Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Who's Building An Electric Car???

I've written recently about not buying into the hype around Global Warming and Climate Change. However, that doesn't mean I don't support environmentally and economically sustainable efforts to build a better society. One effort along that front is to come up with ways to reduce our dependance on Petroleum as an energy/ power source. Three things would be accomplished by such a move away from Oil.

1. we'd reduce the cost of Oil in the marketplace, which would be great for consumers and

2. We'd reduce the amount of money flowing to regimes in the Mid-East that fund terrorism, create terrorists, and fund the spread of a depraved Islamic doctrine and

3. lower costs for crude oil would also reduce the profit incentive for new exploration efforts and thereby greenfield development which could result in sustaining that particular environment for alternative use (parks, subdivisions, highways, tourism, etc...;-)).

I saw a documentary recently talking about the 'electric car' and who killed it. It's narrated by Martin Sheen and features a number of California drivers, etc... talking about how great the EV cars were and how the automakers' defenestration of the whole concept was done to derive profits from existing internal combustion engine vehicles. GM is vilified along with other companies. Now comes news that GM has developed a vehicle that could revolutionize the entire vehicle concept, with an electric vehicle that has a 1000km range and can be powered by your standard 120v outlet. Not only does this help accomplish the above 3 points, but it also would be cool technology. Not having to stop for gas for 1000km!! Can you imagine that? You could literally drive all night without stopping for anything other than body breaks or to switch drivers on your way to [fill in the blank].

Then all we'd need to do is build nuclear power plants to meet the increased need for electricity generation, which release practically zero emissions into the atmosphere, and we're on our way to a smog free city!!

Fresh off the wire at, here's the article,
GM adds new spark to electric car's future

Gerry Malloy

Jun 23, 2007

When General Motors introduced its Chevrolet Volt concept car with great fanfare at the Detroit Auto Show in January, there were skeptics among us.

"Just another futuristic technological exercise to divert attention from the need to do something now," was essentially the assessment of more than one pundit. And while others found it technically interesting, many doubted the concept would ever make it to production.

They just might have been wrong.

GM brought the Volt to Toronto this week for its first Canadian showing, at the 2007 Environment and Energy Conference – an event for leaders from both industry and government to address environmental and energy issues of the Great Lakes region.

At the conference, Nick Zielinski, chief engineer for advanced vehicle development at GM, brought attendees up to date on the status of the Volt and its E-Flex powertrain, and what has occurred since its Detroit debut.

The Volt, as you may recall, is an electric car.

That's right. The company skewered in a recent documentary for killing the electric car is developing and promoting one again.

The biggest difference from the first time around is that this electric car appears to have potential commercial feasibility.

In purely technical terms it's a "series hybrid." But GM prefers to call it a "range-extended" electric vehicle because the way it works is quite different from the "parallel hybrids" we have come to accept as typifying a hybrid.

True, the Volt incorporates a gasoline internal combustion (IC) engine, as well as an electric motor. But unlike other hybrids, the IC engine never directly drives the wheels.

They are not even directly connected. The engine's only purpose is to drive a generator to recharge batteries which then provide power to the electric motor.

Those batteries can also be recharged by plugging the vehicle into a conventional 120-volt AC household outlet.

A full recharge takes six hours and that's sufficient for 64 km of city driving without the IC engine ever engaging, GM says. So if your daily commute is less than 64 km, you might never have to buy gas.

If you need to go further, however, the IC engine will extend the range to more than 1,000 km, with average fuel consumption of less than 5.0 L/100 km.

Significantly, Zielinsky revealed, both the Volt and its E-Flex powertrain, which has wider potential application, are being developed as production programs – not R&D exercises.

And the Volt and its derivatives are being integrated into the development of GM's next-generation small cars (Chevrolet Cobalt, Opel/Satun Astra), with which it will share its primary structure.

There are still some technical hurdles to be cleared before a production date can be set, Zielinsky says, but when they are overcome, production can be started quickly.

He wouldn't speculate how soon, but others have suggested between 2010 and 2012.

Chief among the obstacles remaining is the development of lithium-ion battery packs – the kind of batteries typically used in cellphones and laptop computers – for automotive use.

The batteries themselves aren't the main issue. They are already well proven.

The issue is connecting the individual low-voltage batteries together in packs to provide the high-voltage output necessary for automotive use – with the levels of safety, reliability and durability required.

GM recently awarded advanced development contracts for battery-pack development to two suppliers, Compact Power Inc. and Continental Automotive Systems. Such contracts are typically a first step beyond the research stage toward a production contract.

Indeed, it appears, the electric car is far from dead!

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