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GM Formally Unveils the Production Version of the Volt

Prodvolt1
The production version of the Volt. Click to enlarge.

General Motors marked its centenary today by unveiling the much-anticipated production version of the Chevrolet Volt extended range electric vehicle. The design of the Chevrolet Volt production car has changed from the original concept that was unveiled at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. (Earlier post.)

Because aerodynamics plays a key role in maximizing driving range, GM designers created a more aerodynamically efficient design for the production vehicle than was represented by the concept. While design cues from the concept vehicle remain in the production Volt, the Volt’s rounded and flush front fascia, tapered corners and grille are functional, enabling air to move easily around the car. In the rear, sharp edges and a carefully designed spoiler allow the air to flow off and away quickly. An aggressive rake on the windshield and back glass help reduce turbulence and drag.

Conceptvolt
The 2007 Volt concept. Click to enlarge.
The Volt uses electricity to move the wheels at all times and speeds. For trips up to 40 miles (under the EPA city cycle), the Volt is powered only by electricity stored in its 16-kWh, lithium-ion battery. GM uses half of the capacity (8 kWh) in its operating strategy for the Volt. When the battery’s energy is depleted, a 1.4-liter, naturally aspirated gasoline/E85-powered engine range extender kicks in.

The Chevrolet Volt can be plugged either into a standard household 120v outlet or use 240v for charging. The vehicle’s intelligent charging technology enables the Volt’s battery to be charged in less than three hours on a 240v outlet or about eight hours on a 120v outlet. Charge times are reduced if the battery has not been fully depleted. GM estimates the cost of a daily 8 kWh recharge to be about $0.80 (10 cents per kWh).

Voltptrain
Layout of the Volt powertrain. Click to enlarge.

The Volt’s electric drive unit delivers the equivalent of 150 hp (111 kW), with 370 Nm (273 lb-ft) of instant torque, and a top speed of 100 miles per hour.

GM estimates that the Volt will cost about two cents per mile to drive while under battery power compared to 12 cents per mile using gasoline priced at $3.60 per gallon. For an average driver who drives 40 miles per day (or 15,000 miles per year), this amounts to a cost savings of $1,500 annually. Using peak electric rates, GM estimates that an electrically driven mile in a Chevy Volt will be about one-sixth of the cost of a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle. The cost savings are even greater when charging during off-peak hours, when electric rates are cheaper.

The Chevrolet Volt is expected to be built at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck manufacturing facility, subject to GM successfully negotiating satisfactory government incentives. Production is scheduled to begin late 2010 for models in the United States. Pricing has not been announced.

Comments

kevin

like the concept better
the prodution model looks like a honda civic

What? $0.12 per mile on gasoline is ~ 30mpg. I hope this is a comparison to an average vehicle of similar size and not what the Volt does under gas power. It should be closer to $0.072 per mile on gasoline if they meet the 50mpg claim.

I wonder how many watt-hrs it consumes per mile. $0.02/mile on electric is only "ok" if done on electricity in the northwest ($0.08/kW) but is great if done on electricity elsewhere in the country ($0.16/kW).

Joseph


Please, please, please, please, please.....do not let it be too expensive. I want one sooo bad, it would be perfect for my family. My electric is Hydro with a little solar, I can charge at night in my garage and my total commute is 38 miles a day. My carbon footprint from daily transport would be microscopic. Please can I have one.

clett

@anon,

It's 5 miles per kWh (40 miles divided by 8 kWh available charge).

Agreed 30 mpg isn't very good, presumably a problem from choosing a normally aspirated 1.4 gasoline ICE.

Paul

I can drive my tdi for .10 per mile at $5 per gallon
300 miles per week, 6 gallons * $5.

.08 at $4 per gallon.

.12 @ 3.60? What happened? I thought they designed a new gas engine capable of 40 mpg on gas.

clett

Hmmm.... pack made up from 220 lithium-ion cells. So did they go with the A123 or the LG-Chem cells in the end?

Bryan

I think the concept car looked stupid. This car actually looks pretty slick. More of a euro-design than the 'americanized futuristic' version that would ultimately become dated quickly. I like it.

Alex Kovnat

Joseph, you have stated the best reason for offering an income tax rebate for those who desire to trade in an old "gas guzzler" for a newer, more fuel-economical car.

I wouldn't be surprized if the Volt will be sold at a price such as to result in a very marginal, or even negative, profit just to meet draconian CAFE requirements. But even with such a price, you have raised an important issue of whether you or I will be able to afford one.

sjc

I figured the production version would change. Lutz joked that the concept car had less air resistance in reverse. This could be a "halo" car, in that they need one to be in the game and it will be priced so they can make some money, but not a lot.

Standard marketing techniques when you are getting beat by the competition is to talk down the concept and then do a game changer promised in the future. Both of these were done by GM and we will see if is works. Talking down the hybrid concept years ago did nothing but make them look foolish.

Henrik

This is the best green car news since the announcement that Tesla’s roadster finally was being delivered to customers. I guess GM is playing it very safe with the battery only using 50% of its full capacity. Later on when they get more complete information about the wear down of that battery in actual use they may discover that they can increase the percentage to 65% without jeopardizing battery life. That could be a positive surprise just before launch or perhaps a few years after launch where people can get it fixed with a simple software upgrade. I think it will sell for $34,000 to $38,000 and it will only be sold in places where the state offers a $5000 rebate like California. So $29,000 to $33,000 after rebate.

wintermane

Its not 12 cents per mile to drive the car in gas mode... They goofed and here is where the goof was.

Using peak electric rates, GM estimates that an electrically driven mile in a Chevy Volt will be about one-sixth of the cost of a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle.

They took the 10 cent per kwh 2 cent per mile figure and multiplied by 6 to get that 30 mpg conventional car milage.. BUT the volt doesnt have 30 mpg its 50 mpg.


Also complicating things is the fact that in alot of places peak power costs alot more then 10 cents per kw. Here it costs 35. That means the car costs 7 cents per mile on electric and 8 cents per mile on gas;/ Also a complication here is we get charged more the more we use so.... ouchie!

Will S

The price has creeped up over the last year or so. First target was $30k. Then they realized what they were getting themselves into and the price became $40k. Now, Lutz is thinking it would need to be $48k.


Not much market penetration at that price. With the PHEV Prius in a similar pricing scheme as it currently is, GM made need to rethink their 40-mile insistence, with perhaps different configurations (i.e., 10 mile, 20 mile, 40 mile battery pack options).

creativforce

Well timed with falling fuel prices and ten years too late. GM would be the hottest car company in the world today if they hadn't conspired with Chevron to crush the EV1.

Will S

Does anyone have a BFSC chart on the 1.4 liter engine? It might not hurt for GM to have multiple engine options as well.

Tonychilling

Since just about every hardware device americans now buy is from China, They will provide the cost point needed for Americans to buy "electric".

Darius

Chevy Volt is not coming this year. First Chevy Volt will be sold two years from now. That is sad side of the story.

Henrik

Will

I think Lutz's talk about $48,000 for the Volt was political. He mentioned that development costs far exceeded expectations in April 2008 where they had only been working for a few months on the project. I don’t believe it but he need to say so in order to lay the ground for some government backing and some R&D subsidies. They are quite successful in attracting such money and you need to give the politicians some good arguments for supporting these subsidies. They are going to produce some 60.000 per year of this car from 2012 or so and the battery is $8000. The car is not a big luxury SUV so it should be possible to make the car without any profit for $34k to $38k including the battery pack.

"The car is not a big luxury SUV so it should be possible to make the car without any profit for $34k to $38k including the battery pack."

The SOLE purpose of a corperation is to make profit why on earth would one assume a company would do something for zero profit? no these will be in the 40K range, and at that price a LOT will sell no every one is scraping the bottom of the salary barrel. I would rather have one of these for 45k than a midsize BMW. electric motors last for millions of miles too these could be lifetime cars. using nanolithium packs with 15000+ deep cycle lifespans is 20+ years of driving at 40 miles a day. 1500 a year payback times 20+ year lifetime = these will sell like hotcakes.

GreenPlease

I believe that the 1.4 is a derivative of the world engine that is going into the cruze. This should help cut costs. It should also be noted that certain technologies developed for the Volt will trickle down. E.g. The electrically driven air compressor will be used on mild hybrids throughout GM's fleet at no additional development cost.

IMO they would have been better off with a 8.5kw/h lithium titanate battery pack and using a 90% discharge. The battery pack would have been cheaper, lighter, and more powerful.

floccina

GM estimates that the Volt will cost about two cents per mile to drive while under battery power compared to 12 cents per mile using gasoline priced at $3.60 per gallon. For an average driver who drives 40 miles per day (or 15,000 miles per year), this amounts to a cost savings of $1,500 annually

I would like to see the above estimate with cost of batteries included.

Max Reid

Sales of the vehicle depends on these factors
1. Cost of the Vehicle
2. Cost of Ethanol (major alternative fuel now)
3. Cost of other Hybrids like Prius/Insight and their mileage.

If a regular hybrid is more economical than Plug-in, then people will go for it.

Ofcourse, there are some fans of plug-ins who will still buy it, but may not be many.

It would have been better, if GM has designed this a hatchback, since the design will allow for more cargo space.

If people cannot afford the Volt with 40 mile range, I guess GM should reduce the range to 20 miles and the cost as well.

Henrik

No name

Absolutely, the sole purpose is to be profitable for a corporation like GM. However, the strategy to be most profitable in the longer run is often to introduce new products at lower than normal prices simply to get the sales going to reach the volume that is necessary to produce at low costs. Also with completely new products like this Volt it has a lot of first mover advantages. Specifically, you can be sure GM is filing a truckload of patents for all sorts of things that will give them an advantage over competitors. These patents will make it difficult for competitors to follow without paying royalties or spend their own large development costs. This amounts to hidden future profits to be made by GM and therefore it can be the most profitable strategy to sell the first innovative product at production cost without a profit. The next generation Volt will sell 300,000 per year or so and be profitable but not this version.

I think you are being to optimistic about payback times. Most people and businesses will not invest unless it pays back in 5 years. Governments and large corporations may have longer payback horizons though.

Nick(Colorado)

I like the way it looks.

The actual cost on for EV mode is 0.12$/Mile. The
cost of the battery is estimated at $15K, and it has
an expected life of 150K miles. Yielding 0.10$ per
mile for battery life. Fortunately, batteries are
getting better at ~5 to 7% per year. So after 10 to
15 years a much better or cheaper battery will be
available.

Ben

floccina,

Easy divide $8000 (estimated price of battery) by $1500, you get 5.3 years before it pays off the cost of the battery.

Will S

Henrik wrote;

> They are quite successful in attracting such money and you need to give the politicians some good arguments for supporting these subsidies.

If the Volt gains subsidies for being a hybrid, even a plug-in one, then won't the plug-in Prius also qualify? A Volt at $35k won't appreciably dent the sales of a $25k plug-in Prius.

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