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.