RTOD 23JUN2008 – Who Rebirthed the Electric Car

RTOD: Who Rebirthed the Electric Car?

Wow, I just noticed that I have NOT done a blog in a month! I am so sorry! I keep having good ideas, but forgetting to write them out!

Okay, today is about the Chevrolet Volt. This is GM’s next attempt at an electric vehicle. It is using what GM calls the “E-Flex” power system. It drives the car fully electrically, and uses approximately half of the on-board battery’s power, giving you approximately 40 miles pure electric, before engaging an electrical generator powered by whatever fuel system is available, be it gas, diesel, hydrogen, whatever can be set up. This system, piggy-backed, can give you very good fuel economy if you regularly charge the system before the charge runs out, and pretty good fuel economy for longer trips, where it is estimated that you have a maximum range of about 640-650 miles on the combined battery and fuel tank. Cool! It’s based on the Astra platform, so it is a little small, but, if it gets that kind of mileage, why not!?

I have been watching this very closely. I’m not much for a direct shift to electric car. In fact, I don’t think it will really take hold soon. However, with oil becoming more expensive, it makes sense to look for alternatives. If you can realistically charge your car for a fraction of the cost of gassing it up, it becomes a huge price benefit.

The Volt is not yet available. There are several working prototypes at this time, available to drive around towns, and be visible. It is slated to be released late 2010 or early 2011. GM sites Lithium Ion battery technology to be the big hold-up. GM wants to use lithium ion batteries, much like what runs laptops and cell phones, because it is more environmentally friendly, it is lighter, and packs more energy than comparable NiCad, NiMH, or lead-acid batteries. They are currently partnered up with a Lithium battery manufacturer to create a Li-Ion cell battery that can last 10 years and be maintainable. They say they are close.

Enter the nay-sayers. Try searching YouTube for videos showing the Chevy Volt. Go ahead, I’m in no rush. … … Okay, now that you have done the search, I can almost guarantee that if you look through the comments, you will find at least one comment by a “liveoilfree” person. His entire thing: GM is lying, is pretending to make this car, and it will never come out. If it was going to, it would be out already, because “The technology exists, and GM is lying to you.” This is the man’s ENTIRE argument. GM is owned by the oil companies (no it isn’t) and they have no intention to produce it (car’s been green-lit for production), in fact, it is just a huge publicity stunt. GM is lying, liar, liar, liar, liar (he starts to sound like a broken record after that). His basis is that GM produced the EV-1, which is true. In optimal conditions, the car could realistically go up to 120 miles, a little more if you got lucky and a good charge. Toyota produced the RAV-4EV, which is a RAV-4 with an electric motor, and has a max range of 120 miles. Because he has the RAV-4EV, and it gets around 100 miles to the 5-8 hour charge, GM MUST be lying! They don’t want to make it!

Well, I can’t argue with his complaint of GM axing the EV-1. In fact, the general manager of GM stated that his worst decision during his tenure was axing the EV-1 hybrid design.  However, there are realistic reasons for the Li-Ion battery delay.  First, IT’S LIGHTER!  Everything that is moved under its own power suffers from loss due to excessive weight.  If it can be made lighter, why wouldn’t they?  Second, it is far more environmentally friendly to produce Li-Ion, since it carries far less toxic chemicals compared to its rivals.  Third, the basis behind charging at about 40 miles isn’t that it can’t go farther than that on a full charge.  It’s because they don’t want to risk a failure if, for some reason, something doesn’t work right.  It’s called a fail-safe.  If, for some reason, the system doesn’t register proper charge, at half-charge, a generator kicks in and saves you the grief.  Sounds smart to me.  Unfortunately, this guys thinks it’s not a good idea, because you should be able to go farther on a half-charge because his heavy NiMH battery allows him 100 Miles.  It doesn’t seem to matter that GM says that the battery will still have charge remaining, it’s just that it should go farther.  Fourth, this ISN’T THE EV-1! (Or the RAV-4EV)  No matter how much you want it to be, it will never be the EV-1.  Sorry, but GM ground them all to scrap.  Get over it!  The technologies are being transfered to this, and making it more appealing to the general masses.  They don’t want to use more toxic chemicals than necessary, let them do it!  Sheesh!  Lastly, for GM to have it this well announced, and this well broadcast for creation, and this far into development to have drivable prototypes, regardless of completion, it would be corporate suicide for them to back out of it now!  The public knows about it.  The public is demanding it!  People want the Volt.  No amount of lying will make these people say that it isn’t going to be worth the purchase.  NONE.  If GM were to turn around and say, “Oh, by the way, we cut the Volt,” their shares would plummet, and people will turn away from GM in DROVES!  Do you really think they don’t know this already?  They know it.  They know that, now that they’ve chosen a battery supplier and have set a tentative launch timeframe, they CANNOT back out of it!  The public will permanently lose good opinion of GM.  That is something they are in NO position to do right now.  Or ever.  We, as the consumer, will send them to the grave!

Ultimately, this man’s rants start sounding conspiritorial and fanatical.  Because GM isn’t doing it the way he wants, they aren’t doing it at all.  Anyone else think this is a little extreme?  I do.

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