Thursday, August 30, 2007

The 60,000 Volt Question

If there is any doubt that GM is serious about PHEVs, here is one more story that indicates that they are indeed very serious.

GM Could Reportedly Produce 60,000 Plug-in Hybrids in 2010
OAKLAND, Calif., Aug. 23, 2007 -- General Motors Corp. could reportedly produce up to 60,000 Volt electric cars in 2010, its first anticipated year on the market. Bloomberg, citing anonymous sources, reported Wednesday that first year sales of the automaker's plug-in hybrid could quadruple that of the Toyota Prius' U.S. debut.

The car, expected to run 40 miles without recharging, will cost less than $30,000.

"If they were able to get 30,000 to 60,000 on the road in a year, it would be a huge leap in technology," Brett Smith, an alternative-fuel analyst at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, told Bloomberg. "It will be difficult, though, because there are so many barriers to making this happen."

GM Product Chief Bob Lutz is quoted in various newspapers saying he wanted to get prototypes of the Volt ready for road tests next year, and ready for sale in 2010. Selling 60,000 hybrids would be a coup for GM, which lost nearly $2 billion in 2006. That would make the Volt its best selling high mileage car behind the Chevrolet Aveo.

It took about five years for the Prius, which sells for about $22,000, to reach annual sales of 60,000, Bloomberg reported. Toyota sold 5,562 Prius models in 2000, when it was on the market for part of the year. Sales tripled the following year and topped 60,000 for the first time in 2005. They totaled 110,565 units this year through July, making the Prius the 12th-most popular vehicle in the U.S., according to Audodata Corp., a Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, company that monitors the industry. Toyota has sold more than 1 million gasoline-electric vehicles since 1997. more

The Volt is charged at a household outlet and uses an on- board engine to generate electricity when the battery runs down during travel. The engine, powered by gasoline, diesel or a hydrogen fuel cell, only recharges the battery and doesn't drive the wheels. Its full range is about 640 miles on a tank of gasoline, about double the range of a typical car or truck.
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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Plug In Scooter

Generally, when we talk about Plug Ins, we think about automobiles. And there has been some big news on that front in the last few weeks. Toyota has now moved to have a plug-in approved in Japan and will test them on California campuses. Meanwhile GM is actively moving forward on the Volt.

But there are other embodiments of plug in technology.

This one might become a real favorite.

Piaggio launches hybrid scooter
02 Aug 2007

Italian manufacturer Piaggio, the maker of Vespa, has launched an environmentally friendly hybrid scooter by mechanically and electronically linking a traditional combustion engine with an electric motor.

The new design, which has a working title of HyS (Hybrid Scooter), allows the petrol engine to work as ‘normal’, but whenever the rider needs to accelerate more aggressively, the electric motor kicks in, providing about 85 per cent extra performance. The grouping of petrol and electric provides significant reductions in fuel consumption and C02 emissions.

In this dual drive-by-wire type system, a sophisticated electronic management system interprets the rider’s request for more power, and selects the level of assistance based on the current level of battery charge. During deceleration, the battery is then recharged, which can also be achieved via a regular electricity source, taking about three hours.

As well as the hybrid set up, riders can also toggle between two other modes on a HyS scooter: electric and petrol. In electric, the combustion engine is completely shut down, and allows a range of up to 20km. “Scooters already enjoy a low environmental impact and soon owners will be able to further reduce their footprint on the earth,” said Piaggio’s Brand Manager Simon Gloyne.

“Our studies have revealed that potential owners want to do the right thing, but are reluctant about electric-only scooters due to their limited range and inability to take on fresh energy at the drop of a hat. The HyS models will enable owners to have their environmental cake and eat it too.”

Piaggio has already produced prototypes of the HyS, based on the Vespa LX and Piaggio X8 and three-wheeled MP3 scooter families. The HyS versions are visually identical to the standard scooters, with the batteries housed in the underseat storage space. There is a battery charge indicator on the respective dashboards.

Piaggio Australia is planning to introduce these new models, although a release date for the revolutionary HyS scooter is yet to be determined."
Plug In development is accelerating. And new ideas and partnerships are developing. GM is even considering renting its batteries.