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OT - Got to drive a Chevy Volt

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  • OT - Got to drive a Chevy Volt

    I got lucky and was invited to test drive the Chevy Volt that was in town for the SXSW Interactive show last Sunday and I was blown away by it. The car was one of the first 50 pre-production test cars, but other than some additional sensors and software differences it is the car that will be available in the fourth quarter of this year. Both interior and exterior design and feel are very nice, the seats felt great and even the back seat was roomy and comfortable (I am 5'11" with short legs, big feet, and a barrel chest). The driving experience is a little different than a normal car. The motor is TOTALLY quiet under 50 mph (we were on a closed track that is all there was room for), the torque curve is flat and very strong, and handling is more like a gocart than a normal car due to the weight being so low in the chassis. The electric boost steering actually had decent feedback and the brakes were powerful but not in your face. With four adults in the car I would estimate zero to sixty in the eight second range. It felt at least as fast as our 5.3L Tahoe on ethanol (about 375HP but a lot more weight there). If GM can get production up and avoid too many teething issues they have a real winner.

  • #2
    What did you think of the AC?

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    • #3
      It seemed to work fine. One of the guys said that it was a variable electric compressor so that it would actually work in the south in the summer.

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      • #4
        I drove a GM Impact (EV1 prototype) back in 1997 or so. I was really impressed by the job GM had done taking the Aerovironment concept vehicle and turning it into a production ready design.

        If you can find a copy, read 'The Car That Could', which is the story of the development of the EV1 (written at the time with GM's permission).
        Paul Compton
        www.morini-mania.co.uk
        http://www.youtube.com/user/EVguru

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        • #5
          Hate to sound like a pessimist...

          Hate to sound pessimistic, how much will it cost, how far will it go on a charge, and at US$0.13/KWH how much will it cost to charge?

          And the bigger question, at least for those of us who aren't able to afford one new... How long will the batteries last and how much will it cost to replace them?

          Or is the bigger question - How long til the current administration requires us all to buy one?

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          • #6
            I would imagine they are expensive to run given you have to factor in they will have no resale value.

            The owners will only get rid either when they start to give trouble / need new batteries and / or the manufacturers bring a new model out and stop supporting the old one, maybe with government incentives to upgrade like the scrappage project.

            .
            .

            Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.



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            • #7
              Originally posted by EVguru
              If you can find a copy, read 'The Car That Could', which is the story of
              the development of the EV1 (written at the time with GM's permission).
              Then as a chaser, watch Chris Paine's 2006 documentary
              "Who Killed The Electric Car" about the odd demise of the EV1.

              The local library branch likely has a DVD copy or two.

              .

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              • #8
                At what we pay here (about $.11/kwh) it would cost about $1.75 to recharge the battery pack for 40 miles of range. The engineer that I spoke with said that because they only charge the pack to 80% and only let it drop down to 30% the batteries should last ten years.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by MickeyD
                  At what we pay here (about $.11/kwh) it would cost about $1.75 to recharge the battery pack for 40 miles of range.
                  That's assuming 100% energy conversion. You have to consider the power supply and charging losses. Then a VFD converts the DC power back into 3-phase to power an induction motor. More losses.

                  So you're paying roughly $2.50 - $3.00 per 40 miles of range, and most of our electricity in Central Texas is generated from coal.
                  Last edited by lazlo; 03-17-2010, 03:30 PM.
                  "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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                  • #10
                    My VW Scirocco conversion used 3KWh on the 10 mile commute to work along the M1 Motorway with speeds up to 65mph or so. That's measured at the power outlet, so includes charging losses.

                    http://www.compton.vispa.com/scirocco


                    Just went away and looked up the Volt specs. The used capacity of the battery pack is 8Kw/hr (16Kw/hr nominal), so a full charge would cost 0.11 * 8 / 0.85 (typical Lithium cell efficiency) = $1.04.
                    Last edited by EVguru; 03-17-2010, 03:59 PM.
                    Paul Compton
                    www.morini-mania.co.uk
                    http://www.youtube.com/user/EVguru

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                    • #11
                      Having gone through some terribly cold weather this winter, I have to ask how good does the heater work?
                      Milton

                      "Accuracy is the sum total of your compensating mistakes."

                      "The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion." G. K. Chesterton

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by DICKEYBIRD
                        Having gone through some terribly cold weather this winter, I have to ask how good does the heater work?

                        I also have to ask about the heat. If it is cold outside, It seems like it could take 1000 Watts +_ to heat or defrost/heat + heated seat, rear window defogger etc.
                        Is there a "Large Battery" option?

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                        • #13
                          Does it have an iPod socket on the radio
                          If it does'nt fit, hit it.
                          https://ddmetalproducts.co.uk
                          http://www.davekearley.co.uk

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                          • #14
                            Just went away and looked up the Volt specs. The used capacity of the battery pack is 8Kw/hr (16Kw/hr nominal), so a full charge would cost 0.11 * 8 / 0.85 (typical Lithium cell efficiency) = $1.04.
                            I think you just calculated the efficiency on the output side (battery only as it does not consider inefficiency due to hysteresis losses in the motor), but as Robert (Lazlo) pointed out there is plenty of inefficiency at the input side in the form of the charger itself. Just put your hand on the typical battery charger (and even the batteries) while charging and you can see that much is converted to heat by (typically) a transformer, or semiconductors in the case of a switching power supply. There's also a measurable loss in wiring on the charge side since you are pulling all that charging current through them. Thankfully, most of that wire inefficiency is on the other side of your meter and you don't get a separate bill for it. On the other hand, you are really paying even for that inefficiency as well in the overall rates and fees you have in your electric bill.

                            What really killed electric vehicles in the past is that there is just far more energy available in a pound of gasoline than in a pound of coal used to generate electricity--much of which is "spilled" between the point of production and the point of use in the case of electric vehicles.

                            Paul
                            Paul Carpenter
                            Mapleton, IL

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                            • #15
                              I asked about heat and for interior heat and it uses the ac system (I suspect like a heat pump). When it is really cold, the gas engine goes into generator mode until the batteries are warmed up (over about 0 F). Someone mentioned the grill, it is used for the radiator for the gas engine, the AC, and liquid cooling for the electric motor.

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