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Early Chevrolet Volts meet target, engineer says


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Early Chevrolet Volts meet target, engineer says



Early versions of the Chevrolet Volt are going 40 miles on electricity as hoped, the program’s chief engineer said today.

GM is getting closer to the release of the Chevrolet Volt, an extended-range electric car, which is to begin production in November.

Preproduction of the Volt began about two weeks ago at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant.

GM has said the Volt will be able to travel about 40 miles on electricity alone. After 40 miles, a gasoline generator is to kick in to create power.

Farah said testing shows that the Volt is hitting that 40-mile goal, though the range can change with terrain and weather.

Farah added: “This weekend alone, I had at least two cycles that were over 40 miles. I think I drove one at 41.5 and another 42.5.”

GM plans to invest $8M

Nearly a year after fully opening its global battery systems lab in Warren, GM announced plans today to invest $8 million to double the facility’s size, improving on-site testing of battery cell, module and pack technologies.

“This addition will benefit consumers by helping us put cleaner, more efficient vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range, on the road more quickly and affordably,” said Micky Bly, GM executive director, global electrical systems, hybrids, electric vehicles and batteries, in a statement.

GM’s announcement comes as other area automakers are beefing up their battery development in Michigan. Freep.com reported on Saturday that Ford has picked its Rawsonville Plant to assemble hybrid battery packs.

“There are a number of companies gearing up to do more with battery technology,” industry analyst Erich Merkle of Autoconomy.com said. But, he said, “it’s really difficult though because nobody really knows … what the true demand is for these batteries.”

Related story: Will Michigan benefit from battery industry sooner rather than later?

GM’s Warren Technical Center battery lab, which is used by more than 1,000 engineers, began work in January 2009 and was fully operational in May.

The expansion is to add 30,000 square feet. Construction is to start this month and be completed in late summer, according to GM.

The announcement does not create any immediate jobs, Brian Corbett, a GM spokesman, said by e-mail.

About half of the current lab is used for testing the electrochemical battery cells and their enclosures.



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I think most customers, especially Volt early adopters, understand that range will be reduced when running the A/C on high or during extreme cold.

Last time I checked, most customers are stupid. Let's just hope this is made VERY clear to them.

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As long as it can do that fairly regularly, I think it will be a win with the customer. I think most customers, especially Volt early adopters, understand that range will be reduced when running the A/C on high or during extreme cold.

Some additional details here:


"He expects consumers too “will be able to do that depending on terrain and weather.” As an example, Farah spoke about his experience in one of the pre-production prototypes. “This weekend I got 41.5 and 42.5 cycles around town,” he said.

“I’m not speeding, I’m not taking it particularly easy either, because I’m driving the way I would normally drive,” he added.

He is “very confident the batteries are delivering the range they need to deliver,” though adds at this point there are “still some last minute tweaks and tunes on aero(dynamics)” the team is engaged in.

Farah did explain that consumers will experience about a 20% variability in electric range depending on three variables in the following order of importance:

“Driving aggressiveness is number one, terrain is number two, weather and temperature is number three,” he said. Bly noted in cold weather a car consumes as much energy to keep its occupants warm as it does to travel down the road.


I'm looking forward to the actual numbers. There is too much ambiguity in these teasers (or is that the point?).

It sounds like 40-42 ish is under ideal circumstances. 32-34 will be typical. And apparently 20ish in "cold weather".

I'm surprised that the "type" of driving (city vs highway) apparently has no/or less of an effect.

I'm surprised that weather is listed as number 3 given his other comments.

I would like to say I am surprised he gave the 20% figure given that he directly contradicts it so soon afterwards, but from what I have seen the numbers GM gives are typically best/near-best case.


"Farah explained the team is still using the original 2007 concept’s goal of 50 mpg, and for the first time provided a clue as to how it will turn out.

“I still use the target of 50 MPG as the bogey,” said Farah. “So far I haven’t been disappointed.”

He clarified that the 50 MPG target is unadjusted, and that the official number will be “released closer to production.”


Again, what does "disappointed" and "unadjusted" really mean. I guess we have to assume it will exceed 50 MPG.


"“The 230 mpg number talked about a few months ago was based on some preliminary discussion with the EPA,” said Farah. “Those conversations have been continuing and have not yet come to a conclusion.”


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If the consumer can get 35 miles electric and 45mpg after that with moderate driving (which of course means we'll probably see hypermilers getting 45 miles electric and 55mpg after that), then this car will get attention and sell. It may be too much money for the average Joe, but it's not out of reach of many middle class people, and certainly the elite that want to look good by buying the latest green tech will gobble it up. Here's hoping we truly aren't disappointed.

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GM I feel is not going to over promise here. I suspect it will do as well or maybe a little better than expected under the right conditions. GM anymore even under estimates the HP on near all its cars.

The Prius also if driven in anger returns less MPG. The fact is the Volt is not a performance car and people who are looking to buy it are mosly Hypermilers to start. GM needs to educate the public on how to gain the most miles upfront and make it clear. The more honest they are about this they better they will look.

Like I have always said this is only the begining and things will imporve with time and technology. The fact is they will get the system up, running and reliable now and better batteries and electronics will follow. The first cars built 100 years ago could hardly go 50 miles with out a major break down and 15 years latet they had the Model T that was hard to break.

You have to start some where.

This car is not going to and is not expected to save GM this year. But in the future with the improvments on a proven system it could lead the industry in a way that make them the leader of this type car.

The Leaf and other full electrics also are not going to solve a damn thing. All they are is publicity for the most as once the battery is dead you better like where you are.

I look at the Volt as the next step beyond the Prius.

We did not get to the moon on the first rocket we built. We learned and improved it till we finally perfected the system. The Volt and other progams are similar as they are now regular technology but leading edge tech.

As gas and oil goes up as well as the increase we will see soon in taxes by the Federal goverment cars like this will become more and more in demand for the daily driver just trying to afford to get to work. Panic at higher prices and hard to find gas has changed the auto industry before and it will do it again.

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In related news. The British have already broken their last year's high for gas prices which usually peak mid-summer.

I mention this because summer is coming.

I think most areas may see near or at $5 per gallon this year that is not a long stretch since most of us are at or near $3 per gallon now and have been most of the winter. Summer will be one cause but if they raise the Fed tax will easily effect this.

Also I expect Israel to do something to stop Iran. If and when it happens it will spike oil markets. If this happens we could surpass $5 easily. I feel if it will happen it will happen in August or September. For some reason all of the things in and related in the Middle East happen aroud then.

I hope I am wrong but there is a lot on the table here this year that could really make this a painful summer for Gas.

The over reaction to these high prices could spur a great demand for these alternative cars while leaving the truck market to dry up for a while.

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Are we starting this year's gas scares already? *sigh* Glad I drive a Saturn - I don't even bother looking at gas prices.

Starting? It happens every summer for some lame excuse or another for the last several years.

I don't look at when I fill but I do watch what is going on oil price wise as it effects the sales of many of GM's cars. At this point I did what I could. I drive a higher mileage car not for enviromental reasons but because I get tired of $30 or much more just to drive to work for a week. Right now at $3 a gallon I can do it for $15.

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