[ad#post_ad]The Chevrolet Volt went from concept to consumers driveways in just under four years. Though these four years may have seemed slow for those of us who waited the whole time, GM’s accomplishment is really very remarkable.
In the beginning the car was considered nothing more than vaporware, a PR exercise that would run on battery technology considered at the time immature and untested.
Not only did GM design, engineer, test, and build the Volt in under four years, the actual vehicle some of us are lucky enough to be driving is truly a blockbuster.
Electric car start-ups like Tesla, Think, Fisker, Coda and others face extensive hurdles trying to get their cars on the road. In fact the Fisker Karma still hasn’t reached production yet and the company just bumped its price to nearly 100K. Building and selling a great electric car from scratch just isn’t easy.
GM gives credit to its whirlwind success with the Volt to its long expertise engineering electric drivetrains. In particular the company said in a press release that learnings from the EV-1 electric car program, the 2-mode hybrid program, and the fuel cell Equinox program have proven invaluable in making the Volt a reality.
By using and utilizing highly developed components and substrates as the building blocks of the Volt GM engineers could focus on integration, packaging, and refinement. Despite its considerable complexity, this resulted in a well-honed and flawless end product.
“By adapting sub-systems such as the EV1-descended motors developed for the front-wheel drive hybrid system and electronically controlled brakes from the fuel cell Equinox, the engineers were able to focus more resources on the new lithium ion battery and overall vehicle integration,” said Volt lead engineer Andrew Farah. “A new drive system like this involves a lot of complex control software such as the regenerative brake blending which benefited from the Two-Mode hybrid development.”
Farah was a lead engineer in the EV-1 program as well and has been hard at work for over a year and a half on the next generation Volt.
The power electronics, traction motors, generators, and battery management systems developed for the earlier electric car programs were readily integrated into the Volt. Furthermore, GM expects to use the learnings from those programs and the Volt itself for future products. Those are envisioned as even more complex integrations of potentially multiple fuels sources and energy storage devices.
“In the future, vehicles will likely combine different energy systems including batteries, ultra capacitors and hydrogen fuel cells with common and scalable electric drives systems depending on regional and application needs,” said Daniel O’Connell, director of fuel cell commercialization.