Lots more news on the Chevy Volt: the EPA fuel efficiency sticker confirms the car's performance; the company meets its November deadline; plans for the first vehicles; reports from the first drivers; a Southern California Volt event this weekend. Plus: a British study validating PHEVs; news about the European Ampera; and another encouraging development for conversion of gas-guzzlers, this time in Iceland.
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EPA RATES CHEVY VOLT AT 93MPGe: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued its ratings on the Volt. The car came in at 93MPe (equivalent) combined city/highway in all-electric mode. ("Equivalency" attempts to compare vehicle efficiency by calculating the electric energy equivalent of a gallon of gas.) The Volt rated a respectable 37 MPG when the battery is depleted and the car runs as a hybrid. The EPA also confirmed a 35-mile electric only range, four-hour charging at 240 Volts, 379 total range, and an overall combined MPG and MPGe number of 60, based on assumed driving patterns. (A week before, the EPA rated the all-electric Nissan LEAF 106 MPGE city and 92 highway.)
The stickers have been a subject of great controversy -- and negotiation with carmakers. The results are good enough to demonstrate the plug-in's enormous advantage over conventional gasoline-only and conventional hybrid vehicles. And they effectively silence those who've been skeptical of the message from CalCars and other advocates that PHEVs can get "100+MPG of gasoline plus a penny a mile of electricity." You can read thoughtful analyses and discussions at the usual news sites; also see Ron Gremban's technical comments at http://www.plugincars.com/epa-rates-chevy-volt-93-mpg-or-60-mpg-or-35-mpg-depending-106498.html#comment-2729
GM DELIVERS FIRST CAR IN NOVEMBER: GM announced the Volt on January 7, 2007 as a concept vehicle. Within a few months, the company said it would be produced by November 2010. While every other plug-in car-maker has found its schedules slipping, even with a delay to follow GM's IPO, the company coasted to a last-day-of-the-month finish line. (Of course, it's actually a starting gate!) The first car went to the company's Heritage Center exhibit. And now that the fuel economy sticker can be put on car windows, we're looking forward to consumer deliveries, perhaps in December.
VOLT #2 UP FOR AUCTION: The second production vehicle is being auctioned at http://www.bidonthevolt.com
ending Tuesday December 14. The proceeds in two weeks will benefit the Detroit Public Schools Foundation, supporting science, technology, engineering and math programs. Bidding for this unique vehicle has already reached $180,000.
GM CONSIDERS EXPANDING PRODUCTION: Currently GM plans to produce 10-15,000 Volts in 2011 for delivery in seven states, then 45,000 in 2012 nationwide. 240,000 interested buyers have signed up on its website. To start paying off development costs and build profitability through economies of scale, GM's CEO Dan Akerson said at the launch ceremony that GM is considering doubling or tripling the Volt's volumes; Vice Chairman Tom Stephens said increases could begin in 2011. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-30/general-motors-said-to-hire-1-000-electric-vehicle-engineers-in-michigan.html
GM COMMITS FURTHER TO VEHICLE ELECTRIFICATION: At the Volt launch event, GM spokesperson Rob Peterson said the company will increase its 2,000 EV engineer team by another 1,000. Clearly the Volt is the starting point for plug-in models throughout the company's line.
BRITISH ENGINEERING PANEL ENDORSES PHEVS: A panel of nine leading British auto industry consultants has concluded that series PHEVs are the most practical bridge to EVs for a decade or longer. See the 54-page report at http://www.raeng.org.uk/news/publications/list/reports/Electric_Vehicles.pdf
. An article from the US Society of Auto Engineers at http://ev.sae.org/article/8612
analyzes the report and quotes at length from Richard Parry-Jones, former top tech executive at Ford.
NEWS FROM EARLY VOLT DRIVERS: Members of the Volt Consumer Advisory Board are recounting their experience at two independent websites: http://gm-volt.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?18-VOLT-Consumer-Advisory-Board-Discussion-Forum
and the newer http://gmvoltcab.com
. GM-Volt.com publisher Lyle Dennis describes his first weeks at http://gm-volt.com/2010/11/29/living-with-the-chevy-volt-the-first-1300-miles/.
And if you're near Los Angeles this Saturday afternoon, you're invited to the second meet-up of Southern California Volt drivers. Chelsea Sexton explains why it's especially great that the event will be hosted at the GM Powertrain Advanced Technology Center in Torrance, and that it will include a get-together with GM engineers and a tour of the facility. Details at http://www.gmvoltcab.com/journal/2010/11/23/next-socal-volt-cab-meet-up.html
OBAMA TOUTS EUROPE'S VERSION OF VOLT: While at a NATO meeting in Lisbon, the President checked out the Opel Ampera, slated for sale in Europe a year from now. He was making the point that plug-in vehicle technology developed in the U.S. will be a strong contender for international sales. Largely because of value-added taxes, the vehicle's list price will be $17,000 higher than the Volt. http://www.detnews.com/article/20101120/AUTO01/11200383/Obama-promotes-electric-cars-on-Portugal-visit--
ON OUR OTHER FAVORITE TOPIC: PLUG-IN CONVERSIONS: We're encouraged by the latest from Northern Lights Energy in Iceland, a company with ambitious goals of converting the nation's entire fleet to plug in. It has a letter of intent to purchase 1,000 electric SUVs from Amp EVs http://www.ampelectricvehicles.com/
, the small public Ohio company that has begun selling all-electric retrofits of GM Equinox SUVs and Solstice and Sky roadsters. AMP says it has a deal with an unnamed carmaker to provide vehicles. Details on the Iceland deal at http://www.bnet.com/blog/electric-cars/amped-up-in-iceland-1000-electric-suvs-on-order/2726
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Felix Kramer fkramer@...
Founder California Cars Initiative
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