September 28, 2008
US Car Companies Commit To Pluggable Hybrids

Tony Posawatz, Chevrolet's vehicle line director for the Volt, sounds optimistic on the Chevy Volt hitting the market in 2010.

"We definitely feel that we're on schedule, that we will be able to deliver the Volt before the end of 2010," Posawatz said. "We're working closely with our battery developers, and based on their progress, we're definitely on track to hit that 2010 date."

Eighteen months ago, many in the industry thought that the internally-mandated 2010 date was just too much to expect, given all of the technology and cost implications.

"Well, it is definitely a compressed time frame," Posawatz conceded. "It is unusual to develop a new vehicle and a new propulsion system at the same time. But the analogy that Mr. Lutz used was when he compared it to President Kennedy saying that we were going to send a man to the moon by the end of the decade, not 'whenever we feel like it.'

GM is not alone among the US automakers in terms of a PHEV commitment. Though GM sounds like they are in the lead.Chrysler expects to get one of four electric vehicles to market by 2010.

Chrysler showed four new electric vehicles: two extended-range electric vehicles that have gas-fed generators to feed electricity to the car when a 40-mile-range battery wears down; an all-electric sports car with a range of 150-200 miles; and a four-door neighborhood-electric-vehicle, which can be used in retirement and closed communities and on streets with speed limits of 25 mph or less.

Most likely the first will probably be a sports car that competes with the Tesla. Chrysler has recently released a couple of full-sized hybrid SUVs.

Ford has committed to a plug-in (PHEV) version of their Escape hybrid. Given the coming Fusion Hybrid on the same drivetrain as the Escape Hybrid it seems reasonable to expect a PHEV Fusion as well. Ford hasn't committed to a date yet. Ford sees pure electric vehicles as the ultimate destination.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 September 28 11:05 PM  Energy Electric Cars

Randall Parker said at September 29, 2008 8:59 AM:

Fat Man,

I'd be more concerned if they gave up regenerative braking.

As for the ICE recharging the battery: If it could I would want a switch to turn it off. I'd rather arrive home (or some other place where I can plug in) with an empty battery so that I could fully recharge more cheaply from wall plug power. Gasoline ICE power costs a lot more per kwh (probably about quadruple). So charging off the engine is expensive.

bbm said at September 29, 2008 10:51 AM:

It doesn't charge the battery with the engine.

The generator runs the car with electricity while it is on... once the battery reaches a little less than 30% state of charge. Certainly, any excess energy generated would go to the battery (rather than be wasted), but once the soc gets much above 30% the generator turns off again, only coming on if soc falls below the preset "danger" area. This should only happen after about 40 miles of all electric range.

Keeping the batteries at around 30% soc is felt to be important to ensure long life. They're being conservative since this is the intitial attempt at such a car.

Nick G said at September 29, 2008 1:20 PM:

Randall, you're exactly right - the Volt is designed the way it should be.

Fat Man - this is a relatively unimportant clarification: GM wanted to clarify that most electricity goes directly from the ICE generator to the electric engine, rather than taking an inefficient path through the battery.

There was never a plan to have the battery fully charged by the ICE - it was always designed to be maintained at a minimum level until it could recharge from the grid.

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