If I understand correctly - the VOLT normally runs as a series hybrid (or pure EV) then has a parallel hybrid mode for higher power, by physically engaging / disengaging a clutch between the engine and wheels. The Prius is a full-time parallel hybrid. This "flap" is just a big pile of "who cares?", probably drummed-up by the VOLT marketing folks to get attention (like Paris Hilton who seems to think bad publicity is better than no publicity). The only real difference is that during EV mode, the geartrain is still engaged with the Prius, but the VOLT disengages it. Probably the *real reason* the VOLT does this (vs. the simpler Prius solution) is because Toyota has a patent on their parallel hybrid geartrain, and GM doesn't want to pay royalties, so GM "invented" a clunky way of getting around the patent. Technically - the GM approach is neutral-to-slightly negative.
By the way - the CO2 solar cracking catalyst is iron oxide...and has great potential. See: www.greencarcongress.com/2007/12/sandia-applying.html
Lastly - EV's do NOTHING to reduce CO2 emissions or fossil fuel usage (today). It just shifts the fuel from oil to coal+natural gas (at the power plant), and uses just as much total energy (if not more). Until we power our grid with renewable sources - EV's are a huge, wasteful distraction.
Solar PV, Wind, Biofuel, Solar Thermal grid power should be our technology development priority (perhaps along with CO2 splitting / sequestering) ...and the Biofuel (algae and cellulistic based, not corn) can be used for grid power as well as powering vehicles directly.
I have to agree with Rich Krajewski. Government mandates are frequently poorly thought out. The requirment to increase fuel efficiency in our automotive fleets is a primary example. One way to meet these requirements is to skim weight from a vehicle in areas that would normally protect people inside from an accident. The result: An increase in injuries, severity of injuries, and fatalities (this has been documented) in 'bantam weight' cars vs. cars with lower fuel efficiency ratings.
Too bad law makers are subject to the overview of 'systems' people who look at the big picture and determine how a change in one area affects others. The results would be much more logical laws.
@Bob.Simpson: maybe you missed the latest statements from GM. They declared plain and simple that sometimes (i.e. beyond 70 mph *and* with depleted battery) the ICE is linked *directly* to the wheels. However, it is *never* the only torque source: in this case, both motors are running too.
Citing from http://gm-volt.com/2010/10/11/motor-trend-explains-the-volts-powertrain/:
"However of particular interest, when going above 70 mph in charge sustaining mode, and the generator gets coupled to the drivetrain, the gas engine participates in the motive force. GM says the engine never drives the wheels all by itself, but will participate in this particular situation in the name of efficiency, which is improved by 10 to 15 percent."
That's all the buzz about it. As I said earlier, who cares? It was obvious from the beginning that it had an engine on board. Does it change if the energy flows through one path instead of another? Let's see the results, that's the only thing that counts.
(PS I'm more worried for the weight: 1400 kg for the Prius, nearly 1800 for the Volt.)
This design is a SERIES Hybrid, NOT a parallel one like the Prius and what was indicated in this article. There is no mechanical drive connection from gas engine to the wheels.
The electric motor is capable of full power freeway speeds, no limp mode needed. When the battery pack is discharged to a certain level, the gas engine (with another electric motor directly connected and running in regen mode) starts up and creates enough electric power to continue driving at same performance level.
This way, someone that commutes less than 40miles/day would normally never need/use any gas. Thus, it is a pure electric vehicle up to 40 miles. It then becomes a gas driven system, smoothly transitioning with little indication. But the electric drive motor is still the only source of power to the wheels.
This design was not chosen for political reasons! It was designed this way to eliminate the "range anxiety" of the typical American driver.
But it's not $40K. It's like $32K after the government rebate. That's right in the middle of new car price ranges. What is the target market? Based on price, I don't think the prius target was the "public" either. I heard Toyota lost money on every one it sold and I think it was still pricey. The polls I've seen indicate people didn't buy it because of price.
Now, full general public acceptance is another thing. I wouldn't put any hybrid in this category yet. They're more of a "feel good" item after doing a fuel savings vs. cost analysis.
I think you all miss the point. Is the public going to buy it? At $40K, if that is the price, it is pricey. I predict it will have modest success, but it will take time for GM to get the price and acceptance so the public will buy in to it.
Seems to me that it's just sour grapes from those who don't like GM and will do/say anything to discredit them. I don't know why, but they like prius and don't like volt. Both are just innovations along a development path.
I need more daily range myself, but the volt it seems like a great idea. Overall it's a car that can run fully electric for most people on all of their small trips and still be used as a regular travel car for trips. At present, I don't see any other viable options for long distance electric. I think this is what the car is supposed to be, and it does that. So what's all the grumbling about?
For those interested in CO2 cracking, I found this on CO2 to CO + O which is not the one I remember but is also a useful method:
This discusses a patent for CO2 to C+O2
@sharps_eng, In answer to the question on rainforests, they do a good job but generate methane and a whole range of other by products. Also the land The is home to lots of wild life so you don't want to cut down the trees to make room for more. The algae is better, but the algae equation is something like N+CO2+H2O+Fertiliser = algae, where industrial process I red about (have to find it again) had the advantage that the infertile strips that harbour few 'whales' (:-)) could be used and the equation is CO2+energy = C + O2. It needs a lot of energy, but then during the day there is a lot of sun. It uses a catalyst of some description, I only can't remember what it was.
I am interested to know about this CO2 cracker technology. If this can be done economically countries like India can be benefited, where there is a plenty of sunshine for 8 out of 12 months in a year, and a lot of CO2 generated in urban areas.
Any resources on the net?
Drones are, in essence, flying autonomous vehicles. Pros and cons surrounding drones today might well foreshadow the debate over the development of self-driving cars. In the context of a strongly regulated aviation industry, "self-flying" drones pose a fresh challenge. How safe is it to fly drones in different environments? Should drones be required for visual line of sight – as are piloted airplanes? Join EE Times' Junko Yoshida as she moderates a panel of drone experts.