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Local News / Automotive

Saturday, 16 April, 2011 2:46 AM

93 MPGe Chevrolet Volt highlighted at SAE Detroit Section Meeting

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

The Volt was the featured vehicle at a meeting of the SAE Detroit Section on April 13, 2011.

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

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DETROIT -- The Chevrolet Volt was the featured vehicle during the SAE Detroit Section Meeting on Wednesday evening. It is the most attended meeting each year because it is held during the week of the SAE World Congress and it takes place within the same building, Cobo Center. The Volt is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) with a 111 kW electric motor and a 1.4-liter on board range extender. GM's Doug Parks, Michael J. Bly, Pamela Fletcher and Andrew Farah spoke during the meeting.

"About 78 percent of people drive 40 miles a day," said Doug Parks, Chevrolet Volt Vehicle Line Executive. "This ought to give our customers something they want. Most of the time, they'll be driving in EV mode. This car is so much fun to drive. We did what we said we were going to do when we started this thing. We launched it on time with very high quality. We did it and we did it very well. I've got two charging stations at my house--I love this car. It is so comfortable, quiet. I think that is the second piece most people didn't expect."

It was the first time that I've seen the Volt described in this much precise detail. The meeting lasted almost two hours, double the time of last month's SAE Detroit Section meeting, which ran for about an hour and featured the 2012 Nissan NV.

The Volt has more than 200 lithium ion cells in the battery pack. It includes a rectifier to convert the AC power from an outside power cord into DC power. The range extender kicks in at 30 percent of battery life remaining. GM worked very fast to bring the Volt to the market. It took only 29 months from the time the Volt was on the drawing board until it was launched in dealer showrooms.

"The average age of our engineers is 27," said Michael J. Bly, GM's Executive Director of Global Electrical Systems. "We had to bring on a whole new breed of engineers. The Volt has a 16 kw battery. This battery exceeded every test we threw out. Up to 100 mph, you can drive this thing electrically. LG Chem is a fantastic partner to live with. In terms of battery systems testing, there's a difference in performing below 5 degrees Celsius or above 40 degrees Celsius. We are always in the sweet spot of that curve."

The Chevrolet Volt has a combined city/highway fuel economy rating of 93 MPGe (the "e" stands for equivalent) in all-electric mode. If a consumer never charges the Volt electrically, its fuel economy rating would be 37 mpg in gasoline-only mode. The Volt checks in at 60 mpg in combined fuel economy for the two modes. The vehicle can be driven in all-electric mode for the first 35-40 miles and then can travel another 345 miles with the on-board, gas-powered generator.

The current price of the Volt is $40,280 without charges, taxes or incentives. Buyers are eligible for a $7,500 U.S. federal tax credit bringing the price down to $32,780. GM also offers a leasing option with a monthly payment of $350 for 36 months.

"The car will transition from electric driving to extended-range driving in a transparent manner," said Pamela Fletcher, GM's Global Chief Engineer for the Chevrolet Volt. "Most customers will be in one of two modes--electric driving and extended-range driving. It is about maintaining the battery buffer. We charge the battery to maintain that minimum buffer. We've coupled the internal combustion engine to the generator. The driving experience on the Volt is very smooth. We could have made the Volt simpler. Two more modes were well worth the effort to invent and develop."

The Volt is now available for sale in California, Washington, D.C. Area, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Austin, Texas. It will be rolled out nationally in the U.S. and Canada with the 2012 model year at the end of summer 2011. The Ontario government has announced it will offer a $8,200 tax credit for buyers in the Canadian province.

The second generation Chevrolet Volt is expected to cost $10,000 less, due to a drop in the battery costs, according to a recent article in The Detroit News. It is not known when the second generation of the vehicle will be available, since the first generation just went on sale in November.

"Our No. 1 priority was to be a pure EV for the first 40 miles," said Andrew Farah, GM's Chief Engineer for the Chevrolet Volt. "We were working on a single vehicle for a single theme. It's a 25 kg reduction from our original design. It features a forged wheel with a flow-formed rim. We worked with Alcoa to design the lightest 5-spoke wheel we could. We set a limit of 8 kg on the entire wheel, a 20 percent improvement in rolling resistance. We lowered the body around the wheel. The aerodynamics improved by 115 counts from the original design."

The Volt also features automatic heated seats, the chief engineer explained. The vehicle uses 6.0 kW of power for cooling and 5.5 kW of power for heating. The Volt also comes with an EcoMode to limit the amount of power for both. It uses 2.0 kW for cooling and 2.5 kW for heating in EcoMode. "To get more EV range or fuel economy, this is a tool to allow you to gain those benefits," Farah said. "We designed the Volt to be plugged in. It can get more than 100 miles with multiple charges."

The next SAE Detroit Section meeting will feature the 2012 Ford Focus on Tuesday, May 17 at the Ford Conference & Event Center in Dearborn, Mich.

For more information about the SAE Detroit Section or to purchase a ticket for an upcoming meeting, visit www.sae-detroit.org.

Related Story: The Volt Steals The Thunder at the 2011 NAIAS; Volt, LEAF among the finalists for 2011 NACTOY awards

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Andrew Farah, GM's Chief Engineer for the Chevrolet Volt, speaks to the SAE Detroit Section.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Pamela Fletcher is GM's Global Chief Engineer for the Chevrolet Volt.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Michael J. Bly is GM's Executive Director of Global Electrical Systems.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

GM's Doug Parks is the Chevrolet Volt Vehicle Line Executive.

 

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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Photos, Videos, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer and Privacy Policy.

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