Tag Archives: volt

Car Batteries: Acid-Lead vs. Lithium Ion

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Bob Lutz, GM Vice Chairman of Global Product Development, recently discussed different types of batteries and the forecast for each during a round table interview. Which is better? What is more cost-efficient? Let’s start by defining the two types of batteries in question.

Lithium Ion batteries are a type of rechargeable battery in which a lithium ion moves between the anode and cathode. The lithium ion moves from the anode to the cathode during discharge and from the cathode to the anode when charging. Lithium ion batteries are commonly used in consumer electronics

Lead-Acid batteries are the oldest type of rechargeable battery. Despite having the second lowest energy-to-weight ratio and a correspondingly low energy-to-volume ratio, their ability to supply high surge currents means that the cells maintain a relatively large power-to-weight ratio. These features, along with their low cost, make them attractive for use in cars, to provide the high current required by automobile starter motors.

Bob stated that 18 months ago when GM announced the new Volt, there were many nay-sayers. Those people said that GM were crazy, and said that using Lithium Ion would never work. Yet, these same people and companies have announced that they are now working on the very same things.

All the technology for the car is here today, except for the battery pack. It will use lithium-ion (li-ion) technology. Current hybrids use nickel-metal hydride (NiMh), which carry much less energy per unit weight. The li-ion cell technology exists but putting it into tested and safe packs is what will take some time. There are companies working with GM and trying to get these Li-ion batteries and their packs ready for automotive use.

As the technology proliferates across the industry, the price will come down. How many labor hours do you think goes into making just one of these kinds of batteries? I bet you’re surprised to find out that the entire process is so automated, it only take four minutes’ worth of ‘man labor’ in order to create each one.

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The Car Community Interviews: Bob Lutz of General Motors

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Robert Lutz is the Vice Chairman of Global Product Development with General Motors. Last week, the GM Board approved the Chevrolet Volt program. The Volt is a plug-in series hybrid electric vehicle by General Motors. Bob recently sat down to discuss the Volt, and many other things related to the future of automobiles and GM in general.

From General Motors:

The extended-range electric vehicle is no longer just a rumor. We have put tremendous design and engineering resources in place to make this vehicle a reality.

The Concept Chevy Volt, with its revolutionary E-Flex Propulsion System will be different than any previous electric vehicle because it will use a lithium-ion battery with a variety of range-extending onboard power sources, including gas and, in some vehicles, E85
ethanol to recharge the battery while driving.

When it comes to plugging in, the Volt will be designed to use a common 110–volt household plug. For someone who drives less than 40 miles a day, Chevy Volt will use zero gasoline and produce zero emissions. For longer trips, Chevy Volt’s range-extending power source kicks in to recharge the lithium-ion battery pack as required. We expect a driving range of an estimated 640 miles.

Can you imagine the day when you no longer have to fill your tank every couple of days just to get to work and back? That day, according to GM, is not so far in the future. Unlike most available hybrids, the Volt will be able to run on electricity alone for up to 40 miles. When you drive further than that, a gas motor will kick in and generate power to keep that electric motor running. The current hybrid cars from both Toyota and Honda use electric motors to supplement the gas engines. Therefore, even a short trip burns gas going uphill, or at high speeds. GM says that approximately 78 percent of all US commuters drive less than 40 miles in an average day. Bob Lutz says that the Volt will be able to cover those miles on electricity alone, if it has been fully charged for six hours using a normal electrical outlet.

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