Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Race Is On

Soon coming to a car lot near you, the Chevy Volt.

The Volt can be fully charged by plugging it into a 110-volt outlet for approximately six hours a day. When the lithium-ion battery is fully charged, the Volt can deliver 40 city miles of pure electric vehicle range. When the battery is depleted, a 1L, three-cylinder turbocharged engine spins at a constant speed, or revolutions per minute (rpm), to create electricity and replenish the battery.

In related news, Toyota is halting production of its trucks and sport utility vehicles. Wow.

In the same breath, in a move to satisfy the growing demand for hybrids, Toyota said it will start building the gas-electric Prius in the United States, at a Mississippi plant that will open in 2010.

Here's why:

Industrywide, large pickups dropped 24 percent, to 819,000, through June and are on track to fall under 1.5 million for the year, more than 1 million less than the 2005 peak. Overall industry sales are down 10 percent, and Toyota's combined car and truck sales are off 7 percent.

Toyota will close U.S. plants and move production around a bit, but they say they will not be laying off any workers. Instead they will retrain them. Wow again.

Prius or Volt?

And what's this anyways? Innovation from an American automobile company? How did that happen? Did a bunch of greedy old fat white male car company executives just all die or something?


wunelle said...

As something of a Car Guy, I love both these ideas. But the Chevy is better suited for where we're headed--and indeed Toyota will be there very shortly with something similar.

All credit to Toyota for doing the hard work to make their technological marvel so user-friendly and workable; from where they are now w/ the Prius to where Chevy is aiming the Volt is a small step compared to the big jump the Prius represents.

I think the solution to our transportation issues will not be found primarily with public transit--we're simply too spread out. But with an improvement in battery technology, we can concentrate on more efficient means of generating power centrally (nuclear, wind, geothermal, solar, etc.) and then storing that energy in the car in battery form or with compressed air or the like.

It's actually an exciting time to be a machinery geek, as our world will see a lot of change in the next 10-20 years.

dbackdad said...

Very cool. Hopefully it will start an avalanche of change by the major manufacturers. But you never know. There are other forces at work besides market demand. If customers wanting a car was enough, the EV1 would still be made.

Ruth said...

I'm looking forward to the disappearance of the one-car one-person commuter traffic altogether. Mass transit will do so many favors to us all.