Monday, February 18, 2008

GM Volt Concept Car

LiveScience reports on the futuristic GM concpet car called the Volt. The interesting feature of the car is its throwback engine design - it runs on rechargable electric batteries and uses its engine to recharge them, much like old WWI and WWII submarines did before the advent of nuclear power.

"They have taken the way that the automobile industry thinks about hybrid cars, and turned it on its ear," said Michelle Krebs, editor at Edmunds "If you don't drive far, you may never need gasoline. No other major car maker had done this." Most hybrid cars, she noted, retain a connection between the engine and the wheels, and use the electric motor to supplement the gasoline engine."

The Volt owns lithium ion batteries holding 16 kw hours of energy, powering a 120 kw motor enabling a zero to 60 time of 8.5 seconds, and allowing a driving range of over 40 miles, more than enough for most commutes, on just half the battery power. The car could be recharged in around 8 hours with a 110 volt outlet, which would you around 88 cents at the average electrical price today. With a 12 gallon tank of gasloline and a charged battery, you would have a theoretical range of 640 miles - or 53 miles per gallon. One technical hurdle yet to overcome, however, is how to disperse heat generated by the batteries, but GM is hoping to be able to have the car in its production lineup by 2010.

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