04-08-2009, 02:31 PM
One interesting thing about the Volt is the move to successive generations is purely based on battery/technology evolution.
It appears GM is expecting gen1 of the Volt to be a money loser and Gen 2 will bring down the cost. However, depending on subsidies Gen 2 may not yet be where serious money is made. GM is indicating they are working already on Gen 2 and Gen 3 with the express goal of lowering costs. Increasing range is secondary to bringing down costs.
So would this mean that Volt Generations will be shorter than normal auto life cycles? Usually car makers leave a new model alone for 5-8 years because once the initial investment has been paid back, the longer a vehicle is sold, the higher the margins (counterbalanced by the lower total sales of the vehicle as it ages - hence the eventual incentive to redesign). In the Volt's case the margins should actually improve with the introduction of each successive generation. So they have a double incentive (margins AND new sales) to innovate quickly and commercialize quickly.
So what are some guesstimates on the Volt life cycles? When do you think we will see Gen2? Gen3?
This is obviously intricately tied to your guesstimate of the time frame to get more advanced/cheaper batteries ready.
04-08-2009, 03:09 PM
Someone who might have some insight here would be HyperMiler. Like you said, a lot depends on the batteries. LG Chem already has their schedule for their next gen batteries they are planning to produce and he knows what it is. I don't think GM is doing much in the way of battery progress themselves. They'll probably just adapt the battery packs and battery interfacing software to whatever battery cells they decide to go with for gen 2. It's not guaranteed to be LG Chem, A123 is still in the running, but they are not a high volume company yet and they just signed on to work with Chrysler, so they might have their hands tied for a while. A123 is probably hoping to implement some of the latest stuff coming out of MIT, and they are also trying to build their US factories in Michigan, so who knows where they'll be.
Judging by the Gen 1 Volt's 4 year development, I would guess they will sell Gen 1 for 3 years and Gen 2 will come out, probably some time in 2014. By then LG Chem will have their next gen batteries I believe and GM will probably have a vehicle redesigned based on the projected specs as far as the physical size of the battery. They are also planning on a smaller ICE which should make it less expensive and get better extended range gas mileage, so we'll see how that turns out. They might even offer a diesel for those green enthusiasts who like making biodiesel. That's just pure speculation of course, but if you figure you are only using about 6-8 gallons of diesel every couple of months or so, it makes the idea of just making your own fuel at home sound pretty feasible. It's the perfect solution for those who want give the middle finger to Big Oil. Also making it cheaper is that it will probably have smaller and more thermally stable batteries and won't need all of the thermal regulating systems they have in place on the Gen 1, which they've admitted are probably overkill anyway. I am sure they will do their darndest to make sure it has 5 seats. Hopefully they can get the price down to $30k before tax credit at most since by Gen 2, they will have stiff competition from pretty much every auto maker you can think of, as well as some we've never heard of.
I think if they can pull this off, things should play out pretty nicely. I believe a $22,500 after tax price tag should be very marketable even against a Prius and pure EV. By then there will certainly be many small sub compactish pure EVs that will have a 100 mile range or something, just for commuting, but the Volt with it's unlimited driving range is going to make it well worth the extra money for most car buyers.
Even though the Gen 1 will be in the $35k-40k range before tax credit, I don't think at the low volumes they are producing them, it will be tough to move them all. By the time Gen 2 comes out, the production should be ramped up to a level that the after tax price of $22,500 should make it a very high volume seller. I am extremely confident gas prices will be so high as to make the selling environment for the Volt extremely easy in any Gen.
If someone asked me about the rest of GM, I'd say I have to agree with government that their vehicle lineup is still way too heavy on the trucks and SUVs side for them to be prepared for the coming oil price increases which are inching up all the time.
04-08-2009, 05:50 PM
So would this mean that Volt Generations will be shorter than normal auto life cycles?
According to terms of LG's contract, 1st gen Volt should be on the market until the end of 2015, meaning a standard 5 year model cycle.
1st Gen Volt : 2010~2015
2nd Gen Volt : 2016~2020
By 2016, LG's 40 mile AER battery pack should have shrunk to the weight and size of two Prius battery packs, and fit comfortably under the rear seat, sharing spaces with fuel tank. No more T-shaped battery pack.
LG's battery pack schedule
Phase 1 battery(2009~2011) : Hyundai/Kia non-plugin Hybrids, GM Volt.
Phase 2 battery(2012~2015) : 10 mile AER at Prius battery size and cost. Hyundai 40 mile AER Blue-Will PHEV
Phase 3 battery(2016~ ) : 20 mile AER at Prius battery size and cost. 2nd Gen Volt. 2nd Gen Blue-Will
04-09-2009, 12:57 AM
Do you work for LG?
04-09-2009, 09:38 AM
Do you work for LG?
No, these are publicly available information. Some of them not in English, but still publicly available.
Good information on LGs future plans. Can you post any links to this public information? Do you know how LG plans on getting the size and weight down? What about cost cutting? I would think that future advances may end up making the battery cost the same or more.
What is the current cycle life of a Volt battery, especially at elevated temps where batteries (especially Li Ion ones) really take a beating?