If I recall correctly, the press has been calling the Chevy Volt a plug-in hybrid for years. I've been following the progress have have never known it as anything else. Yet the article cited says:
"That means that for all of the all-electric or extended-range electric vehicle (EREV) hype GM's imbuing in the Volt, it's really nothing more than a plug-in hybrid vehicle. A very advanced plug-in hybrid, but a hybrid nonetheless."
The article comes off as a large quantity of smugness - essentially insisting that use of a specific technology is more important than developing the best possible vehicle. Maybe GM management really wanted an all electric car that just used the gas engine for feeding the batteries, but the engineers found that use of the gas power plant to augment the electric at high speeds (where the gas engine is efficient) makes more sense than adding in the extra current capacity that would allow the electric to power the car solo at high speeds.
If that's the case, I'd rather take the engineering solution than the "marketing solution" that I'm supposing management wanted.
The biggest potential of a combo gas/electric drive vehicle is not that it's "all electric", but rather that each power plant can be used in the power band where it is the most efficient. Further, in some circumstances, both can be used simultaneously, allowing for smaller versions of each.
Using the electric for high horsepower acceleration, which is a short duration event, requires a certain amount of copper and silicon. Using the same amount of electric horsepower for sustained high-speed use would likely require significantly more copper and silicon. Why do that when you have a nice gas engine that would be running anyway to charge the battery, but is nice and efficient for the sustained high-speed driving?
Now the "230 mpg" hype seems to me to be just that - hype. And that, really does bug me.
At highway speeds, you have put tens of kW into the wheels. I'd rather have moderately sized electric drive, helped out by gas when real power is needed. Besides, I wouldn't want to resort to Flintstone mode when the batteries die.
If you look at the amount of carbon that electricity generation puts into the environment and work out what all of the energy inefficiencies are between the power plant and the drive wheel, and the amount of extra carbon goes into the manufacture of electric vehicles, you very quickly realise that a small diesel outperforms most electric concepts every step of the way. Also imagine what sort of power generation you need to charge more than 250 million cars overnight. At the moment California has blackouts trying to run a few air conditioners over night.
Personally I think the solution is to build reasonably efficient ICE's (internal combustion engines) and have the sunny places on the globe invest in solar plants that do nothing else but crack CO2 into C & O2. C can be buried or burned for base load and sold to countries that don't have much sun for the same purpose. Anybody that generates CO2 pays a tax that goes the the CO2 crackers to fund installation & maintenance. This technology does exist already, it just hasn't been used on a scale suitable for this application.
I know this is a little off topic in regard to the Chevi Volt, but what I want to point out is that electric cars are really a dead end compounding the GW problem, not a solution for what it's really about, which is reducing carbon footprint.
@Etmax, do we have any industrial solutions that crack CO2 better than rain-forests or sea-borne algae? Might be easier to organise your solution than you think.
The basic conflict is long term thinking vs short-term product marketing. Politics has both those influences conflicting internally, needs to balance them. People need to reassure government that we want longterm solutions.
Chevrolet Volt an EV? Aren't there too many pistons for an EV? Oh, I see, it's not an "engine", it's a "range extender".
Volt is a plug-in hybrid, and has always been that. Let's see how it performs, from well to wheel, in the real world. That's the only thing that counts.
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?
@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.
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
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?
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.