Oct 13

News of the GM / A123 Spark EV comes right on time

 

Yesterday’s story citing GM executives mention of future electric vehicles to be made with A123 Systems batteries dovetailed nicely into GM’s same-day news of the 2013 Spark EV.

One of the mentions we cited had come last week on a Volt Team Web chat, in which GM’s Britta Gross replied to a question “Are you guys going to have electric vehicles in the future?”

Her answer was, “Yes, we just recently announced a production agreement with A123. We’ll have more details soon!”

She wasn’t kidding, was she?


Spark EV mule on test track.

In anticipation of its 100th birthday, Chevrolet let the world know that even though it is being conservative with Voltec spinoffs, it has indeed started the company on the road to electrification.

GM said the Spark mini electric car – its first full EV since the EV1 – will start out as a limited production offering in select global and U.S. markets, beginning in 2013.

“The Spark EV offers customers living in urban areas who have predictable driving patterns or short commutes an all-electric option,” said Jim Federico, global vehicle chief engineer for electric vehicles at Chevrolet. “It complements Chevrolet’s growing range of electrified vehicles, including the Volt extended-range EV and the 2013 Malibu Eco with eAssist technology.”

Not many details

For gleaners of advanced-tech information, GM’s confirmation of the electrification of the Spark adds pieces to the information puzzle, while also leaving many questions unanswered.

What is known is it will be all-electric and powered by A123 systems lithium nanophosphate chemistry as Gross hinted at.

These batteries are said to utilize nanoparticles to increase the battery cell’s storage surface area, facilitating quicker storage and release of electrons.


Cutaway of 2013 Spark EV.

GM said feedback from Chevrolet’s electric vehicle demonstration fleets in Shanghai (Sail EV), Korea (Cruze EV) and India (Beat EV) are being incorporated into the Spark EV.

“Our global demo fleets continue to provide insight into the needs of electric vehicle customers living in urban environments,” said Federico. “The Spark EV is another step in Chevrolet’s plan to provide customers with a variety of electrification solutions to address the lifestyle and transportation needs of people around the world.”

The vehicle has a bit more bulbous nose than the standard Spark, and unknown is the weight difference between it and the standard Spark.

Also undisclosed is its driving range, recharge time, battery size and other performance measurements are being withheld until closer to launch.

Where the vehicle will be built and what it will cost are further mysteries.

Into the future

News of the Spark EV is also right on time in GM’s intent to compete against electric vehicles pending from other automakers.

Aside from Tesla and Nissan, electric models are also soon expected from Ford, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Kia.


Spark EV dashboard.

Among obvious fuel-saving and environmental advantages, these battery powered mobility solutions will also improve their makers’ fleet emissions averages to better meet looming government regulations.

Looking at the horizon with short-term lenses, it could also be observed that GM’s announcement comes during shaky economic times, with gasoline prices having trended lower, and advanced-tech sales recently declined.

But negative forecasts are a risk GM is bucking against with moderate caution, and in its favor, it has recently said it is in the best financial shape it has been in many moons.

Long term, the company has reiterated that it believes in electrification, and with the Spark EV, it again put its money where its mouth is.

The little EV will join the list of promised electrified vehicles with the also-anticipated extended-range Cadillac ELR, which will reside on the other end of GM’s luxury spectrum.

GM said ELR development is only now starting, and declined to say when it should be expected.

GM

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 13th, 2011 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 69


  1. 1
    BoultVolt

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (6:21 am)

    Not a lot new here, but just to Spark some discussion, here’s an idea. Maybe GM is saying no new Voltics (except ELR we hope) until 2015 so they can determine things like which battery tech to use in the Gen II. The Volt/ELR and SparcEV experience could be their own little bake-off on before scaling up for GenII. So from a tech point of view with will learning things they cannot on the Volt/ELR path, which is good for the Gen II.

    Having a BEV will, I think be a mixed blessing for the Volt. If someone is excited for about EV, they will look at both. If they are cost conscious the can spark and if the perfer freedom and more quality they’ll be Volt. The Volt will be the “middle” line, with ELR at the high end. For existing owners it will probably mean the Volt retains more resale value. More choices may reduce demand for the Volt, but the choice was already there with the Leaf, so it may be good as more people say that Chevy has both choices, I’ll go test drive both and see which is better for me. Hard to imagine that the SparkEV will be as nice as the Volt, so there could be some up sales as well.

    I would rather see the EREV (or even BEV) AWD/SUV getting more fo the GM focus and released sooner, and the BEV will distract and split the message. I’ll never be buying a spark, but would want a AWD SUV.


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (6:40 am)

    Wasn’t it just a few days ago that many here were lamenting the lack of new electric models from GM based on (can’t remember his name) head of Europe GM statement that there would be no new models until 2015? I suspect his quote was not taken in the correct context, maybe he was just referring to next Volt generation.

    Anyhow this is good news. I am confused about the Spark/Sonic. They look the same to me. Are these two different cars, or just two different names?

    I would hope that Nissan’s success with the LEAF would prove to GM and all other manufacturers that there is indeed a large demand for electric vehicles, and a slow limited roll-out to “test the market” is not warranted.


  3. 3
    Roy_H

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (6:57 am)

    OT

    From GreenCarReports.com

    Now, seven carmakers in Europe – Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche and Volkswagen have jointly agreed to support a harmonized, single-port fast-charging system, shared with the United States.

    Not completely clear just what this is but is J1772 compatible. I believe it is this one:
    http://www.sae.org/mags/aei/10128

    Apparently NOT http://green.autoblog.com/2011/10/12/automakers-working-universal-electric-vehicle-port/

    This new design is completely different, and sounds much better as it incorporates 3 phase AC as well.


  4. 4
    Roy_H

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (7:15 am)

    More good news:

    Akerson also said GM plans to add two more Volt-style, extended-range vehicles to its lineup in the 2012-2013 time frame: a hatchback and a minivan called the Volt MPV5, shown last year at the Beijing Auto Show.

    From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20111011/AUTO01/110110438/GM-to-offer-all-electric-city-car-in-U.S.#ixzz1aewJtjTz


  5. 5
    Koz

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (7:21 am)

    “Long term, the company has reiterated that it believes in electrification, and with the Spark EV, it again put its money where its mouth is.”

    The limited production, limited use, crowded competitive field for the Spark coupled with recent statements indicating no new Voltec models (aside from ELR) until 2015 at the earliest indicates GM has little commitment to plug-ins near term. I hope I’m wrong but announcements that include “dedication”, “commitment”, “model”, and 2015 or greater indicate more of a lack of commitment to actually produce something. Look at Goshen’s and Musk’s statements if you want to see what commitment in car production means.

    GM needs to be developing Voltec variants and component improvements now for “real” production goals, e.g. a Buick Voltec and an MPV Voltec for 2013 or 2014. That shows real commitment, real leadership, real innovation, and yes real risk. GM must continue to take risks on innovation to thrive in the world economy and IMO Voltec is their best opportunity for this.


  6. 6
    Dave K.

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (7:34 am)

    Best of luck to GM with the electric Spark. Saw my first LEAF yesterday. The dealer front plate caught my eye. Good timing, Santa Barbara was just in the news for having the highest gas prices on the mainland. 50 cents higher than the national average. What’s that smell?

    No Plug, No Sale!


  7. 7
    Baltimore17

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (8:29 am)

    When I was a kid, Ford vs. Chevy was a big debating point (mostly backed by what your parents drove). Focus EV vs. Spark EV!


  8. 8
    Bonaire

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (8:34 am)

    #4 – if DA is saying new models coming in that timeframe, couldn’t that put a small hurt on Volt sales into 2012 where people will wait for more appropriate models in the following year? What are the thoughts on a MY 2013 extension to the Voltec line and what that could do to 2012 Volt sales? I’d be willing to wait if I knew they have something like a sport-wagon or hot-hatch style coming. The design of my current car (Mazda6 sport wagon, ’04) is very appealing to try to buy something similar in a Voltec design. Great for carrying around stuff without being large like an SUV.

    The torque of the Voltec could also be good for an AWD similar to a small Subaru. Sure, couple fewer mpg and AER miles but couple that maybe with a design around A123 and using a bit more of the cell capacity to make up for the slight added weight and you are back at 40 AER+ on a 16 kWh sized A123. I guess AWD also adds to unit cost, so keeping it simple FWD for a few years until the platform decreases through cost of scale is good.


  9. 9
    Tim Hart

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (8:50 am)

    The more EVs the better–keep em coming. Leasing the Volt seems like a good idea for a lot of us. In three years there will be a lot of options to choose from. I think GM will build on its lead and still be way out in front for the forseeable future.


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    Mark Z

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (9:07 am)

    I just hope that GM will help shrink or move the large window pillar so we can see more pedestrians to the driver’s left. In regard to pedestrian safety, negative forces will blame the quiet of the EV, when it’s improved vision that can help solve many pedestrian issues.


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    Eco_Turbo

     

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (9:40 am)

    Baltimore17,

    Now all that’s needed is Volt vs ?????. If Ford goes with a Prius type drive, I suppose we know who will win that competition.


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    john1701a

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (9:49 am)

    After all those years of range-anxiety promotion, what does this now mean for Volt?


  13. 13
    lousloot

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (10:02 am)

    The Spark mini-car is small. I showed a picture of it to my wife who thought it looked cute!

    I was shocked, since she used to drive a Bonneville (1990 — before they shortened them) and likes big cars.
    Looks like my gap-car is going to be a Spark — until I can get a nice used Volt.

    We will see what she thinks when sees one up close. the Spark is narrow and short but high off the ground — kinda lke th Smart fortoo.
    So in small cars it goes:
    Spark, 2000 lbs
    Sonic, 2500 lb
    Cruz, 2800?

    The Sonic/Cruz


  14. 14
    evil conservative

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (10:14 am)

    john1701a: After all those years of range-anxiety promotion, what does this now mean for Volt?

    Well, for one The leaf IS being sold. The Spark EV will cut into those sales and at a lower price I am guessing.


  15. 15
    DonC

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (10:27 am)

    I don’t understand the CARB regulations but this is clearly designed to meet these regulations. Only making 2000, only available in CA and other states with similar emission standards, and so forth. Technologically it’s interesting that GM selected the A123 batteries, and given the placement of the batteries you have to wonder whether GM has become more comfortable about battery safety, but otherwise there isn’t anything new technologically. That I guess can be expected: Once you’ve done an EREV a BEV is trivial.

    So we’re looking at 90,000 Volts versus 2,000 Sonics/Beats/Whatever. That makes sense to me because this car is probably too small for most Americans. I get the sense it’s the size of the Smart, which personally strikes me as not being safe enough mixing it up on the freeways. And in CA it’s hard not to drive a decent amount on freeways.


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    DonC

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (10:34 am)

    john1701a: After all those years of range-anxiety promotion, what does this now mean for Volt?

    The reality is that a BEV is range limited and will produce range anxiety whenever you need it to go any distance which gets near its range. IOW range anxiety is inherent in BEVs. If you had one you’d understand that.

    Given that range anxiety is natural and present to some extent in all BEV drivers, your claim that GM has promoted it is complete BS. Promoting the Volt as a remedy for range anxiety isn’t promoting range anxiety any more than promoting aspirin as a remedy for headaches promotes headaches. So I don’t expect any change at all.


  17. 17
    Tom

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (10:40 am)

    Just looking at the photo for the 1st time you can see 3 separate thermal management systems so this means an advancement over the Leaf Assuming ,1 motor, 1 battery, visible is the cooling lines going back to the battery’s. 1 for the inverter/ electronics.

    The front struts look different possibly active or generators of some type?

    A J1772 connector is visible.

    A vary large 12 volt battery is visible under the hood center top.

    The front wheels have drive shafts and the right rear is that a U joint ? indicating all wheel drive ?

    The only thing I see that I do not like is the battery looks to be extremely difficult to replace although the center of gravity and weight distribution should be great.

    Tom


  18. 18
    ClarksonCote

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (10:53 am)

    GM should be working on a Voltec SUV. 30 miles AER, and an efficient generator for extended trips. Since a new development cycle takes a few years, this would most certainly have a reasonable cost point given battery tech advancements between now and then.

    join thE REVolution


  19. 19
    ziv

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (11:07 am)

    I was wondering just how small the Spark will be, so I Wiki’d it and compared it to the MINI Convertible and to the new Fiat Cincuecento, and the Spark is a touch longer than the MINI and nearly 4″ longer than the Fiat 500/Cincuecento. Interestingly, the Spark is also noticeably taller than either, but narrower. The SmartFor2 is a shrimp by comparison to these behemoths! LOL
    This won’t line up right but here goes:

    – – – - – – WB – – – LOA – – W – – H
    Spark – – – 93.5 – 143.3 – 62.9 – 61.1
    Fiat 500 – – 90.6 – 139.6 – 64.1 – 58.6
    MINI Conv – 97.1 – 143.1 – 66.5 – 55.5
    SmartFor2 – 73.5 – 106.0 – 61.4 – 60.7
    Sonic – – – – 99.4 – 159.0 – 68.3 – 59.7

    So the Spark is small, but in line with other cars that are pretty popular right now. Not what I think of as being a guy’s car, but who is that pro football player that is always tweeting about him and his Hello Kitty SmartCar? Who knows what will be cool in a couple years.
    Personally, I would love a Volt SS, but I would be a lot more likely to buy a Volt if the MSRP was $37.4k or less before the credit runs out.
    As it is, I will probably buy a used Ford Fusion Hybrid to tide me over. Any advice on what to look for in a car that is less than two years old? I see a couple on cars.com for around $21k. Look for leases that are ended early? Or is there too good a chance that the reason the car is being sold because it is a lemon? I used to buy all my cars when they had 45-50,000 miles on them and sell them when they hit 80,000 or so and it worked really well for me. My depreciation and maint. costs were really low.


  20. 20
    crew

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (11:19 am)

    This is nice, but I was hoping for a Sonic EV! A domestic successor to the EV-1 would be the way to go for me.
    I guess it comes to price and demand for the small market that EV’s have right now. Since the concept car is Indian, will it not be imported from Korea? The batteries from A123 are Chinese, so I doubt that there will be any US content at all. The ICE Spark should be selling for about $12k so I’m guessing that the Spark EV should be ready to go with an MSRP of about $25k or less.

    A Volt and a Spark in the driveway would make a nice picture, but it’s not for me, yet. I don’t know when a domestic content Leaf will be on the road but I’ll wait for a domestic Sonic/Spark EV before anything else.


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    crew

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (11:25 am)

    BTW, the Spark EV will leave ANY Prius psuedo EV thingy in the dust!!!

    (sorry about that in advance)


  22. 22
    BLIND GUY

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (11:48 am)

    At this point; the development of the Spark EV is mostly about ZEV compliance then seriously competing with Mitsubishi IMO. If GM really wanted to perk some ears up, they could put some A123 batteries in a modified Corvette and create a car that could have less range then Tesla but be just as exciting and above all cost less. Sorry, just dreaming out-loud.


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    Schmeltz

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (11:58 am)

    crew: This is nice, but I was hoping for a Sonic EV!

    I was thinking more on the lines of a Volt minus the gas engine and instead a larger battery pack. Give it sexy body work, 250 mile range, and call it the Buick Electra.


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    CorvetteGuy

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (12:13 pm)

    Very cool! But will it transform into a robot to defend the Earth against Decepticons!

    OT-
    We are finally selling our 2011 demo Volt. It’s listed for $1,000 off sticker, plus you still get the Federal Tax Credit, and in my town if you are a resident, the City gives you another $2,000 rebate. So the NET NET could be $33,299.00 — The MSRP was $43,799.00 and it has all of the options. It is Black/Black and has about 1,800 miles on it. http://www.singhchevrolet.com/web/inventory/All_years/All_makes/Volt/All_body_types/new/

    I think I can get a little more off for GM-Volt regulars.


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (12:15 pm)

    Good to see another electric car being offered… but it is not for me. … too small.

    What ever happened to the Chevy Amp?
    That’s the type of vehicle I’m waiting for.


  26. 26
    crew

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (12:16 pm)

    Schmeltz,

    I doubt that that a BEV Volt will work in the near future. I’m guessing that this Volt chassis is a one shot deal and no offshoots off of it will be worth the investment. The next generation will have to overcome quite a few over-engineered aspects of what we see now. The Voltec drivetrain, however will prove it’s worth above BEV’s with a more clearly defined target to shoot for.


  27. 27
    CorvetteGuy

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (12:18 pm)

    john1701a: After all those years

    …It means Chevrolet now has 2 ‘greener’ reasons not to buy a Prius.


  28. 28
    N Riley

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (12:21 pm)

    Saw my first Fiat 500 on the road today coming into work. Cute and small. A young lady was driving it. It may prove successful for young guys and gals. It had no problem keeping up with the stop and go traffic.

    I would assume the Spark would be about the same size.


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    Noel Park

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (12:31 pm)

    Very cool. It’s all good. Go ahead on Chevy. I would have been very interested in one of these if the Volt had not arrived first.


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    Schmeltz

     

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (12:58 pm)

    crew: I’m guessing that this Volt chassis is a one shot deal and no offshoots off of it will be worth the investment.

    I’m guessing the same thing. I would actually prefer they design an all-electric from the ground up like they did with the Volt. Remember the skateboard chassis they came out with as a concept a number of years ago? That would be a sweet idea for an all-electric car IMO. The whole bottom of the car is a battery with wheels, (and motors). What did they do with that concept anyway? Probably parked it in a back room somewhere. It would be a great basis for cars going forward, (just get rid of the mothballs). :)


  31. 31
    Dave K.

     

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (1:22 pm)

    Dave K.: Saw my first LEAF yesterday.

    Saw my second LEAF today. At my workplace! Black is a great color.

    No Plug, No Sale!


  32. 32
    evnow

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (1:25 pm)

    This shows the problem with CARB. The regulations are such that they can be met with very small vehicles produced in very small numbers (and possibly just leased to fleets). We have quite a few EVs being readied just for CARB.

    - Toyota RAV4EV, iQ EV
    - Fiat 500 EV
    - Honda FIT EV
    - Chevy Spark EV
    - BMW Active-E

    None of them are serious non-CARB play EVs like
    - Nissan Leaf
    - Model S
    - BMW i3
    - Ford Focus EV (?)


  33. 33
    john1701a

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (1:30 pm)

    DonC: Given that range anxiety is natural and present to some extent in all BEV drivers, your claim that GM has promoted it is complete BS.

    GM went as far as stating intentions to trademark the phrase. They most definitely used it to highlight the benefits of Volt over an EV. This is why I blog so extensively. Some people forget what happened in the past… which in a way could be a good thing, hence the question.


  34. 34
    statik

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (1:31 pm)

    This car is really not a serious BEV offering from GM for the US market, so it has to be one of three things:

    1) a ZEV play
    2) keeping their foot in the door on BEVs (and with A123)
    3) they figure they might as well sell them in the US if they are building it globally

    If this was 2016…they could probably sell a ‘ok’ amount of them.

    The problem is this car is in the small/low cost segment of BEVs, and the federal tax credit system. Thye $7500 credit really punishes anyone who has multiple platforms, or attempts to mainstream multiple vehicles in the segment before the program expires.

    By GM’s own estimates they are going to have somewhere in the neighbourhood of 140,000 Volts, and maybe another 10,000 or so ELRs sold to the public right around when this car is trickling out. Which means the rebate will be tapped out (and being grandfathered) only a few months after this car is available.

    When the rebate is tapped, GM will find the Spark is up against monster competition because other automanufacturers are on full tilt getting cars out before the program dies in 2015.

    So then you have a non-rebate/low rebate Spark against other BEVs with full rebates….like the Focus Electric, VW’s BEV, Toyota’s small city car offering and the electric RAV4, the Mitsubishi i, and of course whatever Honda and all the others bring out.

    On top of that, it will be going up against whatever Nissan is selling the LEAF for at that time (as well as any other future offerings)…which considering Nissan will be churning out about 250,000 24 kWh packs a year by this time next year, you have to believe their costs are going to be much, much less going forward against any other BEV manufacturer.

    I think GM really knows they need to look/carve out a place for themselves in the slightly upscale/premium end of the EREV/BEV segment. The Volt and the ELR are a good start, but the MPV and larger utility vehicles (SUV/van/truck, etc) would be even better. GM is really not a ‘passenger car’ company that also sells trucks/SUVs anymore, it is the other way around.


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (1:42 pm)

    CorvetteGuy:
    Very cool! But will it transform into a robot to defend the Earth against Decepticons!

    OT-
    We are finally selling our 2011 demo Volt. It’s listed for $1,000 off sticker, plus you still get the Federal Tax Credit, and in my town if you are a resident, the City gives you another $2,000 rebate. So the NET NET could be $33,299.00 — The MSRP was $43,799.00 and it has all of the options. It is Black/Black and has about 1,800 miles on it. http://www.singhchevrolet.com/web/inventory/All_years/All_makes/Volt/All_body_types/new/

    I think I can get a little more off for GM-Volt regulars.

    Black and black with our summers. Isn’t white still the number one choice?


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (1:47 pm)

    Schmeltz: Remember the skateboard chassis they came out with as a concept a number of years ago? That would be a sweet idea for an all-electric car IMO. The whole bottom of the car is a battery with wheels, (and motors). What did they do with that concept anyway? Probably parked it in a back room somewhere. It would be a great basis for cars going forward, (just get rid of the mothballs).

    The Tesla Model S uses a similar config for its battery:

    http://www.teslamotors.com/models/features#/safety

    Too bad GM wasn’t the first to use that config., since it made such a splash at that auto show.


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (1:53 pm)

    Roy_H: Akerson also said GM plans to add two more Volt-style, extended-range vehicles to its lineup in the 2012-2013 time frame: a hatchback and a minivan called the Volt MPV5, shown last year at the Beijing Auto Show.
    From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20111011/AUTO01/110110438/GM-to-offer-all-electric-city-car-in-U.S.#ixzz1aewJtjTz

    Reading the article, I think that was what Ackerson said at the Jan 2011 Detroit Auto Show, which has been replaced with what he said this week. Not positive, though.


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (3:12 pm)

    T 1,

    Ah, you are right. Dan Akerson’s quote is from last January, so it may no longer be a true statement. OTOH is there any real proof that they have abandoned this plan?


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (3:39 pm)

    Will this one be “Comfortably under $30,000″?

    If so – then make this out soon.


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (3:51 pm)

    “The vehicle has a bit more bulbous nose than the standard Spark, and unknown is the weight difference between it and the standard Spark.

    Also undisclosed is its driving range, recharge time, battery size and other performance measurements are being withheld until closer to launch.

    Where the vehicle will be built and what it will cost are further mysteries. ”
    ———————-

    So is someone going to start a GM-Spark.com website so we can hash out these details for the next 2 years?


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    statik

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    Oct 13th, 2011 (4:07 pm)

    kdawg: “The vehicle has a bit more bulbous nose than the standard Spark, and unknown is the weight difference between it and the standard Spark. Also undisclosed is its driving range, recharge time, battery size and other performance measurements are being withheld until closer to launch. Where the vehicle will be built and what it will cost are further mysteries. ”———————-So is someone going to start a GM-Spark.com website so we can hash out these details for the next 2 years?

    As it stands atm:
    *80 mile range on LA4
    *6 hrs on 240
    *20 kWh pack
    …and no one is starting a site, at least not I. My vote is for kdawg! (=


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (4:13 pm)

    john1701a: They most definitely used it to highlight the benefits of Volt over an EV.

    Just because GM is making a BEV still doesn’t change the fact the EREV still has that advantage over it. GM also sells sports cars even though their trucks have towing capacity advantage.

    Not sure what your point is. Range anxiety still exists. And it still exists with the Spark EV. If you are OK with it, and/or the Spark fits your needs, and/or its a second car for the family, go for it. If not, the Volt is there with its extended range advantage.


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (4:26 pm)

    Dave K.: Saw my second LEAF today.

    Man.. my yard is covered in them. Time to get out the rakes! :)

    (Hey, that would be a good name for the next GM EV … the Chevy Rake)


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (4:29 pm)

    statik: By GM’s own estimates they are going to have somewhere in the neighbourhood of 140,000 Volts, and maybe another 10,000 or so ELRs sold to the public right around when this car is trickling out. Which means the rebate will be tapped out (and being grandfathered) only a few months after this car is available.

    Let’s hope you are right about the production #’s, but is the rebate just for US sales. How many of those will be shipped overseas/Canada and not be counted for the $7500 rebate?


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (4:35 pm)

    crew: The batteries from A123 are Chinese, so I doubt that there will be any US content at all.

    Not necessarily.
    ———————————–
    A123 Systems Opens the Largest Lithium Ion Automotive Battery Manufacturing Plant in North America

    New Facility in Livonia, Mich. Significantly Expands A123′s Production Capabilities to Meet Increasing Global Demand; Company Expects to Create Thousands of Jobs in Michigan
    http://ir.a123systems.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=506787


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (4:45 pm)

    Baltimore17: When I was a kid, Ford vs. Chevy was a big debating point (mostly backed by what your parents drove). Focus EV vs. Spark EV!

    I could see rear-window stickers showing Calvin shooting a tazer or lightning bolt at the opposing emblem.


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (4:49 pm)

    kdawg: Not sure what your point is.

    This market wasn’t going to get an EV, now it will. That changing stance is what I wondered about. Knowing the next generation of Volt will be configured differently, there is good reason to ask about changing plug-in expectations.


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (6:27 pm)

    jeffhre: Isn’t white still the number one choice?

    Yes. That’s how we got stuck with a Black demo car.


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (7:05 pm)

    statik: On top of that, it will be going up against whatever Nissan is selling the LEAF for at that time (as well as any other future offerings)…which considering Nissan will be churning out about 250,000 24 kWh packs a year by this time next year, you have to believe their costs are going to be much, much less going forward against any other BEV manufacturer.

    250,000 battery packs a year is not happening next year. Or the year after. And maybe even after that. The current battery isn’t very good. Nissan will wait for the next gen battery before ramping up significantly.

    You’re somewhat misunderstanding the economics of battery manufacturing. Most of the cost of the battery is in the raw materials, so making more batteries doesn’t really drive down the unit cost like it would for other parts. The way you drive down battery costs is to have roughly the same raw materials store more energy or to have the battery be able to sustain a lower level discharge. For example, when GM used 10 kWh rather than 8 kWh of the 16 kWh battery it effectively lowered the cost from $1000/usable kWh to $800/usable kWh. IOW this isn’t about scale it’s about technology.

    Right now the LG Chem batteries have about the same energy density as the AESC cells but are more robust. My guess would be that in the next gen they will increase their advantage in robustness and have as much as a 100 Wh/kg advantage in energy density, both of which translates into a lower effective price.


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (7:11 pm)

    evnow: This shows the problem with CARB.

    I think you mean ONE of the problems. LOL (But point well taken).

    ziv: I was wondering just how small the Spark will be, so I Wiki’d it and compared it to the MINI Convertible and to the new Fiat Cincuecento

    Nice. Very nice. Gives a good idea of the size. It’s larger than I thought and in fact could be an OK size. Not sure what the Cincuecento is but the Fiat 500 (LOL) would work for the occasional freeway drive.


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (7:15 pm)

    crew: The batteries from A123 are Chinese,

    Nope. A123 canned the Chinese production after its manufacturer walked off with its technology and started competing with it. Also it’s in a big patent dispute with University of Texas and it’s a whole lot easier to block the import of an allegedly infringing product than it is to stop the internal manufacture of it.


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (8:41 pm)

    DonC: Nope. A123 canned the Chinese production after its manufacturer walked off with its technology and started competing with it. Also it’s in a big patent dispute with University of Texas and it’s a whole lot easier to block the import of an allegedly infringing product than it is to stop the internal manufacture of it.

    Thx DonC that’s what I was wondering about (the China connection) but not sure I believe it.


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (8:42 pm)

    I mean about the China production.


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (9:09 pm)

    kdawg,
    Looks like you guys missed the other press release:
    http://ir.a123systems.com/releasedetail.cfm?releaseid=530830

    And Don, that dispute was from 2 years ago. I think a little update is necessary.

    I’m heavily biased against any Chinese manufactured items as the entire practice to produce US bound goods on both sides of the Pacific have not been of any long term benifit to our country as a whole. That said, this car is not a domestic kind of car that has had much success for making a buck. It’s a base line for making EV’s worth a look at, just to see how affordable electric transportation can be. It’s the low end for the US but could be a lot more to other countries. This Spark sold in Asia and being backed by GM and A123 lends credibility that no other manufacturer can match. With the Asian market potential for this car, how can a US battery contribute to the bottom line above a Chinese battery?
    An EV Spark is nice but we can do better, a lot better. The domestic A123 plant, among others, is a big part of that.


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (9:21 pm)

    DonCNot sure what the Cincuecento is but the Fiat 500 (LOL) would work for the occasional freeway drive.

    “Cincuenciento” is five hundred (500) in Italian. “Cinco” is also five in Spanish, as “ciento” is hundred in Spanish. But “500″ or five hundred is pronounced as “quiniento” in Spanish. I like the Italian version better.

    Our Jennifer Lopez (JLo) made a TV ad with a white Fiat 500.
    http://blogs.wsj.com/drivers-seat/2011/10/11/fiat-rolls-out-jennifer-lopez-my-world-tv-spot-video/?mod=google_news_blog

    A bit of trivia: She accidentally fell off the Fiat while climbing out through the moonroof during the filming but suffered no harm. A new retake was done later.

    See the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=X0IkmstjZes

    Raymond


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (10:51 pm)

    (On the cutaway diagram):

    That sure is a lot of doo-hickeys and whatcha-ma-callits in the front of the Spark for just electric drive … making it more “bulbous” than a gas engine version? What’s up with that? And is that a TMS I see (large “radiator” with hoses going to the pack in the back)?

    Sorry for all the technical jargon, but it’s late and I’m getting tired. ;-)


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    Oct 13th, 2011 (11:27 pm)

    DonC: 250,000 battery packs a year is not happening next year. Or the year after. And maybe even after that. The current battery isn’t very good. Nissan will wait for the next gen battery before ramping up significantly. You’re somewhat misunderstanding the economics of battery manufacturing. Most of the cost of the battery is in the raw materials, so making more batteries doesn’t really drive down the unit cost like it would for other parts. The way you drive down battery costs is to have roughly the same raw materials store more energy or to have the battery be able to sustain a lower level discharge. For example, when GM used 10 kWh rather than 8 kWh of the 16 kWh battery it effectively lowered the cost from $1000/usable kWh to $800/usable kWh. IOW this isn’t about scale it’s about technology. Right now the LG Chem batteries have about the same energy density as the AESC cells but are more robust. My guess would be that in the next gen they will increase their advantage in robustness and have as much as a 100 Wh/kg advantage in energy density, both of which translates into a lower effective price.


    Ah, like old times….so just for fun, I am going to go into an ‘old-timey’ diatribe, haven’t done one of these in years. Most people should just skip over the rest of this post, lol.

    250,000 capacity is certainly in the cards for 2013, in fact, it is likely on the very low side.

    The Oppama plant is currently producing close to 1,000 cars per week, and has a capacity of about 65,000. Smyrna which opens next year is almost 150,000, and Sunderland in the Uk is another 50,000 on top…thats just one car. Nissan is not a one trick electric pony.

    On top of this, AESC/Nissan-NEC have to produce packs for 3 of the Renault electric vehicles, their electric fork-lift business, as well as the NEV 200 electric van, as well as tie-ups with Mitsu and Daimler, and their hybrid lineup. The Fluence ZE alone already has over 120,000 cars sold and currently in and/or waiting on production. (French gov’t alone picked up 15k of them).

    Currently Nissan and AESC are slated to produce just over 90,000 24 kWh pack equivalent through the end of this Japanese fiscal year (March of 2012).

    The new battery plant in TN alone is going to produce up to 200,000 packs (with the overflow heading to Europe). The new Flins plant in France will clip out about 100,000 of these (thanks to a billion dollars from FSI-French Strategic Investment Fund) starting in 2013, as well as expansion in Zima, Japan, and sites in Portugal (2012- 60K/year) and the UK (another 60k in 2012). Thats 500K by the end of 2013 and into 2014.

    There is some truth to raw component cost, but as it stands now, it is still only a fraction of the cost…about 15%, no where near the cost of the final production, so the forces of scale are certainly at work here.

    As for the technology/battery being a big factor, despite different chemistris, the variance across all commercial electric vehicle applications, whether they be from LG, A123, AESC, etc, are minimal at best. Weight/denisty and miles/kWh are all fairly close. There is no proprietary ‘silver bullet’ to propel one company over another right now. Sure, there are better/denser batteries…but not that can be brought cheaper to market at this time, or in the next 2 -3 years, and that is what we are talking about when referencing the Spark and the federal tax credit.

    The next gen for commercial production is the NMC (nickel manganese cobalt oxide cathode) which has a density of 250 Wh/kg, for the same cost as today’s standard (130-140ish). Coincidentally, AESC is at the front of this, and are already running a limited production line of this in Zima Japan, for introduction as early as late 2013/2014. Getting NMC to market, is really the holy grail, because you are talking about 200+ mile range cars, and applications into larger vehicles, like fully size SUVs/vans/trucks as well.

    Now put that tech and the infrastructure of an existing 500,000+ packs a year capacity behind it….and it is bad news for the small/subcompact segment for anyone but Nissan.

    The flipside of coourse is that Nissan/Renault has wagered their entire company on this…if they find the cars aren’t selling/being received that well after the first couple years of excitement, it could be lights out for them.

    There is no way GM can compete against Nissan on the Spark with their current setup. They are buying the battery from A123 as a third party, in small quantities, and also are having A123 do all the component packaging/harness/tech themselves (unlike the situation with LG and the Volt).

    /phew, that was fun…I enjoyed that


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    Oct 14th, 2011 (1:32 am)

    statik: Ah, like old times….so just for fun, I am going to go into an ‘old-timey’ diatribe, haven’t done one of these in years. Most people should just skip over the rest of this post, lol.

    Then it would be ’bout time for DaveG to chime in. HermP may have something to say. Anyone know how Tagamets doing?


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    Oct 14th, 2011 (1:41 am)

    statik: /phew, that was fun…I enjoyed that

    I know you did, and I see you’re even falling into your old habit of spelling it “chemistris.” Can that be right? Any way thanks for the information/diatribe, that was fun :)


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    Oct 14th, 2011 (2:08 am)

    There is some other news which says “2014 BMW i3 to feature range-extending 652-cc motorcycle engine? ”

    http://www.autoblog.com/2011/10/13/2014-bmw-i3-to-feature-range-extending-652-cc-motorcycle-engine/

    May be volt also will follow similar suite to a 600cc engine.


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    Oct 14th, 2011 (2:13 am)

    statik: Ah, like old times….so just for fun, I am going to go into an ‘old-timey’ diatribe, haven’t done one of these in years. Most people should just skip over the rest of this post, lol.

    I’ve missed you!!!

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

    Three very simple points:

    1. You are completely off on the labor costs as a percentage of battery costs (you ignorant slut LOL). I don’t mean by a little, I mean you’re not in the city much less the ballpark! Labor isn’t 85% of the cost, it’s 2.5%. As for raw materials, they don’t make up 15% of the cost as you claim. They make up over 96%! Basically it’s all about material cost. http://www.transportation.anl.gov/pdfs/TA/149.pdf (graph on page 32)

    2. On the number of battery packs, I thought you were talking about 250,000 packs from Smyrna. That’s not happening. In fact I don’t think we’ll see a real ramp up of production on the Leaf until late 2013 at the earliest. Anything else is as much Nissan hype as the famed 100 mile real world EV range.

    3. The reason you’re not going to see a ramp up is the battery tech. You’re missing the boat on the battery chemistries. The batteries are not all the same. Not by a long shot. The A123 batteries have lower kWh/kg but higher kW/kg than the manganese spinels from AESC and LG Chem. They’re also much more stable (unless you count patent uncertainty). You’re right about the LG Chem and AESC cells being fairly equivalent from a kWh/kg and kW/kg standpoint, but the LG Chem cells are much longer lived. This isn’t hard to see. The LG Chem cells are used in parallel hybrids. No way the AESC cells will stand up to that, which is why the chemistries for these two applications are different.

    The gap will really begin to open in the next generation of cells. You’re probably right that the next gen of AESC batteries will come in at around 250 Wh/kg. That would be my guess. But the LG Chem cells will come in at 350 Wh/kg, and they’ll be far more stable and will tolerate significantly more cycles because of superior separators. (Nothing like what you might see from the SK Oil batteries but much better than the AESC product). Given the fact that all the cost of the batteries is in the materials, what Nissan will have is an inferior product selling at a 30% – 40% premium. Not a good place to be.

    Nissan needs the next generation of batteries before it ramps up production of the Leaf because of performance issues. I don’t see that happening until 2014 at the earliest. And when they do come, they’re going to be inferior in cost and performance to the LG product being used in the Volt and the elusive Ford EV and god knows what other EVs that will be out there. As a consequence, Nissan is going to have to slowly ramp up production as it figures out how to sell the Leaf in larger numbers than the 10K/yr we’re going to be seeing for the next couple of years.


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    Oct 14th, 2011 (2:19 am)

    jeffhre: Then it would be ’bout time for DaveG to chime in. HermP may have something to say. Anyone know how Tagamets doing?

    It’s not the same without them.


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    Oct 14th, 2011 (7:57 am)

    DonC: I’ve missed you!!!========================Three very simple points:1. You are completely off on the labor costs as a percentage of battery costs (you ignorant slut LOL). I don’t mean by a little, I mean you’re not in the city much less the ballpark! Labor isn’t 85% of the cost, it’s 2.5%. As for raw materials, they don’t make up 15% of the cost as you claim. They make up over 96%! Basically it’s all about material cost. http://www.transportation.anl.gov/pdfs/TA/149.pdf (graph on page 32)2. On the number of battery packs, I thought you were talking about 250,000 packs from Smyrna. That’s not happening. In fact I don’t think we’ll see a real ramp up of production on the Leaf until late 2013 at the earliest. Anything else is as much Nissan hype as the famed 100 mile real world EV range. 3. The reason you’re not going to see a ramp up is the battery tech. You’re missing the boat on the battery chemistries. The batteries are not all the same. Not by a long shot. The A123 batteries have lower kWh/kg but higher kW/kg than the manganese spinels from AESC and LG Chem. They’re also much more stable (unless you count patent uncertainty). You’re right about the LG Chem and AESC cells being fairly equivalent from a kWh/kg and kW/kg standpoint, but the LG Chem cells are much longer lived. This isn’t hard to see. The LG Chem cells are used in parallel hybrids. No way the AESC cells will stand up to that, which is why the chemistries for these two applications are different. The gap will really begin to open in the next generation of cells. You’re probably right that the next gen of AESC batteries will come in at around 250 Wh/kg. That would be my guess. But the LG Chem cells will come in at 350 Wh/kg, and they’ll be far more stable and will tolerate significantly more cycles because of superior separators. (Nothing like what you might see from the SK Oil batteries but much better than the AESC product). Given the fact that all the cost of the batteries is in the materials, what Nissan will have is an inferior product selling at a 30% – 40% premium. Not a good place to be.Nissan needs the next generation of batteries before it ramps up production of the Leaf because of performance issues. I don’t see that happening until 2014 at the earliest. And when they do come, they’re going to be inferior in cost and performance to the LG product being used in the Volt and the elusive Ford EV and god knows what other EVs that will be out there. As a consequence, Nissan is going to have to slowly ramp up production as it figures out how to sell the Leaf in larger numbers than the 10K/yr we’re going to be seeing for the next couple of years.

    I love these discussions, so I will bite. Your study (while being old) is also based on small single cells that have been produced and automated for years.

    They do estimate the (more advanced for the time) Panasonic 18650 cells, which you could consider usable in auto applications as follows:

    Materials
    LiCoO2 0.62
    Separator 0.14
    Electrolyte 0.30
    Anode 0.24
    Materials subtotal 1.28
    Overhead 0.15-0.25
    Direct labor 0.18-0.24
    Total manufacturing cost ~1.70

    You will note, the raw materials here are at 75%.

    A simple wrapped Panasonic 18650 cells is NOTHING like a fully housed, integrated, harnessed, ready to go automotive pack. More than 50% of the cost is not in the actual cells themself but in all the jazz that comes afterwards to actually have a formed, conditioned, safe pack you can put in the car.

    I am talking about END PRODUCT, fully formed. If you think that GM is putting a $10,000 pack in the Volt, and $9,600 is raw materials, your are mistaken.

    We are talking about all the housings, wirings, transportation (of a 400lb+ pack/components), cost of R&D and machining, casing of individual cells and outer pack, liners, interal cooling and safety systems, on board hardware, and man hours (@$58/hour) costs 4%, or $400….and of that LG Chem is also taking a fraction to make a profit. You are mistaken.


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    Oct 14th, 2011 (8:31 am)

    I’d also like to add that lithium is NOT a commoditized product either, meaning it is sold directly to end users based on individual corporate costs AND volume. ie) spot price for lithium was $3500 in 2000, the last major block sold at just over $1300 this year, while smaller orders are as high as $6,000. See the effects of scale here? That is why all the battery produces are buying pieces of raw producers and/or signing long term contracts/volume committment sheets with them.

    This is nothing like oil where I can buy a barrel for $85, and some other guy who wants ten million barrels also has to pay the same spot price.

    Even that study has concluded variance factor on a completed pack in an automotive of between $706/kWh and $250/kWh (page 43).
    I mean, c’mon. If it was 96%, your variance would only be a couple bucks. Also given the fact Nissan has about 3 billion into building these plants/systems…that would be a whole whale of lithium batteries if that is only a fraction of the 4%…same for GM and their Michigan factory to just make the housing.

    —-

    I will say that I agree that there will be little to no ramp up in 2012 of the LEAF, all the production expansion comes on late next year, and you have to figure some months to optimize the plants, and a couple more to get product out. 6K a month is about max until very late in 2012 for the LEAF.

    As for the chemistries, sure there is lots of better chemistries than what Nissan (and GM/LG) are using, and there will be better in the future, but after you get past 250 Wh/kg….then it is all about cost, not density/performance (other than really high end applications). Besides, there isn’t a cheap/viable battery over 250Wh/kg that can get to market and in cars in the next 5-7 years…there just isn’t. The NMC has taken almost 5 years to get to ‘almost’ production ready. Nissan has it slated for the MY 2014 Infinity in late 2013.

    Tell me, where and what car is a 350 Wh/kg battery slotted for by any battery company for any manufacturer or model. Heck, show me who has a 250 Wh/kg packready to go and already in production planning/machining stage for a car in 24 months? Nissan has it.

    This isn’t 2000 anymore, or even January of 2007. No more ‘woulda/coulda’s on battery pack and production and future estimates on what it can do. If LG/GM (or whoever) doesn’t have all the work done, and are right now working on getting that car out, they are already way behind. Doesn’t matter if they have a 350 for 2017, if they don’t have a 250 in 24 months, it is all over…at least for low cost/BEVs.


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    Oct 14th, 2011 (8:42 am)

    Notice the advertisement frequently displayed on the webpages here?


    – Introducing the most affordable EV in America

    – The 100% electric Mitsubishi i

    – as low as $21,625 (net value after tax savings)


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    Oct 14th, 2011 (11:14 am)

    Has GM jumped the gun on the Spark EV for us?
    Maybe the car is a go but from where?

    http://wardsauto.com/ar/origin_ev_sparks_111014/

    Wards exposes some questions that don’t have any answers right now.
    No way in hell am I buying an entire car made in China!


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    Oct 14th, 2011 (3:22 pm)

    May be this is missing here
    http://green.autoblog.com/2011/10/13/gms-2013-chevrolet-spark-electric-dash-graphic-error/

    Excellent one :
    From the post :
    To mark yesterday’s unveiling of the electric 2013 Chevrolet Spark, GM released a new graphic showing the dashboard and an outline of the car. The computer-generated image of the Spark’s dash displays the electric city car achieving a shocking 18 miles per kilowatt-hour. That’s mighty impressive considering that most plug-ins return around four miles per kWh.

    While we didn’t immediately notice this 18 mi/kWh readout, electric vehicle enthusiast Neil Riley did. Riley quickly posted this comment over on Green Car Reports:

    If the battery is really a 20-kilowatt-hour capacity pack and the car gets 18 miles per kWh as depicted in the dashboard picture, the range computes to 360 miles per charge. Now that would be really great. Am I wrong in my findings?

    GCR immediately shot an email to General Motors, asking whether or not the electric Spark was truly capable of returning such remarkable numbers. GM spokesman Rob Peterson replied:

    While everyone else was asleep, we have managed to disprove the First Law of Thermodynamics, allowing us to move from approximately four [miles per] kWh to 18. The perpetual motion machine is squarely in our sites, and in our product portfolio.

    It’s nice to see this sense of humor, but the truth isn’t as fun. Peterson continued:

    The actual answer is, no. Our graphic is incorrect.

    Maybe someday 18 miles per kWh for a passenger car will be nothing noteworthy, but today it remains pure fantasy.


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    Oct 15th, 2011 (11:02 am)

    Nice battery discussion, guys–some of the best info here in a long time. It’s STILL about the batteries. Looks like Nissan still has their plans to be huge.


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    Oct 23rd, 2011 (8:53 pm)

    wy do you thing is gm removed ev,,,,you dont thing they have no choice..do you no any company take a car and destroy..so nobody use this car…