Chevy Volt. Next generation electric vehicle?

Chevy Volt

GM recently announced plans for a concept car, the Chevy Volt, which will be all-electric and plug-in. Sounds good, but as always, one needs to be careful about GM announcing alt energy vehicles. They have a long and tired history of not following through, like they did when releasing the EV-1 then killing it. Also, the Volt is a concept car. They say it’ll be in production in 2-3 years, if they figure out the battery thing. That’s a big “if.” If it works, the Volt will be a next gen EV with a range of 640 miles. Sort of.

But here’s that GM spin again. Is it really an EV? It has a 3 cylinder flex-fuel engine which will need fuel to run to get that 640 mile range while the electric battery alone will only take you a puny 40 miles.

The battery has always been the problem with electric cars. It takes several hours to charge them and the range is only 100-150 miles. This hasn’t changed for over one hundred years. Yes, electric cars have been around that long.

In The Electric Vehicle and the Burden of History by David Kirsch, he details how electric cars were quite prevalent from 1890-1915. There were even magazines about them, one of which ran an article in about 1912 saying we almost got that battery thing figured out now…

So, while GM wheezes towards getting alt energy cars on the road, Toyota, who gets it, is already selling hundreds of thousands of them, primarily the Prius. I have a 2001 Prius, it gets 45 mpg in LA and goes over 500 miles on the tank of gas. So, pardon my skepticism about the Chevy Volt. I hope it happens, but given GM’s history on such things, don’t hold your breath.

[tags]electric vehicles, EV, Chevy Volt[/tags]


  1. Terminology aside (along with the fact that I don’t think I’d buy even an EV from GM), I’m glad to see someone playing with series hybrids. The range limitations of pure EVs are a problem.

    A series hybrid dramatically simplifies the drivetrain (vs a parallel hybrid like Prius), and the engine/generator can be optimized to run at a single most-efficient speed. Make the engine a biodiesel, and it’s not a bad combination.

    Ugly, though, isn’t it?

  2. Knowing GM, if this car sees the light of day it will be for lease only, in a few “test states”, just like the EV. Then it will be scrapped without giving the option to buy. The sad part is that everyone keeps pointing at this “it only goes 100 miles” crap. Most people don’t need a car that can go more than 100 miles per day. I drive at best 20 to 50 per day, and the latter would be a busy day for me. Sure you can’t drive cross country with it, but compared to the savings on gas and pollution, you could afford a plane ticket for those rare trips that are over that range. It would be nice to at least have the option…

  3. In Los Angeles, more than a few commute 80-100 miles a day. However the Volt only goes 40 miles on a charge, the rest needs to be fueled.

    Still, for many, an EV would be a great second car for getting groceries, etc.

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