Jul 26

Chevy Volt Battery Has Robust Cell Monitoring and Safety Systems

 

Greg Ceisel is the Chevy Volt Program manager and has integral knowledge about the car’s engineering.

He recently shed some light on how the battery pack detects and reacts if there are any problems.

“The reliability of the Chevy Volt and its battery are essential to the success of this technology,” he said. “Our battery design includes multiple computers that run hundreds of tests to monitor the cells and the overall battery to confirm everything is working correctly.”

He explains that all of this testing is continuous and automatic and that the system is designed to respond in case of trouble.

“If any of these tests identify an issue a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) is set to identify the specific issue and an indicator light on the instrument panel will light informing the driver that service is needed,” said Ceisel.

Ceisel also notes GM’s satellite system OnStar can help out both the driver and the mechanic in this situation.

“If the driver wants immediate feedback, OnStar can access these codes to provide more information,” he said. “These codes will also provide the dealer technician with specific information on the repair required.”

He explains how the battery cells are configured both in parallel and series and how the failure of some cells wont take down the car. If need be, the generator can also be used to help out.

“If a diagnostic issue is detected the control system will adapt to use available battery power and, if needed, the gas engine/generator to maintain propulsion until the vehicle can be serviced,” he said.

Source (GM)

This entry was posted on Sunday, July 26th, 2009 at 8:07 am and is filed under Battery, Engineering. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 160


  1. 1
    Carl Covey

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (8:18 am)

    Hello Lyle,

    I would certainly like to hear more about the plans for using OnStar as well as the cost. Will it be included for free? Will it be required?

    NPNS =D~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Yours,

    Carl Covey


  2. 2
    Demetrius

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (8:33 am)

    We hear about electric cars being simpler – but that does not seem to be the case. On-star and a comprehensive warranty will be a must-have IMO.


  3. 3
    Herm

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (8:35 am)

    This monitoring and battery maintenance software/hardware will be critical to the success of BEV using lithium cells.

    Lithium cells are very touchy and easily damaged, discharge it too deep one time and you can kill the cell.

    Not too much detail on this interview, but its understandable that GM wont talk much about this. This along with charge level determination is the core tech that GM has developed for the Volt.. anyone can slap a serial hybrid together, but keeping the batteries alive is a different story.


  4. 4
    Randy

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (8:43 am)

    SO what happens if EEstor blows their doors off with their new invention and Lith ion become obsolete before it gets out the door.


  5. 5
    Demetrius

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (8:51 am)

    Well if that happens we all drive electric that much sooner.

    Or Chevron buys out ZENN for a billion and buries it for another generation. That’s exactly what happened the last time a viable battery came along…


  6. 6
    Larry

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (8:59 am)

    …and then what happens if Cold Fusion blows the doors off EEstor…


  7. 7
    BillR

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (9:05 am)

    Thus another advantage of E-REV over BEV, if you have a battery issue/failure, the ICE can provide the power necessary to get you home/to the dealer.


  8. 8
    Texas

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (9:08 am)

    Or the military claims it for national defense. However, it’s going to be hard to bury this technology. It will have to happen BEFORE it makes it’s public debut.

    Chances of EEstor’s EESU making lithium-ion obsolete are about 0.1%.


  9. 9
    Herm

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (9:11 am)

    They are simpler, fewer moving parts..at least a pure BEV is.

    The genset adds complexity/weight and cost but it also adds a redundant power source, you are not likely to get stranded on a Volt, unless you get two flat tires. That said, I wait for the cost/weight of batteries to come down so we can get rid of the genset… still the batteries will be more reliable than any genset.


  10. 10
    Grant

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (9:26 am)

    I’m glad these details are being worked out in advance. I dislike the multiple computers…the more complex a system, the more prone to faliure, but I see the need. My own little backup ‘generator’ setup is actually a small solar panel setup and a few deep cycle lead acid batteries linked in series, plus a small inverter. Works great, safe to drag into the house, and no gas. My mother’s always borrowing it to run her power tools as there’s no starting. Quite similar to the ease of use an EV offers. However, I have to every so often disconnect the batteries and balance them separately. Imagine doing that for a few HUNDRED (or more) batteries and I imagine I will quickly be very glad for those computer chips. So long as my Volt isn’t left plugged in during a storm, anyway.


  11. 11
    Herm

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (9:48 am)

    I dont think EEscam will amount to much, hopefully it wont tarnish the future of BEV too much.. at best it will improve capacitors for conventional uses and that is always welcome.

    But I still hope that capacitors improve for primary storage, they should be a lot more rugged and reliable than any battery. One advantage of capacitors is that they are ok if you allow them to get fully discharged, dont try that with a lithium cell.


  12. 12
    an_outsider

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:18 am)

    If a Volt electronics/batteries blasted by a strike hit on the public utilities when plugged-in at home, will it be a case for the home and/or car insurance ? Or worst, considered as an uncovered “act of God” case except if specific add-on ($) stipulation clause ..? Hum. Need at least, a good lighting arrestor somewhere in the installation.


  13. 13
    CorvetteGuy

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:25 am)

    It sure sounds like all the battery monitoring is close to “overkill”.
    Even if the car becomes undrivable for any reason, doesn’t the GM Warranty include Roadside Assistance? ;)


  14. 14
    nasaman

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:26 am)

    You make a vitally important point, Bill, one I discussed at length with Andrew Farah (Volt Chief Engineer) at VoltNation last year! I believe both Greg Ceisel (Volt Program manager) & Farah have demanded that the Volt engineering staff perform rigorous worst-case analyses on every part, subsystem & system of the Volt’s design —and in particular the battery— to eliminate all credible single-point failures.

    So yes, redundancy will have been incorporated throughout the Volt —even at the power source level (i.e., battery & generator)— and at any other location where failures, such as cell-level failures in the battery, could put the vehicle’s overall integrity at risk. For example, as with long-life spacecraft batteries, every cell will be automatically bypassed to prevent either “open” or “shorted” cells from affecting the overall battery integrity or lifetime.

    And I’m sure GM marketing will stress the fact that the Volt has an inherent advantage over BEVs —that its redundant power sources (and tolerance to single point failures) make it extremely unlikely a Volt driver will ever be stranded.


  15. 15
    mikeinatl.

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:41 am)

    an_outsider:

    That is an excellent question that I have never considered. It is fairly common for lightning strikes to take out your TV or other home appliances. Then you may be talking about a $500 to $2,500 TV or computer.

    But what happens when a strike or surge occurs and your Plug in Electric car gets zapped? Such a strike might effect all the cars electrical systems and computers.

    Home insurance? No. That’s for home appliances.
    Car insurance? Probably not unless its a new type of policy made to cover such things.
    Car Warranty? Again, doubtful. Not the fault of the manufacturer.

    Looks like a case for a new rider on car insurance policies to cover such occurrences.

    I have heard that there is no way one can protect from a direct hit, even with surge suppressors.
    Perhaps the surge suppressor companies warranties could be expanded to cover such a loss.
    The one I use to protect my computer has a $25,000 warranty.


  16. 16
    Lurtz (Lawrence Makoare)

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:44 am)

    That’s some classic FUD.


  17. 17
    mikeinatl.

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:44 am)

    Sorry,

    I forgot to post my reply to you as a “Reply”.
    Look at #7 below if you get a chance.

    Thanks,

    mikeinatl


  18. 18
    RB

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:44 am)

    It’s almost certain to be as it is now. That is, free for the first year and a fee thereafter, essentially the fee for an unusual cell phone service.


  19. 19
    Lurtz (Lawrence Makoare)

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:46 am)

    Ounce of prevention > Ton of cure?


  20. 20
    RB

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:48 am)

    To me a basic question is what happens when a cell fails. If there are 300 cells, more or less, then that’s going to happen from time to time. So I’m glad there is careful monitoring and recognition. You can read codes and take the car to one of the few dealers who handle Volts. That’s all very good.

    But then what does the serviceman do? I’m not asking about the details, but in general what can Ms Goodwrench do to handle cell failures? Surely it will not be to replace the whole battery, but what is it? For example, can individual cells be replaced? Or will there be redundancy, so individual cells can be turned off? Something else?


  21. 21
    RB

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:55 am)

    So far as I am aware, there is not a single electrical device that exists today that runs from capacitor charge, other than for short intervals of time ( a few seconds at most ), even though ultracapacitors already exist. Do you know of any?

    In general capacitors are hard to use as battery replacements because they have a varying output voltage as they discharge. So its easy to use them to flash lights, but hard to use them to power radios Ultra-capacitors are not simple plug-in battery replacements. So the conclusion I take away is that maybe someday ultra-capacitors will replace batteries, but it will require development of years to make it happen, even if the ultra-capacitor itself works fine.


  22. 22
    RB

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:58 am)

    A routine over-voltage disconnect is virtually certain to be built into the Volt’s charger system, so it is not going to be delicate. Of course, that’s not going to protect against a direct lightening strike. Sounds like a good opportunity for insurance agents to add a rider to one’s home-owner policy.


  23. 23
    omnimoeish

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (11:04 am)

    Here’s one example of an electric device being powered solely by an ultra capacitor.

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/blogs/technology_news/4223118.html

    If the varying voltage problem can’t be fixed in the ultracapacitors themselves, would there need to be a variable converter of some kind?


  24. 24
    omnimoeish

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (11:15 am)

    I sure hope they make these cells easy to swap in and out. I don’t think it would be a problem for people to bring their Volt in every 40,000 miles or so and have the worst cells replaced and maybe GM could help cover the cost on a pro rated basis. If all of the cells are only costing about $8,000. You could probably end up paying $500, replacing the worst 5-10% of the cells or so every 40,000 miles and keep your Volt running in tip top shape. Nipping those bad cells in the bud will prevent your other good cells from being unduly worn out. Your Volt would practically run forever. Also it might be a good way for LG Chem and GM to figure out which cells are failing and what’s causing it and figure out how to prevent those dud cells. All that gets to be a huge problem if the battery pack is too labor intensive to pull out for replacing the bad cells.

    I’m sure in 10 years energy storage technology will have advanced so much beyond what we’re using today that there will probably be plug and play cells made by other manufacturers that could go in and give you more electric range at less cost, like $3-5,000 for all of them or less.


  25. 25
    statik

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (11:29 am)

    …as long as the multiple onboard computers remember to DVR Entourage for me, I’ll be happy.

    Personally I expected the Volt to “…monitor the cells and the overall battery to confirm everything is working correctly,” from the ‘get-go’

    /I think that kind of functionality is implied with a $40,000 electric car.


  26. 26
    JEC

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (11:31 am)

    nasaman,
    I have heard you mention this single point failure issue in the past, and I can understand that having two independent power sources, does give you some redundancy, but not sure I would state that it is extremely unlikely the Volt driver would ever be stranded.

    Some of the most likely failure mechanism of the drive system, are not redundant, such as motors, and the inverter section to drive them. Not only the drive system but all the other typical failure mechanisms, such as tires, coolant system (will the batteries still run, if the cooling system cannot keep them in the “comfy zone”?), belts, hoses, and so on.

    Also, your likelyhood for a failure is higher, since you have all the pieces of a normal ICE, along with all the required EV equipment. While, all failures do not translate to a stranded driver, they do translate to more expensive repair and maintenance.


  27. 27
    statik

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (11:34 am)

    Randy said:

    “SO what happens if EEstor blows their doors off with their new invention and Lith ion become obsolete before it gets out the door.”
    ————-
    So your saying what happens if EEStor is real, and mass marketed to the public in the next year and a half and all these other projects and platforms (like lithium and the Volt itself) are useless?

    Big party.

    /and I’ll adopt all the horn-less Unicorn’s at the local animal shelter to live with me


  28. 28
    JEC

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (11:40 am)

    I REALLY despise the fact the Volt will only have an idoit light to indicate a “problem”!

    Their is no reason that the Volt, needs to “contact OnStar” to retrieve information on what a specific fail code means. The diagnostic information should be stored and displayed directly by the on-board, embedded computer system. Especially since the Volt will already have that fancy built-in display, that could simply show you the exact failure and maybe, even a graphic showing specific location of the suspect failure. The amount of memory required to support every possible failure code and the specific diagnostics is trivial in todays world of cheap NAND flash technology, so use it!

    This is one of the most irritating issue with any new car on the market, not just the Volt. It is a means of cash revenue for the repair facilities, since only they can view the real diagnostic information.

    If GM wants to make me a customer, adding this feature is something that would sway me away from competitors.


  29. 29
    JEC

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (11:49 am)

    (continued…)
    This would really burn me, if GM “flashes” the diagnostic code out, by requiring the owner to follow some idiotic steps like “press the brake pedal, and right blinker, while cycling the gear shift 10 times from park to drive”. Again, you have a LCD graphical display, so just show me the CODE! (at least, I can then go find a 3rd party diagnostic interpreter, and fix the car myself).

    So, how much is GM going to charge you to have OnStar perform a diagnositic test? Oh, I can see GM advertising now: “Just press your OnStar and request an full diagnostic, for only $19.99″ (Where is Billy Mays when you need him?)


  30. 30
    Lurtz (Lawrence Makoare)

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (11:52 am)

    OT – “Cash for Clunkers”

    I’d like to turn in my current SUV for a 7-8 passenger minivan — as far as I can tell, no GM division makes a minivan. You’re kidding me. Not one? What’s up with that?

    (And no, the “Chevrolet Express G1500 Cargo Van” isn’t it. Neither is any other van with the word “Cargo” in the name.)


  31. 31
    Lurtz (Lawrence Makoare)

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:00 pm)

    The problem with having more informational dashboard lights is that the number of possible problems would make your dashboard look like a 747 cockpit. So it’s all shorthanded into the one “check engine” light.

    Some (all?) cars have a “konami code” sorta trick where you do a certain order of things, like turn the car ignition to “on” and “off” three times, then there will be a sequence of beeps or flashes (3 followed by 2 to represent “code 32″ for example) that you can look up on a table to see what issue is being reported.

    Alternatively, you can buy a “OBD2″ scan tool from amazon/ebay/other for $60-$200 which will interpret the code for you.These things can also cancel codes and reset some things like the oil-change interval, and provide real-time feedback like fuel consumption. (Depending on the model, some are more bells-and-whistlesy)

    (OBD2 (On Board Diagnostic 2) is required on all cars since 1996, so the Volt will certainly have it)


  32. 32
    RB

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:06 pm)

    omnimoeish– Thanks for the link to the capacitor-based cordless screwdriver. I’m glad to see that there is something powered by a capacitor-based energy system.


  33. 33
    koz

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:11 pm)

    JEC, your correct about the coolant system and power electronics still being single source failure points. These are also the most likely failure points as well, but the Volt’s electrically driven compressor should be much more reliable than the conventional belt driven units. Hopefully GM doesn’t skimp on these two components and designs in high duty cycles.


  34. 34
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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:11 pm)

    omnimoeish said “f the varying voltage problem can’t be fixed in the ultracapacitors themselves, would there need to be a variable converter of some kind?”
    ——————————————————
    Yes for most kinds of things, and no doubt such converters can be developed. Until that happens it is not clear how exactly conversion would work, nor how much it will cost. If much power is involved, the components could be big, heavy, and expensive. But maybe not — it is a system that is just not well developed yet. Certainly a capacitor is not a simple, direct replacement for a battery.


  35. 35
    RB

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:14 pm)

    statik says “Personally I expected the Volt to “…monitor the cells and the overall battery to confirm everything is working correctly,” from the ‘get-go’”
    ————————-

    Well sure but there are going to be failures over time. What happens then?


  36. 36
    Hugh G Manpower

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:14 pm)

    Right on bro. EEStor will smoke this old school battery. I look forward to GM getting some serious butt whoopin’.


  37. 37
    koz

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:15 pm)

    Definitely should be under car insurance. You want to be covered if you are charging away from home too.


  38. 38
    Hugh G Manpower

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:15 pm)

    Actually GM battery management is pretty weak compared to Tesla. Looks like they stole a lot of ideas from Tesla too.


  39. 39
    Hugh G Manpower

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:19 pm)

    You may not like the first towed Volt photos in your local fish wrap. It will happen, more often than you think. Most likely due to software malfunction since GM don’t know diddly squat about fault tolerant software.


  40. 40
    JEC

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:19 pm)

    Lurtz,

    The diagnostic display would only activate when you wanted diagnostics. It would indicate a problem, and you would be the one who would bring up the diagnostic information.

    No need to display all that info. unless you request it. Just like with your Windows browser. You only view info that you want, not the whole internet.

    I already have one of the OBD handhelds, but for newer cars their is no reason they cannot put this info. on the LCD screen.

    In old cars it made sense, since old cars did not have fancy displays, and only indicator lamps. This has not been the case for at least the last decade.


  41. 41
    old man

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:20 pm)

    In my opinion the ICE generator should not be a likely cause of a Volt failing. I think most of us will have an end of life Volt with few miles on the engine. For me it could be something like–total miles driven 160,000 miles–ICE miles driven, guessing,24,000 miles.


  42. 42
    an_outsider

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:23 pm)

    I read the #7 and I may have open a can of worms with my insurance question. ;-(

    I’m not a specialist in utilities protection but the MOVs are a commonly used devices as a clamp voltage device to divert the surplus of energy to another path. It is a non-conductive semiconductor when with a certain potentiel (voltage) level, becomes a conductive material.

    In small power bar (like TVSS), the simplest form of MOVs are usually placed between line-line to force the breaker or fuse(s) to blow due to high current rise between lines or clamping between line-ground to re-direct the voltage hit on the path to the main entrance earth ground, itself links on the low voltage side (middle tap) of the power utilities high voltage transformer power, itself having its own earth ground linked to other transformers on the same line, etc

    Energy dissipation is the key word when lightning strike occurs.

    funny visualization file found here: http://www.arresterworks.com/ArresterFacts_files/ArresterFacts%20009%20What%20is%20an%20Arrester%20R3.pdf
    Enjoy!


  43. 43
    Fugio Cho

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:24 pm)

    It won’t take long before the first software glitch disables many Volts on the side of the road. It’s gonna be all over YouTube for sure. Future smack to all Volt owners: I TOLD YOU ! ;-)


  44. 44
    Dan Petit

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:26 pm)

    The problem with DTC’s is that they almost never can be specific in most systems, and, due to all possible co-variables regarding “causation”, direct interpretations of DTC’s are not usually clear. Especially where DTC’s set which are very diagnostically messy due to all the various types of emissions equipment.

    I really like the direction GM is going with the HCCI, which might allow for lots of emissions equipment to go away.

    Now in 2010, DTC’s can no longer be cleared by a “clear codes” command in a scan tool. The good thing about that is that all the “code-clear-parts-hangers” out there will be put out of business as they should be, or , they had better get advanced training soon. Really soon before the 2010′s start arriving in their shops out of warranty.

    Any unauthorized high voltage access likely will cause the entire system to be compromised as to safety to an unacceptable extent. (Although 99% of independent techs are really good at understanding their proper limitations.)
    It is the Do It Yourselfer whose technical indifference to “Destroy It Yourself” (which happens about 80% of the time
    SOMEHOW), that is likely a main concern for GM here.

    As long as there is warranty coverage on a Volt, (which is a very long time), in essence, but for the responsibilities for that duration of time, in that sense, the Volt is still somewhat “responsibility-owned” if you will, by GM.

    My advice: Don’t lend out your Volt. Don’t let anyone else drive it without you being present. “Abuse Management Active/Inactive” datastream PID lists what systems and what severities abusiveness has occurred. (Since 1999).

    When I get my Volt, I do not want to have to pay more for anything on it just because someone else abused the heck out of theirs (or unqualified persons broke it), and, they whine they did nothing wrong (in allowing non-GM persons to “work” on it), and threatens a lawyer.
    I refuse to pay more for that other persons abusive driving or other damages to that Volt, and, that cost is not at all going to be passed onto me, GM, (or anyone else). NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

    If anyone abuses a Volt, THAT ABUSE WILL BE LOGGED. THEN THE OWNER WILL PAY FOR IT. Not GM, not me, not other Volt customers.

    The Warranty is not a license for abuse or experimentation as some might hope. Processors are set up to sense every kind of deliberate mistake possible if you lend it to someone else and you are not there. They will be tempted beyond self control to “see what it’ll do”, and may possibly trigger the “Abuse Management Active/Inactive” listing within data groups.


  45. 45
    Fugio Cho

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:26 pm)

    Look to Chrysler, they own the mini Van market. All clone makers are just cheap imitations.


  46. 46
    Fugio Cho

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:31 pm)

    When the Volt leaves the dealership it will immediately depreciate approximately 75% according to industry experts. It sounds like the “experts” don’t place much value in a Used-Battery-On-Wheels. I guess EVs are destined to become disposable. Hope this sad news doesn’t prevent you Volt lovers from purchasing one.


  47. 47
    DonC

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:32 pm)

    statik says “Personally I expected the Volt to “…monitor the cells and the overall battery to confirm everything is working correctly,” from the ‘get-go’”
    __________________________________
    If you understand the issues then yes. But even now many of the comments seen here — about states of charge, size of the pack, number of cells, and discharge cycles — suggest that a lot of people think adding a battery to a car is like sticking a couple of AAA batteries into a mp3 player.

    Maintaining the battery pack is the critical part of the Volt technology. Has been since day one. And it’s problematic. Personally I think the government should ease up on the 10/150 requirements, both to allow GM an easier time with the Volt and to encourage other majors which are still wary of the technology to bring EVs to market.


  48. 48
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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:33 pm)

    I take your point, JEC. ….and that’s exactly why I cornered Andrew Farah at VoltNation for a long discussion. I won’t go into all the details, but the key is to first make all single point failures (SPFs) like belts or tires* as non-credible (i.e., as robust) as possible, THEN to make any SPFs that still remain credible redundant (like by-passing battery cells for opens or shorts). This top-down worst-case analysis/failure analysis process (as done for spacecraft) can eliminate almost all credible single-point failures at very little added cost.

    *For example, wide steel-reinforced serpentine belts vs narrow cloth reinforced belts; also, the Volt’s high-mileage tires could be designed to also run flat for extended distances


  49. 49
    GM Rulz

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:36 pm)

    Great to see GM leveraging OnStar with the Volt. The tighter they couple the two the better. Volt is truely awesome. BTW, anyone who can afford a $40+K Volt can easily afford OnStar’s nominal monthly fees. Think of it as your Peace of Mind which will let you sleep worry free. Enjoy. :-)


  50. 50
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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:41 pm)

    I don’t think anything would be invasive to the peace and quiet of your driving. Enjoyment would be the main thing GM would insist you have within your Volt.

    Nothing else would matter to GM than your peaceful enjoyment.

    That’s what I know I’ll be getting.


  51. 51
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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:42 pm)

    Wouldn’t this be something of a moot issue because you are not going to be able to service the battery yourself? Knowing exactly what the problem is won’t help because you wouldn’t be able to fix it anyway. You’ll need to have it serviced by the dealer.

    The good thing would be that for ten years the service would be covered under warranty.


  52. 52
    Gary

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:44 pm)

    I wonder if cell failures will be handled like individual pixel failures on LCD monitors–a few dead pixels is really no big deal.

    I’d somehow be tempted to say that I’d rather have one dead cell in my car than have a mechanic take it apart, mess with the integrated cooling system, etc. You know, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Especially considering my dealings with some mechanics which aren’t exactly detail oriented, and rely more on confidence than competence.


  53. 53
    DonC

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:45 pm)

    Since 2000 minivan sales have nosedived. The big growth is in CUVs. Neither Ford nor GM make a minivan anymore, and Chrysler makes only the Windsor (I think). On the other hand you have the Flex and the Enclave and the Acadia and the Traverse. And on and on …..


  54. 54
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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:47 pm)

    koz, I certainly agree that GM should not skimp on critical subsystems such as the coolant system and the power electronics! And as I say in my reply below to JEC, that was exactly the point of my extended discussion with Andrew Farah —specifically, that component-level redundancy should be employed where failure analyses revealed any credible SPFs.

    If they actually design the Volt in this way, its inherent redundancy at the power source level should result in the most reliable motor vehicle ever designed (except perhaps for the moon rover EV drive train that GM designed for NASA in the 1960s) :)


  55. 55
    Tesla Failure

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:50 pm)

    Nasaman:

    The battery pack has to have excellent safety/reliability redundancy to ensure its safety and life. Lets say, we have six batterys in a pack, A1,A2, A3 in series, B1,B2,B3 in series, then A and B in parallel, if A3 is broken, it has to be circumvented, but now the BMS has to work even harder and A1/A2 more likely to fail because you have a less reliable system after A3′s failure. After sometime (say a few month to 7 years). if some cells failure, you can theoretically replace the cells (practically difficult), but you will also end up with a less reliable system. When the mechanic takes a look at your car, there is little he/she can do if the battery pack is no good.

    These kind of issues are haunting Tesla right NOW! GM’s design is presumably much more robust and advanced than Tesla, but may still have problems during 10 years driving. Also it is worth noting that pouch cell (by LG) tends to gas and become puffy, so the whole package can fail.

    Also for the folks who work at Warren Tech Center, we appreciate your work, I know it is difficult where lights are dim, drink water machines not working and even elevator use is rationed. I also know it is against the wil of many people to develop this highly risky, potentially life-threatening (To GM Company) technology. My ex-colleague told me it is extremely depressing at Warren Tech Center. It is also depressing at Tesla Motors in Silicon Valley.


  56. 56
    Gary

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:51 pm)

    Minivans aren’t “sexy”. A lot a manufacturers are leaving the market. Ford stopped producing the Windstar, and even Hyundai is dropping the Entourage after one generation.

    That’s why GM introduced the Lambda crossovers… the passenger and luggage capacity of a minivan with SUV looks that people drool over. I find it silly, but that’s what the market is dictating.


  57. 57
    Dan Petit

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:57 pm)

    Moot is right, Don C.

    But there are those who want to “fix something that is not broken”, and, you’d be surprised how much direct damage is done every single day by DoItYourselfers, who can not leave “well enough alone”.
    For example, wiring in a different sound system and grounding the 12 volt sound system power lead negative to a processor sensor or data input to the PCM or subprocessor.
    Or, disturbing the wiring somehow to add in something optional, and making severe wiring errors. I see these things several times a week.


  58. 58
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    Jul 26th, 2009 (12:58 pm)

    Anyone else slightly sickened by the idea that while having multiple digital screen displays and tons of computer power we’ll apparently still have a blinking idiot light and that we will not have access to the trouble codes without going through OnStar?

    I’m fine with an idiot light and I’m fine with going through OnStar as an option but if I drop 40k+ on the most advanced production vehicle ever made I damn well better be able read the trouble code myself directly from the car’s display panel WITHOUT the need to talk to OnStar.


  59. 59
    BobS

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (1:05 pm)

    I think gen1 buyers will benefit from the over-engineering that it seems GM is doing. We will also be paying for it.


  60. 60
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    Jul 26th, 2009 (1:06 pm)

    Hmmm… go to this link to hear a story about a Prius’s value dropping like a rock down to $500:

    http://motoringtv.com/watch-motoringtv-p127719

    Bear with me here: wait for the first video segment to buffer, drag the time bar to the end, where Episode 19_2 will then show up, wait for it to buffer, drag the time bar to the end, and Episode 19_3 will show up, drag the time bar to about 3:00 and watch.


  61. 61
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    Jul 26th, 2009 (1:10 pm)

    xed.

    With the Genisys scan system, the access software comes to us independents from GM (through SPX/OTC). However, there isn’t ever anymore just one code.

    I scanned a 2002 Cadillac the day before yesterday, and, got 21 codes.

    A DoItYourselfer Hacked into the PCM with a power curve chip, and, the transmission was ruined.


  62. 62
    an_outsider

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (1:16 pm)

    After reflexion, i agree for the car insurance, it can happen anywhere.


  63. 63
    Tagamet

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (1:19 pm)

    Larry,
    If that happens we’ll all celebrate. Until then The Volt will fill in!
    Be well,
    Tagamet
    LJGTVWOTR!!


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (1:21 pm)

    There seems to be a trend of wealthy owners’ teenagers or sons in their twenties, hacking into the PCM’s, and, this might be of demographic interest regarding what ought to be cautioned to all new vehicle owners.

    When your son hacks,
    your warranty lacks.


  65. 65
    Lurtz (Lawrence Makoare)

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (1:29 pm)

    I have an SUV; my problem with them is the raised body wastes a ton of space. A minivan of the same dimensions gets you a lot more space.

    Case in point, the Odyssey vs Flex. They’re both the same length, width and height; they’re both 7-8 passenger vehicles, but with the 3rd seat row folded down the Odyssey has 150 cubic feet of cargo volume where the Flex has only 100 cubic feet of space with the 3rd seat row down.


  66. 66
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    Jul 26th, 2009 (1:32 pm)

    Don’t worry. Can’t happen to the mighty Volt. The Volt ain’t got no tranny.


  67. 67
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    Jul 26th, 2009 (1:40 pm)

    Contra “GM Rulz”, people aren’t that much more wasteful with money just because they buy a car. Those I know with On-Star and a cell phone do not renew On-Star when their free introductory-period expires because they already have a cell phone. Plus their cell phone travels with them when they’re not in their car.

    On-Star alone doesn’t provide enough of a unique benefit. It needs another unreplaceable “hook”. And “I am afraid of black people hate snakes” isn’t enough.

    Satellite radio, now that’s something people get hooked on once they have it.


  68. 68
    Rodney Reynolds

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (1:42 pm)

    This Volt sounds space age to me. OnStar sounds like E.T. (Volt Phone Home). I liking this car more every day. Having my Volt tied to the Cloud opens up vast possibilities, GM may be going where no man has gone before…


  69. 69
    Joe

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (1:47 pm)

    GM could make On Star free just to monitor the Voltec system for the duration of the warranty and as an option, could charge for the full full featured On Star. I don’t see how GM could sell the Volt w/o that feature and legally, how they could force customers to pay for On Star. Also, that would be a turn off for customers.


  70. 70
    EMusk

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (1:58 pm)

    That’s old data nasaboy. Tesla solved all battery problems months ago. Tesla uses very sophisticated algorithms which are beyond the capabilities of the Volt. We are also using SpaceX technology in the new Tesla S. Keep up your blatant lies and Tesla might just slap a C & D on your ass.


  71. 71
    Joe

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (2:00 pm)

    Mechanics for the Volt will indeed get much training. It looks to me their training will be more in the line of electricity rather than mechanical.


  72. 72
    John Weismuller

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (2:03 pm)

    Nothing wrong with car modding. PCM have been enhanced and replaced with better modules since day one and will continue in the Volt. Just deal with it. Once you see what the REAL car guys can do to a Volt you may wish you had some of those mods. GM should actually Open Source the firmware as OSS is much safer than proprietary spaghetti code.


  73. 73
    CorvetteGuy

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (2:05 pm)

    Yeah, but just imagine yourself driving at night with that amazing blue glow coming from the passenger compartment!


  74. 74
    Joe

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (2:06 pm)

    Don’t be so gullible and believe all those conspiracy theories.


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (2:19 pm)

    Why should GM pay for roadside assistance if the car be driven to the garage.


  76. 76
    Flying Spaghetti Monster

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (2:20 pm)

    Lets assume there is a malfunctioning electronic/electrical component that disables the battery system. Can the Volt operate purely using the Gas Generator ?

    It would seem the answer is “No” however, it would be nice to know that you wouldn’t be stranded out in the middle of nowhere if the battery system fails.


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (2:27 pm)

    Don’t look at the other propulsion system on the Volt as more things to wrong. look at it as a backup system. On an airplane, they are many backup systems and one should look at it as backup system, not more to go wrong.


  78. 78
    Bob B

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (2:33 pm)

    The Volt is far from the most advanced production car ever made.


  79. 79
    RB

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (2:35 pm)

    Fugio said “When the Volt leaves the dealership it will immediately depreciate approximately 75% according to industry experts.”
    ——————————-

    For a fantastical moment let us assume that statement to be true. We here then know how to get an excellent price on a Volt. Wait by the curb just off the dealership with a sign “will pay just 70% off” what you just paid, and in a little bit a very slightly used Volt will be ours, cheap. (smile)


  80. 80
    nuclearboy

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (2:56 pm)

    The Chevy Traverse is supposed to be the minivan replacement. I have a 1998 Olds minivan (similar to the chevy venture) and it has slightly more room behind the 3rd row seat than the traverse. It also weighs less than 4000 Lbs and gets 1 mpg better highway.

    I think the Traverse is really nice but I too would like to see a minivan type for families that did a little better on gas mileage than the traverse.


  81. 81
    Dave K.

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (3:11 pm)

    The lithium cells will not be discharged “too deep”. The current LG cells have a safety turn off built in. The flow of power simply turns off when the cell reaches a preset “low”. This is a big advance to the LG lithium cells of three years ago. These were charge and go and had to be watched close.

    =D~


  82. 82
    Keith

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (3:14 pm)

    Why don’t you do your own research and find out that there are many applications that are using Super capacitors to power things , such as thousands of city transit buses in China , thousands of wind generators , etc .
    Don’t be a little boy , do your own research , don’t expect others to wait on you hand and foot all your life .


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    Jorge

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (3:28 pm)

    They actually don’t need Onstar. They are just trying to sell you another service. Your car could access any GM mainframe as long as it is paired to your phone via Bluetooth.


  84. 84
    statik

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (3:51 pm)

    DonC said:

    “Personally I think the government should ease up on the 10/150 requirements, both to allow GM an easier time with the Volt and to encourage other majors which are still wary of the technology to bring EVs to market”
    —-
    I couldn’t agree more. The lithium power EREV Volt was not was in mind when the government (well at least the powers that be in California) wrote it…they were thinking of more of like ‘fly-by-nighters’ that really needed some oversight/hinderance from taking advantage of the pubilc. (at least in my opinion).

    I think a standard automobile warranty period is all that is needed here, something like 5/100 is more than fine.

    Making a OEM hit 10/150 right out of the gate is pretty unrealistic…and the government is in no way protecting the consumer here, because every ‘major’ automaker who is producing a EV is pricing in a ‘worst case’ scenario into the MSRP (like GM’s full 2nd pack costed in).


  85. 85
    Jack Hammer

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (3:54 pm)

    OnStar should add more function to the Volt. Converting warning codes (there will be thousands) into plain English will be gr8 enhancement. I strongly recommend OnStar to all my customers.


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (3:59 pm)

    Didn’t the lunar rover end up going way overbudget, and end up costing like $40,000,000 thanks to all those redundant systems, and being so well designed/engineered? (those are 60s/70s dollars too…thats like 225mil today)

    /just saying

    (=


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (4:09 pm)

    Now THAT is a marketable idea. Hopefully GM is listening.

    (Even if you’re joking, I’m not. It’s not attractive to me, but if customers want something, and you have multi-colored programmable LEDs, why not give them many options for color?)


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (4:20 pm)

    I need a way to “favorite” you… or put you on speed-dial before I install stuff!

    Lurtz: “Hey, I just bought this high-performance thing off Ebay–”
    Dan Petit: “Put. That. Thing. Down!”


  89. 89
    nasaman

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (4:21 pm)

    You’re probably right, Statik that the Rover went way over budget. But did you know that a guy named Jon Bereisa, a former rocket scientist who is now the Chief Systems Architect for the Volt, has recently discussed GM’s contribution to the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing and how the technology used in the first lunar vehicle provided a basis for the Volt battery and systems development? Listen to the Bereisa interview at the new GM Voltage blog site at the link below….

    http://www.chevroletvoltage.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1235:interview-with-jon-bereisa-on-the-volts-lunar-beginnings&catid=3:blog&Itemid=6

    (So the Volt is still another example of a spinoff from the US space program, right? :) )


  90. 90
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    Jul 26th, 2009 (4:24 pm)

    All this extra effort will pay off by making the Volt the most reliable and similar-to-gas-car on the market. Well done, GM. Keep working hard.


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (4:39 pm)

    I agree with the already-stated sentiments above that most of the time when there is a problem, the driver shouldn’t know what the specific errors are, because symptoms can be multiple and unhelpful to the untrained. Is it a sensor error, or a computer error, or other? When there are multiple errors, what’s the actual problem?

    If it’s just “Your door is ajar”, sure, plain English is gr8!!!1!1one!


  92. 92
    statik

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (5:12 pm)

    I’d say your absolutely right Nasa…I was just ‘busting your chops’ for fun, the thread topic is a little docile today.

    (=


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (5:47 pm)

    If a lower warranty was required, then that is all that would be designed in the first place. The higher you aim, the higher you land, especially with the bean counters.

    I disagree that a 5 year warranty is adequate, because you would never build an economy of scale at a 5 year mark in time in order to get replacement packs down in price.

    If you were buying a Voltec vehicle “from the get go”, with all the new technologies, you would certainly NEED the longest warranty possible when it was time to sit down at the closing table,
    ****
    IF
    ****
    you were truly in the market to buy a Volt in the first place.

    How can anyone say in effect:
    “No, no,no, I don’t want that excessively long warranty on the battery. Here, let us just cross out that nasty 10 year warranty clause and make it a 5 year warranty clause instead, because I am confident that I will be comfortable in 5 years from now without a warranty instead of a 10 year warranty.”?

    You are not apparently the one who is buying a Volt. So please do not give away my warranty terms with that sort of casual comment. If the warranty is reduced, that would mess up a lot of consumer confidence.
    Ten years goes by quickly. People who are only 25 years old think that 5 years is a long time. NOT when replacement packs have not had a chance to come down in cost.


  94. 94
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    Jul 26th, 2009 (6:10 pm)

    Is that a “Cease and Desist”?

    That could be ironic.


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (6:27 pm)

    You just made my year.
    No kidding.
    It seems only techs listen to me.
    I never get positive feedback like that.
    Thanks.

    Anyone who regularly posts here is welcome to call me for auto tech advice. I’d be glad to hear from people.
    I’m in the phone book in Austin TX.
    (Nasaman and I talked a while back).


  96. 96
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    Jul 26th, 2009 (6:52 pm)

    As long as it’s not “modded”. But then, if someone attempts to do that, the entire system will be visiting the dealer. The people that do “modding” are not the ones who pay for all the consequential damages, nor ever own up to causing these damages in the first place.
    Did you know that a power curve chip deactivates two or three safety systems? That the car will not pass safety inspections in the near future because of those deactivated safety systems? If someone “mods” your PCM which turns off safety systems, they are causing you damages!!
    These sort of “Mods” ARE RIP OFFS.
    ********************
    *PERIOD!!!!!!!!!*
    ********************


  97. 97
    DonC

     

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (7:03 pm)

    I’m opposed to having the government “protect people” unless there is a reason for it. Here I don’t see a reason. Deep sixing the 10 year warranty would simply offer a choice: pay more for an extended warranty, pay more for an additional battery upfront, or take your chances that the battery will be fine or that prices will drop.

    The problem for GM and other manufacturers is that they don’t know how long the battery packs will last because they have no real world experience with them. Consequently there is considerable uncertainty, and the manufacturers have little choice other than to price in the worst case, which drives up the price of the Volt more than is warranted.

    The net result would be lower cost EVs and higher penetration. At some time in the future a 10 yr warranty might be fine, but it’s a huge burden on a new industry.


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (7:24 pm)

    That was a really interesting interview!


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    Luke

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    Jul 26th, 2009 (8:36 pm)

    I don’t want OnStar or anything like it in any car I own.

    My job requires a strong awareness of IT-security issues, and I just don’t trust anyone else’s datacenter enough to allow it to have that kind of information about my vehicle. The remote-control abilities (like the ability to shut down the engine if the car is reported “stolen”) scare me even more.

    I want a car, not another possible IT-security issue to worry about.


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (8:58 pm)

    Huh? Dan you lost me on that one.


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (9:04 pm)

    That would force them to remove the emergency portion of the service, currently the most valuable part.


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (9:13 pm)

    I am not talking just about battery specific faults. Any failure that causes the ECU to throw a fault, should be reported. The fault indicator can be a simple blinking light, but upon user intervention, I want to have the real fault message associated with that code.

    I do not want to have to go in to a automotive repair center, have them plug into my ECU, and tell me that my O2 sensor is bad, I want that information directly! Some of the diagnostics are simple and are single-point failure of a sensor. Their is no reason, other than wanting my money, that I should not be able to get the real failure information, that is already available. Also, a simple blown fuse fault, means a costly repair VIA OnStar or auto center, versus pulling out and replacing a 50 cent fuse.

    I can also appreciate that some faults are not simply diagnosed with a single fault code/message. But, I want to be able to perform my DIY diagnosis first, and if I cannot resolve the problem, then I take it in for further analysis/diagnosis from a reputable shop.

    I, in no way claim to be an automotive expert, but I also know from experience that I have diagnosed problems that some of the purported experts have not. I, also know that if you find the right mechanic, that he/she can solve a problem, that the DIY (includes me) cannot.

    I have always had a goal to be able to repair anything that I purchase, and calling a repair guy is my last option. I have been successful for 45 years at maintaining this goal, except for once, and that experience reinforced my desire to be completely self sufficient, when it comes to repairing my possesions (auto, appliances, furniture, you name it).


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (9:29 pm)

    Dan,
    Your really touching a nerve with me on this one.

    I respect persons in the automotive field, and it appears you are competent in the field, but I also know many DIY, that have a lot more knowledge and competence than many of the local automotive persons I have dealt with.

    If you feel you had more competence to perform a task (any task, not just auto related), would you not want to perform this task yourself, and not have to pay someone who you felt was not as qualified?


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (9:35 pm)

    Dan,

    Can you document one case in which GM or any other car manuf. has limited payment or service because of an entry in the “Abuse Management Active/Inactive” log?

    \just wondering if this is really something to concerned with..


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (9:38 pm)

    DanP
    “you’d be surprised how much direct damage is done every single day by DoItYourselfers, who can not leave “well enough alone”.”
    ========================================

    …Maybe not as suprised, as the number of times an improper repair was performed on your vehicle by an “Authorized Dealer”


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (9:41 pm)

    You can remove your tongue now…


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (9:54 pm)

    Joe,
    I can appreciate backup systems on aircraft. I worked on the RAT (Ram Air Turbine) and APU (auxillary power unit, not the ones used on the space shuttle, but the company I worked for also designed that one also), used on the Boeing 747-400. BTW: If you happen to have the misfortune of experiencing a RAT deployment, you are likely in for a “short” ride.

    Backup systems on aircraft are essential, since losing power while flying tends to lead to bad things.

    Backup systems on a vehicle can be useful and convienient, but most are typically not survival dependent. While, you could possibly be killed if you car broke down in the middle of a bad ‘hood, the likelyhood is very remote.

    If you really want to incorporate backups systems in vehicles, that are life saving, you would concentrate more on things like air bags or brakes. But, this would be expensive, and guess what, people will not pay for “backup” systems, even if you tell them it may save your life.

    There is no doubt the Volt will be more expensive to maintain than a pure ICE. Its just a simple matter of statistics and fact.


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:27 pm)

    lol….
    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA!!!!!

    MODDERS!!!!

    I love em!!
    Man, they just don’t cover their tracks. Lemme tell you there is only one thing they need to do. Each ROM flash binaries have a checksum. Dan, that’s how you are able to detect. If the checksum is what you expect, than you are good, if not then you know it’s been tampered. If there are any modders listening, and I’m sure there abut not the ones who actually write the binaries, YOU NEED TO SPOOF THE CHECKSUM!!!!
    By spoof, I mean calc the current checksum then adjust by adding “dumb code” (code that does nothing, till you sum up….
    Rookies!!!


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:28 pm)

    BEVs aren’t required to have a 10yr warranty. The 10 year warranty rule is to insure cars that are classified as PZEVs in California actually function as PZEVs for their “credit” lifetime so that the ZEV credits are duly earned.

    Basically the rule was created for Hybrids, not full electrics with a range extender. Since an EREV is only marginally functional without the battery and requires service, GM shouldn’t be required to have a 10yr warranty to earn the ZEV credit. GM may feel that the Volt needs the 10yr warranty for consumer acceptance but I would much prefer a 6yr warranty for a reasonable cost savings. Most states don’t have California’s requirements and we shouldn’t have to suffer the inadequacies of this legislation.


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:32 pm)

    Dan:

    I do understand your point of view, however, I am a Volt customer. Here I am, show me where to send the check. The fact is I don’t want to pay for a whole extra pack…nobody does.

    This 10/150 is bad, it is bad for GM, it is bad for us the consumer. The original intention of CARB was not to hamstring big auto here. There is now a full second pack costed in because of this warranty…I’d rather not pay for something I’m not going to use.

    Further to that, the only reason we have seen ‘jack crap’ in the land of EVs in the last decade or so, is this regulation. The 10/150 has done more to stifle the progression of EVs that any other individual market factor.

    Even today, with lithium technology, with falling prices, and with the best engineering promises to maybe get these packs past this high benchmark, it has still caused the price of the Volt (and every other EREV, ER-ER, BEV) to be outside of the range of the average American.

    The difference between selling a Volt at $29,999 and $39,999 is huge, and the only reason it is not…is the pack warranty.

    Why would anyone say, ‘no I don’t want a 10/150 warranty, I want a 5/100?” I’ll give you 10,000 reasons…and I don’t care what the economics of scale are, it doesn’t matter at all when compared to having a whole pack priced in. The price of a pack not used is money saved…and the price of a replacement pack 6-10 years from now, is a heck of a lot cheaper than it is now.

    Like DonC says Dan, if you want a 10/150, then you spend the extra $10,000 on the extended warranty…I’d rather keep my $10,000 in the bank. The warranty isn’t free here…it isn’t a warranty by any sense of the definition. All GM is doing is making you buy a full pack at day 1 to cover themselves…but special bonus to them, if they over engineeer the pack and hamstring the performance enough, you probably won’t use it…and they keep your money.

    If the 10/150 wasn’t around, and they only had to give 5/100, GM would be delighted to offer you a 10/150 for a extra $10,000…only you know what? You wouldn’t buy it…and if you did, you would be in the great minority. No customer if give those options would logically pick a $39,999 with a 10/150, over the exact same Volt at $29,999 with a 5/100.

    Job 1 at GM the last two years, job 1 right now, and job 1 for the next year is to make that pack last as long as possible.


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:36 pm)

    He is mostly correct. All those apps only use the ultra-caps for very short durations (30 seconds or less). They are getting better but there are significant limitations brought on buy cost, specific energy, and operating voltage.


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:36 pm)

    Series Prallel battery string.

    Think about the batt pack as a RAID set. There are 3 packs of 96 cells in series and in parallel with 2 more of the same. Even if one pack takes a sh|t the other two packs will get you where you need to go.
    I’m gonna guess they are using high voltag IGBT’s with digital sense for PWM clamping. I hope they figured out the issue of slow digital sense on the controller to protect the IGBT’s.


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:42 pm)

    NO OnStar!!!!!!

    If this is required for the Volt, I will seriously reconsider the Volt.

    Think about the last year when the Satellites got upgraded. What happened to the older GM cars?

    So was technology moves foreward, so will the satellites. Or some hacker might be able to grab your cars data OTA. If that happense one would think encryption will be added to a higher level. So what if your OnSh|t in your car can’t handle it?

    I don’t like onstar, it’s too big brotherish and it should never be necessary for a vehicle. That would be the first thing I yank out.


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:43 pm)

    Tesla Failure…hmmm…are you the artist formerly known as “Battery Expert”?


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:46 pm)

    “Did you know that a power curve chip deactivates two or three safety systems?”

    Dan, just curious, did you actually see the code in an IDE to confirm that is what the code is doing? Or did you just take someone’s word for it? I’m not questioning you, just trying to figure out what IDE was used to develop the code.Not that I would do anything with it…… =oP


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:52 pm)

    I think the opposite result should be considered. With an ICE only vehicle, all the key components are utilized from the get go, so once you start traveling, something has to fail in the time frame of travel.

    With EREV, you can travel miles using the battery and electric drive, but when the ICE/gen needs to come on, you could be miles from anywhere. Say it does not start. You could draw down the battery somewhat and go another say 10 miles or so, but then you are talking to On Star.

    Now I do not know which has a higher probability, failure to continue operating, or failure to start but I am not sure if the Volt will suffer fewer “strandings” than an ICE only vehicle.


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:53 pm)

    Minivans are a lot more practical with kids with their sliding doors and lower entry and cabin height. The “soccer mom” stigma made them unfashionable but their are still a lot of buyers unaffected by fashionable trends. Thus, there is still a significant minivan market, albeit smaller than the market was 12 years ago.

    I beileve EREVs will appeal to this demographic and the technology fits it pretty well, so it should be a great market for one the the next EREVs. GM has no ICE comps and the competitive comps are all 25mpg.


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:54 pm)

    The lightning strike on utilities transformer & appliances things remind me this old ad
    http://www.stefanoparis.com/piaev/ev1/EV1ads/EV1ad54sec-h264.mov
    (Just for fun)


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (10:58 pm)

    That’s true but Honda and Chrysler still sell tons of them. I wouldn’t peg market trends to GM decision making. They haven’t been exactly “firing on all cylinders” here. Parents that I know with young children unanimously prefer minivans, if they have experienced both. GM has an opportunity here for an EREV if they choose to see it, IMO.


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    Jul 26th, 2009 (11:59 pm)

    So what if GM is in bed with with OnStar?
    Apple is cozy in bed with AT&T Wireless with their iPhones.
    It’s all good.
    GM used to be in bed with AC/Delco for their radios.
    That love affair lasted some 60 years didn’t it?
    Bluetooth and cheap cellphones has pretty much made OnStar obsolete. Let them keep their partnership till OnStar goes the way of the floppy disc and 45rpm record players.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (2:35 am)

    I can see an action movie and the baddies take over onstar and command your Volt to shut down.. then they override the safety protocols and make the battery explode..

    You should not have messed with that secret government database!


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (2:46 am)

    are you saying they have a switch built in at the cell level?.. how do you know this?


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (2:48 am)

    You have to be a *v i r g i n* and pure or the unicorn will not get along with you.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (3:01 am)

    The battery cooling system is not likely to be a single point failure unless you are driving thru Death Valley, the batteries normally run fine even without the cooling system.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (3:13 am)

    ” For example, as with long-life spacecraft batteries, every cell will be automatically bypassed to prevent either “open” or “shorted” cells from affecting the overall battery integrity or lifetime.”

    This is fine for spacecraft but way out of line for a mass production vehicle.. a bypass for each cell would probably double the cost of the pack.. plus the weight and space hits.

    What GM will do is bypass modules, I think there are less than 10 so that would be cheaper..

    Each cell could have a built-in fuse, this would not be too expensive.. since a cell level failure essentially means you throw away that cell (you cant repair at the cell level, they are disposable) then that could be a fusible link of some sort. All the cells in that series sub-module would stop working, just like a xmas lights string. The module would then be repaired by replacing that cell.

    If you used a small number of cells, but each cell is massive, then your full cell level bypass scheme would be more practical.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (3:24 am)

    Its never a good idea to replace single cells in a pack, they will be a different stage of their life and different capacities, internal resistance and so on..

    Perhaps the pack would be intelligent enough to deal with the variations, but this will only be practical if they start using fewer lithium cells.. like this huge one:

    http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/240991336/3_2v_200ah_lifepo4_lithium_iron_phosphate_battery_unit_cell.html

    A Volt like vehicle would use about 27 of those cells. Dont forget you also have lethal voltages and currents inside one of these packs.. you really dont want shade tree mechanics messing with these things.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (3:40 am)

    All the Volt critical parts (battery, inverter and computers) should use those anti-tampering holographic seals that Microsoft puts on copies of Windows.. of course they can be pirated and duplicated.

    I really dont want to buy a Volt with a messed up computer.. by some hacker modifying certain parameters.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (3:50 am)

    Luke, welcome to the New World Order.

    The days of driving any way you want are at an end – the “wild west” days of driving are over. New cars are being designed with multiple levels of safeguards to protect the driver from their own bad decisions. There will be onboard safeguards, to limit your maximum speed, RPM’s (for ICE cars), Onstar to monitor how you use your car, and remote throttle shutdown (in case police need to shut down your car remotely).

    External safeguards will include speed cameras (in use today – politicians love ‘em in DC), license plate readers (to track your car whereever you drive), smart electric utilities (are you a wattage waster?), and, of course, your local politician (to come up with new laws to help you become a more responsible citizen of the planet Earth, and to save you from your own bad decisions).

    The Volt is an important step forward in weening America off private transportation (eventually, as we become more responsible for our planet). First, we must get used to having constant oversight of our driving habits. Onstar goes a long way toward this goal, but it is merely a first step. America must get used to less freedom – the fantasy that an individual’s decisions have no impact on everyone else. There is only one world – we MUST learn to share it..


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (3:59 am)

    It should operate with just the genset running, but without the battery to buffer you will be limited to 50kw of power to move the car, about 70hp.. your acceleration may be anemic.

    A full battery failure is pretty serious, it may be about to explode in flames… expect to see many movies in the future with exploding electric cars, maybe with Star-Trek-Overloaded-Phaser sound effects.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (4:08 am)

    I doubt it, they will be trained to remove the pack, then ship it to the battery repair facility.. extremely lethal voltages and currents in a Volt battery pack.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (4:17 am)

    Wind generators?.. did not know that one. Supercaps are used in hybrids.. they tend to be very bulky but have a long life in heavy duty applications.. Lithium, on the other hand, likes to be babied.

    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2008/07/maxwell-heavy-d.html

    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2008/07/leading-chinese.html

    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/04/maxwell_license.html


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (4:21 am)

    This battery monitoring is essential to long life for the battery.. my hope is that in the future the cell manufacturer will put a computer chip in each cell that does all this, then all those cell level computers report to the main computer using wireless tech.

    This will vastly increase pack reliability and simplicity… think of Tesla with 7000 cells in their battery pack.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (4:27 am)

    an wireless charging setup should protect you somewhat from a lightning strike.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (4:29 am)

    also, all the cells should track each other pretty closely.. if you start getting 5-10% variations on the cells then the whole pack is suspect.. most likely at the end of its life.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (4:33 am)

    “Perhaps the pack would be intelligent enough to deal with the variations”

    What I mean by this is that the pack itself would adjust for the different modules.. module #14 is lower voltage (because its newer) so we will use a bit more amps out of it.. module #47 is running a high temp so we will reduce amps out it and so on.. this would be a very sophisticated battery pack.. NASA level, NASA cost.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (4:37 am)

    How can GM prevent this?, does GM do anything now?.. I see lots of chips being sold.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (4:41 am)

    “your acceleration may be anemic”

    Note that running on the genset you should be able to eventually reach full speed.. if the inverter can tolerate an unstable power supply.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (8:39 am)

    The $7500 government credit would account for about 20% depreciation up front. So you’re really talking about a 55% depreciation in net price should the 75% number be accurate.

    BTW, look at what the “industry experts” in the banking and finance sectors have done for us. I frankly put little faith in them and their predictions.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (8:42 am)

    I’m guessing “idiot light” is just being said as that’s a term we’re all familiar with. It would quite likely be a warning message displayed on one of the screens. For one thing, it would allow for much more info that can then be conveyed to a service department in advance of a trip to the dealer (assumes no OnStar contract).


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (8:46 am)

    GM in bed with OnStar? GM _owns_ OnStar: http://www.onstar.com/us_english/jsp/corporate/index.jsp


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (8:48 am)

    This sounds about what most of us have expected the vehicle to do. Great report, Lyle.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (9:36 am)

    I like what statik is saying here but I also understand where Dan is coming from.

    Personally I’d like the lower MSRP (I believe this would help sales) and would buy an extended warranty.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (9:42 am)

    IF and that is a big “IF” EEStor comes through then that would be GREAT! The t-pack could be adapted to use what ever cells are available. (That’s what engineers do.)

    I’ll adopt a hornless unicorn too!


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (9:45 am)

    “Overkill” as you call it is very common on first gen products of all types.

    Time and experience allows the removal of the redundant systems and achieve cost savings.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (9:50 am)

    Although I see my genset driven distance being closer to half (the family a long road trip away) I don’t see this as an issue.

    I have a had several high mileage conventional cars over the years, and rust killed them long before the engine quit working.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (10:02 am)

    It’s seems to me that Volt will need to be OBD2 compliant.

    I can’t see any reason why I couldn’t plug in my code reader (WAY BETTER than clicking the signal light 17 times!) and write down the codes.

    I likely wouldn’t open the battery pack, but at least I’d go to the shop with information.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (10:11 am)

    There ARE places where Onstar’s phone service works where no cell service dares to tread.

    (If you never travel to remote locations this ‘might’ not be a problem for you.)


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (10:18 am)

    GM designs a new battery pack.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (10:20 am)

    Let’s see… 288 custom-designed cells wired up in a simple shape with liquid cooling/heating… vs. over 6 thousand “standard” laptop cells.

    Here. Have a cookie, troll.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (10:25 am)

    Uggh. Run-flat low rolling resistance tires might be nice from a reliability and efficiency standpoint, but from all accounts, they’re hard and unforgiving in terms of ride and handling.

    The reason I like the Volt is that they seem unwilling to sacrifice handling and performance in the name of “being green”, and I respect that attitude.

    I would say it’s more important for GM to prevent “unexpected” failures. People are OK with tire punctures and blowouts, because it’s an expected failure. Running out of fuel is generally considered the driver’s fault, not the car’s fault.

    Failures in the battery pack, failure to meet 40 miles of EV range, weird sounds, poor handling… these are what will drive people away.

    Having said that, tire pressure monitors are a must-have for this car.


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (10:28 am)

    Hmmm …. it looks like the boffins in Japan are working just as hard researching “lithium air” battery technology as IBM and other American researchers are.

    They are researching the potential for “lithium FUEL CELLS”. This sounds pretty good. Hopefully, we might see 100% electric “lithium air” powertrains coming on the market for the Volt 3.0 in 2014 or so. No internal combustion engine range extender needed if you want to go on a long trip. Maybe you could simply exchange these “lithium air cassettes” at “7-11″ type convenience stores along the interstates. I bet these kinds of vehicles are coming soon to a car dealership near you. It’s just a matter of time.

    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/07/aist-lithium-20090727.html#more

    “The researchers suggest that the technology holds great potential for automotive applications. At a filling station, the driver of a vehicle thus equipped could exchange the aqueous electrolyte for the air electrode and refill the metallic lithium for the anode in the form of cassettes, and then continue driving without waiting for batteries to be recharged.”


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    Jul 27th, 2009 (10:39 am)

    Tesla is using SpaceX technology… NASA used GM technology, if I understood a recent interview correctly.

    I find it difficult to believe that the company that made the EV1 years before Tesla could be bothered to ram a few thousand laptop cells into a Lotus Elise would be behind Tesla in terms of battery management. I suppose, however, you would need some rather sophisticated algorithms to monitor 6,831 cells, as opposed to 288.

    I do wish you luck (assuming you’re really Musk– the attitude certainly seems to match) with the Tesla, but you need to try competing on merits instead of merely badmouthing your competition.


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    grat

     

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    Jul 27th, 2009 (10:49 am)

    If you think you’re qualified to crack open a 16KWh battery pack that includes a heaping pile of monitoring and management hardware, along with a liquid cooling/heating system, good for you. Just remember two things…

    1) It’s a structural component of the vehicle.
    2) You will void your 10 year warranty.

    I’m a DIY guy who’s done electrical and mechanical work on my car, ranging from radio replacement to head-gasket replacement. If there’s a problem with the battery pack in a Volt, I want a dealer to deal with it, because if THEY blow it up, it’s their problem, not mine.

    In no way am I trying to demean your abilities– you may in fact have the equipment and the skill to do such a replacement. But for the vast majority of owners, even if the LCD displays “Failure in Cell #234– No Voltage Present”, the correct solution is to go to a qualified mechanic– Or service technician, if you prefer.


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    grat

     

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    Jul 27th, 2009 (11:02 am)

    Source?

    Internal Toyota cartoons don’t count as authoritative sources, by the way.


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    grat

     

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    Jul 27th, 2009 (11:16 am)

    In your current car, if the battery fails, you stop.

    If the engine fails, you stop.

    if the transmission fails… you stop.

    In the Volt, you need the battery pack and the electric motor. The ICE is optional. Trying to cover all possible failure modes gets progressively more expensive, usually “preparing” for failures that never happen, or happen very rarely.


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    MuddyRoverRob

     

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    Jul 27th, 2009 (1:31 pm)

    I hear you for sure Dan.

    I now have a scantool, when my Subaru started running rough I went out and bought it. Plugged it into the port, read the code (misfire cyl 4) I made a visual inspection, the coil looked fine so I replaced the plug wires. problem solved.

    This car is off warranty as well so jumping in makes more sense.


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    Loboc

     

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    Jul 27th, 2009 (3:26 pm)

    In my limited experience with trouble codes, it seems that the have a different/modified meaning when occuring together. It is best that they not be displayed as intrepretation and further diagnostics are required even for a single code.

    I am thinking that eventually electric cars will blow away ICE in drag racing and other competitive events. It’s hard for ICE to compete when all the torque is at zero RPMs :)

    When NASCAR starts racing Volts, then we will see Joe-USA buying them in droves!


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    KentT

     

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    Jul 27th, 2009 (5:22 pm)

    You got it Herm. Diagnose and replace; no repair at the dealership level. Packs that get sent back will be “remanufactured” to good as new and will serve as warranty replacement. I think this is one reason GM wants to keep the pack manufacture “in house.” Battery management is a part of the “secret sauce” so to say. Batteries are commodities and will be bought from any number of manufacturers. The pack and how it manages the batteries are what is going to set the car makers apart.

    Remember the Volt is only using 50% of its capacity. 80% is “full charge” and the genset kicks in when the pack drops to 30%. So there should be some percentage of cells that can go dead without any need to replace the entire pack. Of course that is just my opinion, only GM knows the bottom line.


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    nathan= eco nut

     

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    Jul 29th, 2009 (11:20 am)

    so is the volt a good thing or a bad thing.???


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    nathan= eco nut

     

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    Jul 29th, 2009 (11:22 am)

    so is the volt a good thing or a bad thing.???.