Chevy Volt Moves Closer To Production
|Topics: Chevrolet Volt
May 8, 2007
The auto industry has been investing heavily on the development of alternative fuel vehicles as the demand for these vehicles increases. The increasing prices of gasoline and global warming awareness have led car manufacturers to dedicate efforts in exploring the different technologies which can be used on cars of the future. These technologies are aimed at reducing petroleum fuel consumption and thus reducing the emission of greenhouse gases.
One of the car manufacturers aiming to build a zero-emission vehicle is the Detroit-based car manufacturing giant General Motors. In the company’s drive towards the development of the cars of the future, they have introduced a propulsion system for the much-awaited Chevrolet Volt at the Shanghai Auto Show. The said propulsion system is in support of the company’s E-Flex electric car architecture.
The propulsion system unveiled by General Motors is the fifth generation fuel cell technology and comes using an advanced lithium-ion battery pack. The combination of the two is expected to power a Chevrolet Volt for 300 miles or 483 kilometers. That distance can be covered with no petroleum fuel ever being burned and thus no greenhouse gases are produced.
The fuel cell configuration allows the Chevrolet Volt to run on the electricity produced by the fusion of hydrogen fuel and oxygen that it gets from the surrounding air. The only by-product of this reaction is water. The Volt is also a plug-in vehicle which means its lithium-ion battery pack can be recharged via a common household electrical outlet. The battery pack is capable of powering the car for 34 kilometers or 20 miles on a full charge.
This plug-in capability means that the Volt can be used on shorter trips without consuming hydrogen fuel. Since electricity is cheaper than hydrogen fuel, the plug-in capacity of the vehicle adds to the convenience of the car for consumers. Scarcity of hydrogen refueling stations is a problem for cars such as the Chevrolet Volt but with its plug-in capability, consumers can make use of grid electricity for short trips.
The E-Flex system used by the Chevy Volt is engineered to be powered by different means as long as it uses electricity. Another propulsion system to be used on the Chevrolet Volt is the use of a small bio-fuel internal combustion engine. This engine is paired with a generator which provides power to the battery pack of the vehicle. The power is then used to drive the electric motor used by the car just like in a hybrid electric vehicle.
Larry Burns, General Motors’ Vice-President of Research and Development and Strategic Planning, has this to say about the E-Flex system: “The beauty of our E-Flex strategy is that it allows us to package various propulsion systems into the same space depending on what energy is available locally. It also provides flexibility in the sources of energy. We can obtain hydrogen or electricity from a myriad of renewable sources - wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric and biofuels - or from traditional sources such as natural gas, clean coal, nuclear or even gasoline.” Burns explained further that: “E-Flex provides flexibility in two ways: in the propulsion systems that can be used, and in the sources of energy that can be commercialized to compete with oil and meet global transportation growth in a sustainable way.”
The new propulsion system unveiled by General Motors is made smaller than its predecessor but at the same time packs as much power. Its predecessor, the fourth-generation propulsion system is currently being used on the concept vehicle Chevrolet Sequel. The Sequel and the Volt may still be in their developing stages but the time is drawing nearer that these two vehicles will join Chevy pickups with Chevrolet pickup grill inserts in Chevy’s lineup.
In closing, Burns concluded that: “Our progress has made us increasingly confident that our fuel cell propulsion system will be automotive-competitive. But before this technology can be made widely available, governments, energy suppliers and infrastructure companies around the world need to collaborate with GM and the auto industry to develop a market for fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen fuel.” With that in mind, consumers will have to wait until such time that General Motors see it fit that the Chevrolet Volt is ready for production and ready for the market.
|Connect with The Crittenden Automotive Library|