Hopefully It'll Have More Commercial Success than BYD EVs
China will be one of the initial markets to get the Chevy Volt PHEV, and today GM is announcing that the first drivable Volt has landed in the Middle Kingdom. "GM has made a long-term commitment to bringing our industry-leading technology to China," said Kevin Wale, President and Managing Director of the GM China Group. GM delivered two Chevrolet Volts to the Shanghai Expo for use as VIP transportation. The Volt will shuttle special guests to and from Shanghai's 2010 Expo Park and demonstrate what the future of the automobile might look like.Pros and Cons of Plug-in Hybrids
GM's pitch for the Volt is basically: "The Volt is the only electric vehicle that can operate under a range of climates and driving conditions with little concern of being stranded by a depleted battery. For up to the first 60 kilometers, the Volt drives gas- and tailpipe-emissions-free using electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery. When the Volt's battery runs low, a gasoline-powered range-extending engine/generator seamlessly operates to extend the driving range another 450 kilometers on a full tank. This eliminates so-called 'range anxiety.'"
This highlights most of the benefits of a series plug-in hybrid over a fully electric battery EV like the Nissan LEAF. The downsides are that lugging around a gasoline engine reduces the electric range (because of the extra weight), and having two drivetrains adds to the cost and complexity of the vehicle. There's also some challenges with battery longevity, because you cycle it a lot more often than with a BEV. The future will tell us which approach works best in real-world situations. Chances are that at first PHEVs will be popular, but as battery technology improves, there will be a tendency to go 100% electric.
The Volt will go on sale in China in the latter half of 2011. For it to be as green as it can be, China will have to move away from coal, though...
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