Tonight, myself and several other bloggers including including Matt Kelly of Podtech , Sam Abuelsamid of AutoblogGreen , Todd Kaho of Green Car Journal , Scott Anderson of Hydrogen Forecast , Philip Proefrock from Ecogeek and Greenoptions http://www.ecogeek.com/ , and Matt Mayer of GroovyGreen.com were given the wonderful opportunity to have a sincere and very interesting discussion about the development of the Chevy Volt car, E-Flex system, and energy diversity. We were joined by Nick Zielinski, the Chief Engineer of the Volt and Gary Smyth, GM's Director of Powertrain Systems.
The main theme of this discussion was ENTHUSIASM. I can tell you these gentleman are highly devoted to the development of advanced propulsion systems, using diverse energy sources including electricity, and genuinely love what they are doing. They relay an infectious enthusiasm that is clearly sweeping the company, brought about by the remarkable direction of great change the company is heading toward under the stewardship of Rick Wagoner. GM is facing the energy crisis and climate change head-on and has plans to deal with them.
Dr. Smyth was passionate about our country's need for automotive energy power diversity and biofuel adoption (ethanol and diesel) in the face of increasing difficulty in oil production, both due to security concerns and increasing difficulty in accessing oil reserves. We were able to ask many questions about the Volt and I tried to make sure I asked as many of your questions I could:
It is clear that an internal company timeline exists for production of the Volt. Right now it is a company secret. The year 2015 was NOT corroborated by Mr. Zielinski (we saw it quoted elsewhere), and can be considered non-factual. Actual production still seems closer to 2010, but it remains an educated guess.
Mr Zielinski indicated that the Volt is being produced in a two-pronged approach. Both the development of the car, as well as the production process (which normally takes place after development) are being done in parallel.
2. GM Commitment to the Volt
Every one in top management in GM appears HIGHLY COMMITTED to the Volt, advanced propulsion systems, energy diversity, use of biofuels, and reduction in CO2 emissions.
Mr. Zielinski agrees that he is being given ALL the resources he needs from GM to bring the car to fruition.
3. The Battery:
Lithium-ion it is, and that is the final word. According to Mr. Zielinksi, the cell structures work great, its just putting them together into the battery pack. Don't expect something swappable. He noted it is not clear if the pack will be water or air cooled, both designs are being looked at. He also is very upbeat and bullish on a successful battery pack. The fact is that CPI/LG and Continental/A123 are in DIRECT competition with one another to produce the best design. And we know where there is competition and money, there will be success.
The battery range is pegged at a 40 mile range, because more range means more batteries, more weight, and thus less performance.
Mr. Zielinski noted the enthusiastic response the concept vehicle appearance has gotten, more than GM expected, and he plans to keep it as close to that appearance as possible. They are testing a variety of materials in the structure of car to balance out weight and function as much as possible.
5. Production volumes:
Mr Zielinski indicates that GM wants to sell as many of these cars as possible! Roll-out will not be limited, so start getting in line.
Mr. Zielinski noted that concerns about EMF are minimal as the engine does not produce significant amounts. GM is assessing whether there is any health risk to be concerned about.
7. The Plug:
The car will come with an adapter to allow it to plug directly into your home 110 V wall outlet.
They both said that although the EV1s no longer exist, the people and technology that built them still do and are now better and more experienced and being channeled into producing the Volt.
9. Solar panels:
Really cant produce enough energy to charge the battery, but could power a cooling fan when, for example, the car is sitting in hot sun, to keep the batteries cool. The battery hold 16 KWH power..that would take a 120 watt solar panel (3 x 5 feet) 130 hours (5 days) in full sun to recharge the battery.
Overall, there is little doubt to this blogger that GM is going full-throttle to make the Volt happen, and there is every reason to believe it will. There seems to a good shot we will see a working prototype by year's end, so keep checking in with us, and as always, we will keep you posted.