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GM Working on Feasible Electric Car 673

Posted by Zonk
from the general-motors-not-game-master dept.
WindBourne writes "While Ford wants to simply offer cosmetic changes to automobiles interiors and exteriors, General Motors has finally gotten the message about electric autos. They are about to introduce the Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid which gets 40 Miles on a charge, but has a generator that can keep the auto going up to 640 miles range. From a styling POV, it is not a tesla, but it is also not a focus or a pinto. From the Rocky article: 'GM did not release cost estimates but said they recognize the Volt's price will have to be competitive. Company Vice Chairman Robert Lutz said in a statement that more than half of Americans live less than 20 miles from their workplace and could go to work and back on a single charge.'"
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GM Working on Feasible Electric Car

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  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Sunday January 07, 2007 @04:24PM (#17500092)
    Also coming from GM in model year 2008 is the full hybrid GMT900 [wikipedia.org] truck platform [1 [auto123.com], 2 [automobilemag.com], . This encompasses the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, and the Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV, among others. The hybrid uses the GM/DaimlerChrysler Advanced Hybrid System 2 [wikipedia.org].

    The hybrids will feature:

    - 5.3L FlexFuel Vortec V8 (able to run using E85 [wikipedia.org], a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline)
    - Active Fuel Management (AFM)/Displacement on Demand (DOD), disabling cylinders as needed for cruising
    - Two 30kW electric motors inside of the same physical space as the normal automatic transmission
    - A continuously variable automatic transmission
    - Conventional 110VAC power outlets on board
    - Hybrid system derived from the advanced system on already in use on GM's Allison transit buses

    This advanced hybrid system, while not plug-in, will be offered on all model year 2008 GM full size SUVs, as well as pickups and fleet vehicles. The expected fuel economy gain is 30% over today's figures on the gasoline/FlexFuel-only AFM variant, approaching 30mpg for city driving. That's a damned good improvement. And when used with FlexFuel, they're using less fossil fuels - even including the fully burdened fossil fuel costs of ethanol - than Prius and Civic hybrid drivers, in addition to contributing to lower overall greenhouse gas emissions. As the process efficiency increases over the next few years, these numbers will improve.

    Whether or not one likes or dislikes SUVs, or thinks people should be able to be told what types of vehicles they should or shouldn't be driving, or think subjective judgments can be simplistically made about what other people "need" or don't need, it's still an excellent step forward. While the Volt is very interesting (conspiracy theorists: think of some way the Volt is really still a GM plot to "keep electric vehicles down" or to assist big oil) and using centralized power generation and leveraging the existing electric grid and production capacity is a necessary step to the future, the full hybrid SUVs will be one of the big things that people buy in the short term, not to mention being one of the major things - if not the thing - that may make or break GM in the next decade.
    • Yah, that's great and all, but after reading the specs on a Prius, or even a generic Honda, it is clear that automakers are only interested in their own profits.

      Where are the turbine/electric hybrids? Why are we still dealing with pistons?
      • by jeff4747 (256583) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @05:46PM (#17500918)
        Where are the turbine/electric hybrids? Why are we still dealing with pistons?

        You can't put an effective muffler on a turbine engine. Most drivers would be unwilling to wear hearing protection to drive to their local Safeway. Plus, the vehicle would violate many city's noise ordinances.

        It's not like the hybrid concept is really all that new. Diesel locomotives have been "hybrids" for decades. So has "super-sized" construction equipment, like those gigantic dump trucks. They all use piston engines. If turbines were practical in a vehicle, they'd already be in use.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by MightyYar (622222)
          I'm not sure what you mean by "You can't put an effective muffler on a turbine engine." The turbine Chryslers back in the 60s had a waste-heat collection system on them that effectively muffled the turbine. In fact, the complaint from the testers was actually that they sounded like a vacuum cleaner.

          I am not claiming that turbines would be good in a family car, just that you can muffle the sound.
    • Don't be silly (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Tim (686)
      "The expected fuel economy gain is 30% over today's figures on the gasoline/FlexFuel-only AFM variant, approaching 30mpg for city driving. That's a damned good improvement. And when used with FlexFuel, they're using less fossil fuels - even including the fully burdened fossil fuel costs of ethanol - than Prius and Civic hybrid drivers, in addition to contributing to lower overall greenhouse gas emissions."

      Uh, yeah....until Honda introduces an E85-capable hybrid. Then, SUVs will continue be the least fuel-e
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Eivind (15695)
        Sure you could, in principle. In practice the personal car is close enough to a holy cow in American politics that any suggestions of in any way limiting the God-Given-Rigth to drive 3MPG super-SUVs alone to work is akin to political suicide.

        In much of Europe we've got this kind of thing for a long while already. For example, in Norway you pay taxes on a new vehicle according to weigth, engine-volume and horsepower (though it's recently been suggested to replace this with CO2-emmision/km). In Germany you

      • Actually there is long term gain from this though. The people willing to spend extra money on these SUVs (and people are willing to spend a lot on SUVs). Will help support the development on these technologies. Realistically you simply are going to have to wait for the technology to mature before you see them in smaller cars more often. There are many rumors that the Prius actually cost more to produce than it sells for. You won't find many manufactures willing to do this atleast not in the more popular
        • Re:Don't be silly (Score:5, Informative)

          by Firethorn (177587) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @06:18PM (#17501210) Homepage Journal
          Don't forget there's also the question of 'Who has the most to gain?'. If you think about it a moment, you realize that SUVs, being larger vehicles than a car, stand to save a larger amount of gasoline than a small car. Going from 12mpg to 30 mpg will save more gasoline than 30 to 40 mpg. The larger vehicle also has more space to put the necessary equipment because many of the parts will be about the same size whether it's in a Honda civic or Ford Escape. Oh, and electric motors tend to be more efficient the larger they are, so you can gain a few percentage points there. Add in the systems end up costing less as a percentage of the cost of the vehicle as a whole, and I wonder why they didn't come out with hybrid SUVs sooner.

          Basically, it actually makes more sense to put hybrid systems into SUV's than compact cars. It's part of the reason that locomotives have been effectivly hybrids for years(major reason is the elimination of the transmission, of course).
      • by shmlco (594907)
        "And not incidentally: we don't need to "tell" people what they "need" to drive. We can tax them based on the size and/or fuel-efficiency of their vehicle, and, like true conservatives, we'll "let the market work.""

        Isn't governmental taxation and regulation interference in "the market"?
        • by GodWasAnAlien (206300) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @06:52PM (#17501484)
          Perhaps you are not aware, but the main cost of driving is subsidized by the government.
          If your taxes did not pay for roads, but this was paid for by the drivers (perhaps by a gas use fee), then you probably pay something comparable to $10/gallon.

          If we had pay the true cost of driving on an pay-per-use basis, trains and other mass transportation would become more attractive.

          And perhaps other vehicles, like flying cars ?, could enter the market.

          But when the government effectively only subsidizes one transportation system, you end up with an environment for a natural monopoly and the market stagnates.

          For example, 100 years ago, there were electric cars, and Model-T's got 25 MPG.
          Look how far we have come.
           
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by arminw (717974)
            ...If your taxes did not pay for roads, but this was paid for by the drivers (perhaps by a gas use fee), then you probably pay something comparable to $10/gallon......

            Simply not true for most US states. In the US, gas and vehicle taxes are reserved for vehicle and transportation related uses, mostly roads. Virtually no general tax money is used for highways. In Europe, the motorists are one of their governments main cash cows and the taxes collected from gasoline and vehicle taxes get used for all governmen
    • by stomv (80392) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @05:59PM (#17501026) Homepage
      And when used with FlexFuel, [GM full size SUVs are] using less fossil fuels - even including the fully burdened fossil fuel costs of ethanol - than Prius and Civic hybrid drivers, in addition to contributing to lower overall greenhouse gas emissions.


      I really doubt it. Why?
        * Prius and Civic hybrids get 55 [fueleconomy.gov] and 50 [fueleconomy.gov] MPG combined, respectively. The 2007 Yukon XL 1500 2WD gets 15/21 gas, 12/16 ethanol [fueleconomy.gov]. The 2007 Suburban 1500 2WD gets 15/21 gas, 12/16 ethanol [fueleconomy.gov]. Even give 'em 30% gain and they're nowhere near Prius and Civic.
        * As for the petroleum content of American made ethanol: given that petroleum is used all over the refining process (from fertilizer to transportation), and given that a gallon of gasoline has 124,000 BTU [doe.gov] of energy but the net gain in a gallon of ethanol is a mere 20,000 to 40,000 BTU [gm.com] you get to use 6 gallons of E100 for the fossil fuel cost of 3 to 5 gallons of E0 (gasoline). Let's use the 40,000 BTU number: by using ethanol you can use 4 gallons at the "carbon gasoline cost" of 3 gallons of gas.

      So, lets do the math: 30% fuel efficiency gain on 15/21 (we'll pretend that we should be working off of their gasoline and not ethanol numbers) gets us to 19.5/27.3. But, don't forget about the "4 for the cost of 3" -- so the carbon release would be equivalent to a car that gets 26/36.4. Now, sure this is back of the envelope, but I've been really generous -- giving the full 30% on the gasoline numbers (not the ethanol numbers), and giving the very highest estimate for BTU increase.

      We're still at 26/36.4 mpg for the GM SUVs vs 50 or 55 mpg for the Civic and Prius hybrids. You're still off by a factor of 2, sport.

      I hope this isn't more GM vaporware. I hope this stuff works, and sells. I hope ethanol improvements increase that 40,000 BTU gain. I hope the 30% efficiency gains are just the beginning.

      But even with those gains, (telecommute / walk / bike) > (bus / train / subway / carpool) > (high mpg) > (mid mpg) > (SUV) in terms of mpg, roughly speaking.
  • What is GM doing? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Salvance (1014001) *
    So how can Tesla, a startup company with little manufacturing and car experience relative to GM, build an electric car that can make it 200 miles on a charge, while GM can only build one that makes it 40? Come on GM, put a bigger Li-Ion battery in the thing and create a car that works for commuters.

    Sure, the Volt is moving in the right direction, but it looks wacky and won't meet many people's expectations. Still, if it was under $25K, I'd consider one.
    • by ctid (449118)
      I think the tesla was built on a Lotus Esprit (or was it Elise?) chassis. Those are very small and light cars, at least in petrol form. There is a CNN article about this car [cnn.com] (which incidentally calls it a "concept") and the pictures suggest something rather large and heavy. I don't know if this apparent difference in size accounts for the difference in range.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Darth (29071)
        The Tesla is built on a Lotus Elise. The Esprit was discontinued in 2004.
    • by ArcherB (796902) *
      So how can Tesla, a startup company with little manufacturing and car experience relative to GM, build an electric car that can make it 200 miles on a charge, while GM can only build one that makes it 40? Come on GM, put a bigger Li-Ion battery in the thing and create a car that works for commuters.

      Keep in mind that the Tesla does not have to worry about lugging a heavy internal combustion engine around either. If you want to drive more than 200 miles in a Tesla, you have to carry around the portable char
      • by jadavis (473492)
        If you want to drive more than 200 miles in a Tesla, you have to carry around the portable charge and recharge it for three hours

        A small percentage of the miles I drive take place during a day in which I travel more than 200 miles. If the tesla were cheaper, I could have two cars: a cheap internal combustion car to make long trips, and a tesla to do most of my driving. We don't need one car to serve all purposes for all people.
      • by evilviper (135110)

        Keep in mind that the Tesla does not have to worry about lugging a heavy internal combustion engine around either.

        An I.C.E. is not heavy... I have a 2KW generator that probably weighs 20 pounds. It's a large engine, plus alternator, radiator, transmission, axle, fan, etc., which causes so much weight.

        Throw a single-piston electric generator in the trunk of your Tesla motors vehicle, and it will, at the very least, extend the range significantly. With a more expensive, higher power generator, you could dr

    • Re:What is GM doing? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Animats (122034) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @04:42PM (#17500274) Homepage

      So how can Tesla, a startup company with little manufacturing and car experience relative to GM, build an electric car that can make it 200 miles on a charge

      The Tesla's sticker price of $92,500 makes it possible.

      We're making progress, though. The only real remaining problem with high performance electric cars is battery cost. The necessary energy density is available if you pay enough.

    • Re:What is GM doing? (Score:4, Informative)

      by MDMurphy (208495) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @04:53PM (#17500412)
      Actually the range for the Volt is 600 miles, not 40 due to the generator. The build cost for that is more reasonable than 5x the batteries, and allows for longer trips. It looks like a smart idea. The electric portion of the car can be generic, while the generator could be gas, diesel, biodiesel, hydrogen or fuel cell. I doubt GM's plan is to sell the car for $100K

      Going longer on batteries is nice, but not everyone would agree that going a big further per charge is worth it if it reduces the ability for actual long distance driving. Some people have resorted to pulling trailers with generators for "pure" electric cars for long trips, so this is a much tidier solution. A car only useful for short trips would work for some people, but one that can directly replace an existing car where you don't have to worry about where the next charging location is will have much greater appeal.
    • by radtea (464814)
      Still, if it was under $25K, I'd consider one.

      My first thought was, "I want one!" Then I saw the pictures...
    • Tesla is a pure electric in a lightweight 2 seater with a range of 200 Miles at around 100K.

      GM's is a sedan with 40 mile range electric/~600 Miles electric/gas. For the vast majority of Americans (and probably the world), 40 miles is a great radius with more than 500 being used rarely.

      The only thing that GM appears to have wrong, is that they need to be using a lightweight engine like the radmax [regtech.com]. That engine would allow them to have even better mileage.

  • Company Vice Chairman Robert Lutz said in a statement that more than half of Americans live less than 20 miles from their workplace.

    Is this actually true? I would like to ask Mr. Lutz for a cite or three to back this assertion.

    • Company Vice Chairman Robert Lutz said in a statement that more than half of Americans live less than 20 miles from their workplace.

      Is this actually true? I would like to ask Mr. Lutz for a cite or three to back this assertion.

      Is this really that hard to believe? It seems reasonable that more than "half" of Americans live less than 20 miles from work.

      The US Census Journey to Work: 2000 [census.gov] notes that "average travel time to work was about 26 minutes in 2000." This means that unless people are driving faster t
    • by Qzukk (229616) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @04:50PM (#17500372) Journal
      Is this actually true? I would like to ask Mr. Lutz for a cite or three to back this assertion.

      It seems reasonable at first blush, after all, unless you just LOVE sitting in your car idling down the freeway for hours a day, you probably want to live somewhere close to work. The average distance from home to work in Los Angeles is 8.2 miles [ucla.edu] (pdf), which includes claims that this is "consistent" with census data (except that it looks like the Census doesn't report distance, they report travel time [census.gov]) and compares with other metropolitan areas. This [cwru.edu] (another pdf) says that the average first job for people going off welfare is 6.5 miles away. This PDF [trb.org] claims that work causes people to drive an average of 12 miles per day. This site [transact.org] says that over 1/3 of workers in the 100 largest cities drive more than 10 miles to work.
  • The reported cost of the batteries is $10,000 for a car slightly smaller than a Prius. I wonder what they will have to sacrifice to make a car that is price competitive with Toyota's and Honda's offerings. Regardless, I am rooting for them. It would be nice to see an American car company innovating in such a dramatic manner.
  • A car that can only go 40 miles on a charge is nearly useless. Oh, you can run the generator - great, but it pisses through fuel. A whole whopping 71bhp from its one litre engine at *fifty miles per gallon* - wow! Do you have really tiny gallons there, or really long miles, or both? Most European cars have electric window motors more powerful than that.

    Buy a diesel. Save yourself a lot of pain and expense.
  • by lancejjj (924211) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @04:36PM (#17500214) Homepage

    General Motors has finally gotten the message about electric autos. They are about to introduce the Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid
    From the article:

    GM officials stressed that development of the battery pack is critical to the concept vehicle reaching showrooms, and the technology likely won't be available until 2010 or 2012.

    So it's due in 3 to 5 years - assuming GM doesn't change its commitment to the project, and that the battery pack development goes as well as it's hoped to.
    • So it's due in 3 to 5 years

      And GM will be bankrupt in 10-15 years. You can't last long when you have a huge, non-productive expense (defined benefit pension and health care) that your competitors don't.
      • by Knuckles (8964)
        You can't last long when you have a huge, non-productive expense (defined benefit pension and health care) that your competitors don't.

        Hooray for capitalism.
      • by Yvan256 (722131)
        You mean like Xbox, Xbox 360 and everything else that has Microsoft written on it that's not Windows and Office?

        Making money by selling gas-hungry cars and trucks is over. Vehicule manufacturers can only sell low-cost, efficient, clean cars and trucks from now on. GM is willing to change, but Ford isn't. I'm betting GM has better chances of still being here in 10-15 years than Ford or Dodge.
      • ...as long as your leasing department is large enough. But then again, GM is having the idiotic idea of selling off their only profitable, and quite profitable as it is, department for the sake of "jump-starting" the company again. Unfortunately, all I see is a horde of H4's on the horizon....
  • Use the battery (charged off the grid) for "around town" and gas up to go over the river and through the woods to Granny's house.
  • For the longest time I have been told that the myth of the electric car was that it was a more environmentaly sound automobile than a gasoline powered automobile; that with the comination of how much energy was wasted in charging the battery and with how most energy comes from coal, natural gas or oil power plants the electric car produced far more polution than a gasoline car. I don't know if this is true anymore ( there have been massive improvements in battery technology over the past couple of decades )
    • by Incadenza (560402)

      Personally, I suspect that less polution would be produced if everyone "down-sized" their car to better suit their needs ( SUV -> Minivan -> Wagon -> Full Sized -> Mid Size -> Compact -> Sub-Compact -> Smart Car -> Scooter -> Bicycle )

      If that is sorted on pollution, then the scooter should be at the point where 'Mid Size' is. Scooters and mopeds do not use a lot of fuel, but they do not combust very well as well, and have no filtering whatsoever. They emit a lot of NOx and fine d

  • How about using those new "supercapacitors" we've heard about a few months ago? They should lower the cost and recharge time quite a bit.

  • by hey (83763)
    I hate the styling. It looks very paranoid and macho -- which might be the point?
    Hey, GM, why not make all your vehicles cars plugin-hybrids?!
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @04:56PM (#17500438) Homepage
    GM, just start building EV-1's again. Stop with this "always four years away" nonsense. Just get started. You already have a feasible, marketable car. Just start building it and marketing it.

    The EV-1's were by all accounts practical, peppy, fun to drive, reliable, the lease terms were affordable, and when the leases expired the lessees wanted to buy them, and they had a waiting list a mile long of people who wanted them.

    The R&D has already been amortized. What's this fixation with needing a 400-mile range? Sure, plenty of people do. Don't try to sell them an electric car. Sell electric cars to the people who don't. Duh. Sell convertibles to the people who want convertibles, sell trucks to the people who want trucks, and sell EV-1's to the people who want EV-1's.

    Just get started. Get the things on the market. Get the charging stations in place. Sell cars with an 80-mile range this year, then two years from now bring out models with improved batteries and a 120-mile range, or whatever.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Nethead (1563)
      Every /. nerd should downlo^H^H^H^H^H^H rent "Who Killed the Electric Car" (trailer [imdb.com].) This documents what happened when GM actually made decent EV.
  • ford? (Score:5, Informative)

    by csimicah (592121) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @04:57PM (#17500450)
    While Ford wants to simply offer cosmetic changes to automobiles interiors and exteriors

    Ford is showing a 65mpg diesel hybrid - with supplemental solar power, no less. I'm not sure why 50mpg hybrids from GM are a revelation but a 65mpg diesel hybrid from Ford is "cosmetic", but there you go.
    http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID= /20060104/FREE/60103014/1115 [autonews.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 07, 2007 @04:59PM (#17500462)
    ...will still occcasionally burn the occupants alive, but a sophisticated emmissions system will only release water vapor with a hint of pork.
  • by duh_lime (583156) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @05:00PM (#17500480)
    ... to push the California power grid six feet under during the summer. This will guarantee year-round brownouts, blackouts, and other power problems. Of course, that means plenty of "repair work" for IT staff.

    When they talk about electric/hybrid cars with more nuclear power plants nationwide, *then* we'll have a plan. Otherwise, it's trading one problem for another.

    Rest assured, California is not the only state with barely enough power-generation capacity. This could be "just the ticket" to justify hugely higher electric rates nationwide. Has anyone quantified the "recharging load" on the grid? Many people would have to recharge at work during the day to make it back home in the evening. Not all recharging could occur at night. Don't get me wrong. I think it's the right direction. But, the whole system needs to be planned and made to happen. Not just the cars.

    • I have (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gerf (532474)
      I've mentioned the same thing in previous Slashdot posts. Of course, other posts got modded up by talking about monkey poo and being funny instead of me. Welcome to /. I suppose.
    • This will guarantee year-round brownouts, blackouts, and other power problems.

      Most likely, these cars will be plugged in at night, when power needs are currently lower. We're not likely to see parking lots retrofitted with hundreds of power outlets.

      When they talk about electric/hybrid cars with more nuclear power plants nationwide, *then* we'll have a plan. Otherwise, it's trading one problem for another.

      The power generation "problem" will not be "solved" on it's own. There's no reason to spend the

    • This will guarantee year-round brownouts, blackouts, and other power problems. Of course, that means plenty of "repair work" for IT staff.

      No, actually this will mean a much more even load on the grid, countering daily peak/off-peak demands, as the vast majority will be plugged in after work, after the end of the daily peak energy spike.

      It will also raise the power draw in the winter, which is much lower than summer (thanks to air conditioners).

      These two issues together, will make it much more profitable for

  • GM says in no uncertain terms that the batteries to make the Volt a viable car, do not in fact exist.

    No, you should disabuse yourselves of the fiction that Detroit has any interest in electric cars. They do it at all because of a wrinkle in the Federal CAFE law which allows them to factor in these experimental cars into their CAFE standards. This way they can continue to build more 11mpg land arks. In fact that's what Detroit is doing - they're building evermore large trucks and SUVs. Some, like Ford are le
  • Concept car this, concept car that, get back to us when it's about to roll off the production floor in maybe 2010 or 2012. The article also has this to say:

    But the Volt is limited by battery technology and GM has no date for it to be available to the public.
    ...
    GM officials stressed that development of the battery pack is critical to the concept vehicle reaching showrooms, and the technology likely won't be available until 2010 or 2012.

    Guys, I hear Sony make hi-tech batteries. Smokin!

  • Gotta be the case, because I know of no other feasible electric cars. Can someone fix the title?
  • I reckon it's amazing that 50% of Americans live more than 20 miles from work. That's a damn long way, and means they must spend a lot of time commuting.

    My ideal distance would be about 7 - 10 miles - makes for a nice bike ride here in Australia ;-) ...whatever does it for you, I guess...
  • ... I'm not buying one of these until they've killed it at least three more times.

    Then I'll know they're serious!

  • As has been stated many times over a plug-in car just offset the polution to our power generators...which are already overloaded.

    I think what we really need to ask ourselves is if we need a 300 hp beast when we go to the grocery store. Pistons that automatically shut down when not need. A solar panel that might get you a few miles on the way home by charging a battery during the day.

    I was down in Dallas for work back in the summer. Everyone drove, but everyone also parked outdoors. The sun light was intense
    • by TeknoHog (164938)

      Large, centralized power generation is usually more efficient than "mini generators".

      Secondly, the main advantage of petroleum is energy density, while it is terrible when it comes to sustainability and environmental concerns. With centralized power generation you can make choices on other bases besides energy density, and focus more on the other factors.

  • by jo7hs2 (884069) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @06:13PM (#17501162) Homepage
    Okay, sure, GM is making another electric car they'll cancel. Why the Ford bashing? The Escape hybrid was a HUGE step for a company that rarely re-designs drivetrain platforms. Just look at how little the mechanics of the Crown Victoria have changed, or the more than a decade long run of the 3.0L Vulcan (Taurus, etc...) engine. Furthermore, it isn't like they are sitting on their hands. They've introduced several new models, some of which are finally starting to show the reliability Ford drivers deserve. It's fine to tout GM's electric car experiment, but why jump on Ford for no reason?
  • by kurt555gs (309278) <{kurt555gs} {at} {ovi.com}> on Sunday January 07, 2007 @06:19PM (#17501220) Homepage
    I have been looking at several articles to see if GM followed the modern path of AC motors ala Toyota, and not the obsolete cumbersome DC motors of the past. ( Yes this includes computer controlled brushless DC systems ).

    Toyota and ABB of Sweden really have taken the first step in the future of transportation making a 500 volt integrated Variable Frequency Drive ( VFD ) to an AC drive motor.

    This 1st step was really only scratching the surface and in the future you will see 400hz and above AC motors where the VFD's DC bus is excited by batteries.

    Tesla experimented with many frequencies and found 60hz right for the 1890's bearings and engineering technologies.

    Jet aircraft starter motors are usually 400hz AC multi pole motors. These are very light and have tremendous torque.

    As computer controls become faster in processing speed, and the IGBT transistors can be switched faster VFD's and AC motors of 400, 600, 1200hz will bring more power and lower weight than ever imagined.

    The limiting factor is the processing speed of the VFD cpu's in order to do sensor less torque vector calculations, then fire off the IGBT transistors.

    I hope that one of the major VFD makers will have some engineer playing games on a CELL based console and have the brilliant idea that this would solve the intense calculation requirements needed.

    If Toshiba ( major VFD maker ) and Nintendo ever merge, this will be the beginning of the electric era and the sunset of the internal combustion time on earth.

    Think of the possibilities.

    Cheers

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