Aug 11, 2009 | 23
General Motors today announced that its Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle, set to begin production in late 2010, is expected to achieve city fuel economy of at least 230 miles per gallon, based on a new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formula that neither GM nor the EPA has defined very well publicly.
For comparison, Toyota's Prius currently is rated to get up to 51 mpg during city driving.
Here's what we do know: The Volt will have two modes of operation. In "electric" mode, the Volt will not use gas or produce tailpipe emissions because the car will be powered by electrical energy stored in its 16-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack. When the battery charge gets too low, the Volt is designed to automatically switch to "extended-range" mode and use a gas-powered engine-generator to produce electricity to power the vehicle. The energy stored in the battery supplements the engine-generator when additional power is needed during heavy accelerations or on steep inclines.
Jun 25, 2009
Carnegie Mellon University's Tartan Racing team plans to roll out a leaner and meaner successor to its driverless Boss SUV by the end of the year.
The team's first Boss won DARPA's 2007 Urban Challenge, which pitted autonomous autos against one another in a race through simulated city traffic. Tartan is now choosing the make and model of the vehicle that will carry all sorts of the latest lasers, cameras, and other gizmos needed to navigate the world without a human in the cockpit.
Boss 2 will serve as the test bed for a number of new autonomous driving technologies, says Raj Rajkumar, a professor in Carnegie Mellon's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and co-director of the school's General Motors-Carnegie Mellon Information Technology Collaborative Research Lab. Although the details have yet to be worked out, the next project could include technology that allows cars to communicate with one another and with traffic signals to help avoid accidents. Rajkumar also wants to experiment with building redundancy into the car's mechanical systems, so if one component (such as the brakes) fails, there's a backup system that can take over. Boss 2 will also likely be able to drive faster than 40 miles (64.4 kilometers) per hour (Boss's current top speed).
Jun 3, 2009 | 17
Since General Motors filed for bankruptcy on Monday, auto aficionados and green geeks alike have been speculating about the fate of the company's long-heralded electric car, the Chevy Volt.
"We don't know whether GM will be able to introduce the Volt or not," said William Holstein, author of Why GM Matters, in a Washington Post Q&A. "It would have been, and could still be, a real breakthrough vehicle." The car, previously scheduled for release in fall of 2010, would run on an electric battery and have a small gas engine to generate backup juice if needed.
Feb 5, 2009 | 18
The company that killed the electric car is ready to resuscitate it. General Motors (GM) this week laid out plans at the Washington (D.C.) Auto Show to prepare communities for the 2011 debut of its Chevy Volt and plug-in electric vehicles that other automakers are set to start building next year. So where are they likely to show up first? Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, GM says, noting that those cities not only have ready-made markets for its lithium ion battery-powered Volt but, also, have a history of welcoming new kinds of cars (like the Volt's predecessor, the EV-1).
See a Scientific American.com slide show featuring the Volt
Jan 14, 2009 | 15
DETROIT-- The North American International Auto Show held this week was positively electric in an economically dark world in which buyers shun gas guzzlers and manufacturers struggle to go green as well as convince consumers to fork over tight funds. There was less talk of biofuels and almost no talk of hydrogen than in previous years, with the emphasis instead on quick environmental fixes that can be implemented within five years—if not immediately.
There were three real classes of environmental innovation on display here: traditional hybrids, extended-range electric vehicles, and pure electric vehicles. Every step represents another leap away from the internal combustion engine, a goal that wasn't even a goal a mere three years ago.
Jan 13, 2009 | 1
At first, of course, someone else is going to have to manufacture the batteries the the Volt (and whatever other E-REV options the automaker comes up with.) But after the first couple of years, the automotive giant will be making its own batteries at a facility (hopefully) in Michigan.
The announcement, of course, drew a huge round of applause here in Detroit. The lithium-ion cells themselves will be made by LG in Korea, but they are combing the cells into the Volt's battery here in the U.S..
GM also announced that they would be building “America’s largest automotive battery lab” which sounds more impressive than it is, since I can’t think of another one of any size in the U.S.. I did find out from Tony Posawatz, though, that this lab will be available to test anyone's battery technology. So if you make a new sort of battery, GM will gladly test it for you, determining the lifetime of the battery, charge times and capacity. And then, I imagine, they'll try and buy the technology from you.
Jan 12, 2009 | 5
Toyota Moving Beyond the Prius: Pure EV by 2012
Toyota showed off this concept electric vehicle, the FT-EV today at the Detroit Auto Show. And while it's an adorable little micro-car concept that might never see the light of day, they used the opportunity to promise a pure electric vehicle by 2012.
Interestingly, they aren't the only ones. Ford also promised a (very similar) BEV by 2012, with the same market (urban dwellers) in mind. Toyota hinted at a 100-mile range, the same as Fords promised BEV, but it looks as if Ford will be delivering the vehicle in a more traditional casing.
The FT-EV is based on Toyota's iQ, a peppy little three-seater for young urbanites in Japan. It's Toyota's answer to the Smart Car, and the FT-EV, of course, is Toyota's answer to the electric Smart Car. Though, the Smart EV should beat Toyota to the punch by at least a year.
Oct 16, 2008 | 1
Chrysler, Ford and GM are busy using up the $25-billion jump-start they received last month and their economic outlook is far from rosy. But it is the upstarts—in specific, electric car company Tesla Motors—facing the roughest road because they don't have the track record for access to cheap cash.
As the credit markets have seized up, Tesla has been forced to restructure and has entered a "critical phase" financially, according to a company blog post. Tesla will be abandoning Detroit and digging in at its new corporate HQ in San Jose as well as laying off an unspecified number of its 250 employees. Its primary financial backer, Elon Musk—whose SpaceX rocket finally took flight, successfully putting a payload into orbit—will also return to the helm of the company, shifting current CEO Ze'ev Drori to the board of directors. He had been in the job for a little less than a year.
Sep 10, 2008 | 11
Can you keep a secret? Apparently, the folks at General Motors can't either. Wieck Media, a clearinghouse for automakers' pictures, Wednesday posted photos of the production 2011 Chevrolet Volt on a media information Web site for just 12 minutes before taking them down, long enough for TheCarConnection.com to grab them and keep them live for the rest of the world to see.
GM's response to the exposure of it new electric car was that the photo release was an "accident." The company will likely release official info on the Volt Sept. 16, the company's 100th anniversary, the Associated Press reports.
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