Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Chelsea Tells it like it is, and starts a great comment war


For those of you unfamiliar with the writing of Chelsea Sexton, her blog on GM's creation of a Volt Customer Advisory Board is a must read.

First of all, no one not named Dan Neil is as articulate as Chelsea on the subject of plug-in cars. Her command of language is something many professional writers would envy. And those who have heard her speak on the subject of plug-in cars would say that was her forte. I won't argue that, she's very good at both.

I wanted to send this out to my readers because of the remarkable turn around GM has taken in their EV program. As Chelsea states, "The Volt team is intensely earnest, and I’ve seen several of the executives go giddy over it. But those things will not be enough; the last generation of EV’s didn’t suffer for lack of good cars or sincerity."

Chelsea makes the case for a truly new and improved GM, at least as far as the electric vehicle is concerned.
From crushed EV1s to the remarkable Volt! Solid proof that GMs current management "gets it".

Be sure to read the comments. About half way through, there is some pretty funny repartee from readers assuming various personna.

27 comments:

  1. I have driven the Volt, albeit a few months ago now. The outside of it is uninspired and its price point in my view is off. Their representatives are selling the car based on their "range extender" which in effect makes it just another hybrid....a so what....An EV with a generator....a gas car.

    http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/7350857/

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  2. I have to disagree with Anonymous. The Volt is much more than a typical hybrid. All other hybrids available today require gasoline in oder to operate. The point of the Volt is that you can drive on renewable kWh for most, if not all, of your daily driving. There is a huge difference in the two technologies.

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  3. So, Paul, explain the difference in the two technologies in brief simple language that a non-technical potential buyer can understand.

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  4. Sure... The Nissan LEAF is a 100% electric car with a range of about 100 miles. There is no internal combustion engine of any kind on the LEAF.

    The GM Volt is an electric car with a smaller battery pack capable of about 40 miles range. However, there is a small internal combustion engine that powers a generator that makes electricity for those trips further than 40 miles. Since some 70% of Americans drive less than 40 miles per day, they would use no gas for most of their trips. Only when they exceeded the capacity of the battery pack would the gas engine be used.

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  5. What about the recent announcement that the gas engine is really coupled to the drive wheels!? It' not just a "range extender" genset.

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  6. @w.hopkins -

    That the ICE is coupled to the drive wheels still makes the ICE a "range extender." The ICE can only charge, can provide current directly to the traction motor, and can drive the wheels directly... or any combination of those. Either way you slice it, the ICE is used as a range extender. For the first ~40 miles the ICE does not run no matter how hard you mash the throttle. Full performance on battery alone. When the battery is "depleted" the range extender does it's thing, and the car decides how best to use the ICE. Driving the wheels directly can save as much as 15% of the energy (otherwise wasted in charging losses).

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  7. Scott and/or Darrell - Are both the Volt and the Leaf on the market now?

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  8. Almost. We're selling the LEAF now, I've personally sold 20, but delivery will start in December. The Volt should start selling within the next two months.

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  10. Thanks Paul and Chelsea you are the new "Rockastars" If we want a planet that is healthy going to need more Rockers!

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  11. I appreciated Chelsea's remarks. However, remember the Cadillac Diesel? Early unreliability & GM gave minimal backup support. Since US has invested in GM, I only hope that their focus is on RELIABILITY. Years of reading Consumer Reports' designation (by its reader/owners) of mediocre or poor reliabilty of GM cars (Ford & Chrysler, too) means I'll wait a few years to see how the VOLT holds up, before thinking about purchasing one.

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  12. So, how much extra weight does the gasoline motor add, and how much further could the car be driven without it? If most of the trips are less than 40 to 70 miles, then wouldn't a person be better off with an all electric vehicle, and join a car share program for those few times when a longer distance is necessary? How much does the extra gas motor add to mechanical unreliability?

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  13. Gary-
    You make an excellent point. The Volt would be able to travel farther in EV only mode without the extra weight of the ICE and gas tank. And even farther if you replaced those components with Li-ion batteries. Then you have a regular EV like the LEAF. However, GM doesn't think people will want to borrow/trade/rent a car for their rare long trips. I somewhat agree with them. I think that most people today won't want to "hassle" with that. Think of all the people who drive SUVs around because once a year they need to drive 7 people or go off roading.

    I think that once people start driving cars like the Volt, they'll realize how rarely it is that they drive over 100 miles and will being to transition to pure EVs.

    The ICE in the volt has all of the regular maintenance of a standard vehicle (though not as often), driving the cost of ownership up further.

    Of course there are always the early adopters who will go straight for a pure EV like the LEAF, not wanting to hassle with all of the complications of the internal combustion engine (10 times more moving parts than an electric motor!)

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  14. Paul, How is it that you "personally sold 20 LEAF's"? Do you work directly for Nissan as a LEAF dealer?

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  15. Yes, See my previous blog from a couple months ago. http://evsandenergy.blogspot.com/2010_08_01_archive.html

    I now work for Santa Monica Nissan.

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  16. At home OR the RANGE? Things re: the VOLT are getting curiouser and curiouser. I've spoken with a number of people who seem to have lots of information on the Volt -- but the information seems to be disappearing like a Halloween Ghost.

    First a confession -- I am a very satisfied Prius owner -- so you can accurately assume that my wife and I are on the side of the Angels. We Drove the Leaf a couple of weeks ago at the Alternate Energy car show.

    It was nice -- except for the (to me) obscuring forward and down vision with the Hood. In fact when driving it through a narrow tiny-cone defined course -- I knocked a bunch of them over - causing considerable consternation -- because I couldn't SEE the tiny cones over the not-so-tiny intrusive and bulbous HOOD.

    But friends of mine - also Prius owners -- are planning to BUY a Leaf because they feel it fits their LOCAL driving profile.

    But the VOLT -=- Each time I've inquired about it and its distance abilities -- I seem to find that its mileage endurance keeps shrinking.

    At first I was told and READ -- that it would go "up to" as much as one hundred miles --- depending on speed, acceleration and all the other good things that happen when driving -- and THEN the small (how small?), I'm not sure) will take over and start providing electric power to the drive motor(s).

    At first I heard/read that it would be able to travel a few HUNDRED miles working like a Diesel locomotive with the gas guzzler (or in the case of a locomotive which is a Diesel guzzler) providing sufficient muscle to keep on cruising until the GAS ran out -- which could be replaced at your nearest gas station.

    THEN I was told -- by a nice PR fellow at the Alt Energy show who was manning the Volt booth -- that it "could" go something over one HUNDRED miles. REALLY -- said I.

    So would a GM and/or VOLT Guru give me more serious information about its probable or possible range?

    Since we live in California -- where you might have to drive FIFTY miles to go to the bathroom (I'm fussy about bathrooms) I would ONLY buy a car of AnY PERSUASION that could get me from Newport Beach to the far reaches of Malibu -- AND BACK -- or -- since I write about Electronics, Cameras and such -- To Lost Wages for CES. Where I would not have to worry about getting back because I can re-fuel or re-charge -- IF the car could go that far without a tow.

    Even the hot and lovely TESLA which Bill Maher owns -- couldn't get Bill there in his new car.

    George Margolin
    INVENTOR@POBOX.COM

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