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Discussion Starter #1
The E-flex chassis is offering GM an opportunity to basically re-invent the economy car. In the last 20 years or so, the economy car has been iterated into a bland, boring, inexpressive machine. We have been told by the car magazines and the car press for decades now that what’s important is mpg, safety features, interior ergonomics, reliability, and resale value are the most important things we should want in a car. Aside from the safety features, adopted by about everyone now, most of these things are immaterial. In 2008, real quality differences between manufacturers are extremely small, most likely aligned with personal bias. Same goes for interior and ergonomic issues. With E-flex, mpg is no longer an issue. If gas prices stay high, the resale market value for all vehicles will be in disarray for a long time, particularly when e-rev’s are introduced into the mix.

GM has the opportunity to show us that we can have all this and style too. There is no reason an e-rev vehicle needs to be stylistically limited by the bland ideal aerodynamic bubble. Of course electric range will be affected by non-ideal shapes. But at 8-10 pennies a kWhr, at what true cost are you willing to give up style? For a majority of people 20 miles per charge or 30 miles per charge or 40 mile per charge really makes little difference. Particularly if the Volt will get about 50 mpg in range extended operation. In dollars, what IS the actual cost of a higher aero cd? It’s based on miles driven, how often you recharge, and electricity cost.

For a 40 mile roundtrip trip today @ $4 gas, the difference in a 40 mpg car ($4) vs. a 20 mpg car ($8) is about $4. Consider the same 40 mile trip in a Volt with 40 mpc vs. 20 mpc. You have about $1 cost (electric) vs. about $3 ($1 elect + $1.50-$2 gas). Difference of less than $2. Seems like a lot, but you still only spent less than 3 dollars! Much less than with the previous 40mpg gas econobox. Shorter trips only make the case more pronounced as the electric cost is a larger portion of the total.

Just think what styling details could be had in the 20mpc Volt case. The car could be beautiful, with few styling limitations. The Volt may still be attactive, but if they dispose of style for the sake of maximum range, it would be a tragedy.

It does not HAVE to happen. The fuel costs don't bear it out.
 

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Valid Point

Your point is valid. Style sells a lot of cars. GM knows this. There will be many different variations of the "Volt Concept", some incorporating max mpg and others sacraficing some mpg for more style. So hang in there, if the initial Volt is a big success, variations will follow.
Paul
 

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I agree with you. However I think we will have to wait for products after the Volt to have better but draggier looks. Also as battery technology gets better, there will be more room for this kind of "waste". A mini Camaro E-Flex would be very cool. Kind of like the Vega was a baby Camaro.

In the mean time, Generation 1 Volt perhaps can be aided by the aftermarket. Don't know. Until we see what it is, we won't know what can be done. For now GM has to put out the E-Flex that has broadest appeal and achieves it's performance promises at the expense of styling. Sad but true.:(
 

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I agree with you. ...

In the mean time, Generation 1 Volt perhaps can be aided by the aftermarket. Don't know. Until we see what it is, we won't know what can be done. For now GM has to put out the E-Flex that has broadest appeal and achieves it's performance promises at the expense of styling. Sad but true.:(
I don't see the need to be sad. We don't know what it'll look like and do have "comittments" that it won't be another econobox.
GM needs to hit a home run on this and they know it. Whether they can come up with the goods (a widely accepted, attractive, 40 mile min AER car) remains to be seen. If, by lowering cD they get a bigger AER, I think it'll just increase the demand. It's gonna be back ordered as it is.
JMO
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"Particularly if the Volt will get about 50 mpg in range extended operation." - MetrologyFirst

Poor aerodynamics will hurt in more than one way. If they don't shape it for minimum drag, they also won't get 50mpg in extended range operation. Given the small fuel tank size, that will also decrease extended operation range. Then GM would probably be looking at a pretty tough sell.

I think GM will be biased towards the performance first and styling second. It's going to have to be that way until battery technology improves substantially and they can afford to spare the energy necessary to push a higher-drag car through the air.
 

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I have the numbers for your question.

GM has the opportunity to show us that we can have all this and style too. There is no reason an e-rev vehicle needs to be stylistically limited by the bland ideal aerodynamic bubble. Of course electric range will be affected by non-ideal shapes. But at 8-10 pennies a kWhr, at what true cost are you willing to give up style? For a majority of people 20 miles per charge or 30 miles per charge or 40 mile per charge really makes little difference. Particularly if the Volt will get about 50 mpg in range extended operation. In dollars, what IS the actual cost of a higher aero cd? It’s based on miles driven, how often you recharge, and electricity cost.
I did a detailed second by second Volt simulation with a Cd of 0.25 with these three driving profiles. The results were an AER of 42, 39.6, and 28 miles for the EPA75/UDDS, HWY, and US06 profiles, respectively. I increased the Cd to 0.30. The results were an AER of 40.2, 36.6, and 26.1 miles for the EPA75/UDDS, HWY, and US06 profiles, respectively. We have a 6.8% reduction in AER. If you need a different style/Cd let me know.

My preference would be for a little more style in the body design too. The problem is the promise GM made for 40 miles AER. They can't deliver a vehicle with a sticker that says 39.9 miles. It's cheaper (and probably easier to command one aerodynamicist) to beat on Cd than weight or battery energy to meet AER their well publicized AER target.

For details on the above simulation methodology see http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?t=581.
 

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Well, "style" is in the eye of the beholder, isn't it? I think it's risky to make something old-fashioned looking and highly space-inefficient (i.e. anything resembling a Camaro) just to appeal to American Boomers who probably need more horsepower before they purchase anyway. At best, that would bring in only a thin slice of the market. It would be much better in the long run to compete with a modern, highly streamlined design that rivals the Europeans, ensuring that young people consider this project truly a world-class product. The new Malibu was a good step. As for me, I look for something that I can carry a few elderly passengers in the rear seats without contortions, and bring home a antique chair in the back without rope, so 5 doors is a requirement.

Please, folks, the Camaro is last century's design, let 'er RIP.
 

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Well, "style" is in the eye of the beholder, isn't it?

As for me, I look for something that I can carry a few elderly passengers in the rear seats without contortions, and bring home a antique chair in the back without rope, so 5 doors is a requirement.
See, now if your chair was designed in this century, it would be efficiently stacked in pieces in a cardboard box and you wouldn't need any rope.:D
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I think it's risky to make something old-fashioned looking and highly space-inefficient (i.e. anything resembling a Camaro) just to appeal to American Boomers who probably need more horsepower before they purchase anyway. It would be much better in the long run to compete with a modern, highly streamlined design that rivals the Europeans, ensuring that young people consider this project truly a world-class product.
Oh lancekoz, I don't know were to start! So, I won't. :)

Lets just agree that "style" is important.
 

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Oh lancekoz, I don't know were to start! So, I won't. :)

Lets just agree that "style" is important.
I would go further than that. I believe, once transportation energy is clean, renewable and cheap, then designers should be free to design without too much concern with aerodynamics. At the point that transportation energy is clean, renewable and cheap, there should be no CAFE standards, other than making a car's "mile per whatever" clearly labeled for consumers to consider.
 

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In the post-fossil fuel future, transportation energy will be clean, renewable, but probably not cheap. We will, by necessity, be treading lighter on this earth. Automotive styles will have to reflect that reality. Certain truckers may bemoan the disappearance of old-style cab-over cabins in favor of the more aero-cabs with cowlings, etc, but that's just the way it is.

IMHO, the Volt concept model is adolescent, cartoonish, mimics other equally-bad current design styles, and has disasterously bad blind spots all over the place. I anxiously await the unveiling of the more toned-down and aero production model. (Of course, as a boomer, I'm just a step away from a white Cadillac or Lincoln town car, cruising at 15 mph in the fast lane and using phrases like "whippersnapper".)
 

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In the post-fossil fuel future, transportation energy will be clean, renewable, but probably not cheap.
Nanosolar is already selling PV installations for less than $1 / Watt, which makes it competitive with coal. Another company has just made graphite / graphine PV cells, which should be just as cheap (and just as efficient).

Regardless, as long as the consumer knows the vehicle's efficiency, and is able / willing to pay for the energy, the consumer should be allowed to buy it, as there are no ill effects to the environment.
 

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Nanosolar is already selling PV installations for less than $1 / Watt, which makes it competitive with coal. Another company has just made graphite / graphine PV cells, which should be just as cheap (and just as efficient)...
Is that price available for retail now? Does that price include installation?

Extremely interested in Solar PV or other home generated renewable energy. With the inevitable coming of BEV, there is going to be a hype around the perceived shortage of electric power, and the utilities may jack up the prices. To prevent such offset, my plan B should be in place... So extremely interested in the $1/watt price. I hope the Nanosolar PV has lifetime as good as silicon PV.

Any reference or links to actual retail companies selling the stuff right now will be truly appreciated. Right now, PV is not viable at the current price quoted me. It is costing $126,000 (low $98K, high of $153K) before rebates, for a 14 kW peak system, to offset my 20,400 kWH consumption. I'm in the higher tier subsidizing people in the lower tiers, averaging $0.18/kWH. And I hope that purchasing a BEV should not push me over to the $0.22/kWH tier!
 

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Not cheaper than coal

Nanosolar is already selling PV installations for less than $1 / Watt, which makes it competitive with coal. Another company has just made graphite / graphine PV cells, which should be just as cheap (and just as efficient).

Regardless, as long as the consumer knows the vehicle's efficiency, and is able / willing to pay for the energy, the consumer should be allowed to buy it, as there are no ill effects to the environment.
Even if the panels are free, solar is not going to be cheaper than coal. Check out the cost of a PV system (http://www.solarbuzz.com/solarindices.htm). Even in very sunny climates that puts current solar PV costs at $0.2/kWh not counting storage costs (much higher in cloudy climates). Coal is $0.03/kWh. Anyone saying solar PV is as cheap as coal is not telling the truth.

That aside, no company is currently selling PV panels on the open market at anywhere close to $1/Wp. They may say they will or that they are selling to selected companies that are not reselling, but you can't buy them. I'll believe it when I can buy one. Until then, it's all just talk.

Clean, renewable energy is going to be more expensive than digging up coal and burning it.
 

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Even if the panels are free, solar is not going to be cheaper than coal. Check out the cost of a PV system (http://www.solarbuzz.com/solarindices.htm). Even in very sunny climates that puts current solar PV costs at $0.2/kWh not counting storage costs (much higher in cloudy climates). Coal is $0.03/kWh. Anyone saying solar PV is as cheap as coal is not telling the truth.

That aside, no company is currently selling PV panels on the open market at anywhere close to $1/Wp. They may say they will or that they are selling to selected companies that are not reselling, but you can't buy them. I'll believe it when I can buy one. Until then, it's all just talk.

Clean, renewable energy is going to be more expensive than digging up coal and burning it.
I can calculate the Feasibility of Solar electricity for my case and know my break even calculations. You are correct that most Solar PV companies and installers often have inflated overly optimistic assumptions so that their ROI comes out positive, while in fact it is not.

Take note that the current state subsidy for solar is $1.90/watt.

Here are the recent realistic assumptions that I force the throats of solar salesmen or engineers to use instead of theirs:

Average utility price inflation (from my actual historical billing records): 2.35%/year compounded
Amount of electricity needed from PV: 20,400 kWH/year
Realistic APR financing in these troubled times when home equity is being outlawed: 7.5%

Then I obtain technical data such as:
Total System (includes inverters to grid connection and all necessary wiring and installation) Price before rebate
Total Rated Peak kW capacity.
California State Rebate (currently at $1.90/Watt)
Federal Rebate: $2,000 /residential home
Life Span of PV
Performance degradation of system at end of life span, assume linear decrease of system performance towards end of life span.
Yearly Maintenance cost of system.

Based on my spreadsheet, assuming 25 year life span and 25% degradation of PV at end of lifespan, the total price of installation before rebates should roughly be about $57,000 in order to maintain zero net financial cost starting the first year to end of lifespan. This is about $4.11/watt before rebate or $2.62/Watt after rebates. No Solar company has ever met my challenge. It is not feasible. However, if I were to do the installation of the panels myself and hire an electrician to do the inverters, and willing to attend a two-week certification class, then I could bring the current system prices to the feasible level. But then again, no company is willing to certify me for a one time installation deal. I need to apply as a dealer and contractor.

These are retail based prices where you do net-metering and you supply power back to the grid and take power back from the grid when there is no PV generation and anything in between. You can also participate in programs where you sign up for peak demand times. Thus your PV could be generating power at prime rates, and you are drawing from it to recharge your BEV, during cheap night time rates. With the connection to our California grid, backed up with legal mandates forcing utilities to such arrangements, Solar PV can be feasible one of these days. Not all States have this kind of Grid connectivity arrangement allowed at retail level.

I'd be delighted if someone out there is selling at residential retail PV panels at $1/watt when the state subsidy is $1.90/watt! And if there is none right now, the $1/watt is just a dream, not a reality, and therefore, still a setback of having solar PV as plan B.

But there is hope, there is a projected forecast of oversupply of Silicon when the thin film will come to full production in 2 to 3 years. Perhaps, timed perfectly with the coming of Volt. By then subsidies for solar would have gone much lower. At any rate, I can always recalculate to see if it breaks even financially for my pocket. And when it does, I'm sure to do it.
 

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Photovoltaic solar probably won't be cost effective without subsidies in distributed electric production (having it at home) for a VERY long time. However, it looks like PV in large concentrated power generation plants may get to the current price of coal within the next 10 years. Depending on location wind power and thermal solar are pretty close to eachother but still more expensive than coal. However, solar thermal is expected to drop below the current cost of coal based power generation for new plants coming on line by 2015.

Personally I don't mind getting my power from the grid if it's more efficient. It looks like some time between 2015-2020 the technology will have advanced enough that it will simply be too expensive for power companies to use coal or even natural gas. They will be forced to switch to the newer technologies not to save the world but simply because it's cheaper.

Once our energy generation (distributed or central) is based on technology versus a mechanical process that uses a limited raw material, then the cost of energy should actually go down every year not up. Think of it like computers, every year an equivalent speed processor becomes cheaper and more efficient, powerful processors are created. Same with energy generation. Nanotechnology and material sciences will allow us to rapidly lower the cost of power on an on going basis.

Everyone wants the process to speed up, but I personally am not in that big a rush. I would be in a rush if I thought there was any chance the conversion wouldn;t happen. But technology will force the conversion. The Volt won't be out until the end of 2010. So we probably won't see mass numbers until 2012. Then, the tech will start to get put into more GM platforms and vehicles. We're probably looking at 2015 anyway before the world has a large selection of PHEV's and they make up a significant percentage of total sales at the earliest. By that point, every new power plant going up in this country will be clean energy and over the following 10-15 years the older tech plants will probably be put out of use due to obsolescence.

Why jump in now to buy PV that makes power at $0.20/kwh when in 7 years we expect it to be down below $0.04/kwh? There is a report I will try to find by the US DOE recently released showing the expected decline in the price of solar power generation and they expect $0.04/kwh by 2015 and below $0.03/kwh by 2020. I know solar isn't well suited for all parts of the country but geothermal is also making strong advances.
 

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As a retail consumer, it doesn't matter to me if the utility produces the power at $0.01 per kWH or at $100.00/kWH. What matters to me is how much I have to pay per kWH to the utility company.

If my total cost of electric power production is cheaper than their billing charges, it will make complete sense to me to generate those power to the point of net zero charges.

Since the utility rates are increasing per year, the solar PV installed are depreciating, or are declining in performance each year, and I am paying for the finance charges, the calculations are not straight forward but require multi-year calculation within the life span of the solar PV. Only from such analysis will I be able to determine if it will make sense to me to go solar PV or not.

Never will care one bit if it costs the utility $0.01/kWH, what only matters is the $/kWH that they charge me, and that is the bottom line. It will be entirely different if I am a company generating power for the utility company.
 

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What they charge you is significantly impacted by how much it costs to produce. In order to keep the monopoly of power generation for a given area, most power companies are limited through government statutes on what they can charge based on their total costs.

You're right that transmission and finance charge on the installation certainly add to the cost so it might be cheaper to have a home based system even if the per kwh charge is higher than their production charge. But right now, without enormous subsidies, it's not economical. As the price of home systems drop, so will the price from the grid. So I don't think a home based system will be economical compared to the grid for a while (at least 10 years).
 

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Right now, Nanosolar is installing their product in small 2 acre lots to support local municipalities, avoiding the need for transformers and high voltage, long distance transmission lines. This approach is so cheap, Germany is now reducing their Feed In Tariffs by 9% year over year, to drive industry in this direction, instead of expanding capacity at more expensive silicon solar panel plants.
 

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But right now, without enormous subsidies, it's not economical. ...
Absolutely right! Even with current subsidies, it still isn't economical for the likes of me, the average residential retail consumer. And the enormous state (California) subsidy is being fast depleted as more PV are installed. Currently the rebate is $1.90/watt.

Here's the current lookup table to track the current status of subsidy payments for California:

Statewide Trigger Point Subsidy Tracker
http://www.sgip-ca.com/
 
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