Archive for the ‘Voltec’ Category


Jun 28

Voltec Could go Mainstream in 5 to 6 Years


The Opel Ampera is the twin sister car to the Chevy Volt.  The primary difference is rebadging with Opel styling cues, the platform and powertrain will be identical.   Canadian parts supplier Magna International is in negotiations with GM to become a partial owner of Opel.

There are apparently some snags in the negotiations.  It is well known that Magna intends to become a leader in the electrification of the automobile.  Ownership in Opel could potentially give them access to Voltec intellectual property.  Sources indicate that “Magna is asking for access to future technology such as fuel cells, hybrids and future GM models that go beyond what the company is offering in the deal.”  As such GM is now in new negotiations with buyout firm RHJ International SA and Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co.

Reports out of Europe cite GM sources as saying this uncertainty has led to a plan to introduce the right-handed Chevy Volt at the same time as the Opel Ampera in Europe in 2012, effectively putting them in competition with one another.

However, the reports suggests this competition may only be brief, as GM’s future Voltec plans are made clearer.  GM sources told Autocar that in the future “there won’t be a Volt or Ampera mark two, the powertrain will effectively become mainstream.”  As an example this source said the sixth generation Opel Astra could get the Voltec powertrain  “in 5 or 6 years.”

If this were true one could envision a similar paradigm developing in North America, where new future GM compact cars could come as standard gas combustion as well as Voltec versions.

Source (Autocar) and (Bloomberg)


Jun 03

GM, Magna, Opel, and Voltec: a Tangled Web is Woven


The GM bankruptcy is independent of its foreign subsidiaries. This includes GM Europe which makes Opel products.

GM Europe has itself been rescued through a German government brokered deal selling portions of the company to Canadian auto parts maker Magna and Russian lender Sberbank.  Magna will own 20%, Sberbank 35%, GM 35%, and Opel auto workers 10%.

Magna CEO Frank Stronach has strongly voiced his plans to move his company into electrification of the automobile, and indeed the company is already known to be partnering with Ford to bring their EV Focus to market in 2012.

“About two and a half years ago we made a commitment to be in the electric car business in a very serious way,” said Stronach. “First of all we’d like to supply all car companies with electrical systems but we also have the intention to build electric cars.”

And in time says Stronach “I am very confident that Magna will be amongst the leaders in selling and building electric cars.”

Where it gets interesting and potentially threatening to the Volt’s competitiveness is that the fact that the Opel Ampera is the sister car to the Chevy Volt and therefore contains the same proprietary Voltec drivetrain. Production of the Ampera remains on track for a European launch in 2012.

A consideration for speculation is whether Magna’s ownership position could give them access to proprietary Voltec intellectual property and competitive information which the company could then use in either building its own electric cars or those of other automakers like Ford.

“Certainly it would be too early to make any judgments about that, but I don’t think it would make an impact,” said Jon Lauckner, GM’s VP of product development. “Magna is acting as a supplier to Ford, so we are going to have to wait and see, quite frankly we haven’t had any discussion on it.”

Emails to representatives at Magna have gone unanswered.

Magna expects to close the deal by September, and Opel Chairman Carl Peter-Forster told Reuters they write “a lot of details of Canadian auto parts group Magna International’s deal to buy the company still needed to be clarified.”


Jun 02

GM Exec: Chevy Volt Program Unaffected by Bankruptcy


GM’s bankruptcy filing doesn’t spell an end to the company but actually a new beginning. The Chevy Volt remains a critical element of GM’s future and therefore the program will not be affected in any way by the filing.

Jon Lauckner is GM’s VP of product development and along with Bob Lutz, co-inventor of the Chevy Volt.

“We’re closing one chapter and opening a new chapter,” he said. “This is really a defining moment for us. Its new future for the company. It going to let us solve problems that have been with us for many many years and really its a once in a lifetime opportunity to reinvent the company for the next 100 years.”

“We in product development really need to stay focused on the future,” said Lauckner. “We are moving valuable assets into the new GM, we’re going to have a more focused product portfolio, a smaller, nimbler, faster moving company; and that’s all part of the reinvention of GM. Over the next 60 to 90 days all of that will take place and we’ll emerge a faster leaner enterprise.”

“We are still open for business,” he said.  “We are out there to make sure that we satisfy customers and that we are backing all of our vehicles with warranty coverage and that we are working on our future portfolio.”

I asked the following questions of Mr. Lauckner.

Are you confident if everything goes to plan and made lean that GM will be able to be profitable even at 10 million SAAR?
Yes, because the viability plan has GM downsized to the point where we can break even at an industry volume of 10 million units, more or less where we are running today. That means as the economy recovers in the US, and industry volumes increase, that really sets the stage for us to generate significant profitability and cash flow. When you look at how the company is going to be resized and refocused we really have a tremendous opportunity to generate the kind of profitability the old company wouldn’t have been able to generate.

How will bankruptcy and government intervention affect the Volt program or will it in any way?
It won’t in any way impact the Volt program.

Production volume plans wont be affected?

Anything material that we’ve had as the plan for the Volt will not be changed. This does not change anything that we’ve set up in terms of the Volt.

The government questioned the Volt’s profitability at one point, does the government now support it fully?

I don’t know if it makes sense for me to speak for the government. The point is that everybody understands the Volt shows the way forward. You go back to the original introduction of the car in 2007 and you look at what’s taken place since then and every one agrees that the the question of electrification of the automobile is not a question of if, it has changed to a question of when.

It makes no sense for us to take a fundamentally different approach on the Volt as compared to where we were before today.

In 5 to 10 years what percentage of GM’s total portfolio will be Voltec vehicles?
That’s almost impossible for me to forecast with any certainty. We’re out there with the Volt and we are working on other potential applications of the Voltec propulsion system, and those studies continue. We’ll just have to see how the whole story develops. Its more fundamental than talking about what the Volt is going to do by itself, but more how the whole environment develops over the next few years.

Are you hopeful Voltec could become quickly a large segment of vehilce sales?
We see it as a very key technology going forward, and while we are in  the late stages of the development of the generation one Volt, we are already looking into generation two that would have technology that might  allow us to have better performance and lower cost.

This is something that we’re going to continue to work on. We know that no doubt as good as the Volt is in employing the very latest and greatest technology that’s out there, things will move forward in the next few years and there will be future developments that we will incorporate into the next generation of the car.

What is the time line of generation 2?
It depends on what you want to characterize as generation 2. There is the car and the technology and they may not line up. We have the propulsion system and it may make sense to make some interim improvements in some of the elements of the propulsion system within a year or two after start of production. And then longer term you talk about the lifecycle of the car itself. I don’t think you can make the evolutionary improvements that may take place in the propulsion system and just roll that up to the car level.

We have to take a look at it and we haven’t got all the work done, and we know we have to make cost reductions and that will involve changes and then of course you have the next generation of the complete car that we typically have on longer lifecycles than 1 to 2 years.

Will GM leapfrog to Volt and skip the small sedan hybrid?
We haven’t excluded any sort of hybrid propulsion systems from our thinking process in terms of what we might do in the future.

What about a pure EV without the generator?
We haven’t announced anything like that.

Is the Cadillac Converj greenlighted?
No the status of the Converj hasn’t changed.


Apr 14

Rumor: Cadillac Converj and Electric Buick Crossover Approved for Production


GM unveiled the strikingly beautiful Cadillac Converj at the Detroit Auto Show in January. The incredibly sleek car uses the same 40 mile AER Voltec propulsion system as the Volt though it is tweaked for higher performance that models indicate it could achieve.

Bob Lutz told at the time that he wanted the car to be produced and even acknowledged that the clay models had been built and that its design had the necessary aerodynamics to achieve the 40 mile range. He also noted the car would cost “about two Volts”.

According to MotorTrend, GM has approved moving the car into production. Also the report cites unidentified GM sources as saying that GM also has approved an as yet unseen 7-seat people-mover/crossover as the third Voltec car, most likely under the Buick brand.

The Converj is to be launched in 2011 as a 2012 model and will remain a 2-door coupe.

The Buick is likely to be based on the Chevy Orlando which shares the same compact Delta platform as the Volt. It is a compact yet spacious vehilce that can either haul cargo or easily seat 7, and could likely readily be adapted to the Voltec drivetrain.

In fitting with this, there have also been recent reports that GM will be unveiling a Buick version similar to the Orlando at the Shanghai auto show on April 20th. Perhaps that will be the new Voltec machine.

Spokespeople for GM have not confirmed these assertions and for now they remain rumors.

Source (MotorTrend)


Apr 09

GM to Build 2-Mode Hybrid Cadillac SRX


GMs 2-mode hybrid drivetrains are currently in use in large trucks.  They can be found in the Escalade, Yukon, Tahoe, and Silverado where they allow these massive vehicles to achieve 20 mpg combined fuel economy.

Currently a 2-Mode hybrid VUE is in pre-production, and launch has been delayed.  Many factors have gone into this delay first and foremost being GM’s financial position and possibly the dead end road Saturn is on.

The 2010 Cadillac SRX, initially previewed a s a fuel cell Voltec derivative Provoq concept, is set for launch this summer.  There will be two drivetrain options, a 3.0-liter Direct Injection and a 2.8-liter turbo.

GM has now acknowledged it is their desire to produce a hybrid version of that vehilce too at some point in the future.  “We would like to add a hybrid (SRX), yes,” Cadillac spokesperson David Caldwell told “But there are no announcements to be made right now.”

The 2-mode VUE is set up to be powerful if not maximally fuel efficient.  The vehicle does a 0 to 60 in 7.4 seconds generating 262 hp and 250 ft-pounds of torque.  With all that strength it returns  27 mpg hwy | 30 mpg city with a 3.0 L V6 engine.

Perhaps a Voltec SRX may come eventually, as we’ve heard before from GM, “Voltec is on the table” for designing the next generation hybrid truck drivetrain.

Incidentally, Mercedes has just revealed its new small SUV ML450 HYBRID. This vehilce uses the same 2-mode hybrid drivetrain that GM is using. I has a 335 HP 8 cylinder engine, with a fuel efficiency of 24 mpg hwy | 21 mpg city.

Source (Edmunds)


Apr 02

GM Asking For Additional Loans to Build Two More Electric Cars


There is new information found in an updated business plan that GM presented to the government on Wednesday.

The automaker is requesting an additional $2.6 billion in low interest loans to support the development and introduction of three new electric vehicles.

Specifically this is for the purpose of developing two spinoff cars from the Chevy Volt, and a third hybrid, and raises the amount GM is requesting from the section 136, or ATVMIP loans to $10.3 billion. These loans are intended to help companies build advanced technology high efficiency vehicles and are not related to the government funding GM currently possesses.

GM wouldn’t be able to get these loans, which could be released as early as June, until they are deemed financially viable. However this information confirms that GM has production plans to build two more EREVs, proving they do not intend the Volt to be a one-off or niche car. Building multiple models in increasing volumes is the primary way to drive costs down for the battery technology.

GM has previously unveiled the strikingly designed Voltec-powered Cadillac Converj which could conceivably be one of those two cars. has been told that one or more additional Voltec concepts would unveiled in 2009. There is speculation that one could be a Buick, perhaps based on the new China-based Excelle which sits atop the same compact delta platform the Volt and Cruze use.

Even if GM has to go through a quick-rinse bankruptcy to cleave off its bad assets, the company will survive lean and mean and if all goes to plan with at least electric cars to choose from.

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