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Discussion Starter #1
Writers on this forum have focused on the patents and manufacturing knowledge GM has obtained from developing the Volt. The bet GM made was that adequate charging infrastructure would not be universally available for 10-15 years and the Volt's hybrid technology would be a "bridge technology" that would gain wide acceptance.

But even with the $7,500 advantage, a compact hatchback which was $8K to $12K more expensive that competing compacts was a difficult sell to consumers (even if Chevy had marketed it properly). There was also the prediction that battery technology would become less expensive so the Volt's price could be drastically reduced at some point so that the Volt would compete more favorably in the market.

So some questions remain:

- Was the Volt's battery design fixed and not adapted to changes in battery technology so that it could not take advantage of cheaper, more powerful batteries (and thus decrease its list price)?

- Was the mechanical engineering investment in the Voltec system worth while and what was gained as far as strategic advantages over other manufacturers (patents, BEV knowledge, market research, real-time system computing technology, good PR for GM after the bailout)?

- Is its dual-powered system (gas engine combined with medium sized battery) inherently too complex and expensive to have ever been made cost effective, and could a variation on the design have shaved thousands of dollars off the manufacturing cost without significantly reducing the Volt's advantages to the consumer?
 

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To answer your first question, the Gen 2 Volt uses newer battery technology with faster recharge and denser power storage capacities.

I have no idea about the second question.

The third one - the Voltec drive train is significantly more complex than a pure EV and somewhat more complex than an standard ICE drive train.

I think the real issue on whether or not the Voltec drive train survives is if GM ever gets their heads out of their collective butts to realize this drive train beefed up for their trucks and SUVs would go a long ways in middle America and Canada.
 

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1) Chevy did take advantage of declining battery prices, and they did drop the MSRP $5000, during its production run.
2) Only GM can answer what they learned and what advantage they can carry into the future. Until the next generation of BEVs are released, we won't really know.
3) Again, we'll see what GM can do with adapting the Voltec to future products.
 

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Modern ICE's have gotten significantly more expensive than just ~20 years ago in terms of added hardware and additional ECU power and calibration needed to run them (dual variable valve phasing, direct gas injection, really stringent warm up tuning/cyling and the engineering to reduce warm up emissions etc.). So I'd probably guess the cost of the ICE + supporting elements (gas tank and fuel delivery system, catalyst, exhaust system etc.) are rivaling the near future cost of the additional ~40-50 kWh the Volt's battery pack would need to grow to be a pure BEV.

It makes sense for a compact car to move away from a PHEV drivetrain, as you only need a ~60-75 kWh pack to deliver as much range as most would need out of a BEV. So the ICE + ancillaries going up in price over time and the total batt pack costs declining for BEVs, it's not hard to see a point where it will be a hard sell for a EREV like the Volt in a marketplace like that.

But apply that to full sized SUVs and trucks and the PHEV still makes way more sense. You can downsize the engine somewhat - which actually saves a car maker almost no money unless it saves them from tooling up for a larger/new engine design - the incremental cost of producing an I4 vs. a V8 is very little once the tooling and engineering is done for both. But maybe it saves some cost, But the main benefit is you don't need to pay for the huge 120-150 kWh battery pack that is needed on a vehicle like that to deliver reasonable range for most buyers. So I see a PHEV as still being really competitive in this realm for quite a while, as the battery pack cost efficiencies are naturally going to slow down in absolute terms in the near future, and the ICE design can be largely shared with other pure ICE vehicles and big honking V8's or really powerful turbo V6's will likely go extinct as the business case for everything to use some variant of a common I4 and augment things with various levels of electrification will start to make more and more sense.

Something like a 20 kWh + 2L I4 Voltec system would be a great setup for a large SUV. Or even if they don't make it a plug-in, but give the truck/SUV something like the Malibu Hybrid's setup and maybe bump up the battery pack size a bit to give it a higher power and regen rating - that would make a lot of sense and likely lower the total ownership costs of the vehicle.


I also don't really agree that the Voltec transmission/electric drive unit is insanely complex from a mechanical engineering perspective. It's actually much simpler than the average automatic transmission is now from an engineering/production perspective with 8-10 speeds all packed into a super tight package.


IMO, if GM is smart, they'll move the Voltec system into larger vehicles and market it from a "more instant torque AND better gas mileage! It's a win-win!" standpoint. There's plenty of room at the upper end of the crazy large SUV/truck market to do something like this even without the fed tax credit. I think they're just more content to keep milking the huge margins in that segment and lobbying to keep fuel standards lax enough that they can keep doing the big V8/high HP turbo V6 thing that Americans identify as "American truck things."
 

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Modern ICE's have gotten significantly more expensive than just ~20 years ago in terms of added hardware and additional ECU power and calibration needed to run them (dual variable valve phasing, direct gas injection, really stringent warm up tuning/cyling and the engineering to reduce warm up emissions etc.). So I'd probably guess the cost of the ICE + supporting elements (gas tank and fuel delivery system, catalyst, exhaust system etc.) are rivaling the near future cost of the additional ~40-50 kWh the Volt's battery pack would need to grow to be a pure BEV.

It makes sense for a compact car to move away from a PHEV drivetrain, as you only need a ~60-75 kWh pack to deliver as much range as most would need out of a BEV. So the ICE + ancillaries going up in price over time and the total batt pack costs declining for BEVs, it's not hard to see a point where it will be a hard sell for a EREV like the Volt in a marketplace like that.

But apply that to full sized SUVs and trucks and the PHEV still makes way more sense. You can downsize the engine somewhat - which actually saves a car maker almost no money unless it saves them from tooling up for a larger/new engine design - the incremental cost of producing an I4 vs. a V8 is very little once the tooling and engineering is done for both. But maybe it saves some cost, But the main benefit is you don't need to pay for the huge 120-150 kWh battery pack that is needed on a vehicle like that to deliver reasonable range for most buyers. So I see a PHEV as still being really competitive in this realm for quite a while, as the battery pack cost efficiencies are naturally going to slow down in absolute terms in the near future, and the ICE design can be largely shared with other pure ICE vehicles and big honking V8's or really powerful turbo V6's will likely go extinct as the business case for everything to use some variant of a common I4 and augment things with various levels of electrification will start to make more and more sense.

Something like a 20 kWh + 2L I4 Voltec system would be a great setup for a large SUV. Or even if they don't make it a plug-in, but give the truck/SUV something like the Malibu Hybrid's setup and maybe bump up the battery pack size a bit to give it a higher power and regen rating - that would make a lot of sense and likely lower the total ownership costs of the vehicle.


I also don't really agree that the Voltec transmission/electric drive unit is insanely complex from a mechanical engineering perspective. It's actually much simpler than the average automatic transmission is now from an engineering/production perspective with 8-10 speeds all packed into a super tight package.


IMO, if GM is smart, they'll move the Voltec system into larger vehicles and market it from a "more instant torque AND better gas mileage! It's a win-win!" standpoint. There's plenty of room at the upper end of the crazy large SUV/truck market to do something like this even without the fed tax credit. I think they're just more content to keep milking the huge margins in that segment and lobbying to keep fuel standards lax enough that they can keep doing the big V8/high HP turbo V6 thing that Americans identify as "American truck things."
I totally agree. When I wrote Mary Barra post Volt cancellation I essentially argued that that’s the logical place to keep using the voltec system — in larger SUVs and trucks. Whether they will ever do that or not, who knows, and I’ve of course received no response from her.


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Modern ICE's have gotten significantly more expensive than just ~20 years ago in terms of added hardware and additional ECU power and calibration needed to run them (dual variable valve phasing, direct gas injection, really stringent warm up tuning/cyling and the engineering to reduce warm up emissions etc.). So I'd probably guess the cost of the ICE + supporting elements (gas tank and fuel delivery system, catalyst, exhaust system etc.) are rivaling the near future cost of the additional ~40-50 kWh the Volt's battery pack would need to grow to be a pure BEV.

It makes sense for a compact car to move away from a PHEV drivetrain, as you only need a ~60-75 kWh pack to deliver as much range as most would need out of a BEV. So the ICE + ancillaries going up in price over time and the total batt pack costs declining for BEVs, it's not hard to see a point where it will be a hard sell for a EREV like the Volt in a marketplace like that.

But apply that to full sized SUVs and trucks and the PHEV still makes way more sense. You can downsize the engine somewhat - which actually saves a car maker almost no money unless it saves them from tooling up for a larger/new engine design - the incremental cost of producing an I4 vs. a V8 is very little once the tooling and engineering is done for both. But maybe it saves some cost, But the main benefit is you don't need to pay for the huge 120-150 kWh battery pack that is needed on a vehicle like that to deliver reasonable range for most buyers. So I see a PHEV as still being really competitive in this realm for quite a while, as the battery pack cost efficiencies are naturally going to slow down in absolute terms in the near future, and the ICE design can be largely shared with other pure ICE vehicles and big honking V8's or really powerful turbo V6's will likely go extinct as the business case for everything to use some variant of a common I4 and augment things with various levels of electrification will start to make more and more sense.

Something like a 20 kWh + 2L I4 Voltec system would be a great setup for a large SUV. Or even if they don't make it a plug-in, but give the truck/SUV something like the Malibu Hybrid's setup and maybe bump up the battery pack size a bit to give it a higher power and regen rating - that would make a lot of sense and likely lower the total ownership costs of the vehicle.


I also don't really agree that the Voltec transmission/electric drive unit is insanely complex from a mechanical engineering perspective. It's actually much simpler than the average automatic transmission is now from an engineering/production perspective with 8-10 speeds all packed into a super tight package.


IMO, if GM is smart, they'll move the Voltec system into larger vehicles and market it from a "more instant torque AND better gas mileage! It's a win-win!" standpoint. There's plenty of room at the upper end of the crazy large SUV/truck market to do something like this even without the fed tax credit. I think they're just more content to keep milking the huge margins in that segment and lobbying to keep fuel standards lax enough that they can keep doing the big V8/high HP turbo V6 thing that Americans identify as "American truck things."
Sadly GM is not smart. GM is like most corporate that has grown too big to fail. It's narcissistic and greedy. Near sighted and arrogant. Instead of building in response to demand and being market sensitive it believes it can build the market. That it can build demand. They're riding the cheap gas truck and SUV wave again and they're unstoppable in their own minds. Puny cars! We'll keep the Corvette and Camaro around. Everyone likes those.

The rides is almost over, again. Gas prices will go up. Again. And like everything cyclic, GM will find itself in need of more bailout money for being on the wrong side of the next coin flip of economics.
 

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If you can make a semi operate on batteries alone (Tesla has promised, others have delivered) then a half ton should be a piece of cake.
 

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Sadly GM is not smart. GM is like most corporate that has grown too big to fail. It's narcissistic and greedy. Near sighted and arrogant. Instead of building in response to demand and being market sensitive it believes it can build the market. That it can build demand. They're riding the cheap gas truck and SUV wave again and they're unstoppable in their own minds. Puny cars! We'll keep the Corvette and Camaro around. Everyone likes those.

The rides is almost over, again. Gas prices will go up. Again. And like everything cyclic, GM will find itself in need of more bailout money for being on the wrong side of the next coin flip of economics.
I'm starting to think oil will be lower rather than higher going forward. I think carbon taxes will start making it not as cheap, but I don't see that happening for a long time in the US sadly enough... Not that I think arbitrarily making energy more expensive is the right move as I've seen some suggest, but actually using the proceeds from that tax to push emissions neutral energy technologies.
 

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If you can make a semi operate on batteries alone (Tesla has promised, others have delivered) then a half ton should be a piece of cake.
Of course it's possible technically, and no one here has said anything differently. But the cost of a 350-400 mile EPA rated BEV half ton pickup (with the luxury expected at the price point and segment) would be pretty steep at this point, easily $80k+. Even going forward 3-4 years, with optimistic battery cost reductions, I don't see how the truck could be delivered for below ~$60-70k, so it's way beyond being something that can rapidly penetrate the market and gain acceptance.


But a $40-45k Voltec truck that beats the pants off its ICE brethren in 0-60 times and can still tow a reasonable amount while using almost no gas - that would probably get quite a bit of interest.

Then again, lots of people seem to have trouble with calculating the total cost of ownership of a vehicle. I recently had an acquaintance tell me he didn't like his truck loan payment, but was perfectly ok with his gas bill being about equal to that amount. It's like he's just accepted paying $500+/mo in gas to drive a truck around is normal, but the loan payment that's just a hair more is just a luxury. He just kind of blinked at me when I told him I'd spent $25 on gas in a year.
 

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Of course it's possible technically, and no one here has said anything differently. But the cost of a 350-400 mile EPA rated BEV half ton pickup (with the luxury expected at the price point and segment) would be pretty steep at this point, easily $80k+. Even going forward 3-4 years, with optimistic battery cost reductions, I don't see how the truck could be delivered for below ~$60-70k, so it's way beyond being something that can rapidly penetrate the market and gain acceptance.


But a $40-45k Voltec truck that beats the pants off its ICE brethren in 0-60 times and can still tow a reasonable amount while using almost no gas - that would probably get quite a bit of interest.

Then again, lots of people seem to have trouble with calculating the total cost of ownership of a vehicle. I recently had an acquaintance tell me he didn't like his truck loan payment, but was perfectly ok with his gas bill being about equal to that amount. It's like he's just accepted paying $500+/mo in gas to drive a truck around is normal, but the loan payment that's just a hair more is just a luxury. He just kind of blinked at me when I told him I'd spent $25 on gas in a year.
If a truck got built along the lines of a Voltec powertrain, even scaled up it would likely be a ute Honda Ridgeline looking thing. Something with decent aero and front wheel drive. The chest beater "real" truck guys would never go for it.
 

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I dream, no LUST for a plug-in Tahoe/Yukon. if GM announced one was in the pipeline I'd sit tight and wait with money at the ready. But I'm probably going to be disappointed.
 

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I dream, no LUST for a plug-in Tahoe/Yukon. if GM announced one was in the pipeline I'd sit tight and wait with money at the ready. But I'm probably going to be disappointed.
This is exactly what they should build. As others have said even at lower costs the battery packs for something like that, even 5 years from now, would be heavy, huge and expensive.


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A Voltec type Tahoe/Yukon would be PERFECT. Electric to drive around town, but the range extended to take it on vacation. I wish they'd listed for a change.
 

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...But even with the $7,500 advantage, a compact hatchback which was $8K to $12K more expensive that competing compacts was a difficult sell to consumers (even if Chevy had marketed it properly)...
1) I have $26k in my '17 Volt LT (purchased new). How is that "uncompetitive"?

2) There aren't any competing vehicles. Nothing on the market will do what a Volt will do...that is, use zero fuel most of the time (96% in my case), while getting fantastic fuel economy the rest of the time. Not even Tesla makes an electric car that you can drive across the country without any time constraints or worries.

3) The Volt was created as a "cafe credit" car. That's why it exists. GM never did want to sell a lot of them because they are more expensive to build than what they can reasonably charge for them. If you don't believe this, ask yourself how many Volt advertisements you've seen over the years. The real miracle is that they did such a fantastic job with the car's development, with that goal in mind.

4) History says that we cannot underestimate how stupid GM management can be at times. They are capable of absolutely anything...
 

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This is exactly what they should build. As others have said even at lower costs the battery packs for something like that, even 5 years from now, would be heavy, huge and expensive.
On the other hand huge, heavy and expensive IS what many are buying. So a $10k Voltec option would fit right in.
 

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I don't have the background to answer the first two parts of the question but here's my thoughts on dual power sources and plug-in pickup trucks. Here's what was asked;

"Is its dual-powered system (gas engine combined with medium sized battery) inherently too complex and expensive to have ever been made cost effective, and could a variation on the design have shaved thousands of dollars off the manufacturing cost without significantly reducing the Volt's advantages to the consumer"

Let me start by answering with a question. If 90% of trips made by ordinary people are less than 50 miles, how useful is it to have a large, very expensive battery capable of going 200-300 miles further? An ICE is expensive and complex, but these factors have to be weighed against a large battery, which is in addition to being expensive, heavy, can degrade more quickly than an ICE in some circumstances, is dependent on a fast charger infrastructure that is currently far less available than gas stations and adds significant time to long journeys with queuing in line for a charger and charge times 6-9 times longer than fueling up at a gas station.

In regards to complexity impacting cost, either the Gen 1 or the Gen 2 Voltec propulsion system is much simpler, and I suspect cheaper to produce than a current automatic transmission, which currently have up to 10 gear ratios to eke out a bit more fuel economy.

When operate in electric alone, either Voltec propulsion is somewhat less efficient than a pure electric BEV, although as the battery carried by the latest EVs get larger and heavier (latest Jaguar for instance), this difference has been decreasing. However unless you live in an area where coal is used to generate electricity, greenhouse gas production and operating costs of electric propulsion is cheaper. In hybrid mode the Voltec is significantly better in fuel economy (and therefore emissions and cost to operate) than a conventional ICE.

In regards to reliability, some people believe having dual power sources reduces reliability because there are twice as many things to fail. I think this is wrong because the duty cycle and relative complexities have not been considered. If the Volt runs 90% of it's trips all electric, it's powertrain is going to be very reliable as its electric motors have only one moving part operating in a very benign manner. In contrast the ICE with its automatic transmission has hundreds of parts that have to operate in high temperature and high G loads. When operated as a hybrid the reliability model does include dual power sources but the overall complexity is still less than a conventional ICE powered vehicle because the Voltec propulsion system is simpler than an automatic transmission. When modeled together, the reliability of the Voltec based hybrid system should still be better than a conventional car.

In addition to complexity, the mean time between failures should be considered. Awhile back a GM engineer was quoted in this forum saying the Volt motor should go about 6 times as long as an ICE. So, 90% of the trips are done all electric on motors that should last about 6 times longer than an ICE. That means the remaining 10% of the trips are done with both motor and ICE (less automatic transmission). In my mind this says the Voltec based system has a lower probability of failure. However in all fairness it should be pointed out that the reliability of the battery will impact this difference, however, the life expectancy of the battery is not known. The Volt has been out for almost 8 years and very few failures have been reported.

So if you ask me, the Voltec concept is currently a more practical and cheaper alternative to ICE vehicles, and in many cases BEVs if the potential of the battery isn't fully exploited and if the added time to find and charge the BEV on long trips is of consideration.

What about BEV or plug-in pickup trucks? I think with trucks load capacity becomes much more of an issue. It's fine to have a truck with 400 range, or 0-60 in 3 seconds, or having a towing capacity of 11,000 pounds. But you're not going to get all these capabilities at the same time. I doubt it you could pull a 11,000 pound trailer over the Rockies without having to recharge at a facility that currently doesn't exist. You could probably get to the other side if you skirt the high mountains by going south to Arizona, but that adds a thousand miles or more to your journey. The point I'm trying to make is if you use a truck like a truck, a BEV will severely limit how you can use it. For that reason I think an extended range plug-in truck makes more sense. It can provide outstanding operating costs in local operations by operating as a BEV and outstanding operating costs in long range trips and/or remote areas by operating as an efficient hybrid.

Just my 2 cents.
 

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Of course it's possible technically, and no one here has said anything differently. But the cost of a 350-400 mile EPA rated BEV half ton pickup (with the luxury expected at the price point and segment) would be pretty steep at this point, easily $80k+. Even going forward 3-4 years, with optimistic battery cost reductions, I don't see how the truck could be delivered for below ~$60-70k, so it's way beyond being something that can rapidly penetrate the market and gain acceptance.


But a $40-45k Voltec truck that beats the pants off its ICE brethren in 0-60 times and can still tow a reasonable amount while using almost no gas - that would probably get quite a bit of interest.

Then again, lots of people seem to have trouble with calculating the total cost of ownership of a vehicle. I recently had an acquaintance tell me he didn't like his truck loan payment, but was perfectly ok with his gas bill being about equal to that amount. It's like he's just accepted paying $500+/mo in gas to drive a truck around is normal, but the loan payment that's just a hair more is just a luxury. He just kind of blinked at me when I told him I'd spent $25 on gas in a year.
Already taking deposits . Following this company for a while.
https://workhorse.com/pickup/
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Larry4pyro - interesting analysis. I agree with most of it, however:

QUOTE: In regards to complexity impacting cost, either the Gen 1 or the Gen 2 Voltec propulsion system is much simpler, and I suspect cheaper to produce than a current automatic transmission, which currently have up to 10 gear ratios to eke out a bit more fuel economy.

The issue of reliability with respect to the Voltec system is partly related to testing. ICE cars have billions of miles of testing and failure analysis. This is true for both engines and transmissions. There is no way a company like GM can match this kind and degree of testing for the Voltec propulsion system. The Voltec system might need to be an order of magnitude simpler for it to be as reliable as most ICE cars. Perhaps it is significantly simpler than an automatic transmission but it is a difficult thing to quantify how much simpler and how that would impact the need for testing a system that is such a new and radical departure from traditional ICE engine-transmission technology.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Now that it's been turned over to the Chinese (Velite - CT6) what do you think?
Not sure that the Chinese will have ownership of the technology. I certainly hope not. Is is obvious that turning over IP to the Chinese was the biggest strategic blunder of American industry ever.
 
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