GM Defends the Volt's Design
A recent Carnegie Mellon University study (pdf) challenged the real-world gasoline savings and cost effectiveness of plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt. GM's Vice President Global Program Management, Jon Lauckner, who has been involved in the Volt project responded on the company's blog. Find out what he had to say below.
The first thing is the electric range of the car. Somewhat strangely, the CMU study found that "for urban driving conditions and frequent charges every 10 miles or less, a low-capacity PHEV sized with an AER (range) of about 7 miles would be a robust choice for minimizing gasoline consumption, cost and greenhouse gas emissions."
7 miles? Really?
Well, Jon Lauckner responds:
I'll cut to the chase; for starters, the study's endorsement of plug-in vehicles with only a "token" electric-only range (seven miles) overlooks the inconvenience of recharging for the vast majority of drivers (approx. 90 percent) with a daily commute that exceeds seven miles. I mean, honestly, how many customers are going to stop every seven miles and wait at least 30 minutes (if a car has a high-capacity charger like the Volt with the same level of electrical energy to match it) for their battery to be recharged? [...] And, if customers don't recharge during the day, these "token" plug-ins will run primarily on gasoline. How is that consistent with reducing green house gas emissions and our dependence on petroleum?
Cost Effectiveness of Battery Pack
The CMU study also assumes that the cost of battery packs would be around $1,000/kWh, a much too high figure, according to Mr Lauckner:
The problem is this cost is many hundreds of dollars per kWh higher than the actual cost of the Volt pack today. Moreover, our battery team is already starting work on new concepts that will further decrease the cost of the Volt battery pack quite substantially in a second-generation Volt pack. Unfortunately, the impact of dramatically lower battery costs (to $250 per kWh) was treated only as a "sensitivity" in the CMU study when it probably should have been highlighted as THE critical element that would dramatically change the cost-effectiveness of plug-ins with greater electric-only range.
And, according to him, that's without counting incentives that have already been legislated, and possible future ones.
Photos: Michael Graham Richard
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