Archive for the ‘General’ Category

 

Aug 30

Honda Tries to Re-enter Hybrid War With the “Global Small Hybrid”

 

honda_new-hybrid.jpg

The Honda Insight was the first hybrid in the U.S. market in 1999. Now, it is of course discontinued, beaten along with it’s brethren the Civic and Accords hybrids, by the Toyota Prius models of which outsell all the Hondas by 5 to 1.

Honda wont go down without a fight, and is now planning a new comeback breakthrough car. Details are non-existent, but the new car code-named “Global Smal Hybrid” is expected to hit the streets in 2009, and have the highest fuel efficiency of any car on the road.

You can read the whole Newsweek article here.

It’s pretty clear the hybrid/electric market is going to be heating up faster than your laptop’s lithium-ion battery pack, so let’s hope we get those Volts on the road!

 

Aug 18

Chevy Volt At Woodward Dreams Cruise

 
volt_2.jpgvolt_woodward.jpgvolt_3.jpg

The Chevy Volt appeared today at the Chevy exhibit at the Woodward Dreams Cruise, right next to the convertible Camaro.  Reports are that the Camaro got more attention?!

The little gallery is thanks to one of GM-Volt regulars who attended the event.  Click to view.

 

Aug 13

New Chevy Volt A123 Systems Battery Interview

 

[flash http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9ayuFBDrSg]

OK. There was one more interview that came out of the Traverse City CAR event. Sam from AutoblogGreen got to talk to David Vieau and Rick Fulop, CEO and co-founder/business chief respectively of A123. The full transcript of his interview is here. My comments are in parentheses. The video above is of a nail being driven through an A123 cell.
A few key pieces of information can be garnered:

  • They mention that they are working with Continental on the Volt and with Cobasys for the plug-in VUE
  • They are extremely confident about their technology being an excellent fit for the Volt
  • They are still tweaking the cells, Continental is doing the packaging
  • As GM has said, working pack this year
    (IN FACT 8 to 10 WEEKS FROM NOW!)
  • li-nanophosphate can get over 7000 sin it’s life, laptops do 700
    (7000/365 = 19.2 years)
  • They knocked the idea of fast-charging (ie fill the cars battery in 10 minutes). Although their cells might, the electric grid infrastructure couldn’t handle it.
    (I agree, I’m willing to wait 6 hours)
  • Swapping out batteries is not realistic due to the complicated electronics, packaging, and safety issues.
    (these are High Voltage!)
 

Aug 09

Exclusive: Interview/Podcast With Chevy Volt Chief Engineer on Current State of Volt Development

 

nick_z.jpg

Today has been a very productive one when it comes to news about the Chevy Volt. I had the opportunity to discuss these and other issues with Mr. Nick Zielinski who is the Vehicle Chief Engineer for the Chevy Volt. The full audio podcast follows below.

First of all, Mr. Zielinksi was able to help clarify what the new A123 contract represents. GM is continuing to work with both A123/Continental and CPI/LG. The “horse race” as he calls it to make the better battery pack is still on. One system has not yet been chosen over the other, and the winner is still expected to be announced in June 2008. What is new is that GM will now work as a much closer partner with A123, and be more intimately involved in Li-ion cell engineering. This partnership will allow GM to have proprietary access to the cells and their engineering, allowing for better final production of electric cars.

Mr. Zielinksi told me that an actual working model of the Volt is currently being built and tested in the laboratory. He agreed that working battery pack prototypes will be coming from both battery teams this fall. Interestingly, it is expected that different test versions of the Volt will be built, each with different battery packs from the two manufacturing teams. He also told me that a decision has been made to use liquid cooling (and not air) systems for the packs.

In terms of road testable models..expect the first ones before the end of this year!

He noted that GM if very pleased with the public appeal the car has and will try to keep the final production model as true to form to the prototype as is possible. He cant be sure of the name staying the Volt, but notes that he’s not the one to ask! The goal of a full mass-produced production car in late 2010 is solid.

We also discussed the issues of heating and AC and how they may affect battery life. Mr. Zielinksi indicates that thermal regulation as its known will be a significant challenge, and that the 40 mile range is predicted with the A/C off. 40 miles remains the current target for all-electric driving, but future versions will likely have more range.

All in all this car is happening at a breathtaking pace. Keep posted here for all the latest, right from the source news, as always.

 

Aug 09

More Big News!: Chevy Volt Timeline Made Public

 

Today is a banner day for Volt enthusiasts! All of this great information is coming out of the CAR meeting in Traverse City Michigan where Bob Lutz gave his A123 announcement. Although invited, I unfortunately could not attend, but I am waiting on an a phone interview.

Reuters has published their sideline interview with Bob Lutz. He is quoted as giving out the following official Volt production timeline:

  1. The Volt’s working lithium ion battery packs will be ready for vehicles in October of this year
  2. The car will begin road testing in Spring 2008.
  3. The Volt will begin mass production late 2010.

There you’ve heard it!

Thanks to John Towriss, GM consultant for the tip

More later when I get the interview.

 

Aug 02

10-Mile Range Volt Prototype out in 2008, 40-miler in 2009

 

secret_sauce.JPG

Just now an article appeared on Bloomberg.com. The authors cite “secret sources” (not sauces) as saying that GM expects to have an early working Volt prototype out in 2008 which will get a 10 mile all-electric range. Their secret source goes on to say that a 40-mile version will be out in 2009. Official GM spokesman Scott Fosgard is noted to decline a comment.

The article points out thats GM’s plan is more aggressive than Toyota’s plan for a shorter range PHEV expected to max out with 10 miles, and we suspect to use NiMh batteries. Toyota is described as being unable to produce longer electric ranges within an affordable price range. Bob Lutz, however, is quoted as being confident that GM can overcome these technical and pricing obstacles.

This indeed is very new information. I cannot verify the secret source, but considering it’s been two months since the battery contracts were awarded, and the very aggressive efforts of those battery makers, it wouldn’t surprise me. How does it taste to you?