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GM Introduces E-Flex Electric Vehicle System; Chevrolet Volt the First Application

Powertrain of the Chevy Volt E-Flex Concept. Click to enlarge.

GM has introduced a new family of electric vehicle propulsion systems—the E-Flex Systems—and is showing the first concept application of E-Flex at the North American International Auto Show: the Chevrolet Volt, a 40-mile all-electric range (AER) plug-in hybrid.

E-Flex initially uses a plug-in capable, battery-dominant series hybrid architecture. The E-Flex vehicles are all electrically-driven, feature common drivetrain components, and will be able to create electricity on board (either through a genset or a fuel cell). Regenerative braking will also contribute to the on-board electricity generation. (“E” stands for electric drive and “Flex” for the different sources of electricity.)

We are focused on reducing our dependence on petroleum—today we are 98% dependent [and] we don’t think that is a good business strategy at all.

—Beth Lowery, GM VP Energy and Environment

There has been some speculation in the press that perhaps this is a publicity stunt on our part. This is not a publicity stunt, nor is it a science fair project. This is something that we have been working on for close to a year.

—Jon Lauckner, GM VP Global Program Management

GM is developing the E-Flex System in parallel to its mechanical hybrid efforts—including the development of the Saturn VUE Green Line two-mode plug-in hybrid (earlier post), for which GM just awarded lithium-ion battery contracts (earlier post)—as well as its ongoing fuel-cell vehicle development efforts.

In its evolving taxonomy of offerings, GM refers to its existing portfolio of hybrids as “mechanical hybrids”—i.e., the engine provides mechanical drive power in addition to the electric drive power.

There is tremendous synergy between the fuel cell vehicle program and the E-Flex program—Nick Zielinski is the chief engineer for the fuel cell program and the Volt Concept, as one example.

Furthermore, GM leveraged its experience with the EV1 in the design of both the E-Flex System and the Volt. The use of the range extender in the Volt design, for example, originated with feedback from EV1 customers about not wanting to have to plan their lives around the next charge, according to Tony Posawatz, GM Vehicle Line Director.

GM envisions a range of genset options for the E-Flex vehicles, including engines optimized to run on E85 or E100 and biodiesel.

The Chevrolet Volt.

The Chevrolet Volt. GM chose its Global Compact vehicle architecture (Cobalt-sized) for its first E-Flex application, the Chevrolet Volt.

The Volt uses the same electric motor as used in the Equinox Fuel Cell vehicle in its electric powertrain: a 120 kW peak machine that develops 320 Nm (236 lb-ft) of torque.

The Volt will use a 16 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that delivers 136 kW of peak power. Plug-in charging is designed for the home (110V, 15 amps) and will take between 6 to 6.5 hours.

The Volt can support all-electric mode from 0 to its top speed of 100 mph (with bursts to 120 mph). Acceleration from 0 to 60 mph takes 8 to 8.5 seconds. The basic operating strategy is to run the vehicle in all-electric mode until the state-of-charge (SOC) of the battery reaches 30%—that strategy delivers approximately a 40-mile range.

The 53 kW motor generator set (genset) allows the on-the-fly recharging of the battery. The genset in the current Volt concept uses a 1-liter, 3-cylinder, turbocharged engine.

You can drive at a continuous 70 mph, and the generator will not be on continuously. At 100 mph,the genset can maintain the charge in the battery and the speed of the vehicle. There are no compromises for the customers in the vehicle.

—Nick Zielinski, chief engineer

The Volt concept configuration features a 12-gallon fuel capacity, giving the vehicle a total driving range of around 640 miles—which works out to a nominal gasoline fuel efficiency of about 50 miles per gallon. (Presumably range would increase with a diesel variant.)

The less one drives before plugging in to recharge, however, the higher the experienced fuel efficiency. A daily drive of 60 miles, combined with a nightly recharge to support the first 40 all-electric miles, would yield an effective 150 mpg according to GM’s calculations, for example.

For comparable performance with a fuel-cell version of the Volt, GM anticipates needing 4 kg of hydrogen on-board.

The Volt also features a number of advanced materials from GE Automotive Plastics, including:

  • Roof, rear deck lid and fixed side glazing made with Lexan GLX resins and Exatec coating technology;

  • Doors and hood made with Xenoy iQ high performance thermoplastic composites (HPPC). Xenoy iQ resins are created with polybutylene terephthalate (PBT)-based polymers derived from 85% post-consumer plastic waste, consuming less energy and yielding less carbon dioxide (CO2) in their manufacturing than traditional resins.

  • Global energy absorber and hybrid rear energy absorbers with Xenoy iQ resins;

  • Steering wheel and instrument panel with integrated airbag chute made with Lexan EXL resins;

  • Front fenders made with Noryl GTX resins; and

  • Wire coating made with Flexible Noryl resins.

The use of the materials delivers part weight reductions of up to 50%.

Actual production of the vehicle is dependent on further battery development, and GM made no announcements about partners involved in the development of the battery pack for the Volt. The profile for the battery in the Volt is different than that of the pack being developed for the VUE plug-in.

GM would like to minimize the different battery packs within the E-Flex family of vehicles. One notable exception to this would in a fuel-cell configuration. In that case, the battery would be smaller, and more focused as power battery first and energy battery second (due to the ability of the fuel cell to produce the electricity on-board.)

However, GM is also clear that it wants to use common systems and controls wherever possible across applications. To that end, elements such as the charging systems will likely be common across mechanical-hybrid plug-ins and E-Flex plug-ins.



    You should have read up more on this care before reading the propaganda you referenced in your comment. The math on the site you have a link to in your post is based on incorrect data. The point of the electric engine is that it can travel 40 miles without using any gas. So, for a 40 mile trip, remove all of the references to gasoline, it wouldn't use any! So, remove $2.45 per trip and 15.5 lbs of greenhouse gas emissions. It sounds kinda nice now, huh?




    For my part, I think we need to build PHEVs as soon as possible.

    Joseph W. Motacek

    That's all fine and dandy. It's all smoke and mirrors from GM. The truth is, GM did not give us the EV1 until the California Air Resource Board forced them to,(even then they fought it, remember ?) Then, they destroyed the vehicle ! They didn't just take it away from people that wanted it, they went even further, they destroyed every last one !

    If anybody really, truly, wants the first consumer friendly, affordable, all electric vehicle, they had better start working hard to get laws passed, to get it, instead of having pipe dreams, and listening to BS from GM.

    Think about it. GM could give us a full production, all electric vehicle, in as little as probably one or two years if they really wanted to. All they have to do is start up production of the EV1, using the lithium-ion batteries.

    Instead, all we get are more 'carrots'. "We'll give you the sort-of electric vehicle in just a few more years. It's just like the other technologies. "Just a few more years and we'll figure out hydrogen." Just a few more years and we'll do it, we promise."

    I'll say it again, "They didn't give us the EV1 until the CARB forced them to, and the only way we'll see the consumer friendly electric vehicle is if we force them to give it to us."

    If anybody........ wants the electric vehicle,(so we can drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions) then they must work hard for laws that force Detroit to give it to us.


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    Michael Hargett

    yes, it is a Nice Concept....after all its my Invention that GM is using! ACTUALLY IT WAS CONCIEVED IN 1994 FROM SEVERAL MEETING'S I ATTENDED AT THE EV ASSO. IN LAS VEGAS.




    Jacob Fisher

    If GM pulls this off ill stall on buying a prius...

    I dont know why GM wouldnt come out with these cars though? Can they not see that American is being ripped to bits by high energy prices...
    I mean shoot i would buy one of these the day they were ready. I know my entire family would... and our neighbors exc..
    Shoot i would advertise for free if this car freed us from the Oil Barons in Opec. Furthermore can anyone send me more information on this?
    On another note can anyone from GM tell me why i have never heard about this car before? I mean i am a student at CSUSB researching alternative fuels and i happened upon this by accident...
    If GM really wanted to sell this car.. why arnt they making hype about it?
    Why doesnt the average person know about it?
    Please GM dont make this car another tease like the EV1s..
    I want To buy an American car and keep the money in the states but the Japanese Car companies have been out doing you folks with fuel economy.
    So get this out asap so you can bring back American hope in GM..

    Put me on the list when you start leasing the testers!


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    Why did GM kill their Electric Car (which had a range of 130 miles), saying that they did it because there was 'no demand' ? haha what a joke. now that GM's stock price has plummeted and the Japanese are taking over their market share, they decide to RE-introduce a limited HYBRID version-VOLT.


    I am a mechanic of Chevrolet in India.I belt a engine how don't want any type of fuel. please help me.

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