Eric Kerby: Photography, Web Design, Programming

The Chevy Volt is electrifying

November 30th, 2007 at 9:39 pm

After a bit of reading on the web, I'm pretty much sold on the still-in-development GM Chevy Volt. It looks like General Motors can't resist getting back in the battery-powered-car game, despite the outlash from the lousy way they handled the EV1 (watch Who Killed the Electric Car). Fortunately, GM's Vice Chairman Bob Lutz is telling the world that they are very committed to making the Volt a success. So, picture this: a car that runs solely on battery power for up to 40 miles on a charge. That's a great start, but the Volt revs this up a notch by adding an internal combustion engine (as GM calls it, a "range extender") to keep charging the battery and ultimately obtain a 640-ish mile range! Current plans have the vehicle showing up sometime in 2010 with a production run 12 times the number of first-run Priuses. This is certainly a car I'm going to be watching. For more coverage of the Volt, check out EcoGeek's coverage of the LA Auto Show and a series of interviews with GM execs on

2 Responses to “The Chevy Volt is electrifying”

  1. James Says:

    The Extended-range Electric Vehicle, GM Volt, is indeed a promising development. In the 1990's, GM cooperated with a small company in Massachusetts, Solectria, eventually selling them body/chassis gliders (Geo Metro) that were retrofitted with electric motor powertrains, batteries and on-board chargers under the direction of the engineering genius James Worden.

    Our organization evaluated those cars for possible use in our state vehicle fleet. Efforts were reported in a report posted to under the section, “Energy & Environment,” where readers can find the full report titled,

    “Evaluation of Nickel Cadmium Battery-Electric Automobile in Connecticut as an Alternative for Work-trips and Commutes,” (pdf 501 kb), Report 1, James M. Sime, P. E., ConnDOT Report No. CT-2223-1-04-6, May 2004

    For purposes of this discussion, the type of battery is irrelevant. Solectria produced battery electric cars with all types of batteries available at that time.

    One of our study conclusions is the point of interest; that a range extender would likely have made the battery-electric vehicle a practical, acceptable alternative to conventional car designs because the range could be designed for equivalency to all other internal combustion vehicles on the road.

    Over the years, experimenters, showing off their ideas at the annual NESEA ( Tour-del-Sol road rally, demonstrated the range extender technique. Competitors with these designs usually pulled a trailer or used a pick-up truck to house the ICE range extender. Fuels varied; I recall one from Vermont running on bio diesel.

    Looking ahead, once GM engineers have designed the Volt for an internal combustion engine (ICE) powered generator, they will be very well positioned to, in future, produce variations that run on fuels other than gasoline or to replace the ICE power plant with a fuel cell.

    All in all, I view these recent developments at GM as very promising for a future where our country and others are less dependent on oil imports and have more environmentally benign automotive transportation to meet our needs. [JMS: 12-2-2007]

  2. Diesel Power Says:

    We actually experimented with a little MG running on battery power and kept running into the same problem, Power for one and holding a charge long enough to get to the store and back. It was amazing though and the plans are still on hold. I sure companies like GM should be able to overcome this boundary though.

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