Just as the winner of a 2012 Chevy Volt in our Drive for Innovation contest was announced, the automaker revealed changes for the 2013 version of the car that goes on sale in August. (But I don't think winner Ted Yan will be feeling all that left out!)
On the technology side, the major upgrade is increasing battery capacity from 16kW to 16.5kW, along with as yet undisclosed changes to the battery chemistry. These revisions result in the EPA electric-only range of the car going from 35 miles to 38 miles. Consequently, full recharge time on 120V goes from 10 hours to 10.5 hours.
GM says, based on Volt owners' experience and data, that battery life is not as sensitive as it first supposed -- which could mean future versions will use more of the battery capacity with deeper discharging to improve range along with charging closer to full battery capacity.
The list price (including destination charges) stays at $39,995, not including a US government rebate of $7,500.
For a close-up look at GM's Chevy Volt, go to the Drive for Innovation site and follow the cross-country journey of EE Life editorial director, Brian Fuller.
Beth Stackpole; On another search the spec's for charging were listed as 6 hours at 12 amps on 120 volts, or 3 hours at 16 amps on 220 volts. The 220 volt would be a specially installed home unit. So the re-charging time can be less than 10 hours, but still no comparison to filling a gasoline tank.
Thanks for clarifying, Glenn. Three hours is much more palatable. I would assume if you were making an investment in an EV, you'd have to factor in installation of specialized voltage, much as if you were keeping a boat or an RV at home and wanted to keep it charged.
Wow. Given the price (even with the gov. subsidy) and the driving range, I can't see who buys these cars. Improvements seem frustratingly incremental. I would also think the public at some point will get frustrated with underwriting the gov. subsidy. I would think the tipping point to wide acceptance of these vehicles seems far, far away.
In answer to your question, Rob, the agerage income of a Volt buyer is $170,000+ per year. That's a GM statistic. Deloitte Consulting says that the average income for an EV buyer is $200,000+ per year.
Those statistics alone prove out that the current state of EV technology, at these price points, makes it a luxury purchase, not a practical buy. But as someone pointed out earlier in these posts, the Prius enjoyed that same kind of do-good, greenie, status symbol in its earlier years and is now much more accessible to non-high income earners. I actually just saw a TV ad for the Volt this week that had a woman talking up all the savings she's getting by not buying gasoline and she looked pretty middle class (if there is such a thing any more). Maybe it's a sign of the times to come.
The ~10 hour recharge time, taken at face value, would only be if you ran the car down completely. It would be very difficult to do that very often unless you had a very regimented, long trip every day.
Having lived with an EV for years, I find the convenience of charging at home to somewhat offset the recharge time. Most days you come home, plug it in, hit the button and the next morning you're at 100% when you go to work. Doesn't matter if it took 1 hour or 10 hours to replenish what you used the day before, it's sitting in the garage all night anyway.
There's also the strategy of opportunity charging. Even if only at 120V, amp hours are amp hours and if you're stopped somewhere you can plug in, do so and recoup what you can. A few extra miles during a day of extended travel may make all the difference. People do this with their cell phones now, an EV isn't really any different in this regard.
There are few advantages and many disadvanages to owning an EV but I will offer that some of the limitations really aren't that hard to work around once you get past the ICE operational paradigm.
I think a big difference with the Prius was that it was always priced in a range that was widely accessible and was able to become a profitable, commercially successful vehicle at that price (late in the first gen). A sustainable buisness model.
It is a open question whether the Volt can become profitable even at the 40K price point, and that is well out of the mainstream for a small 4 passenger vehicle. I'm not saying GM shouldn't have done it, though I question the value of the govt subsidizing it.
re: You say the published Chevy Volt charge rates are:
6 hours at 12 amps @ 120volt which equals 8.6kWh
3 hours at 16 amps @ 220volt which mysteriously equals 10.6kWh
So, charging at 220 volt is only 80% as efficient as charging the same battery pack at 120 volt? Really?
Also, what's so "special" about installing a 20 amp 220 volt circuit? I don't know of a standard 220 volt NEMA / UL receptacle that is not rated at at least 20 amps. Heck, use the electric dryer receptacle! :-)
Ockham; The 'special' about the 220 volt circuit would probably be that it is dedicated to the charger for the Volt. I don't know if many owners would be willing to pull out the electric dryer to unplug it and then plug in the charger. Even so, if the dryer is not in the garage with the car, what length of power cable would be required ?
As to power consumed by the charger vs. power into the battery; that is a function of the efficiency of the charger converting AC to DC, and the efficiency of the battery accepting the charge. This is not a perfect analogy, but if a project takes 500 man-hours to complete, that does not mean that 500 men can complete the project in one hour.
I think you've misinterpreted what OCKHAM meant. He was suggesting that having a 240/20 receptacle is NOT an uncommon circuit, even in a residential environment. For instance, many window/wall Air Conditioning units use just such a plug/receptacle configuration. It's designated as a NEMA 6-20(P/R). Regarding the Dryer receptacle, I believe he was suggesting that a receptacle of this rating COULD also be used in a garage environment for charging EV batteries. The NEMA designations for these devices are 10-30 or 14-30. No doubt the NEC addresses this specific requirement, and so a licensed electrical contractor would have the necessary guidance to install such a circuit.
I couldn't re-find the article about the 3 hour recharge at 220 volts. But I did find this clarification about the chargers: Apparently the Volt comes with a 120 volt charger, standard equipment. And an optional, extra cost, 'special', 220 volt charger is available.
Sure, the sticker price for the 240V Voltec home charging unit designed to quickly and efficiently recharge the Chevrolet Volt is a wallet-friendly $490, but this is a case where reading the fine print is important. That's because the cost to install this charger in your garage is slightly more. General Motors estimates that installation of the Voltec unit will cost you around $1,475, so we're talking about a near $2,000 premium to have your Volt suck down electrons faster than it would if just plugged into a wall.
The Volt can charge just fine from a standard outlet and comes with a 120V-to-J1772 charger. Using that method will take around ten hours to reach a full charge from empty, while using 240V charger Voltec charger will cut that down to around four hours. For people who have short commutes or plan to leave the Volt plugged in every night, a 240V system might be overkill since the Volt has a gasoline-powered generator on board to extend its range should the electrons dry up.
IF I was in any way attached to the VOLT project,whether the janitor sweeping the floor or the head engineer, I'd be at my attorney's office now, signing the orders to change my name so that no one could associate me w/ this press release.
WHAT an abomination to waste the excitation of good electrons to light up the PC screen to print this! IF the press release from Chevrolet announced that the mileage rating of the VOLT was being raised from the paltry 35 to a significant figure like 100, then I'd say, BRAVO!, but in the meantime, they should hide their tales between their legs and slink off into the corners where they belong.
There's an article related to future vehicle design which is currently circulating. It describes Germany's dedication to installing hydrogen-refuleing stations throughout the country, 50 at present. This seems to me to be a far more intelligent use of forward thinking engineering. Design a vehicle with a small hydrogen-fueled engine which drives a high capacity alternator. Output that into either smaller batteries, OR super capacitors, and extract that power into high torque electric motors designed into EACH wheel. With modern control systems & intelligent firmware design, each wheel would receive the correct amt. of source to control it's vector depending on friction coeeficient to the driving surface. Thus, whether one is motoring in sand, snow, or paved super highway, the control of the vehicle would be guaranteed.
It seems to me that equipping EXISTING petroleum-based fueling stations with additional capability would be far less expensive than attempting to equip EVERY corner of EVERY street in EVERY town across America w/ a "charging station" for an electric vehicle fleet.
Wow...this is a stunning acheivement for Chevy! This enhancement in battery capacity and range isn't just the "rounding error" it appears to be - it will CHANGE EVERYTHING!!! The marketing people have carefully calculated the TIPPING POINT and adding this grain of sand will make the entire population want to buy VOLTs. (written with tongue in cheek, of course).
Funny Kevin. We are so accustomed to the rapid advances in electronics that the development of these EVs is very frustrating. If there isn't some breakthrough in energy storage in the next few years, I don't see how EVs can survive as a viable consumer product.
Forgive me but "US government rebate of $7,500" is actually a tax bill for every man, woman and child in the U.S. My god son Kory (5yo) will be paying China back for the loan until he retires at age 85.
I wonder how sales of Volts would decline if all of us didn't have to help the $170,000 guys with their down payment. And NO i'm not against people making 170K.
P.S. I still haven't gotten over the govt (and union) take over of the company.
I still have some GM stock certificates I'll sell cheap if anyone needs to wall paper their bathroom.
Your estimate of 85 years may be a bit optimistic, robatnorcross. Here's a simple calculation: If we pay back at a rate of $100 million per day, assuming no time value of money, it would take 440 years to reach $16 trillion. I know the real calculation is far more complex than that, but it's still a stunning number.
China holds only a small portion of U.S. debt. The majority of the debt is money 'borrowed' from the Social Security Trust Fund. If you would rather have factual information than hype, turn off FOX 'News' and listen to a variety of accurate news sources. Part of the reason Republicans want to 'fix' Social Security is to avoid paying back what they spent to replace revenues lost due to tax cuts.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administrationís recent backup camera mandate could open the door to more vehicle innovations, including better graphical displays, 360-degree camera views, and the increased use of Ethernet.
With support from National Instruments, a group of dedicated students from Connally High School in Austin, where more than 50% of the students are at risk of not graduating, have created a successful robotics team that is competing in the FIRST World Championships.
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