Engineers of the four-seat Chevrolet Volt electric car often refer to its 435-pound battery pack as the fifth passenger. Given the care taken to keep the pack at just the right temperature in all temperature conditions, there is a lot of truth to that.
The Volt’s ability to operate gasoline-free on a day-to-day basis and carry an eight-year/100,000-mile battery warranty is due to active thermal management of the advanced lithium ion battery pack.
“Every battery has a temperature sweet spot where it provides the optimal blend of power output, energy capacity and long life and we keep the Volt right on that target,” said Bill Wallace, General Motors director of Global Battery Systems. Batteries that are too cold are reluctant to release electrons while batteries that run too hot can see a significantly shorter life.
The Volt’s T-shaped battery pack consists of 288 individual cells arranged into nine modules. Plastic frames hold pairs of lithium-ion cells that sandwich an aluminum cooling fin. The design and construction of that aluminum plate is critical to ensuring an even temperature distribution with no hot or cool spots across the flat, rectangular cell. The battery pack has its own cooling circuit that is similar to, but independent from, the engine cooling system.
What is the Chevrolet Volt exactly? This video explains how the Volt is different from hybrid, pure electric and gas-powered cars on the road.
Chevy Volt Commercial: Socket
The Volt has won nearly every major award offered and stirred up tons of interest, but one criticism persists: The price is way too high.
Chevy cars -- including the Volt -- have always been intended for a mainstream market, but at $41,000, it seems GM is asking buyers to pay as they might for a Mercedes-Benz or BMW.
The next-generation Volt will almost certainly cost less, GM spokesman Rob Peterson said. And the same changes that make it cheaper should make it better, too.
So what's the sweet spot for the Volt, price wise? A $7,500 federal tax credit takes the cost down to around $30,000. That seems like a more viable price, but tax credits wont last forever.