2010 Chevrolet Volt Concept Car

The Chevrolet Volt is a plug-in series-hybrid electric vehicle by General Motors, with production expected to begin in 2010. The Chevy Volt will be built at the Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly in Detroit, Michigan. The company has avoided the use of the term “hybrid,” preferring to call it an electric vehicle with a “range extender” due to its design. The vehicle is designed to run purely on electricity from on-board batteries for up to 40 miles (64 km), or about half the range of GM’s first electric car, the EV1 — a large enough distance to cover the daily commutes of 75% of Americans, which averages around 33 miles (53 km). With use of a small internal combustion engine driving a generator to resupply the batteries, the vehicle’s range is potentially increased to 360 miles (579 km) on the highway. Early estimates, from GM staff, were of initial annual production of 60,000 units, but these claims have been scaled back to a planned 10,000 units, as of May 2008, with a ramp up to 60,000 units in the second year.The Volt concept vehicle was officially unveiled at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) on January 7, 2007 in Detroit, Michigan. An updated version was unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show in April 2007 in Shanghai, China.

GM faces competition from Nissan Motors, which announced their own electric cars on May 13, 2008, Toyota, Mitsubishi Motors, as well as a number of startup auto manufacturers, some backed by Silicon Valley angel financing.

E-Flex drivetrain

The 2007 Chevrolet Volt concept vehicle that appeared in the North American International Auto Show introduced the E-Flex[18] drive system, which is an attempt to standardize many components of possible future electrically-propelled vehicles, and to allow multiple interchangeable electricity-generating systems. The initial design as envisioned in the Volt combines an electric motor and 16 kWh (58 MJ) lithium-ion battery plug-in system with a small engine (1 liter) powered by gasoline linked to a 53 kW (71 hp) generator. The vehicle is propelled by an electric motor with a peak output of 120 kW (160 hp). Ordinarily, the vehicle would be charged while at home overnight (plug-in hybrid). The vehicle has two charging ports for convenience, one on each side. A full charge reportedly takes 10 hours from a standard North American 120 V, 15 A household outlet. A half charge reportedly takes 50 minutes.

Since the electrical drivetrain is not affected by the method used to charge its batteries, several options could be available for an engine. The newly released primary configuration specified by GM executives uses a non-turbocharged 1.4-liter engine with four cylinders. It is a heavier engine but is cheaper to produce than the previously announced turbocharged 1.0-liter three cylinder version. It would be a flex-fuel engine capable of running gasoline or E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline). Fuel would be supplied from a “saddle” tank 45 litres (12 US gal) in size.

The second option is the Volt fuel cell vehicle, which appeared in the 2007 Shanghai Auto Show. Due to the high cost of fuel cells compared to newer lower-cost lithium batteries, General Motors has publicly suggested that the Volt will not be using fuel cells in any near term production vehicles.

Other options have also been mentioned, such as a pure ethanol (E100) engine, and a diesel engine capable of running biodiesel fuel. This general layout is considered a plug-in series hybrid design since mechanical power initially drives the generator, which in turn charges the battery pack. Power is then drained from the batteries to run the electrical motors which move the vehicle. The internal combustion engine does not have any mechanical linkage to the wheels (unlike current vehicles such as the Toyota Prius), and can run at a constant speed for both optimal efficiency and mechanical simplicity (i.e., there is no need for a multi- or variable-cam design). The Volt is expected to get 50 mpg (US) (4.7 L/100 km) if the battery is discharged, or 150 mpg (US) (1.6 L/100 km) if fully charged every 60 mi (97 km).

GM plans to keep the lithium-ion battery in a state-of-charge (SOC) range of between 30% and 80%, with the on-board generator starting to recharge the battery at the 30% level.

GM has decided on a new descriptive terminology distinct from calling it a hybrid. They are calling the Volt an E-REV, for “extended-range electric vehicle.”[24] This is in part justified since there is no mechanical linkage between the petrol engine and the wheels. The design is conceptually similar to a modern electromotive locomotive, with a generator, an electric motor, regenerative braking, with the addition of a storage battery.

Related and Similar Vehicles

The concept vehicle has four doors with a rear liftgate, and it is capable of carrying four to five passengers. This is a significant change in design philosophy when compared to the General Motors’ EV1 of the 1990s, which only seated two. The top speed has also been increased on the Volt, from 80 miles per hour (130 km/h) to 120 miles per hour (190 km/h). The battery pack size has also been reduced between the two, from about 300 L in volume in the EV1, to just 100 L in the Volt. The weight of the battery pack in the Volt will also be significantly less, primarily because the Volt will use lithium-ion batteries while the EV1 used heavier lead-acid and nickel metal hydride batteries.

The purely electric range of the Volt will be considerably smaller than that of the EV1, but the overall range will be much higher. However, there was a 1998 prototype version EV1 in series hybrid configuration, that also had four seats and the same all-electric range of 40 miles (60 km) as the Volt, and it featured combined range of 390 miles (630 km), though with a different engine engagement control program. In contrast to the current Volt, this car was actually a running prototype. The turbine could run on many fuels, from gasoline to compressed natural gas.

The Opel Flextreme concept vehicle is based on the same platform and technology, but designed for the European market; it has a diesel engine and a hatchback body.

Design and Production

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In July 2007, General Motors said that it would have the Volt on the market in 2010. In August 2008, General Motors said it will have Chevy Volt in Europe in 2011.

Design

GM executives report that battery technology will have a large impact in determining the success of the car.
To help spur battery research, GM selected two companies to provide advanced lithium-ion batterypacks: Compact Power, which uses manganese oxide based cells made by its parent company, LG Chemical, and Continental Automotive Systems, which uses nanophosphate based cylindrical cells made by A123Systems. However, on August 9, 2007, GM established a more close-knit relationship with A123Systems so that the two companies could co-develop a Volt-specific battery cell.

This cell was later unveiled at the EVS23 industry convention in Anaheim, CA. Work with CPI has continued at a rapid pace, and in late 2007 CPI delivered two fully-functional prototype battery packs to GM’s testing facilities. On January 31, 2008, A123 and Continental delivered their first prototype to GM’s European test facilities. GM will likely use both suppliers for the Volt, although this remains a matter of speculation.

GM expects ten years of life out of the batteries. As of early 2008, they had started extensive battery testing and planned to have 10-year battery results in two years. Batteries were placed in Chevrolet Malibus for further real-world testing.

In February 2008, Andrew Farah, the car’s chief engineer, said that design and production was ten weeks behind the original schedule, and that further slippage would mean that the 2010 deadline could not be met.

In April 2008, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said that the first battery test mule was now running with a lithium battery pack.

In July 2008, GM confirmed that a non-turbocharged, 1.4 liter 4-cylinder engine will be used as the range extender, and that the intention is to build it in Flint Michigan.

In August 2008, Andrew Farah, the car’s chief engineer, said that the 10 week delay mentioned in February had been “erased” as work on mechanical parts took place during that time. Farah further states the project remains on-track to hit the 2010 deadline saying “at this point, there’s nothing standing in our way of continuing to do what we said we’re going to do.”

Production and Sales

In early June 2008, GM CEO Rick Wagoner said in a press release that “The Chevy Volt is a go” and that production has been approved, with a target of getting the Volt into showrooms by the end of 2010.

In a response to the NHTSA, GM indicated that “GM’s game-changing EREV technology should be treated as a low-volume application … during the 2011-2015 timeframe.” The initial production run for first year of sales of the Volt is most likely 10,000 vehicles.

In September 2007, following the conclusion of the 2007 UAW-GM contract talks, assembly of the Volt was assigned to Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly.

The company has launched a new media Web site for the Volt, including the first “teaser” photos of the production vehicle: a close-up of the rear-end badging and a close-up of the left front end. The photos mainly reveal that the headlights will be less squinty than on the concept vehicle, the air intakes on the grill and near the fog and turn lights have been eliminated, and the “Volt” badge will have a lightning bolt through its “V.” The wheels also appear smaller than on the concept vehicle, and the leading edge of the front door appears to be much closer to the front tire.

Price

At the time of unveiling, the Volt project had been in existence for less than a year. The Volt was targeted to cost around US$30,000. As of April 2008, General Motors Vice Chairman of Global Product Development Robert Lutz was quoted as saying that the realistic unsubsidised price had risen to US$48,000, that he reckoned that US$40,000 might be possible, without making any profit, and that only government tax incentives could take the price tag nearer to US$30,000. When asked directly about the price later, Lutz indicated that this was a misquote – and said “The answer is that we don’t know.” As of August 2008, General Motors Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner was quoted saying that the price of the Volt would likely be in “the mid to high 30’s”, suggesting a price of more than US$5,000 more than originally targeted.


Scribbled on September 3rd 2008 in Chevrolet, Chevrolet Volt
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