General Motors has been attempting to globally proliferate its Voltec technology, now having seen three short model years (2011-2013) in 28 months since the North American launch of Gen 1, and with an eye toward Gen 2.
The company has collected profuse amounts of data and customer feedback to give it a strong sense of what to offer next. While it has an intense fan base that loves the Gen 1 car, GM has also felt mild-to-intense market push-back against its arguably pricey Voltec siblings.
Aside from reducing the cost of existing components, it appears GM is at least mulling its options to offer a smaller battery pack, as evidenced by a statement made by GM’s Vice President of Strategy and Operations, Thomas Sedran, in Europe.
“In the coming years I don’t think you will need 100 km (62 miles) of electric range,” said Sedran. “Around 30 to 50 km (18 to 30 miles) should be enough to get you in and out of town and after that you still have the range-extender engine to help.”
Sedran’s comment was recorded by AutoExpress.co.uk regarding the Vauxhall Ampera sibling to the Volt, and it has prompted speculation as to whether multiple battery size options may be a way to tailor MSRP to specific driver requirements, or whether it would mean simply cutting back the AER to that of a Ford Fusion or C-MAX Energi.
In denser communities as they have in Europe, this may be all a lot of people need, and the same could be said of individual owner requirements in the U.S. too.
Another comment by Steve Girsky, GM’s vice chairman and interim president of GM of Europe, was also noted showing GM is painfully aware of the need to find creative ways to slash costs while still, presumably, retaining profitability and expanding appeal.
“The Ampera has one of the highest customer satisfaction ratings of any car, but it’s simply too expensive,” said Girsky. “If you want to make money it’s not about the cleverest technology, but who can deliver fuel economy at a lower cost.”
The UK generously lops off £5,000 ($7,467) from the sales price of an Ampera, but the car still starts at £28,995 ($43,301). Of that, an estimated £12,000 ($17,921) was quoted as the production cost of the battery for the UK model.
If accurate, and assuming markup for the battery, that’s basically akin to saying the “gas tank” – aka energy storage – costs somewhere around half of the car or so and consumers are aware of this, as is GM.
After speaking with GM, AutoExpress said the Ampera would be replaced in “three to four year’s time” which is further out than we’ve been led to suspect of the Gen 2 Volt.
Apparently a lot is still up in the air. Do you think multiple battery range options is the way to go? GM’s Dan Akerson has also recently said better battery tech is right around the corner, so where are we headed here?
And would it not be better to get more AER from a more energy dense battery that GM found a way to procure at a lower cost? Is merely slashing the battery size as though constrained by present economics a good indicator for a future Voltec?
One thing we hear often enough is the blatant statement by EV evangelists and other such positive-thinking proponents that high-voltage electrified car batteries will go the way of the semiconductor.
Silicon Valley has benefited from year-over-year improvements of virtually quantum scale since the advent of the personal computer.
For people to project the same future into the electrified car battery is speculation on a high order. It sounds good, but we’re talking two different technologies here. Are such prophetic utterances based on fact? Or are they a statement of faith?
If fact, and HV batteries progress like the computer industry was able to, we’d expect in maybe a decade to have so much AER that the Volt will not need a range extender. Perhaps also we’ll have ultra-fast recharging too, and EVs will promise only benefits over ICE vehicles, with no tradeoffs perceived to have to accept.
What is certain is we are all on a road we have not traveled before. And, mixed statements from GM shed little actual light on the subject. The only objective truth that can be said is we shall have to wait and see what actually comes forth in the next couple years and beyond.
This entry was posted on Monday, March 11th, 2013 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.