for price of 1 electric Volt. ”

    Why stop there? You can get 3 new Chevy Aveo5′s rather than 1 Toyota Prius! Or you can get 3 Volts or 11 Aveo5′s rather than a decked out BMW 7 series sedan. Did I mention never using any gas with the Volt?

    FWIW my guess is that a reasonably equipped Volt will sell at $32.5K after rebate which is very competitive with a Prius, which sells for more like $28K to $29K.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (3:41 pm)

    #73 GXT,

    Note that some of the early specs noted in this attached video have changed (no more 12 gal fuel tank), however, Bob Boniface does mention that if you never plug the car in, it will get 50 to 60 mpg.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1ACbdTJws0&feature=related


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (3:41 pm)

    #44 Luke

    Since my company markets Bio-Diesel, I would have to agree with your assessment, more or less. You do have to watch out for your seals, fuel lines and filters. Bio-Diesel will remove most of the sludge from inside your engine. So, it is a good idea to change foil filters after the first tank and probably the third tank. If you don’t have much sludge after the third tank, you are OK. But watch the seals, as you say. I would definitely check with my automaker before using Bio-Diesel. An engine running on Bio-Diesel will run cooler because of the lack of sludge and it will not have the bad Diesel smell. May make you hungry if the Bio-Diesel is the KFC brand.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (3:43 pm)

    #49 THOM Says: “The ford is a whole lot better! Doesnt use GAS…even if you want to! The 100 mile range will cover 99% of the population daily during a normal week. On vacations, just rent a car from hertz for 250/wk.

    This range extender is stupid! First, the weight of the engine and generator may be a good reason the volt can only go 40 miles, then once the engine/genset starts to run you will be lucky to get 25 MPG.”
    ————————————————————————————–
    First, the weight doesn’t affect mileage that much. This is because the extra energy required for acceleration is recovered with regenerative braking. Weight does affect rolling resistance, but not as much as you would think.

    Second, all things being equal, a BEV-100 will weigh about the same as an EREV-40. The extra battery weight for the BEV is about the same as the ICE, gas tank, etc. Ford has played games to get 100 miles out of a relatively small battery, but this will end up wearing out the battery much faster.

    Third, there are way too many what-ifs for me to ever consider a pure EV. Cars that run on electricity, gasoline, and E85 are the way to go. It’s not just fuel choice, it’s capability. For example:

    • What happens when I forget to plug it in one night? Given my typical frame of mind when I come home at night, this is a lot more likely than running out of gas.

    • What if someone calls and invites me to a party tonight, but I drove a lot today, so there’s not enough charge on my battery to get there?

    • What if it gets really hot outside and there’s a blackout which lasts until the next day?

    • What if I just found out that my brother, who lives 250 miles away, had a serious accident and is in the hospital, and the rental car place is closed.

    • What if I plug in the car, but the plug on the other side of the cord has fallen out of the wall?

    • What if I have it on a timer to take advantage of night-time rates, but the timer fails?

    • What if I plug it in when it’s raining, and the GFI trips?

    The list goes on…

    Pure EVs will be a tough sell for the masses. Plug-ins have most of the benefits of EVs, and none of the range anxiety issues.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (3:48 pm)

    #51 DonC:

    I could not agree with you more. I’m just saying that, as the state of the art exists today, biodiesel is FAR from an unmixed blessing

    As to Mr. Chu, I devoutly hope that you are right. He seems like a very impressive person. If the new President gives him the support he neeeds, I have no doubt that the brilliant results which you forsee are totally possible. I would certainly do anythig in my poor power to help.

    As to the wasted 8 years, what you have said goes double for me.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (3:54 pm)

    #77 Dave G,

    This is excellent. We need to save this list and perhaps add to it, so that others can understand why E-REV is going to be better for the masses.

    Many people cannot forsee these issues until they experience them!

    Great post!


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (4:04 pm)

    #76 I meant to say “oil filters” not “foil filters”.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (4:09 pm)

    #77 Dave G:

    #79 Bill R:

    Yeah, the short version is that, when I told my wife that it might be a good idea to get an electric car that would go 100 miles and then have to be recharged for several hours, her answer could not be repeated on this family blog.

    Range anxiety is real. The market for pure BEVs is extremely limited at this point in the state of the art, IMHO. That’s why GM came up with the Volt concept in the first place. Now if they can only execute.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (4:11 pm)

    @Dave G 77

    Here’s one….
    What if I barely made it home drunk and found I’m at the wrong hose on the other side of the city?


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (4:15 pm)

    Comic Book Guy: “Worst… Audio.. Quality… Ever…”


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (4:18 pm)

    #64 CaptJack – You are absolutely correct, we shouldn’t be adding features to cars to make them more driver friendly. In fact I don’t think you’ve gone far enough.

    No remote keyless entry, if you can’t stick a key in the door you don’t deserve to drive.

    No power windows, if you can’t manually roll down your windows you don’t deserve fresh air.

    No automatic transmission, if you can’t master a stick you don’t deserve to drive.

    No power steering, if you aren’t strong enough to crank the wheels around you shouldn’t be driving.

    And what’s with this turning a key to start the engine? We should all still be out front with the crank manually turning over the engine.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (4:18 pm)

    #70 BillR

    #12 Gsned57 (On Converj)

    “It’s still a delta 2 platform”.
    ————————————–
    Actually, from inspection of the wheelbase dimension, I believe the Converj may be on the Epsilon II platform, which is the same one used for the Opel Insignia. I believe the Volt’s WB is 105.7″, while the Insignia’s is 107.8. The Converj specs list the WB as 108″.

    Thanks for the correction. I didn’t realize there was any significant changes from the volt aside from fancier electronics and some tweaked software to get more 0 – 60 acceleration.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (4:24 pm)

    #72 BillR

    My hope is that GM will produce a lot of Volts and get established as “the name” in E-REVs before the competition gets off the ground; i.e., when one thinks of E-REVs, the first thing that comes to mind is the Volt (for good reasons).


  87. 87
    ThombDbhomb

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (4:27 pm)

    #84 Amazed

    No driving a car. If you can’t bicycle, run or walk, you are a pu$$y! ;)


  88. 88
    Len

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (4:28 pm)

    Douglas McIntyre says: “The ‘green’ revolution in cars dies off”

    http://blogs.moneycentral.msn.com/topstocks/archive/2009/01/13/the-quot-green-quot-revolution-in-cars-dies-off.aspx?PageIndex=1&CommentPosted=true

    This guy is like 98% of us, price is king. I would say that the “green” contengent here is pretty small, but this hard core group that is left still want their plug in vehicles. I know I want mine. :)

    I also read today where one person believes all the electric cars being developed just when oil hits bottom is all a conspiracy between oil and the car companies to kill off electic cars for once and forever.


  89. 89
    CaptJackSparrow

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (4:33 pm)

    @ ThombDbhomb 87

    Welp……
    That decides it….
    I’m a Pu$$y


  90. 90
    CaptJackSparrow

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (4:36 pm)

    @Amazed 84

    Naw maaannn….
    Remember back in the days when your battery died. You had to push the car fast enough then pop the clutch….

    YeeeeHaaaw!


  91. 91
    Luke

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (4:44 pm)

    Noel Park @ 47,

    One major issue with biodiesel is that it has many of the same problems as corn ethanol. First, food crops are diverted into fuel production. Second, the investment of fossil fuels into growing and refining the feedstock crops takes almost as much energy as the product produces. Third, massive amounts of marginal land and/or critical wildlife habitat have been and are being cleared to grow same. Prime orangutang habitat in Indonesia cleared for palm oil plantations to deliver biodiesel to people in Europe who think they are being “green”, for example.

    You’re right, but I argue that there’s a difference by degree.

    The process for making ethanol isn’t that different from making mooonshine — you need giant heated cauldrons and a distiller. For biodiesel, you press soybeans, filter the result, and then remove the glycerin using a grown-up version of a process that could be repeated in a high-school chemistry class. Also, corn takes more fertilizer than soybeans. Both of these processes require energy inputs, but it looks to me like biodiesel takes a *lot* less.

    Another thing that people making the “biofuels require fossil fuels” usually neglect to point out is that the fossil fuel doesn’t necessarily mean “oil”. It can be coal, too. If you’re trying to solve global warming, it’s a wash. But if you’re worried about geopoliticial issues, converting coal into ethanol might be a win. Personally, I’m worried about both issues — but I’ll take solving one over solving zero.

    A third thing is that one’s subjective feeling about the viability of bio-fuels changes a lot, depending on where you live. I just moved from Southwest Virginia to East-Central Illinois. Biofuels just feel more feasible out here, if for no reason other than they enrich the local farmers. Objectively, it’s easy to see that ethanol isn’t good for anything but the Illinois economy — but I’m now a part of the Illinois economy, so ethanol sounds just fine to me. :-)


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    Rashiid Amul

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (6:06 pm)

    GXT #73 asks,
    Where did you get the 53MPG? All I have every seen claimed was 50 MPG, and a number of people theorize that is high.

    ===============
    Somewhere on this site back in the early days. I can’t remember though if it included the 40 MPC to make the MPG higher in the calculations. But it certainly is not 25 MPG.


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    Eric

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (6:10 pm)

    @ noel park

    Concerning bio-diesel causing any food shortages…. there is a new process of making bio-diesel from algae. This process will greatly relieve any fears that bio-diesel will cause any food shortage problems. It is currently still in testing phase but from what I am hearing it is almost a done deal. Untill then at this point in time there is plenty of soy oil till this process will be in full production. Also it could be grown in the dessert which is big plus. How this topic got started is that I mentioned earlier today that I thought it would be a good idiea to have a Volt with the option of a bio-diesel genset.


  94. 94
    Brian

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (6:11 pm)

    Wasn’t this the same guy who said humans have had no impact on climate change? Staggering.


  95. 95
    Gerald Goodwrench

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (6:11 pm)

    These Electric cars don’t have enough moving parts. Hell, they don’t have enough total parts. I am a GM mechanic and need my job. I think Tesla’s drivetrain has just 12 parts and the motor is pocketable (~70 lbs). These are the type of vehicles that will put me outa business. I need stuff that breaks down at a regular interval. I get paid by the amount of dirt and grime that gets on my hands during the weekday. Let’s not be in such a rush to move to a new approach to transportation since the gasoline approach has worked well for dang near hunderd years. Be careful what you wish for, it could come back to bite you.


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    Dave G

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (6:24 pm)

    #87 ThombDbhomb Says: “If you can’t bicycle, run or walk, you are a pu$$y!”
    ————————————————————————————–
    Right now, the streets around here are full of ice and snow, so I’m a pu$$y.


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    Dave G

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (6:26 pm)

    #82 CaptJackSparrow Says: “What if I barely made it home drunk and found I’m at the wrong hose on the other side of the city?”
    ————————————————————————————–
    Yeah. LOL!


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    charlie h

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (6:57 pm)

    #64, CaptainJackSparrow: “These features seem a little, umm…….stupid.”

    Really?

    “- Intelligent Parking Assist – If you can’t park your car you should be allowed to drive!”

    The market reality is that this is a valuable feature if you’ve ever passed up a spot because you weren’t sure you could fit the car into it. In a city with limited parking, this feature might be really useful. I know people that will pay $$ rather than parallel park on the street and feed a meter a few coins. They might well be willing to pay for this.

    “- Lane Departure Warning – If you need this, your probably a common drunk driver and you shouldn’t be on the road.” and “- Lane Keeper Assistance – If you need this, you definately don’t deserve to drive PERIOD!”

    This is a feature for the rest of us. Anything that makes driving safer is welcome. People make mistakes; that’s why we call collisions “accidents.”

    “Not hatin on the Peeus…”

    Then why did you call it that?

    “but it doesn’t allow for an ALL ELECTRIC RUN further than 10 miles.”:

    Neither does anything else and the first thing out with AER of > 10 miles will be twice the cost of a Prius. And the reduction in oil consumption from 180K Priuses/year is way more significant than the reduction in oil consumption from 10K Volts (not that there’s even one in the public’s hands THIS year).

    When someone offers something FOR SALE with better fuel economy and other advantages over the Prius, you let us know, OK?


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (6:59 pm)

    #90 CaptJackSparrow Says:
    Naw maaannn….
    Remember back in the days when your battery died. You had to push the car fast enough then pop the clutch….

    YeeeeHaaaw!

    ————–
    Well I actually had to do that about a year ago. I only drive a stick.
    Thank goodness I had one. You can’t pop start an automatic and I just happened to be parked on a slight decline. I put it in second gear, popped the clutch, and I was on my way.


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    Dave G

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (7:01 pm)

    #91 Luke Says: “One major issue with biodiesel is that it has many of the same problems as corn ethanol. First, food crops are diverted into fuel production. Second, the investment of fossil fuels into growing and refining the feedstock crops takes almost as much energy as the product produces.”
    ————————————————————————————–
    First, the best way to make bio-diesel is from vegetable oil, and the best way to make vegetable oil is from algae. For example, when you look at yields of vegetable oil:
    • Corn yields 18 gallons per acre per year
    • Palm yields 750 gallons per acre per year
    • Algae yields 20,000 gallons per acre per year

    See here for details:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yD29bevtO_g
    By the way, it’s worth mentioning that 95% of the oil that we pump out of the ground came from ancient algae.

    Second, the best way to make ethanol is cellulosic gasification. Using this process, we can convert 35% of our gasoline consumption to ethanol without using any food crops. See here for details:
    http://www.coskata.com/EthanolFeedstockPotential.asp

    For some reason, most Americans have been fooled into thinking that bio-fuels only come from food crops. I have no idea what caused this…


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    Xiaowei1

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (7:04 pm)

    #95 Gerald Goodwrench, because of all the pluses for commuters you pointed out, I thought you were joking; until you said “Be careful what you wish for, it could come back to bite you.” meaning the unemployment which will follow will be horrific.

    Whilst I certain hope i wont i will not have to spend a bundle of money visiting a mechanic in future, I’d not be too worried just yet if i were you. You’ll have retired long before all cars are anywhere near fully electric. On top of that, the beauty of cars with range extenders for you is there are still moving parts…

    I’ve no doubt people will still require there cars to be serviced, and other things will still break down (actuators for central locking, wipers, lights, air-conditioning, faulty electric motors, dints to be fixed, painting, grinding, etc…) there’s plenty of work to be done, though for the most part it will just be a bit cleaner. This however is so many years away, if mechanics in the industry have not made the GRADUAL adjustments required, for the sake of everyone they really should not be playing with any sharp instruments.


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    Jan 15th, 2009 (7:05 pm)

    #95 Gerald Goodwrench Says,
    I need stuff that breaks down at a regular interval.

    ================
    Don’t worry. GM is still in business so you will be too.

    Ouch….just joking but I couldn’t resist.


  103. 103
    Mark Z

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (7:17 pm)

    Not only will the Cadillac Converj be double the price, but expect to pay double for some repairs. I have enjoyed driving Cadillacs for many years. But be forewarned of the added repair cost for anything beyond an oil change or tire rotation.


  104. 104
    JEC

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (7:18 pm)

    #19 Aspherical

    “I heard that Ricardo Montalban passed away.”
    ———————————————————-
    What a bummer. I really liked that guy. :(


  105. 105
    CaptJackSparrow

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (7:22 pm)

    #95 Gerald Goodwrench

    Most humans are “Change Resilient”. We can all adapt.


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    JEC

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (7:24 pm)

    #65 Statik
    “…. GM says the lower sales outlook will force it to make hard decisions that will result in a stronger viability plan and better position the company for long-term growth.”
    ===================================================

    So, lower sales mean a stronger company….hmmmm. Then I expect GM to attain superman status in the very near future.


  107. 107
    The Grump

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (7:40 pm)

    Absolutely no BEV for me, until EPA has an “International Falls, MN” test, to determine how far the BEV could go in the worst, coldest conditions the U.S. can throw at it. 100 miles? You would be lucky to go 12 miles, with lights and resistance heat running full blast. The test dummy would have to be kept at close to room temperature during the test, to simulate a average human driver. E-REV’s RULE !
    ————————————————–
    (In other news, a BEV driver was found dead in his car on a lonely stretch of road north of Chicago, with a depleted battery. The driver, pronounced dead at the scene from hypothermia, was still tightly clutching his “Save the whales” button from the Sierra Club. Talk about dedication. And now here’s Marty, with sports…)


  108. 108
    The Grump

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (8:10 pm)

    #62 Chung King Moo – adaptive cruise control? are you serious? AND parking assist? WOW. (I’m NOT being sarcastic – I WANT these in the Volt, especially adaptive cruise control (radar based, NOT laser based – big difference). And a couple more things, too. (This is where I sit on Santa Lutz’s lap with my wish list. I’ve been a good grump this year – honest!)

    I want the nightvision infrared vision system that Cadilliac has as an option on some models – spot pedestrians and deer long before there is any danger of hitting them.

    New GPS units can tell you what the speed limit is on any road. (I had one, before it was stolen from my car.) I want the GPS unit in the Volt to be able to control the Volt’s top speed, based on the speed limit shown on the GPS unit (optional use by driver, of course). It would act as a self-regulating speed governor, making economical use of the Volt a true “no brainer”, even for lead-foot drivers like yours truely. The Volt would be ticket-proof in this mode.

    A wide-angle back-up camera, activated by selecting reverse, would be nice.
    ————————————————————
    Lane departure would be nice, but annoying – I would keep waking me up. (LOL, but pretty close to the truth with me – 2 jobs, no sleep.)

    Glove box refrigerator? Volkswagon can have that one.

    Solar roof ? Good for a trickle charge, not much else.

    That’s my 2 cents.


  109. 109
    Arch

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (8:52 pm)

    I just wish some of you would do a little research into ethanol. It is made from corn STARCH. Not the oil or other good stuff in corn. Look at a grain of corn. The little end contains the good stuff. When I first started consulting with ADM they had a big problem. They had mountains of corn starch all over the place. EPA was about to shut them down. We started making ethanol to bail out ADM.

    Now for my fuel of choice I like Methanol. Much better fuel. Do a little research. It was the fuel for race cars for years. Do a little more research and you will find that Germany ran their planes on it during WW II. Do a little more research and you will find they made it by heating garbage. I like that. Its a better fuel than ethanol too. The problem is that it burns so clean that you can not see it as it burns.
    Having been a race driver I can tell you that it is a REAL problem. I bet they can put something in it to give the flames some color. JMHO

    Take Care
    Arch


  110. 110
    Dave G

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (9:19 pm)

    #109 Arch Says: “I just wish some of you would do a little research into ethanol. It is made from corn STARCH.”
    ————————————————————————————–
    Corn starch is probably the worst way to make ethanol. Government subsidies have caused an over-production of corn, but that doesn’t make corn ethanol any better.

    A much better way to make ethanol is cellulosic gasification.
    http://www.coskata.com/EthanolFeedstockPotential.asp
    No food crops, costs less than $1/gallon, can replace up to 35% of our gasoline consumption without any food crops. Much better than corn ethanol.


  111. 111
    nuclearboy

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (9:25 pm)

    107 The Grump.

    Good story. Love the mental picture of the electric only guy frozen in his heat challenged electric vehicle with the dead batteries.

    Years ago while reading about electric only cars I realized that anyone serious about this type of transportation had a tow bar permanently attached to the front of their car.

    The volt solves this problem with the onboard engine. GM has the solution.


  112. 112
    Dave G

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (9:31 pm)

    #105 CaptJackSparrow Says: “Most humans are “Change Resilient”. We can all adapt”
    ————————————————————————————–
    The way I see it, most people want everything they have now, plus something extra that they can use if they want, but are not forced to.

    Think about the floppy drive. By 1998, CD recorders were mainstream. Did floppy drives became instantly obsolete? No, floopy drives were sold on most new PCs for another 8 years or so. In the interrum, PCs were sold with CD recorders and floppy drives.

    And when DVD-ROM drives got cheap, did all new software suddenly switch over to DVD? We still have many software titles distributed on CD-ROM.

    This is exactly how it will work with cars. Most people want a car the runs on gas or electric.


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    Arch

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (9:49 pm)

    #110 Dave

    No food crops, costs less than $1/gallon, can replace up to 35% of our gasoline consumption without any food crops. Much better than corn ethanol.
    ————————————————————————————–
    Do a little more research. Corn starch is not a food crop. Every country in the world produces plenty of STARCH for their people. They need the good stuff. Do not listen to what I say. Do a little research. You have been fed a line by the powers to be.

    I still like methanol—-made from garbage. JMHO

    Take Care
    Arch


  114. 114
    Tom Harwick

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (9:54 pm)

    Does anyone else find it frustrating that GM can produce the Converj for slightly more than the Volt, yet sell it for double? If GM would pass the savings onto the consumer, it won’t get slammed so bad when the Chinese and other EVs hit the markets soon. HELP A BUYER OUT, GM!
    ——————————————————————–
    If you follow the news coverage of GM’s many problems, I don’t think you will find that excessive profits is one of them.


  115. 115
    Dave K.  =D~

     

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    Jan 15th, 2009 (10:10 pm)

    hi Tom Harwick #114,

    “If you follow the news coverage of GM’s many problems, I don’t think you will find that excessive profits is one of them.”

    _______________________

    Being somewhat misleading on financial position. GM has put the public in wait n’ see mode. They had acquired the first TARP bail out payment because “restructuring was out of the question”. We are 6 weeks out and now there is talk of a second needed TARP payment and a “possibility” of future restructuring.

    We all knew this was coming, yet we supported GM because they are GM. A monument to American mass production and a mainstay in wartime support capability.

    So what happens now? I admit my enthusiasm has waned somewhat. And I realize that email to my State Representative is going unheard.

    Any honest good news ahead? It’s more wait n’ see.

    =D~


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    Texas

     

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    Jan 16th, 2009 (12:42 am)

    I think the price will go “way down” only if they own production. I think it will be very hard for industry to keep up with demand once things get going. The battery manufacturers will keep the prices artificially high so they can keep up. Supply and demand. We see the same thing with solar panels. The manufacturing cost have gone way down but not the panel cost. Same thing. If GM owns the manufacturing they won’t have to pay extra to get the capacity they need to build their cars. All automakers take notice!


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    Casey

     

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    Jan 16th, 2009 (1:10 am)

    I think everybodys gone to bed


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    Mike-o-Matic

     

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    Jan 16th, 2009 (1:14 am)

    Nah, I’m still up. Too internet addicted to get enough sleep, ya know. Goin’ soon, though. Got <4.5 hours for each of the last few nights. Hitting the wall can’t be that far off.


  119. 119
    Red HHR

     

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    Jan 16th, 2009 (1:55 am)

    Hi Rashiid Amul #99,

    I jump started my standard shift Colorado a couple of months ago. It was the end of my shift (I work second shift) at the wind farm on the top of the mountain. I had been reading the paper in the truck and had the parking lights on. It was a warm evening. Shift change was 15 minutes and three miles away. I was glad I was at the top!

    The new Honda Insight has a CV transmission. Interestingly it has available paddle shifters with built in ratios, at extra cost. Like yourself I like the control and economy of a standard. I am intrigued and bewildered by a CV transmission with a faux shifter. I have no idea if it could be jump started.

    Red HHR (Nothing like looking up at a windmill in a star filled sky)


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    Rashiid Amul

     

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    Jan 16th, 2009 (7:29 am)

    Hi Red HHR.

    Lucky you being at the top of the mountain.
    I’m in Connecticut, but my in-laws live in Evergreen, CO.
    Colorado is such a pretty State. If I could convince my wife to move there, I would.

    The would also be curious to know if a car with a CV transmission can be started with a push or coast. As I understand it, this feature used to be in automatics until the late 1960′s or very early 1970′s.


  121. 121
    Jim in PA

     

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    Jan 16th, 2009 (9:50 am)

    #113 Arch:

    FYI – Methanol can also me made from coal liquificaton. And methane gas can be made from coal gassification. The first large-scale commercial coal liquification plant is currently under design in West Virginia. It is most cost efficient when processing low BTU coal or coal fines that aren’t well suited to combustion and/or transport. It currently doesn’t make much economic sense to feed the process with high quality coal that could otherwise be burned (but it may make comparative sense in terms of air quality… I am not sure).


  122. 122
    Jim in PA

     

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    Jan 16th, 2009 (9:57 am)

    There is much discussion here about ethanol vs methanol for fueling EREVs. Let me add another option; methane (natural gas). Recent developments in drilling technology and recent geological discoveries have located HUGE natural gas deposits under WV and PA that could satisfy the ENTIRE energy demand (not just the existing natural gas demand) of the country for more than 30 years. And it looks like much of this will be commercially recoverable once the regulatory/environmental issues are worked out with regulators. It is called the Marcellus Shale deposit, and it may make the old Texas oil boom look like chump change. Of course, you could always convert the natural gas to methanol as a fuel, but you would wind up losing net energy in the process.

    One problem with natural gas is that after you run out of gas on the highway, you can’t walk to the nearest fuel station with a red plastic can in your hand.


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    Dave G

     

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    Jan 16th, 2009 (10:27 am)

    #122Jim in PA Says: “There is much discussion here about ethanol vs methanol for fueling EREVs. Let me add another option; methane (natural gas). Recent developments in drilling technology and recent geological discoveries have located HUGE natural gas deposits under WV and PA that could satisfy the ENTIRE energy demand (not just the existing natural gas demand) of the country for more than 30 years.”
    ————————————————————————————–
    Compressed natural gas (CNG) engines are inefficient. For this reason, CNG engines produce more CO2 emissions than a Prius. CNG engines do produce less pollution, but CO2 is not classified as a pollutant (not yet anyway).

    Another problem with CNG is the trillions of dollars required to replace our liquid fuel filling station infrastructure with CNG filling stations. Infrastructure is a big deal. It takes many years to change it.

    I think the best option for the range extender is the one the Volt already has – E85. Ethanol can be made from non-food sources for as little as $1/gallon, and in quantities large enough to replace 35% of our current gasoline consumption by using cellulosic gasification:
    http://www.coskata.com/EthanolFeedstockPotential.asp

    With FlexFuel EREVs like the Volt, roughly 80% of our current gas consumption can be converted to electricity. If Ethanol can replace 35%, this adds up to 115%, more than enough to eliminate gasoline.

    As for natural gas, it’s much more efficient to use natural gas to make electricity that propels an electric car. The same amount of natural gas would go 3 times further on electric than with CNG. Using natural gas for EVs also creates much less CO2 emmissions than a gas engine car.


  124. 124
    Dave G

     

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    Jan 16th, 2009 (10:44 am)

    For Well-to-Wheel Carbon Dioxide Emissions for various types of alternative and fuel efficient cars, see the chart on page 4 here:
    http://www.stanford.edu/group/greendorm/participate/cee124/TeslaReading.pdf


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    Dave G

     

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    Jan 16th, 2009 (10:49 am)

    #113 Arch Says: “I still like methanol—-made from garbage. JMHO”
    ————————————————————————————–
    Ethanol is also being made from garbage (municipal waste) using cellulosic gasification:
    http://www.coskata.com/EthanolFeedstockPotential.asp


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    Luke

     

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    Jan 16th, 2009 (11:29 am)

    DaveG @ 100,

    I agree algae biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol hold a lot of promise, and I hope that Dr. Chu and the new administration do their best to facilitate the deployment of these technologies. A sysadmin-friend of mine has a user who has a promising cellulosic ethanol process working in a lab at Virginia Tech, and it really sounds great!

    But I’ve burned soy biodiesel (only B5, but still) from truck-stops along I-81, I’ve burned E10 in my Ranger (labeled as “gasoline”), and I’m going to try E85 in my lawnmower once I work my way through the 2.5 gallon can that’s lasted me since August…. But I have yet to knowingly encounter either algae biodiesel or cellulosic ethanol in real life.

    I sure hope that I do encounter 2nd-generation biofuels in real life soon, though! These next few years are going to be interesting, and I’m hopeful that it’ll be the good kind of interesting! But, as always, time will tell.

    P.S. The Commodities Hour show on the local NPR station out here has spent a lot of time analyzing the food versus fuel issue. The farmers here live and die by the futures market, and so they spend an awful lot of time studying it.


  127. 127
    Herm

     

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    Jan 16th, 2009 (12:27 pm)

    Dave, dont forget Coskata is not yet making ethanol, it may flop. I also have my hopes..

    But meanwhile battery tech is doubling every 7 years, and we already have electric cars with 250 mile range.. range anxiety may become a thing of the past soon ethanol or not.

    http://www.dailytech.com/Inside+The+Magic+Box++How+Coskata+Will+Deliver+1Gallon+Ethanol/article13199.htm


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    Roman

     

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    Jan 17th, 2009 (1:58 am)

    There will soon be another option, from Bright Automotive (http://www.brightautomotive.com/vehicles). It’s supposed to be more affordable. Those people are using newer technologies (according to them) and provide OEMs with their know-how. It looks like, with all development we see in different companies, we’ll get “there” soon.


  129. 129
    Dave G

     

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    Jan 17th, 2009 (7:28 am)

    #128 Roman Says: “There will soon be another option, from Bright Automotive ( http://www.brightautomotive.com/vehicles )…”
    ————————————————————————————–
    “The vehicle operates in all electric mode for the first 30 miles, then operates in hybrid mode with a full range of 400 miles…”
    That sounds good, but why do they call it a PHEV if it’s all-electric for the first 30 miles? It should be called an EREV, REEV, or series hybrid.

    “Lightweighting leads to remarkable operating efficiency…”
    This seems intuitive, and is certainly true for normal gas engine cars, but for EVs, regenerative braking recovers most of the extra energy required for acceleration, and larger inductive electric motors are actually more efficient than smaller ones, so adding a little extra mass doesn’t seem to effect efficiency that much. The only possible issue I see here is the power density of the batteries, but at 30 miles AER, just about any battery chemistry would have ample power.

    “In January 2008, Bright Automotive launched as a stand-alone company, from Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)…”
    Now I’m beginning to see the picture. RMI has to do something with all the carbon fiber work they’ve been doing. But given what GM and others have found out about weight, it seems RMI’s aerodynamic research may be more applicable here.


  130. 130
    Dave G

     

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    Jan 17th, 2009 (7:45 am)

    #127 Herm Says: “But meanwhile battery tech is doubling every 7 years, and we already have electric cars with 250 mile range.. range anxiety may become a thing of the past soon ethanol or not.”
    ————————————————————————————–
    Actually, I heard Elon Musk say battery technology is improving at a rate of 9% per year average. That means doubling every 9 years.

    But even if an EV has 1000 miles of range, with no fast-charge electric filling stations, people will still have range anxiety.

    Replacing our liquid fuel filling station infrastructure with fast-charging electric filling stations will cost trillions of dollars, and take 30-50 years to fully make it’s way into rural areas. Remember that with fast-charging, you need batteries at the filling station – lots of them. You also need somewhere to put those batteries which is reasonably temperature controlled and out of the elements. With the high electrical currents involved in fast-charging, you also need short power cables to avoid power losses. So batteries will have to go underground, or in temperature controlled structures very close to where the cars fill up. Not cheap…

    For heavy duty long distance travel, liquid fuels are far better. It’s simple physics. The energy density of liquid fuels is in a different ballpark than batteries. So if we can’t figure out a viable way to make bio-fuels, we’re screwed.


  131. 131
    Dave G

     

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    Jan 17th, 2009 (8:15 am)

    #126 Luke Says: “I agree algae bio-diesel and cellulosic ethanol hold a lot of promise, and I hope that Dr. Chu and the new administration do their best to facilitate the deployment of these technologies… But I have yet to knowingly encounter either algae bio-diesel or cellulosic ethanol in real life.”
    ————————————————————————————–
    Right now, the demand for ethanol is very low. The percentage of FlexFuel cars on the road is less than 5%. If I were a gas station owner, I wouldn’t dedicate a pump to E85. I couldn’t afford to. Without many gas stations offering E85, and with very few FlexFuel cars, the demand is obviously low.

    At the same time, we have an overproduction of corn due to government subsidies, and it’s well known that corn can be fermented into alcohol, so it’s no wonder that corn ethanol is the first out of the gate.

    But imagine what might happen if the U.S. mandated that all new cars were FlexFuel. Obama has promised to do this by 2012. It costs less than $100 per car to make it FlexFuel.

    So now, suddenly everyone can choose E85. Gas station owners will have a good reason to offer E85. Farmers will soon realize that corn can’t scale to meet the demand. So you will have a great demand and a supply that can’t keep up. At this point, investment money from the private sector will flood into cellulosic ethanol.

    It will happen.


  132. 132
    Roman

     

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    Jan 19th, 2009 (1:53 pm)

    #129 Dave G Says: “But given what GM and others have found out about weight…”

    What have they found out about weight?