GM's Fortune Tied to Fate of Electric Car
By EV World
Amidst the melt-down on Wall Street where once-powerful banking and investment houses are toppling like dominoes, out in Warren, Michigan another drama is playing out.
This morning General Motors, itself fighting for survival amidst persistent rumors of looming bankruptcy, rolled out a small silver-gray sedan that might easily be overlooked in any parking lot unless one looks closely at the Volt badge on the rear or the camouflaged plug-in port on the front fender. Those will be the subtle clues that this car is unlike anything else on the road. GM management, employees and shareholders fervently hope this is the car of the future.
As the official company photographs below illustrate, the Volt E-Flex range-extended electric vehicle, is an attractively styled vehicle that will surely appeal to many car buyers who still find the styling of the Prius off-putting. While the rackish hot-rod looks of the original Volt concept car first unveiled nearly two years ago have morphed into something less dramatic in the name of improved aerodynamics, it is what's under the sheet metal that makes the car extraordinary.
Instead of blending the gasoline engine with an electric motor through a complex transmission system as is done in all current production hybrids, including those from GM, the Volt is propelled entirely by its 111kW (125bhp) electric motor. Supplying the power to the motor is a 16kWh lithium ion battery pack nestled between the passenger seats. Capable of moving the car to top speed of 100 mph (160km/hr), the energy in the battery is sufficient to drive for 40 miles on electric energy only. To extend the range of the car to several hundred addition miles, car is equipped with an internal combustion engine/generator that recharges the battery and supplies enough extra electricity to propel the car. When the car is parked, the battery can be recharged using common household current at either 110 or 240 volts AC. GM engineers estimate that 85 percent of drivers will seldom use the engine/generator during the normal work week, which will translate into significant cost savings. At 10 cents a kilowatt hour, a typical 25 mile round-trip commute will cost just $1.00 in 'fuel' costs a day; roughly one-quarter of the cost of conventional gasoline car getting 25 mpg.
With the roll-out of the Volt today, the company now plans to have as many as 50 pre-production Volts on the road by years end to begin intensive, real-world testing of the technology. By year's end, it will also announce its selection of battery supplier(s). In just 14 months from now, it hopes to have the first production cars rolling off the assembly line and out to dealers. No MSRP has been announced, though spectulation puts the price tag as high as $45,000. GM has said it wants to keep the price of the car "affordable", presumably in the low $30's by the time all the incentives -- both public (tax rebates) and private (GM funded) -- are in place.
The Volt, however, isn't the only plug-in car being developed. There are a raft of other models in the works from the just announced Peugeot PROLOGUE to its most serious competitor, Toyota. In addition the newly revealed Honda Insight, which is slated to go on sale next Spring for under $,19,000 and purportedly offers 70 mpg fuel economy, will pose serious competition for both GM and Toyota.
blog comments powered by Disqus