We drove a Chevy Volt across the country, and then we took it apart.
Over a recent three-day period, EE Times, working with the benchmarking consultants Munro & Associates, tore down the car. Brian Fuller, editorial director of the EELife Community for EETimes, had been driving the Volt across the country and blogging about it on Drive for Innovation, a partnership between Design News parent company UBM and Avnet Express.
The objective of the teardown was to learn more about the engineering that went into the Volt's design internals. The three days it took to take the Volt apart produced 11 videos. We're going to present them in three separate articles. Below are the three videos of the teardown team in action during Day 1.
Our first video is a five-minute elapsed-time look at the deconstruction of the Volt.
The next two videos are short takes, in which Al Steier of Munro & Associates gives Brian Fuller his initial observations about what the teardown revealed and then shows the Volt's service disconnect plug.
Come back next week to see the four teardown videos from Day 2.
For an up-close look at the Chevy Volt, go to the Drive for Innovation site and follow the cross-country journey of EE Life editorial director Brian Fuller. In the trip sponsored by Avnet Express, Fuller took the fire-engine-red Volt to innovation hubs across America, interviewing engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators, and students as he blogged his way across the country.
At the end of the first video, when all the electronic modules are lined up side by side, it gives a real appreciation for the sheer volume of electronics in vehicles today, and in this vehicle, in particular. I'd be curious to know the total number of ECUs and microcontrollers. When we asked them during the rollout, GM said about 40 ECUs and 110 MCUs, but they were a little vague on those numbers. Also, those numbers really depend on how an ECU or MCU is defined.
Seeing the controller boards laid out and the complexity and size of the battery made me think about the folks servicing the Volt. Obviously, today's service professionals are a different breed than your traditional mechanic and need a whole lot more training in software (as Rob notes). But the battery technology muddies the waters even more. I'm curious if there is a whole new certification and training process for shops that can provide service for the Volt and other EVs or are you limited to just the dealership, which I assume has up-to-date training in the latest technologies?
My 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid has a select, specificially trained team that works on it for warranty service, inspection, etc.
I think that GM should have named this Volt after the old Chevy NoVa...doesn't go.. and doesn't go in the market place. Either that or rebadge it with the Fiero namebrand since that Pontiac vehicle was notorious for engine fires. Or, use the now abandoned Aveo name, as it signified the worst in its class for Chevy.
My vehicle cost $10,000 less that the Obavolt, I did not get a subsidy,although they did grease me with a declining tax credit (in order to get the full credit, which expired in March 2009, you would have had to buy the Ford Fusion Hybrid sight unseen, driver test undone as the local dealerships did not start getting them in until right around that deadline).
I'd buy it again, 3 years later. It is proof positive that Ford has punched their way out of the old Ford of the 70's when Toyota and Honda had their way due to overall arrogance and slothfulness in Detroit.
My signature Ford vehicle of that era that is the epitome of what went wrong with Ford? The 1976 Mercury Vomit, if you can imagine a worse driver experience let me know. I felt so bad for my Dad who owned one! I actually sold it years later to someone who absolutely sought it out becuase they told me they always liked the styling. ;-) Thus proving that there are as many useful idiots in the auto sector as there are for select people in DC.
All those controller boards would consern me as an owner because of the potential cost to repair it in the future. It looks like taking it to my locate mechanic would not be an option, so off to the very expencive dealer I would have to go. And as dealers will know that they are the only option, they will tend to charge even more.
I'm impressed, but it also scared the Hell out of me looking at all those printed boards, and components that I can not identify. I hope the warranty is good and there are companies that will offer extended. It's a whole new world for auto mechanics, and guys like me who do most of our own repairs might have a real problem on their hands. Keeping dealers honest durring repairs can also become an issue, I would hate to have purchased an $800.00 electronic component disguised as a fuse?
No electric vehicle is ready for the mainstream markets. It is not a ready technology. Like anything ECO green or otherwise if it can not perform and function in the value perimeters as what we are now using for the same purpose then it needs far more work to be viable for the general public. A vehicle like the Volt would need to cost no more then 25k. It would need to go at least three hundred miles on a ten minute charge with all the usually accessories working. The performance should be in line with a 200 plus horse power relative torque V6 gasoline engine. The battery package needs to be replaceable for no more then $2000. This would make perfect sense for the general public. The car would simply sell like wild fire with those specs. I always said I would love to drive an all electric pick up truck. I would buy one in a heart beat if it had the same performance and value or greater then what I am driving now. The truth is they are not even close to releasing such criteria in the automotive market. For the foreseeable future it will be gas and diesel and we need to just get use to those facts. Stop the politics as we still need to function in a fossil fuel world and we certainly do have those rescores hear and now. If they can product the future sooner then later I am all for it but do not punish us because it hasn't been developed yet for the general public.
There is no warranty or part that will seem familiar to you your local garage and certainly your wallets. The cost of service and replacement parts will be for the foreseeable future very very expensive. You my fellow citizens are paying through your tax dollars with no say in any of it thousands per volt and you may never even own one. Private industry with investment capitol with great minds and brass will develop automotive technology that will make some one very rich by selling product at a fair price in volume. This has always worked and has made this country what it is. Let's continue.
Californiaís plan to mandate an electric vehicle market isnít the first such undertaking and certainly wonít be the last. But as the Golden State ratchets up for its next big step toward zero-emission vehicle status in 2018, it might be wise to consider a bit of history.