Archive for the ‘General’ Category

 

Apr 27

The 2016 Volt’s price is … ?

 

By now everyone who’s paying attention, and even some who aren’t know a new 2016 Volt is coming, it’s better, but unknown is its MSRP.

The Volt and its price have historically sparked everything from acceptance to ambivalence to outrage, but is there any other reason why GM has not announced the price yet?

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Maybe it will soon for the first plug-in electrified vehicle to enter a second generation. Anyone think so? And when it does, what will it be?

As you’ll recall, GM has had a tendency to price alternative energy products according to what it thinks they are worth, and not necessarily what many in the general marketplace think they are worth (how’s that for euphemistic?)

More bluntly, the original 2011 Volt gave many a jolt starting – not comfortably below $30k – but at just around $40,000, and perhaps you remember dealers gouging up to $10,000 and more over that? Even with no gouging, options could send the price to the mid 40s easily if not a stone’s throw below $50,000 after taxes, and all fees.

Sales never took off as projected, and GM’s initial forecast for 2012 of 45,000 U.S. sales and 15,000 overseas Volt/Ampera sales was kiboshed and changed to “match supply to demand.”

Then we had the 2014 Cadillac ELR. GM thought a fair price was $76,000 for that. We all know how that went.

Beyond that, we have examples like the Cruze diesel priced around $1,000 over the best-selling Jetta TDI. For 2014, GM sold 5,988 of its German co-engineered VW fighter and the Jetta TDI sold 37,397.

You may also recollect the 2-mode GMC, Chevy and Cadillac hybrid trucks that were engineered marvelously, but contented highly, priced up, and sales were in the onesies and twosies per month and most of them have now been discontinued.

GM says it wants the Volt to be more a “mainstream” car. Last year the outgoing lame duck Volt sold 18,805.

What will it take to greatly enhance GM’s Volt sales going forward?

Price is one thing while some have said price is not (that) important, and they’ve emphasized marketing is more important. Actually, both price and how the car is presented and perceived are important.

For its part, GM says it will do more to get the word out and support dealers as well. What that will entail remains to be seen.

The bottom line question is: will the Volt be given the “tools” to succeed? No mtter how effective it may have been, the last one did not sell itself into mainstream acceptance, and can this one either without appropriate pricing and marketing?

Does GM want the Volt to take over, or does it want it to remain a niche-plus?

How soon do you think before they announce? What should the price structure be? What else does GM need to do?

 

Apr 24

What Will GM’s Competitors Do Now That GM Has Fired Its Shots At Electrification?

 

OP/ED by James Melvin

Toyota has pretty much established itself as the leader in greening its fleet. As of this time, Toyota has at least 20 models worldwide that include its Hybrid Synergy Drive system. Rather than develop their own systems, other automakers like Nissan have purchased licenses from Toyota to fill that sector of mid-priced hybrids producing cars like the (now discontinued) Altima Hybrid.

2016_Volt

Prius has expanded into an entire lineup of fuel-efficient cars while Toyota has aggressively taken a stance that its future plans at making automobiles more efficient center around the controversial hydrogen fuel cell cars beginning with the Mirai. Full electric efforts like the partnership with Tesla to market the RAV4EV for California ZEV credits have since gone the way of history. Honda has poked along with various light hybrid systems until today wherein it too is getting serious in providing full hybrids to meet current requirements. The South Koreans seem happy to follow along, marketing their own versions of hybrid drivetrains that are not quite up to Toyota’s standards, but made quite good showings as versions of their most popular sedans.

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We know Nissan’s chairman, Carlos Ghosn put forth the Leaf as a serious foray into a whole new category of battery-electric cars, while summarily holding off on introducing anything from
Infinity in that regard until further notice.

2013_Leaf_flags

Meanwhile, Ford has nibbled around the edges, adding its version of HSD, for which it’s accredited to at least half the patents and invention*. Ford tepidly added HSD to an Escape which sold mildly and then to Fusion, all the while letting Toyota run with Hybrid Synergy Drive in Prius – which skyrocketed to fame and fortune. Meanwhile Ford just lagged behind, happy to let Toyota be green and get all the halos. Now with a definite compliance-car Focus EV, and a Energi plug-in C-Max and Fusion – Ford seems in a happy place of compliance and offering just the least amount of electrification to say it’s there if you want it.

2013_C-Max_Hybrid_cornering

I think an intriguing question for today is: What is Ford gonna do now? As GM’s traditional rival – we wonder what is next from Dearborn to counter what has surfaced as a true next step towards electrification by GM, the “sleeping giant” of the automotive world. The fathers of the Chevrolet Volt, John Lauckner and Bob Lutz told us that Volt could “leapfrog” Prius, but then placed the MSRP of the innovative E-REV too high to accomplish that goal. With today’s new entries for 2016 and beyond, GM has finally seemed to hit that target by integrating Voltec technology into mainstream models that have a chance to outshine Hybrid Synergy Drive in that crucial hybrid segment. We are still awaiting pricing announcements which could come very soon. Pricing could be that important element needed to sway buyers away from current eco-leader, Toyota.

Car companies are not saying – “Gee, this electrification thing is the future – we need to get off oil!”…LOL! No, they would be happy to plug along with high profit margins, selling us the same ole 19th century infernal combustion stuff. This is not as much a knock – as just the bare truth. The industry is about profits, fair enough. Without high profits, no car company can keep alive. They have all jumped on the tech options bandwagon, convincing us that side impact detection, around-view cameras and the latest nav-infotainment whizbang stuff is something you just need. Matter of fact: it’s big profit. Ford even bragged a tiny bit that adding MyFordTouch and other tidbits truly saved the company as it is nearly all profit. Dealers push this stuff as if it’s the future of autodom and transportation while indeed, it’s only fluff. Transportation is-point A to point B as efficiently, smartly and safely as truly possible. Bells and whistles have always been just that — bells and whistles.

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There really is zero doubt that the future of electrification for personal transportation sits squarely on the shoulders of Tesla. Not only do they only make cars without any gas, oil and hundreds of maintenance-hungry parts … but their survival depends upon electrification’s popularity taking off. Legacy automakers are there to meet government mandates.

I’m a small government guy – but since an increase in the gasoline tax is not an option due to politics, I believe the government mandate path is the only way forward. So – in this respect, I cannot pat GM or any legacy car company on the back for crawling towards electrification. They have to – plain and simple. With 2025 EPA and DOT mandates looming large for a fleet-wide 54.5MPG average – Ford has to lightweight its best-selling trucks, and all others must follow.

Same with hybridization. Car building is heavy industry. To line up suppliers, get a product from clay model to stamping tooling made for new models – organizing engineering teams, meeting with unions and developing a marketing strategy, it takes a village to build a new car (no hat tip to any particular female presidential candidate intended ). This is not a new circuit board and some plastic and light metal manufacturing in China we’re speaking about! Companies have to look far ahead into the looking glass to predict as best they can what the market is going to be like five to 10 years out. Then they try like crazy to meet that future need. Sometimes they win – sometimes they don’t. Political climate has a lot to do with it. It’s the one thing folks here bristle at and try to avoid speaking of as much as humanly possible. But like it or not – What happens in D.C. and Beijing has a lot to do with what we get on showroom floors. If a clear-cut Republican was out there who had a chance for the White House, we may see GM and others working a bit less hard on electrification – and a bit more on lawyering and lobbying to whittle away at C.A.R.B., C.A.F.E. and other mandates. As it is, there seems a very large chance another Democrat will sit in the Oval Office – and that means the move towards electrification must forge on. Period.

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So rather than slap GM on the back and say they deserve huge kudos, we must be realists and know it is mainly politically-driven and be glad for that. At that, we must also admit GM seems to be doing a good job towards those goals. And again – What does Ford plan to do? While they lead GM into many areas where the General seems to follow along ( Mustang, F-150, Taurus…etc etc ) – the Frugal Dearborn fellas are slow to electrify. Now, it seems, the ball is in their court, and GM is leading Ford to the market with next-gen hybrids and BEVs.

the_fastest_volt

*To avoid prolonged litigation, Toyota and Ford reached an agreement to license some of Ford’s patents on emissions technology in return for rights to 21 patents from Toyota. Ford licenses Aisin Seiki’s ( minority owned by Toyota ) version of the HSD propulsion unit and calls it, “Powersplit eCVT” for use in Escape and Fusion Hybrids.

 

Apr 23

Is GM in the midst of a renaissance of electrification?

 

Some of you have wondered whether GM has a strategy to electrify the automobile.

Given some aspects of past history, that could be considered a good question.

This may add to the picture, while not filling in probably as much as you’d like to know.

2016-Chevrolet-Volt-010-21

With regards to newly revealed electrified vehicles, has 2015 been General Motors’ year to shine?

Since January the Detroit-based automaker has revealed four new electrified benchmarks – one a second-generation 50-mile range extended-range EV, one a mainstream 200-mile pure EV, another an all-new 47 mpg hybrid, another a luxury over 30-mile range plug-in hybrid.

Each one of these arguably raises the bar in its respective categories. That is, each sets a new standard or vies closely against standards for four different types of electrified vehicle, and GM indicates more is in store.

What will come next after the Chevrolet Volt, Chevrolet Bolt, Malibu Hybrid, and Cadillac CT6 PHEV is an open question, but no other automaker this year has swung quite as hard for the bleachers, and this appears quite the turnabout, or is it?

Electrification Agenda

Despite what critics and even some supporters have said they suspected, GM is working some well-kept secret of a plan to electrify its products.

Its goal is to go well beyond relatively lukewarm sales and market acceptance suffered during the beginning few years of its more-recent electrified offerings.

In Detroit this January when the Volt and Bolt were revealed, we asked Executive Chief Engineer for Electric Vehicles Pam Fletcher if GM really has an “electrification strategy?”

GM predicted in 2013 it was developing a 200-mile range EV but few saw the Bolt coming when revealed alongside the Volt in January. It’s been confirmed for production, is expected after incentives to cost around $30,000.

GM predicted in 2013 it was developing a 200-mile range EV but few saw the Bolt coming when revealed alongside the Volt in January. It’s been confirmed for production, is expected after incentives to cost around $30,000.

It’s not like there was no reason for doubt, after all. A couple years ago GM had demoted the Volt to “niche,” it was missing opportunities with its Spark EV holed up in California and Oregon, and its answer to the hybrid Camry, Accord, and Fusion were eAssist mild hybrids.

SEE ALSO: How Committed is GM To Electrification?

But with the “largest battery lab in North America” and R&D taking place under cover around the world by this company with over 200,000 employees, GM has maintained it was committed, and will be into the future.

“Yes,” said Fletcher with a smile. GM is working a plan to electrify the automobile.

Can you tell us more about it? — knowing the answer that would be next.

“No,” she said laughing. Absolutely not.

In New York this month she was again smiling as she spoke of GM’s “electrification trifecta” which now included the estimated 47-mpg Malibu Hybrid, and which would soon be joined by the Chinese-rated 37-mile EV range CT6 PHEV since shown in Shanghai.

Despite what looked like a tepid commitment as recently as a year ago, it appears GM wasn’t kidding.

Actually, despite Internet commenters who make it their business to pile it on GM for its track record and perceived foibles, GM has said it wasn’t kidding all along.

In November 2012 now CEO and then Senior VP of Global Product Development Mary Barra had said by 2017 GM expects to be producing a half-million electrified vehicles annually.

GM co-developed the Malibu Hybrid from the time it began work on the second-generation Volt. Its 47 mpg estimate would essentially tie the Accord Hybrid, and it tops hybrids from Ford, Toyota, Hyundai and Kia by 5 mpg. Its system could be utilized in plug-in and regular hybrids across GM’s lines, if GM so chose. Question is, will it? And if so, how soon?

GM co-developed the Malibu Hybrid from the time it began work on the second-generation Volt. Its 47 mpg estimate would essentially tie the Accord Hybrid, and it tops hybrids from Ford, Toyota, Hyundai and Kia by 5 mpg. Its system could be utilized in plug-in and regular hybrids across GM’s lines, if GM so chose. Question is, will it? And if so, how soon?

“I want to state clearly, here and now, that a major focus of GM’s electrification strategy will center on the plug,” said Barra at the Electrification Experience in San Francisco three-and-a-half years ago.

That was a five-year forward-looking statement, and at the time it was said eAssist mild hybrids would comprise a good portion of “some form of electrification” but the 2016 Malibu’s hybrid system wasn’t revealed then, either.

With four bar-raising cars revealed in the past four months, including the far-better hybrid architecture that can be full hybrid or turned into plug-in, is GM now hitting stride?

“We think the plug offers a unique opportunity to change the way people commute,” said Barra back in 2012. “That’s why I am proud to say that plug-based solutions will play a significant role in our technology portfolio going forward … Traditional hybrid technology is important, of course. But we think plug-in technology will play an increasingly important role in the years to come, and that’s where a significant part of our focus will be.”

Who Revived The Electric Car?

As for “who killed the electric car,” it was GM according to the documentary of the same title, and which added fuel to GM’s desire to vindicate itself.

“Revenge of the Electric Car” followed crediting GM with the Volt, along with others in bringing production all-electric and plug-in hybrids back and reviving the species almost gone extinct.

Some credit Tesla more, and to be sure Tesla’s Roadster – and the Toyota Prius – were credited by former Vice Chairman Bob Lutz as goading GM to push the Volt toward the display stand at the 2007 Detroit auto show and then into series production.

GM once crushed EV1s in Arizona and it's had to come out from those dark days. To detractors, the company has yet more to prove.

GM once crushed EV1s in Arizona and it’s had to come out from those dark days. To detractors, the company has yet more to prove.

Tesla with its Model S, pending Model X, Gigafactory, Superchargers and more is still a comparatively pure and focused force pushing for electrification. But GM – despite paying the bills with record truck profits and developing high-horsepower gas sports cars – has played its more conservative sustainability hand consistently and has been busy in its own right.

It started with the Volt which was tripped out of the starting gate. The car became a lightning rod with some who seemingly loved to hate it, and others who just loved it, period.

“And it’s still here!” said Fletcher in January this year at the generation-two debut exclaiming GM did not kill off the Volt as some feared it might, but improved it and took the PR beating besides.

And the Volt has surely paid some dues. Having done so, and after selling over 77,000 since December 2010 – far fewer than estimates initially projected – it will be the first plug-in car that’s gone through one complete product life cycle.

The replacement is due this summer and GM says it does have a better marketing budget reserved for it this time around.

 The Volt promises 50 miles EV range – more than double competitive, but larger PHEVs – and 41 mpg on gas. It's head Chevrolet marketer Steve Majoros' job to help make the slogan behind him true for the 2016 Volt. The company stopped advertising gen-one outside of California and tech events where people were perceived ready to comprehend and embrace it. The new car is hoped to appeal to a broader audience. Social media-based and other communications strategies are in the works.

The Volt promises 50 miles EV range – more than double competitive, but larger PHEVs – and 41 mpg on gas. It’s head Chevrolet marketer Steve Majoros’ job to help make the slogan behind him true for the 2016 Volt. The company stopped advertising gen-one outside of California and tech events where people were perceived ready to comprehend and embrace it. The new car is hoped to appeal to a broader audience. Social media-based and other communications strategies are in the works.

And it’s starting to look like GM’s plan is unfolding, what ever it may specifically be.

The gen-two Volt’s drive unit – electrified transmission – has been revised to make it compatible – the former one wasn’t – to graft into other models, with the Malibu Hybrid being the first of potentially more hybrids in different shapes and sizes.

SEE ALSO: Here’s Why The 2016 Malibu Hybrid Could Launch GM’s New Hybrid Era

This follows through on what had been said in January 2014, when things looked still uninspiring. Then, GM’s Kevin Kelly, manager, Electric Vehicle and Hybrid Communications held the line.

“Gen two of our E-REV technology is far under development and so we’ll have more to say about that,” he said. “I can’t tell you when, but we’ll have more to say about that. Rest assured we are committed to the technology.”

Data and innovations developed from the Volt will lead to more, he had said.

“The technology is vital to us, but the technology that’s in the Volt has already paved the way for us to do things with Spark EV [and other cars pending],” said Kelly who mentioned hardware, software, algorithms, and more that were pioneered with the Volt.

What’s Next?

Whether GM can keep up the pace is anyone’s guess but the competition doesn’t sleep either, and global pressures conspire to push it and all others.

Accusations remain that automakers are only doing just enough to stay ahead of regulations.

Automakers cite challenges limiting them to the pace they’ve been able to run.

Whatever is true, GM is known to keep its cards close to its chest. Closer than Mercedes-Benz, for example, which up and announced 10 new plug-in cars will be here by 2017.

GM by contrast meant the Bolt to be a complete surprise out of left field – or rather Australia – but a GM employee blew the secret the weekend prior to its January reveal. Also, key details about the Volt and CT6 PHEV were unknown until GM chose to disclose them, and few saw the Malibu Hybrid coming.

Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen says the 335-horsepower CT6 plug-in hybrid will get 37 miles (60km) on the Chinese test cycle, which is similar to the liberal EU cycle. Its battery is a reconfigured 18.4-kwh unit from the 2016 Volt and is double the size found in other luxury PHEVs.

Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen says the 335-horsepower CT6 plug-in hybrid will get 37 miles (60km) on the Chinese test cycle, which is similar to the liberal EU cycle. Its battery is a reconfigured 18.4-kwh unit from the 2016 Volt and is double the size found in other luxury PHEVs.


What we do know is GM has said it wants half a million electrified cars by 2017. It has in quick succession shown new competitive products and says at the same time this is not all we’ll see.

Or, perhaps in the ebb and flow of automakers’ productivity, GM’s latest spurt of benchmarks is just a random fluke? Maybe we’ll soon hear of a next-step forward from Ford, or BMW, or Tesla, or someone else?

And it remains true GM has had a checkered track record in the eyes of critics while it has insisted it’s managed its portfolio against cost and marketing constraints known most clearly to it.

There are more unknowns than knowns, but GM is at the moment looking pretty solid.

 

Apr 22

GM engineering study shows Volt burns less gas, emits less GHG than competitive plug-in hybrids

 

I was handed this paper by GM, and gleaned some stuff here. It’s linked below if you want to read the whole thing.

(Hint – it tells you in detail what regulars here have said all along …)

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For everyone who likes to say the Chevrolet Volt is just one more plug-in hybrid, a GM study presented to the Society of Automotive Engineers shows it stands to burn radically less gasoline and emit much less smog-forming gases than competitive PHEVs.

The engineering analysis also projects the new 2016 Volt due in a couple of months will significantly outperform the 2011-2014 specification Volts studied.

Why? The short answer is the Volt has a battery twice to four-times larger and is rated at least double the all-electric range of any conventional plug-in hybrid. For daily driving, this plus unique system architecture and higher top EV speed means the engine stays off longer and the study says the Volt can provide 40-times or more all-electric trips.

By contrast PHEVs – such as by Toyota, Honda and Ford – have batteries one-half to one-quarter the Volt’s size, lower top speeds, and the gas can come on more often.

Prius Plug-in Hybrid, AKA "PHEV A.

Prius Plug-in Hybrid, AKA “PHEV A.

Of course these roomier competitors are midsized and Volt is compact. Also, prices vary, styles do too, and there are myriad other trade-offs besides in a full comparison, but the paper isn’t about any of that. Rather, it drills down solely on the Volt’s number-one virtue: powertrain and daily driving efficiency.

Titled “Chevrolet Volt Electric Utilization,” and citing SAE precedent to justify its assertions, the paper distinguishes between an “extended-range electric vehicle” (“E-REV”) and generic “plug-in hybrid electric vehicle” (PHEV).

Honda Accord PHEV, AKA "PHEV B."

Honda Accord PHEV, AKA “PHEV B.”

For the past four years Volt critics have decried the “E-REV” moniker as mere marketing verbiage by GM, but the SAE offers separate definitions for each.

E-REV: “A vehicle that functions as full-performance battery electric vehicle when energy is available from an onboard RESS [rechargeable energy storage system] and having an auxiliary energy supply that is only engaged when the RESS energy is not available.”

PHEV: “A hybrid vehicle with the ability to store and use off-board electrical energy in the RESS.”

Ford Fusion Energi shares powertrain with C-Max Energi. One of these is likely "PHEV C."

Ford Fusion Energi shares powertrain with C-Max Energi. One of these is likely “PHEV C.”

If one takes the fact the Volt uses two power sources, then by a looser definition it is also a plug-in hybrid, but the SAE makes a finer distinction in how the car actually functions next to other competitive PHEVs.

The study is based on real-world data from more than 60,000 2011-2014 Volts. The data was anonymously collected via GM’s OnStar telematics service by cooperating owners from October 2013 through September 2014. This was to ensure all four seasons were represented. For the PHEVs other data samples were used including from 621 vehicles monitored by the Southern California Association of Governments, plus data from the National Renewable Energy Lab, Idaho National Laboratory, and more.

Volt Really Is An EV With Gas Backup

The Volt is able to run gas-free far more than conventional vehicles and even PHEVs because of its system architecture and how it works.

The study found “trip initial engine starts” for the generation-one Volts were reduced by 70 percent compared to conventional vehicles under the same conditions.

"RTS" data refers to Southern California Regional Travel Survey (RTS) data.“These Volt drivers were able to travel 74 percent of their total miles in EV [mode] without turning the engine on,” said the paper. “RTS” data refers to Southern California Regional Travel Survey (RTS) data.[/caption]“These Volt drivers were able to travel 74 percent of their total miles in EV [mode] without turning the engine on,” said the paper.[/caption]

By comparison also, the paper observed “a PHEV’s lack of full-performance all-electric capability results in engine operation under everyday speed and/or load conditions, regardless of available battery energy.”

Figure 9 shows the percentage of days that could be completed entirely on electricity as predicted from the RTS data set when considering all three propulsion system constraints for the example PHEVs and the Volt E-REVs.

Figure 9 shows the percentage of days that could be completed entirely on electricity as predicted from the RTS data set when considering all three propulsion system constraints for the example PHEVs and the Volt E-REVs.

“The dominant factor in EV trip capability of a PHEV is determined to be the amount of power available from the battery or electric motor before an engine start is required,” continued the paper. “With full vehicle performance capability as an EV, a 35 mile E-REV is found to provide up to 40-times more all-electric trips than a PHEV over the same data set.”

A “35-mile E-REV” would be none other than 2011-2012 Volts. The 2013 and 2014 Volt models increased to 38 miles rated range with an increase from 16.0 kilowatt-hours for 2011-2012s to 16.5 kilowatt-hours for 2013-2014s. Not studied were 2015s which have 17.1-kwh batteries.

Unidentified, but "A" is most likely Prius PHEV; B is Honda Accord PHEV; C is C-Max or Fusion Energi PHEV. NOTE: The BMW i3 REx is not counted likely because its not a full-range PHEV. Its small-gas-tank-equipped 2-cylinder range extender means it's more of an EV with short-distance backup according to BMW. Nor is it in a direct price/performance/market position class against the Volt to the degree that the others are.

Unidentified, but “A” is most likely Prius PHEV; B is Honda Accord PHEV; C is C-Max or Fusion Energi PHEV. NOTE: The BMW i3 REx is not counted likely because its not a full-range PHEV. Its small-gas-tank-equipped 2-cylinder range extender means it’s more of an EV with short-distance backup according to BMW. Nor is it in a direct price/performance/market position class against the Volt to the degree that the others are.

As mentioned, the “PHEVs” in question almost certainly are the Prius PHEV, limited-market Accord PHEV, and a C-Max or Fusion Energi PHEV. We say this because they are identified by their top EV-mode speeds and all-electric ranges of 6 miles, 13 miles and 21 miles respectively – note Ford has since been downgraded to 19 miles, but was 21.

2016 Volt Should Do Better

Based on the first-generation Volt’s “in-use operating data,” the paper projects the second-generation Volt will be able to complete 80 percent of total miles driven using electricity.

The study does not say so, but where a Volt will not do as well is if used on a lengthy trip or with un-charged battery. Here it comes down to mpg ratings and its unique electric-operating advantages do not come into play.

The study does not say so, but where a Volt will not do as well is if used on a lengthy trip or with un-charged battery. Here it comes down to mpg ratings and its unique electric-operating advantages do not come into play.

That means no gas required, and would beat the first-generation Volt by 25 percent assuming the same driving and charging behavior as observed in the study.

The paper points out the 2016 Volt is rated 50 miles EV range and 41 mpg compared to 38 miles and 37 on premium for the 2013-2015 Volt.

“For PHEV operation, there are three constraints that primarily impact vehicle all-electric performance capability,” says the paper. “These include the useable energy in the battery pack, the available electric propulsion power before engine assistance is required, and top speed electric capability. For E-REV operation, only useable energy stored in the battery pack is applicable, as an E-REV is designed to provide full vehicle power and speed performance without starting the engine.”

“For PHEV operation, there are three constraints that primarily impact vehicle all-electric performance capability,” says the paper. “These include the useable energy in the battery pack, the available electric propulsion power before engine assistance is required, and top speed electric capability. For E-REV operation, only useable energy stored in the battery pack is applicable, as an E-REV is designed to provide full vehicle power and speed performance without starting the engine.”

“With 12 additional miles of all-electric range in the second generation Chevrolet Volt, the need to start the ICE would be eliminated on over 5 million additional trips bringing the total percentage of all-electric trips to 77,” says the paper. “Leaving only 23 percent of the conventional vehicle’s initial engine starts translates to a substantial reduction in criteria emissions.”

Opportunity Charging

Part of why the first-generation Volt did so well in the analysis was due to opportunity or intra-day charging. The study found the average Volt owner does charge overnight, and many also plug in during the day to stretch effective daily range beyond EPA limits for a single charge.

“It was found that if a 35-38 mile range was strictly enforced while maintaining observed charge behavior, the all-electric miles would be approximately 66-68 percent,” said the study. “With actual data showing 74 percent miles electrically, this suggests these drivers are achieving ranges that exceed EPA estimates near 45 miles.”

Far Fewer Cold Starts

One factor called out is that when a plug-in hybrid – or a Volt – starts its internal combustion engine, it is a “cold start” where the engine is least efficient and most polluting within the first minute.

“For simplicity, the cold-start emissions are considered as a 25-percent contributor to total smog emissions and running emissions are considered as the remainder of the emissions,” says the paper.

This chart illustrates the separation between E-REV and PHEV by comparing the amount of electric power available as a ratio to the vehicle power demand at full driving performance.

This chart illustrates the separation between E-REV and PHEV by comparing the amount of electric power available as a ratio to the vehicle power demand at full driving performance.

“The distinguishing feature of an E-REV that differentiates it from a PHEV is the capability of full vehicle performance as an EV,” said the study. “The fuel powered engine in an E-REV is primarily intended to be a generator to extend driving range for long trips. Whereas, a PHEV is a hybrid electric vehicle architecture with the addition of plug in charge capability and has limited all-electric performance.”

Air Pollution

According to the paper, EPA Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle labels with a numerical smog score from 1 to 10 meant to grade degree of smog-forming emissions are only so valuable because “less clear for the consumer” is the effect of EV operation to prevent gas-engine startup.

label

"A consumer may not be able to understand the benefit to smog forming emissions of the PHEV or EREV that they are considering by just looking at the label in its present form. The label for the MY13 Volt is shown in Figure 10 (non-CARB) [16], and the smog score rating scale is shown in Figure 11 [15]. Note that the label for California and other states which adhere to the CARB rating system will show a 9 in the Smog Rating section."

“A consumer may not be able to understand the benefit to smog forming emissions of the PHEV or EREV that they are considering by just looking at the label in its present form. The label for the MY13 Volt is shown in Figure 10 (non-CARB) [16], and the smog score rating scale is shown in Figure 11 [15]. Note that the label for California and other states which adhere to the CARB rating system will show a 9 in the Smog Rating section.”

“This rating may vary by state, and typically reflects the smog forming emissions of the base engine without regard for the all-electric capability,” says the paper. “States that modify the label smog score for advanced technology vehicles will change the rating based on a PZEV or AT-PZEV certification, which requires SULEV engine exhaust emissions as a first pre-requisite. Existing smog score label methodology does not reflect the infrequent engine starts on an EREV vehicle.”

The first generation Volt reduces smog forming emissions by 76 percent as compared to a conventional vehicle with the same engine and the second generation Volt reduces smog forming emissions by 82 percent. PHEV A (presumed Toyota), B (presumed Honda), and C (presumed Ford) reduce smog forming emissions by 17 percent, 26 percent, and 31 percent respectively.

The first generation Volt reduces smog forming emissions by 76 percent as compared to a conventional vehicle with the same engine and the second generation Volt reduces smog forming emissions by 82 percent. PHEV A (presumed Toyota), B (presumed Honda), and C (presumed Ford) reduce smog forming emissions by 17 percent, 26 percent, and 31 percent respectively.


Bottom line, says the paper, the Volt outdoes all others.

“There is significantly less real-world production of smog forming emissions from E-REVs than a conventional vehicle or even a PHEV equivalent, which is not yet accounted for in the smog score rating in many states.”

SAE

 

Apr 21

Should GM build the Volt in China?

 

This is based on an opinion/analysis sort of piece by Automotive News’ dedicated GM reporter writing from China …

chevrolet-volt_china

At a media roundtable yesterday in Shanghai, GM fielded questions as to whether it might begin local production of its Chevrolet Volt for the EV-hungry Chinese market.

“Electrification is a part of the strategy” for China, said CEO Mary Barra evading a direct answer but with a response that did not explicitly say no either. “We are looking across the portfolio, being driven by what the customer wants.”

According to Automotive News, if GM chose to localize production, it would be a smart move to meet several goals.

Presently the Volt is exclusively built in Detroit and is exorbitant to Chinese buyers being slapped with import tariffs to push MSRP to $80,000.

Further, because the Volt is imported, Chinese buyers don’t qualify for national or local incentives that reduce the price by around $20,000.

As it is, it might as well be an exotic for how price competitive it is.

Meanwhile GM is energetically pursuing manufacturing in China, building other products just for it, and here it has a ready made solution with specs and range just in line with what the Chinese are clamoring for.

As China increases incentives to get things moving against resistance, the country has been on a crusade to try and increase EV sales – and absorption of Western technology to its aspiring state-controlled manufacturing base.

Couple this with the fact GM has not exactly had a strong sales response for the Volt since 2011, opines Automotive News’ experienced reporter Mike Colias presumably weighing the feeling in China at the moment. Could China be the perfect solution?

Last year EV sales in China increased to nearly 75,000 units compared to less than 20,000 the year prior. This was still just so-so on a per-capita basis, and actually California bought more plug-in passenger vehicles than the “world’s largest auto market.”

SEE ALSO: Californians Bought More Plug-in Cars Than China Last Year

But that is projected to be only a be temporary imbalance. China has been described as an awakening giant, and has set a goal this year to sell 336,815 EVss. It plans to install 140,000 charging stations this year to add to the 20,000 it counted last year.

Of course this summer GM hopes to turn around the Volt’s sales track record in the U.S. market with the revised and better 2016 Volt – whihc it says it will market better too – so data and opinions based on the track record of the 2011-2015 Volt may be premature.

Or are they? Should GM build the Volt in China and sell a “boatload” of subsidy eligible car in this market vying to expand beyond any other?

Automotive News

 

Apr 20

Cadillac Revealed CT6 PHEV a little earlier than expected in Shanghai

 

Are you surprised it’s a four?

AER is not announced. It has twice the battery size of a Mercedes-Bens S500 PHEV.Same as Volt, but not a T-pack …

2016-Cadillac-CT6-012

By Phillippe Crowe

Cadillac has announced its CT6 plug-in- hybrid version of its newly revealed flagship as expected in Shangahi.

According to the automaker, the new PHEV system is expected to more than double the fuel economy of its conventional powertrain siblings.

“The first-ever CT6 is a technological showcase throughout, making it an ideal platform for Cadillac to offer its first plug-in hybrid,” said Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen. “In the CT6, Cadillac presents a new formula for prestige luxury. The advanced plug-in hybrid system is a key addition, providing a combination of exceptional fuel economy, crisp acceleration and strong electric-driving range.”

SEE ALSO: Cadillac Will Discontinue the ELR

Cadillac added its CT6 plug-in hybrid powertrain has been designed to offer enough EV mode range for most daily commutes to be done purely on electric power.

Cadillac’s engineers have installed an 18.4 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack between the rear seat and the trunk. This battery system is said to be comprised of 192 prismatic pouch cells, which use the latest generation cell chemistry found in the Chevy Volt. Also, the CT6 PHEV battery will use the company’s active thermal control system that maintains electric range over the battery system’s life.

These batteries will propel an all-new rear wheel electric variable transmission (EVT) combining two electric motors also three planetary gears. This is combined to a 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with spark-ignited direct injection and variable valve technology for a total system power of 335 horsepower and 432 pound-feet of torque.

Full details on the CT6 PHEV efficiency in the U.S. and other markets outside China will be released closer to the car’s introduction in those markets, said Cadillac, but it expects the fuel economy of the CT6 PHEV to be more than double that of the car’s conventional engine offerings.

Like many other PHEV vehicles, the CT6 PHEV will feature regenerative braking using Cadillac’s iBooster and Electronic Stability Program tailored for hybrid electric vehicle regenerative blended braking.

The company explained the iBooster and ESP-hev technology balance the use of the CT6 electric motors to act as generators to slow the vehicle and capture as much kinetic energy as possible during low-demand scenarios, while blending the traditional hydraulic brakes with the motors in high-demand scenarios.

Press release