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GE To Buy 25,000 EVs, Starting With the Chevy Volt 301

Posted by timothy
from the private-sector-bailout dept.
DeviceGuru writes "In what's claimed as the largest-ever single electric vehicle commitment, GE plans to acquire 25,000 electric vehicles by 2015. The buying spree will initially involve 12,000 GM vehicles, beginning with GM's Chevy Volt in 2011. By converting most of its own 30,000-strong global fleet, and promoting EV adoption among its 65,000 global fleet customers, GE hopes to be in a strong position to help deploy the vehicles' supporting infrastructure, including charging stations, circuit protection equipment, and transformers. In contrast to the all-electric Nissan Leaf, the Volt implements a small gas engine, which can recharge the vehicle's battery to extend its range beyond the 100 mile limit of all-electric cars like the Leaf, leading some to question the Volt's EV credentials."
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GE To Buy 25,000 EVs, Starting With the Chevy Volt

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  • Tax credit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AnonymousClown (1788472) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @11:32AM (#34222384)

    GE plans to acquire 25,000 electric vehicles by 2015.

    Do corporations get the same tax break as consumers do for electric vehicles?

    If so, then GE could get a $187,500,000 tax credit (25,000 * $7,500 [energy.gov]) in the process.

    • by goombah99 (560566)

      I was wondering for a long time why fleet vehicles that stop and start every couple blocks were not electric since it seems like electricity would work best in well managed systems more than for consumers. But instead it's the personal vehicle that is the first to do this at scale. I suspect the answer to my query is pretty basic: namely delivery vehicles have to travel more miles on one route than electric storage can sustain. Or does someone have a better explanation of this hole.

      • I'm gonna guess that the fuel saving would not be significant enough to offset the costs of the electric system.
         

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by h4rr4r (612664)

          The ideal would be to do it when you retire vehicles and have to replace them anyway. Those fleets have pretty high turnover.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by timeOday (582209)
          UPS [autoblog.com] runs a few hundred hybrids (granted, a drop in the bucket) plus 20,000 other "green" vehicles (whatever that means) in their fleet.

          I would have thought that with constant stop-and-go driving, regenerative braking would be a huge win. The article says it's a 35% fuel savings. But apparently even that isn't enough for them to switch all their new vehicle purchases to hybrid.

    • Depends. Are corporations subject to AMT or not? Probably not. An individual able to afford the $41,000 + tax will likely be subject to AMT and not able to take that $7500 tax credit.

      • by hedwards (940851)
        Not necessarily. You'd be surprised how much more affordable things are if you pay in cash. You can always make yourself "loan" payments as soon as you pay for the vehicle. By the time your ready to replace it a couple decades later you could easily have that kind of money.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by h4rr4r (612664)

          I say this to everyone I know, yet they still lease or get loans for cars.

          If you need a car, but a cheap used one and then put the payments of the car you want in the bank. Then in 5 years buy it out right and you will still have money left over. Plus you can likely sell or trade that used car.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Skaven04 (449705)

            ...but then you have to drive the POS cheap used car for *five years*. I'm as reasonable as anybody about spending money wisely, but I want a nice car *now*, and I'm willing to pay a premium (both in overall cost and in interest) to do so.

    • Re:Tax credit (Score:4, Informative)

      by Sponge Bath (413667) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @12:02PM (#34222650)

      From www.mychevroletvolt.com : "The First 200,000 Chevrolet Volt’s qualify for $7500 in federal tax credits (After which there is a phase out schedule)."

      So this consumes rebates from a limited pool that may have gone to individuals. I don't necessarily have a problem with that: first come, first served I guess. I like that GE is doing this to jump start infrastructure sales rather than a one time tax benefit.

      • by hedwards (940851)
        It'll likely even out. GE is planning to work on the equipment that most electric care owners are going to want. Having better equipment and possibly more affordable could very easily result in a lower cost of ownership that would hit $7500.
  • It's a hybrid. Unfortunately hybrid is very unambiguous as well.

    • All that really need to be done is a clarification of "series hybrid" and "parallel hybrid".
      • by Smidge204 (605297)

        It's actually a parallel hybrid "with a twist." If the gasoline engine is running then it is (and must be) supplying mechanical energy directly to the wheels. However the gearing requires that the main electric motor must be driven at all times to provide vehicle motion - this is the hook GM uses to claim it's an EV+Extender and not a hybrid.

        And thus qualify for all the tax credits. Barely.
        =Smidge=

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Sounds like a design only a politician could love.

        • by MikeMo (521697) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @12:16PM (#34222766)
          This is not correct. If the gasoline engine is running, which it only does if the battery is depleted or the vehicle is going over 70MPH, then some of the energy from the engine is supplied to the wheels.

          Under normal, battery-charged conditions and under 70 MPH, the gasoline engine does not run at all.

          For most folks who commute less than 20 miles per day (80% of the population, according to GM), the vehicle will always be on the battery.

          Sounds like an EV to me.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            I commute less than 20 miles, but with this idiotic 70MPH = burn gas, I would be forced to burn gas.

          • by Smidge204 (605297)

            There is nothing in my post that is incorrect, nor is there anything in my post that contradicts what you said.

            You probably think I said something I didn't.

            It is a parallel hybrid "with a twist." If you consider the Volt to be an EV simply because it can run in battery-only mode then the Prius is an EV because it, too, has a battery-only (aka Silent) mode.
            =Smidge=

          • Stupid design. Should be using electric to accelerate (instant torque) and gas to cruise (geared up high, near idle).
        • by cawpin (875453)
          Wrong. There is NO MECHANICAL LINK between the engine and the wheels.
          • by h4rr4r (612664) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @12:49PM (#34223018)

            Wrong, there is a planetary gear between them. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/17/automobiles/17VOLT.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Chevy%20Volt&st=cse [nytimes.com]

            At least do a little research for making ridiculous claims.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Smidge204 (605297)

            Yes, there is. The last link in the summary even goes to a page with a diagram of the central planetary gear set. The engine can, and does, drive the wheels directly under certain conditions.

            To quote said article:

            "Once the Volt’s battery is depleted, the engine fires up and clutches to the generator to produce the power required to drive the car. Above 70 mph, when the generator couples to the ring gear, the engine gets a more efficient direct mechanical connection to the wheels."

            =Smidge=

          • What the poster said was correct. You are Wrong. If the car goes over a certain speed then the GAS engine kicks in and charges the batteries faster than the draw on them. In essence the car is running on gasoline then.

            Now for all the problems of this car.
            1. You can get the same "gas" powered car for over 10k-20k less. 10k will buy a LOT of gas. I mean a freaking lot of gas.
            2. Nobody knows what the EXTRA cost of maintaining the Volt will be. This does not include the batteries, but just the extra cra

            • I think you just hate "stupid rich green people".

              But you do make some good points... but at the same time you belittle the efforts of people trying to do something new. No one is going to get this right from the start. Its going to take time.

    • Let's put it this way: if you remove the ICE in a Volt, will it still run? Of course, with about a 40 mile range. Seems like an electric vehicle to me. Can you do that in a Prius? Not without a conversion kit. As I see it, as it is, the Volt is an electric vehicle with an ICE tacked on whereas the Prius is not.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DrLang21 (900992)
        Depends on where you are. In the Scandinavian regions, there is a huge tax break for electric vehicles. However, a Chevy Volt would not count as an electric vehicle there because it has an ICE that comes on automatically as part of normal operation. However, if they make a variant that forces the driver to manually turn on the ICE, then they will count it as an electric vehicle with a backup generator. There's one problem with the Volt though. The engine directly generates torque for the wheels. I wil
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Cyberax (705495)

          "Depends on where you are. In the Scandinavian regions, there is a huge tax break for electric vehicles. However, a Chevy Volt would not count as an electric vehicle there because it has an ICE that comes on automatically as part of normal operation."

          ONLY if battery power is exhausted. You can have 100% gasoline-free operation if you don't travel more than 40 miles per charge.

          • by DrLang21 (900992)
            It doesn't matter when the ICE turns on. It's a question of interpreting the laws that allow this tax break in these countries. The intent of the law was that if you have an all electric vehicle with a gas generator strapped to your roof for backup, it still counts as an electric vehicle. In series hybrids, this has generally been interpreted to mean that the ICE must be turned on manually.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        No, they dropped that plan. They now have the ICE coupled to the wheels as well as doing generator duty.

        • The ICE is coupled at above 70 mph because it's more efficient to drive the wheels directly at that speed rather than indirectly via the battery and electric motor. That doesn't change the fact that the vehicle can still be used if the ICE is ripped out.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by h4rr4r (612664)

            It means the ICE does not run at a fixed rpm. This pretty much kills the whole point of a series hybrid.

            You are also now going to have parasitic drag from that coupling or whatever you use to disconnect it at all times. The real losses is going ICE->Batts-> Elec motor-> drive train -> wheels.

            A transmission in an Elec car seems pretty ass backwards.

            • by Cyberax (705495)

              "It means the ICE does not run at a fixed rpm. This pretty much kills the whole point of a series hybrid."

              The engine in Volt works in several fixed RPM bands so it's pretty optimal. They use a planetary gear system, somewhat similar to Prius to achieve this.

              And in future it's certainly possible that engine will be decoupled from wheels completely.

              • by h4rr4r (612664)

                Sure the prius has the same short comings, and both for some reason burn gas. I really want to know why they do not use diesel or pure ethanol in a compression engine.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Cyberax (705495)

                  You can use your Volt in pure EV mode if your battery is not exhausted. Even at highway speed.

                  ICE is used only when battery is exhausted.

                  • by h4rr4r (612664)

                    Nope, at 70MPH or above the ICE kicks in. This is due the the design of the car. Check out the wiki on it for some nice citations about GM lying about this all along.

                    • by Cyberax (705495)

                      No. It doesn't unless there's not enough energy in the battery.

                      I'm following gm-volt.com and allcarselectric.com :)

                • by hedwards (940851)
                  Marketing. The US market tends not to be particularly friendly to diesel engines. Even though the fuel efficiency of them is so much better. The other problem is that diesel fuel isn't always the easiest to get. It's getting easier, but it's not offered at every fuel station.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Smidge204 (605297)

        Let's put it this way: if you remove the ICE in a Volt, will it still run? Of course, with about a 40 mile range.

        And with a top speed of ~70MPH. The gearing means the electric motor hits top RPM right around there, and without another source of power you're not going any faster.

        Can you do that in a Prius? Not without a conversion kit.

        Ignoring the fact that you'll need a "kit" to convert the Volt as well, the Prius can (and does) run just fine in all-electric mode. Basically the procedure is the same for bot

    • It's a hybrid. Unfortunately hybrid is very unambiguous as well.

      To be precise, the Chevy Volt was originally a Series Hybrid [wikipedia.org] that added a capability to add about 15% of total power output through a direct mechanical connection, because this turned out to be more efficient. So it's a combination between series hybrid and parallel hybrid which makes it a kind of hybrid of hybrids -- a meta-hybrid!

      (The Volt could probably run just fine as a series hybrid, with most of its range, power, and efficiency if the direct mechanical linkage were disabled. In contrast, a Prius ca

    • by cawpin (875453)
      Please show me when the gas engine drives the wheels. The Volt is NOT a hybrid. It is driven ONLY by electric motors. It is exactly what GM says it is, an extended range electric.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        This often occurs above 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) when the gasoline engine is almost always coupled for maximum efficiency helping the Volt to achieve its top speed of 101 miles per hour (163 km/h). The Volt also operates as a power-split or series-parallel hybrid

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Volt [wikipedia.org]

        From wiki, but lots of good citations listed. You were fooled by GMs lies/PR.

  • Tesla Roadster (Score:3, Interesting)

    by srealm (157581) <prez@go t h .net> on Sunday November 14, 2010 @11:40AM (#34222476) Homepage

    The new Tesla Roadster [teslamotors.com] claims that it can do 245 miles on a single charge ... and it's a hell of a lot cooler than a volt! 100 miles on a charge, pfft! :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wfstanle (1188751)

      It's also a hell of a lot more expensive! We really want a vehicle for the masses!

      • Re:Tesla Roadster (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DrLang21 (900992) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @12:03PM (#34222668)
        $40,000 is still not a car for the masses.
        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          You know who built a car for the masses?

          Henry Ford with his Model T. You thought I was gonna say Hitler didn't you? You NAZI bastard!

        • by hedwards (940851)
          Yeah, but it's getting there and it's not that much more than what normal folks spend on a vehicle. Since plenty of vehicles sell for that, this ought to be a serious step towards affordable transportation. That being said, that is still more than a year's salary for a lot of people.
    • Teslas are cool as hell, but they are way too small to be practical for my daily use.

  • Credentials? WTF (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wfstanle (1188751) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @11:49AM (#34222552)

    "leading some to question the Volt's EV credentials." ???

    Let's be realistic here! It may not be a "pure" EV but the infrastructure is not here yet to support a pure EV. We are at the very start of a transition from gas stations to charging stations. Until charging stations can be found in most places at least a small gas engine to recharge the batteries is needed.

    • by Smidge204 (605297) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @12:06PM (#34222694) Journal

      You're right. There is no infrastructure to support electric vehicles.

      What we need is some kind of nation-wide distribution network for electrical power. That's probably decades away assuming you can find someone willing to spend the billions of dollars to install one.

      Oh wait...

      What you're missing: You charge your vehicle primarily at home - where your car spends the vast majority of its unused time anyway. Charging stations external to that are a bonus but not strictly required. For example you might have an exterior outlet on your office building you can use in lieu of a dedicated charging bollard.

      If you're one of the people who think there must be an exact gas station analog in place for electric vehicles, you are wrong. The entire premise of EVs is that the "energy economy" they work in is completely different; distributed instead of centralized. Every outlet is a potential "gas station."
      =Smidge=

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by markov_chain (202465)

        If you think electric heat is expensive just wait until you start charging an EV every night...

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Compared to powering a vehicle with gas that would be cheap.

          Ever wonder why we don't all power our homes with gas fueled generators?

        • Re:Credentials? WTF (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Psychopath (18031) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @12:45PM (#34222984) Homepage

          Solar + EV = win. A neighbor of mine did this and his average bill is negative $2/month. Having an EV car shortens the solar panel system installation ROI period considerably.

        • by Locutus (9039)
          Why do you think the energy companies are all quickly getting Time of Use( ToU ) meters installed on everyones home? Very soon there will be a way for them to start increasing the price of electricity used to charge electric vehicles. They will come up with some cockamamie reason way and those running the regional public energy committees will fall for it. Just as they fell for the hydrogen economy crap the Bush Administration pedaled.

          LoB
          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            No, they are doing this so that customers can switch to hourly rated power. So peak power will be more expensive, but at night when most of our capacity goes unused lower priced power can be used to charge EVs. This will prevent them from having to build more power plants as the high peak prices will shift load to later in the day.

            I had this at a previous home as my work hours meant I did most of my electric use during off peak hours. I saved a bundle.

        • by Smidge204 (605297)

          I've done the math before, using my personal driving habits, and worked out going with electric would cost me about 10%-15% the cost of gasoline per mile, at $3/gallon and $0.22/kWh.

          Which, for me, ends up about $100/year in electricity versus $700/year in gasoline.
          =Smidge=

      • by Cyberax (705495)

        And now try to travel more than 100 miles.

        Whoops. There are no outlets in the middle of this interstate road. And even if there was an outlet, you won't wait 6 hours until your car is charged.

        And it's well known that people (somewhat stupidly) buy cars for the 'worst' case.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          It is well known, that rental car agencies are available to fulfill your short term worst case needs. Believe it or not you can even buy a normal car and rent a truck the one time a year you need it.

          • by Cyberax (705495)

            I know this. But people still buy 'off-road' SUVs even if they are not taken off-road more than 1 day a year.

            Also, 100 miles is just not that much. It's quite easy to exhaust this limit - just forget to plug-in once you get home.

            • by Smidge204 (605297)

              Your average car gets (or SHOULD get) about 300 miles per tank of gas.

              300 miles is just not that much. It's quite easy to exhaust this limit - just forget to stop at a gas station.
              =Smidge=

              • by Cyberax (705495)

                Yes. But there are gas stations _everywhere_, so even if your fuel gauge reads 'zero' you most probably can still drive safely to the next gas station.

                And then drive 300 miles after 5-minute stop to fill your tank.

                • by Smidge204 (605297)

                  There are more electrical outlets than gas stations. I'm pretty sure I can find a few places where there are no gas stations for 300+ miles in any direction.

                  My point is any argument you make against EVs is an argument that can be, and has been, used against gasoline powered vehicles at some point.
                  =Smidge=

                  • by Cyberax (705495)

                    "There are more electrical outlets than gas stations."

                    So? It takes 6 hours to charge Volt from a standard 128-volt outlet. And then you need to do it again after 40 miles.

                    This is not going to work.

                    "I'm pretty sure I can find a few places where there are no gas stations for 300+ miles in any direction."

                    Not much (in the USA). Because not all vehicles can travel more than that on a single tank.

                    • by h4rr4r (612664)

                      128 volt?

                      Strange outlet you got there, what if I use a 120V AC 60Hz normal one? or better yet, a 220V one? You know like your dryer uses.

            • by h4rr4r (612664)

              I bet 90%+ of SUVs are never off road, and never will be. These are purchased only so some middle aged man can avoid driving a minivan.

          • by hedwards (940851)
            Or buy a motorcycle for what it costs to take the bus and rent a truck the couple times a year that you need it.
        • by Graymalkin (13732)

          BEVs are commuter cars, you don't drive cross-country in them but to work and back every day. Most people don't drive more than 75 miles a day even including side trips for errands. For most people having a car that can drive 200 miles on a tank of gas is overkill for their actual driving needs. For everything a BEV commuter can't handle there's rental cars or a second family vehicle. The car transportation system would be on the whole more efficient if we bought cars closer to our actual needs and shared (

          • by Cyberax (705495)

            I'm keeping statistics of my trips. Usually I average at 30 miles per day. However, about once per month I need to travel about 90 miles.

            So I'd have to rent a car at least 1 time a month. That's not acceptable, because I'll be spending more on rent than on fuel for a conventional car for this whole month. I suspect that quite a lot of people have the same situation.

            Besides, there's a problem with ROI. Right now it's cheaper to produce a 40 miles range-extended car. It will still require gasoline, but it wil

        • by hrvatska (790627)
          It's also well known that many people own two cars. My family owns two cars. My wife and I have analyzed our car usage and concluded that we could easily get by with one of our two cars having a limit of 100 miles. An EV with a range of 100 miles or more would be a viable choice for our family, as it would be for millions of others. SUVs and pickup trucks are a bad choice for many, but they're the right choice for some. Small cars don't work for some families, but they're a good choice for others. Just b
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Cyberax (705495)

            Problem is, you 'second' car will usually have to be an SUV or something like it to fit all your family. And likely it'll be still used daily.

            So it's quite often more efficient to have two mid-range cars with good fuel efficiency then an SUV and an electric car.

            That's where Chevy Volt shines - it can replace both of these mid-range cars, cutting you average fuel use almost to zero while allowing you to have unlimited range if it's required.

      • by CAIMLAS (41445)

        Every outlet is a potential "gas station."

        nice in concept, and all, but that's unrealistic.

        my house was built in 1954. it's a relatively new house, compared to many in the US and especially Europe. while many (if not most) of older houses have been renovated, not all have.

        my house has had the power 'upgraded' several times. there is still substantial original wiring. if i were to get an EV, i'd have to redo the entire fuse box, put in a larger amperage master breaker, and re-wire the front side of my house in the process.

        My grandmother owns several

        • This is nothing new, so please don't pretend it's some unsolvable dilemma. People add large electric loads to homes now and they do it all the time. Hot tubs, pools, new garages and shops, welders, you name it. A level 2 charger for the Nissan Leaf is 14A at 220V and will charge the car in 8 hours. About the same load as a dryer or stove.
    • Re:Credentials? WTF (Score:4, Interesting)

      by The Phantom Mensch (52436) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @12:23PM (#34222818)

      I can see a family with two cars getting one all-electric vehicle. Probably 90% of the driving my family does is within the round-trip range of an EV. But right now I'm not seeing a really mass-market EV. An EV should be cheaper to manufacture than a gasoline powered car if you compare the complexities of the drive systems. EV: Battery, electric motor, differential and final drive system. Gasoline engine: Battery, ignition system, fuel tank, fuel pumps, fuel injectors, air intake, air filter, intake manifold, pistons, crankshaft, valves, cam shaft, coolant pumps, radiator, coolant thermometer, exhaust pipes, EGR valves, muffler, catalytic converter, flywheel, clutch, transmission, differential and final drives. The number of moving parts in a gasoline engine that need lubrication is huge. In an electric motor there is one. Lithium batteries are somewhat exotic and expensive but so are the precious metals they put in your catalytic converter.

      I think the manufacturers are happier selling you a hybrid vehicle with two engine systems and charging you more than a gasoline powered car instead of selling you an all electric vehicle and charging less. Or they'd rather make a pure EV that is so exotic they can charge Porsche prices for it, like the Tesla. The only possible exception coming soon is the Nissan Leaf. It'll be interesting to see how Nissan does with it.

       

  • Consider it this way, using the electric grid is the most effective use of energy transmission. By using large plants, we can use every trick that an engineer can conceive to wring the last watt out of fuel. So far, so good. But by combining the electrical storage potential of any hybrid, with a tuned engine for maximal efficiency gets the best of both worlds. It's easier to design to, also. It's an old trick called co-generation, used in pulp and paper plants. Now, if we can store the "waste heat" for our
  • On the whole, I think this is good news. If this kind of large scale adoption is followed by other corporations, I wonder how long it will be before we begin to notice significantly reduced noise levels in urban areas? Should totally change the sounds of the city, hopefully for the better.

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