Chevrolet Volt - GM's Concept Electric Vehicle


gm_chevy_volt_1_up (Source: GM) The Chevrolet Volt concept sedan, powered by the E-flex System - GM’s next-generation electric propulsion system - could nearly eliminate trips to the gas station. The Volt is a battery-powered, four-passenger electric vehicle that uses a gas engine to create additional electricity to extend its range.

The Volt draws from GM’s previous experience in starting the modern electric vehicle market when it launched the EV1 in 1996, according to GM Vice Chairman Robert A. Lutz. “The EV1 was the benchmark in battery technology and was a tremendous achievement,” Lutz said. “Even so, electric vehicles, in general, had limitations. They had limited range, limited room for passengers or luggage, couldn’t climb a hill or run the air conditioning without depleting the battery, and had no device to get you home when the battery’s charge ran low.

The Volt can be fully charged by plugging it into a 110-volt outlet for approximately six hours a day. When the lithium-ion battery is fully charged, the Volt can deliver more than 60 city kilometers of pure electric vehicle range. When the battery is depleted, a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder turbocharged engine spins at a constant speed, or revolutions per minute (rpm), to create electricity and replenish the battery. According to Lutz, this increases the fuel economy and range.

“If you lived within 50 km from work (100 km round trip) and charged your vehicle every night when you came home or during the day at work, you would get fuel consumption of 1.6 liters per 100 km,” Lutz said. “More than half of all Americans live within around 30 km of where they work (60 km round trip). In that case, you might never burn a drop of gas during the life of the car.”

In the event a driver forgets to charge the vehicle or goes on a vacation far away, the Volt would still get 4.7 l/100 km by gm_chevy_volt_2_up using the engine to convert gasoline into electricity and extending its range up to 1030 km, more than double that of today’s conventional vehicles. In addition, the Chevrolet Volt is designed to run on E85, a fuel blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

A technological breakthrough required to make this concept a reality is a large lithium-ion battery. This type of electric car, which the technical community calls an “EV range-extender,” would require a battery pack that weighs nearly 400 pounds (181 kg). Some experts predict that such a battery - or a similar battery - could be production-ready by 2010 to 2012.

Jon Lauckner, GM vice president of Global Program Management, said the Volt is uniquely built to accommodate a number of advanced technology propulsion solutions that can give GM a competitive advantage.

"Today's vehicles were designed around mechanical propulsion systems that use petroleum as their primary source of fuel." Lauckner said. Tomorrow's vehicles need to be developed around a new propulsion architecture with electricity in mind. The Volt is the first vehicle designed around GM's E-flex System.

“That’s why we are also showing a variant of the Chevrolet Volt with a hydrogen-powered fuel cell, instead of a gasoline engine EV range-extender,” said Lauckner. “Or, you might have a diesel engine driving the generator to create electricity, using bio-diesel. Finally, an engine using 100-percent ethanol might be factored into the mix. The point is, all of these alternatives are possible with the E-Flex System.”

GM’s E-flex System moves automobile toward new electric age
“GM is building a fuel cell variant that mirrors the propulsion system in the Chevrolet Sequel (fuel cell concept),” Burns said. “Instead of a big battery and a small engine generator used in the Volt, we would use a fuel cell propulsion system with a small battery to capture energy when the vehicle brakes. Because the Volt is so small and lightweight, we would need only about half of the hydrogen storage as the Sequel to get around 480 km of range.”


Images: UnitedPictures/GM

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