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GM Exec: Gen 3 Voltec Battery to Have Shortened Lifespan, Simpler Shape, and be Offered in Smaller Ranges

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http://gm-volt.com/2010/03/26/gm-exec-gen-3-voltec-battery-to-have-shortened-lifespan-simpler-shape-and-be-offered-in-smaller-ranges/

Some thoughts:

- I'm assuming Gen 3 will be out 2020ish. If GM is planning all these ways to cut costs on the battery in 2020 then they must not be expecting LiIon batteries to drop much in price in the next decade+.

- GM's move to smaller ranges makes a lot more sense. I've always argued the smaller the battery the more utilization and the more sense it makes for more people. This is also a little tip of the hat by GM to Toyota that Toyota was on the right track with the plug-in Prius range.

- I love the "no point in going from 40 to 80 miles" statement. But what was the point in going from 30 to 40? Or 20 to 40? Especially taken in light of the fact that they plan on offering smaller ranges to make the car affordable.

- We are still waiting on the Volt MPG on ICE. But if it is mid to high 30's (as currently appears to be the case), then these low electric range Volts are going to fair very poorly against plug-in Priuses that at 50 MPG ICE get 40% better fuel economy.

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- I love the "no point in going from 40 to 80 miles" statement. But what was the point in going from 30 to 40? Or 20 to 40? Especially taken in light of the fact that they plan on offering smaller ranges to make the car affordable.

The reason for a 40 mile range is so that many commuters could have all-electric commuting, which makes the ICE economy irrelevant. It would be interesting to see how the ICE economy would compare between a 40 mile range and a lighter 20 mile range Volt, though. I'd suspect that unless battery tech advances significantly, adding more electric range would have severe diminishing return, unless the ICE drivetrain is dropped altogether and they go for an all-electric setup.

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The reason for a 40 mile range is so that many commuters could have all-electric commuting, which makes the ICE economy irrelevant.

I don't recall the exact stats, but 40 miles was already past the point of diminishing returns. So any argument against 50 or 60 miles could also be made against 40. Although I suspect the dirty "secret" is that the average driver will get 15-20% less than 40 miles in typical driving. But that is GM's fault for playing up the "up to 40" instead of using the typical or providing a realistic range.

That GM is so worried about the volt price shows that they picked the wrong range (if not the wrong architecture entirely). As I've said before, it is silly to pick a range to hit ~80% of commuters if in doing so it forces the price of the Volt to a point where it is only an option for a few percent of the population.

It would be interesting to see how the ICE economy would compare between a 40 mile range and a lighter 20 mile range Volt, though. I'd suspect that unless battery tech advances significantly, adding more electric range would have severe diminishing return, unless the ICE drivetrain is dropped altogether and they go for an all-electric setup.

It is hard to say since the Volt design is so inefficient (full ICE + full electric components, so much battery capacity never utilized) it makes comparisons difficult. But GM has indicated that weight doesn't have that much of an effect.

Since the Volt was supposed to be a Toyota Leapfrog and Nissan has already Leapfrogged the Volt before it even came out, I think GM has no choice but to move to a BEV. However it seems they are moving to two-mode plugins instead.

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The less weight and lower cost are two key points.

If these batteries are cheaper to buy and replace than this would make the cars a available at a very much cheaper price.

Also factor in that technology will improve once there is a market for these and you will not have to buy from GM. I suspect outside suppliers may offer a varied range and quality of batteries. THis would let the owner choose what kind of qulity he or she may want to pay for. What I worry about is if the price does not come down we will end up with a lot of electric cars not worth the price of a batter replacment. IF it would cost you $5K to replace it and the car is only worth 5K in 10 years why bother.

Given options on batteries would give the ability to make this afforable to some or also give options based on the condition of the car. Kind of like replacing tires on a 10 year old Cobalt. You would not put on the top of the line Pilots on a beat up old car. But a set of cheaper private brand tires will get the high school kid to school and back just as well.

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