Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G

Getcher Motor Runnin'!

In the days when the auto makers were asking Congress for bailout funds, one of the photo ops concerned the guy representing Chevy showing up in the prototype for the Chevy Volt, an electric car.  However, a quick check of his route showed that he actually rode there in an SUV and switched to the Volt when he got close to the Capitol Building.  Why?  It has a range of maybe 50 miles.

Since then, Obama has touted the Volt as the future of automotive technology.  Detractors like myself dismissed it as a bad hybrid.  The car itself will be hitting showrooms next month, $41K.  However, some automotive writers have tested it.  So, what do they think of the electric car?

The selling point is that you could drive 50 miles on a single charge of the litium battery.  Concerns about how you would keep it charged without a plug in station were met by adding a small gas engine to maintain the charge as it starts running down.  Okay, sounds like your generic hybrid, right?  Wrong.  Engineers who worked on the Volt have revealed that, when the lith-ion battery pack is running down AND at speeds of about 70MPH, the gas engine will directly drive the front wheels along with the electric motors.  Yes.  The gas engine will be powering the car, not the battery.

Needless to say, you ain't gonna get the 230MPG that Fritz Henderson, then CEO of GM, claimed you'd get.  Popular Mechanics' tests concluded the Volt gets about 37.5MPG in the city, and Motor Trend got between the high 30's and low 40's.  My car already gets 34MPG and cost less than half that brand new.

Hey, at least it will help end our dependence on foreign oil, right?  Well, yeah, but the lithium for the batteries is coming from Bolivia, and no other options are being sought.  And if this thing is a hit, between the sudden increase in demands for electricity (and no new nuke plants being built) and Obama's fondness for cap and trade, costs to charge this thing up are going up.  You drive somewhere, and it needs three to four hours to fully load the battery.  Plan those trips accordingly.

Meanwhile, liquified hydrogen, a real solution to the problem with all the practicalities of gas but none of the political downside, continues to be ignored....
Tags: haven't we suffered enough, science in action, technology is a beautiful thing
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