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Some Big Changes in the Works for Gen-2 Chevrolet Volt

Longer range, new engine may be in the offing.

by on Aug.13, 2013

Looks like the Gen-2 Chevy Volt may come with some upgrades, including a longer electric-only range.

The Chevrolet Volt was intended to revolutionize automotive transportation and while there are plenty of critics who fault its high price and relatively Spartan interior there’s little doubt the extended-range electric vehicle has helped usher in a new era of battery-powered propulsion.

Even before they launched the Volt, however, General Motors officials were stressing that, in tech terms, there’d be a lot of things to improve on the “Gen-1” model, especially the limitations of its battery technology. Pointing to the future, they promised lower costs, as well as smaller and more powerful batteries.

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A series of comments and reports in recent days seem to suggest that GM is getting ready to offer some big improvements as it prepares Chevy Volt Gen-2, with longer range and a new range-extending motor among the changes apparently in the works. (more…)

Opinion: Don’t Be Afraid to Drive Your Volt

GM’s groundbreaking E-REV is no less safe than any other car on the road.

by on Jan.27, 2012

GM wants to salvage the image of the Chevy Volt.

Let’s cut to the chase: The Chevy Volt is as safe as any other vehicle on the road. And if something in the vehicle is going to cause a fire, it’s more likely to be its gasoline engine and associated plumbing than the groundbreaking car’s lithium-ion battery.

Still, General Motors finds itself having to defend the world’s first extended-range electric vehicle.

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The controversy stems from a crash test of the Volt conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last June. Two weeks after the test, a fire started when the battery’s coolant leaked onto a circuit board. The coolant was able to reach the circuit board on top of the battery when the agency did what it calls a rotisserie test, which simulates what might happen in a rollover crash.


Potential Buyers Steering Clear of Volt as House Schedules Probe

GM reportedly may have fix for fire problem.

by on Dec.07, 2011

The Chevrolet Volt, shown here with its lithium-ion battery pack.

Potential buyers seem to be steering clear of the Chevrolet Volt in the wake of reports that the plug-in hybrid experienced several fires following federal crash tests – which could pose a serious problem for General Motors as it prepares for a sharp ramp-up in production for 2012.

Meanwhile, a House panel has scheduled a hearing next month to look into the safety of the Chevy Volt – and the way the Obama Administration has handled the investigation so far.  The nation’s top transportation official, despite three fires involving the Volt after testing, has declared the plug-in “safe to drive.”

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Separately, GM is reportedly studying changes to the Volt’s battery pack to prevent the possibility of fire after a crash.  Such a fix could be announced in a matter of weeks, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The crisis began last month when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration first reported that a Volt it had subjected to a side-impact crash test in May caught fire three weeks later.  Another series of tests last month resulted in a second fire, with a third battery sputtering and smoking.


Are Volt Sales Unplugged?

Maker needs to charge up demand to meet target.

by on Oct.04, 2011

The Chevy Volt was named North American Car of the Year last January, beating out the Nissan Leaf - and setting in motion a distinct rivalry.

With only one quarter left, sales of the much-balleyhooed Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid are running well short of expectations and lagging the battery cars chief rival, the Nissan Leaf, by a margin that widens every month.

Has the Volt come unplugged or will Chevy be able to make up lost ground with a massive build-up of momentum in the final three months of the year – as company officials insist?

With less than 4,000 sold so far this year and a goal of moving 10,000 Volts for all of 2011, General Motors will need to nearly triple September sales if it’s to hit that target.

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“It’s a little surprising” how low the numbers have been, according to Joe Phillippi, automotive analyst with AutoTrends Consulting, especially in line with the steady growth in demand for the Leaf – which is itself going to need a big bump to hit its own 20,000-unit goal for 2011.

Through the end of September, Nissan sold 7,199 of its pure battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, with sales last month of 1,031.  Volt sales totaled just 723 in September, with year-to-date volume at 3,895.


GM Claiming Lead in Innovation

Tops among 182 auto and transportation companies.

by on May.17, 2011

To feed the need for advanced products like the Chevy Volt, GM is pressing to take the lead in patent work.

The Patent Board has ranked General Motors as the top innovator of 182 companies in its quarterly automotive and transportation industry scorecard.

The Board analyzes intellectual property performance across 17 industries and determines the leader in each sector based on measurements that include the number of patents, impact on the industry, and technology and science strength.

GM also ranked first in the automotive/transportation sector in the previous scorecard, published in January.

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“We focus on inventions that make our vehicles more sustainable,” said Alan Taub, GM’s vice president of R&D. “Our engineers are developing advanced technologies that increase fuel efficiency and ensure safety while maintaining the excitement of personal mobility.”


Chevrolet Volt Debuts in Shanghai

Shuttles lead to 2011 sales in the world’s largest auto market.

by on Aug.31, 2010

General Motors Company marked the arrival of the first drivable Chevrolet Volt models in China today as two of the electric vehicles appeared at the Shanghai Expo Bureau for use as part of its VIP transportation fleet at World Expo 2010 Shanghai.

China will be one of the first markets outside the U.S. where the Volt will be on sale next year.

GM is sending the Volt to China before Europe.

The Volts will shuttle guests to and from Shanghai’s Expo Park and demonstrate what GM is calling its “vision of sustainable urban transportation.” China of course is heavily dependent on coal-powered electric utilities and along with the U.S. is a leading producer of greenhouse gas emissions.


“GM has made a long-term commitment to bringing our industry-leading technology to China,” said Kevin Wale, President and Managing Director of the GM China Group. “This is enabling us to provide the best mobility solutions for addressing the transportation challenges associated with the growth in demand for personal mobility.”

The Volt is the only electric vehicle that can operate under a range of climates and driving conditions with little concern of being stranded by a depleted battery since it carries its own 1.4-liter gasoline engine on board to charge the batteries.


Initial Chevy Volt Production to Triple in 2012

Maker reveals dealer plans, other details for upcoming debut.

by on Jul.01, 2010

Not quite coast-to-coast. The 2011 Chevrolet Volt launch will kick off with a 1,766-mile drive from Austin to Detroit, while seven states will now be part of the E-REV's launch.

General Motors expects to produce only about 10,000 of its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrids by the end of 2011, as it ramps up operations, expands distribution and trains dealers and service technicians, but the maker says it will triple output to 30,000 of the so-called Extended-Range Electric Vehicles, or E-REVs, in 2012.

General Motors CEO Ed Whitacre returned to his home state of Texas, today, to kick off the start of the Volt “Freedom Drive,” a 1,766-mile demonstration trip that will take a Chevy Volt from Austin to New York City.  Those two cities anchor two other regions of the country that GM has decided to add to its list of launch sites when Volt makes its formal entrance into the retail market in November.

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In all, the automaker plans to start with sales in six states – New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, Michigan and Texas – and Washington, D.C.  Confirming an earlier report in, GM officials also confirmed that a full roll-out of the Volt to all 50 states and Canada could take a little longer than originally planned.

The current goal is to complete that process “within 12 to 18 months,” which could push the end date back into 2012, acknowledged Doug Wernert, the Chevrolet VoltAge Community Manager.


Chevy Volt Still on Time, Insists Lutz

Volt also due for a European debut in late 2011.

by on Mar.03, 2010

Despite reports of problems with the Chevrolet Volt, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz insists the high-profile program is "on track" for a late '10 launch.

The Chevrolet Volt remains on schedule for a late 2010 U.S. launch, insisted General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, during an appearance at the Geneva Motor Show.

The septuagenarian executive, who is generally credited with coming up with the Volt concept, denied recent reports that the extended-range electric vehicle is falling behind the introduction date GM had set for it more than a year ago.


“The Volt is absolutely on track for a North American launch later this year,” said Lutz, who was the key speaker at Chevy’s news conference during the press days at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show.


GM Debuts New Battery Lab

Center will support development of Chevy Volt and other battery vehicles.

by on Jun.08, 2009

GM CEO with Chevy Volt "mule" during dedication of the automaker's new battery lab. Governor Jennifer Granholm and product engineering chief Jim Queen are to Henderson's left.

GM CEO with Chevy Volt "mule" during dedication of the automaker's new battery lab. Governor Jennifer Granholm and product engineering chief Jim Queen are to Henderson's left.

Calling it “the lifeblood of our future,” General Motors CEO Fritz Henderson officially opened the automaker’s new battery lab, at the GM Technical Center, this morning.

The facility is designed to help develop the next-generation lithium-ion batteries that the automaker hopes to use in future products, such as the Chevrolet Volt extended-range-electric vehicle, or E-REV, which it plans to put on the market around November 2010.

The lab was opened at least five months ahead of schedule, GM officials noted, during a dedication ceremony and subsequent tour, and should help ensure that the Volt makes it to market on time.

“Electrically-driven vehicles provide the best alternative for a sustainable future,” declared Jim Queen, the bankrupt automaker’s top engineer.  The challenge, he and other company officials later added, is making sure that GM can come up with batteries that meet public expectation for range, cost and durability.

That’s the role of the new battery lab, which is housed on the sprawling Tech Center campus, in the Detroit suburb of Warren, Michigan.  It replaces a smaller and less technically sophisticated facility only a quarter of its size.  The new lab measures 33,000 square feet and can put more than 200 battery packs through their paces at a time, on test stands and thermal chambers designed to simulate the worst possible conditions a vehicle like the Volt might face.

This has resulted in the drastic reduction in development time and will significant speed up time to market,” asserted Queen.

In all, the lab can draw as much as 6 megawatts from the electric grid-enough for 1500 typical homes – though about 90 percent of that energy can also be pumped back out, as much of the testing involves seeing how well the batteries can store and then release energy. (more…)