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Oracle of Delphi

GM plans electrics besides the Volt

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BY KATIE MERX • FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER • August 16, 2008

TRAVERSE CITY -- The Chevrolet Volt is expected to be the first of many electric vehicles General Motors Corp. will launch in the next few years, executives said this week.

Top executives on the Volt and its E-flex electric propulsion system said they are working on the design and engineering of the next vehicles the automaker will launch with the range-extended lithium-ion battery propulsion system.

"The significance of the project has increased," Frank Weber, the engineer and executive in charge of the Volt and E-flex system, said at the Center for Automotive Research's Management Briefing Seminars.

The executives would not say how many vehicles they expect to run with the E-flex system, but Andrew Farah, the Volt's chief engineer, said the system is most likely to first be used on GM's global compact and midsize car architectures. The electric propulsion system would need to be greatly altered to work with larger vehicle architectures, such as those for SUVs or pickups, he said.

In addition, Weber said his team expects major improvements to the Volt -- due in November 2010 -- to occur on a yearly basis early on. That is different from most vehicle lines, which typically offer major updates every three to five years.

Weber said the automaker has already identified nine areas on the Volt where it expects to make major improvements or greatly reduce costs in the second year of production. It can't make those improvements in the first year, or it would delay the quick timeline the automaker is on for the launch of the car.

Weber said the Volt program is quickly approaching the cut-off dates for changes to its design, powertrain and engineering plans. He said many of the Volt's suppliers already have been selected.

The automaker will have a few Volt prototypes built with production-intent parts within the next 10 days and will have 50 of those prototypes by the end of the year.

David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research, said there's mounting evidence that GM will meet its goal of launching a Volt that can drive at least 40 miles on a full electric charge before needing to tap a gasoline generator to recharge its battery-driven propulsion system.

"There's a steady stream of little signs of things," Cole said. "There's some derivatives of the Volt coming. What that indicates is that their confidence is increasing that they can do this."

Link: http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article...ESS01/808160385

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Give us a production version of the Buick Riviera concept with E-flex system. GM needs to exand this technology into premium markets. A luxury E-Flex coupe would make an excellent image builder for Buick and a premium alternative/step-up to the Chevrolet VOLT.

I'm not going to give up on this idea... It just seems perfectly natural.

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Give us a production version of the Buick Riviera concept with E-flex system. GM needs to exand this technology into premium markets. A luxury E-Flex coupe would make an excellent image builder for Buick and a premium alternative/step-up to the Chevrolet VOLT.

I'm not going to give up on this idea... It just seems perfectly natural.

At first I was like "Riviera? That's an old nameplate, they should use something new!" Then I got to thinking, and the Riviera has always been a high-tech Buick, so it's actually pretty fitting that a Buick e-flex would be named Riviera. Not sure how well it would market real-world, as more people may know it as an "old" car rather than a "tech" car, but the general idea I like. :)

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