## Flashback to 1966: “GM seeks new power sources”; batteries and fuel cells

##### 01 January 2011

A 1966 article in ACS’ Chemical & Engineering News described a General Motors press conference at which the automaker outlined research work being done on non-gasoline-based automotive power sources, with a heavy emphasis on the electrical.

At the press conference, GM demonstrated:

• A working laboratory model of a lithium-chlorine battery.
• Electrovan—a hydrogen-oxygen fuel cell-powered GMC van.
• Electrovair II—a silver-zinc battery-propelled Corvair.

For good measure, GM also described work on gas turbines and the Stirling thermal engine. But the emphasis was clearly electrical. GM is taking a hard look at high energy-density batteries, as are Ford Motor, General Dynamics, Gulton Industries, and others (C&EN, Oct. 24, page 55).

Edward Cole, GM’s executive vice president, states that the company is interested in electrical propulsion because “energy conversion is our business.” He also hopes for the research to affect other phases of the company’s business.

Cole became president of GM in 1967. Anticipating federal air pollution regulations, he directed GM engineers to lower engine compression ratios and to design engines that could be run on unleaded gasoline. Under his leadership, General Motors developed the catalytic converter and introduced it on the 1975 model year cars. In the early 1970s, he also was a major advocate for the improvement of rotary engines.

Resources

• “GM seeks new power sources”, Chemical & Engineering News 1966 44 (46), 33-34

I hope we get further in the next 44 years.
I hope we get further in the next 4 years.

Oh, and before you children even start - GM did not abandon:
• EVs
• High energy-density batteries
• Lithium-chlorine batteries
• Silver-zinc battery batteries
• Hydrogen-oxygen fuel cell-powered cars.
• Gas turbines
• Stirling thermal engines.

Nor did Ford Motor, General Dynamics, Gulton Industries, and others.

The whole world abandoned them. The WHOLE world.

Only Toyota has taken the effort to demonstrate that even a truly well designed EV (hybrid), backed by a MAJOR auto maker, cannot be sold in any real quantity – YET.

This naïve belief (killed the EV) should be discarded on top of the Pelosi, idiotic; “Detroit is not building the small cars people want”.

And NO, I do not admire nor would I buy, nor recommend a GM car, not even maybe.

Don't sugar coat it TT, tell us what you really feel.

TT will be driving a Toyota PHEV soon?

You forget that for over 40 of the last 44 years, as the world's largest auto maker in the world's then largest auto market, GM set the auto example BY dragging their feet in alternate energy, CAFE mileage, and planned obsolescence.

..Oh, and before you children even start - GM did not abandon tens of billions of FEDERAL RESEARCH HANDOUTS for:
• EVs, High energy-density batteries,
• Lithium-chlorine batteries
• Silver-zinc battery batteries
• Hydrogen-oxygen fuel cell-powered cars.
• Gas turbines
• Stirling thermal engines.

as they crushed EVs, EV battery patents, and any ICE threatening technology or legislation.

The 1960's began without men in space, but ended with men on the moon. Alternatives to oil could have followed a similar pace since the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, unless some folks were dragging their feet..

Remember 1966 was also about the middle of the muscle car era --- I don't think anyone was going to go electric with cheap gas and horsepower being a way for men to compensate for inadequacies in other areas.

..Alternatives to oil could have followed a similar pace since the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, unless some folks were dragging their feet..

Since 1909, having never sold a car without an ICE engine is GM's green nature.

GM killed the EV by setting an example?
Really? - HaHAHa - You cannot be serious (but you probably are).

Go ahead YOU tell Toyota; “GM was wrong – BEVs Fly”.
They’ll thank you, and say; “O M G – we lost 10 years by assuming GM was all knowing (hey, this is fiction) and not checking this out before!”.

I hope you are about the last one with this delusion.

TT will be blithely ignoring other’s abject terror of running out of electrons on the dock at midnight (actually, I rarely go there, even in daytime) and smiling while driving the 1st EV (BEV, PHEV, HEV . . ) that makes economic sense to the buyer (but this will probably a used one).

We do really need lots of EVs.

(In 1st post, I meant - not buy a NEW GM car . - Buy a USED GM car? Sure, maybe.)

GM killed the EV by setting an example? They bought CARB and killed ZEV law for all auto makers.
Really? - HaHAHa - You cannot be serious (but you probably are).

Go ahead YOU tell Toyota; “GM was wrong – BEVs Fly”. Toyota wanted to sell unlimited numbers of RAV4 EVs, but GM sold the EV scale NiMH battery patent to oil for burial.
They’ll thank you, and say; “O M G – we lost 10 years by assuming GM was all knowing (hey, this is fiction) and not checking this out before!”.

TT, By your own words, "I hope we get further in the next 44 years. I hope we get further in the next 4 years.. And NO, I do not admire nor would I buy, nor recommend a GM car, not even maybe." you know the biggest car maker for 90 years failed and fails to provide good vehicles, mileage, etc - yet you blame the whole world.

..you are about the last one with this delusion..

TT,

Don't pay much attention to SJC and Kelly - they are paranoid delusionals that see GM as the anti-Christ, not for what they are - just another automaker that has made made both great and terrible strategy and product moves over the years. These guys hang out on GCC just for an opportunity to troll hate on the "evil bogeyman" GM. They hate America or hate their dads or something.......

And you may want to consider a GM car at this point. The Volt is a stunning and visionary product that is years ahead of competitors. Other cars are either primarily gas burners (like the Blended PHEV Prius) or offer a real compromise to vehicle utility ( like the the Leaf). It will be several years before there is a real, mostly electrically driven, un-compromised car from another automaker. The Volt has got universally great reviews for function, refinement, ease of us and style. So the Aztek was ugly, and GM should have followed up the EV1....but the Volt is an example of a great GM strategy and product move; you can probably go see one at your dealer.

They hate America or hate their dads or something.......

Mothers have often been the subject of offspring derision - take Jocasta for example.

I agree the Volt is a very nice looking car and technologically exciting, (as is the Prius, technologically at least).

The Volt has a very impressive empg of 93 mpg (for ~35 mi, then 37 mpg) but still drives like an ordinary car. And until the early 90’s we/I bought mostly Chevy’s.

Indeed the Volt is, in some ways “ahead” of competitors but, like the Prius, it is too costly, so is that really ahead? The EV1 was supposedly ahead, but not viable; it was an expensive, 2 place brick that was being forced by the (ill conceived, killed and never resuscitated) ZEV law from those fools at CARB.

The Volt and other US autos are overpriced in general.

The labor rate, plus the union overhead means I would be donating $2 to$4 thousand dollars to GM, Ford or Chrysler when I buy a new US built car - and if I bought an Asian car I would not be much tempted to send $2+K to Ford or Chrysler out on patriotism (to GM too? no, it is being almost criminally favored by the administration). A US made truck, large SUV or used car is a different story. back then fuel cell cars were more about.. if everything goes to hell can we keep some things running? Can we crawl out of whatever comes? With hydrogen you know no matter the weather no matter where you are no matter what you have on hand you can make some fuel and do some work with it. Yes you may wind up back at 1920s levels with alot fewer cars with 5-10 hp motors and top speeds of 30-40 mph.. downhill... but you wont wind up in 1500s on your feet or on a horse... well not all of you;/ As each decade passed the work on fuel cells took it from an iff all hell breaks loose to an if things get messy to a when things go sour to now when things start to feel icky. In 10-20 years it will be better then a gas car and we wont be asking when will it come we will be asking when do the last gas cars go... No it wont be the only car around but in 30 years it will be better then what we have right now. And I mean that for all cars not just better fuel cells I mean cars in general will be better in 30 years. Frank, You should know that personal attacks are cause for banning. TT, The Volt is "ahead" because it is has the combination of being practical and it drives mostly on electric energy. Even though you don't sound eager to be an early adopter for the technical package that does that, a lot of other real customers are ready to pay more for the initial outlay to help get us to a greener place. This combination primes the technology development of cars that will be ultimately more affordable that do the same. Key technologies like charging systems, high continuous duty electric drives, and large format cells are being developed because because the Volt exists as a viable product. As for the labor content, Really how can you begrudge a US worker a job at the new labor rates ($11.00/hr to start for unskilled work) I know that slave labor in China is compelling, but we can't import that forever, and I don't want slave labor wages in the US, do you? What kind of neighbors do folks that make $2.00 a day make, really? What I don't like about the Volt is the propaganda that surrounds it. Early on there was the "E-flex" labeling and discussion about swappable gensets which was suggestive of a series hybrid; then the "EREV" terminology, which I concede is standard marketing practice. And when the technical details of the Volt were finally revealed it was ... a parallel PHEV. In concept (though not in detail) it is an evolution of the Prius, hence the need of the marketing to create a distinction. I don't respond well to being misled so take a negative attitude to the Volt. It's not necessary to demonize GM, or any auto co. Cheap oil was the culprit. With oit below$20/barrel you were not going to get innovation. It's amazing in '66 they were even considering it.

Corporations, functioning in a capitalist system, are all about maximizing profits. Professional sports teams like NFL, NBA and NHL teams are corporations, and the basic act of winning is a major part of their profitability...for the carmakers pofitability involves mostly units sold via margin or volume or a combination of both. Ultimately if electric cars were going to make more money in the 60's or earlier via volume or margin or both, the carmakers would have figured out a way to make them long ago.

"Don't pay much attention to SJC and Kelly - they are paranoid delusionals that see GM as the anti-Christ, not for what they are - just another automaker that has made made both great and terrible strategy and product moves over the years."

Hundreds of automakers have gone bankrupt. Name a few "just another automaker"s to receive $50 billion tax dollars for achieving bankruptcy, frankbank. Check out a few more GM transportation campaigns: Rail - http://www.lovearth.net/gmdeliberatelydestroyed.htm Trucks - http://hnn.us/articles/38526.html Electric Vehicles - http://ev1.org/ Batteries - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent_encumbrance_of_large_automotive_NiMH_batteries Etc - Google for thousands more.. "These guys hang out on GCC just for an opportunity to troll hate on the "evil bogeyman" GM. They hate America or hate their dads or something......." If GM changed and had, say Hyundai quality, economy, price, and value - I'd buy 'new' GM. I'm ex-US Army and raised by a great dad. But it's not rocket science. Most ANYONE taking a 2011 Elantra vs. Cruze, Malibu vs. Sonata, etc test drive and then getting price quotes knows the best car isn't 10+% overweight, overpriced, or a recent IPO. How's that "just another" list of bankrupts getting$50 billion tax dollars going?

Hmmm... Maybe GM IS the Anti-Christ. But wouldn't Christ need to be present somewhere near Detroit?

BTW, the US Army has invested about the same $50 billion tax dollars in GM over the last 60 years. And that's just ONE branch of the military that contracts with GM. As for the NiMh fiasco - it was Chevron's unit that killed large format batteries. TT, So check out some of Kelly's links and judge for yourself about paranoia. And well yes, And if you want to buy a Korean car, buy the Hyundai, not the Kia (made by Hyundai). Quality of Hyundai in 2010 was good. A few brands JDP IQS scores: Ford 93 Hyundai 102 Chevy 111 Toyota 117 Subaru 121 BMW 121 Kia 126 Volkswagen 135 On the other hand, you see Chevy's cars in the pack, and some are absolutely great. But Kelly resents them because they went bankrupt, but were rescued by the only liquid capital in 2008/2009? And now, the US treasury's ownership stake in GM is probably going to make them a profit, http://www.leftlanenews.com/report-gm-stock-could-hit-44-by-close-of-2011.html. A reason to hate your bank as well, since they were almost all propped up by the same govt a that time? I don't get it or care much why haters hate GM and root for foreign car companies. I thought some kind of unresolved father thing, but Kelly debunked that. Something deeper, I guess. The Volt drive system has a pure series mode for engine-on operation. But it has more than one extended range mode. It also has a powersplit mode (not parallel) that saves more fuel with the engine on. The car chooses which one is more efficient to use. It seemed like GM told the automotive press something new about the Volt everyday when it was in development. As you say, "marketing practice". I think they waited until production to tell a few big secrets like the actual drivetrain arrangement. http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/alternative-fuel/cells/chevy-volt-hybrid-drive-system Even though the Prius is also a powersplit, it is a different kind of powersplit. Also, the Prius is strictly a powersplit its only mode of operation. I don't see the Volt drivetrain so much as an evolution of the Prius', but rather a machine that was made to suit a new purpose, that is, to combine an great EV with a good hybrid system in a seamless manner. Some good observations, frankbank. except for the "something deeper" one. No need for that. Cheap oil was the culprit. With oit below$20/barrel you were not going to get innovation.
Pollution was a huge issue at the time. There was a lot of innovation going on; batteries were a possibility, but the catalytic converter won out. Series PHEV could have helped a lot, by eliminating emissions from throttle transients and other factors which weren't fully solved until everything went to port fuel injection.

As for TT, he's one of the resident denialist clowns... aka village idiots. For instance, he glosses over the fact that there are RAV-4 EVs (Toyota) and Ranger EVs (Ford) in private hands and daily use, but not one single EV-1 still driving the roads. GM took the cars from people who begged to keep them and wanted to buy them, and destroyed them instead. GM could have taken the cars apart and sold them as kits of used parts, no warranty; GM management was more interested in showing contempt and spite than garnering goodwill (at a profit).

I don't blame GM for failing to get technologies to market. Ford spent years on sodium-sulfur batteries which never became economical either. But obvious spite can't be dismissed or forgiven.

EP, you could have mentioned "electronic ignition" as another example of innovation. But still just tinkering with the ICE.

From GreenCarCongress (~us)

..outtake..:
MY 2009 EPA Lab 55/45 (projected)
Manufacturer Cars/Trucks mpg US
Hyundai 30.1
Honda 29.7
Volkswagen 29.6
Toyota 29.4
Kia 28.0
Nissan 27.2
BMW 26.9
Ford 25.7
Chrysler 23.2
..some firms don't even seem worth rating.

With the next "oil crisis", the ~same GM product offering will bankrupt in the same way. The "just another automaker" is just "too big to fail".

10,000 projected \$41,000 2011 Volts mean little in GM's same old millions of trucks/product mix. Over 200,000 2011 Sonatas are alreadly sold. From GM history, the Volt value, like buying NiMH battery patents, may actually lie in keeping tech breakthroughs from world mass production.

Meanwhile..
http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/reviews/drives/2011-hyundai-elantra-test-drive
http://www.vehix.com/articles/reviews/2011-hyundai-sonata-se-test-drive/2
http://www.cnbc.com/id/39890840/Here_Comes_Hyundai ...

FB....you missed the 4 best build cars.

1. Porsche (83)
2. Acura (86)
3. Mercedes (87)
4. Lexus (88)
5) Ford (93)
6) Honda (95)
7) Hyundai (102)
8) Lincoln (106)
9) Infiniti (107)
10) Volvo (109)
00) Industry Average (109)
xx) All others.