Nov 02

GM Using IBM Software to Develop and Control the Chevy Volt

 

[ad#post_ad]GM and IBM announced this week that they have partnered to develop the software which GM used to develop and perfect the Chevy Volt. This includes the sophisticated battery simulation software that allowed the car to be developed in only 29 months from the point of greenlight. GM had to project and simulate how the battery would function and operate over a ten year/150,000 mile lifetime in that compressed period, a feat IBMs software helped to achieve. Both IBM supercomputers and software development tools were utilized in the process.

IBM software and supercomputers were also used to design and develop the multitude of electronic controls systems within the the Volt and to determine the optimal way for them to interact, creating an ideal “system of systems” configuration.

“Software and controls are a key differentiator, and have significant value in driving vehicle development and providing unique solutions to our customers, especially in vehicles as advanced as the Chevrolet Volt,” said Micky Bly, GM Executive Director of Global Electrical Systems, Hybrids, Electric Vehicles and Batteries. “We must have the ability to deliver innovative electronics and software faster than our competitors and that requires us to develop our vehicles with a set of world-class software processes and tools.”

“IBM is focused on providing our clients with higher value capabilities that enables them to transform the way they develop and design not just the products they deliver, but innovate in the markets in which they compete,” said Robert LeBlanc, Senior Vice President, Middleware Software, IBM. “The Volt represents the convergence of the manufacturing and digital environments that are at the core of building smarter products.”

The Volt contains and relies on 10 million lines of computer code that controls its 100 electronic components. In comparison, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner has just 8 million lines of code. The Volt is 40% electronic, up from the 5% electronic rate of the typical car in the 1980s. Not only that, but Bly states “we can safely say that there’s a 40 percent to 60 percent increase in software code relative to another (conventional) car.”

In particular, it was IBM’s so-called Rational software that GM used to design and test the Volt. IBM acquired the company Teleologic in 2007 and as a result expanded its Rational Software line into automotive applications. The software enabled engineers to quickly make changes in the system and predict the results on-the-fly as development progressed.

It was GM’s goal to design this incredibly complex car so that its orchestra of computerized electronic processes operate seamlessly below the surface to simply create a fun and pleasant user experience.

It is certainly hoped daily Volt drivers never need to learn about all these items, because if they do, it is likely to mean something has gone wrong.

“We haven’t done a vehicle this complex in the history of GM,” said Bly . “The software–the control side–is what ties together (the mechanical components)…It’s really the heart and soul of how the car performs.”

IBM software itself is not used inside the production car.

Source (IBM) (CNET) and (ZDNet)





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This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 at 6:17 am and is filed under Engineering. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 186


  1. 1
    Rashiid Amul

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (6:22 am)

    Interesting. Thank goodness it is not running Windows!
    The car would need to be rebooted as we drive down the road. ;)


  2. 2
    nasaman

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (6:37 am)

    Here’s one of the best videos I’ve seen on exactly this subject, an extremely interesting 4 minutes:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjjASGV36mw&feature=share

    During my Volt test drive Saturday, out GM host Mechanical Engineer Rob Parrish said the most impressive project in developing the Volt was the vast amount of software written (for the nearly 100 microprocessors aboard the car, and the robust, fail-safe operation of all software, including the interaction between segments)! VERY IMPRESSIVE!!!


  3. 3
    Jim I

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (6:41 am)

    These back stories are interesting. I wonder if they developed a full mock up simulator of the Volt’s dashboard for testing? If they did, that would be fun to play with!!!!

    OT:

    Lyle:

    With the countdown clock now at about eight days, and with “Build 1″ now scheduled for November 30th, do you think the clock should be reset for the new timetable????

    NPNS


  4. 4
    Roy H

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (6:43 am)

    Is GM going to give all that IP away to China?


  5. 5
    Loboc

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (6:49 am)

    Very cool article Lyle! No fluff here.

    Computer assisted project management in other words. But at a much more integrated level than something like MS Project. Might have to look into this when we rip out our ERP system to do the IT heart transplant.

    I keep running into legacy systems that are so complex and so undocumented that you can’t touch them. Any change risks shutting down the entire system. (Kind of like the traffic control system.)

    Sounds like GM was in the same boat with their systems.

    It’s very interesting that this convergence happened in 2007 right when GM needed it to create the Volt.

    It is ALIVE!

    /I wonder what kind of LAN they use inside the Volt for all of these components to communicate.


  6. 6
    Dave4664

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (6:51 am)

    ” The Volt contains and relies on 10 million lines of computer code that controls its 100 electronic components. In comparison, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner has just 8 million lines of code.”

    The Boeing Dreamliner is a “fly by wire” system….the Volt can be considered a “drive by wire system”. This is a completely new paradigm in the automotive world. I believe GM is now WAY out ahead of everyone else technologically… it’s going to be fun watching everyone else trying to “catch up”.

    Awesome job GM!


  7. 7
    Roy H

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (6:52 am)

    nasaman: Here’s one of the best videos I’ve seen on exactly this subject, an extremely interesting 4 minutes:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjjASGV36mw&feature=shareDuring my Volt test drive Saturday, out GM host Mechanical Engineer Rob Parrish said the most impressive project in developing the Volt was the vast amount of software written (for the nearly 100 microprocessors aboard the car, and the robust, fail-safe operation of all software, including the interaction between segments)! VERY IMPRESSIVE!!!    

    Excellent video! It shows that the Volt development goes well beyond the Volt and is transformational technology for all of GM future engineering, not just Voltec.


  8. 8
    Eco_Turbo

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (6:55 am)

    Maybe GM can use that software to help them develop a Voltec Corvette for next years Le Mans. Imagine a showroom stock car taking an overall victory. A 1,2,3 finish like Ford did back in the 60s might do wonders for stock value.


  9. 9
    Robert

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (6:57 am)

    Where’s the control-alt-delete button? :)


  10. 10
    koz

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (7:03 am)

    nasaman: Here’s one of the best videos I’ve seen on exactly this subject, an extremely interesting 4 minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjjASGV36mw&feature=shareDuring my Volt test drive Saturday, out GM host Mechanical Engineer Rob Parrish said the most impressive project in developing the Volt was the vast amount of software written (for the nearly 100 microprocessors aboard the car, and the robust, fail-safe operation of all software, including the interaction between segments)! VERY IMPRESSIVE!!!  (Quote)  (Reply)

    Yes, we often hear that the drivetrain is not unique. While I’ld argue that the configuration is unique as illustrated by the issuance of a patent for it, the components by themselves are relatively ordinary. It is the software control and sensing that makes it functional.


  11. 11
    BillR

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (7:12 am)

    Man to wife while driving Volt:

    “Honey, since we bought this car, none of our other cars seem to be working well. I wonder if it has something to do with the Volt?”

    Voice from Chevy Volt:

    “Dave, I don’t know what you are talking about.”

    “HAL, is that you? I want you to stop messing with all my other cars!!”

    “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that. “


  12. 12
    Schmeltz

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (7:14 am)

    Hoping GM and IBM have a good relationship. Anyone remember IBM dedicating a pile of research money and resources into Lithium Air batteries? If IBM can clear the hurdles with that technology, GM could use the batteries in upcoming vehicles. You can refresh your memories here:

    http://beta.technologyreview.com/energy/22780/


  13. 13
    Texas

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (7:18 am)

    I’m glad to see GE so deeply into the electrification of transportation. They have some of the brightest people around working there and they are definitely going in the right direction.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (7:28 am)

    BillR: Man to wife while driving Volt: “Honey, since we bought this car, none of our other cars seem to be working well. I wonder if it has something to do with the Volt?” Voice from Chevy Volt: “Dave, I don’t know what you are talking about.” “HAL, is that you? I want you to stop messing with all my other cars!!” “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.“    

    OMG, Bill —I laughed so hard reading this I almost lost my breakfast! :)


  15. 15
    Jimza Skeptic

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (7:28 am)

    Texas: I’m glad to see GE so deeply into the electrification of transportation. They have some of the brightest people around working there and they are definitely going in the right direction.    

    You are correct Texas. And GE is the only U.S. based engineering and builder of new technology Nuclear Reactors. Their ABWR can be the catalyst in eliminating the need for all these coal fired plants that are polluting the earth! True clean electricity for the auto market! Go GE & GM!!! ;-)


  16. 16
    tom w

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (7:29 am)

    As excited as am I about the Volt its things like this that worry me. Is it just too complicated for 40 miles AER. To me the whole point is to get nice cars to drive that maximize AER (and thus minimize oil use). The Leaf has more AER and is vastly simpler.

    After the first couple years I still think the success of the Volt will depend on seeing a commitment to charging stations in most all large parking lots. People will not buy the volt if they drive 20,000 miles a year and only 10,000 of it is AER. It won’t justify the cost.

    I do think an EREV and a BEV can coexist in the same garage.

    But the mass adoption will come down to (we know the costs will come down thats not the issue) the 2 scenarios.

    EREV – Carry a smaller battery but charge at work or elsewhere during the day to maximize AER. Carry a motor for the occasional trips when AER is exceeded.

    BEV – Carry a larger battery to handle most every day’s driving, but use fast charge stations to accomodate occasional trips when AER is exceeded.

    The EREV concept handles things like large power failures and in general the unexpected. But don’t think you can justify electric and gas motors and all that complexity if you don’t have the ability to maximize your AER (i.e. workplace charging).

    I’m surprised Lyle hasn’t written more about this himself. After all he can charge his car at work and he’ll be able to double his AER because of that. Most people won’t be able to do that at the present time.


  17. 17
    Nelson

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (7:33 am)

    I would rather hear the Volt electronics and software had their early beginnings in the Hy-Wire. I would like to know the Hy-Wire played a significant role in the Volts development. It would be sad to think the money invested making and testing the Hy-Wire has not yielded fruit used in the Volt. I guess GM has to justify the cost of the Volt in terms of recent R&D as opposed to years of R&D culminating with the Volt.

    As a programmer I can tell you those 10 million lines of code are probably bloated with unnecessary redundancy and not fully optimized. Number of code lines alone says nothing about an applications optimization. If an application performs 100 functions using 10,000 lines of code but another app performs the same 100 functions using 8,000 lines of code, which do you think is the better program? It’s like writing a book, there’s always room for a revision.
    Windows 95
    Windows NT
    Windows XP
    Windows Vista
    Windows 7

    http://auto.howstuffworks.com/hy-wire.htm

    NPNS!


  18. 18
    Roy H

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (7:34 am)

    Texas: I’m glad to see GE so deeply into the electrification of transportation. They have some of the brightest people around working there and they are definitely going in the right direction.    

    GE has bought into Enerdel, Think, and A123 as well as building windmills etc. If you are referring to GE’s announcement about purchasing 10s of thousands of EVs then, yes this is good news, but I don’t think this will result in Volts being purchased as GE has lot of partners it will support.


  19. 19
    Tom

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (7:37 am)

    Rumor has it they went to Microsoft first but could use it because the Volt does not have ctl, alt , del & keys
    Tom


  20. 20
    Eco_Turbo

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (7:38 am)

    Jet fighters have a more highly trained operator. Maybe complexity could be reduced with better Drivers Ed training. Bet It’d do wonders for safety as well.


  21. 21
    Starcast

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (7:58 am)

    It’s a great day to be an AMERICAN!


  22. 22
    jscott1

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (8:13 am)

    Maybe the Volt will be more like a consumer electronic device and the next generation will be better and less expensive. Let’s hope.

    Maybe the ad campaign should have been “It’s more computer than car or electric”


  23. 23
    Eco_Turbo

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (8:19 am)

    #18 Roy H,

    Imagine not making it to a meeting, because you had to go pick up another sample, and losing a big sale to Siemens, or Hitachi.


  24. 24
    DonC

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (8:24 am)

    tom w: Is it just too complicated for 40 miles AER. To me the whole point is to get nice cars to drive that maximize AER (and thus minimize oil use). The Leaf has more AER and is vastly simpler.

    You’re missing the most important point that, while the Volt is far more complex than the Leaf, it’s equally simple to drive. For both cars you get it, turn them on, and drive. No muss no fuss. That’s why the Volt is far more technologically advanced than the Leaf. It’s not hard to make something simple be simple. It’s far harder to make something complex be simple. That’s a challenge.

    The end result is that the Volt is a car that will work for more people than will the Leaf.


  25. 25
    Randy

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (8:27 am)

    (click to show comment)


  26. 26
    DonC

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (8:29 am)

    nasaman: Here’s one of the best videos I’ve seen on exactly this subject, an extremely interesting 4 minutes:

    It was interesting. But it’s so weird that you have guys talking about software innovation when wearing suits.

    The real time collaboration between people all over the world means the world is getting flatter. As it does, ideas flow more freely, and as ideas flow more freely technology blossoms. For humankind ideas are the most important currency. People who think the best is behind us simply have no idea.


  27. 27
    Randy

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (8:29 am)

    WHy couldn’t the get Apple or some other AMERICAN company to do the software? Not all american anymore.


  28. 28
    tom w

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (8:39 am)

    (click to show comment)


  29. 29
    Dave G

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (8:41 am)

    We still don’t know if the Volt uses induction motors. That has a huge impact on the software.


  30. 30
    Loboc

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (8:47 am)

    DonC:

    tom w: Is it just too complicated for 40 miles AER. To me the whole point is to get nice cars to drive that maximize AER (and thus minimize oil use). The Leaf has more AER and is vastly simpler.

    DonC: You’re missing the most important point that, while the Volt is far more complex than the Leaf, it’s equally simple to drive. For both cars you get it, turn them on, and drive. No muss no fuss. That’s why the Volt is far more technologically advanced than the Leaf. It’s not hard to make something simple be simple. It’s far harder to make something complex be simple. That’s a challenge.

    I’m leaning toward tomw on this one. Complexity = easier to break. Simple = easier (and cheaper) to fix. It can take hours to track down an electrical connection that is flakey. A mechanical failure is way easier to find.

    The reason I like pure EV vs ICE is the simplicity (kind of like the 60′s and earlier engines with zero computer controls.) When you put both ICE and EV together, it is way more complex.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m buying a Volt not a LEAF. Pure EV is just not there yet and Volt technology is a good way to go for the next decade or so.

    Once batteries get a generation or so better (true 100mpc or 200mpc advertised) EVs will be viable for my situation. I just drive too much right now.


  31. 31
    Eco_Turbo

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (8:51 am)

    An engineer at the NYC drive, told me Volt uses permanent magnet motors.


  32. 32
    tom w

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (8:53 am)

    Loboc: The reason I like pure EV vs ICE is the simplicity (kind of like the 60’s and earlier engines with zero computer controls.) When you put both ICE and EV together, it is way more complex.

    Well I still think the EREV will survive for 10 years because I do believe folks will be able to charge during the day, extend the AER and justify the cost. Future models of EREVs will be able to offer convenience (though at a price), flexibility and hopefully other features such as a home generator during blackouts that sort of insurance.

    But folks must not lose sight of the whole point of these cars is to maximize AER, which was is my original point (Volt’s success depends on parking lot chargers because the Volt will be for people who drive a lot, people that don’t drive that much will buy Leaf or other cheaper BEVs).


  33. 33
    Matthew B

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (8:55 am)

    Jimza Skeptic: You are correct Texas. And GE is the only U.S. based engineering and builder of new technology Nuclear Reactors.

    Well, first off the nuclear is a joint venture between GE and Hitachi.

    Westinghouse is based here and their engineers are here, they just are owned by Toshiba. Westinghouse has a 50% and rising share in the new US reactors.

    Jimza Skeptic: Their ABWR can be the catalyst in eliminating the need for all these coal fired plants that are polluting the earth!

    South Texas will have orphan ABWRs. GE doesn’t want to sell more, and they will be the only two here. GE wants to sell the ESBWR. There are 4 ESBWRs on order.


  34. 34
    Matthew B

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (8:58 am)

    Dave G: We still don’t know if the Volt uses induction motors.That has a huge impact on the software.    

    Somewhere here it was reported that MGA is induction and MGB is permanent magnet. This makes sense from the perspective that MGA often runs at high speed light load where an induction motor is best suited, while MGB only runs under load where a permanent magnet motor is best.


  35. 35
    T 1

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:00 am)

    Impressive tech, to be sure, but it’s still all about the batteries.

    Hope our battery R&D people and funds are better than the next company’s/country’s.


  36. 36
    Matthew B

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:03 am)

    Randy: all the software coming from china owned IBM

    You’re confused there Randy….

    IBM is still a New York headquartered company. IBM sold of their PC division to Lonovo, a Chinese company, early in the decade. The other divisions are not Chinese owned.


  37. 37
    AMERICAN REVENGE

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:04 am)

    (click to show comment)


  38. 38
    Matthew B

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:05 am)

    I wonder if GE will still be buying the EVs if they lose their windmill lawsuit to Mitsubishi? They stand to lose into the billions due to unfair trade practices.


  39. 39
    kent beuchert

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:06 am)

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  40. 40
    Nelson

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:07 am)

    tom w,

    “It’s success after the early adopters will without doubt depend on availability to charge at work or other places during the day.”

    That sounds like an argument for the Leafs success requirement.
    The Volt has an on board generator that runs on gas.

    NPNS!


  41. 41
    JohnK

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:11 am)

    Rashiid Amul: Thank goodness it is not running Windows!

    We can thank IBM for Windows being done by Microsoft. It was IBM’s analysis that PC software was not of high enough value that lead them to contract out the operating system for the IBM PC (PC DOS) to Microsoft. Further, when Windows was beginning its life, IBM thought that it was silly and wanted nothing to do with it. Eventually they decided there WAS merit in a multi-tasking GUI and came out with OS/2, but it was too late to compete with Windows. Seems like I’ve wandered…


  42. 42
    IBM Sux

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:11 am)

    Sorry to inform you people but IBM is an American company in name only. Over the last two(2) decades they have QUIETLY layed off over 100,000 American Engineers while at the same time hiring over 100,000 engineers in India and China !!!

    They should not recieve ANY help (via tax breaks or other incentives) from the American taxpayer. As a matter of fact companies like IBM, Accenture, HP should be made to PAY A HIGH PRICE for exporting all those jobs by using punishing taxes to stop the erosion of American Jobs by these ultra greedy corporation which in the long run will lead to the rapid decline of this once great country.

    IBM YOU SUCK !


  43. 43
    maharguitar

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:12 am)

    Just because IBM supplied the development software doesn’t means that IBM has access to a single line of GM’s code. I have worked for software development tool suppliers and, believe me, we didn’t have any code from the customers. I’ve been brought on-site to debug a customer problem and haven’t been allowed to even write down what I saw of the problem. That’s an extreme case but it illustrates that customers are very careful with the intellectual property.


  44. 44
    JohnK

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:13 am)

    kent beuchert,

    Time will tell.


  45. 45
    Electrik

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:13 am)

    Nelson: As a programmer I can tell you those 10 million lines of code are probably bloated with unnecessary redundancy and not fully optimized. Number of code lines alone says nothing about an applications optimization. If an application performs 100 functions using 10,000 lines of code but another app performs the same 100 functions using 8,000 lines of code, which do you think is the better program? It’s like writing a book…

    Nelson, you beat me to the punch. That’s exactly what I thought when I read this post. The claim that 10M lines of code is good suggests there is a lot of room for improvement. Hopefully the number of lines of code will go down, not up, in future releases. In software programming (like writing) less is more.


  46. 46
    JohnK

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:15 am)

    I must say that one of the interesting areas of the owner’s manual is the pages and pages of software licence material. I’m going to opine that much of the 10 million lines of code are in third party software, like the GPS and the infotainment system. Still, a lot of software in the control system for the drive train and BMS.


  47. 47
    GM Volt Fan

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:20 am)

    It sure looks like there will be plenty of work for the computer guys in the years ahead. Wow. It is awe inspiring what a dedicated group of engineers and scientists can do these days. The Volt project really does remind you a bit of the Apollo space program. Way to go GM! It took a lot of intestinal fortitude to get the Volt project finished on time during the last couple of years of turmoil.

    When even Bill Reinert, the national manager for Toyota Motor Corp.’s advanced technology group is acknowledging that the Volt is impressive, you know that the Volt development team has done a great job. The Volt development has “raised the bar” for what is possible when it comes to designing automobiles forever.

    http://www.detnews.com/article/20101013/UPDATE/10130423/1361/Toyota-says-Volt-controversy-won-t-hurt-GM-sales

    “I don’t think it really matters to the viability of the Volt,” Reinert said in an interview on the sidelines of the Business of Plugging In conference. “I don’t think they’re going to lose one customer if someone calls (the Volt) a hybrid.”

    “Whether it’s a hybrid or an extended range EV, it’s still an interesting car, a challenging car and all congrats for them to do it.”

    I bet GM will have plenty of very impressed customers in the years ahead. I hope they continue to work hard on the Voltec technology and make it better and better every year so they’ll STAY ahead of the competition. I want GM’s electric car technology to be widely acknowledged as being the best in the world for decades to come.


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    Winblows

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:23 am)

    JohnK:
    We can thank IBM for Windows being done by Microsoft.It was IBM’s analysis that PC software was not of high enough value that lead them to contract out the operating system for the IBM PC (PC DOS) to Microsoft.Further, when Windows was beginning its life, IBM thought that it was silly and wanted nothing to do with it.Eventually they decided there WAS merit in a multi-tasking GUI and came out with OS/2, but it was too late to compete with Windows.Seems like I’ve wandered…    

    Actually you are correct except it really was not too late for IBM when Microsoft’s Windows OS took off because at the time IBM had so many PC related patents (on the BIOS, PC Hardware, Operatiing Systems, etc) had they wanted to stop Microsoft they could have rolled out their substantial Lawyer Posse and crushed Microsoft and Intel in one swift swoop. The problem with IBM was their MASSIVELY INCOMPENTENT MANAGEMENT TEAM that could not see past their nose. They deserved to loose the PC battle, in effect Intel + Cisco + Microsoft took the reigns from IBM and have held on to it ever since. Unfortunately these 3 amigos are not much better than IBM, they tend to sit on their laurels and milk the customer for everthing they can get.
    Hopefully we are now witnessing the transition to Apple + Google + ? as the dominate force in computing. It is about time for another change. I HATE TECH COMPANIES, THEY ARE ALL THEIVES !!!


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:26 am)

    tom w: No – The point I keep trying to make (#16) is that the volt is too complicated and expensive for 40 miles AER.

    The Volt is not for people that only drive 10,000 miles a year as BEVs will dominate that market in 5 years. The Volt is for people who drive a lot and can charge during the day to double their AER.

    The mistake you’re making is focusing on the 40 mile AER. The broader more relevant view is that the Volt has a range of 310 miles, 40 miles of which is electric. Put another way, it’s the only electric car that has the same range as a gasser.

    And this is not only relevant for those driving a ton of miles. For example, my sister-in-law, who owns one car, drives less than 10,000 miles are year. But for 20 weekends she drives fairly long distances to hike. Since you can’t just “juice up” at the trail head, a BEV simply won’t work for these trips. Plus once or twice a year she takes longer trips. Again, a BEV wouldn’t work. But a Volt would without any problem for all these trips, and, other than those longer trips, she would be driving all electric and juicing up at very low electric rates.

    The same pattern more or less holds true for households with two drivers. With two drivers a Volt and a BEV would work for most, and two Volts would work for all. Two BEVs would probably not work for more than a handful. So yes, a Volt is more complex than a BEV, but the benefit of that complexity is that the Volt works for a much wider range of applications. And it’s definitely not any more complex to drive than a BEV. Why is this not superior?


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:28 am)

    “The Volt contains and relies on 10 million lines of computer code that controls its 100 electronic components.”

    That is a lot of code, I hope the Volt uses Linux as an OS as this is very reliable. IBM and Linux is a good combination the top ten of the fastest computers in the world run on Linux.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:28 am)

    Loboc: I’m leaning toward tomw on this one. Complexity = easier to break. Simple = easier (and cheaper) to fix. It can take hours to track down an electrical connection that is flakey. A mechanical failure is way easier to find.

    True enough, but in this case a lot of those lines of computer code are to condition and control the battery and control electronics. Not long ago I attended a talk on electric motorcycles. This is a much simpler EV with lower performance requirements, but there are an AMAZING number of problems and causes — the software can go a very long way toward managing and solving these problems. Yes, if it is buggy then it becomes a part of the problem rather than the solution – but let’s not prejudge GM’s effort.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:29 am)

    JohnK: We can thank IBM for Windows being done by Microsoft. It was IBM’s analysis that PC software was not of high enough value that lead them to contract out the operating system for the IBM PC (PC DOS) to Microsoft.

    No doubt IBM relied on a study by JD Powers which concluded that people wouldn’t be willing to pay for a “personal” computer with limited capabilities and a high price tag.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:32 am)

    (click to show comment)


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:34 am)

    DonC: The mistake you’re making is focusing on the 40 mile AER. The broader more relevant view is that the Volt has a range of 310 miles, 40 miles of which is electric. Put another way, it’s the only electric car that has the same range as a gasser.

    And to amplify: you could go out and buy a genset like the one featured yesterday. But not only would the cost be very high, but it would not be integrated and optimized for your vehicle. The 40 miles AER is just an arbitrary starting point; as batteries evolve this range will evolve as well. The Volt may not be perfect, but it is darn good, dare I say a “game changer”? I think that Maximum Bob knew how special the Volt would turn out.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:40 am)

    DonC: No doubt IBM relied on a study by JD Powers which concluded that people wouldn’t be willing to pay for a “personal” computer with limited capabilities and a high price tag.

    And as with the original mainframe (which they expected a total market share to be 6 machines) they did not count on demand and that driving the costs down. Let’s hope that GM participates in bringing the prices of Voltec based vehicles (and pure BEV’s) down to affordability for the general consumer.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:41 am)

    Since we’re throwing around things that aren’t necessarily related…

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/flyout/flyfeature_shuttlecomputers.html

    Just like the computers themselves, the software code involved is much smaller than modern commercial counterparts. The shuttle’s primary flight software contains about 400,000 lines of code. For comparison, a Windows operating system package includes millions of lines of source code.

    “From a complexity point of view, Microsoft Windows is probably more complex because it has to do so very, very, very much,” Orr said.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:42 am)

    I’ll also bet that GM is already leveraging much of that software in other 2011 vehicles. I’ve already seen comments from 2010 Camaro owners REALLY ticked off because their vehicle does not have the ability to talk to their smart phones like the 2011 model (which is borrowing much capability from the Volt).


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:48 am)

    What a lot of resistance to the electronics! Time after time, products are designed and built to our needs more efficiently and to a higher standard because of the best applications of technology.
    I bet that there’s going to be a lot of anxiety next week when clocks need to be set back to standard time. (or perhaps the best idea was not to mess with time at all!) Any blinking VCR’s still out there?
    It’s getting increasingly more difficult to create simple products. Yet, with all of the complexities within the Volt controlling software, I am still impressed most with the transmission. Simple and seamless. Still, the rest of the operations might not be able to pass through it so well without the massive amount of electronic controls.

    Any other group of automotive engineers must stand in awe of just how well the entire package works and still sells for only $40k. Maybe they should go back and figure out another way to parallel park, play the drums, or answer the phone or something.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:51 am)

    Rashiid Amul: Interesting. Thank goodness it is not running Windows!

    So Rashiid, I guess you don’t think too much of Ford’s line of products? They HAVE hitched their wagon to Microsoft. It seems to be pretty popular.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:55 am)

    DonC: The mistake you’re making is focusing on the 40 mile AER. The broader more relevant view is that the Volt has a range of 310 miles, 40 miles of which is electric. Put another way, it’s the only electric car that has the same range as a gasser.

    The focus of the Volt is “Miles-Per-Day gas and emissions free” while eliminating the range anxiety of a pure electric. That simple statement should highlight every Volt ad. With most people only driving 40 to 60 miles per day on average, the Volt will rarely use gas. But it’s nice to know it can if it needs to.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (10:10 am)

    GM Volt Fan: I bet GM will have plenty of very impressed customers in the years ahead. I hope they continue to work hard on the Voltec technology and make it better and better every year so they’ll STAY ahead of the competition. I want GM’s electric car technology to be widely acknowledged as being the best in the world for decades to come.

    Me, too! I hope the Voltec window is open long enough to matter. If Nissan really delivers twice the electric range in version 2, that’s realistically 150 miles or so per charge. That is probably getting close to being a full-time car for a lot more people. Actually, that’s a good question–at what point does range anxiety disappear for the “GM 75% of commutes”? 150 miles? 200? 300? Apparently GM thinks about 350, as that’s the total range of the Volt. How many more years until we get there for a realistic car (relatively inexpensive and mass produced like the Volt and Leaf)? 5? 7? (Hey, GM can finally admit to planned obsolensence! just kidding guys) That would be a short window for Voltec. So I hope they can ramp this tech up fast. Ackerson sounds like he’s on board. Will be great to see the electric announcements post-IPO.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (10:18 am)

    How about fuel that lasts the life of the car, or gets filled up only once or twice during the life?
    Many ships do that now.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (10:20 am)

    I wonder how much the Rational software costs. It would be cool if my company could use it.

    Does this mean the design time of all future GM vehicles will be much less, and they will be able to react faster to the market? I hope so. I also hope it helps them get Gen 2 of the Volt out sooner.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (10:21 am)

    Nice to see they’re picking up some of the tools and processes used in the avionics industry (DOORS, which IBM apparently bought, has been in use in avionics SW development for a long time).

    Of course, anyone who actually writes software will tell you that lines of code is a useless metric.
    I’d be more curious about how many high-level and low-level requirements they have and how many test cases they run.

    Loboc: /I wonder what kind of LAN they use inside the Volt for all of these components to communicate.
    They typically use CAN buses in vehicles.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (10:32 am)

    Dave G: We still don’t know if the Volt uses induction motors.That has a huge impact on the software. 

    I don’t the motor controller software is even a blip in that storm of 10 million lines of code. The difference between controlling an AC versus a DC motor is not that big. But aren’t all big auto manufacturers using AC motors, because it makes regen easier?


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (10:36 am)

    IQ130: “The Volt contains and relies on 10 million lines of computer code that controls its 100 electronic components.”That is a lot of code, I hope the Volt uses Linux as an OS as this is very reliable. IBM and Linux is a good combination the top ten of the fastest computers in the world run on Linux.    

    They use proprietary embedded o/s and code. It’s more reliable and compact than general purpose. I don’t know personally, but, my sense it that their microcode has no roots in anything else like Linux.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (10:44 am)

    Off topic:

    Volt test drives at NIST in Maryland today! Apparently early and often.

    Driving into work this morning I had a Volt in front of me and one behind me at the same time.
    That was rather cool……….


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (10:45 am)

    kent beuchert: “Software and controls are a key differentiator, and have significant value in driving vehicle development and providing unique solutions to our customers, especially in vehicles as advanced as the Chevrolet Volt,” said Micky Bly” Replace “vehicles as advanced as the Chevy Volt” with “vehicles as horribly complicated
    and obtuse as the Chevy Volt” and you’ll have a true statement. This guy belongs in Sales, that’s
    where the ability to present a defect as a valuable “feature” is a treasured personal characteristic.    

    Seriously, do people have nothing better to do than come on random message boards and post things equivalent to “the sky is red” and “the world is flat”? I mean there’s so many of these that it makes you wonder, what do these people do for a living? And we wonder why the economy is in such a bad shape – perhaps if all these people were to stop posting these absolutely baseless and purposeless comments and do something productive instead then things would be much better.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (10:52 am)

    Matthew B: Somewhere here it was reported that MGA is induction and MGB is permanent magnet.

    I must have missed that. Do you happen to remember where they said this? What was the context?


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (10:55 am)

    montgoss: But aren’t all big auto manufacturers using AC motors, because it makes regen easier?

    “Today, all the hybrids are powered by DC brushless drives, with no exceptions. The only notable uses of induction drives have been the General Motors EV-1; the AC Propulsion vehicles, including the tzero; and the Tesla Roadster.”
    http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/induction-versus-dc-brushless-motors


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (11:00 am)

    DonC: The mistake you’re making is focusing on the 40 mile AER. The broader more relevant view is that the Volt has a range of 310 miles, 40 miles of which is electric. Put another way, it’s the only electric car that has the same range as a gasser.

    I don’t see that as a mistake. It might be better to have a 20AER battery or less and have more people offsetting more gasoline.

    Batteries are expensive and will be for a decade or so. (Let’s just say the foreseeable future.) People here keep saying they want more AER when in fact less AER (and less price) would be a better use of these resources. Less price equals more people getting a car with *some* AER. A smaller battery would be discharged fully more often and therefore not have unused capacity just sitting there.

    The Prius approach of sticking a plug and a small battery pack in an already good hybrid could make sense for a lot of people. With 12AER, the battery pack would be discharged more often and more completely.

    For either solution, charging more than once a day would extend the amount of gasoline offset even more.

    Eventually people will come to the realization that they don’t need gasoline at all. I think that people are overestimating their need for emergency trips and long trips. Once they get into a Volt or PiP they may find that 40AER or even 12AER is all they really needed. At that point, a 100AER pure EV becomes viable.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (11:06 am)

    montgoss: They typically use CAN buses in vehicles.

    Well I knew I hung out here for a reason. Thanks!


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (11:07 am)

    OS-2 – Volt – Warp! (Had to take a geeky shot…)

    Just kidding, the software used to simulate ‘real world’ happenings doesn’t send the results back to the simulator publishers company.

    A BEV is still only a city car, an EREV can be your only car.
    One payment vs two… a no-brainer in my world.

    It’s EREV or ICE, BEV’s are still toys.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (11:13 am)

    4 Roy H: Is GM going to give all that IP away to China?    

    .
    No, once China purchases a large enough block of shares the software will belong to them, and the other owners, so no one will be “giving” it to anyone. Likely much of the software will be used within Chinese facilities, i.e., gm facilities in China, and then licensing will allow it to be used at other Chinese companies, perhaps.

    After all, if nationality is measured in terms of where it is that large numbers of cars are sold, GM is already a major Chinese company as well as US company, and the IPO investment will solidify that up and down the organization.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (11:14 am)

    T 1:
    Me, too!I hope the Voltec window is open long enough to matter.If Nissan really delivers twice the electric range in version 2, that’s realistically 150 miles or so per charge.That is probably getting close to being a full-time car for a lot more people.Actually, that’s a good question–at what point does range anxiety disappear for the “GM 75% of commutes”?150 miles? 200?300?Apparently GM thinks about 350, as that’s the total range of the Volt.How many more years until we get there for a realistic car (relatively inexpensive and mass produced like the Volt and Leaf)?5?7?(Hey, GM can finally admit to planned obsolensence!just kidding guys)That would be a short window for Voltec.So I hope they can ramp this tech up fast.Ackerson sounds like he’s on board.Will be great to see the electric announcements post-IPO.    

    I think the part you miss is GM benefits from battery advances as well. If batteries advance far enough GM could remove the ICE and leave the two electric motors for efficiency. I think we’ll see fuel cells before we see batteries that are “good enough”. The secondary issue after range anxiety is refueling time. You can’t have an electric car that goes 200-300 miles and recharge it in a reasonable about of time.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (11:15 am)

    Loboc: Eventually people will come to the realization that they don’t need gasoline at all. I think that people are overestimating their need for emergency trips and long trips. Once they get into a Volt or PiP they may find that 40AER or even 12AER is all they really needed.

    How many times do we need to discuss WANTS vs NEEDS? Many people don’t NEED a car at all. And if they do, they don’t NEED a new one, or a BMW, or off-road capability, or seating for 7, or a 300 hp engine, or _________ (fill in the blank with your own thoughts).

    What people WANT is often very different.

    The Volt is not a NEED vehicle, but a WANT one. Same will probably hold true for electrics for a long time. With at least one BIG exception–if oil prices spike and hold it, then the WANT will change to a NEED for a lot of people.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (11:15 am)

    Slightly OT, but almost every time I read the comments on this site, I’m struck by the overall level of knowledge and expertise of the folks here. Granted, we have a few out in the other tail of the curve, but overall, it’s always impressive!

    Be well and vote,
    Tagamet
    /loved #11


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (11:17 am)

    DonC: And this is not only relevant for those driving a ton of miles. For example, my sister-in-law, who owns one car, drives less than 10,000 miles are year. But for 20 weekends she drives fairly long distances to hike. Since you can’t just “juice up” at the trail head, a BEV simply won’t work for these trips. Plus once or twice a year she takes longer trips. Again, a BEV wouldn’t work. But a Volt would without any problem for all these trips, and, other than those longer trips, she would be driving all electric and juicing up at very low electric rates.

    If your sister-in-law drives less than 10,000 miles a year, her 20 weekend trips must not be much more than 100 miles round trip or otherwise she would be driving a lot more than 10,000 miles a year. But She does sound like a BEV driver, and 20 times a year she could find a charger in route and spend 20 minutes charging. And she’d then be able drive all year without gas.

    Now if she drove 20,000 miles a year, she could justify buying the Volt, paying a little more for what the volt gives her, but she’d need to frequently do mid day charging to achieve at least 90% of those miles AER.

    The Volt is perfect for people that drive a lot and can regularly charge during the day. These folks will do enough AER to justify the extra price. The Leaf is for folks that most days can do all their driving on one charge but a few times a year will need to do some quick charges in route.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (11:24 am)

    JohnK:
    So Rashiid, I guess you don’t think too much of Ford’s line of products?They HAVE hitched their wagon to Microsoft.It seems to be pretty popular.    

    So JohnK, I guess you didn’t notice the wink at the end of my comment.

    And as for your earlier history lesson, I have been in IT since 1982. I know those things. I used to use OS/2. It was more stable than Windows at the time.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (11:32 am)

    Matthew B: You’re confused there Randy….IBM is still a New York headquartered company. IBM sold of their PC division to Lonovo, a Chinese company, early in the decade. The other divisions are not Chinese owned.  (Quote)  (Reply)

    The corect spelling is Lenovo, because I have a ThinkPad Tablet (X41) from Lenovo and it is a superb machine.

    The other IBM division that was sold out was their hard drive manufacturing to Hitachi. It is ironic because IBM (which is almost one hundred years old) invented the hard and floppy drives, and standarized the Personal Computer (which help Bill Gates make his billions) , but due to competition from Asian manufacturers, had to sell both lines of business. They make excellent midrange machines and mainframes. I know because I have been using IBM machines since 1972 and I still do. Their latest product (z196) uses 5.2 GHz processors.

    Raymond


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (11:36 am)

    The Volt is good enough for the next 29 months at that time I hope they have been using their new software from IBM to design new cars. I personally hope GM uses the software to create more cars that use batteries instead of gasoline.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (11:45 am)

    Several of the comments so far imply a rather limited understanding of automotive software. Much if not all software in the Volt’s control systems is considered “life-critical”. Examples are the airbag, seat belt, steering and braking systems —all of these as well as all other vehicle control systems must be designed to be:

    1) failsafe – any failure must be non-threatening

    2) extremely robust – any internal errors must be self-correcting

    3) immune to extreme temperatures, humidity, electromagnetic interference, etc

    4) impervious to damage or malfunction due to voltage or current surges, etc, etc

    Aerospace systems (avionics and space electronic systems) have long implemented these requirements through various means. [One reason GM acquired Hughes’ Space and Electronics Systems (and other Hughes divisions) over 20 years ago was their expertise in avionics & space electronics].

    Many aerospace systems, including microprocessors and memory are “hardened” to avoid damage or malfunction when exposed to intense electromagnetic (or even nuclear) radiation. Hardening is achieved by several means, including using PROMs (programmable read-only memories) whose contents cannot easily be altered by EMI, EMP, etc., rather than random access memories (RAMs) or magnetic disk drives (HDDs) such as used in most PCs. Instruction sets (code) is not swapped back & forth between a hard drive and RAM such as in a PC, but rather is confined primarily to PROM memory and to hardened microprocessors.

    Automotive designers long ago adopted many very similar techniques in designing electronics used in a car’s harsh environments. So while a Volt’s control systems (brakes, etc) software is developed in the form of software, the final software is then used to “burn” PROM memory and it’s then known as “firmware”, which can be made virtually immune to the kinds of errors we all routinely encounter in using PCs —even in extremely harsh environments.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (11:46 am)

    PS: Although my very brief description of automotive control systems design in post 82# above may sound complicated, it actually greatly simplifies the Volt’s operation —in that nothing ever goes wrong! And any failures, improbable as they are, will be fail-safe! So the added circuit-level and conceptual complexity actually results in a far more robust design than we’re accustomed to in ordinary consumer electronics like PCs, cell phones or iPods.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (11:46 am)

    JohnK: So Rashiid, I guess you don’t think too much of Ford’s line of products? They HAVE hitched their wagon to Microsoft. It seems to be pretty popular.  (Quote)  (Reply)

    Although SYNC is based on Microsoft code, it is not a car version of Windows. It is a dedicated software for the Ford system, just like IBM code was for the Volt system (but I know IBM and I know that the Volt code is much better). Microsoft may not be the best company, but it does has some good products not related to Windows. Their Xbox is outselling Sony’s Playstation and could outsell the Wii. Now I am really off-topic here!

    Raymond


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (11:49 am)

    Eco_Turbo: How about fuel that lasts the life of the car, or gets filled up only once or twice during the life?Many ships do that now.  (Quote)  (Reply)

    Wait until GM gets the Mr. Fusion reactor installed in the 2020 Volt!

    Raymond


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (11:57 am)

    The Volt is an impressive achievement, I have to agree with you. As much as people would like to think otherwise, the Volt (gen 1) plays to a very narrow audience (Volt early adopter fans who wants to drive electric and will pay a cost premium to do so). Once the Volt moves out of it’s 25-40 AER range, the total costs of Volt ownership start to rise compared to other vehicles.

    Early on during the Volt development, GM and others constantly cited the driving patterns of the avg American and by owning a Volt you would rarely use petrol. The Nissan Leaf can make the same claim with a smaller upfront cost, 5 seats, and a global customer base who have far more incentives to make the purchase (CO2 taxes, avg fuel costs, congestion taxes, shorter commutes, etc). The Leaf will also be more affordable per unit produced due to projected manufacturing volumes globally in multiple plants (Japan, UK, US). While fans drive the Volt at these US only events, Nissan is offering similar Leaf drives in the US and UK at the same time.

    Market forces will speak louder than all of us on this GM Volt fan site.

    tom w:
    No – The point I keep trying to make (#16) is that the volt is too complicated and expensive for 40 miles AER.It’s success after the early adopters will without doubt depend on availability to charge at work or other places during the day.The Volt is not for people that only drive 10,000 miles a year as BEVs will dominate that market in 5 years.The Volt is for people who drive a lot and can charge during the day to double their AER.Folk on this board are too focused on how great the new technology is now and not what will be available in 5 years.Folks that drive 10,000 miles a year, thats 30 miles a day.They don’t need a Volt, a BEV that has much lower cost of ownership makes the most sense.Remember a few trips a year of a few hundred miles can be accomodated with Level 3 charging for one car families.The Volt is perfect for folks that drive 20,000 miles a year and can charge during the day and achieve over 90% of their miles with electricity.I’m sorry but anyone who buys a Volt, drives 20,000 miles a year but only 10,000 with their AER is really buying the wrong car.    


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (12:02 pm)

    Rashiid Amul: So JohnK, I guess you didn’t notice the wink at the end of my comment.And as for your earlier history lesson, I have been in IT since 1982. I know those things. I used to use OS/2. It was more stable than Windows at the time.  (Quote)  (Reply)

    I have been in IT (known before as EDP) since 1972, and I used OS/2, too (pardon the pun)! But now I use IBM AIX and it is a great O/S, which can do many things. The Pathfinder on Mars is a space-modified RS/6000 computer using AIX (only the small Sojourner has an Intel CPU and no Windows!). If anyone here ever used Windows NT 3.5, they will see OS/2 message codes when an error happens. Windows NT/XP/2K/2003/2008 are direct descendants of IBM’s OS/2.

    Raymond


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (12:03 pm)

    Raymondjram: Wait until GM gets the Mr. Fusion reactor installed in the 2020 Volt!Raymond  (Quote)  (Reply)

    Beat me to it! +1


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (12:05 pm)

    montgoss: I don’t the motor controller software is even a blip in that storm of 10 million lines of code.

    Agreed. Most induction motor drives have microcontrollers with built in memory. They have around 64K to 256K of memory to play with.

    montgoss: The difference between controlling an AC versus a DC motor is not that big.

    In terms of coding it sure is. Easiest is a DC motor, more complex is a permanent magnet motor and the hardest is induction motor control.

    Fortunately the heavy lifting has already been done, and you can now buy “cookbook” code that only needs motor parameters to work.

    montgoss: But aren’t all big auto manufacturers using AC motors, because it makes regen easier?

    Yes, they are all AC, not just for regen. The commutator is big, heavy, has losses and wears out. You can pack a LOT more power into the same space and weight by going AC.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (12:07 pm)

    Dave G: I must have missed that. Do you happen to remember where they said this? What was the context?

    I few weeks ago IIRC by WOPONTOUR.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (12:15 pm)

    Volt Tastic: Once the Volt moves out of it’s 25-40 AER range, the total costs of Volt ownership start to rise compared to other vehicles.

    Contrary to what you seem to be thinking, the fact is that an EREV costs less than a BEV, not more. You’re probably thinking Leaf vs. Volt and thinking the Volt is more expensive to produce, but that has more to do with the volume of production than anything else.

    The Volt pack with electronics costs about $11,000. The Leaf pack with electronics, but no real BMS, costs about $16,000. That’s $5000 which is far more than the genset costs. Give the Leaf a decent, in fact give it any, battery management system, and set the production levels at 15,000 cars a year, and the Leaf would cost more than the Volt. No question.

    IOW the entire premise of your argument is factually wrong.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (12:23 pm)

    tom w: If your sister-in-law drives less than 10,000 miles a year, her 20 weekend trips must not be much more than 100 miles round trip or otherwise she would be driving a lot more than 10,000 miles a year.

    Actually they’re more like 150 miles. And yes, her daily driving is minimal. She lives in a small town so a lot of days she can get around by just biking and walking. This would not be an uncommon pattern –daily destinations very close and some quite far away — for towns/cities of 10k-20k.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (12:23 pm)

    tom w:
    The Volt is perfect for people that drive a lot and can regularly charge during the day.

    That’s if you are really depending on one car and absolutely dread buying gas. But that debate of EREV vs BEV should be used to sort out technology and value over the next few years and not so much to draw any lines of loyalty. After all, we only have two choices right now. I think they both hit their marks for what they are intended to do. Not a bad start to go electric.

    Whether or not you want to rotate unused car in the driveway all the time is the decision you need to make when buying a BEV.

    The Volt uses the best tech available to make the decision difficult by retaining the character of driving electric and removing the clanking of a typical hybrid. What kind of car would Chevy have in the showroom without the programming and hardware working so well together? The choice of going hybrid or electric would be easier if the Volt weren’t such a good car overall.
    That’s the point of using the 10,000 lines of code.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (12:25 pm)

    DonC:
    Contrary to what you seem to be thinking, the fact is that an EREV costs less than a BEV, not more. You’re probably thinking Leaf vs. Volt and thinking the Volt is more expensive to produce, but that has more to do with the volume of production than anything else.
    The Volt pack with electronics costs about $11,000. The Leaf pack with electronics, but no real BMS, costs about $16,000. That’s $5000 which is far more than the genset costs. Give the Leaf a decent, in fact give it any, battery management system, and set the production levels at 15,000 cars a year, and the Leaf would cost more than the Volt. No question.
    IOW the entire premise of your argument is factually wrong.    

    I agree that a 40mi AER EREV should cost less than a 100 mi BEV, for the reasons you give, assuming the maker’s internal costs, overhead, etc are the same. It’s a point too many posters here seem to neglect or ignore or are simply in denial about!


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (12:31 pm)

    Tagamet: we have a few out in the other tail…

    HEY!
    I resemble that remark?!?!?!?!
    :-P


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (12:32 pm)

    lol….
    Can’t even spell myouwnname.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (12:40 pm)

    Loboc: I’m leaning toward tomw on this one. Complexity = easier to break. Simple = easier (and cheaper) to fix. It can take hours to track down an electrical connection that is flakey. A mechanical failure is way easier to find.

    It’s a mistake to equate complexity with reliability. Since you do software, you know that Windows 7 is far more complex than say Windows 98, but it is far more reliable. Modern car transmissions are far more complex than those of 20 years ago, but they are also more reliable. For that matter cars today are far more complex than they were 20 years ago, but they are also far more reliable.

    The mistake is confusing functionality with complexity. It’s true that you can’t break something which doesn’t exist, but that usually means that the functionality doesn’t exist as well. I can agree with you that, for a given level of functionality, simpler is better, but I can’t agree that reduced functionality and simpler is better, nor can I agree that complex systems can’t be more reliable and robust.

    Take the Leaf and the Volt. The Leaf can’t do what the Volt does. So yes the Volt is more complex … because it has to do more. But I doubt if the Volt will be less reliable than the Leaf. In fact if you live in a hot climate the Leaf is far more likely to fail (and if you live in a very cold climate it’s far more likely not to work).


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (12:43 pm)

    CaptJackSparrow: Can’t even spell myouwnname

    I thought it was a pont of honer that you couldn’t spel! LOL


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (12:49 pm)

    DonC: CaptJackSparrow: Can’t even spell myouwnname

    I thought it was a pont of honer that you couldn’t spel! LOL

    Hek, sicks munts ago I culdnt evin spel inginere! …hay, I nede ‘jus a litl mor kaluah, Cap’n! :) :) :)


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (12:53 pm)

    theflew: I think the part you miss is GM benefits from battery advances as well. If batteries advance far enough GM could remove the ICE and leave the two electric motors for efficiency. I think we’ll see fuel cells before we see batteries that are “good enough”. The secondary issue after range anxiety is refueling time. You can’t have an electric car that goes 200-300 miles and recharge it in a reasonable about of time.  (Quote)  (Reply)

    Didn’t miss it, just didn’t mention it in that post. GM is diversifying their electric $, as they have all-electric vehicles in testing. I was just restricting my comments to the return on their Voltec investment. It’s lifetime will probably be pretty short, so how does GM squeeze out as much return as they can?


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (12:53 pm)

    nasaman: I agree that a 40mi AER EREV should cost less than a 100 mi BEV

    The pricing has more to do with what each company is trying to do more than the actual costs of manufacture. GM is sort of tip-toeing in with limited production and relatively high end content. They want a car that will beat the Prius on every parameter but they’re not ready to take it on in price. Nissan is going for the price point and, as shown by the lack of a BMS, are willing to decontent the car and take some risks to get there.

    Different approaches. Personally I wish GM would get more aggressive.

    That said, the actual costs of the two vehicles aren’t all the different. You can lease the entry level Leaf for $350/month. You can lease the entry level Volt for $350/month. And honestly, I don’t know why you wouldn’t lease.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (12:56 pm)

    nasaman: So while a Volt’s control systems (brakes, etc) software is developed in the form of software, the final software is then used to “burn” PROM memory and it’s then known as “firmware”, which can be made virtually immune to the kinds of errors we all routinely encounter in using PCs —even in extremely harsh environments.

    Everybody long ago migrated to flash. Additionally, flash is slow so almost all code executes out of RAM after boot.

    The question becomes how well protected the code is once in RAM. It has been demonstrated that it is possible to hack systems over the CAN bus and reprogram even critical systems defeating their safety function.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (1:01 pm)

    DonC: It’s a mistake to equate complexity with reliability. Since you do software, you know that Windows 7 is far more complex than say Windows 98, but it is far more reliable. Modern car transmissions are far more complex than those of 20 years ago, but they are also more reliable. For that matter cars today are far more complex than they were 20 years ago, but they are also far more reliable.

    The mistake is confusing functionality with complexity. It’s true that you can’t break something which doesn’t exist, but that usually means that the functionality doesn’t exist as well. I can agree with you that, for a given level of functionality, simpler is better, but I can’t agree that reduced functionality and simpler is better, nor can I agree that complex systems can’t be more reliable and robust.

    Take the Leaf and the Volt. The Leaf can’t do what the Volt does. So yes the Volt is more complex … because it has to do more. But I doubt if the Volt will be less reliable than the Leaf. In fact if you live in a hot climate the Leaf is far more likely to fail (and if you live in a very cold climate it’s far more likely not to work).

    I’m going to have to go with Loboc and TomW on this one dude.
    It’s like what I always say, bare bones, the less crap the less chances if something breaking.
    Let’s take power windows for instance. A person powered hand crank window works just fine. Has the mechanical stuff to bring the window up and down. Of course yes there are the things that can go wrong like the gearing on the crank may derail or get stuck or rust or just plain break.

    Now a “Power Window” has the same mechanical issues but it now has a mechanical switch that can go bad (because some kid keeps rolling up/down fast), electrical contacts that can corrode when some kid spills Koolaide/soda/whateva on it, has a gearhead motor that can fail or the gears get stuck, brushes go bad, has “window open” limit checkpoint sensors to tell it when it’s rolled completely down that can fail, ditto for “window closed” limit checkpoint, fuse can blow.

    That’s just one example. :-P


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (1:04 pm)

    nasaman: Hek, sicks munts ago I culdnt evin spel inginere! …hay, I nede ‘jus a litl mor kaluah, Cap’n!

    Yeeeehaw! I gots me some Kahlua!!!!
    Got’s me a second job too for the Holiday season to help with the low ca$hflow from Broke Azz Kahl-eee-for-nee-yah.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (1:15 pm)

    Matthew B: Somewhere here it was reported that MGA is induction and MGB is permanent magnet.

    That’s very interesting. Nice catch.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (1:28 pm)

    This is all very exciting (and I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for my Volt), but I do wish they’d tone down the complexity theme a bit. As a practicing engineer since 1980 (emphasis on algorithms and software, disciplines heavily involved in Volt software development), I’m all too familiar with the tendency for latent bugs and other more systemic problems to creep into large, integrated software systems, especially when produced by large, multidisciplinary teams. I really don’t want to see a “system crash” become a “literal crash” due to one of these little buggers!

    So cool it guys, until such time as the Volt has proved the above concerns to be unfounded, based on real-world miles driven. You’re making me nervous!!


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (1:37 pm)

    Matthew_B: Everybody long ago migrated to flash. Additionally, flash is slow so almost all code executes out of RAM after boot.

    The question becomes how well protected the code is once in RAM. It has been demonstrated that it is possible to hack systems over the CAN bus and reprogram even critical systems defeating their safety function.

    I’m disappointed car makers are taking chances like that, but can understand why (they want to simply upload any firmware changes in the field rather than replace a PROM). Hope the risk tradeoffs are handled responsibly! OKAY, now I’ll “cool it”, sparks!


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (1:38 pm)

    DonC: The Leaf can’t do what the Volt does.

    This totally depends on what you want a commuter car to do. Both LEAF and Volt can go 40 or so miles on your daily commute. (In most cases, way less than that is needed.)

    The question for some is: Do you really need the capability to go 300+ miles in a stretch? If not, then the additional complexity to get there is not necessary.

    This will be worked out by the market in the next couple years. For now, Volt is the ‘safer’ choice because most people have no freaking clue what they need vs what they want. They have no clue how many miles (between charges) they actually drive. They assume since their current car can go 300 miles between fill-ups, they need a daily driver that has this capability. This is a whole new paradigm and people need time to figure it out.

    Unlike the nice Tim Allen voice over. We are not nomads. We are not adventurers. We are not spontaneous. We do our daily thing every day and don’t change our pattern by even one block.

    This may sound like I am anti-Volt. Not at all. I’m buying a Volt. However, if a 200C EV or a Malibu EV or a Regal EV was in the running…


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (1:38 pm)

    I’m wondering if GM is including test code in the 10 million lines. 10 million sounds high to me.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (1:42 pm)

    Linux is running the two user interface screens by the looks of it

    You can tell this car is a prototype because while it’s booting-up, the Linux penguin flashes up for a couple of seconds.

    www dot topgear dot com/uk/photos/vauhall-ampera-close-encounter?imageNo=11


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (1:43 pm)

    T 1: Hope our battery R&D people and funds are better than the next company’s/country’s.

    I think it has less to do with research and development, and more to do with manufacturing expertise.

    The current battery technologies are already workable. The major issue is cost. You don’t hire R&D people to reduce cost, you hire manufacturing engineers. They’re the ones that figure out how to make stuff cost less.

    The only problem is there’s currently no manufacturing base for batteries in the U.S. Almost all batteries are manufactured in Asia. So our manufacturing engineers currently have no place in the battery market.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (1:43 pm)

    CaptJackSparrow: That’s just one example.

    The example of power windows actually makes my point. Yes hand crank windows may break less frequently than power windows, but they offer neither the functionality nor the consumer appeal of power windows. IOW with power windows you’ve increased complexity but you’ve also gained functionality. And just to continue with the windows example, how about windows that never open at all? They would NEVER break.

    The question is how does this work out in practice. Are consumers willing to pay more and run the risk of lower reliability in order to get the increased functionality? I’m assuming you’re willing to accept decreasing reliability in order to open the windows. Well the fact that it’s very hard to find a car that doesn’t offer power windows as a standard feature answers the question whether there are people who are willing to pay more in order t get less reliable power windows. Ditto for power door locks and a ton of features you find in cars nowadays. People want more functionality, and they’ll gladly pay a higher price for it, even if it comes with less reliability.

    As I said, you can’t break a feature that you don’t have, but if that means the product is less desirable then greater reliability is a bad rather than a good thing. The Volt may be more complex than the Leaf, and it can do things that the Leaf can’t, but what matters is whether consumers want the ability to go beyond AER.

    The same is true, only more so, with respect to the battery management system. The Volt has a great BMS. The Leaf doesn’t have one. Now while the Leaf’s BMS will never break, is that a good thing? Because while the BMS won’t break you may end up killing the battery pack off because you don’t have one.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (1:45 pm)

    DonC: Actually they’re more like 150 miles. And yes, her daily driving is minimal. She lives in a small town so a lot of days she can get around by just biking and walking. This would not be an uncommon pattern –daily destinations very close and some quite far away — for towns/cities of 10k-20k

    See I guess i keep thinking the point is to drive with as little gas as possible. Otherwise why even consider the Volt?
    On this 150 mile, I guess your saying 300 miles round trip into the outback. The Volt allows you to do the trip with no worries, but 260 miles powered by Gas. The Leaf would require a level 3 charge or two along the way. Under $4 a gallon the Volt would be most peoples choice. But my goal is to use as little gas as possible if any but still do all the driving I want to do. So the Leaf is a better car towards that goal unless I can keep charging my Volt every 40 miles which is mostly needed in the workplace parking lot.

    To me the Volt is to drive 20,000 miles a year all electric, daytime charging, but the ICE is to avoid being stranded (black outs etc.).


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (1:46 pm)

    NEWS FLASH: “Chevrolet introduced the (Volt) Z-Spec concept at the 2010 SEMA Show on Nov. 2. The Z-Spec concept demonstrates a cohesive design with a family of factory-engineered accessories and the best of the aftermarket under a single theme.”

    “On the Volt Z-Spec concept, the unique features include unique lower rocker panels and lower front fascia, grill, taillamps, 19-inch wheels and exterior graphics. Although the Z-Spec parts are only concepts at the moment, they’re being considered for production.”*

    /Hey guys, this may GM’s response to our lobbying here for a “Volt SS”; unfortunately, nothing is said about Z-spec performance :(

    *Ref: http://www.facebook.com/chevroletvolt


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (1:51 pm)

    Loboc: This may sound like I am anti-Volt. Not at all. I’m buying a Volt. However, if a 200C EV or a Malibu EV or a Regal EV was in the running… 

    I’m getting a Leaf so I’m not exactly anti-Leaf. Ha ha. And I understand your point. My point is that if increased complexity is the price to be paid for increased functionality then, depending on the functionality, it may be well worth it. And I don’t think that increasing the functionality and complexity, means, ipso facto, that reliability goes down. There are many factors which affect reliability, complexity being only one.

    Or something like this. LOL


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (1:54 pm)

    nasaman: I agree that a 40mi AER EREV should cost less than a 100 mi BEV, for the reasons you give, assuming the maker’s internal costs, overhead, etc are the same. It’s a point too many posters here seem to neglect or ignore or are simply in denial about!

    Well said. The volt should cost less than the leaf, but they made it sportier and of course the BMS (which we don’t yet know how much value this adds over the Leaf battery). But the Volt is what it is, and because it is what it is, to justify the cost you need to get close to 20,000 AER yearly. Not 10k GAS and 10k Electric


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (1:56 pm)

    nasaman: NEWS FLASH: “Chevrolet introduced the (Volt) Z-Spec concept at the 2010 SEMA Show on Nov. 2. The Z-Spec concept demonstrates a cohesive design with a family of factory-engineered accessories and the best of the aftermarket under a single theme.” “On the Volt Z-Spec concept, the unique features include unique lower rocker panels and lower front fascia, grill, taillamps, 19-inch wheels and exterior graphics. Although the Z-Spec parts are only concepts at the moment, they’re being considered for production.”*/Hey guys, this may GM’s response to our lobbying here for a “Volt SS”; unfortunately, nothing is said about Z-spec performance *Ref: http://www.facebook.com/chevroletvolt    

    Z-spec concept just announced today:

    74276_464793301008_106095626008_5556982_3747938_n.jpg

    73261_464793286008_106095626008_5556981_1365221_n.jpg[img


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (1:56 pm)

    tom w: On this 150 mile, I guess your saying 300 miles round trip into the outback

    No, it’s just 150 miles round trip. But like I said, you don’t find a plug at the trail head. And I would not want to worry after busting my ass hiking all day that my car wouldn’t make it home and I’d have to stop for several hours charging it.

    You just seem to have some preconceived ideas about driving patterns. Plus you’re missing the fact that most people don’t want to push the range of an EV, so even if the range may be 100 miles or 85 miles they’re not so willing to go more than 50-60 miles.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (2:05 pm)

    montgoss:

    The difference between controlling an AC versus a DC motor is not that big. But aren’t all big auto manufacturers using AC motors, because it makes regen easier?

    Eco_Turbo: An engineer at the NYC drive, told me Volt uses permanent magnet motors

    Matthew B:
    Somewhere here it was reported that MGA is induction and MGB is permanent magnet.This makes sense from the perspective that MGA often runs at high speed light load where an induction motor is best suited, while MGB only runs under load where a permanent magnet motor is best.    

    It has been reported almost from the beginning (and confirmed many times since) that the Volt’s main propulsion motor is AC induction. I was also told in NYC that ‘a motor designed for optimizing regeneration’ was permanent magnet. Therefore I believe, as Matthew B says, that there are both types of motor in the transmission: Specifically, a permanent magnet motor (MGB) which makes regeneration easier than it would be for an AC induction motor (MGA), since there would be no need to apply field current to suddenly run as a generator (when the car is slowed).


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (2:11 pm)

    CapyJackSparrow: Tagamet: we have a few out in the other tail…

    HEY!
    I resemble that remark?!?!?!?!

    Hey, it’s not like I named names…. (g).

    Be well,
    Tagamet


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    Nelson

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (2:11 pm)

    LEAF fans can see LEAF being advertised on Yahoo home page.

    NPNS!


  122. 122
    CorvetteGuy

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (2:22 pm)

    NEWS FLASH: One of GM’s district people stopped in today and mentioned that production of the 2011 Camaro Convertible starts late January… We may have those in by March or April..!!!!

    Camaro_Convertible_SM.jpg


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    tom w

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (2:22 pm)

    DonC: You just seem to have some preconceived ideas about driving patterns. Plus you’re missing the fact that most people don’t want to push the range of an EV, so even if the range may be 100 miles or 85 miles they’re not so willing to go more than 50-60 miles.

    Actually, my preconceived notion is that until EREV/BEVs are cost of operation competitive with ICE only cars (which i actually think is about 3 years away but thats guessing on oil prices of course) that the only reason you would be buying one is to avoid using gasoline, even if that means a little planning on where your next charge comes.


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    EVO

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (2:27 pm)

    DonC: No, it’s just 150 miles round trip. But like I said, you don’t find a plug at the trail head. And I would not want to worry after busting my ass hiking all day that my car wouldn’t make it home and I’d have to stop for several hours charging it. You just seem to have some preconceived ideas about driving patterns. Plus you’re missing the fact that most people don’t want to push the range of an EV, so even if the range may be 100 miles or 85 miles they’re not so willing to go more than 50-60 miles.  (Quote)  (Reply)

    Many, if not most, campgrounds with hiking trails already have electrical outlets. As do many ranger stations, mountain cabins, nature resorts, picnic areas and other recreation area sites. Gas stations, not so much.

    campgrounddisconnect.jpg


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    nasaman

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (2:30 pm)

    CorvetteGuy: NEWS FLASH: One of GM’s district people stopped in today and mentioned that production of the 2011 Camaro Convertible starts late January… We may have those in by March or April..!!!!

    Tell the GM guy I’m sorry, CorvetteGuy, but I’ll take the Z-spec Volt instead…

    Camaro_Convertible_SM.jpg

    Betcha this one’ll attract more chicks even without a ragtop…

    73261_464793286008_106095626008_5556981_1365221_n.jpg


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    Tagamet

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (2:39 pm)

    nasaman: Betcha this one’ll attract more chicks even without a ragtop…

    If *only* it came in RED! (g)

    Be well,
    Tagamet


  127. 127
    Rooster

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (2:56 pm)

    10 Million Lines of Code. Hope they’ve achieved a CMMI level of at least 4!


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (3:08 pm)

    Rashiid, you are right – I did not notice the wink.

    Nasaman and others – with shuttle delay I wonder if the next shuttle (for now the last officially scheduled one) will be delayed until after the first of March? That just might be after my Volt arrives. That would be a pretty nice inaugural trip maybe?


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    Tall Pete

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (3:12 pm)

    tom w: Had GM been allowed to go under, another company would have bought what was worth saving of GM, perhaps even the Volt.

    Why people think that rebuilding from scratch a car company or recycling a car company is so simple is beyond me. How many successful stories of new car companies have we heard ? None I believe. Tesla is still too small to fit the description and they are loosing plenty of money.

    No car company would have bought GM thus making the US lose more manufacturing jobs. Even George W. Bush didn’t think it was a good idea to let GM and Chrysler go under.

    RB: After all, if nationality is measured in terms of where it is that large numbers of cars are sold, GM is already a major Chinese company

    At this time, the US of A itself is becoming Chinese because of who is buying the debt.

    Volt Tastic: Once the Volt moves out of it’s 25-40 AER range, the total costs of Volt ownership start to rise compared to other vehicles.

    80% of americans have a commute of less than 40 miles. That’s why it was GM target. There should be a lot of people for whom the Volt is a nice fit.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (3:13 pm)

    Rooster: 10 Million Lines of Code.

    If there really are 100 processors then 10 million lines is only 100K per processor (I know it doesn’t go that way).
    Actually it would be really interesting to learn about some of the software systems that are inside the Volt.
    And I’m sure there are a ton of lines of code at OnStar in support of the Volt. And in the “app’s” for the smart phones. Probably some of that was developed in the building I work in (we do some work for OnStar).


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (3:19 pm)

    Dave G: I think it has less to do with research and development, and more to do with manufacturing expertise.The current battery technologies are already workable. The major issue is cost. You don’t hire R&D people to reduce cost, you hire manufacturing engineers. They’re the ones that figure out how to make stuff cost less.The only problem is there’s currently no manufacturing base for batteries in the U.S. Almost all batteries are manufactured in Asia. So our manufacturing engineers currently have no place in the battery market.  (Quote)  (Reply)

    Good manufacturing can only take out so much cost from the battery tech they have to deal with. Batteries need a fundamental improvement, and that comes with R&D. For example, how much cost can clever manuf’g engineering by GM/LG remove from the current battery tech they’re using? 10%? 25%? But breakthroughs in research can hopefully (as a lot of people desire) create benefits that are multiples of that–100%, 200%, 1,000% improvement. It’s THOSE kinds of breakthroughs that will truly deliver a mass-mkt electric car.

    Economies of scale are more related to demand, in my view. No way do I see GM making much more than the mkt wants. Nissan, though, maybe. Their finacial resources are better.

    But of course, all three are important.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (3:26 pm)

    nasaman: unfortunately, nothing is said about Z-spec performance

    Do you engineers think there is a reasonable chance GM could provide a Volt version that lets the driver dump power faster from the batteries? Or is the design already at its max? (perhaps just charge more $ to cover the extra degradation of the battery if there is any–maybe that’s not doable, so they cancelled the Converj) Only need short bursts of extra power. Actually, ultracaps might fit the bill nicely?


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    CorvetteGuy

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (3:33 pm)

    nasaman: Betcha this one’ll attract more chicks even without a ragtop…

    You could be right… What I think Chevy should make for 2012 is a Volt 2-Door Coupe SS.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (3:37 pm)

    CorvetteGuy:
    You could be right… What I think Chevy should make for 2012 is a Volt 2-Door Coupe SS.    

    I’m in! Where do I sign?


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (3:40 pm)

    Randy: WHy couldn’t the get Apple or some other AMERICAN company to do the software? Not all american anymore.    

    IBM is American…. just ask the 15,000 IBMers in FishKill and Albany NY where my daughter works.
    IBM is based in ALbany , NY


  136. 136
    nasaman

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (3:50 pm)

    CorvetteGuy: You could be right… What I think Chevy should make for 2012 is a Volt 2-Door Coupe SS.

    Help me understand that, CG. The ONE thing I didn’t like about my Z-28 IROC was it was a coupe. I LOVED its huge hatchback, and that I could put the back seats down & “carry the Queen Mary” under the hatch. But with only 2 passenger doors, it was really hard to get into (and harder to get out of) the back seat. By contrast, the Volt has two very comfortable back BUCKETS, each with its own access door. OK, maybe it’s not quite as sexy, but it’s sure a lot more ‘user friendly’!

    IOW, I personally like the “4-door sports sedan” current Volt design as a “Z-spec” or “SS” better than
    I would like a 2-door coupe! Where am I going wrong with this?


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    LauraM

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (4:04 pm)

    RB: No, once China purchases a large enough block of shares the software will belong to them, and the other owners, so no one will be “giving” it to anyone. Likely much of the software will be used within Chinese facilities, i.e., gm facilities in China, and then licensing will allow it to be used at other Chinese companies, perhaps.

    After all, if nationality is measured in terms of where it is that large numbers of cars are sold, GM is already a major Chinese company as well as US company, and the IPO investment will solidify that up and down the organization.

    SAIC, GM’s government controlled Chinese partner, is considering buying a stake in GM. That’s not the same thing as a majority. Even if they want to buy GM outright, which they could, there’s no way the US government would let them. Nor should they, IMHO. Yes, people from other countries buy American assets all the time. (It’s an inevitable consequence of our large trade deficits.) But it’s one thing when a foreign national does so. It’s another when the Chinese government controls the company making the the investment.

    Also, intellectual property is not very well protected (as in, not at all) in China. Other companies in China won’t license the software. They’ll just copy it. This gives made in China an unfair advantage over products produced in countries that respect intellectual property rights.

    As far as GM already being a major Chinese company–when it was bailout time, the money came from the US government. And the Canadian government. They got nothing from the Chinese government. They had to use US taxpayer money to help them shore up their needed South Korean and German subsidiaries.


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    EVO

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (4:39 pm)

    Another one for DonC:

    DSC_0371.JPG

    They’re out there, in the wild.


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    CorvetteGuy

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (4:46 pm)

    nasaman,

    I’m not saying 4-doors are bad, but 99% of the time I am in the car alone. And when I get out of my wife’s 4-door Altima, I’m always bumping my shoulder on the B-pillar. 2-door coupes (especially the Camaros) never have this problem because the doors are larger. I think the lines of a Volt Coupe would be awesome. I will have to play with Photoshop to see if I can make one. :)


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (4:48 pm)

    tom w: See I guess i keep thinking the point is to drive with as little gas as possible. Otherwise why even consider the Volt?
    On this 150 mile, I guess your saying 300 miles round trip into the outback. The Volt allows you to do the trip with no worries, but 260 miles powered by Gas. The Leaf would require a level 3 charge or two along the way. Under $4 a gallon the Volt would be most peoples choice. But my goal is to use as little gas as possible if any but still do all the driving I want to do. So the Leaf is a better car towards that goal unless I can keep charging my Volt every 40 miles which is mostly needed in the workplace parking lot.

    To me the Volt is to drive 20,000 miles a year all electric, daytime charging, but the ICE is to avoid being stranded (black outs etc.).

    But there’s no guarantee that you can charge the LEAF along the way. With the Volt, if I can’t find a place to charge, I can still make the trip I want to make.


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    Eco_Turbo

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (4:48 pm)

    The National Parks better get ready, there’s gonna be a few hundred, er dozen, Leaf owners vying for the RV spots.


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    Murrcar

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (4:49 pm)

    A lot of the code is for diagnostics. Think Check Engine Light. A lot of that is unique to the Volt. In a conventional car more then half of the engine software code is for diagnostics, most of it mandated by CARB. Most of the issues involve slight increases in emisssions and the driver cannot detect any change in how the car runs. Have you ever had your CEL come on because you left the fuel cap off.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (5:03 pm)

    Murrcar,

    I think you are being far too conservative. It is not uncommon that 80% of the code is to deal with exceptions that are a very small percentage of operation (either error recovery or unusual condition handling). In the case of the Volt it could easily be north of 95% of the code.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (5:27 pm)

    # 143 John K,

    That’s good that the software handles those exceptions, as long as the Voltec Corvette is passing those Audis, Mercedes, and Ferraris down the back straight at Le Mans, the driver should be pleased as punch.


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    Dave G

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (5:30 pm)

    T 1: For example, how much cost can clever manuf’g engineering by GM/LG remove from the current battery tech they’re using?

    According to the guy who heads up the division of LG that made the Volt prototype packs:
    “From a historical perspective over the past 17-18 years the cost has come down by a factor of 15x. In the next 5-10 years we should be able to come down by an incremental 2-4x and we will have to do that to accelerate the penetration of the technology.”
    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/02/profile-li-ion.html

    So I expect battery packs using current technology to be 1/4 of the current price in 10 years.

    And if you look at other popular manufactured goods, that’s not unusual. The only thing that keeps a popular product expensive is if the raw materials are scarce, and that’s not the case with Li/Ion batteries. So all they have to do is figure out how to make batteries on a larger scale. So far, the biggest popular Li/Ion batteries have been for laptops. In the end, it all comes down the the number of man-hours required to produce something.

    So I really think waiting for some new battery technology is the wrong approach. Li/Ion car battery prices will come down significantly once unit volumes increase and manufacturing engineers figure out ways to make them more efficiently.


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    Dave G

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (6:18 pm)

    T 1: Do you engineers think there is a reasonable chance GM could provide a Volt version that lets the driver dump power faster from the batteries? Or is the design already at its max? (perhaps just charge more $ to cover the extra degradation of the battery if there is any–maybe that’s not doable, so they canceled the Converj) Only need short bursts of extra power.

    GM hasn’t published detailed specs for the battery, but most estimates indicate the current battery can deliver more than 150kW of instantaneous power. So all you would need is a bigger electric motor.

    T 1: Actually, ultracaps might fit the bill nicely?

    Ultracaps seem to require ridiculously high purity levels, much higher than silicon chips. That means the the amount of energy and man-hours required to produce them will be quite high, at least initially.

    If EEStor technology ever gets real, I believe it will be quite expensive initially, probably only useful for military applications. Remember that Li/Ion has only now started to become competitive with NiMH in terms of cost per kWh, and that took 15 years.

    In other words, new technologies are usually more expensive initially.


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    Gary

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (6:50 pm)

    EVO: Many, if not most, campgrounds with hiking trails already have electrical outlets. As do many ranger stations, mountain cabins, nature resorts, picnic areas and other recreation area sites. Gas stations, not so much.

    Thanks, but when I’m on a road trip, I’d rather have my OWN destinations that I plan to visit, other than just “ranger stations, mountain cabins, nature resorts, picnic areas and other recreation area sites”

    What happens if you see a sign that says that the campground is full?

    Knock on the door of someone’s 40-foot 8 MPG motorhome at a campground, and ask: “Oh, mister giant motorhome owner, can I use your 240V power connector to charge my electric for a few hours? I see that you’re one of those people who don’t bother getting out of your RV to visit your fellow travellers because you’re keeping yourself entertained by watching TV, running the microwave, and doing laundry… Do you mind if I inconvenience you and use your power outlet anyways? Please? I’m stuck here otherwise because I bought a pure electric car before proper charging infrastructure was built. Because I drive a pure electric car and I’m holier than thou, I can justify being a pest to you right now.”

    Pfffff!!! Give me a Volt until the charging infrastructure is there!

    P.S. The motorhome owner in question:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nyMDu082ic


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    Red HHR

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (6:55 pm)

    CaptJackSparrow: A person powered hand crank window works just fine. Has the mechanical stuff to bring the window up and down. Of course yes there are the things that can go wrong like the gearing on the crank may derail or get stuck or rust or just plain break.

    Hey Capy, do you know how many window crank handles I (and my friends) broke before we realized that you should not close the car door with the window crank?


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    Red HHR

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (7:05 pm)

    nasaman: “On the Volt Z-Spec concept, the unique features include unique lower rocker panels and lower front fascia, grill, taillamps, 19-inch wheels and exterior graphics. Although the Z-Spec parts are only concepts at the moment, they’re being considered for production.”*

    /Hey guys, this may GM’s response to our lobbying here for a “Volt SS”; unfortunately, nothing is said about Z-spec performance :(

    Nice, however, really all I wanted were hubcaps…
    wheel.jpg
    Really, three years ago they had what I wanted.
    Not sure what happened :( :( :(


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (7:15 pm)

    “It was GM’s goal to design this incredibly complex car so that its orchestra of computerized electronic processes operate seamlessly below the surface to simply create a fun and pleasant user experience.”

    Really the only thing I can say is the Volt is Magic!!!
    Well, at least in my eyes.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (7:19 pm)

    Good to see the VOLT getting the best programming available…IBM… nice to know it can’t be copied by cheats like CHINA… JAPAN..GERMANY Korea etc. They really have to work hard to try to get the VOLT technology. I would like to see the VOLT be like Microsoft Windows … let them develop their own cars… if they can.

    This is your car GM employees… credit given where credit is due.

    Could you imagine if you could buy a VOLT in Japan Germany Korea for $41,000 US .. where a Chevy Malibu costs a lot more than $41,000.

    They will not give GM a level playing field because they know they cannot compete!


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (7:21 pm)

    Tagamet: If *only* it came in RED! (g)

    Oh My, that would be MY car.
    Tea.jpg


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (7:26 pm)

    Eco_Turbo: The National Parks better get ready, there’s gonna be a few hundred, er dozen, Leaf owners vying for the RV spots.    

    I’ve never seen a plug in at a National Park. The campgrounds are usually set up for small RVs and tent campers with no service at the individual sites.


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    EVO

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (7:31 pm)

    Gary,

    ok, here’s where you can top off your Volt, right this second:

    ChargePoint-RonaldMcDonald2.jpg


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (7:47 pm)

    nasaman: OK, maybe it’s not quite as sexy

    You answered your own question. :)


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    Mark Z

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (7:48 pm)

    The title of todays topic might give someone the idea that IBM designed the software for the VOLT. But that is not the case. The last sentence is critical:

    “IBM software itself is not used inside the production car.”

    The article is clear, IBM software was used to test and manage the VOLT software.


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    DonC

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (7:57 pm)

    EVO: Many, if not most, campgrounds with hiking trails already have electrical outlets.

    EVO: They’re out there, in the wild. 

    A hike from a campground? Nice scenery I’m sure. Remind me NOT to go on a hike with you guys! LOL


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (8:21 pm)

    Mark Z: The article is clear, IBM software was used to test and manage the VOLT software.

    I think most importantly, it was used to design the Volt. There is a lot of software out there to allows engineering collaboration, but this appears to be a big improvement for real-time data. Maybe vehicle turnaround will be significantly reduced for all future models.


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:09 pm)

    Is Wednesday the day we’ll see a photo of Lyle with his Consumer Advisory Board Volt?

    DrLyleDennisVN1.jpg?t=1288750060

    http://www.badongo.com/audio/24498328

    =D-Volt


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    jeffhre

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:15 pm)

    Dave G: If EEStor technology ever gets real, I believe it will be quite expensive initially, probably only useful for military applications. Remember that Li/Ion has only now started to become competitive with NiMH in terms of cost per kWh, and that took 15 years.

    So essentially, Li Ion just now became competitive and GM and Nissan had astoundingly good timing to hit that window with the introduction of the Volt and Leaf with Li Ion instead of NiMH batteries at exactly the right time.

    Dave G: So far, the biggest popular Li/Ion batteries have been for laptops. In the end, it all comes down the the number of man-hours required to produce something.
    So I really think waiting for some new battery technology is the wrong approach. Li/Ion car battery prices will come down significantly once unit volumes increase and manufacturing engineers figure out ways to make them more efficiently.

    That is true for consumers, but everyone from basic physicists to manufacturing engineers has to be on their toes for the next technology that will replace the current industry standard.


  161. 161
    Close GM

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:31 pm)

    (click to show comment)


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:38 pm)

    Dave K.: Is Wednesday the day we’ll see a photo of Lyle with his Consumer Advisory Board Volt?

    http://www.badongo.com/audio/24498328

    VERY imaginative, thoughtful post, Dave! And I hope on Lyle’s behalf that the answer will soon be …YES! Of course, we’ll all be beneficiaries of Lyle’s findings driving his Volt for the CAB! :) :) :)

    PS: Great sound track too (and is the REAL Dr Dennis’ voice, not another Tim Allen voice over)!


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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (9:59 pm)

    jeffhre: … everyone from basic physicists to manufacturing engineers has to be on their toes for the next technology that will replace the current industry standard.

    Even if the next technology was available right now today, it would most likely be too expensive for many years. This is the way new technology usually works. It’s not like somebody invents some new technology today and its on the street next year. It often takes 15 years before a new technology gets enough market penetration to replace existing technology.

    Here’s my point: We shouldn’t be waiting around for some new battery technology. Lithium batteries have twice the energy density of NiMH, no memory effect, very low internal discharge, and are cost competitive in terms of $/kWh. So the technology we need is already here. It just needs to be cost reduced, and that tends to happen naturally as unit volumes increase.


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    Dave G

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (10:11 pm)

    jeffhre: So essentially, Li Ion just now became competitive and GM and Nissan had astoundingly good timing to hit that window with the introduction of the Volt and Leaf with Li Ion instead of NiMH batteries at exactly the right time.

    I wouldn’t call it astounding. Cost curves for this stuff change over many years. So when I say “just now”, I’m talking about the last 2-3 years, as opposed to 18 years ago when Lithium batteries were first introduced into the market.


  165. 165
    EVO

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (10:38 pm)

    DonC: A hike from a campground? Nice scenery I’m sure. Remind me NOT to go on a hike with you guys! LOL    

    Yep, I have to put up with some amazingly ugly places to top off while I stop to work using on-site wi-fi and/or take a little hike:

    http://www.mountdesertcampground.com/pics.html

    http://www.coloradocampground.com/

    http://www.campfirelodgings.com/scenery.asp

    http://www.skisolitude.com/summer/hiking.php

    http://www.squaw.com/hiking-trails

    http://www.tetonmountainlodge.com/

    where do you hike?

    teton_mountains_lodge.jpg


  166. 166
    Mark Z

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (10:58 pm)

    kdawg: I think most importantly, it was used to design the Volt.

    After further study, I agree. There are some excellent articles on the web that help explain the software design aspects. With all the decisions the car must make, customer (GM) requirements are best handled by software in the design and test phases. Coding can then be accomplished built inside the framework of the results from the design.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Rational_Unified_Process

    https://www-950.ibm.com/events/wwe/grp/grp004.nsf/vLookupPDFs/MBSE%20-%20Visualizing%20Requirements/$file/MBSE%20-%20Visualizing%20Requirements.pdf


  167. 167
    stuart22

     

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (11:16 pm)

    Spy shot! Volt Z-Coupe!

    05-volt-z-spec.jpg


  168. 168
    S. Palin

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (11:38 pm)

    The PEOPLE have spoken.

    The dumbocrats have been rightly kicked to the curb.

    It’s time to start rolling back the horrific spending of Obama.

    Let’s start by reversing the Auto Bailouts and sell off the pieces of GM for the better.

    GM is a failed corporation that hasn’t learned anything from its many mistakes. Time to shut them down NOW.

    The American People are DEMANDING THIS NOW !!!

    Failure to heed this message will have grave consequences.

    - Sarah


  169. 169
    kdawg

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (11:39 pm)

    Volt Sports Coupe :)

    VoltSS.jpg


  170. 170
    EVO

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    Nov 2nd, 2010 (11:54 pm)

    Numbers are in on leaf weight at Aut-blg:

    http://www.autoblog.com/2010/11/02/nissan-dishes-out-specs-for-the-2011-leaf/

    Using my handy-dandy torque feet metric (torque pound feet divided by vehicle weight in pounds) , we get 0.072 torque feet for the Volt and 0.061 torque feet for the leaf. That’s a weight normalized metric that allows direct comparison between different weight vehicles for off the line rotation power. So, IF the vehicles have about the same gear ratio (I’d expect them both to be around 8:1) and IF they both have their algorithms and mapping similarly dumbed down (likely for first generation drive trains, to emulate the deficient, obsolete garbage drivers are currently used to, for making the transition more familar), we have this bottom line:

    The Volt may get better 0 – top rpm at max torque speed mph times than the Leaf (0.072 > 0.061) and they can both launch brilliantly, if allowed to, in a way that NO full gasser can or ever will.

    The leaf gets its maximum torque (100%) while in gear with no clutch used from 0 to 800 rpm up to 2,730 rpm with a max rpm of about 10,390 with NO shifting required (sportbike motorcyclists will appreciate what that means for driving fun and capability – see TT Zero, FIM e-Power, TTXGP, Killacycle, etc.). The Volt will have similar characteristics, thanks to beefcake electric drive. Remind me again what % of its maximum torque a stickshift Chrysler Dodge Viper gasser makes from 0 to 800 rpm while in gear with no clutch used? And you have to use an electric motor starter to get the gasser even able to just stall out trying to emulate that.

    Is this comparison convoluted and artificial? Absolutely not, as you will discover the very first time you launch from a red light turning green and check out the silly behavior of the full gasser directly next to you, er, I mean, instantly behind you, that’s had its engine uselessly running at the red light without the vehicle moving.


  171. 171
    kdawg

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    Nov 3rd, 2010 (2:49 am)

    Wow those elections sure sent a message.

    It may be time to undo those auto industry bailouts and get back to true capitalism.

    GM can easily be broken into pieces and sold for scrap.

    As for the Volt, somebody like Tesla or Honda could by the IP and machinery and ramp up production much better than the New GM is doing.

    Rise of the Tea Party is for real folks, and we ain’t going back to Obamanaiton ever again.

    :-)


  172. 172
    nasaman

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    Nov 3rd, 2010 (3:00 am)

    Got to give much credit to Ms. Palin for changing the political landscape.

    At her current popularity she WILL be the next President Of The United States.

    The Tea Party will of course take over the rest of Congress by then also.

    This Country is changing and Yes, this time it will be a Change You Can Believe In.

    Go Sarah Go


  173. 173
    nasaman

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    Nov 3rd, 2010 (3:05 am)

    My Avatar is missing again, oh well.

    What is up with that Mr. Cameron ?


  174. 174
    Loboc

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    Nov 3rd, 2010 (4:31 am)

    nasaman: My Avatar is missing again, oh well.What is up with that Mr. Cameron ?    

    Since ya don’t know what nasaman’s email address is, ya won’t be able to use his avatar.

    go away troll.


  175. 175
    Crack Whore

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    Nov 3rd, 2010 (4:34 am)

    Agreed the Tea Party showed their stuff. Obama running skared and desparately trying to move to center in order to stay relevant.

    BTW, has anyone noticed that FLOTUS is a flaming racist of the highest order ?


  176. 176
    nasaman

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    Nov 3rd, 2010 (4:41 am)

    Loboc:
    Since ya don’t know what nasaman’s email address is, ya won’t be able to use his avatar.
    go away troll.    

    Hey Loboc,

    Somebody needs to spank you naked and hide your clothes, you pathetic loser.

    - The REAL NASA MAN


  177. 177
    Loboc

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    Nov 3rd, 2010 (4:50 am)

    nasaman:
    Hey Loboc,
    Somebody needs to spank you naked and hide your clothes, you pathetic loser.- The un-REAL NASA MAN    

    I underestimated your ability to copy-n-paste. You passed kindergarten. good job!

    I ain’t wearin’ any clothes. So come on over.


  178. 178
    Loboc

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    Nov 3rd, 2010 (5:06 am)

    Sorry Nasaman MY BAD!

    I am such a stupid idiot please excuse me while I find my bottle of JD and wash down my Meds.


  179. 179
    Troll Alert

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    Nov 3rd, 2010 (5:18 am)

    Loboc: Sorry Nasaman MY BAD!
    I am such a stupid idiot please excuse me while I find my bottle of JD and wash down my Meds.    

    @178

    It took 16 minutes to copy that time. You’re getting better and better.

    Now log off before yo mama wakes up.


  180. 180
    Raymondjram

     

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    Nov 3rd, 2010 (5:51 am)

    EVO,

    Your comments reminded me of the White Zombie. One quarter mile in 10.6 seconds!

    Raymond


  181. 181
    nasaman

     

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    Nov 3rd, 2010 (5:58 am)

    ALERT: POSTS #171 TO #179 ABOVE ARE FORGERIES BY TROLLS!!!


  182. 182
    Loboc

     

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    Nov 3rd, 2010 (6:15 am)

    nasaman: ALERT:POSTS #171 TO #179 ABOVE ARE FORGERIES BY TROLLS!!!    

    Well actually, a couple are mine, but, that’s ok. It can all be blown away as far as I’m concerned.

    Hopefully, Lyle’s guy will get this sorted out sometime soon.


  183. 183
    Loboc

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    Nov 3rd, 2010 (6:21 am)

    BTW. I got my Volt owner’s manual yesterday from helminc. It’s pretty big, so, will take a while to plow through.


  184. 184
    tom w

     

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    Nov 3rd, 2010 (6:57 am)

    LauraM: But there’s no guarantee that you can charge the LEAF along the way. With the Volt, if I can’t find a place to charge, I can still make the trip I want to make.

    Actually there is a guarantee as long as nissan dealers have chargers. There are nissan 4 dealers spreadout along major routes in all directions I would drive, but my expectation is trickle charge during the day to insure my needed range (If I get a Leaf).

    I like the Volt a lot but the point I keep making is sure there are thousands of people that will buy the volt because it is cool car, but if they want to sell millions over the next decade it will be to people that economically it makes sense, i.e. folks that drive like 20,000 miles a year and can charge during the day. It doesn’t make economic sense to drive 10,000 aer and 10,000 ice. If thats what u are going to do then get a Leaf and stop and charge when you need over 100 miles.


  185. 185
    kdawg

     

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    Nov 3rd, 2010 (7:22 am)

    kdawg,

    Another kdawg wannabe….


  186. 186
    Shock Me

     

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    Nov 3rd, 2010 (9:25 am)

    mmmmm Skynet! The singularity is upon us!