Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More thoughts on the Chevy Volt

Officially, I don't have a position (yet) on the Chevy Volt.  Even as a kid, I was never a GM guy (long story and trust me, my brother has more than made up for it by buying GM religiously over the years).  But the idea that you would have essentially an electric car that had an on-board recharging system sounded like a good idea to me.  After all, the best way to increase the efficiency of an internal combustion engine is to run it at a constant speed.  If the IC engine in a car was mostly there to recharge batteries, it could be pretty small AND you could run it at a constant speed.  So even though this was GM, I HAVE been watching Volt pretty closely.

Well now that Volt is about to appear in showrooms, we are seeing the reviews.  Two are quite interesting.  First we have a review by David Pogue of the New York Times.  As a long-time Mac person, I have read Pogue a lot over the years because he has been NYT's goto guy on all things Apple.  So even though he is not a car guy, Pogue is probably qualified to write as someone who really understands electronics AND new product introductions.
November 11, 2010, 1:28 PM
The Volt Recharges My Batteries
David Pogue 
I’ve been fascinated by the Chevy Volt since the day I heard about the concept.
Which is this: it’s an electric car without the short range of electric cars.
Usually, when your electric car’s battery dies, you’re dead on the road. You have no choice but to tow it, or wait hours for it to recharge.
General Motors’ concept is to equip the Volt with a tiny gas-powered generator that can power the electric motor even after the battery’s dead. It’s sort of like a reverse Prius: instead of having a gasoline-fed car assisted by a battery, it’s an electric car assisted by gasoline.
It’s a huge gamble and a huge challenge. Three years ago, I interviewed Bob Lutz, General Motors’ vice president of product development, about how difficult the Volt project was. Especially developing a battery that can last 10 years (it’s warrantied for eight), work in blazing heat and freezing cold and have enough capacity to power the car for 40 miles a day on electricity alone. (That, says G.M., covers the driving needs of 82 percent of Americans.) more
And then there is Motor Trend--one of those testosterone-laden car magazines that usually have orgasms over 200 mph sports cars--especially red ones that look good on the cover.  They have a "Car of the Year" award that is highly coveted by the car company's marketing departments--mostly because the award is bestowed for mostly objective reasons.
2011 Motor Trend Car of the Year: Chevrolet Volt
A Car of the Future You Can Drive Today
From the January, 2011 issue of Motor Trend
/ By Angus MacKenzie
"I expected a science fair experiment. But this is a moonshot."
Chris Theodore is a wily veteran of the auto business, a seasoned development engineer whose impressive resume includes vehicles as thoughtfully executed as the Chrysler minivan and as tightly focused as the Ford GT.
As one of the consultant judges on this year's COTY panel, Chris brought the deep insight and professional skepticism you'd expect of someone who's spent his entire working life making cars. But our 2011 Car of the Year, Chevrolet's ground-breaking Volt, has blown him away.
"This is a fully developed vehicle with seamlessly integrated systems and software, a real car that provides a unique driving experience. And commuters may never need to buy gas!"
Like all of us on the staff at Motor Trend, Chris is an enthusiast, a man who'll keep a thundering high-performance V-8 in his garage no matter how high gas prices go. But he nailed the Volt's place in automotive history: "If this is the brave new world, then it's an acceptable definition."  more
Awarding COTY to the Volt provoked Rush Limbaugh to complain that this was some sort of political-correctness run amok.  This is MT's response.  Trust me on this Rushbo, NEVER argue with a car magazine--folks who enjoy the fruits of testosterone LIKE to argue.  And when it comes to cars, they know WAY more than you ever will.
Rush to Judgment
You said, “Folks, of all the cars, no offense, General Motors, please, but of all the cars in the world, the Chevrolet Volt is the Car of the Year? Motor Trend magazine, that’s the end of them. How in the world do they have any credibility? Not one has been sold. The Volt is the Car of the Year.”
So, Mr. Limbaugh; you didn’t enjoy your drive of our 2011 Car of the Year, the Chevrolet Volt? Assuming you’ve been anywhere near the biggest automotive technological breakthrough since … I don’t know, maybe the self-starter, could you even find your way to the front seat? Or are you happy attacking a car that you’ve never even seen in person?
Last time you ranted about the Volt, you got confused about the “range,” and said on the air that the car could be driven no more than 40 miles at a time, period. At least you stayed away from that issue this time, but you continue to attack it as the car only a tree hugging, Obama-supporting Government Motors customer would want. As radio loudmouths like you would note, none of those potential customers were to be found after November 2. more

No comments:

Post a Comment