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Thread: GM reveals new version of Volt

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    GM reveals new version of Volt


    SHANGHAI - GM's global commitment to developing transportation that reduces oil use and promotes energy diversity continued today at the Shanghai Auto Show with the unveiling of the next iteration of the E-Flex electric architecture, configured with GM's newest, most efficient hydrogen fuel cell system to date.

    This second variant of the E-Flex system uses GM's new fifth-generation fuel cell propulsion technology and a lithium-ion battery to provide up to 300 miles (483 km) of petroleum- and emissions-free electric driving. The fuel cell E-Flex is a true Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) and operates all-electric from both hydrogen fuel cell-generated electricity and grid electricity. It is plug-in capable, adding up to 20 additional miles (34 km) each time it is charged, further reducing trips to the refueling station.

    The E-Flex system is a flexible all-electric production vehicle architecture that can be configured to run on electricity from a number of sources. It was first shown in January at the North American International Auto Show in the Chevrolet Volt concept vehicle. The Volt is a battery electric vehicle with 40 miles of all electric-range and uses a small bio-fuel engine with a generator to extend its range to 640 miles (1030 km).

    "The beauty of our E-Flex strategy is that it allows us to package various propulsion systems into the same space depending on what energy is available locally," said Larry Burns, GM's vice president of Research and Development and Strategic Planning. "It also provides flexibility in the sources of energy. We can obtain hydrogen or electricity from a myriad of renewable sources - wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric and biofuels - or from traditional sources such as natural gas, clean coal, nuclear or even gasoline.

    "E-Flex provides flexibility in two ways: in the propulsion systems that can be used, and in the sources of energy that can be commercialized to compete with oil and meet global transportation growth in a sustainable way."

    Independent studies indicate hydrogen fuel cell vehicles offer superior overall efficiency and fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to internal combustion engines running on gasoline, when considering both the creation of the energy and its use in the vehicle.

    GM's fifth-generation fuel cell system is half the size of its predecessor, yet it provides the same power and performance. The fourth generation currently powers the Chevrolet Sequel concept vehicle. The Sequel stores 8 kg of hydrogen and delivers a range of 300 miles (483 km). The fuel cell Volt will also deliver 300 miles of range, but with only 4.0 kg of hydrogen (75 miles / kg).

    GM's advancements are a strong indication that our fuel cell technology has the potential to be a competitive alternative to the internal combustion engine - in size, performance, durability and cost.

    "Our progress has made us increasingly confident that our fuel cell propulsion system will be automotive-competitive," said Burns. "But before this technology can be made widely available, governments, energy suppliers and infrastructure companies around the world need to collaborate with GM and the auto industry to develop a market for fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen fuel."

    A variety of technological advancements and lightweight materials contribute to the efficiency of the Volt. With an estimated curb weight of 3,500 pounds (1,588 kg), it weighs 30 percent less than the Sequel. The fuel cell propulsion system is packaged entirely under the hood and is equivalent in size to a four-cylinder engine with automatic transmission. The Volt also features molded GE plastic panels on the fenders, window glazings, instrument panel and steering wheel, which offer between 30 percent and 50 percent weight reduction per part.

    The E-Flex fuel cell variant also showcases GM's third-generation wheel hub motors, packaged inside the rear wheel to add considerable torque for all-wheel electric drive capability. The new coreless motor technology reduces mass and produces more power compared to the first generation shown in 2003.

  2. #2
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    Re: GM reveals new version of Volt

    Note to GM:
    Quit fooling around and just build what you showed in Detroit. Worry about the fuel-cell for the next model.

    Focus, guys. Focus.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: GM reveals new version of Volt

    Quote Originally Posted by chiph
    Note to GM:
    Quit fooling around and just build what you showed in Detroit. Worry about the fuel-cell for the next model.

    Focus, guys. Focus.

    Chip H.
    Agreed - for infrastructure reasons alone, hydrogen fuel cells are at best a long-term solution...

  4. #4
    rbagley
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    Re: GM reveals new version of Volt

    One thing that really bothers me about this announcement is how the electric-only range dropped from 40 miles to 20 miles since the original unveiling. It still works for my commute (7.5 miles one way) but the margin just got a lot tighter.

    And the diesel generator is my preferred option, though I live in the US, California no less, so that feels like a long shot.

    Ross

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: GM reveals new version of Volt

    Quote Originally Posted by rbagley
    One thing that really bothers me about this announcement is how the electric-only range dropped from 40 miles to 20 miles since the original unveiling. It still works for my commute (7.5 miles one way) but the margin just got a lot tighter.

    And the diesel generator is my preferred option, though I live in the US, California no less, so that feels like a long shot.

    Ross
    Hi Ross,

    Yep... they've got some work to do yet, in terms of making these things commercially viable. But I do believe (based on what I have seen and conversations I've had) that within two years, there will be significant progress, as well as much broader access (via lower cost) to vehicles of this sort.

    If we get to $4 per nationwide, as I think we will, the impetus will be even stronger....

  6. #6
    mrblanche
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    Re: GM reveals new version of Volt

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Agreed - for infrastructure reasons alone, hydrogen fuel cells are at best a long-term solution...
    You mean "short-term," don't you?

    I think they're no solution at all. I predict we will never see a significant number of hydrogen-fueled vehicles.

  7. #7
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: GM reveals new version of Volt

    Quote Originally Posted by mrblanche
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Agreed - for infrastructure reasons alone, hydrogen fuel cells are at best a long-term solution...
    You mean "short-term," don't you?

    I think they're no solution at all. I predict we will never see a significant number of hydrogen-fueled vehicles.
    Well, I used "long term" because who knows what new processes/economies may be available in 20 years?

    I agree that given current and forseeable technology/advances, etc. it's likely a non-starter. But again, who knows what the future holds...

  8. #8
    rbagley
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    Re: GM reveals new version of Volt

    With reformers, fuel cells become somewhat interesting, but still have significant issues to overcome. At least you can use a variety of easy to manage hydrocarbon fuels with a reformer, too bad they're so finicky and expensive (for now).

    As a primary fuel, however, hydrogen is a non-starter. There's just not enough energy density in gaseous hydrogen and too many fundamental issues with transporting and containing gaseous or liquid hydrogen for the investment in a hydrogen infrastructure to make any sense.

    Electrical storage density (via lithium chemistry batteries) is already equivalent to hydrogen tanks. One more generation of batteries or a successful ultracapacitor and hydrogen won't even be in the running. Since there's a lot more money working on the electrical storage problem than on the nearly impossible task of stopping tiny H2 molecules from wreaking havoc in tanks and pipes, hydrogen is done. Put a fork in it.

    Watch out for those reformers, though. Someone finds a way to make a reliable low-cost methanol/ethanol/butanol reformer and we might just be using fuel cells after all.

    Ross

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: GM reveals new version of Volt

    "Watch out for those reformers, though. Someone finds a way to make a reliable low-cost methanol/ethanol/butanol reformer and we might just be using fuel cells after all."

    Both Honda and GM have been doing work in that area...I think BMW has been fiddling with it, too.

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