Toyota Cautions on Timing and Benefits of Plug-in Hybrids
Prius Certified to Japanese 2015 Fuel Economy Standards with JC08 Test Cycle

Lutz: Volt Li-Ion Battery in October, Road Tests in 2008, Production in 2010

Reuters. GM will have li-ion battery packs for the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid by October, will begin road testing the Volt next spring and remains on track to begin production by late 2010, according to Bob Lutz, GM Vice Chairman, Global Product Development.

Lutz outlined the timeline in remarks on the sidelines of the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan.

In March at the Geneva Auto Show, Lutz said that GM had set a 2010 target for the production of the Volt, but that the major uncertainty around that target was the lithium-ion battery pack.

In addition to the Volt plug-in, GM also plans to produce a plug-in version of the upcoming Saturn VUE Green Line two-mode hybrid.

Comments

gr

Sounds like GM is down for six months burn in and safety testing between October and April. Nice of Mr. Lutz to keep the world appraised of this progress. So far no missteps. IMO by the time this auto hits the market there will be unprecedented back orders.

Put another way, the successful introduction of the GM VOLT will have a greater impact on terrestrial transportation than did Henry Ford's Model A.

Roger Pham

"IMO by the time this auto hits the market there will be unprecedented back orders."

Very likely. In that case, since battery availability will most likely be what's holding it up, IMHO, downsize the battery pack to 8kwh (from 16kwh) and devise a direct hookup between the engine and the wheel at cruise to avoid resistive electrical loss...PHEV range will be down to 20mi (from 40), but sales may just double! And that's the bottom line.

gr

Yes, but consider how well back orders have worked for the Prius. The public gravitates to high demand "hot" products building even further market acceptance.

jack

Put another way, the successful introduction of the GM VOLT will have a greater impact on terrestrial transportation than did Henry Ford's Model A.

Is that a joke?

Roger Pham

gr,
Yes, but if GM can reduce the cost of the Volt by thousands of dollars via downsizing the battery pack, and increase the mpg even further by directly connecting the engine to the driving wheels during cruise (similar in effect to the torque-converter lockup clutch), then demand will be even higher, such that a long waiting list will still be there, while GM will rake in more profit due to lower production cost.

mahonj

It looks like the "big battery" PHEV is a few years off.
we will have to do with small and medium battery PHEVs for a while.
This can still be very good news, particularly if they make very intelligent controllers to use the EV power when it is most needed - during stop - start travel.
By using a GPS and learning people's commuting and driving habits, this should be possible after a week of "training".
This won't work for everyone, but it will work for a lot of people with predictable driving habits (and heavy traffic).
We can substitute "silicon" for Lithium.

Karja

In regards to "directly connecting the engine to the driving wheels during cruise"

why not further reduce to 4/4's and place the engines directly in the wheels, as seen in the Audi R-Zero?

Neil

Well this news makes my day. Sure, go with an 8kwh battery (at todays prices that would still be in the neighborhood of 7k$) if that gets more of these on the road. The biggest payoff for a PHEV comes with all of those little cold start trips people take to the local store, school etc.. I've heard that they are considering leasing the batteries.

Engineer-Poet

Roger, one of the plusses of E-Flex is that it eliminates all the packaging, control and other constraints of mechanical drive.  Advising a return to it is foolish.

Erevesto

The genset needs to be a rotary engine or, a mini turbine.These are small. The ICE needs to be small and light. It MUST be Flexfuel. Forget the idea of a direct connect ICE to wheels. The point is to get an EV with a range extender, whatever that might be. It just needs to be small.
Run flat tires and no spare would free up space.

KJD

I am really looking forward to the day when GM takes a Chevy Volt to Car & Driver or Motor Trend for a test drive and evaluation. I just hope these guys do not build us up and let us down again.

For now I will have to stick with my electric motorcycle and the mountain bike for clean transportation.

I guess that if Chevy really wanted an EV they could dust off the drawings from the EV-1.

Michael McMillan

I am just skeptical that it will actually get built. I would like to see one with a 200 cc engine for the gen set. If you know you are going to be doing extended freeway driving, you can startup the genset once you get underway and generate most to all of the power while in route at the maximum efficiency of a very small engine. If they want to also run a traditional engine at 1-4 liters, they are free to do so, but all of that doesn't need to be going around when the range extender is in use, maybe only during high demand sistuations.

JohnE

Am I missing something in the electric car debate?
How does Lightning develop a car with a 250 mile range,(and Porche performance) using NanoSafe batteries from Altaimamo and in-wheel motors from PML Flightlink, and GM and Toyota are talking about a 10 or 20 mile range and years away?

Neil

JohnE: The reasons would be money and scale.

EV Range: The Lightning is a very cool car, and it won't be cheap. The deposit on one is £50,000. GM and Toyota are trying to produce a mass market car for roughly a third to a half of that price. Since a large proportion of the cost of the Lightning will be the battery itself, GM and Toyota will have to use a significantly smaller battery if they're going to bring the costs down to something regular people can afford. Smaller battery, smaller EV range.

Timing: According to the Lightning site, they're still working on the Prototype. They claim that they will ship product in 2008. I have no idea how they can go through all of the testing and certification that must be done and still ship in 2008.
GM will be setting up large scale production lines (I'll guess 100s of thousands). That doesn't happen overnight. To get from concept in 2007 to full production in 2010 is a big job. I think that would be a tight project line even for a car that isn't significantly different from ones already produced.
Toyota should be able to get a PHEV to market quickly (given that they only need to tinker with the existing Prius), but they seem to be stuck with some inferior battery technology.

Neil

Found an interesting clip on the Volt:

http://engineeringtv.com/blogs/etv/archive/2007/05/24/episode-41-the-chevy-volt.aspx

This guy says cars on the road in 2010, full production 2011.

mds

Neil,
Toyota Prius is Parallel/Series HEV. PHEV versions cannot yet be driven all-electric at freeway speeds, like a full up Series PHEV, eg. Volt. Fuel savings will be less for most in USA, than if they had full up Series PHEV. "Tweaks" to Prius may not be that small.
GM Volt has advantage of being designed as Series PHEV from ground up. GM may have advantage here. Plus Toyota seems to be having trouble with their Li Ion battery technology choice. ...or is that misinformation for GM and others? Liked the video clip. Thanks!

Question for me is why GM doesn't get in bed with Altairnano? Price of battery is too high? Lasts too long? They can't work out an agreement?

Neil

mds: Good point. I understand that the electric motors in the current Prius don't have enough power to get the car to highway speeds. I have also heard that the current batteries don't even have enough power to even take advantage of the existing motors to get up to city speeds. Is there any reason you know of why they can't simply upgrade the motors? Obviously the batteries need a big upgrade. I doubt the stories of battery delays at Toyota wrong. If they are committed to working exclusively with Panasonic (Cobalt) they really do have a problem.
Do you know of any engineering reason why a parallel would be restricted from highway speeds?

Check out the interview with Prof. Andy Frank (very interesting)
http://www.veva.bc.ca/home/

mds

Neil,
I'm no expert. I don't know how difficult it would be to further enlarge the electric motor. (Next years generation 3 Prius will have larger electric motor, but not enough for all-electric at freeway speads.) Batteries from other manufactures (Altairnano, A123Systems, Valence, etc.) could already be used to improve Prius battery. I think even larger electric motor is question of weight, size, and cost. All currently marketed HEVs (not including those modified to be PHEVs) are parallel/series. This was done because electric motors were too heavy. A compromise was needed to keep the cars weight down. Several full performance BEV models (see Pheonix Motorcars, Tesla, Lightening, etc.) now demonstrate this compromise is no longer necessary. A Series PHEV is simply a BEV with a small generator, used only when going beyond the all-electric range. (A smaller battery can be used than in BEV, further saving weight and cost.) A smaller generator can be run at constant speed and achieve heigher efficiency than possible with variable speed ICE used to push a car. If you can achieve full freeway performance in all-electric mode then you don't really want to have a parallel mode. It would just add cost, weight, and complexity. Series PHEV is way simpler AND way better. Likely development trajectory:
ICE -> HEV -> PHEV -> Series PHEV -> BEV

Example of PHEV is modified Prius PHEV. Mileage improvement is remarkable, but not as good as Series PHEV.

Example of Series PHEV is Volt. I drive 18 miles each way to work. Volt would allow me to do this all-electric, no fuel at all. (Hope GM will put drain plug in generator's fuel tank so I can get old stuff out if necessary.) 75% of USA drivers travel less than 40 miles per day. That's a huge potential savings in fuel.
(If you drive 80 miles and the Volt gets 50 mpg in generator mode, then you'll still get 100 mpg total.)
Phoenix Motorcars may beat GM to market with Series PHEV next year. All they have to do is reduce the battery size on their BEV, add a small generator, and add some charge controls.

When batteries get cheap enough and capable enough, AND when Costco, Starbucks, Safeway, whoever, start building charge stations (like gas stations) then it's possible we'll see a large increase in BEV use. Right now we're headed to large increase in PHEV use, Series PHEV use. Fuel cost are too high and the technology to do this is here. A company that wants to be profitable, even GM, will build'em.

KJD

According to this article the PHEV that Toyota is testing will be able to do 62 MPH in all electric mode. Not sure if that will show up in the 09 model, but it might be there.

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2007/07/toyota-announce.html

Van

The Toyota PHEV seems to be a Prius with a Lexus HSD to allow 62 MPH in the all electric mode. Next, they put in two of their standard batteries, for around 3 KWH of capacity, which gives an AER of about 8 miles. All that would need to be done is rip out the batteries and install about 16 KWH of A123 PHEV cells and you would have the real deal. But for now we wait and wait in Casablanca. Toyota has the car but no battery and GM has the rights to the battery but no car. Very sad if not sinister!

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