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Chevy Volt Passes Safety Investigation

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the volt-cleared-of-charge dept.

Government 200

An anonymous reader writes "A few months ago, reports of battery fires from crash-tested Chevy Volts caused the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to open an investigation into the type of batteries used in the Volt and other EVs. That investigation has now concluded, and the NHTSA says the cars are safe. 'The agency and General Motors Co. know of no fires in real-world crashes. GM and federal safety officials say they believe the fires were caused by coolant leaking from damaged plastic casing around the batteries after side-impact collisions. The coolant caused an electrical short, which sparked battery fires seven days to three weeks after the crashes. GM announced earlier this month that it will add steel plates to about 12,000 existing Volts to protect the batteries in the event of a crash.'"

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So, they know of no fires (1, Redundant)

drainbramage (588291) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778563)

Except for the reported fires????

Thankyou, I know, your're from the government and you're here to help.

Re:So, they know of no fires (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38778587)

yeah the volt's batteries aren't safe like a big tank of hydrocarbons under your ass.

Re:So, they know of no fires (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778683)

yeah the volt's batteries aren't safe like a big tank of hydrocarbons under your ass.

I'm not aware of any car that puts a big tank of hydrocarbons under your ass, though my old car did put one behind the passenger seat.

Re:So, they know of no fires (5, Informative)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778789)

yeah the volt's batteries aren't safe like a big tank of hydrocarbons under your ass.

I'm not aware of any car that puts a big tank of hydrocarbons under your ass, though my old car did put one behind the passenger seat.

The Honda Fit does. The Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 from 1972-1979 did as well.

Re:So, they know of no fires (2)

spitzak (4019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778877)

I have a Honda Fit. The gas tank is under the front seat. Quite nice actually because the rear floor is completely flat and you can raise the rear seats and get a large and square storage area.

Re:So, they know of no fires (1)

theNAM666 (179776) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778791)

Ymmm... Space Shuttle.

Re:So, they know of no fires (4, Insightful)

silverhalide (584408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779089)

To put it in perspective, a Volt battery has roughly 16 KWh of energy stored. An gas tank on an equivalent sized car is roughly 10 gallons. At 36.6 KWh/gal, that's 360 Kwh of energy, or more than 22X the energy of the battery. Now, assuming that all goes up at once, which one do you want to be near? Couple that with the fact you can't easily set off a lithium battery fire with an open flame or a spark, and I know which odds I'll be taking.

Of course the Volt has both energy sources. But, the point is that a battery pack--coupled with modern cooling controls, safety interlocks and fusing--is safer than a tank of gasoline in a multitude of crash scenarios. Yes, you have to be concerned about high voltage exposure, but all modern packs have disconnect relays that are wired to a crash sensor (ala airbags or the fuel pump cutoff switch).

The reality is this whole thing was a witch hunt likely egged on by Volt competitors.

Re:So, they know of no fires (5, Informative)

Jesse_vd (821123) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778589)

Learn to read: "'The agency and General Motors Co. know of no fires in real-world crashes"

The fires happened to crash-tested vehicles only

Re:So, they know of no fires (1, Flamebait)

LehiNephi (695428) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778601)

You'd think that the lab-tested crashes would be the ones the NHTSA would be most concerned about occurring in the real world. Isn't the whole point of crash tests to determine that the car is safe in at least the most common types of crash? And if a vehicle fails (or catches on fire, or whatever) in that type of crash test, shouldn't that disqualify the car from being driven on US roads?

Re:So, they know of no fires (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38778615)

Well to be honest, I don't think you will see too many crash wreckages sitting on the side of the road for weeks at a time under real world crashes.

Re:So, they know of no fires (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38779395)

No, it'll catch on fire in your garage a week later.

Sweet dreams.

Re:So, they know of no fires (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38779537)

Nice try - cars are 99% of the time towed directly to a body shop for estimate or totaling by the insurance co.

Re:So, they know of no fires (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38778593)

Except for the reported fires????

Thankyou, I know, your're from the government and you're here to help.

Did you miss the part where it says "no fires in real-world crashes"?

How about the part where it says the fires occured "seven days to three weeks after the crashes"?

Contrast that to the very real danger of fire in gasoline powered car. Explain how this is worse, and part of some gubmint conspiracy.

Re:So, they know of no fires (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38778621)

"Contrast that to the very real danger of fire in gasoline powered car. Explain how this is worse, and part of some gubmint conspiracy."

You watch too many Hollywood movies.

Simple (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38778629)

Gasoline fires happen at the time or minutes after the accident. Battery fires happen some random time later when the driver thinks that the vehicle is safe and the accident only caused a small physical damage. And the threat of fire is not only when the vehicle is in use. The fire can be started while the vehicle is inside of the garage and there is a room above where family members are sleeping..

Re:Simple (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38778649)

If it is a house fire, then a working fire alarm can get you to move outside. In a car accident, you may not be conscious or able to exit the vehicle before it is full of smoke or consumed by fire.

Replace those smoke detector batteries once a year!

Not in this case (4, Informative)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778673)

To have a battery penetration here, you would have to have a side intrusion into the car which extends about 2 feet in from the side of the car. Your side airbags will have gone off, the car likely isn't even drivable.

No one is going to think their car had only small physical damage with this kind of wreck.

And your statements about gas cars are also incorrect. I've followed cars on the highway which clearly were leaking gas. This isn't a fire hazard because it's been more than a few minutes since the wreck? I've seen cars just plain catch fire on the side of the road with no wreck at all.

And gas cars can catch fire in garages too.

http://www.nj.com/gloucester-county/index.ssf/2012/01/gloucester_township_car_fire_s.html [nj.com]

Re:Not in this case (0)

deniable (76198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778941)

Gasoline is not gas. Gas is usually LPG and those things do catch fire.

Re:Simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38778691)

Then do not park your car in the garage if it has been in an accident recently.

Re:So, they know of no fires (0)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778713)

Explain how this is worse, and part of some gubmint conspiracy.

The Volt has a gas tank _and_ a huge battery, so it's the worst of both worlds.

From what I've read GM apparently said that the battery must be drained after an accident, so that means another possibly complex procedure which isn't required for a gasoline car. I don't know exactly what that involves, but I presume the battery may be toast, or will at least require a thorough inspection before it can be used again... yet more costs that someone will have to cover after a crash.

Re:So, they know of no fires (4, Informative)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778787)

Yes, the battery must be drained after an accident. But this isn't much different than a gas car which requires the gas tank be drained after an accident. NHTSA in fact drains the gas tanks on gas cars (including the Volt!) BEFORE they wreck them because of the danger of the gasoline.

The draining of the battery is no big deal. It won't toast the battery. In this kind of wreck the battery has sustained damage that means it must be inspected and rebuilt whether it is drained or not. Also, the car is totaled after a wreck of this magnitude anyway, so the additional expense of draining the battery isn't a big deal.

Re:So, they know of no fires (2)

mpoulton (689851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779027)

Yes, the battery must be drained after an accident.

The draining of the battery is no big deal. It won't toast the battery.

Are you sure about that? No current battery technology suitable for use in an electric vehicle can withstand complete discharge without ruining the battery. Discharging deeply enough to eliminate the risk of fire would also destroy the battery, I would think. Is there a reliable source that says otherwise?

it's no big deal (2)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779301)

There is no way you can discharge deeply enough to eliminate the risk of fire. You can only minimize it. The risk of fire is from the chemicals, and they are still dangerous and flammable even when discharged.

Lions (as used in the Volt) are not destroyed if they are discharged completely. It's not good for them, it reduces their lifespan. But doing it once (or a few times) won't end their lives noticeably prematurely.

Re:So, they know of no fires (0)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778837)

The Volt has a gas tank _and_ a huge battery, so it's the worst of both worlds.

... as a wreck after a crash. Whereas it's the best of both worlds in the usual state of being driven around as a car.

Re:So, they know of no fires (4, Interesting)

Zemran (3101) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778809)

Several years ago I ran out of petrol going down a hill. I was able to coast into the petrol station further down the hill and put a load more petrol into my car. When I tried to start the car it would not start. I thought that it needed to pump the petrol from the tank to the engine and kept trying. What I did not know was that I had not run out of petrol, the petrol pipe had broken and the petrol was not getting to the carburetor, it was getting sprayed all over the engine and the floor. By the time the puddle of petrol finally managed to catch a spark from the starter motor the puddle had already spread under the car at the next pump. Most of the petrol station was destroyed. It was amazing to see so many people run so fast...

I do not accept that this theoretical risk of fire comes close to the real risk of fire in a normal engine...

Re:So, they know of no fires (2)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778965)

As the driver sitting on top of that puddle, and presumably still in close proximity to the pump which would make a nice obstacle to quick escape ... you should be fucking dead my friend.

Re:So, they know of no fires (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38779031)

Encyclopedia Brown does exist.

where the hell do you live? (2)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779077)

Most of the petrol station was destroyed. It was amazing to see so many people run so fast...

OK, so I know from you calling it "petrol" that this wasn't the US, but...they don't have required fire suppression systems in your country?

Here in the US, every gas station has to have an automatic fire suppression system. When they let go, it's very, very impressive...

Re:So, they know of no fires (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778835)

Contrast that to the very real danger of fire in gasoline powered car. Explain how this is worse, and part of some gubmint conspiracy

I've seen several automotive fires/explosions due to hydrogen leakage from the batteries in ICE equipped cars. The only fuel related fire I've witnessed in a streetable care was due to backfire through a carburetor that ignited starting fluid (diethyl ether) that was on the air filter. Gasoline is remarkable stable. You can extinguish a cigarette in gasoline, except on TV and in the movies of course.

Re:So, they know of no fires (3, Interesting)

muon-catalyzed (2483394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779059)

The Volt is by far the best car that came out of America in recent times. They all know Chevrolet scored some seriously good car here and lots of people are driven mad about it. There is handful of competition and pressure from non-GM dealerships like Toyotas, Nissans etc. The car battery "catches fire" is just another bash line of theirs. The main point here is that the car needs no gasoline at all for trips up to 40 miles and the Voltec EV powertrain is just so sweet, it has torque like a sports car, all electric and whisper quiet. So it is not a hybrid, but full EV with assisted gasoline generator when the battery runs out. This is in my book the best solution to the EV range anxiety problem and lots of other EV related issues, avoidable gasoline engine, but gasoline range when needed -- the best of both worlds.

Re:So, they know of no fires (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38779447)

The volt costs so much that you have to be an idiot to see it as a way to save money. You can buy a similarly sized car with the same torque and power and with the price difference fuel it for five years.

And this without considering the double maintenance costs of volta egine and drivetrain compared to a naturally aspirated engine and the issue of replacing batteries due to aging every now and then

Re:So, they know of no fires (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38779163)

The government shouldn't be involved in GM at all. You don't have to be a conspiracy nut to see the obvious conflict of interest.

Re:So, they know of no fires (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38779319)

Easy, the gasoline one wont trap my entire family in a house fire after it gets parked(unless it's a ford van and then it's cause of the cruise control)

Not to defend GMs horrendous safety and quality .. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38778607)

... record but the fires were observed after a week of side impact testing and it was on the multiple vehicles tested. So no real life fires is technically true.

But the fact that more than one (if not all) of the vehicles tested had a battery fire after a week of the low speed crash test shows that the vehicle was unsafe to some degree. Given GM's poor track record I'm pretty sure they knew about it but decided to ignore the problem thinking that the lawsuits would be cheaper than the $5 fix per vehicle.

In the end, the Volt turned out to be a lemon .... the battery charge does not deliver the promise (miserable) 30 miles per charge and the gas engine has an efficiency about as bad as a small SUV (~22 mpg). And for $40K that is a crappy deal. Maybe that is why GM just canceled the model.

Come again? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38778663)

Do you have a source to validate your claim that GM just canceled the Volt?

No official word from GM ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38778801)

But they already said that they production is on the cutting table because of lack of demand

http://gm-volt.com/2012/01/10/gm-says-it-if-necessary-it-will-cut-volt-production/

The info about the (unofficial) cancellation is being on the news this week.

Re:No official word from GM ... (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778921)

In the article you quoted, they said they haven't even kept up with demand. So it sounds like they are selling cars as fast as they can build them.

GM’s North American President Mark Reuss said the automaker is still filling orders and may not know until around the second quarter.
“There’s no trend because we haven’t satisfied demand,” Reuss said to reporters. “I told everybody that we’d be looking at satisfying demand right around second quarter. We’re not there yet, so I don’t know.”

Of course, it remains to be seen how well demand holds up for the remainder of the year. If there is a spike in gas prices this summer as some have predicted, the Volt should do well.

Re:No official word from GM ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38778937)

No, it says they're not committed to a hard production number, nowhere close to cancellation.

There's plenty of things to be concerned about, but a company being flexible on production numbers isn't one of them.

Re:Not to defend GMs horrendous safety and quality (3, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778939)

In the end, the Volt turned out to be a lemon .... the battery charge does not deliver the promise (miserable) 30 miles per charge and the gas engine has an efficiency about as bad as a small SUV (~22 mpg). And for $40K that is a crappy deal. Maybe that is why GM just canceled the model.

When consumer reports tested the car, on their 150 mile trip of mixed city/highway driving they got 70mpg.

They said that the battery-only range varied from a low of 20 miles (with electric heater on) to up to 50 miles at moderate speeds with no climate control switched on. 25 miles of electric range would cover most of the typical American's commute (USA average is 29 miles per day)

Re:Not to defend GMs horrendous safety and quality (5, Informative)

rubley (121645) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779037)

Unlike you, I own a Volt, so, unlike you, I don't need to lie about the numbers.

It gets 25 (winter) to 46 (mild weather) miles per charge for me. When the battery runs low and the gas engine is powering the car, it delivers 38-40 MPG depending on speed. My lifetime economy (4.75 months, 4350 miles) is 255 MPG. I'd say that's pretty good, considering my Lexus was getting 19 MPG on the same commute.

Apparently you're also not smart enough to do the math, it turns out the Volt is cheaper than the average car.

$45.5k sticker (loaded)
$7.5k tax credit (complain about this and I'll complain about the child deductions I'm funding with my six figure income)
$11k gas savings (5 years, for me)
= $27k gas vehicle equivalent (the average new car sale price in the US is ~$29k )

If you're still not convinced the Volt is a good idea, I suggest you start reading this blog http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/ [ucsd.edu]

Re:Not to defend GMs horrendous safety and quality (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38779571)

I don't see all the running costs there, only fueling.

and 27k car will get you in mustang/taurus territory, going for a similar compact car will net you a 17k focus sedan that will run around your volt and will use 28k fuel just before getting to the price of a volt, and after that there is still more before breaking even

please, do the math, but right. the volta is priced like a bmw and kitted like a fiat. compare appropriately.

Re:So, they know of no fires (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38778651)

What are you? A dumb cock smoking bitch?
 
Learn to read you fuckface.

Re:So, they know of no fires (0)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778655)

It's government motors they know best, they do it all for you. Don't ask questions, don't speak up or they'll give it to you.

Nothing was hidden, no lie said,
close your mouth our you'll be dead.

Obligatory Simpson's quote (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778911)

"Top of the line in utility sports
Unexplained fires are a matter for the courts!
Canyonero!

FYI: Soy milk causes homosexuality (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38778611)

Because of all the estrogen it contains.

It also makes people fart a lot.

Well, this is going to piss off the Republicans. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38778613)

How dare anyone manufacture or purchase a vehicle that doesn't rely on a big oil corporation to be useful!

Re:Well, this is going to piss off the Republicans (-1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778689)

How dare anyone manufacture or purchase a vehicle that doesn't rely on a big oil corporation to be useful!

You are aware that the Volt is a hybrid with a gasoline engine, right?

The Volt was a good idea when first proposed, the problem was that by the time it was actually released it cost twice as much as a Civic and offered no real benefit other than being able to run for short distances at low speeds on the battery.

doesn't require big oil (4, Informative)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778725)

It's is a hybrid. But you can drive between 35 and 40 miles without gas AT FULL SPEED. I have a friend who has one and drives for weeks at at time with no gas. I was with him when he drove up a several mile long grade of about 3-4% at 80 miles an hour on electricity only as part of the 32.5 drive to his house.

I don't know where you get the idea of short distances at low speeds from, but you're wrong. Perhaps you're thinking of the Prius PHEV or something else?

So the statement 'doesn't rely on a big oil corporation to be useful' is accurate.

Re:doesn't require big oil (3, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778767)

I don't know where you get the idea of short distances at low speeds from, but you're wrong.

The reviews when it first came out said that it used the gasoline engine when driving at highway speeds because the electric motors weren't powerful enough to handle high-speed driving by themselves.

Here's one of the first results Google found:

http://gm-volt.com/2010/10/11/motor-trend-explains-the-volts-powertrain/ [gm-volt.com]

Which implies that it's more complex than those reviews said, so the gasoline engine will come on to help run the car in various situations, depending on what mode it's in. Like going up a steep hill at more than 40mph(!).

Re:doesn't require big oil (4, Interesting)

ChrisCampbell47 (181542) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778847)

... the gasoline engine will come on to help run the car in various situations, depending on what mode it's in. Like going up a steep hill at more than 40mph(!).

Wrong, wrong, wrong. 10-Oct-10 will live in infamy in the annals of the Volt because it's the day that people like the parent of this post misread GM's very interesting disclosure about the Volt powertrain to mean "the engine comes on at high speeds".

FOR THE FIRST 35 MILES OF RANGE, THE VOLT IS A FULL PERFORMANCE ELECTRIC VEHICLE.

"Full performance" means it can go ANY SPEED and MAX ACCELERATION under only electric propulsion. Over and over, lazy bloggers (and blog comment posters) have misread articles about the transmission to conclude that the engine comes on at high speeds or high acceleration. IT'S NOT A PRIUS. I have countless jackrabbit starts and high speed runs in my Volt to demonstrate it is most definitely not a Prius. I'm with Dan Akerson on this -- I wouldn't be caught dead in a Prius :)

Read the actual article more closely. It's a complicated car, with amazing results.

that's incorrect (2)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779187)

It doesn't come on to go up steep hills at more than 40mph. You have badly misread this text.

The car slows down if you climb a steep grade at more than 40mph if the electric battery is low. Because of this they have a special "mountain mode" where the battery is not allowed to get that low. It reduces the range of the car by about 1/3rd and that's on top of the fact that you get reduced range climbing hills like any other car.

The gas engine will not come on PERIOD unless the battery runs out or if the temperature gets so very low that the electric car heater is so inefficient that there's little point to driving on battery. This happens at some temp below 10F.

The only time this text mentions the engine coming on and assisting at any speed is when in charge sustaining mode. Charge sustaining mode is the "regular" hybrid mode when the battery is depleted and all the motion is coming from the gas. In this mode it acts like a non-plugin hybrid, all the propulsion comes directly or indirectly from gas.

The initial mode you operate in after a charge up is charge depleting mode. In this mode the gas engine doesn't come on except at very low temperatures as I mentioned above.

I think the source of your confusion may be that the initial reviews indicated the gas engine connects directly to the drivetrain (through the ring gear) to drive the car at highway speeds. But this only happens when the gas engine is already on (the car is already in charge depleting mode). Before this info came out, GM had said (for a while) that the gas engine only ever drove a generator that generated electricity to run the electric motors to drive the wheels. But this turns out not to be efficient (as Toyota also knows, later Priuses get better mpg because they do this more often), so GM made it possible for the gas engine to drive the drivetrain directly. A lot of people got angry about this, mostly for no reason, although GM saying it would work one way and then working another I guess is at least worth mentioning.

But I emphasize again, this only happens in charge sustaining mode, which is the mode the car is in after the battery has been depleted (after the initial 37 miles or so). In charge depleting mode you can press the pedal as hard as you want and the engine never comes on. It'll hit its speed limiter of 85 but the gas engine won't come on. This is what makes the Volt a ER-EV (extended range EV) and not just a regular PHEV. This is unlike any other PHEV out there except for the Fisker Karma.

Re:that's incorrect (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779423)

Ugh, I hate the terms charge depleting and charge sustaining. So confusing. I just use them because they are the official terms.

I messed up, using "charge depleting" where I should have said "charge sustaining" in my "(the car is already in charge depleting mode)" above. The engine is only on in charge sustaining mode and the engine only drives the drivetrain directly in charge sustaining mode.

Re:doesn't require big oil (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778781)

yea I am not going to spend that kind of money when my 6 year old kia makes me put gas in it once every 3 weeks for more distance, and electricity is expensive, it just cost me 88 bucks to run 2 computers and a space heater last month, I only put 20 bucks in my car

Re:doesn't require big oil (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778821)

Electricity to run an electric car much cheaper than gas to run a gas car.

Re:doesn't require big oil (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778895)

show me the numbers where it would be cheaper to sell off a paid for car for an overpriced experiment that requires 2 bills to fuel it

ok here are some numbers

it can take upto 1400 watts during charging upto 10 hours, and I currently pay 32 cents per kw-h

its going to cost me 4.48 per day to drive upto 40 miles, 1 gallon of gas in my area is 3.12 right now and will last in my kia for a little more than 39 miles, and its needing a tune up (so it could be better)

so I could spend an extra 1.36 a day for this cheaper option + it cost nearly twice as much in the first place? please explain how this is "cheaper" than gas?

Re:doesn't require big oil (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778999)

it can take upto 1400 watts during charging upto 10 hours, and I currently pay 32 cents per kw-h

Where the fuck do you pay 32 per kw-h? I only pay 30, and I live in a 3rd world hole with a criminal for a power company.

Re:doesn't require big oil (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779017)

fuel surcharges and now they have to be extra careful about environmental shit cause they had an ash dam cave in a eat a town alive + our lovely electric company was part of a investigation cause their CEO's were taking trips to london and whatnot, eating at the finest drinking the best, and sleeping in gold sheets on the billpayers dime

fuck it was 42 cents last year! which sparked the investigation

Re:doesn't require big oil (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779047)

show me the numbers where it would be cheaper to sell off a paid for car for an overpriced experiment that requires 2 bills to fuel it

Why? That's not what I said.

its going to cost me 4.48 per day to drive upto 40 miles

No it's not. Recently a guy drove from Land's End to John O'Groats in the UK in a Tesla. 894 miles cost 20 GBP (approx $30).

Re:doesn't require big oil (0)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779105)

"Why? That's not what I said."

yea but no one is going to give me a volt for free

and blah blah whatever, these things only get about 40 miles on juice at highway speeds, maybe if I had a couple days to get to work I could do it for that

so I tell you what, give me a free volt, and let me show up at work however long it takes to absolutely max out the efficiency of this thing then we will compare numbers and not hearsay out of the sun, otherwise its worthless junk that does not apply to the real world

besides the fact its a GM car, the piece of shit wont even last long enough to have a resell value, I know I own a GM as well, fucking thing sounds like a bench grinder ready to die only 3 years in with regular maintenance, and will be worthless before its paid off. and is already getting a weight increase without a power increase so it wont have the pinto effect

have fun with that

Re:doesn't require big oil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38778893)

Space heaters are quite expensive, don't believe the "dollar a day" claim as that only applies if you run it for part of the day.

Besides, some of that 88 bucks was probably for fees and taxes. And I really doubt you only had three electrical items running. Not that you identified your computers. There's plenty of computer that could cost 88 bucks an hour to run.

Re:doesn't require big oil (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778987)

If you ran a 1500watt space heater and 2 150 watt computers for 10 hours/day for $88/month, that works out to around 16 cents/kwh ($88 / 540KWh)

If you put 10KWh into the battery each day to go 20 miles, that's 300Kwh, or $48 to go 600 miles.

You don't mention which Kia you have, but if you get 30mpg, 600 miles at $3.50/gallon would cost you 600 / 30 * $3.50 = $70

So you'd still come out ahead with the Volt if you're only comparing fuel costs.

But since you're only putting $20 every 3 weeks into your car, your average commute is only around 11 miles ($20 / $3.50 * 30mpg / 15 days) so if fuel costs are important to you, you might be better served with a bicycle.

Re:doesn't require big oil (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779011)

cut the space heater by half, and make that kia 40mpg, and drop about 40 cents from gas .... i would end up spending about a buck thirty more for the volt

never mind the kia is paid for, and the volt, while not offering much of anything more cost twice as much

Real experience (5, Informative)

Sithech (858269) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779051)

I last put gas in my Volt on 11/20/2011 (7 gallons). I have driven 2,358 miles since then, using a total of 5.4 gallons. Mostly on freeways at speeds between 45 and 75 mph depending on traffic. There's a public charger across the street from work, which is 31 miles from my house.

My best ever all electric range is 51.3 miles. My worst ever is 33.5.

My engine does not turn on ever unless the temperature is below 25F or the battery is at the designed lower limit of state of charge.

The car handles and drives wonderfully. I have, in 13,500 miles, rotated the tires. I will have to change the oil in a couple years. My lifetime average mpg is 158 mpg. Because I changed to a time of use schedule I have a lower electric bill now than I did before buying the car.

Hippocrates says "There are two things, knowledge and opinion, one of which makes the possessor really to know, the other to be ignorant."

Re:Real experience (1)

gmon750 (1216394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779173)

And as great as your results are, enjoy the money savings while you can. Fuel taxes is what maintains the roads and highways.

Essentially, I'm subsidizing you. One way or another Uncle Sam will eventually end the free-ride that electric/hybrid owners have and come up with some kind of beauracracy that will tax you to pay your fair share of "road tax".

Re:Well, this is going to piss off the Republicans (3, Interesting)

ChrisCampbell47 (181542) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778799)

"no real benefit other than being able to run for short distances at low speeds on the battery"

Low speeds, huh? I wish I'd known that when I was blasting down the highway earlier this evening in my Volt, purely electric. Top speed: 101 MPH*

Please mod parent down, just more of the usual misinformed opinio-crap. And if you have mod points, please look for other garbage posts like this and mod them down too. Wish I had some mod points today.

In the meantime, chew on this: http://wardsauto.com/commentary/why-innovation-dying-america [wardsauto.com]

* I didn't go that fast, I stayed down at a safe speed. 101 MPH is the published top speed of the Volt, regardless of which mode it's in.

Re:Well, this is going to piss off the Republicans (2)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779033)

Blah Blah, Republicans Bad, Volt Good...

It has to be the republicans trying to destroy it. It couldn't have anything to do with it being a lackluster vehicle with crappy specs not quite designed for the market it claims.

Protip: If I'm paying $40k for a car, I'm not in a position were "money savings on fuel" are an issue. I want to show off my environmentalism chops, and I can't do that with a jonny-come-lately Prius when full electrics like the Leaf are out.

Re:Well, this is going to piss off the Republicans (1)

rubley (121645) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779065)

Short distances? 40 miles covers the daily driving of 90% of Americans. Low speeds? The Volt will attain 100 MPH on battery power alone, look for "autobahn volt" on youtube if you want to see it. No real benefit? My lifetime fuel economy is 255 MPG, is a Civic gonna do that? Prius?

Re:Well, this is going to piss off the Republicans (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778715)

Eh... You don't have to buy an overpriced death trap from a 1/3 government owned "business" to buy a vehicle that doesn't rely on "big oil." There are a few electrics out there produced by companies that aren't GM.

You can have an electric car for which the testing didn't have a massive conflict of interest. More affordably (for some models), even. Why take the risk?

Wait so we are adding more weight. (2)

bigdogpete (1796228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778627)

So your solution to protecting the batteries are adding heavy Steel plates to the car. Which in turn adds more weight and gives less mileage. We can't find a metal that is lighter and stronger?

Re:Wait so we are adding more weight. (5, Funny)

caseih (160668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778633)

Yeah, like magnesium!

Re:Wait so we are adding more weight. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38778711)

I would have suggested lithium, since it's already being used there, anyway.

CAPTCHA: contrary

Re:Wait so we are adding more weight. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38778705)

I've yet to see an estimate of the actual weight added. Do you have any? If you did, then you can give us an estimate of what it'd be costing to use some other material instead.

Then you can ask yourself if that's worth paying.

Re:Wait so we are adding more weight. (5, Informative)

ChrisCampbell47 (181542) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778817)

So your solution to protecting the batteries are adding heavy Steel plates to the car. Which in turn adds more weight and gives less mileage. We can't find a metal that is lighter and stronger?

They've said the additional bracket (it's a stretch to call it "steel plates" has it's not exactly armor) weighs about 3-4 pounds and will have no noticeable effect on efficiency.

Photo of the bracket is here:
http://gm-volt.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/ChevroletVoltPartsInstallation115-724x1024.jpg [gm-volt.com]

From this excellent overview of the actual "fixes" that GM will be doing to customers that CHOOSE to bring their Volt in for it:
http://gm-volt.com/2012/01/06/gm-chooses-to-%E2%80%98go-extra-mile%E2%80%99-with-volt-battery-protection/ [gm-volt.com]

Also, you might want to google "Volt high strength steel". The car has some of the highest structural rigidity in the industry. Yet another way in which the Volt is demonstrating a big leap forward in automotive technology.

Re:Wait so we are adding more weight. (2)

Khyber (864651) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779511)

"The car has some of the highest structural rigidity in the industry."

So, less crumple zones to absorb impact, thus leaving me to absorb more of it.

No thanks.

hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38778681)

if someone today came up with that we should all be driving around at 100kmp with 100L of highly flammable liquid people would say; are you nuts?
around here you can't have any more that a single jerrycan of gasoline in you garage it is too dangerous ....
same for glass, if someone today came up with the idea that we make windows out of something that turn into very sharp pointy pieces in case you break it
and it breaks real easy, there is no way that would be allowed

sometimes things aren't really as dangerous as they first seem

Re:hmm (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778703)

if someone today came up with that we should all be driving around at 100kmp with 100L of highly flammable liquid people would say; are you nuts?

Sorry, but that's nonsense. Our ancestors used to drive electric cars, but when the ICE came along it was so clearly superior that they rapidly dumped the electric nonsense; it's taken a century for people to forget the lessons of the past and come to believe that electric cars make any kind of sense.

Re:hmm (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778829)

They didn't do it for safety reasons! And of course the technology of batteries has changed far more than the technology of combustion engines in that century.

Re:hmm (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779101)

because battery technology hasn't changed at all in the last 100 years. Not at all!

I take you use a horse pulled cart still? After all the very they were clearly superiour to the first automobiles, and since apparently technology never changes in your universe...

I'm not sure why anyone would buy one of these (1)

terryfunk (60752) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778707)

Yeah so hydrocarbons are dangerous...the technology to reduce the danger has been around considerably longer. Battery powered cars are still crap and it still requires a tremendous amount of hydrocarbons to PRODUCE the car in the first place.

I still don't want one (2)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778797)

I've been doing some research. The Volt was only tested in -10 weather in Canada, not the -20C to -40C we get in Saskatchewan. As battery efficiency drops dramatically in the cold, I have my doubts about it's electric range capabilities here.

And once you switch over to gas power, the Volt gets atrocious mileage compared to many other similarly sized cars, including Ford's lineup. And the Ford I'm looking at sells for literally half the price of the Volt. $20,000 buys a HELL of a lot of gasoline.

Re:I still don't want one (3, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778805)

If the Volt is the best GM can do, the bailout/aid money they were provided was a waste of taxpayer dollars. They'll still end up bankrupt if they can't do any better than this.

Re:I still don't want one (3, Informative)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778951)

They'll still end up bankrupt if they can't do any better than this.

Don't worry, they're doing okay [reuters.com] .

Re:I still don't want one (1)

rally2xs (1093023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778891)

35 mpg city/40 mpg highway on gasoline alone, after the battery is flat.

Y'all are gonna appreciate cars like this when gas gets to $7 / gallon, which it will, and this car will go 40 miles for seventy cents of electricity, and it takes $7 to go the same distance in a 40 mpg car, and $14 to do it in a 20 mpg car.

Re:I still don't want one (2)

oracleguy01 (1381327) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778945)

What is going to happen to the price of electricity when suddenly everyone is charging their cars at home and demand spikes? Gas prices might not be the only thing that will go up in the future. I'm not saying gas is better than electric but all that electricity has to come from some where.

Re:I still don't want one (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779045)

Well, that depends. Are we meeting this demand solely on current capacity, or are we approving new nuclear power plants to meet the expected demand?

Re:I still don't want one (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779061)

Just a reminder, just about every kind of power station can generate energy more efficiently than a car. Power stations are also largely located remote from centre of population, helping to create cleaner healthier cities. So smog-free cities, yes we all know, self centred douche's will scream like your typical toddler for their noisy gas guzzler and scream even louder when they get taxed up the wazoo for using it in city environment (you want to suck on an exhaust pipe do it in your garage don't force others to do it).

The electric car is inevitable, the only thing holding back it's dominance is battery design and thanks to computers, that is being slowly but surely solved.

Don't forget you will charge your car off peak overnight, helps the power station to balance our their load. Now add that same battery pack to your home and your protected from brown outs and even blackouts, depending upon how long they last.

Re:I still don't want one (1)

blindseer (891256) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779359)

Just a reminder, just about every kind of power station can generate energy more efficiently than a car.

I agree. What bothers me though is that for these plug in electric vehicles to meet the claim of a lower carbon footprint the power is going to have to come from something other than coal. A coal fired power plant can achieve 60% efficiency. A common internal combustion engine used in a car can get about 30% efficiency, some as high as 40%. All the energy from the coal is coming from carbon. In a vehicle powered by gasoline or diesel fuel half of the energy is from carbon, half from hydrogen, give or take.

Even though the power plant gets 60% efficiency there is some losses from the transmission lines, battery charging and discharging, and other losses along the way. Some of these losses when comparing a plug in electric and an internal combustion powered car are a wash since the car will be exposed to losses due to wind resistance and such regardless of where the energy comes from.

With some quick research on things like heat engine efficiencies, where our electricity comes from, and bit of chemistry I can do some quick estimates on how much carbon is released into the atmosphere per mile driven. I've come to the conclusion that an electric car is really just a coal powered car and the amount of carbon per mile is pretty much identical to the gasoline powered car.

Sure, I could lower my carbon footprint by trading in my truck for a little car like the Chevy Volt but I could also get the same level of carbon output reduction for a fraction of the price by trading in my truck for a ten year old small gasoline powered car. The real savings in carbon comes not from being electric but from being a smaller, lighter, vehicle. I had a ten year old gasoline powered car and I didn't like it very much so I traded it in for a small SUV. I'm much happier now, especially since the snow began to fall. Getting stuck in the snow used to be a common occurrence but is now just a bad memory. You will have to pry my truck from my cold dead hands. I don't give a damn about carbon footprints when stuck in the snow 30 miles from home, or even two blocks from home.

You can argue which comes first, the electric car or the nuclear power plants, if you like. It's my belief that the nuclear power plants need to come first. I need to see a real demonstration of the intent to remove ourselves from fossil fuels before I buy an electric vehicle. I'm not going to buy an electric vehicle in the hope a nuclear power plant will come to lower my carbon output, the car will likely be obsolete first. This is all irrelevant to me until I can get my hands on an electric vehicle that can carry me, my guns, and my game home from the hunting grounds without getting stuck in the mud and snow.

When it comes to tail pip emissions other than CO2 I'm also not convinced on "clean coal" producing less pollution. With the low sulfur fuels, catalytic converters, engine control units monitoring the exhaust I believe the car emissions to be quite "clean". This is compared to coal plants that buy the cheapest, and therefore dirtiest, fuel they can get by with. I've heard stories of how many of these plants will "blow the pipes" at night to clear out all the soot when no one is watching.

It's going to take quite a bit to convince me to buy an electric vehicle. I might be running my truck off of oil piped in from Canada and Mexico instead of domestic coal and natural gas but at least I'm not getting stuck in the snow. I'll wait for some nuclear power plants and some 4WD electric trucks before I wean myself from gasoline.

Re:I still don't want one (1)

rally2xs (1093023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779415)

Suggest you look at natural gas fired electricity as a bridge to the future, where the future will be solar and geothermal and wind and tidal and anything-but-carbon-based. But it _is_ in the future, we can't do it now, but we can get ready for it by having a transportation infrastructure that makes it worthwhile to reseach large-scale renewable energy.

Re:I still don't want one (1)

blindseer (891256) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779505)

Why would I buy an electric vehicle when the electricity is produced with natural gas? Why don't I just burn the natural gas in my vehicle?

I get your point, reduce our carbon footprint with a shift in fuels. The problem with that policy is that the energy in coal cannot be legislated away. We can cap and tax all we want but people will still burn coal. There is only so much natural gas that we can produce. The faster we burn it, the rarer it gets, the more expensive it becomes. Basic economics.

If people want to see the world shift away from fossil fuels then there needs to be an alternative that is better. Better can mean a lot of things but it can almost always be boiled down to costs. Right now electricity from wind, solar, and geothermal can easily cost double that from coal. Even if coal prices were to triple we'd still be burning coal since coal does not need the wind to blow, the sun to shine, or a specific geological formation.

I see nuclear as the next step. Just like coal it works rain or shine. Also, like coal nuclear is cheaper than wind, solar, and geothermal. Nuclear is possibly cheaper than natural gas. We still use natural gas despite its cost because it makes for a cheap peak power source. That is cheap as in cheaper than fuel oil or other forms of producing the electricity.

For wind, wave, solar, and so on to replace coal the price gap, and reliability gap, will have to narrow considerably.

Bringing this back to vehicles the performance gap on electric vs. internal combustion will have to close as well. It will take some real changes on pricing and technology before we see long haul trucking run on electricity.

Re:I still don't want one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38779469)

> A common internal combustion engine used in a car can get about 30% efficiency, some as high as 40%
You're limited to 37% with steel; that's the Carnot limit at the point where steel starts to lose its strength.
Peak efficiency for an ICE can get quite close to that, but average efficiency is much worse; particularly for a petrol engine, due to pumping losses (if the throttle valve isn't fully open, the engine is expending energy sucking air through partially-closed throttle; diesel engines don't have this problem).
A series hybrid such as the Volt has the advantage of being able to run the engine at peak efficiency constantly (if you take your foot off the accelerator, it can increase the battery charge current to take up the slack).

Re:I still don't want one (1)

rally2xs (1093023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779393)

If the price of electricity doubles, then the electric cars will only go five times as far on the same amount of money instead of 10 times as far, for a $7/gal gasoline price and a 40 mpg car.

But the price of electricity won't double because most states have a "public utilities commission" that regulates prices.

And why should the price go up? The current rate of electricity now builds new power plants, new transmission lines, and so forth, so when electric companies double their sales from the extra power they're selling to electric car owners, they should basically be doubling the money available to build power plants and distribution systems.

I don't really see the problem here.

Re:I still don't want one (4, Interesting)

ChrisCampbell47 (181542) | more than 2 years ago | (#38778899)

I've been doing some research.

Might want to try a little harder.

The Volt was only tested in -10 weather in Canada, not the -20C to -40C we get in Saskatchewan. As battery efficiency drops dramatically in the cold, I have my doubts about it's electric range capabilities here.

The Volt functions down to -13 F / -25 C cold. That's the COLD SOAK temperature of the battery. If the battery pack is colder than that, then the gas engine will fire up to generate electricity to warm up the battery above that temperature threshold. Note that I didn't say ambient temperature; we're talking about the temperature deep inside the car, inside a 400 pound battery pack. It takes a long time at a given ambient temperature to get the battery pack itself down to that temperature. Does your weather stay at or below -13 F / -25 C for 24 hours at a time? If so then I agree the Volt isn't for you, but it's great for the rest of us.

And once you switch over to gas power, the Volt gets atrocious mileage compared to many other similarly sized cars

37 MPG is pretty damn good by nearly any standard. "Atrocious"? Don't be such a drama queen.

the Ford I'm looking at sells for literally half the price of the Volt. $20,000 buys a HELL of a lot of gasoline.

Make sure you're doing a fair comparison. The Ford you are comparing to (you don't say which) likely will have it's doors blown in by the Volt's performance. Further, the Volt is likely more luxuriously appointed than whatever econo penalty box you are comparing with.

For lots and lots of current Volt owners, their previous car was a luxury sports sedan. Mine was an Audi.

Re:I still don't want one (1)

dbc (135354) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779019)

The Volt functions down to -13 F / -25 C cold. That's the COLD SOAK temperature of the battery. If the battery pack is colder than that, then the gas engine will fire up to generate electricity to warm up the battery above that temperature threshold. Note that I didn't say ambient temperature; we're talking about the temperature deep inside the car, inside a 400 pound battery pack. It takes a long time at a given ambient temperature to get the battery pack itself down to that temperature. Does your weather stay at or below -13 F / -25 C for 24 hours at a time? If so then I agree the Volt isn't for you, but it's great for the rest of us.

I saw the weather do that when I lived in Minneapolis, so yes, I'm sure it does that in SK. In Minneapolis, it is common for there to be a week of weather in January where the daytime high never gets above -5F for the whole week. Minneapolis is the deep south compared to SK.

Re:I still don't want one (3, Informative)

Nos. (179609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779081)

I live is SE Saskatchewan. This winter is hardly a fair example (its been very warm here with the exception of the past week). However, even in an average winter, we would rarely see as cold as -25C as a high for more than a few days in a row. So what this says to me, is even though I thought the opposite, the Volt may actually be a reasonable car here. Even if its not the most efficient choice during the extreme cold, we're talking maybe less than a week on average in any give year that it drops below those temperatures. That means, that >98% of the time, this is the most efficient choice of vehicle in these climates.

Re:I still don't want one (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779515)

The Volt doesn't get atrocious gas mileage. And Ford doesn't have a single vehicle in the size range of the Volt which matches it on overall mpg (counting only gas mode), let alone beats it so badly as to call the Volt mpg "atrocious"

As far as I know at this time, in the North American market Ford only has one vehicle in any size range that gets better mpg than the Volt (again, only counting gas mode) and that is the Fusion Hybrid. It tops the Volt by 5% (2mpg). It costs $30,000, about 3/4 what the Volt does.

Yes, you're right about the $20K buying a lot of gas. You will never make your investment on a Volt back in fuel savings. I've done the math many many ways. If you buy a Volt, it has to be beause you want to be able to drive without gas. Otherwise just get a Prius (if hybrids work at SK temps) or a high mpg gas car like Cruze Eco or one of the Hyundais and pocket the savings as gas money.

Government Motors (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38778981)

Government declares Government Motors car safe; there's a real surprise.

Re:Government Motors (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38779057)

Stupid libertarians believe nothing the government says; there's a real surprise.

Steel plates (1)

Zadaz (950521) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779191)

Steel plates are great at preventing electrical shorts.

Re:Steel plates (1)

FrozenFood (2515360) | more than 2 years ago | (#38779483)

they are also known to weigh nothing.
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