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Volt sounds promising but here are some holes that may need filling:

1. 3-cylinder gas engine. What are the vibration characteristics of a constant-RPM 3-cylinder gas engine. Wouldn't a rotary be smoother?

2. Crumple-zone. What are the challenges of a safety crumple-zone with such a large mass in the center of the vehicle (the T-shaped li-ion battery)?

3. Advantage of charging at night. Well, rates are low now, but if this concept takes off and everyone is charging at night, goodbye cheap rates. There is NO free lunch.
 

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1, I believe they changed from a 3-cyl to a 4-cyl
2. Dunno, interesting to see the crash tests.
3. My plan is to install thin-film solar on the house to charge the car. Only really effective when I retire (direct array to car). Otherwise the solar will help minimize peak load for those that charge during the day, while I will get paid for supplying electricity during peak daytime hours.
 

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It's not like there will be tens of millions of cars charging at night by 2010. It will take many years before there are that many electric cars on the roads.

Engine vibration? I don't think anybody can tell you for sure, but they should be able to use soft engine mounts since it isn't connected to a mechanical drivetrain. We'll have to wait and see what Mazda has!
 

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Volt sounds promising but here are some holes that may need filling:

1. 3-cylinder gas engine. What are the vibration characteristics of a constant-RPM 3-cylinder gas engine. Wouldn't a rotary be smoother?
The 1 liter 3 cylinder engine has been replaced with a 1.4 liter 4 cylinder engine. 3 cylinder engines work just fine as do 5 cylinder ones. They're jusy counter balanced. The Geo Metro/Suzuki Swift were 3 cylinder cars. GM has no rotary engines and they are not known for great fuel economy.

2. Crumple-zone. What are the challenges of a safety crumple-zone with such a large mass in the center of the vehicle (the T-shaped li-ion battery)?
Nobody knows yet except perhaps the engineers at GM who may have done computer simulations by now. I expect the ICE and generator to behave just as the ICE and transmission in a front drive car does now in a crash. I believe that the battery pack will just act as a big frame member. I believe that crash worthiness is exactly why the battery pack is shaped and located where it is. The EV-1 had a large battery pack in the same location and it was crash tested. I guess you could look up the results with that car.

3. Advantage of charging at night. Well, rates are low now, but if this concept takes off and everyone is charging at night, goodbye cheap rates. There is NO free lunch.
You right about that eventually, but in the near future, say five to maybe ten years after launch, the rates should still stay low at night. After that, perhaps by then Nanosolar will start selling their low cost solar panels to consumers and we can charge our cars cost effectively that way. I do believe that if the transition to EVs isn't done right, we could be just trading our dependence on oil companies for dependence on utility companies. You're right though. There is no free lunch and it's going to cost us one way or another. The trick is to figure out the cheapest way.
 

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“Advantage of charging at night. Well, rates are low now, but if this concept takes off and everyone is charging at night, goodbye cheap rates… ” – sduraybito

There is a huge amount of surplus electricity during off-peak hours and utility companies are just happy to turn it into money even at a greatly reduced rate. Take a look at the chart in the following site (I got the URL from another member):

http://www.caiso.com/outlook/outlook.html

As you can see, the California utilities have as much as 20GW of difference between the peak and the valley. Please notice that during off-peak hours the supply does not get adjusted much, only at around one O’clock in the morning the graph indicates some plants are removed from the grid. (This does not mean those plants are turned off. Rather most possibly they are kept in stand-by mode still burning gas, coal or oil.) The surplus is used to pump up water for closed-loop hydro dams, spin flywheels and other energy storage systems, but still there is plenty of energy left looking for loads (preferably payloads) most of the time. Suppose each Volt needs 2KW of power for four off-peak hours (8KWh of energy) and the average grid surplus is 10GW, the surplus can satisfy the need of 5 million Volts in California alone. Even at a reduced rate this should improve the bottom line of the utility companies a lot.
 

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In a perfect world

In a perfect world, the consumption of waste electricity, and the use of lightly used power plants could bring the actual price per kWh down because there's a net decrease in percent waste.

In a perfect world that is...
 
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