Electronic Design

Chevy Volt Takes Charge In New York City

GM’s top designers are taking the Chevy Volt on tour, stopping last week to show the extended-range electric vehicle (E-REV) in New York City.

GM’s top designers are taking the Chevy Volt on tour, stopping last week to show the extended-range electric vehicle (E-REV) in New York City. Scheduled to roll off the production lines and hit showrooms in November 2010, the Volt promises 40 miles of all-electric driving before its 1.3-liter, 3-cylinder gas engine kicks in. After that, drivers simply plug the Volt into a standard 110- or 220-V outlet to recharge the battery. Since about 80% of the nation’s drivers commute less than 40 miles a day, GM says, the Volt will free many consumers from using gas on a regular basis—if they use it at all.

The Volt’s 16-kW lithium-ion battery pack includes more than 250 cells. According to Frank Weber, Chevy Volt/E-Flex vehicle line executive, the pack supplies 10 years of operation. After that, it won’t be found on the roadside, as the battery could be removed and its remaining power used for stationary applications. Of course, GM promises backward compatibility, as new battery packs likely will be smaller and more powerful, Weber said. In fact, the drive unit in the Volt prototype was three times the size of the unit in the production model. Weber also attributes the battery’s efficiency to a proprietary thermal management system. For more on the battery, see our interview with Weber below.

video produced by Damian Mendez

Aerodynamics play an equal role in energy efficiency, according to Bob Boniface, director of GM’s Advanced Design Studio. GM subjected the Volt to 700 hours in the wind tunnel, as every five counts of drag represents a quarter mile of electric range. For example, a 5-mm lip inserted into the rear spoiler and the streamlined design of the side mirrors add a quarter mile to the Volt’s range. Since the engine doesn’t require as much cooling as a typical gas engine, the front grill is smaller and closed for better airflow as well. Smaller windows lead to reduced mass and a smaller solar load for better efficiency too. The Volt even uses soy foam in its seats and a composite interior for better weight. For more on the Volt’s design, see our interview with Boniface below.

video produced by Damian Mendez

But what does this mean to you as a driver? GM says that there will be no difference in performance or comfort between the Volt and other cars on the road. With a top speed of 100 mph and accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 9 seconds with 273 lb/ft of torque, Boniface says the Volt gives drivers a unique “launch feeling” equal to a 250-hp V6 engine. The interior offers all the modern amenities for its driver and three passengers, with dual LCD screens, Bluetooth connectivity, and MP3 player compatibility. Wallets will feel some relief, as the average driver will save 500 gallons of gas while using 2550 kW/hr a year, or less than a typical refrigerator. Early versions will cost around $40,000. For a closer look inside the Volt, check out our video below.

video produced by Damian Mendez

Chevy Volt


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