2010 launch set for GM’s all-electric car – and SA’s making one too

Posted by Laura Grant on June 4, 2008
Posted in Transport

General Motors has announced that it’s all-electric car, the Chevy Volt, will be launched in 2010 and will be in showrooms (in the US, presumably) by the end of that year, Reuters reports.

The Volt will be powered entirely by an electric motor and have a lithium-ion battery pack that can be charged through an ordinary plug point. The car will be designed to travel for about 60km on its battery pack – which is apparently enough for the average daily commute in America. For longer trips, the Volt has a “range-extending power source” which “kicks in to recharge the lithium-ion battery pack as required”, says the Chevrolet.com website. This will last for around 1,000km, the site says. The car should also be able to reach a top speed of at least 100km.

Reuters says Toyota is also racing to market its own plug-in hybrid by 2010 using the same technology.

The full-charge cycle should take about three hours at 220V, gm-volt.com reports. It’s all very nice in theory, considering how the petrol price is rocketing, but the big question is whether South Africa’s power monopoloy Eskom would be able to cope with the demands electric cars would put on the grid – even if they were charged at night.

Peet du Plooy of the WWF was interviewed by summit TV earlier this year when the WWF’s report “Plugged in, the end of the oil age” was released. He said that electric vehicles cost a tenth of the price to run over time and an added advantage is that electricity is generated locally, whereas South Africa imports its oil. He also said that if you compared turning coal into electricity with turning coal into liquid fuel (as Sasol does), the electric car would go three times further with the same amount of fuel.

He also said, that in South Africa, Optimal Energy of Cape Town, which had received government funding from the Innovation Fund, was looking to go into production with an electric vehicle in 2010.

The deputy science and technology minister, Derek Hanekom, was reported in Saturday’s The Weekender as saying that the first prototype of the South African-designed car would be unveiled by early next year.

The reports says that the batteries will be imported from China and that the six-seater passenger vehicle would have a range of between 100km and 400km. And, here’s a bonus, “the roof would have solar panels to help charge the battery when it is parked in the sun”. Now, there’s a good idea for sunny South Africa.

How a locally made vehicle would compete with vehicles made by well-known car manufacturers’ on the market, is another matter.


2 Responses to “2010 launch set for GM’s all-electric car – and SA’s making one too”

  1. Laurence Gilbert
    September 19th, 2008 @ 6:06 pm

    GM does not understand that being light and slippery is the name of the game in electric cars. Building a sporty, but large battery car dooms the car to low range. It is time that American designers leave the gothic design criteria that has dominated domestic design since the beginning of American auto production. What is needed is small, sleek cars with tank like construction, very low drag (lower than the typical .30 drag coefficient) with designs that are wind friendly. Perhaps the designs would not be as radical as the Aptera, but just as efficiently designed. Light, strong composites should be chosen for the chassis/body with undersides fully shrouded, no rearview mirrors (use cameras) as they account for a huge percentage of drag relative to their size, smooth and flush panel fitting with gentle changes to maximize laminar flow, low rolling resistance wheels and light rims and other obvious design features will reap huge benefits. It only remains to reeducate the American public away from the ‘status’ of huge brontosaurus like, pathetically inefficient vehicles.

  2. Samuel
    March 28th, 2009 @ 8:47 am

    1. How ozone free/friendly is the electric vehicle?

    2. Does the vehicle have a positive or negative influence on the earth?

    3. ±How many resources from the earth are used to run the electric vehicle?

    4. What is the advantage of owning an electric vehicle?

    5. What is the disadvantage of owning an electric vehicle?

    6. How long does it take the car to recharge?

    7. What is the price difference ± between an electric and combustion engine vehicle?

    8. What is the probability of the electric cars over coming combustion engine cars?

    9. Is it possible to convert from a combustion engine to electric engine vehicle?

    10. How long would it take to convert to an electric vehicle?

    11. How much would it cost the customer ± to convert to an electric vehicle?

    12. After conversion will the car increase, decrease or remain the same in speed and engine capacity?

    13. Is it preferable to convert or buy a new electric car?

    14. How flammable is an electric car?

    15. What is the basic weight of an electric car?

    16. If involved in a collision (accident) with equal forces, would you suffer more or fewer injures than the occupant in a combustion engine car?

    17. Would you recommend this car for yourself and others?

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