Archive for the ‘General’ Category


Oct 08

Volts have driven over 1 billion miles – close to two-thirds on electricity


As GM teases and otherwise hides its next Volt, the monitored fleet of the existing ones quietly crossed one billion miles.


Of these miles, over 627 million were EV miles, and over 32.6 million gallons of gas were saved.

GM’s data comes from some of the OnStar data and the numbers which are supposed to be live and in real time can do strange things like reverse or stop.

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 9

But given the total is one billion plus 4.7 million, it’s safe to say at least a billion miles have been driven.


Oct 07

Chrysler Town & Country PHEV to launch a year early in 2015


Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed from Paris the company will bring its plug-in hybrid minivan to market late next year – a year ahead of its previously announced timeframe.

In May this year we reported its Town & Country PHEV would come along in 2016, and could boast upwards of 75 MPGe while taking design cues from the 700c concept (pictured).


The new plug-in hybrid will be one of more Chrysler hybrids to come, including a full-sized crossover. A report by Automotive News offered scant details about the minivan’s powertrain, but earlier this year it was suggested it could get a nine-speed transmission and offer all-wheel drive.

According to Automobile magazine, the new minivan will get a new front-wheel-drive platform and V6 and motor pairing.

Town & Country plug-in hybrids tested on the road were using “a 3.6-liter Pentastar paired with a two-mode hybrid transmission and liquid-coolied lithium-ion battery pack to crank out 290 horsepower,” wrote Automobile.

Level 2 charging took two-four hours, and level one took 8-15 hours. AER was not mentioned, but a total of 700 miles range was.


The vehicle is believed likely to seat seven and rival the Chevy Traverse, and Toyota Highlander.

In 1984 Chrysler made a big splash in the market with its first minivan that began the downward spiral for station wagons as a vehicle of choice for American families.

Chrysler presently has no hybrids for sale in the U.S. and here it is launching a vehicle in a type that proved successful before – and indeed, there is a gaping hole other automakers have chosen not to fill, although they have the technology in place.

But Marchionne made no predictions that plug-in power would replace combustion, and in fact, he stated limitations with battery energy storage would keep them a minority player until further notice.


“I keep on running into this fundamental economic obstacle of overcoming the cost equation of electrification. You can’t,” Marchionne said. “You can’t unless there is a wholesale change and a fundamental shift in the pricing structure of cars.”

So what will it cost? That was not divulged either, but they’re building it, bringing it early, and earlier this year Chrysler brand head Al Gardner said the plug-in minivan would be have efficiency to rival a Prius.

Know any other companies with technology that can rival a Prius?

Automotive News, Automobile


Oct 06

Cadillac to build CT6 plug-in hybrid


Last week GM confirmed a plug-in hybrid version would be made of its pending CT6 flagship.

The Cadillac ELR and the Volt may be tech halos, but as GM seeks parity in the public eye with Mercedes’ S-Series, BMW’s 7-Series, and other elites, the plug-in CT6 appears like it may be preparing to take a similar halo place in due time.

Elmiraj Coupe concept. CT6 will be four-door.

According to a Detroit News report, Mark Reuss, GM’s, executive vice president of global product development said “Industry leading” efficiency of upwards of “70 mpg” would be the goal.

The word “Voltec” was not used, nor was EREV, and neither were any specifics on the powertrain other than it’s being called a plug-in hybrid.

Otherwise, the CT6 will use stop-start technology and a 3.0-liter twin turbo engine with an eight-speed transmission to make it the most “powerful six-cylinder gas engine in the segment.”

In all, said Reuss, Cadillac wants a no-excuses car.

“We will create with the CT6, the world’s most advanced body structure,” said Reuss to an audience of over 200 investors and analysts at GM’s Proving Ground during a Global Business Conference. “And it’s not aluminum. It’s a stronger, smarter, safer premium luxury vehicle.”

“So rather than try to copy someone, or do something that has already been done, we have created, we think the vehicle, in this timeframe, that will stand apart and make Cadillac again the standard of the world.”

He spoke also of simplified manufacturing techniques to eliminate components, and enhance safety, ride, handling, and potential quality issues. One example reported was the front body pillar being made of one casting instead of 20 parts.

The car will be lighter than an 8-inch shorter CTS by 53 pounds. Another technology will be combining rear camera views and streaming them into a “thru-view” mirror.

To gain conquest sales would be quite a feat, and broader implications for Cadillac do look hopeful assuming it can pull off its goals.

As for how excited electrified vehicle fans should be about a plug-in is anyone’s guess. Mercedes is just bringing its plug-in S-class to market with maybe 15-18 miles e-range.

The number of top-drawer U.S. market plug-in hybrids is just three for now, with the BMW i8 sports car getting rolling, and the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid along with Cadillac ELR plugging way.

Sales for the Cadillac ELR: 111 in September, 885 year to date. Sales for Panamera plug-in: 82 in September; 694 year to date.

Among regular hybrid versions of cars in this class, the term “greenwashing” toward a positive image has been used by some, but bragging rights for sales volume is another matter.

Example of sales numbers: BMW 7-Series hybrid: 6 in September, 37 year to date; Cadillac Escalade Hybrid: 1 in September; 35 year to date; Mercedes S400HV: 1 in September, 5 for the year, Lexus LS 600h 0 in September; 58 for year.

Plug-in fans can cheer the positive symbolism GM is making as it and others in this class are believed likely to roll out plug-ins to meet regulations – and this could make their case more compelling.

A best-case scenario is the value proposition improves, and the public has caught on more in a couple years. If a market heats up for these cars, GM is preparing to be there to duke it out with top names.

Now, where is that Voltec crossover? And SUV? And …

The Detroit News


Oct 03

If the Gen-2 Volt doesn’t have a 1.0-liter genset, another ‘source’ is a monkey’s uncle


On Wednesday from Paris, Automotive News’ GM reporter added to the unofficial statements that the next-gen Volt will get a three-cylinder 1.0-liter turbo, and he was there to see an Opel/Vauxhall Corsa which got it first.


In a blog post titled “What the new Opel Corsa and next-gen Chevy Volt have in common,” Mike Colias cited sources – plural – saying the 1.0-liter which is part of a new family of small, efficient Ecotec gasoline engines GM recently introduced, will be first seen stateside in the Volt.

“The Volt should be the first U.S. car to get the three-banger when the next generation of the plug-in hybrid goes into production in late 2015, sources have said. It’s likely to go into the redesigned Chevy Spark as well, also scheduled for a late 2015 or early 2016 launch,” wrote Colias.

He went on to conjecture he’d not be surprised to see it in the next redesigned Sonic and even the next Cruze to match similar 1.0-liter entries by Ford.


Engines that meet goals in the US, European, and even other markets, Colias said, should help CEO Mary Barra meet GM’s strategic goals also released yesterday. (GM’s press release did not once contain the word “electric, plug, Voltec, or hybrid.)

Consolidating engines across global markets also helps GM negotiate better deals requiring a far larger number of units with suppliers, Barra was quoted as saying in 2013 while still global product chief.

In a report I from March on the new Ecotec engines, AN wrote these will range from the small 1.0 to 1.5 and be high tech.



The new Ecotec engines with aluminum block and heads will have:

• Double overhead cams with four valves per cylinder.
• Water-cooled exhaust manifolds that enable faster warm-ups and the car’s heater to deliver warm air quicker.
• Variable oil pumps that save energy by delivering only the amount of oil the engine needs based on speed, load and temperature.
• Piston cooling jets to control piston temperatures.
• Variable valve timing, which adjusts the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves and enables the engine to run more efficiently at different speeds.

And, said AN in March as well:

“Depending on the market and the application, some engines will be offered with direct fuel injection and turbocharging, which enables small displacement engines to deliver far more power,” it wrote. “The engines also will be used in plug-in hybrids, such as the Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac ELR.”

Automotive News (Volt to get 1.0), Automotive News (Report on Barra/GM plans)


Oct 02

September plug-in sales keep plugging away


Chevy Volt sales of 1,394 in September placed it third behind 2,881 Nissan Leafs and an estimated 1,650 Tesla Model S sedans.

The Tesla estimate is by Autodata and Alan Baum usually trims it back by some, but of all plug-in cars sold, four sold in the four digits.


What else sold over 1,000? BMW i3 at 1,022 which compares to 1,025 in August.

The Volt was not far from half of its 2,511 sales in August but many other plug-ins were down in the 30-day month.

Prius plug-in sales were a dismal 353 versus 818 in August, 1,371 in July, 1,571 in June, 2,692 in May. Talk about falling like a rock.

No word was given whether any Prius shoppers consulted commenting readers of before making commitments at their local Toyota dealer in one of the 15 states where it is sold. As it is, at the present decline rate, it should sell maybe under 10 units in October or maybe negative numbers, but somehow we doubt that will be the case.

Other less-severe declines were Leaf sales in August were 3,166, so September’s 2,881 were not far off; ELR sales of 111 in September were down from 196 in August.

Harder hit were Ford Energi products – C-Max was at 677 in September versus 1,050 in August; Fusion was at 640 versus 1,222 in August.

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive’s third month of sales saw 65, compared to 51 in August, 41 in July.

And the other BMW plug-in, the i8 was up in September by almost six-and-a-half times its previous month sales.

Considering the i8 only launched in August with nine sold, that was not hard to do – :) – but September’s 58 sold indicates growing interest for the $137,000 PHEV that’s EPA-rated for 76 MPGe, 15 miles AER, and 28 mpg combined on fuel.

In all seriousness, the market has its ups and downs. There were 19 plug-in electric and plug-in hybrid models sold in the U.S. last month and one FCV, the Hyundai Tucson began with 6 units.

The RAV4 EV will be dropping out however. That deal between Toyota and Tesla has seen the allotment of 2,600 produced, so if you had a mind to get one, better act quick. The Honda Fit EV is also due to soon be canceled.

As for the “Volt vs. Leaf” race we don’t talk about so much these days, there has been some reporting on a new Leaf with much more range and less frog-like styling maybe in 2017, but the pending new Volt has been in the spotlight more. Has that had any chilling effect or is Nissan just marketing the Leaf better, or is it a combination of factors, most likely?


Oct 01

Who really knows what Gen-2 Volt will be like?


Today is October 1, and you know what that means, right? There’s now just three full calendar months and less than two weeks until we see Volt 2.0 – press days start Jan. 12 in Detroit.


Yesterday there were points made in comments for and against the need for secrecy vs. transparency vs. something in the middle.

In that discussion it was observed informed followers of this space “have a very good idea what the next gen will be.”

OK, so here’s a double question:

1) Do you think GM will make the big reveal full disclosure and confirm the new Volt for 2016 production or hold back info? If they do hold back, what will that be?

2) Do you think you can really foretell right now what gen two will be in the absence of GM’s official confirmation?

The fantasy wish list includes:

More electric range – how much will it be, if any?

Better mpg in charge sustaining mode – what could this be?

More rear knee room.

Higher-performance option – quicker 0-60, etc.

Room for five – for those of you who need/want it.

Lower price or same price for much more.

Other speculation includes:

Different platform?

Larger battery ?

Different format battery from T-pack to seat five?

Different chemistry battery?

Two versions announced, Volt and Volt Lite?

Other changes?

What did I miss?


I’m sure I did miss some, what with all the pieces including one more I read yesterday saying “GM formerly announced” the new Volt “will” have “about 50-60 miles” electric range.

Oh, it will? It might, but sloppy separation between pure conjecture and reports from purportedly reliable hearsay have produced a state of affairs where uninformed writers do a quick read of someone’s speculative piece, and that’s what you get. Non-facts stated as certainty.

Anyway, let’s see who gets it right. This could have been a poll, but the subjective answers in comments can add nuances.

It has been reported GM may decide to let someone spill some minor beans leading up to NAIAS but we’ll see on that.

Otherwise, the answer to “one of the automotive world’s best-kept secrets” will be revealed January and we’ll see if rumors and speculation were accurate!

Here are the (summarized) questions again:

1) Do you think GM will fully disclose all tech details and confirm Volt 2.0 for 2016 or hold back info?

2) Do you think you can describe in detail what the next Volt will be like? (short of that, if you are not sure, you can say what the new Volt should be – realistically and feasibly attainable).

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