General Motors has formally unveiled the production version of the Chevrolet Volt, the auto giant's attempt to prove that electric cars needn't look butt ugly. Originally unwrapped at the Detroit motor show last year, the Volt won't go into production until "late 2010" for the US market. It's not clear when - or if - it'll …
Looks good enough
but the article does not seem to mention what range it has if driven at slower than 100. Anybody want to make a guess?
The GREAT Electric Car Scam ... do you think the Electric Source is FREE??
The ENTIRELY Electric Car (plug in somewhere) is the GREAT Environmental / Economy Scan of the 2000's!
WHERE do you think you are going to get that Electric Recharge Source from FREE? From the Sky? From the 5th Dimension? From the Government? Windmills in your suburban homes backyard? Out of your ass? YOU WILL BE PAYING THE POWER COMPANY, AND AT A PREMIUM!!
Electricity Rates are at an ALL TIME HIGH now! Especially in States like California, NY, Florida, Texas, etc.! In MANY of these states, rates are even stepped depending on monthly use, AND you are docked EXTRA charges when you go over your assigned "regular use". What the hell are you going to do to charge your "Volt" when there is a power "brown out" or OUTAGE!!??
The Electric Car is pure media hype Bullshit! In fact, make a car that will run on bullshit, there is plenty of that going around for free .... especially from the LEFTY MEDIA!
DRILL NOW, DRILL EVERYWHERE! .... Before the Commie Chinese and Corrupt Ruskies do it in YOUR backyard!
Only Paris Hilton and Osama Obama really thinks Electric makes sense.
Like the way they haven't used any of the technology from the EV1.
Why don't GM just put it back into production.....?
I guess the oil companies have the final word !
Will definitely need some cosmetic changes
It's not ugly enough to even be a hybrid, let alone a full electric.
"Production" now means "make this in two years" instead of "making this now".
Hurrah for the Volt!
I would really, really like to get the Volt, but the problem is I don't have a garage and park on the street. Getting the power to plug in the car means running a heavy-duty extension cord from the outside power tap to the car.
The plus side is, my daily commute to work is about 8 minutes... which means I can run on battery power there and back again for a few days between plug-ins.
If I start saving for it right now, I can probably put a down payment on it when it becomes available.
I know you're not a car mag but
.. this reads like a press release. You've even forgotten to remove the Americanisms "Driving on gas charges up the battery just as it does in every other car.". Unless of course you think people use gas in their cars an not petrol.
Come on El Reg, how about some journalism!!
Concept got the crap kicked out of it.
Most American cars are so unbelievably dull that just being near one can cause premature onset of Alzheimer's disease. Every now and again, one gets the impression that some fed-up designer breaks the creative curfew imposed on American designers since the 80's and actually creates something the world may think is interesting.
Sadly, the design police seem to have noticed that the concept car risked upsetting two decades of mediocrity. Looking at the production version makes me want to move to the suburbs, get a job in accounting, have an naggy wife and finally gas myself in the garage.
Oh wait, no exhaust fumes!
Only in a four door?
oh great - not just pedestrians in danger
Do they quote distance with all accessories off or on?
Now I predict a batch of these owners who will drive around at night without their headlights on in an effort to squeeze every last mile out of the battery pack.
My coat - with the long extension cord to plug my car into your house mains when you are on vacation!!! Much cleaner than siphoning gas from your tank, sucka!!!
Just as lackluster as the rest of GM's product line. No wonder they're on the verge of bankruptcy. Only 40 miles? It's got nearly as much range as my bicycle then! Or my horse!
It looks like it has a totally LCD dash w/o any analog gauges at all. I wonder if it'll be readable, or it'll be that digital crap? Does it have satnav, and did they tie it into the driver's dash? - that is, does it display turn hints and stuff directly in front of the driver?
The EV1 could get 50-70 miles per charge, that was years ago
Perhaps its the inclusion of the heavy petrol engine that is decreasing its range?
No production til 2010? So.. just designing it to look environmentally friendly, then lease not sell them and recall and crush them again?
We can do better than this, I'm sure. And they better stick a solar panel on top, there is no real reason not to.
That battery seems a bit small for a 150hp motor! I make that 114kW, which would drain a 16kWh battery in about 8 minutes, so to get that 40 mile range, you would have to be doing 300mph...
Oh by the way .... Ps. HOW do you think they produce Electicity for the Volt???
Burning Dirty Carbon Producing COAL, OIL, Natural Gas, Wood, or evil NUCLEAR POWER (that freaks the Lefties)!
The Power Companies that will provide the electricity to recharge your stupid Volt or and any electric car, don't pull Electricity out of their asses either.
Think about it, morons that think the Volt is "hot".
Paris Hilton and Osama Hussein Obama THINK Electricity comes from rubbing Cashmere together
And it is about time!
This is great news. Despite the rather frightening rant from a previous commentator, moving the power source from internal combustion to the grid is a wonderful idea.
Power in the grid is produced at a few well regulated points. Power from internal combustion is produced from countless barely regulated (and often poorly maintained) sources moving all over the roads.
If the cost of electricity from the grid frightens you, install solar on your garage. It can offset the cost increase and it is energy you are capturing all on your own. Try that with internal combustion. Any luck drilling and refining your own petroleum lately?
In response to several of the preceeding posts:
1) Electric cars are different than petrol. The range will be the same at 100 or 40 miles an hour.
2) The cost of electricity to charge the vehicle it amounts to under $1.50 (US) in the most expensive places. Electricity can be generated many ways. In the worst case, if the power is out, you are getting a car that gets 40 mpg and still had reasonable pickup and acceleration.
3) The EV1 was not the perfect car. It had problems, it's short range and heavy batteries limited the vehicle severely. Think of the Volt as an improved EV1. Better batteries, better engineering, and a petrol generator to recharge the batteries.
4) The concept car wasn't very aerodynamic. The new design is a compromise, staying as close to the original concept as they could while making it as efficient as possible. Compared to the other options, the Volt looks very nice, at least to an American eye.
I may understand why they did it but this thing looks nothing like the Volt concept other than both being a car. Not from the front, nor the side, nor the roof line, maybe a tad from the rear.
Not necessarily the worst looking car but cool or hot it is definitely not. Bland, uninspiring and not worth the wait.
"...to CHARGE for the Volt.."
I'll buy one
If you chuck out the stupid generator and replace it with a 16v(alve) 1· 6 litre petrol turbo engine. Oh yeah and just to keep the tree huggers happy put a solar panel on the roof.
re: Recharging source / @ Webster Phreaky
Even Greenpeace state that charging a vehicle from electricity produced from a (very efficient) large power station is better than from small scale electricity generation plants.
It's not a "production electric car" since they aren't making it yet. It's not "fully electric" since it requires a gas engine to get more than 40 miles (60 kilometres, or not enough to get to drive back and forth once across a typical urban sprawl). Not to mention that your cost per mile increases dramatically if you factor in the need to replace the lithium-ion battery pack on a regular basis, as opposed to using something like NiMh. In other words, it's not as good as the EV1, which GM could just start building again if they wanted to. Why don't they? We aren't told. Are we reading a press release or a piece of investigative reporting? I suspect the former.
I'm also starting to suspect that El Reg was secretly purchased by some marketing asshole with too much money and not enough ethics (a state implicit in the term "marketing"), and the regular Reg staffers are being held hostage, threatened with no more long liquid lunches and having to wear suits unless they conform to the new agenda. I understand the dilemma, because vast quantities of alcohol and really comfortable clothes are provably much more important than integrity. It's the only reason I can come up with for the sudden spate of moronic changes and un-critical automotive "press" worthy (ie: advertising masquerading as news) articles that have been spewing forth lately.
You own a shell station or something, or maybe feeling guilty about your 11 MPG pickup truck?
Consider the Lohner-Porsche Mixte Voiturette made in 1900, with a range of around 60 miles per charge.
Or go to Beaulieu, the National Motor Museum, where they have a 1901 Columbia, and a Harrods van from the 1930s, both with ranges in excess of 40 miles.
No improvement in 100 years? Pah! It's a conspiricy to keep us buying gasoline from the likes of Haliburton.
The "small" battery + gas engine combo is an advantage.
Most people drive ~30 miles/day in the US. The 40 mile battery covers this perfectly.
If you put another 16 kWh battery in the car, you roughly triple the range (complicated explanation, won't bother), but you also increase the weight of the car by 400 more lbs, you increase the price by at least $10,000, and you triple the time it takes to charge... i.e., 18 hours via a regular 110V US wall socket.
How is this desirable, again?
Details on electric car emmissions & efficiency
As the previous poster noted, there are a lot of advantages to doing the dirty part of power generation in a few well regulated places. The point of the 40 mile charge is that batteries are costly and their weight reduces efficiency. In the USA, most people, most days, drive less than 40 miles, so that's good enough to do without gasoline most of the time.
Here is a web link with specific details for the Tesla (data wasn't available yet for the Volt). To summarize, even with a coal-fired electric plant, and counting transmission line losses, the Tesla should result in twice the efficiency of a Prius and about the same emissions. For electricity generated from natural gas, it would have about half the emissions.
The real payback comes if you run your electric car off hydro, wind or solar power. Then the emissions would be essentially zero. Standard cars don't allow these options...
@ In response to several - et al
@ In response to several of the preceeding posts
No the range will not be the same at 100 as at 40 MPH. Drag (air resistance alone) increases with the square of speed among other factors.
@ Let's see
It's fully electric just like any fully electric car can only drive X number of miles. Don't want to use the gas engine? Just stop driving when the battery gets low, same as any other fully electric car.
Cost per mile doesn't dramatically increase because you'd have to have more or higher capacity NiMH cells for the same 40 mile range, thus adding weight, thus requiring even more battery power for the same range, thus increasing car size to hold the pack, thus increasing weight again.
You won't be replacing the pack on a regular basis, figure that over the average lifespan of an automobile it will need replaced one time.
@ Solar panel enthusiasts
No point in putting a solar panel on the roof, it wouldn't provide a significant % of power for recharging even if it were light out 24 hours a day. What it would do is increase cost, weight, and be more vulnerable to the weather unless additional weight is added for a protective cover over it. I suppose the entire roof could be made of a transparent material but then cost goes up even more as well as weight.
About the car styling, it looks like a Chevy. Go figure.
@ battery size
Tom I'd love to hear your explanation of how doubling the battery pack will come near triple the range. Even using accessories while driving to offset the extra weight, most would claim it's near double as we might expect.
More stories about electric cars, please
A few more like that and Webster Phreaky will have a coronary. How about a story about an electric car with a built in iPhone dock?
Oh, and bring back the old Jolly Roger icon, please.
An American Car I Actually Want
I hate with a passion just about every American car that I see on the roads as I drive to and from my place of work - they are all rubbish. They look like crap, and suck down petrol like it's cheap or something. The distorted car market in the US means that it is incredibly hard to get a sensible car - I want my old 1.6 A3 that I had in the UK in 2000. Why do they only sell 2.0+ Audis here? Because only super powerful cars are marketed here.
So I was thrilled to hear about the Volt. I didn't like the look of the concept car - it put me off. I think the production design is just as crappy looking as most US vehicles, but at least it looks like a car. The 40 mile range is perfect for my daily commute.
Now if only it stood some change of being available as a hatchback.
No internal combustion?
I think you'll find there's a li-ion battery pack in there; if that's not internal combustion I don't know what is ;)
Yes, yes, OK.
E-car skipping out on their fair share of taxes
In the US a large part of road taxes are collected at the gasoline pump (petrol for you wanks). It varies state-by-state but in Illinois where gas is over $4.29 per gallon right now the taxes come out to be almost $1 per gallon. The electric car freetards will be exploiting a loophole where they use the roads that the rest of us pay for via fuel taxes.
So that will have to change right away, and if we know how government works it won't be for the better - will have to shift to some sort of alternate road use tax collection method. Like some assigned annual fees based on miles driven or something. You're looking at something like $1 per every 20 miles driven, in order to keep it comparable to what is currently done? Another option would be to have a separate electric meter where you pay your electric car rate. What could possibly go wrong with that..... I certainly don't want my home electric bill to be the place that the gov goes to collect on my road taxes.
Cyril • Tuesday 16th September 2008 18:57 GMT
1) Electric cars are different than petrol. The range will be the same at 100 or 40 miles an hour.
Hey? How'd ya figure that out? Wind resistance is surely going to increases proportionally to velocity no matter what you're powered by. Therefore the faster you go, the less far you'll get. Presuming electric cars haven't started producing their own vacuum?
US auto industry...
I love the old chestnut that the US auto industry is "backward". Look hard enough and you can find all sorts of "firsts" like the Mixte drive (more famous for being used in the Maus military vehicle), but quite a lot of genuine innovation comes from the US auto industry. However, the car buying public don't always adopt it.
GM has the technology to produce something genuinely clever; their Saturn product line offered the basic engineering expertise to make an aluminium spaceframe, unstressed panel (could be made from renewables; think 21st century duroplast) lightweight hybrid. However, they have found Saturn buyers really want rebadged Opels.
EV1 was a two seater. EV1 should never have been killed off, but it wasn't a production car, it wasn't SOLD to people, it was a technology research programme and leased. Volt is a serious attempt at producing a true plug-in hybrid - more than can be said for Toyota's Prius, which will be coming up for plug-in "improvements" next year with a range of... 5 miles. Admittedly, this is an improvement over the 2.5 miles the current model can handle on pure EV mode (in territories where this is allowed), but it's a far cry from the expensive, but very interesting, third party conversions.
Manufacturing a car is a set of compromises. The US prefers different ones, but their engineers and research teams are just as good at developing new car technology - the marketing teams have to direct them differently.
It's a bit like the old chestnut that the Japanese made boring, knock-off cars in the 60s and 70s. Vehicles like the Mazda R130 Coupe and Toyota 2000GT prove otherwise, but we only see what we're sold. Imagine if Vauxhall had been selling rebadged RHD Saturns, with dent-proof panels and aerodynamic designs reminiscent of Cherry's finest droop snoots?
@ Duncan Ellis
'An American Car I Actually Want '
Well there's always the Mustang designed with only the finest neolithic engineering, but oh that sound!
A better mouse trap
I really doubt that GM has the political clout to have prevented the production and release of a viable electric car. There are (and have been) many car companies, operating in many countries. I would think that one of them would want to build an electric car, if it were profitable.
If GM were able to prevent car companies in the UK, France, Germany, Japan, S. Korea, S. Africa, Russia, China, etc from building electric cars, why wouldn't they just prevent them from building ANY cars?
Why would anyone think that the car companies have the engineering know-how to build a better electric motor, but that they just haven't been "motivated" enough by "green" laws?
General Electric is a much larger company than General Motors. There are many more manufacturers of electric motors than there are car manufacturers. Electric motors and batteries are separate (and large) industries. Wouldn't one of these companies want to invent efficient motors and batteries, then have them in every car in the world?
Why would anyone think that a car company would be able to step in and create better electric motors and batteries? You give them too much credit.
Electric or combustion, they rely on fossile fuels or nuclear power to generate the energy. And their efficiency as a personal transport system sucks dogs bollocks: a 1500Kg machine to transport a 75Kg person for an hour a day! And all the shit it is made of will be dumped after 200K kilometers... The economics are just absurd.
The only eco-friendly car there is is the one that has not been built. Those wannabe eco-conmuters should use public transportation if they really want to help the environment. Now, if they want to *appear* to be tree huggers and show their disdain for the unenlightened while in their daily traffic jams, this ridiculous car will be just perfect.
Mine? The one with the monthly rail ticket in the pocket.
battery size 2 @ JC
Didn't think it would matter to anybody... but, the Volt's 16 kWh battery actually operates between 30% and 80% charge... first of all, it's bad (even fatal) for Li-ion batteries to be fully charged or discharged... second, when running on gas, the Volt does not completely recharge the battery but maintains a 30% charge, and there needs to be a buffer between ~20%-30% to provide bursts of full-power acceleration when running on gas. There is also presumably a buffer towards the higher end to allow for some regenerative braking after a charge.
(The reason for the 30% charge target is that your "electric car" is not really running on electricity if the gas engine has recharged the battery by the time you pull into your driveway...)
What this boils down to is that 8 kWh of charge => the advertised 40 mile range. If you add another 16 kWh battery, it won't need the same percentage of buffering, so your range will end up being closer to 120 miles than 80 miles.
EVs, Webster Phreaky & El Reg
Plug-in hybrids are a sensible evolutionary step in vehicle development while the technology matures and production cots decline. The great majority do indeed drive <40 miles (65 km) per day, so most use will be electric only. The Li-ion batteries should last ~100,000 miles or 160,000 km before needing replacement - to put that in perpective, I've owned transmissions that didn't last as long - but electricity storage technology will improve, too.
@PunkTiger - not everybody is going to be in a position to use "early" electric or plug-in hybrid cars easily, although, even on petrol alone, it should still be more efficient/lower emitting than pure ICE. Can you convince your employer to let you recharge at work, perhaps?
As for Webster Phreaky - well, he's obviously trolling for a particular kind of response. Or possibly he's an oil-company employee on crack.
And El Reg? It is getting to be a bit like a marketing outlet, sometimes, but with a subject that evokes such a polarised response, perhaps that's the safest option?
PS: Please bring back the old Tux and Jolly Rodger icons, plus better Love and Flame icons while you're at it.
My rough back-of-the-envelope calculations.
Worst case scenario, you drive 40 miles each way to/from work requiring two full charges per day using. We'll assume the charger pulls 15A @ 120V (1800 watts). We'll assume you have permission to charge at work.
1800W @ 16 hours/day = 876KWh/mo
At $0.08/KWh, it would cost $70/mo to charge (my local rate, no on/off peak rates).
At $0.15/KWh, it would cost $131/mo to charge (high end for most states)
That works out to $0.03 to $0.05/mile.
Gas would need to be $1.05/gal to $1.75/gal for a 35MPG car to match the price-per-mile.
Worst, worst case scenario. If electric is $0.30/KWh, it works out to $261/mo, or $0.10/mile, which is the equivalent to a 35MPG car running on $3.50/gal gasoline.
Now, can they build them so they can retail for $25k or less??
I'll stick to the Tesla thanks...
...that is all.
@AC (Cars suck) an @AC (Rough math)
--Firstly, to @AC cars suck--
I would love to travel by public transport, but It would cost me too much (Time).
To travel the 15 miles by car takes me 15-25 minutes. Cost (I drive a diesel that does 50+mpg) about £3 - £3.50 a day in fuel.
By train ignoring the 4 mile walk it would take me 40 minutes, oh and to get to work before 9am I would have to catch the 7:35am train. The cost about £6 a day, if the trains run and I walk to the station.
To travel by Bus I would have to leave my home at 6:42am to get to work by 8:52am, because I would have to change bus twice once with a half hour wait. It would also be across 2 companies so I would need two bus passes. Cost God knows not prepared to try it.
When they sort out public transport I will use it.
My wife on the other hand takes the bus into Birmingham daily as it is reliable and only £47 a month. Shame about the other passengers who are sometimes violent and generally ignore the smoking ban.
-- To @AC, Rough math.. --
I agree with you totally, If I could by a car that did 40 miles a day on one charge I would get one.
Electricity costs me £0.14 per Kwh,
UK Plugs can support 13A @240V roughly 3Kw, times that by 4 hour charge (In the article somewhere) equates to 12.5Kwh in a day. This is only £1.75 in electric! half my daily fuel usage today!
If we generate this electric with nuclear power the carbon is (close to) zero. If I put a 150Watt Solar panel on my roof (<£700 from Maplins) I would save another 17p a day and be even greener!
On the other hand If I charged it at work, I would get too and from work for free!
It's about the smog, AC
No-one is seriously bothered about the overall emissions. If they were, then "buying a new car" would be WAY off the list, and if a car were needed, then "buying an old, efficient, fuel injected car" (like a Mk II Golf GTI) without a catalytic convertor - and maintaining it perfectly - would be a far better option.
Plug in hybrids allow the emissions within cities to be reduced and they pander to people's car usage habits; most people I know drive around 10-20 miles to work and back again and rarely exceed that area of travel (living in the Scottish Borders gave me a skewed idea of distance - 20 miles to the next town - I keep getting places in the Midlands far too early because it's all so close). They eliminate one of the worst traits of modern emissions controls - dreadful fuel economy when cold. The engine need never fire up for the bulk of the car's usage; when it does it'll be when the car is driving on the freeway, where it should warm up quickly (since the load is predictable, to charge the batteries, it may be possible to drastically reduce the emissions by tuning the engine to run very lean in a narrow, optimal rev range) and isn't contributing to the local emissions that present a problem for America's cities.
As an example of the effect a catalytic convertor has on a car - I had a 1993 Volvo 480 with instant readout MPG and a cat, and an older example of the same car. The cat equipped one, on my drive from the village to the town I worked in (3 miles in total, but not ideal for cycling), would return 10mpg until the cat was up to temperature. Which it didn't get to on that drive. The non-cat model had come off the "fast idle" setting after the first mile and have 30mpg.
Now I live somewhere with public transport, I really try very hard to leave my car alone unless it's needed, although it would be far more convenient to drive it to places than spending £2 on a train and another £1.50 on a bus for some more convoluted routes. If I had a plug-in hybrid, I'd be inclined to use it.
Anyone who has visited America knows most cities and towns are not designed for walking. They're designed for car use. The banks are drive-thru. Without massive infrastructure changes, plug in hybrids are the next best thing for short term reductions in pollution, and in states where energy production is "clean" could have a small impact on the environment as a whole.
Of course, making a car like this tends to involve a much greater impact on the environment than a conventional new car, and it may have a shorter useful life given that when the batteries fail it may well have depreciated to the stage to make economic replacement unviable, but it's a brave step - it's a bigger step forward than Toyota made with the Prius. The main failing is that it won't be on sale for some time yet - GM's shouting about new models seems to get earlier and earlier - can you actually buy a Camaro yet?
@Simpson (well, mostly)
> "Wouldn't one of these companies want to invent efficient motors and batteries, then have them in every car in the world? ...Why would anyone think that a car company would be able to step in and create better electric motors and batteries?"
Yes and no. Although a range of motors (both AC and DC, actually) can and have been used in electric car propulsion, the most efficient and best performing car motors are in-wheel AC motors, which are relatively expensive at the moment.
PML Flightlink is a British electrical manufacturer that has developed a line of compact and efficient in-wheel motors (Hi-Pa Drive) - used in their technology demonstrator electric Mini QED conversion and the in-development electric Lightning. On the other side of the world, Mitsubishi has developed their own in-wheel motor for their prototype electric Colt, which has competed in rally competitions. The Tesla Roadster uses a quite different central motor with mechanical power train - simpler and less efficient (but not necessarily more reliable).
Like most emerging market segments, the vehicle-optimised-electric-motor and power train segment is inviting a number of competitors vying for technical superiority and first-to-market position - not all will succeed. Things should be pushed forward a bit from 2009/10 with KERS inclusion in Formula One cars.
There are also a number of promising electrical energy storage developments too numerous to describe here. I suggest ordering pizza and settling in for an evening with Google if you want to learn more.
Can I run an extension lead from your house, please..?
Don't knock American Cars
You know, there's so many to jump on the slam the American car bandwagon, I have one (a 2007 Pontiac) and I love it - yes it corners, yes it works, no it doesn't gas guzzle even with a V6 and I find it as good as any car you can buy out there. Oh and it cost me less than £19k to get it on the road in the UK - try and find an equivalent here that won't cost you at least 1.5-2 x that!
The Volt looks great, and I expect that it'll retain the Chevy branding when it does eventually get here (suspect EU € will end up funding some of that), and by 2010 I think there'll be more recharging stations. But think of this too, when this car comes out, as it is primarily an electric vehicle - it'll get classified by those lovely people at DVLA as "Electric" - viz no Road Tax, no Congestion Charge - so roll on the Volt!
Tesla Roadster ftw.
I'm all for drilling too, but there's nothing wrong with alternative sources of energy. Free market capitalism works best when there's choices. The advantage of electric vehicles is that suddenly the vehicles are decoupled from their energy source. If you want a wind powered car, go for it. Solar, sure. Nuclear, heck yeah!
And, even if you want it to still be gasoline powered it's actually more efficient to use gasoline to power a generator to charge a battery to power an electric motor than to use gasoline to power a gasoline engine.
"There are also a number of promising electrical energy storage developments too numerous to describe here. I suggest ordering pizza and settling in for an evening with Google if you want to learn more."
RE: Promises, promises
They said the same thing about the transistor.
(PS: I was actually trying to be helpful)