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The Designist
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Do you develop ASICs with low volumes such as the Volt?
The Designist   9/13/2012 3:20:56 PM
Ah, but the Reuters article did point out that the cost per vehicle estimate was based on included development costs.  And with the Volt's present sales, this number has significant meaning.

So one has to ask then when is it time to panic?  In my opinion the panic/slippery slope started way before the Chevy Volt.

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Re: Captain Hybrid to the rescue!
ScotCan   9/13/2012 2:31:12 PM
You can believe what you like...it's your God given right I suppose. I suppose also since I don't live in the US I shouldn't comment on anything in case Yankee feathers get ruffled, although you must admit that corporate America (the private sector) managed to create the worst financial meltdown in history....if Government had regulated the Wall Street bunch that wouldn't have happened...or would it. BIG government and BIG corporations don't do the ordinary Citizen much good do they?

Your founding fathers? Mostly Scotsmen weren't they?

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Re: Electric v Pollution
tedbeau   9/13/2012 2:28:00 PM
One thing that everyone seems to forget is basic physics 101. When you convert energy from one form to another you always lose in the process. The internal combustion engine is not very effcient. The concept of the volt takes the energy in gasoline and burns it in the engine (1) conversion, to drive a generator, (thats a second conversion, the transmission between the two units). Then the generator creates electricity, (which is a third conversion). The energy is then stored in a battery where more energy is lost in charging the battery (fourth conversion), which is why the volt battery needs to be liquid cooled.

When the car is driven the electricity goes from the battery to an electric motor which is the fifth time the energy is converted.

So in effect we go from chemical process, burning gasoline to mechanical process, engine, to second mechanical, transmission and generator, to conversion to electricity, to storage of electricity, to powering an electric motor back to mechanical.

Anyone see a problem with all this?

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Re: Electric car nonsense
tekochip   9/13/2012 2:14:45 PM
I can think of a few I've seen myself; Mexico City, Venice Italy, and right here in the States, Gary, L.A. and Chicago back in the Sixties.  Smog and acid rain are a reality, and one only has to look at the damage that has been caused to man made objects to see how real the situation is.  Yes, the planet is large enough to heal, but not without the help of the Clean Air Act and other responsible acts, either mandated or voluntary.  Remember what smog did to peppered moths, and the impact of acid rain on trees and buildings?  In the Sixties large birds disappeared from the skies because we chose to spray mosquitos with DDT.  Now buzzards, hawks, herons, ospreys and eagles can all be seen no farther than outside my own window.  We almost killed them off, but we had the good sense to change our habits.  In my own lifetime I have seen the improvement from environmental legislation, maybe people are forgetting just how bad things were, or aren't old enough to have seen it firsthand?

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Re: Captain Hybrid to the rescue!
3drob   9/13/2012 2:07:47 PM
ScotCan, of course we would have roads w/o the government.  The first roads in the US were TOLL roads, privately built and funded. TOLL bridges, etc.  It can be done, and when done by the private sector is ALWAYS less expensive and more utilitarian.

Of course, here in Maryland we have the worst of both worlds.  As a taxpayer I funded the ICC (a toll road from nowhere to nowhere, only wanted by private developers to enable their land grabs, and that bankrupted our highway fund).  As a driver, I get to pay again the $4 toll to drive the 8 miles.  As a driver that wants to go faster than the artifically low 55 miles per hour, I get to pay again (I've seen as many as 6 speed traps along this short highway).

The government is a necessary EVIL.  When there is private sector alternatives, they are ALWAYS better.  When they get involved in "engineering" the private sector, it almost always makes things worse.

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Re: Electric car nonsense
zlatko   9/13/2012 1:55:59 PM
Hi Chuck

Thanks for your response My background is mechanical engineering, major in internal combustion engines, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics, 40 years so far. I have several patents in the field of infrared guided misiles technology and oilfield technology. I worked in Belgium, Germany and last 20 years in the USA. Last 11 years I am manging R&D for one division of major international oil company.

You are missing the point: The oil is running out and what is left will be more and more used by China and other countries. How do I know? I am currently working on 40,000 feet deep oil well project in the Golf of Mexico. Easy oil is gone. 40,000 feet depth is stretching technological limits on all known equipment and is result of the fact that there is little oil that can be explored left .I am not suggesting to eliminate all trucks but trains don't need foreign oil, they use electricity made from domestic coal or gas. And these small trucks you are refeing to that would transport goods and people form train stations within city limits can be electrical. It is well known that American rail system is very underdeveloped. If you have chance go to Europe and ride one of these high speed trains. What a diference comparing to cramped coach. Do you know that high speed train beats airplane from London to Paris and does not spen a drop of oil. Remaining oil should be preserved much better for instance for military airplanes unles someone invent electric airplane that will be able to carry heavy bateries. In the meanwhile R&D is needed to find something elese instead of oil, but at this point there is nothing with energy density of oil. The only promissing fuel is Hydrogen but mfg process is way to expensive for now.

I agre that it is nice to have strong vehicles (I own Toyota Tundra 381HP truck what hypocrist) but reality is this is not sustainable and energy needs to be preserved as much as possible. You are still thinking as if there is as much oil left and there is no any crisis at all. There is no 500 billion, yess with B of oil in Wayoming, only Newt Gingrich know for that oil.


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Re: Electric v Pollution
Watashi   9/13/2012 1:42:15 PM
I don't buy any of your environmental examples and as we have seen many times before; we will probably never sway one another no matter what evidence is presented.

However, you have a good point regarding the standardization of vehicle equipment.  while many models do share some standard components, most of those are still redressed with new plastics or such.  Henry Ford revolutionized the industry through standardization; it is ironic that this tenant isn't used more.

We will have to wait and see regarding the value of the investment.  But partnering with another hybrid/EV OEM or supplier to standardize the batteries would have been a praise-worthy move.

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Let's all re-learn basic economics
Ryanf   9/13/2012 1:36:49 PM
It saddens me that this story ever got printed by the original news organization that wrote it. How can the concept of amortizing development cost be so abstract that GM would have to defend themselves on the subject. I recall learning these types of things somewhere back in 10th or 11th grade. This isn't material for doctoral research here! It costs a boatload of money to develop revolutionary products, that should be the end of the story rather than trying to write GM's obituary with every story. I applaud Design News for giving the article headline appropriate to the story.

D. Sherman
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Re: Captain Hybrid to the rescue!
D. Sherman   9/13/2012 1:32:59 PM
We can play accounting tricks with the amortization of development costs and the allocation of burden (factory overhead and indirect labor), but there is surely some good hard number for the per-unit factory cost comprised of purchased parts plus direct labor. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if even that exceeds the sales price.

I've read the "teardowns" of the battery pack, with all the microcontrollers and power electronics distributed throughout it, and I don't see how even just the battery pack and associated electronicsr could come it at any less than $20,000 factory cost.

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Electric v Pollution
sbkenn   9/13/2012 1:08:48 PM
@Watashi  People in the 1800 said that pullution from factories would not effect the atmosphere, then came acid rain.  People in the 50's n 60's didn't think the CFCs would effect it either, then came the hole in the ozone layer.  A billion years of vegetation growth trapped carbon which was then laid down to stew, producing oil, coal etc.  A billion years of carbon trapping, thne released in a couple of centuries MUST change the air.  Even if not in global warming(which I doubt), certainly in air quality.

  On the EV front, with a huge proportion of electricity still being produced by burning fossil fuels, EVs mostly just shift the pollution elsewhere.  Good for SoCal dwellers, but globally, not much of an advantage.  With regards to the motor company's investment, the development done in bringing the Volt to the road will be spread over many decades and models.  Why though, have they not done more to standardise more components ?  Almost every make and model uses a completely different set.  Anything from steering ball joints to suspension, seats, seatbelts, airbags, should be standard, with a few exceptions for much heavier, or seriously luxurious vehicles

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