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2011 Chevrolet Volt Preview

2011 Chevrolet Volt Preview

By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2010
Critical Knowledge:
  • Production version of Chevrolet Volt Concept
  • Battery-powered, 4-passenger, extended-range electric vehicle
  • First production vehicle from GM's new E-Flex Systems Design Studio
  • Innovative E-Flex propulsion system
  • All-electric driving range of 40 miles-enough for most daily commutes
  • Additional electricity generated by 1.0-liter, 3-cylinder, turbocharged, bio-fuel range-extending engine
  • On-board engine extends driving range to 434 miles
  • Volt can also be charged in 6 hours using a 110-volt electrical outlet
  • In dealerships late 2010
For more information: Introduction
GM celebrates its centennial year with the official announcement that the 2011 Chevrolet Volt production vehicle will hit the market in late 2010. More than 700 engineers are currently working on the project to make GM's deadline. The battery-powered, 4-passenger, extended-range electric car is the first production vehicle from the new GM E-Flex Systems Design Studio. Featuring an innovative E-Flex propulsion system with high-tech lithium-ion battery pack, the Volt has a 40-mile all-electric driving range. Besides being gas-free, the all-electric operation is virtually emissions-free, producing fewer than 40g/km of CO2. Additional electricity can be created from a 1.0-liter, bio-fuel range-extending engine that extends the Volt's range to 434 miles. The car can also be charged in just 6 hours using a 110-volt electrical outlet.

Design
The production Chevy Volt is more than just a good-looking vehicle. Its design has been carefully crafted to accommodate the T-shaped battery pack and to maximize aerodynamics. A key consideration for GM designers was reducing aerodynamic drag, which accounts for about 20 percent of an average vehicle's consumed energy. The battery pack alone is nearly 6 feet long and weighs more than 375 pounds. Designers located the T-shaped battery down the car's center tunnel and under the seats, integrating the battery with the vehicle's structure. This central placement also provides greater battery protection, GM claims. To reduce the Volt's overall mass, the vehicle was engineered with a relatively small fuel tank for the supplementary on-board engine, while still providing an extended driving range greater than 400 miles between fill-ups.

The Volt's roofline is low, and acts as an aerodynamic enabler, with the production Volt's coefficient of drag 30 percent lower than the original concept, according to the company. By optimizing aerodynamics in overall styling and packaging, designers helped improve Volt's fuel economy for extended-range driving while retaining the flexibility necessary to create the car's unique and innovative exterior and interior design. For example, the T-shaped battery necessitated moving passengers to the sides of the vehicle. Designers stepped up to the plate, and the Volt's interior will accommodate a 6-foot 2-inch person quite comfortably in both front and rear seats. GM also indicates that designers "shrink-wrapped" the interior, especially the door panels, for comfort and space. In fact, GM claims the Volt has no wasted space at all.

Hardware
Power for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt comes from the new GM E-Flex System-an all-electric vehicle architecture consisting of a common drivetrain system using grid electricity stored in a lithium-ion battery pack. The "E" stands for electricity, and "Flex" for the numerous ways electricity can be created. In the Volt extended-range electric vehicle (E-REV), the E-Flex variant uses stored electricity in a lithium-ion battery pack to power the electric motor, thus driving the car's wheels. The E-Flex system could be designed to accommodate other electricity sources, says GM, including a hydrogen fuel cell or biodiesel engine.

The Chevy Volt production car also has an on-board range extender, a 1.0-liter, 3-cylinder turbocharged engine that can run on gasoline or E85, generating additional electricity to extend the Volt's driving range to 434 miles (700 kilometers). According to GM, on a 40-mile daily driving program, or 14,600 miles annually, the Chevy Volt uses zero gasoline and produces zero emissions-potentially eliminating gas station visits. On a 60-mile daily driving program, equating to more than 21,000 miles per year, drivers would save about 570 gallons of gas annually and average about 150 mpg (when compared to a similar size vehicle averaging 30 mpg). Volt can also be charged in just 6 hours using a 110-volt electrical outlet.

Technology
The most important component of the Chevy Volt is the battery, and GM engineers are developing new computer testing procedures as well as leveraging global resources to accelerate the development of its E-REV portfolio. GM's battery test facility engineers have developed a new computer algorithm to accelerate durability testing of Volt's lithium-ion batteries. The program duplicates real-life vehicle cargo-carrying conditions and speed, compressing 10 years of battery testing into the Volt's accelerated two-year development schedule. GM is currently testing two different battery solutions in its labs and on the GM Milford, Michigan Proving Ground test tracks.

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