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Transportation Earth Power

Chevrolet Volt In a Gasoline-Only Scenario 594

Posted by kdawson
from the sing-the-auto-electric dept.
s122604 sends in a performance review of the Chevy Volt, paying particular attention to what happens after the initial plug-in capacity has been depleted. This reader adds, "The review indicates that the performance is adequate, and perhaps better than anticipated. If the Volt can deliver technically, especially with the possibility that it could retail for less than expected (WSJ subscription may be required), does GM have a potential hit on its hands?" "How well will General Motors' Chevrolet Volt drive once it gets past its 40 mile all-electric driving range and starts to rely on power generated by its gasoline engine? That's been a question for both critics and fans of the Volt, and with just 11 months to go before this car hits the market, I got the answer."
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Chevrolet Volt In a Gasoline-Only Scenario

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  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @06:35AM (#30735000) Homepage

    ...that's still too expensive for Joe Shiftworker. Doesn't it just give you a warm fuzzy to see people driving past you in cars that you can't afford to buy because the Government gouged you so hard in order to give your tax money to the people who can afford to buy them?

    • by DrugCheese (266151) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @06:51AM (#30735070)

      Or gave the money to the car manufacturer

      • On Hybrid Vehicles (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @07:00AM (#30735120)

        How come all hybrid vehicles comes in the form of Gasoline / Battery ?

        How come there is no hybrid vehicle that is in the form of Diesel / Battery ?

        Do you know that diesel engines is much more efficient than that of the gasoline engine ?

        And if we are really into the "Green" thing, why must we stuck with the gasoline engine ?

        Why can't we change to Diesel / Battery instead, for hybrids ?

        Can someone who knows much more about this give some comments, please?

        Thank you !

        • by dunkelfalke (91624) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @07:20AM (#30735218)

          The problem is that a Diesel engine is very heavy and expensive. Most hybrids are made for short trips so it would be a great waste of resources to carry around a heavy engine. Hybrid gasoline engines have a somewhat different cycle (Atkinson cycle) than normal gasoline engines (traditional Otto cycle) and thus are more economical. Add the weight savings compared to the heavier Diesel engines (especially with a particle filter) and you'll see why there are no Diesel hybrid cars - it just isn't worth it. Lorries, trains and ships are made for very long range and there a Diesel hybrid is much more practical, especially in the case of ships and trains where the Diesel engine is often only connected to the generator so it can be in its most efficient revolution speed the whole time and (because of the constant speed) have a very long life.

          • by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @07:50AM (#30735424)

            The problem is that a Diesel engine is very heavy and expensive. Most hybrids are made for short trips so it would be a great waste of resources to carry around a heavy engine. Hybrid gasoline engines have a somewhat different cycle (Atkinson cycle) than normal gasoline engines (traditional Otto cycle) and thus are more economical. Add the weight savings compared to the heavier Diesel engines (especially with a particle filter) and you'll see why there are no Diesel hybrid cars - it just isn't worth it. Lorries, trains and ships are made for very long range and there a Diesel hybrid is much more practical, especially in the case of ships and trains where the Diesel engine is often only connected to the generator so it can be in its most efficient revolution speed the whole time and (because of the constant speed) have a very long life.

            I expect that as diesel engines become smaller and have lower emissions (like the 1.3 litre Fiat engine [wikipedia.org]) and fuel prices increase the equation will change and we will see diesel hybrids.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by TubeSteak (669689)

            The problem is that a Diesel engine is very heavy and expensive.

            Heavier and more expensive than a 375 LB battery pack [wikipedia.org] + electric motor + gasoline engine ?
            I think not.

            Modern turbo-diesels are outstanding pieces of work, but the US market is prejudiced against them because of their noisy, smelly, polluting predecessors.

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by dunkelfalke (91624)

              I am from Germany and don't really care about the US market. And anyway, the question was, why there aren't any Diesel hybrids so the battery pack and electric motor are there in both cases.

              • I am from Germany and don't really care about the US market. And anyway, the question was, why there aren't any Diesel hybrids so the battery pack and electric motor are there in both cases.

                Because Japan, like the US, doesn't much like diesel passenger cars either. Hopefully the Euro hybrids won't be far away...

                • by DZign (200479) <.averhe. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @09:22AM (#30736000) Homepage

                  And Japan has learned to adapt. They have to or they can't sell.

                  I'm in Belgium, and up to about 2 or 3 years ago you couldn't buy a Honda with a diesel engine.
                  While Hondas were very popular cars here in the 80ies, their popularity dropped a lot.
                  Car dealerships even switched brands as they couldn't sell enough Hondas, people looked for diesel engines.
                  Honda finally adapted and introduced a diesel model.
                  (launched with a rather large ad campaign to let everyone know they finally had a diesel)

                  Btw it was last week in the news, here in Belgium about 75% of all cars have a diesel engine.

              • by TubeSteak (669689)

                And anyway, the question was, why there aren't any Diesel hybrids so the battery pack and electric motor are there in both cases.

                The issue is entirely one of price.
                Even a small diesel is more expensive than an equally sized gasoline motor and the auto execs just can't justify adding that premium ontop of the electric premium.
                I imagine that someday, when prices on battery packs come down, (turbo) diesel electric hybrids will be the norm and we can forget about gasoline electrics.

                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by dunkelfalke (91624)

                  I don't. Even European Diesel fuel doesn't burn that clean. I rather hope for HCCI engines (a fuel-gasoline mix compressed and preheated to the point of auto-ignition). Those engines combine the fuel economy of a Diesel engine with the gasoline engine like emissions.

            • by Sockatume (732728)

              He's not saying diesels are pointless, he's saying diesel hybrids are a waste of time.

          • by geekmux (1040042) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:44AM (#30735710)

            The problem is that a Diesel engine is very heavy and expensive. Most hybrids are made for short trips so it would be a great waste of resources to carry around a heavy engine. Hybrid gasoline engines have a somewhat different cycle (Atkinson cycle) than normal gasoline engines (traditional Otto cycle) and thus are more economical. Add the weight savings compared to the heavier Diesel engines (especially with a particle filter) and you'll see why there are no Diesel hybrid cars - it just isn't worth it. Lorries, trains and ships are made for very long range and there a Diesel hybrid is much more practical, especially in the case of ships and trains where the Diesel engine is often only connected to the generator so it can be in its most efficient revolution speed the whole time and (because of the constant speed) have a very long life.

            Let's also not forget that many smaller diesel engines(new VW Beetle comes to mind) are already VERY efficient, putting up damn near hybrid mileage numbers without the overhead and worry of battery maintenance 100,000 miles later.

            • by natehoy (1608657) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @10:59AM (#30737160) Journal

              In 2002, I was in the market for a new vehicle. I wanted good fuel mileage, so at the end of my search I was looking at two vehicles, a Toyota Prius (which were pretty new at the time) and a VW Jetta TDI. Test drives made it no contest. I chose the TDI. It was somewhat cheaper, handled better, got better fuel mileage for my purposes, and included some niceties like a sunroof and more room. I was also concerned since the Prius was so new, whereas the TDI's been around for a very long time.

              Most of my driving at the time was on the highway, and the TDI gets better highway mileage than the Prius. I don't know if that's true of today's models - I think VW added some horsepower to the TDI in '08 or '09 and may have cut the mileage, where the Prius probably gets better mileage since that's its major goal. The Prius also has a few more years under its belt and certainly has a decent track record - they aren't dropping like flies at least.

              Fast forward 85,000 miles and 7 years, and I'd be sweating a battery replacement pack right about now on the Prius. I did have to replace the timing belt and THAT wasn't cheap, but it's nothing compared to a new battery pack.

              When I first bought it, Diesel was a good bit cheaper than gasoline, too. That has since reversed, but I still get better miles-per-dollar than my wife's already pretty efficient Pontiac Vibe gasoline engine. Had a chosen a Prius, I'd probably be spending a little less on fuel now (maybe about $200/year), but I refer you again to the $3500+ battery pack, which is enough money for me to buy more than a THREE YEAR supply of Diesel fuel outright even if Diesel was at $4 a gallon.

              I won't say the TDI is completely trouble-free, it's a VW with its share of problems. I've replaced a few expensive parts that really shouldn't have broken, and there are a few things that are broken that aren't worth fixing (front door "open" sensors are both shot, but at $500 a pop, they can stay that way). But it's still a comfortable, responsive, enjoyable car that gets great fuel mileage. Carries a couple of large kayaks on top without complaint, too. :)

              I don't honestly know how much this car would benefit from any sort of hybrid tech. I suppose it might be useful to put a smaller battery in it and have a "booster motor" with regenerative braking, so when I come to a stop some of that energy could be stored to get moving again. But I'm not sure if there would be any significant savings.

          • Diesel hybrids (Score:3, Informative)

            by sjbe (173966)

            The problem is that a Diesel engine is very heavy and expensive. Most hybrids are made for short trips so it would be a great waste of resources to carry around a heavy engine.

            Hybrids are made for the same purposes as every other cars and are driven no differently. I don't know why you think a hybrid is somehow driven any different than a car with just an internal combustion engine. Diesels are fine for even typical commuting distances. It doesn't have to be a 1000 mile journey to get benefits from a diesel.

            As for cost, that has FAR more to do with economies of scale than it does any additional material and engineering costs. In Europe the majority of vehicles are diesel and

        • by IrquiM (471313)

          Mercedes is working on a diesel hybrid

        • by Calinous (985536) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @07:35AM (#30735324)

          Diesel gives you better low end torque (but electric motors have much more of it anyway)
          Diesel engines are more expensive, and getting power from them forces you to turbo them (which increases costs too)
          On the other hand, gasoline engines are quieter (in both noise and rumbling), and can reach higher power without turbo (typical gasoline engines have higher power than similar displacement turbo diesel engines, and lower cost)
          Gasoline engines don't have low end torque, but that doesn't matter at all.

          Now, Mercedes is preparing some diesel-hybrid model (the class E with a 2.2 liter diesel).

    • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @06:54AM (#30735086) Homepage Journal

      I dunno.

      When the Model T was introduced, it cost the equivalent of around 20K$, about half what this car is going to go for. But competing cars were more in the $50K to $70K range, so $40K is not too bad, and somewhat less than that (as the article says might happen) would be quite practical for many working people *given that there are operational savings*. It could well be a modest success at a price like $35K.

      The cost of the Model T drop from $20,000 in current dollars to $12000 and then to under $10000, making it practical for the workers who assembled it to buy one. That's economies of manufacturing scale. The Volt has potentials for such economies of scale as the purchase expensive new parts like large batteries attracts investment and initial development costs are recouped. A modest hit with new technology is hard to achieve, but it will drive down cost and drive up profits more quickly than throwing a new skin on the same old platform would, where economies of scale have already been accounted for.

      • by SharpFang (651121)

        Except Ford actually quadrupled the salaries to make it possible; nowadays we get taxed to hell and back out of our current salaries.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jcr (53032)

          Ford actually quadrupled the salaries to make it possible

          Ford liked to say that he paid his workers enough to buy one of his cars, but there was rather more to it than that. He sold his cars at a price that many people besides his own employees could afford. He paid his men more than the prevailing wage, because he was competing for their services with other manufacturers, and his production-line methods made them much more productive. The higher their productivity, the more he could afford to pay them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      ...that's still too expensive for Joe Shiftworker. Doesn't it just give you a warm fuzzy to see people driving past you in cars that you can't afford to buy because the Government gouged you so hard in order to give your tax money to the people who can afford to buy them?

      Oh, I would love to hear you detail exactly how the government has been gouging you in particular. You know... new taxes, increases in old taxes, cuts in benefits, and how each one you list affects your bottom line. I'm sure lots of people here would like to hear all of the juicy details. So, let's hear it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Dunbal (464142)

        Oh, I would love to hear you detail exactly how the government has been gouging you in particular.

        Oh let's see - start with 1) destroying the value of the US dollar, which both increases the cost of imports (trivial stuff like, say, oil), 2) persistently lying about inflation because ok we'll say there's no inflation by taking out transport and energy from the inflation equation then we'll use substitution and hedonics [wikipedia.org] to skew the inflation numbers in our favor and of course the cost o

    • by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @06:57AM (#30735104) Journal

      New technologies almost always target the high-end first, and later move down to the middle and low-end products. That's because initially there are no economies of scale from high-volume manufacturing. As the high-end ramps to reasonable volume, technolologies, like the batteries, will drop in price, allowing cost effective medium-end offerings. Take a look at the Tesla cars. Their first (the Roadster), is > $100K. Their second is expected to be around $57K. They plan a third in the $35K range, but first, their Model S has to succeed.

      Anyway, the government is trying to help you get into a Chevey Volt, to the tune of about $7,000. Your price wont be $40K, you'll pay $33K. Given the performance and specs, it's not unreasonable, though if they could drop a few K, it'd sell a lot better. They'll also have a Cadillac version, but they plan cheaper versions in the future.

      • by Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:04AM (#30735508)

        Do you honestly think people are going to pay US$30-40k for a compact car that (feature-wise) compares to a US$16k Toyota Corolla?

        Other than the deep pocketed early adopters and people who want to flaunt their "greenness", I think the sales of the Volt are going to be bleak.

        And even if they sold every one of their stated 8000 unit capacity (in the first year), they're losing money on each one AND reliant on a government subsidy to close the sale.

        This has epic failure written all over it even though it seems to a casual observer to be a "nice product."

        • by codewarren (927270) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @10:35AM (#30736760)

          Irrelevant. Working class doesn't pay cash for cars so $40k is barely relevant... To them the bottom line is how much it costs per month - and since this can be compared to fuel costs per month, the conversation with the salesman is going to be "yes it costs this much more per month for the car, but this much less for fuel"

          It's a question of whether one can offset the other. Can it?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Thelasko (1196535)

          Do you honestly think people are going to pay US$30-40k for a compact car that (feature-wise) compares to a US$16k Toyota Corolla?

          They already pay $28k for a car that has the same features as a Toyota Corolla. It's called a Prius. [kbb.com]

      • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:34AM (#30735656) Homepage

        I'll type this really slowly to make it easy for you to understand:

        The government is not trying to help me get into a Volt. They're taking money from me in order to help someone else get into a Volt.

      • by Shivetya (243324) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @09:15AM (#30735954) Homepage Journal

        This is what ticks me off the most about the car. I don't care about the grandiose claims. What I do care is that GM through its connections in the US Government taking money out of my pocket so someone else can buy this car.

        They are transferring the efforts of my labor, my training, and such, to someone else because of what? Really? Where in the hell is the justification for this?

        Can't wait for someone to declare its a right or for the public good. Whats next? Condemning older cars as urban blight and forcing people to buy what they don't need or want?

        Government isn't doing anything but taking from others by force of law and distributing to those who would not have the courage to do so in person. There is nothing about this transfer that benefits the public good, unless your a rich corporation or a public official.

        • by FatSean (18753) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @12:15PM (#30738350) Homepage Journal

          My pockets have been picked since I started working to fight useless wars and fund an enormous, expensive and increasingly ineffective military. Not to mention the soaring spending rates on police agencies from local to Federal which reduce my freedoms.

          The money being spent on Volt subsidies is nothing compared to handouts to corn farmers. It's a pittance compared to money we just hand over to other nations.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by CodeBuster (516420)

            My pockets have been picked since I started working to fight useless wars and fund an enormous, expensive and increasingly ineffective military. Not to mention the soaring spending rates on police agencies from local to Federal which reduce my freedoms. The money being spent on Volt subsidies is nothing compared to handouts to corn farmers. It's a pittance compared to money we just hand over to other nations.

            Two wrongs don't make a right. On the other hand, without a military there is little to prevent the have-nots of this world from coming over with their nail-boards and extorting from you whatever they can. Do we spend too much on these things? Probably. Does that make the Chevy Volt subsidy any more noble or right than it otherwise would be? IMHO, no.

    • by Dunbal (464142)

      But Nancy Pelosi says that we have to subsidize ineffecient American car manufacturers because after all neither Honda nor Toyota nor Nissan are American car manufacturers oh wait how many plants do they have in the US again? (14, 4 and 3 respectively) because God forbid America not be able to produce cars!!! Remember that speech? Long live social^H^H^H^H^H er capitalism!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kestasjk (933987) *
      And who works for the car manufaturer? And how many for the car manufacturer? And how much tax money is made from those workers in the long run? And how much would be spent in welfare payments if they were out of work?

      I don't think any government gives out money to spite the poor..
    • by vikstar (615372)

      Doesn't the top 1 percent control 42 percent of the wealth in USA? So that probably means that most of the bailout money actually did come from those those few percent that "can afford to buy them", since they payed most of the tax.

      • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @09:17AM (#30735974) Homepage

        The top 1% pays less than 42% of the taxes. They can afford to pay for tax experst to find tax havens and find ways to get through the loopholes that save them from paying some of the taxes.

        It's why any talk of a flat tax is violently fought against. it would require the rich to actually pay their taxes, and that just wont do.

        • by KeithJM (1024071) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @12:59PM (#30739138) Homepage

          The top 1% pays less than 42% of the taxes.

          You know, you could reword that as "The top 1% pays over 40% of the taxes!" Do those top 1% use 40% of the roads, military, medicaid, social security and welfare? I'm not saying they aren't getting the full benefit of access to our society, but clearly they aren't exactly freeloading on the goodwill of the 99% of the people who are paying the other 59% of the taxes.

          They also only earn about 22% of the country's income, despite paying 40% of the taxes.

    • because the Government gouged you so hard

      The problem is, because of currency manipulations, that foreign governments are essentially subsidizing their car companies so that they can export to the USA. Guys in Japan are living literally in shoebox sized cubbyholes with -nothing-, so they can send us made in Japan stuff. Guys in China and South Korea have missed the whole Ford experiment and benefit of unionization, and will never be to afford what they make, and meanwhile, sitting in the banks of China, J

  • Duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Carewolf (581105) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @06:40AM (#30735012) Homepage

    Of course the driving performance is the exact same. There is only one driving engine, the electric one, and creating power-enough for it is not hard. Now the real question is: What is its fuel-performance when batteries are depleted?

    • Well in that case it's working like a Diesel-Electric locomotive so it would be running at fairly constant revs when cruising and increased revs when pulling off or accelerating hard. It is hard to say what kind of power requirements would be needed without the spec of the engine and electric motors but I can't see it being any less fuel efficient than a standard car but I could be wrong. To be honest if you've gotten this far through my stream of consciousness ramblings then I applaud you. I'm gonna go
      • Well in that case it's working like a Diesel-Electric locomotive so it would be running at fairly constant revs when cruising and increased revs when pulling off or accelerating hard. It is hard to say what kind of power requirements would be needed without the spec of the engine and electric motors but I can't see it being any less fuel efficient than a standard car but I could be wrong.

        It should be interesting to see the numbers. They could run the gas engine at max efficiency most of the time it is needed; and with proper power management use the battery for high load demands (acceleration) situations. Regenerative braking would also help economy; it would also extend brake life as well. They've gotten rid of much of the power train losses as well.

        One side note - I wonder if it will make car sounds? Years ago I worked at a place doing electric car research; we had a fleet on our camp

        • electric vehicles lack that feedback.

          Not all! Some make artificial noise!

          Until they're able to drive themselves, I think that should be a law.

        • by hcpxvi (773888)
          No lie, that. It becomes obvious if you cycle a lot: pedestrians don't look for you because you don't make the sound of an internal combustion engine. I occasionally wish for a device that would make my 1995 Raleigh sound like a Harley-Davidson.
    • by tgd (2822)

      Thats not really a safe assumption to make, although it may be true in the case of the Volt.

      Electric motors can draw enormous amounts of power. Even a fairly low end car these days can peak out at around 100hp, although likely not except when you mash on the gas trying to merge or something.

      100hp is 75 kilowatts. With electical losses and so forth, you're going to need to pump maybe 90 kilowatts to the motor to get that equivalent amount of "oomph" when you mash on the pedal.

      With the right battery pack, you

    • Re:Duh (Score:5, Informative)

      by Cyberax (705495) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:52AM (#30735790)

      "What is its fuel-performance when batteries are depleted?"

      About 50 mpg. YMMV.

  • ... and with just 11 months to go before this car hits the market, I got the answer.

    Since when is 11 months a short time until the release of a product? It shouldn't even be being discussed this far out. If it was maybe a month or two until the release, some anticipatory articles would be fine. But this just smells of more bullshit hype or "viral marketing" for the Volt, which has already had previous premature media campaigns.

    If you're going to release a product, just release it! Don't crap on about what you plan to release one day.

    • Since when is 11 months a short time until the release of a product? It shouldn't even be being discussed this far out. If it was maybe a month or two until the release, some anticipatory articles would be fine. But this just smells of more bullshit hype or "viral marketing" for the Volt, which has already had previous premature media campaigns.

      If you're going to release a product, just release it! Don't crap on about what you plan to release one day.

      Hype - it's important and sometimes required to get your

    • I hate the trend of movies doing this. You see an awesome trailer which ends with the teaser date of Spring 2011.

      I guess it must work for some people. For me, it just burns out my desire for the movie long before it airs.

  • by alexwcovington (855979) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @07:09AM (#30735166) Journal

    The classic problem with selling new cars is that the people who can afford to buy them don't care about efficiency. They want a car that will dust whoever's next to them when they take off from a stoplight, and looks/drives sporty and/or like a Cadillac.

    Car reporters take this a step farther and don't even care how much the car costs to buy or operate, just how it feels to be behind the wheel. So in the end, cheap cars never get positive press, and efficient cars only get it if they play to the luxury-class tastes of Car and Driver.

    • by aclarke (307017) <.spam. .at. .clarke.ca.> on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @07:53AM (#30735438) Homepage
      Yes and no. Most people place pure performance as a value, weighted along with many other criteria. Otherwise everybody would be driving the fastest car they could afford, which isn't the case. Witness the trend a few years ago of Hollywood stars buying Toyota Priuses (Prii?).

      I do agree with the average automotive journalist's disconnect on what is "adequate" power. For example, I bought a 2005 Volvo XC90 with the 2.5t 5-cylinder engine. This engine/vehicle combination was almost unanimously dismissed in the press for having inadequate power, to the point where Volvo replaced it in 2007 with a 3.2 litre V6 that gets slightly worse fuel economy. In my time owning this vehicle, I have never wished it had more power. It has always done what I've asked it to do. So what's up with those journalists? I guess they don't have to live with the car and put premium fuel into it like us actual owners do.
  • by sirwired (27582) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @07:11AM (#30735182)

    The virtually inevitable future of ground transportation isn't petroleum, since we will indeed eventually run out. However the obstacles are too many for a pure EV to be used as anything but a commuter car. (Namely, EV's are entirely useless for long-haul driving, with the even the longest range vehicles only providing less than 1/4 of that needed for a long haul trip. And no, you can't quick charge without MAJOR upgrades to the infrastructure.)

    Doing the lion's share of your driving on batt., charging slowly at home, and still having the gas capacity for a long-range trip is a good compromise, and one that I think will carry us through the next couple of decades of auto development.

    SirWired

    P.S. I'm surprised at the number of articles that are so impressed that the engine isn't connected to the drive wheels. This is how locomotives have worked for decades, albeit for different reasons.

  • One of the benefits of electric cars will be maintenance. There's basically one big moving part - the electric motor. The volt punts that advantage away by including an internal combustion engine. This is the type of compromise that should have saved a lot of money (using a cheap ICE to extend range instead of adding even more expensive batteries), yet the Volt is expected to cost a lot more than the all-electric Nissan Leaf. Plus I'd still have to deal with oil changes & the occasional trip to the
    • by iangoldby (552781) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @07:35AM (#30735316) Homepage

      The article explains this. Apparently their research shows that the 40 mile all-electric range hits the sweet-spot for most American commuters.

      Make the batteries bigger and you still have to have the gas engine for when you visit your cousin 300 miles away. Make the batteries smaller and you need to run the gas engine even for your daily commute.

      Sounds like the perfect compromise to me.

      • by tjstork (137384)

        Make the batteries bigger and you still have to have the gas engine for when you visit your cousin 300 miles away.

        It's not for longer trips that pure EV's get killed. It's the every Saturday when you have to run to the grocery store, bank, stop by your mother in laws, pick up some stuff at Best Buy, and you drive 150 miles running errands use case. Our leaders never mention this case though, because they actually don't drive for themselves.

        • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:26AM (#30735614)

          and you drive 150 miles running errands use case

          Do people really do that? In a civilized area, like the semi-rural midwest, we can and do go 75 on the highways, so thats TWO FREAKING HOURS of your valuable weekend time spent behind the wheel. In less civilized coastie areas, I hear coasties and big city types proudly "brag" about how their highways are so congested they never get much above 15, implying TEN FREAKING HOURS behind the wheel. I mean, come on, Saturday is only 24 hours long, not counting eating, sleeping, getting called from work, etc. Learn to use amazon.com and spend some of that TEN FREAKING HOURS having fun instead of going "vroom vroom".

          The other part I never figured out, is all the retail activity tends to be concentrated on certain areas/roads. I do everything on that list, except visit granny, in one little two mile long, six lane wide road thats packed with retail, thats about four miles from my house. Even if I intentionally drove back and forth for each trip, I still couldn't drive more than 30 miles or so.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by astrowill (1593647)

          Make the batteries bigger and you still have to have the gas engine for when you visit your cousin 300 miles away.

          It's not for longer trips that pure EV's get killed. It's the every Saturday when you have to run to the grocery store, bank, stop by your mother in laws, pick up some stuff at Best Buy, and you drive 150 miles running errands use case. Our leaders never mention this case though, because they actually don't drive for themselves.

          150 miles? If you're averaging 30 mph (whilst driving), that's 5 hours of driving. Just how far away is your Best Buy, grocery store and bank?

  • What is still not clear to me is what is cheaper : "filling" your battery through the gasoline engine or plugging to an electricity socket ? GM doesn't provide clear information about this. Of course it depends on oil and electricity prices, but does anybody have a rough idea ?

    If it is cheaper to refill the battery with the gasoline engine, then I suspect that only hard core environmentalists will plug their Volt every night. But if the gasoline engine is more expensive, the Volt could become a hit for a
    • I know that in the UK, hybrids/battery vehicles have always been massively cheaper to run off mains electricity than on petrol(gasoline) or diesel. But that's with current electricity prices of £0.05($0.08?)/kWh (night-time rate, usually around £0.17($0.27)/kWh daytime) and gas/diesel at £1.079/litre ($6.53/US Gal).

      YMMV in other countries (literally)

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      The socket is much cheaper.

    • by aclarke (307017)
      Driving the Volt is cheaper if you can scam a recharge while you're at work...
    • The battery should be cheaper, by far, because its a lot easier to dig coal out of the ground, have one big engine convert it to electricity and ship it over a wire, than it is to build container ships and oil drilling and refining apparatus send you energy that you can convert.

    • It should be a couple cents to recharge fully, nomatter where you live.

      But that full charge only gives 40 miles, so... hmm..

      If you're worried that it'll break the bank, shut a lightbulb off somewhere.

  • Usually on /. it helps to be able to read articles in order to add some useful commentary. One of the two articles is barely anything more than an advertisement for the Wall Street Journal, embedded into a slashdot story. With all the focus here on things like open-source, accessibility, and a general love-in for ad-Block, I don't understand why we're being spammed with links to pay money and subscribe to an online newspaper.

    Suffice it to say, my interest in the actual story has waned since it doesn't s
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @07:40AM (#30735352) Homepage Journal

    What we want to know is, what is the mileage when operating on the range extender?

    So if you hop in your Volt and head to Grandma's house a few states over, what is the mileage per gallon?

    While I like the concept of the Volt, paying $40k for a vehicle the size of a Cobalt/Focus doesn't appeal to me unless its off the grid mileage is better than average as well. I do not want a car just for commuting.

    • I agree. Mileage is exactly what I thought the article was about when I read the title. Acceleration? I never thought for a SECOND that there was ANY question about that, as the gas engine is totally decoupled from the drivetrain. What an utterly worthless article.

  • Maybe I'm just an obnoxious Prius driver, but when the article promised a review of the performance of the Volt in gas-only mode, I was expecting to hear what the equivalent mileage is. As another poster responded, "duh" about the electric motor performance being identical. I'd rather hear about the overall system efficiency in gas mode.

  • by amaiman (103647) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @08:06AM (#30735518) Homepage
    You can read the full WSJ article without subscribing by using the "Email" link at the bottom of the preview. The link you'll get in your mailbox will lead to the full article (this works for all WSJ "subscriber only" articles.)
  • Its mechanically very simple and robust (which is why its used in railway and shipping applications) but its very inefficient compared to attaching the engine direct to the wheels. I wonder why GM have chosen to do it this way? Cost? To me it rather defeats some of the enviromental benefits of this vehicle as it will probablt use more fuel when in this mode than a normal car.

    • by sznupi (719324)

      The engine can run at constant RPM, at which it is by far most efficient; in typical cars not only this isn't the case, but the severity of losses greatly depends on the driver.

      Plus you can use regenerative breaking.

  • The problem is its price. Its more then the prius . Yes that will matter. Why get a volt when i can get a prius and an insight for the same price? BY when the volt comes out toyota might have the iq hybrid out also . The volts price will be the real problem. Also the fact that you wont break even when it comes to gas milage and money saving since the car is so expensive.
  • More Like An Ad (Score:2, Informative)

    by RABarnes (1610305)
    The CNN story is more like an ad than a fact-based article. A few more facts would be helpful - as presented the car is not that impressive.
  • The Volt is a heavy car for its size. This is good and bad. Good because it probably increases the survivability of the driver during a collision with another car (conservation of momentum, p=mv). Bad because it probably makes the car more difficult to drive in slippery conditions, especially while making turns. An electric car like this also begs the question, how much electrical energy is wasted to heat the interior of the car in the dead of winter while the gasoline engine is turned off? Also, until
  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:31AM (#30737622) Homepage

    FTFA:

    The biggest difference between a gas-power versus an electric-power car is that there's no transmission. Electric motors don't need gears or gear shifts.

    While the Volt may not have a transmission in the same sense that most gasoline vehicles do, it is not correct to say that "electric motors don't need gears or gear shifts." The author of the article seems to be confusing three terms: gear, gear shift, and transmission. They are 3 different things.

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