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Paul - Off Campus
University of Houston System

2/10/2007 4:18:57 AM
GM plans to make a Hybrid Car
GM for the last couple of years has had its ASS handed to them by the foreign Manufacturers.  But GM is going to try to show some innovation by launching its first hybrid sometime in the next few years.  The car they will launch will look something like this

The car would be called the Volt.  ( how original ).  The idea is simple. They take a small 1.0L turbo charged 3 cyclinder engine, and mate it to a Generator that charges a Huge Lithium Ion Battery ( as in a jumbo version of whats on the back of your cell phone ).  Most Hybrids up til now such as the Prius have had both power sources ( Battery, and Gas ) drive the wheels. But in this concept GM is proposing to have the Engine drive the generator only, and not the wheels directly.  Supposively the car can travel for up to 40 miles on the battery before it has to start charging up the Battery again.  At that point the Gas Engine starts up and charges up the battery.  It is supposed to get 50 MPG when the gaas engine is charging the battery.  This sounds great and all but like other hybrids I see a few flaws, besides the obvious Design and Styling Issues.

1. It uses a Lithium Battery, those of you with cell phones or IPODS know that these batteries last a long time, but not forever, Its pretty normal to replace your battery every 2 - 5 years.  And of course your Cell phone's battery isn't cheap. Sometimes they cost $50 or more.  Just for a little background, my wife's Prius's battery is supposed to last for 100,000 miles.  Guess how much a replacement battery costs?  ohh about $5,000.  Even though GM's parts usually run less, they won't be that much less. 

2.  Even though I am huge fan of the concept of pluggin in my car to recharge it.  Electricity is not getting cheaper. I remember last summer I paid $300 a month for electricity.  Down in Texas our average cost per KWH ( kilowatt hour ) is about 15 cents.  Now lets look at some data and do some quick math.

Problem A.
If you are the typical commuter and drive about 40 miles a day, you won't have to burn a drop of gas, as it will run off the battery.  But then you get home and plug it in to recharge the battery.  This takes 6-6.5 hours.  and during that time it is consumming 15 amps at 110 volts.  or 1650 watts.  So lets do the math.  1650 watts( 1.65 KW ) x 6.5  hours = 10.725 KWH  and would have a cost of  $1.61 at 15 cents per KWH( typical for texas ), so over the course of a month you would spend about $50 in additional electric costs.

Problem B
To take it one step further lets do the math to determine what the equivalent mileage is when running on the battery.  Considering our results from problem A, we know that we spend about $1.61 in electricity to get 40 miles.  So this means we are spending 4.025 cents per Mile.  In Texas the current rate is $2.00 per gallon of gas.  If this car is supposed to run for 50 miles off  a single gallon ( estimated by GM ) then your cost per mile is 4.000 cents per Mile.  So at $2.00 per Gallon its cheaper to use Gas than to use your home to charge your car.  GM is pushing this car with the impression that you save money when you plug it in, and this is not so.

Final Issue with this vehicle is the styling.
From the front is looks like a Silverado / Charger
From the back it looks like a variation of a Cobalt
From the side it doesn't look bad ( aside from the Bulky Truck Rims)

The Interiror, well just say I am not impressed. 

My recommendations to GM.
First Ditch the Truck rims and use something that shows off the Disc Brakes More.
Get rid of the Truck nose.
Lower the car down to the ground more, its not a truck its a car
Flare the rear fenders more to give it more of that G35 look
The Windows should not extend past the body line
Interior is too bubbly.
Make it Rear Wheel Drive.
Make the electric motor capable of delivering 400+ pounds of torque to the ground when needed( drag racing, drive by chicks, drive by peers ) for peelouts, and showing off.
Add some Beefy 325 Rear Tires to the rear.
Two Exhaust pipes is better than one
Smooth the lines from the rear to make it look wider.
Ditch the SuperSized Chevy Bow Tie
All Parts should come pre-riced from the factory ( Cleared )
Finally - Fire those in Management who think Retro Styling is cool, and let your designers design cars that can compete with the Imports. 

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