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GM: Opel PHEV; Volt on Road in 2008; Exploring Battery Leasing
Sep 12, 2007 (From the CalCars-News archive)
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GM is making PHEV news in many areas:

  • Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said GM would start putting the Chevy Volt on the road for testing in the U.S. in 2008. And Lutz said he was "committed" to the 2010 date that had previously been called a "goal."
  • At the Frankfurt Auto Show, the company unveiled its design for its Opel division's version of the Volt: a diesel PHEV, with a different body design and a shorter all-electric range (34 miles).
  • The company seems to be claiming that the car would get 40 grams/kilometer of CO2 -- way below proposed European Union standards of 120-130.
  • Lutz said with both Volt battery contractors are confident they can meet GM's specs, the company might even choose to use both.
  • Both Lutz and President of General Motors Asia Pacific Nick Reilly said the company would consider leasing batteries to reduce the up-front cost of PHEVs.

Following are excerpts from news clips.


VOLT/OPEL FLEXTREME/TIMETABLES
http://www.freep.com/­apps/­pbcs.dll/­article?AID=/­20070911/­BUSINESS01/­709110338/­1014 Volt to be tested in '08 GM plans to put Chevrolet concept car's electric drive system on the road in the spring September 11, 2007 BY MARK PHELAN FREE PRESS AUTO CRITIC
Contact MARK PHELAN at phelan@... or 313-222-6731. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

FRANKFURT, Germany -- General Motors will begin testing the revolutionary electric drive system in the Chevrolet Volt concept car on the road in vehicles next spring, company Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said at a dinner Monday night. By this time next year, GM may allow selected people outside the company to test the system.

"You personally will be able to experience the joy of gliding down I-94 at 70 miles an hour" solely on electric power, Lutz said at a preview dinner for the Frankfurt Auto Show.

GM is committed to putting the system in the Chevrolet Volt for sale by 2010, Lutz said.

He convinced two leading auto analysts who attended the event.

"I think they're going to build it," said Rebecca Lindland of Lexington, Mass.-based Global Insight. "Consumers like the idea of getting to and from work purely on electricity. It would be a tremendous win for GM, and an opportunity to get Generation Y on board with the company."

Lutz deserves credit for convincing GM's conservative culture to roll the dice on a public high-profile attempt to make a technological breakthrough, said Joe Phillippi, principal of Short Hills, N.J.-based AutoTrends Consulting.

"Lutz is driving this bus really hard," Phillippi said. "Toyota gets a lot of credit for its hybrid portfolio, but this is clearly a step above. It would give GM a tremendous leg up on the competition."

Lutz said the system would probably hit the road first in the United States, adding that GM expects to offer cars using the system around the world. "China is logical; Europe is logical," he said.

GM's European Opel brand will unveil a concept car using the same powertrain at a news conference at Europe's biggest auto show this morning. The system, which GM calls E-Flex, relies on advanced batteries to provide electric power, a plug-in system to recharge the batteries and a small engine to act as an onboard generator to keep the batteries charged on longer trips.

While the Volt will use a gas engine to charge the electric drive, the Opel Flextreme would use a small turbo-diesel engine to do the same.

Depending on how far they drive, owners might never have to use the engines at all, reducing emissions from the car to near zero. GM designed the Volt, and the Opel Flextreme concept car debuting today, so that most commuters in the United States and Europe could do their routine daily driving solely on battery power.

A new generation of powerful batteries GM is working on with development partners A123 Systems and Compact Power are the key technology to getting the system on the road, Lutz said. GM will begin lab tests of battery packs big enough to power a car like the Volt or Flextreme in October, Lutz said.

"This is a venture into the unknown," he said. "It's something radically new, but we're confident we're going to do it."
<snip>


GM Unveils Opel Flextreme: Plug-in Diesel Hybrid Variant of E-Flex
10 September 2007
http://www.greencarcongress.com/­2007/­09/­gm-unveils-opel.html

GM has unveiled the third variant of its E-Flex electric vehicle architecture in Frankfurt. (Earlier post.) The Opel Flextreme is a plug-in diesel series hybrid that offers up to 55 km (34 miles) of all-electric range. A 1.3-liter turbodiesel powers an onboard generator to replenish the 16 kWh li-ion battery pack and extend the vehicle's driving range to a total of 715 km (444 miles).

Based on the current European test procedure ECE R101 for range extender vehicles, GM expects the Flextreme to emit less than 40 g CO2/km in combustion mode.

The electric traction system delivers 120 kW maximum electrical and mechanical power, with continuous mechanical power of 40 kW. The four-cylinder 1.3-liter CDTI engine produces 53 kW peak power output. The car accelerates from 0-100km/h in around 9.5 seconds and has a top speed of around 160 km/h (99 mph).

High-speed piezo sensors integrated in the glow plugs measure the pressure in the cylinder, so the injections can be matched to the actual combustion in real time. The 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine is the second unit from GM to feature this system, after the 2.9-liter V6 engine displayed at the Geneva Motor Show. (Earlier post.)

The lithium-ion (nanophosphate) battery pack has peak power of 136 kW and voltage of 320 to 350V. The Flextreme can be charged in around three hours via a standard 220 V electrical socket.

Opel packaged two Segway electric personal transporters packaged below the cargo floor of the Flextreme. The Segways can be used in areas that cars cannot enter, thereby adding an extra mobility option. The electric two-wheelers provide up to 38 km (23 miles) of range.

General Motors introduced two other E-Flex variants earlier this year:

  • At the Detroit Motor Show in January 2007, the Chevrolet Volt debuted with a 1.0-liter three-cylinder turbo gasoline engine designed to operate on gasoline or E85, a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. (Earlier post.)
  • At the Shanghai Motor Show in April 2007, GM presented the Chevrolet Volt with enhanced hydrogen fuel cell propulsion. With four kilograms of hydrogen on board,the fuel-cell powered Volt has a range of up to 480 kilometers. (Earlier post.)


BATTERY SUPPLIERS & LEASING
GM's Lutz Optimistic about Advanced Batteries
AutoObserver (Michelle Krebs) September 11, 2007
http://www.autoobserver.com/­2007/­09/­gms-lutz-optimi.html

Opel_flextreme_272 Though Toyota insists lithium-ion batteries preferred for plug-in hybrids ar far from ready, General Motors is confident it could have more than one kind of lithium-ion battery ready for its Chevrolet Volt by its year-end 2010 target.

GM has development contracts with suppliers for advanced lithium-ion batteries. It may use batteries from more than one of them for its upcoming Chevrolet Volt and various other models using the Volt's E-Flex system, including the Opel Flextreme, unveiled Tuesday at the Franfurt auto show

GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz told AutoObserver at the show both A123Systems and LG Chem -- battery makers with development contracts with GM but that use different chemistries in their batteries -- are "absolutely confident" they can meet GM's requirements for the Volt's battery. GM insists the battery provide 40 miles of pure electric power, charge and recharge 4,000 times, have a 10-year life and is ready for GM's plan to have the Volt on the road by year-end 2010.

"Everybody feels good about meeting the specifications," Lutz said. "There's none of this 'we hope we can make it'."

Asked by AutoObserver if GM had the multiple contracts to cover its bets or to create competition among battery makers, Lutz said both. "It could be we select one supplier over the other because of vastly superior technology of one. But I think the way it is going, we may use both suppliers."

Does country of origin matter with A123Systems being American, based in Massachusetts, and LG Chem having Korean ownership? Lutz said no. However, he added: "We're happy we have people to work with that aren't part of Japan Inc. That's kind of a relief. We did check with Japanese suppliers, and they declined to participate."


GM Considering Leasing the Batteries for the Volt
Green Car Congress 4 September 2007
http://www.greencarcongress.com/­2007/­09/­gm-considering-.html

Nick Reilly, the President of General Motors Asia Pacific, said that GM is looking at leasing batteries for the Volt to customers, rather than asking them to pay a prohibitive price for the new technology.

"People won't buy a full car. They will buy a car and rent or lease the battery and the cost of leasing the battery will be the same as, or less than, the cost they're paying today for petrol. So the motoring costs of an electric vehicle don't necessarily have to be much higher than the cost of today's vehicles," he said.

Mr Reilly said the leasing approach could speed up the adoption of hybrid vehicles. "Before we were saying it will be an awfully long time before we can get the costs down so people can afford it, but actually if you offset the fuel costs, people can afford it," he said.

Reilly made the comments in Australia, where he is in meetings associated with the APEC summit.

UPDATE 1-AUTOSHOW-GM U.S. Sept sales 'looking fine'- exec Mon Sep 10, 2007 (Reporting by James Kelleher; writing by Jui Chakravorty) http://investing.reuters.co.uk/­news/­articleinvesting.aspx?
type=marketsNewsUS&storyID=2007-09-10T181554Z_01_N10338370_RTRIDST_0_GM-SALES-
UPDATE-1.XML

FRANKFURT, Sept 10 (Reuters) - General Motors Corp's U.S. September sales are "so far looking fine," GM's product chief Bob Lutz said on Monday.
<snip>
Lutz also said the automaker might lose money on the Chevrolet Volt -- an electric vehicle it plans to produce in 2010.

"This is a venture into the unknown," Lutz said. "I think we are fully resigned to the fact that the first generation of the Volt may not make a lot of money for us. In fact it may lose money ... We just don't know yet."

Automakers have said lithium-ion battery technology remains the biggest challenge in producing a plug-in vehicle as they try to lower the cost of the batteries and increase their power and storage capacity.

"We have a pretty good handle on what the vehicle portion is going to cost," Lutz said. "What we don't know is the cost of batteries."

The current generation of lithium-ion batteries, used in devices such as laptop computers and electronic devices, also has a tendency to overheat.

Lutz has said GM is exploring options that would allow consumers to lease the battery when buying the vehicle in order to bring down the sticker price.

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