Is the Chevy Volt Safe?

I’m sure in the last few months you have seen pictures of the Volts catching on fire in Wisconsin, weeks after they were put through side impact crash tests.

Recently the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) closed its safety defect investigation into the risk of the Volts spontaneously combusting, after not finding any discernible defect with the vehicle. General Motors will now send out a team to drain the charge from the battery’s after a crash is reported, just to stay on the safe side.

Based on NHTSA’s research on the Chevrolet Volt, they found that electric vehicle does not pose a greater risk of fire then gasoline-powered vehicles. They concluded that in a serious crash all vehicles pose some risk of fire.

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Rapid Prototyping Creates Roadworthy Concept Parts for Volt

EN-V bodies fabricated in 3D Rapid Prototyping Shop at GM Design

WARREN, Mich., July 22, 2011– Whether a futuristic concept like the EN-V or a contemporary family hauler like the GMC Acadia Denali, three-dimensional rapid prototyping accelerates the creative process and reduces the time and money spent on clay modeling and molding of expensive prototype parts.

Designers and engineers from General Motors studios and technical centers around the world are able to see and touch their creations faster and at lower cost because of the digital manufacturing capabilities at the GM Design Center.

Selective laser sintering (SLS) and stereolithography (SLA) techniques allow designers to quickly and inexpensively go from computer models to one-off parts for wind-tunnel testing so more iterations can be tested in less time.  Aerodynamics engineers can put a current production vehicle into the wind-tunnel and skilled trade technicians can quickly swap body parts like bumper covers, grilles, spoilers and mirrors between test runs.

Before the parts are fabricated in the rapid prototyping shop, the computer models are tested for proper airflow using state-of-the-art computational fluid dynamics software.  These pre-tested parts can then be replaced much more rapidly and with better repeatability than old-style clay models can be re-sculpted. More time is spent evaluating the changes than waiting for adjustments to be made.  In fact, testing capacity has doubled in the past two years.

“Long before a full-size model or vehicle is built, rapid prototyping helps to improve the accuracy of the one-third scale models that are used for early aerodynamic testing,” said Aerodynamic Development Engineer Suzanne Cody. “Air-flow through the engine compartment and underneath the car is critical to both cooling the engine and lowering drag.”

In the past, modelers would carve a rough approximation of the front structure and the engine from foam or wood to evaluate the air flow through the engine bay.  GM’s 3D prototyping lab can generate a fully detailed model including the engine, transmission, brake lines, drive-shafts, exhaust system, suspension and other components under the car.

“The end result is better correlation of air-flow measurements between the model and the full-size car or truck and fewer expensive changes are needed late in the program,” said Cody. “With the design of components like cooling systems locked in earlier, fewer prototypes are needed and vehicles can go from concept to production more quickly.”

Rapid prototype parts also speed up test track and on-road evaluations.  When 80 pre-production Chevrolet Volts were being built in mid-2009, several interior parts were fabricated by the RP shop and installed directly in the test cars.

“In design, we work with conceptual ideas in preproduction. Early part iteration allows us to get hands on to see what works and what doesn’t at the point where people actually touch the car,” said Checo Pacheco, a lead creative designer in the Branded Component Studio.

Some of the most public applications of RP components to date have been the EN-V personal urban mobility concepts that were featured during the 2010 Shanghai World Expo and the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show.  Three body styles were crafted for the EN-V at GM Design studios in Los Angeles; Melbourne, Australia; and Russelsheim, Germany.  The RP shop in Warren fabricated the bodies and many of the components for the demonstration fleet.

“3D rapid prototyping is enabling the designers and engineers at Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac to stretch the creative envelope,” said John Green, superintendent, GM Design Fabrication Operations. “We can bring more attractive, functional and aerodynamic vehicles to market in less time and at lower cost than ever before.”

About General Motors – General Motors (NYSE: GM, TSX: GMM), one of the world’s largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 202,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in more than 120 countries.  GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 30 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Baojun, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Daewoo, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall, and Wuling. GM’s largest national market is China, followed by the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and Italy.  GM’s OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services.  More information on the new General Motors can be found at www.gm.com.

SOURCE General Motors

Volt Consumer Advisory Board Report

Earlier this week I and 14 other members from around the country had to turn in our Chevy Volt consumer advisory board test cars, having completed our 90 – day assignments

I possessed and exclusively drove that car from November 11, 2010 until February 9, 2011.

In those 90 days I put on 5100 miles of primarily intensive high speed highway driving through some particularly harsh Northeast winter conditions including several snowstorms, icy roads and uniformly sub freezing temperatures.

As many new owners can attest, the car handled like a champ.  It was a rock-solid dependable vehicle that was a pleasure to drive.

For the 5100 miles I achieved a lifetime average of 110 miles per gallon.  This reflected driving 60 miles per day round trip with a typical EV range of between 25 and 30 miles.  I burned 46 gallons of gas.

My gas usage was higher and EV range lower than most drivers due to the nature of my long daily commute of 60 miles, high speed 90% highway driving, and robust use of the cabin temperature controls, keeping the car set to 74 degrees of comfort mode at all times.

I used the iPhone app only sparingly often not remembering to pre-heat the cabin, which if I had done so would have increased my EV range by about 5%.

I never experienced any mechanical or electrical problems with the car at all.  It behaved flawlessly.  I always found it comfortable an inviting.

Acceleration was sufficiently energetic and the car always outperformed the basic sedans of the road passing  and entering highways with ease.  I used sport mode about half of the time, and drove in the L position nearly all of the time.

The center stack remained a little bit tricky for me.  I enjoyed its high tech qualities and modern implications but always tended to hunt for my key of choice a bit much and didn’t always find hitting it that easy.  It did not work with a gloved hand.  I truly enjoyed the center stack touch screen, though wished the music wouldn’t come on every time the screen turned on.  A separate radio on/off switch is needed.  More scientific energy usage data, and a more refined eco-coach ball would also be helpful.

Plugging in and charging using the 240-v Voltec charger was simple and satisfying, and the iPhone app helped remind me to a couple of times when I forgot.  I opportunity-charged at my office during the day for a few hours here and there using the 120-v portable charger which also worked flawlessly.

Overall I spent roughly 70% of my time driving in EV mode.  During the 3 months I covered over 100 miles in  day (the max range of a pure EV) at least 6 to 8 times.

It has been my dream for many years to be able to drive without gasoline and to see our country wean itself from oil addiction.  From 2009 to 2010 I drove a MINI E 100 mile electric car.  That vehicle allowed me to achieve about 90 percent of my daily driving but in cold weather came close to or at zero after covering 60 miles.  I did have range anxiety and required increased trip planning forethought.

The Volt allowed me to enjoy the pleasure of electric driving for the vast majority of the time and yet I never had to give a thought to range.

This was the goal of the concept from 2007 and GM has achieved it perfectly.

I have been driving my own purchased Volt for the past 2 days and I am struck by a much more refined level of driving and detail quality. Clearly there are subtle improvements over the capture test fleet car.

I fully expect in the years ahead the Volt to become a highly popular car and finally the roads of this country will growingly be populated with cars that can drive without gas.  The dream is now a reality.  We are starting to wean off of oil.

On of the benefits of driving the Volt is the free five year OnStar subscription.  For the Volt, OnStar is particularly feature-rich as it monitors the health and functioning of the car and its components, as well as keeping track of its ongoing energy consumption.

I started driving my consumer advisory board Volt on November 11, and had been waiting for my first full month report to post it here.  I received my first detailed  full month’s OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics report on January 10th reflecting the driving behavior of the preceding 30 days.  The information is displayed in the graphic above.

According to the report, for that period I drove the car 3443 miles. Of those, 2432 were on electricity and 1011 were on gas, indicating that 71% of my miles were electric.

Overall gas fuel economy for the month was 114 mpg, and it was estimated that by using electricity I saved 103 gallons of gas.

A particular interesting number the system determined was that my electrcity consumption was 19 kwh per 100 miles. The system also claimed by driving the Volt 2,014 pounds of CO2 production were avoided.

During the month of January, the weather was quite cold and I used comfort mode cabin setting with a temperature of 74 degrees plus one bar of heated seats. I also drove mostly at highway speeds and experienced typical EV driving ranges in the high 20s.

I charged to full every evening at 240-volts and opportunity charged during the day at 110-v anywhere from 6 to 8 hours. It is known the Volt will draw 12.9 kwh of grid energy to replete the 10.6 kwh of battery power used for the full EV driving range.

These data confirm the success of the Volt as a highly flexible vehicle without compromises that can displace substantial amounts of gasoline consumption, utilizing electricity efficiently and less expensively to do so.

Eight Year/100,000 mile battery warranty for the Chevy Volt

 

Volt’s long-life battery warranty most comprehensive of any electric vehicle. All 161 battery components validated to withstand extreme temperatures, terrain and
driving patterns GM’s Brownstown Township, Mich., battery plant will begin regular production in August

Brownstown Township, Mich. – The Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range will provide customers with an unprecedented, standard, eight-year/100,000-mile warranty on its advanced, lithiumion battery. It is the automotive industry’s longest, most comprehensive battery warranty for an electric
vehicle, and is transferable at no cost to other vehicle owners.

“The Chevrolet Volt’s batteries have exceeded our performance targets and are ready to hit the road,” said Micky Bly, GM executive director, global electrical systems. “Our customers are making a commitment to technology that will help reduce our dependence on petroleum. In turn, we are making a commitment to our customers to deliver the highest standards for value, safety, quality, performance and reliability for an unprecedented eight years/100,000 miles.”

The Volt’s comprehensive battery warranty covers all 161 battery components, 95 percent of which are designed and engineered by GM, in addition to the thermal management system, charging system and electric drive components.

The Volt is the only electric vehicle that can operate under a full range of climates and driving conditions without limitations or concern about being stranded by a depleted battery. It has a range of about 340 miles and is powered with electricity at all times. For up to the first 40 miles, the Volt is powered solely by electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery, using no fuel and producing no emissions. When the Volt’s lithium-ion battery runs low, an engine/generator seamlessly operates to extend the driving range another 300 miles on a full tank of fuel.Volt Freedom Drive

The Volt’s advanced, lithium-ion battery is designed to deliver the value, safety, quality, performance, durability and reliability Chevrolet customers expect. Key battery features include:

Thermal management for durability and reliability: The Volt is the only mass-market electric vehicle with a battery that can be warmed or cooled. The battery is designed to provide reliable operation, when plugged in, at temperatures as low as -13 degrees Fahrenheit (-25 C) and as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit (+50 C). In cold weather, the battery will be preheated during charging to provide full power capability. In hot weather – the most challenging environment for a battery – the Volt’s battery can be chilled during charging. The Volt’s liquid thermal management system can also be powered during driving by the battery or engine/generator.

Diagnostics for safety and performance: The Volt’s battery management system continuously monitors the battery real-time for optimum operations.  More than 500 diagnostics run at 10 times per second, keeping track of the Volt’s battery pack; 85 percent of the diagnostics ensure the battery pack is operating safely, while the remaining 15 percent keep track of battery performance and life.

Cell design and chemistry for performance and efficiency: GM’s selection of a prismatic cell design and LG Chem’s manganese spinel lithium-ion chemistry is designed to provide long life and high power output, with a properly maintained temperature. This enables better vehicle acceleration and increased regenerative braking capability for improved vehicle efficiency.

Energy management for durability: Fully charging or fully depleting a battery shortens its life.  The Volt’s energy management system never fully charges or depletes the battery. The Volt’s battery has top and bottom “buffer zones” to help ensure long life.

Testing for durability, reliability, safety and performance GM engineers have completed more than one million miles and four million hours of validation testing of
Volt battery packs since 2007, as well as each pack’s nine modules and 288 cells. The development, validation and test teams have met thousands of specifications and validated each of the Volt battery’s 161 components, 95 percent of which GM designed and engineered.

Tests include short circuit, corrosion, dust, impact, water submersion, crush and penetration, and extreme temperature swings combined with aggressive drive cycles, aka “Shake, Bake and Roll.”

Ready for production
GM’s Brownstown Township plant, which began building prototype batteries in January, soon will begin regular battery production. GM First Battery Build

“We’re moving fast to deliver for the customer and ensure the Volt launch stays on track,” said Nancy Laubenthal, plant manager of the Brownstown Battery Plant. “Last August we announced the investment in the Brownstown facility and in January built our first completed battery pack. Now we are finishing pre-production batteries and soon we will begin building production batteries for Chevrolet Volts that will be delivered to dealers before the end of the year.”

Last year, the U.S. Department of Energy selected 45 companies, universities and organizations in 28 states – including GM’s Brownstown plant – to share more than $2 billion in awards for electric drive and battery manufacturing, and transportation electrification. Nearly half of the awards are designated for cell,
battery and materials manufacturing facilities in Michigan.

About Chevrolet: Chevrolet is a global automotive brand, with annual sales of about 3.5 million vehicles in more than 130 countries. Chevrolet provides consumers with fuel-efficient, safe and reliable vehicles that deliver high quality, expressive design, spirited performance and value. In the U.S., the Chevrolet portfolio includes: iconic performance cars, such as Corvette and Camaro; dependable, long lasting pickups and SUVs, such as Silverado and Suburban; and award-winning passenger cars and crossovers, such as Malibu, Equinox and Traverse. Chevrolet also offers “gas-friendly to gas-free” solutions including the Cruze Eco and Volt, both arriving in late 2010. Cruze Eco will offer up to 40 mpg highway while the Chevrolet Volt will offer up to 40 miles of electric, gas-free driving and an additional 300 miles of extended range (based on GM testing; official EPA estimates not yet available).  Most new Chevrolet models offer OnStar safety, security, and convenience technologies including OnStar Hands-Free Calling, Automatic Crash Response, and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown. More information regarding Chevrolet models, fuel solutions, and OnStar availability can be found at http://www.chevrolet.com or join the conversation at
http://www.chevroletvoltage.com.

About General Motors: General Motors, one of the world’s largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908.  With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 205,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in some 157 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 31 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, FAW, GMC, Daewoo, Holden, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM’s largest national market is the United States, followed by China, Brazil, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada and Italy. GM’s OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. General Motors acquired operations from General Motors Corporation on July 10, 2009, and references to prior periods in this and other press materials refer to operations of the old General Motors Corporation. More information on the new General Motors can be found at http://www.gm.com.

# # #

CONTACT(S):
Brian Corbett
GM Technology Communications

Rob Peterson
Chevrolet Communications

Chevrolet Volt Rollout Speeds Up: Available Across U.S. – Press Release

For release: Jan. 26, 2010, 10:00 AM EST

Chevrolet Volt Rollout Speeds Up: Available Across U.S. By End of 2011

DETROIT – Chevrolet is accelerating the national rollout of the Volt to match customer interest.

“We’re accelerating our launch plan to have Volts in all participating Chevrolet dealerships, in every single state in the union, by the end of this year,” said Rick Scheidt, U.S. vice president, Chevrolet Marketing. “This is the right thing to do for our customers and our dealers who are seeing increased traffic onto their showroom floors.”

Chevrolet Volts have been delivered to customers in the Washington D.C. area, as well as California, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Texas.  Customer deliveries in Michigan begin this spring.

Customers nationwide will be able to order Volts with participating dealers beginning in the second quarter.  Deliveries will begin in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii in the third quarter.

During the fourth quarter, Chevrolet expects to deliver Volts in all 50 states.

The decision to accelerate the national rollout was influenced by Chevrolet dealers like Criswell Chevrolet in Gaithersburg, MD, who have seen a surge of consumers interested in the Volt:

“The Volt is clearly bringing new customers to Chevrolet,” said Harry E. Criswell III, president and owner of Criswell Chevrolet “We are seeing 10 to 15 customers a week who are seriously considering buying a Volt. Many of them own competitive brands who now have a Chevy on their shopping list because of the Volt.” Some of that consumer interest has been fueled by prestigious industry awards and recognitions for the Volt, including:
• 2011 North American Car of the Year
• Motor Trend 2011 Car of the Year
• Green Car Journal 2011 Green Car of the Year
• Car and Driver 10Best for 2011
• Ward’s AutoWorld 10 Best Engines for 2011
• AUTOMOBILE Magazine 2011 Automobile of the Year
• 2010 Breakthrough Technology, by Popular Mechanics
“Such recognition provides customers with credible, expert endorsement of new models, which is important for vehicles like the Volt that feature significant new technologies,” said Scheidt. “Based on the awards the Volt has received, and the number of consumers expressing interest in the technology, we believe the Volt is the right car at the right time.”  The Volt is an electric vehicle that offers a total driving range of up to 379 miles, based on EPA estimates. For the first 35 miles, the Volt can drive gas- and tailpipe-emissions-free using a full charge of electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery. When the Volt’s battery runs low, a gas powered engine/generator seamlessly operates to extend the driving range another 344 miles on a full tank.

Chevy Volt Coming to Rapid Chevy Soon

The best way to experience a Volt is go kick the tires, grip the steering wheel and take the Volt for a spin. Many people have asked us when they can take these test drives and starting in June, their wish will be granted.

These vehicles will be just like the production models you can buy and we will be offering test drives and demonstrations.

 

“Going Green” and saving money with a vehicle…is it really possible?

When General Motors revealed its latest plan to join the “Go Green” movement in 2007, many skeptics dawned their cynical crowns and began to question the possibility of building such a car. For a car that was thought up over a napkin drawing, I must say I think the innovators with GM certainly got it right this time.

Chevy Volt

You know you want to take it home

Promising triple-digit fuel economy, it is easy to see why so many people have had their concerns since this initial concept was introduced.

But can it deliver?

Yes – yes it can. For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, here is a quick break-down of what makes this car so unique.

–  Propulsion system – This enables the Volt to run up to 40 miles on electricity. GM believes drivers will be able charge their battery every night and completely stop their dependence on gasoline.

–  Electric Power – If you plan on taking the Volt on a road trip, well then you will need to use regular gasoline. But don’t fret; this amazing car is equipped with a generator that provides the car with electric power through the use of gasoline. Easily translated – no emissions and with a full take of gas, the Volt can deliver up to 310 additional miles worth of direct electric power before a refill is required or the battery needs to be recharged.

–       OnStar functionality – Offering five years of Directions and Connections service, the Volt’s OnStar system offers its own dedicated version of OnStar’s new mobile app for the iPhone or Android smartphone. Not only would you be able to schedule or check the status of remote-activated charging, owners can also view the most recent data from their car: miles driven using gas and/or electric power and the average mpg.

For the sake of simplicity, those are only a few features that make this car outstanding. Now for the important question…

Is it expensive??

For some the answer would quite easily be yes. According to Kelly Blue Book, the 2011 Volt has a manufacturer’s suggest retail price (MSRP) of $41,000. However, it does qualify for up to $7,500 in Federal income tax credit, which can drop the price to a nice figure of $33,500.

For a step in the right direction, GM certainly has risen above the rest and easily surpassed other economical cars like the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf – but the question still remains – will consumers buy into the hype or continue to stick with what they know. Only time will truly tell.

**Although this particular Chevy is not available in the Black Hills (I know we are sad too, but we hope to see it here soon), it is primarily available throughout the east and west coast of the United States**