2007 Detroit Auto Show: Chevrolet Volt Plug-in Hybrid Concept

Volt1

You can tell fuel efficiency is a big deal when Detroit’s largest automaker makes its biggest surprise unveiling in years a plug-in electric hybrid vehicle called the Chevrolet Volt. The small coupe is definitely in GM's production pipeline. There’s just one little problem: The battery technology that will make this car run doesn’t exist yet.

That may seem like a big problem, but with the speed in battery development — think how much smaller your laptop is now than it used to be, and how much longer it lasts — we could see this happening in the project in a two- to three-year time frame. A small gas generator — that you would fill up at the gas station — will recharge a string of lithium batteries that line the floor of the car and power it after it's run its initial charge from being plugged in at a regular 110-volt outlet at home. 

Theoretically, the vehicle could get up to 150 mpg with a range of 640 miles, but there are still the energy costs of plugging the car in at home. Imagine paying those Christmas light bills all year long — and that’s still a wild guess. We love GM’s boldness here, and it certainly one-ups Ford’s Airstream hydrogen plug-in hybrid concept with its even shakier production likelihood. If the Volt is produced, it will certainly have Toyota taking the Prius back to the drawing board.

Volt2

Voltprofile

Voltback

Voltrear

Voltsketch

KickingTires' Coverage of the Detroit Auto Show

Comments 

LB Williams

Is there really a market for this? I am not talking about alternative fuel vehicles - just ones marketed by GM. GM committed a serious breach of consumer trust with the EV1 program - will anyone trust them to not "pull the plug" in an environmentally hostile fashion again?

I think not.

Lars

Is there a market??? This type of cars will be a revolution. Who would like to buy a regular car when you can make almost all of your travel on electricity at at least half the cost of gasoline (in Europe a fourth . . )?

LB: GM's breach of consumer trust -- despite the recent documentary and other publicity -- affected a small group of consumers on the west coast. If anything, GM's history with electric cars could reassure buyers that the company has experience in the area. Beyond all that, we've learned there's one thing that changes what people buy: money. When gas prices went sky high, the switch in searches on Cars.com from SUVs to small cars and hybrids was dramatic. Companies and environmental groups can talk all they want about social and eco consciousness. Only when it saves money (or is perceived to, as is a common misperception about today's hybrids) will any alternative propulsion system become a true _mass-market_ product. If GM made a car that ran on monkey dung, and it saved its owner money, people would flock to it.

Troy

Bottom line... To be successful, it needs to be affordable for everyone. I drive a 15k car that gets 35 MPG. If the Volt gets a possible 150 mpg and costs 80k, it will take a long time to make up the savings in fuel as far as money is concerned.

JFK

We just bought an '07 Prius and love it. We would like to get another hybrid in a year or so to replace our midsize SUV. This car's design looks very cool and stylish - a welcome change in the hybrid sector, one that I would be interested in, if the reliability of the vehicle is not an issue.

In fact, there is no reason that every car manufacturer can't offer hybrid models or even diesel and gas models with higher gas mileages right now at an affordable price. Unknown to most Americans is the fact that THESE VEHICLES ARE ALREADY BEING SOLD IN EUROPE RIGHT NOW. Here are some examples that you may have never even heard of:

Honda Insight 2 seater (petrol) 80.0 mpg
Citroen C1 1398 M5 (diesel) 68.9 mpg
Toyota Aygo 1.4 D-4D 3 & 5 door (diesel) 68.9 mpg
Citroen C2 1398 M5 (diesel) 65.7 mpg
Citroen C3 1398 A5 (diesel) 65.7 mpg
FIAT Panda 1248 M5 (diesel) 65.7 mpg
Vauxhall Corsa 1248 MTA5 (diesel) 65.6 mpg
Audi A2 1422 M5 (diesel) 64.2 mpg
FORD Fiesta 1560 M5 (diesel) 64.2 mpg
Smart Forfour 1493 S/A6 (diesel) 64.2 mpg
Peugeot 206 1398 M5 (diesel) 64.1 mpg
Renault Clio 1461 M5 (diesel) 64.2 mpg
Citroen C3 1560 M5 (diesel) 64.2 mpg
Vauxhall Corsa 1248 M5 (diesel) 64.2 mpg
Hyundai Getz 1493 M5 (diesel) 62.8 mpg
Fiat Grande Punto 1248 M5 (diesel) 62.8 mpg
Ford Fiesta 1399 M5 (diesel) 62.8 mpg
Ford Fusion 1399 M5 (diesel) 62.8 mpg
Ford Fusion 1560 M5 (diesel) 62.8 mpg
Toyota Yaris 1364 5MT or Multi5 (diesel) 62.8 mpg
Renault Modus 1461 A5 or M5 (diesel) 62.6 mpg
Peugeot 206 SW 1398 M5 (diesel) 62.7 mpg
Peugeot 207 1398 M5 (diesel) 62.7 mpg
Peugeot 207 1560 M5 diesel) 62.7 mpg
Renault Megane 1461 M5 (diesel) 62.8 mpg
Citroen C1 998 M5 (petrol) 61.4 mpg
Toyota Aygo 998 M5 or Multi5 (petrol) 61.4 mpg
Toyota Aygo 1.0 VVT-i 3 & 5 door (diesel) 61.4 mpg
Peugeot 107 1.0 (petrol) 61.3 mpg
Renault Modus 1.5 dCi 80 (JP0D05) (diesel) 61.4 mpg
Mitsubishi Colt 1.5 AMT (diesel) 61.4 mpg
Skoda Fabia Hatch 1.4 TDI PD (75 bhp) (diesel) 61.4 mpg
Skoda Fabia Estate 1.4 TDI PD (75 bhp) (diesel)61.4 mpg
Renault Clio MY 20061.5 dCi (diesel) 61.4 mpg
Ford Fusion 1.6 Duratorq TDCi (diesel) 61.4 mpg
Seat New Ibiza 1.4 TDI (80 PS) (diesel) 61.4 mpg
VW Polo 1.4 TDI PD (80 PS) (diesel) 61.4 mpg
Nissan Micra 1.5 3/5 door (65 PS) (diesel) 61.4 mpg
Honda Civic Hybrid 1.4 IMA ES (petrol) 61.4 mpg
Suzuki Swift 1.3 GLZ 3 door DDiS (diesel) 61.4 mpg
Vauxhall Corsa MY2005 1.3CDTi 16v5Door (diesel)61.4 mpg
Vauxhall Astra MY2005 1.7CDTi 16v 5Door(diesel)61.4 mpg
Smart Fortwo 698 SM6 (petrol) 60.1 mpg
Daihatsu Charade 989 M5 (petrol) 58.9 mpg
Vauxhall Corsa Corsa 998 MTA5 (petrol) 58.8 mpg
Smart Roadster 698 A6 (petrol) 57.6 mpg
Daihatsu Sirion 998 M5 (petrol) 56.5 mpg


WHY are most of these vehicles not being made available to the American public now? The American public is READY for high mileage hybrids and non-hybrids and it's time for the auto makers to get off their duffs and make it happen...

That's my two cents.

kent beuchert

I've got news for the poster who claims all those cars with exorbitantly optimistic fuel mileage figures (no Insight ever got 80 miles pe gallon and it WAS offered in the U.S. for many years before being retired because it failed to attract buyer interest. Claiming that the Insight was "withheld" is a complete lie, as is the phoney 80 MPG mileage claim. Perhaps he's talking "Euro gaollons." This fellow seems to think businesses create products and then refuse to sell thembecause they are too popular. Come again?

Lil'Tom

Those diesels can't pass American emission requirements (low sulfur diesel may change that) the rest are considered too small and underpowered for American tastes. Serial hybrids like the Volt are much more appealing. I definitely expect to see a large number of them hit the road five to ten years from now. If the Volt had a diesel generator it would get significantly better mileage. However the gas engine allows for the use of E85 which seems to be a requisite feature for new GM models.

That 150 mpg figure is pretty meaningless. It's based on driving the car 60 miles per day starting with a fully charged battery. 640 miles, minus the initial 40 miles that require no gas, divided by its 12 gallon capacity is 50 mpg. Not bad at all, but it does need to be plugged in to get really great fuel economy.

Lil tom
But for a commuter not a ton of people go more than 60 miles a day. And how cool would your workplace be if they let you plug in during the day.

Lil'Tom

Dave,
Yes that would be unbelievably cool. I love serial hybrids and electric vehicles. I'm just saying 150 mpg is derived from a randomly chosen number. If you drive 50 miles per day you get 250 mpg. 70 miles/day works out to 116 7 mpg.

LT
You should write GM press releases! They'd love those figures.

sum dude

Car looks like a cadillac or chrysler, but it looks good none the less. The small gas generator is that a normal car engine or what?

Lil'Tom

sum dude,
The gas engine is a 1.0L three-cylinder turbocharged engine that powers a generator. It's very efficient because it operates at a constant low speed.

Here's some more meaningless mpg figures for those who lack my mad spreadsheet skillz.

Miles between charges/ Miles per gallon

45 / 450
50 / 250
55 / 183
60 / 150
65 / 130
70 / 117
75 / 107
80 / 100
85 / 94
90 / 90

Troy

Anyone know an estimated MSRP for the Volt?

its a CONCEPT not a PRODUCTION car troy, thanks

Bill

I have a Friend that own's a 1967 Simca that he and his Father converted to Hybrid Drive in 1973. it achieved over 100 MPG using a surplus Onan Ganerator to recharge and could go 80 miles on it's batteries. The car still exists in a Barn in Montgomery Alabama. It made the news there durring the gas crisis in the 70's but then faded to obscurity. There is a Gorilla group of Electric Car enthusiasts called the Electric Automobile Association. The chapter I belong to has a web site at MAEAA.org they support building your own or Buying cars Like the Solectria, They build a line of conversions based on Geo, ford or Chevy.

It's great to see a major automaker finally moving forward on what small companies have been proving possible for several years (see Energy CS, CalCars and HyMotion). But while the announcement is exciting, GM still isn't giving any solid timeline on WHEN we can see these cars on the road or HOW MANY cars are actually going to be produced - at best they say 3-4 years if the battery technology is available. There is a demand for plug-in hybrids NOW - there are hundreds of cities, counties, utility districts and fleets already placing "soft orders" for such vehicles. Such early-adopters of these vehicles would provide test markets for GM to refine the technology and build public confidence and interest in these cars.

I have to admit I'm a little concerned that they will use the announcement of these concept cars more to clean up their image than clean up their product line. There is a lot GM can do between now and when we may see these concept vehicles actually on the road.

We all know increasing fuel efficiency is the direction automakers need to head – so let’s get past the hype of a handful of concept vehicles and look at what they are doing with the rest of their fleet. Overall average fuel economy from the Big 6 is worse today that it was 10 years ago and GM is still heavily dependent on its gas guzzling truck lines. In addition to that they are still fighting tooth-and-nail against increasing fuel economy regulations, suing states that try to limit greenhouse gas emissions, and in December argued before the Supreme Court that carbon from tailpipe emissions was not even a pollutant. GM is still planning to expand their Hummer line to become 25% of their overall sales. Consumers still have limited options to find fuel-efficient cars that are affordable, well-built, and fun to drive. There are plenty of things automakers can do today to increase fuel economy – and I'm tired of being shown distracting concept cars that we won't see for 3-4 years if ever.

I've been working with the Freedom From Oil Campaign to make automakers honestly prioritize fuel economy and move beyond oil – check out what we do at http://www.FreedomFromOil.org

happy lopez

plug it in, plug it in! haha i love the car, i hope the new impala takes on some of the styling cues in the front!

str

expand hummer line to become 25% of overall sales ???!!! where on earth is that information coming from ?

str

its unbelievable the way that seemingly intelligent people can read something and then digest it improperly, and follow up by spouting their erroneus take on it as factual information...gm states that it intends to increase its international sales of hummer to represent 25% of that division's total sales ! That's a whole lot different than your satement that gm intends to increase hummer sales to 25% of its total sales...try to understand what you read a little better perhaps before spewing forth such garbage

LJ

This car will happen and will be a great thing for the individual (savings), the country (beat Japan, end Mid East dependence), and the world (global warming).
See the new enthusiast site:
http://www.gm-volt.com

The goverment will not allow this Chevrolet GM (VOLT) on the road. They talk about 3 years before it is available to the public. After three years, there will be a problem with the batteries or some other items on the car. This is just PR for GM for what they did in 1998 with their electric car that they produced and was a great success with the public. When the goverment found out about it, they ordered GM to destroy all electric cars. You will not see this Chevy Volt ever for sale. It's just a carrot at the end of the stick. The government has put pressure on Toyota to produce a gas gasguslling truck, what a joke. Very transparent of what's going on behind the scenes with the government and auto makers here in the US. So don't have high hopes for anything that will save you money on gas in the near future. Note: see the movie "Who killed the electric car"....this is just a LITTLE of what is going on with our gov. and auto makers.

Dan Petit

Actually, if you visit A123Systems(.com), you may discover that battery technology is already here. The only decisions which may now need to be made (read and technically-understand the specifications of the technical advances of their battery technology). In short, should the battery be made "Pro-rata"? And, as various long-term-test results indicate, then, "Pro-rata" at what formula?
Based on a 1,000 charge and discharge cycle at 100% depth of discharge, (GM is wisely going to use ONLY a 30% depth of discharge), but, even at a 100% depth of discharge IF IT WERE GOING TO BE UTILIZED would place A123Systems' Nanophosphate Battery Technology at somewhere between a 4 year battery and a 6 year battery based on the successfulness of what is known now. (This incredible battery retains 95% of its capacity after being charged and discharged completely, at 1,000 cycles minimum.) The retention of charge capacity and performance at only a 30% depth of discharge (you are using only 70% of charge capacity), would probably ensure at least a 1,200 charge cycle at 90% performance after 4 years!! That would be about 4 years of usage to electrically propel you 90 percent of the distance of 40 miles each day when the vehicle is driven with nominal design load factors.
Given these benchmarks, even if the battery is at a deterioration point of only 40 miles round-trip for battery capacity instead of 45 to 50 (with the Air conditioner on), the savings for gasoline, diesel, (ethanol if priced 25% lower than gasoline for the energy contained within ethanol as compared to gasoline), then, still, electrical propulsion is still vastly superior to carbon producing fossil fuels.
Just remember to always keep the gas tank full so that degradation will not begin until after 6 months with Top Tier Gasoline - Summer Blend - (no air pocket within the fuel tank which allows for the tank to breathe in destructive, moist air with warming of the day and cooling of the night).
Mainly, I hope that GM will consider strongly an "Open Datastream Set" of all datastreams (none sequestered), so that all systemic voltages may be known quickly by certified technicians and all untrained others as a caution as to the high voltages within the systems. (MANY SYSTEMS!)
That would be one of the most effective warnings; that untrained/careless servicing may carry the ultimate price, and, NOT AT ALL the manufacturers responsibility whatsoever!!
Let this comment be published and discussed to the extent that the environment (decarbonizing the planet) is a universal responsibility which supercedes anything else.
A battery that has an 8 year/75% residual range-capacity rating (factored from a 40 mile range) would be fine with me. The vehicle would then just get a new owner whom drives only 30 miles to work and back).

Dan Petit ASE Certified L-1 Advanced Engine Educator.

kenneth eze

2005 model toyota car to buy

Robert Cowdery

This is an ideal car for my wife in town, while I drive a truck for longer hauls

Another new Chevy Volt Enthusiast site:
http://www.chevy-volt.net

Robert Weitzel

I'm not an engineer but having been around engines all of my 63 years I know what works and what does not. I have to ask why none of these projects have yet thought to put a small gas turbine in place to power the generator to recharge the batteries in these electric cars.
a gas turbine in much more efficient for its weight and power output than any internal combustion engine and would be ideal for generating the necessary power to keep the batteries charged and keep the consumption of fuel at acceptable levels. Just a thought and another alternative to how to keep the charge in those batteries.

Elliott Hoffman

What is the cost of replacing those batteries, and what is their expected life (in years) ?

The General

Chevy better build this car, because ill be saving up money to buy it unless something better comes out

tom smith

Right so here it is the chevy Volt! Drool, get ur hopes up and then Zip.
What was once the World's largest automaker (GM) has yet to give us a truly fuel eff. car. Instead we get 'concept cars'. 40 years ago we (the 60's kids) bought vw's 'cause they were cheap to operate and got better gas mileage. American automakers ignored it, now GM is #2 (we all know what that is) and Toyotah is the #1 company. Quality, price, style (geo=a hogs A**), econ ops are wot da kustahma wants ... so what do they offer at the show room. Cheap crap cars with little or none of things and big $ prices, so we buy rice rockets that last 200 k and get better mileage. Hello ..... Detroit! Build it, ask the asians how if you must, but, give us the product we have been asking you for ... for the last 40+ years! Plymouth, Studebaker, oldsmobile ... get the point.

panic

tom writes > (among other things)

In case you were not aware, Geos were Suzukis or Toyotas (depending on model). None were from the General.

eric

I couldn't help but wonder how did GM manage to pack 50kw generator into this car? I checked all the usual power generators and anything approaches 50kw is BIG and weighs several hundred pounds to over 1000 pounds. I have seen a Chinese Lion battery company "Thunder Sky" that claimed to have a pure electric/battery bus running with their Lion battery with a range of 400km. Did I miss something?

jenna

about how much is this supposed to cost?? does anyone know?

Kanza

In response to Robert Weitzel, the turbine idea is the most fuel efficient internal combustion engine design (at least to my knowledge), and using one as a generator rather than to directly drive the power train makes more sense. However, there's still the PR issue surrounding the level of damage a turbine would create in the event of a component failure. In addition, turbines generate quite a bit of heat. Chrysler toyed with turbines back in the 50's, but scrapped the project for these very reasons.

I like the Volt, and not just because it would fit my driving style. Call me naive, but all of the naysayers predicting this projects doom need to stop trying to be arm chair intellectuals and actually look at this as the opportunity that it is. GM has the most experience with electric cars. True the EV-1 failed and was eventually scrapped, but the fact remains that GM did build the things. With today's political and economic climate. both here in the states and abroad, GM may be realizing that the time has finally come for this kind of car. Who better than the folks who actually went out on a limb and tried, and then failed, to go at it again.

Build it Wagonner, we're waiting.

BTW, if you can't find the time to have hope for the future, you've stopped being part of the solution and have become part of the problem. I'm probably being bit harsh, but that kind of thinking is just embarrassing to hear coming from other Americans.

Kanza

In response to Robert Weitzel, the turbine idea is the most fuel efficient internal combustion engine design (at least to my knowledge), and using one as a generator rather than to directly drive the power train makes more sense. However, there's still the PR issue surrounding the level of damage a turbine would create in the event of a component failure. In addition, turbines generate quite a bit of heat. Chrysler toyed with turbines back in the 50's, but scrapped the project for these very reasons.

I like the Volt, and not just because it would fit my driving style. Call me naive, but all of the naysayers predicting this projects doom need to stop trying to be arm chair intellectuals and actually look at this as the opportunity that it is. GM has the most experience with electric cars. True the EV-1 failed and was eventually scrapped, but the fact remains that GM did build the things. With today's political and economic climate. both here in the states and abroad, GM may be realizing that the time has finally come for this kind of car. Who better than the folks who actually went out on a limb and tried, and then failed, to go at it again.

Build it Wagonner, we're waiting.

BTW, if you can't find the time to have hope for the future, you've stopped being part of the solution and have become part of the problem. I'm probably being bit harsh, but that kind of thinking is just embarrassing to hear coming from other Americans.

Jon

In terms of saving gas with the Volt we should remember that electric cars don't just run on the electricity they get from the plug or the internal generator. They also regenerate power during part of the braking cycles. The motor turns into a generator and pumps energy back into the batteries as the car slows down until it can't create a high enough voltage anymore.

This is one of the biggest advantages of this type of vehicle, because you get much better energy usage by being able to reuse it.

The same concept (regenerative braking) is used in transit vehicles that pump energy back into the third rail of the power grid as they slow down. That energy is used by other trains on the same track.

You can't do this with gasoline of deisel vehicles. When they brake, all that energy is eaten up in heat at the brakes. With electric, you get to recover part of it.

koti

vauxhall vectra opel

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