Early Volts hit 40-mile target on batteries, engineer says

Posted: April 13, 2010
Early Volts hit 40-mile target on batteries, engineer says
Automaker tweaks car’s aerodynamics
BY TIM HIGGINS
FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER
Early versions of the Chevrolet Volt are going 40 miles on electricity as hoped, the program’s chief engineer said Monday.

"I’m very confident that the batteries are delivering the energy that they need to deliver and that the vehicle’s efficiencies are where it should be," said Andrew Farah, Volt chief engineer. "We’re still doing a few last-minute tweaks and tunes on the aerodynamics but, again, that’s just to stabilize some things."
GM is getting closer to the releas of the Chevrolet Volt, an extended-range electric car, which is to begin production in November.
Preproduction of the Volt began about two weeks ago at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant.
GM has said the Volt will be able to travel about 40 miles on electricity alone. After 40 miles, a gasoline generator is to kick in to create power.
Farah said testing shows that the Volt is hitting that 40-mile goal, though the range can change with terrain and weather.
Farah added: "This weekend alone, I had at least two cycles that were over 40 miles. I think I drove one at 41.5 and another 42.5."
Nearly a year after fully opening its global battery systems lab in Warren, GM on Monday announced plans to invest $8 million to double the facility’s size, improving on-site testing of battery cell, module and pack technologies.
"This addition will benefit consumers by helping us put cleaner, more efficient vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range, on the road more quickly and affordably," said Micky Bly, GM executive director, global electrical systems, hybrids, electric vehicles and batteries, in a statement.
GM’s announcement comes as other area automakers are beefing up their battery development in Michigan. Freep.com reported Saturday that Ford has picked its Rawsonville Plant to assemble hybrid battery packs.
"There are a number of companies gearing up to do more with battery technology," industry analyst Erich Merkle of Autoconomy.com said. But, he said, "it’s really difficult though because nobody really knows … what the true demand is for these batteries."
GM’s Warren Technical Center battery lab, which is used by more than 1,000 engineers, began work in January 2009 and was fully operational in May.
The expansion is to add 30,000 square feet. Construction is to start this month and be completed in late summer, according to GM.
The announcement does not create any immediate jobs, Brian Corbett, a GM spokesman, said by e-mail.
About half of the current lab is used for testing the electrochemical battery cells and their enclosures.

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