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GM Volt, fires, and other issues that might arise
copuis
Brisbane, Queensland
2069 posts
not sure if anyone is/has been following this (http://www.carsales.com.au/news/2012/small-passenger/chevrolet/volt/nhtsa-dampens-down-volt-fire-saga-28489)

but a little while ago, as part of safety testing, GM left a crashed volt in a field, 3 weeks after it's "crash" it caught fire,

GM's response has been that it (the test) wasn't carried out correctly as one of the techs left the battery plugged in (although the test was to see if there was a danger in storing the car after a crash, but a minor point)

now something I have noticed is in Vic cars that have a battery pack are sporting a little red diamond (much like the LPG sticker on gas powered cars) which I think is a great Idea,

there is one thing I foresee as been a problem above the normal issues with E.V's, and "hybrids" is the battery/engine management system in the volt

for those that are unaware the car starts itself roughly once a month if the engine has not been used, (to get it all nice and working), this also happens if the battery drops below a certain charge (all without user intervention)
then there is the fuel management system, as some people might be aware, fuel goes off, so if there engine hasn't been used (other than the once a month it should do) after a year, it will turn on, and drain the tank completely (which might be some 6 or more hours of running)

now, say you park your car on the lawn and go on a holiday, (likely) maybe put a car cover on the car, there is no way (that I know of) to turn the automatic running feature off, a car, parked over grass (which will grow rather tall quickly) and the car runs, catalytic converter heats up, and bam, grass fire

or you live in a little home, like a retirement village or alike, you by the car, you do your 5000kms a year, the engine clicks into "drain the tank" mode, and suddenly the house is filled with carbon monoxide,


while this is a nice idea, (even if it has taken far longer than any good reason to be released here, not like they are selling wildly...................anywhere) I can see there are somethings that might not be well thought out,

also, I greatly dislike GM, but thats a side note, and should have been clear to all,
(the last good thing they made was the 1962 corvette)
03:17pm 23/01/12 Permalink
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03:17pm 23/01/12 Permalink
trog
AGN Admin
Brisbane, Queensland
35501 posts
Two subject typos fixed, because I'm feeling generous!

This was bashed out over on slashdot; the comments are really interesting.

Main things I got out of them:

1) The fire does sound like a bit of a non-event; it was unusual circumstances and unlikely to be reproduced IRL. There are people all up around going "omg who wants to drive around on something so dangerous" who seem to forget that a gas tank full of petrol isn't exactly safe either, but they are shut down in style.

2) Even though they think it is massively unlikely to cause problems, they are going to put in a new safety mechanism involving two steel plates around the battery as a "just in case" thing.

3) GM is now the back to being the biggest car manufacturer in the world. (Looks like the bailout worked!?! Wikpedia tells me the US Govt still owns about 33% of GM, so assuming they can keep it on track, it might turn out to be a good investment. I look forward to hearing about why this is a bad idea from the extremist capitalists though :)

4) There's a few great anecdotal stories in there from Volt owners that sound very happy with the car and that it works really well on electric-only engine.

I am really encouraged by this as it sounds like a really cool electric car.. although I would hate to buy an American car. My car-lovin' mates reckon that this gas-backed electric thing is the way to go and I love the idea of it; I could do 99.9% of my driving on electric-only with no hassles at all and it would still give me the freedom to do longer range stuff.
03:57pm 23/01/12 Permalink
skythra
Brisbane, Queensland
5120 posts
I look forward to hearing about why this is a bad idea from the extremist capitalists though :)

Invest in a profitable company,
profitable company expands taking up the slack of the non-profitable company.
Economy is good, but the profitable company obviously has better efficiency so less wastage of non-capitalist lovers money.

Win Win. (The GM example is kind of a win lose, like backing a sports team which has lost every event but still managed to win the hearts of it's fan and sponsorships paid off).

Not like you can reduce the number of car sales, old cars get old due to time, and new cars are required because of that + growing populations.
04:21pm 23/01/12 Permalink
copuis
Brisbane, Queensland
2072 posts
I think as a way to get the best of both worlds (green driving on electric power), and been able to drive, stop at a fuel station, and continue to drive is a great stopgap (until battery swaps, flex fuel, or hydrogen stations are built and established)

this would be a great car for this country, combine with solar, it would a great city car, (better still if there was a solar panel on the to run the A/C for a bit

also, thanks for the grammar/spelling fixes

do you see a way around the chances of a grass fire, or a gasing due to the management systems in the car?, there seems to be alot of talk regarding low temps, but how is it going to handle the high temps here? (I know the battery has a cooling system but surely it will struggle to cope when you have a high drain on the battery, like driving, on a hot road, in stop start with the A/C cranked, with little airflow due to traffic?? (pretty sure li ion doesn't like being above 50c, as it gets all thermal runaway and stuff)

I know these are things other makers have been looking into, (honda looks to be going with a capacitor bank, not a battery pack for future models of their hybrids)

audi's RE extended EV (the one with the rotary) has O2 sensors and co2 sensor, and if it thinks there is a jew, it repents it's german past and doesn't gas them, (that system works for all people), and has a high mounted cat to limit ground fires

in all the volt which was a concept car in what, 06-07, there was a bunch of "development" and it launched in the US a year and a half ago, that is a pretty long developmental cycle for a major car marker, and what was to be a volume seller, that said, i think it is still on limited sale in the states (due in part because it is still in development, and mass production has yet to start)

(to give you some idea, the prius (the first hybrid car in modern years) hit the car shows in concept form in 1995, launched in 1997, the honda insigt concept was 1997, launched in 1999, there were alot more hurdles for these to cars than the volt (other than having GM involved of course)
04:32pm 23/01/12 Permalink
Whoop
Brisbane, Queensland
19280 posts
now, say you park your car on the lawn and go on a holiday, (likely) maybe put a car cover on the car, there is no way (that I know of) to turn the automatic running feature off, a car, parked over grass (which will grow rather tall quickly) and the car runs, catalytic converter heats up, and bam, grass fire

Not sure what mystical land you live in with magical grass but I used to regularly park my spare car out back on the grass and after a month there was no grass at all because no sun got to it and it just died. Sure the grass around the outside of the car got tall enough but there was no grass under it.

(pretty sure li ion doesn't like being above 50c, as it gets all thermal runaway and stuff)

I've got a Li-Ion powered drill and that f***** gets so hot you can't touch it. Just sayin'.
06:37pm 23/01/12 Permalink
konstie
Melbourne, Victoria
1919 posts
http://gm-volt.com/2010/12/09/the-chevrolet-volt-coolingheating-systems-explained/

Admittedly it's a bit old, but it would not have changed massively between this date and production (maybe MY14 after all the fires!)
06:43pm 23/01/12 Permalink
Agamemnon
Brisbane, Queensland
972 posts
i like the look of it more than some of the other electric cars i have seen to-date

will they be available in Aus?
06:48pm 23/01/12 Permalink
copuis
Brisbane, Queensland
2074 posts
whoop, there are way too many different types of li-ion batteries, but in short, high heat is bad for all of them, some are more robust than others,

fact is that there is a really chance that the systems might not cope with the high heat/load remembering that the engine does't directly power anything, it mearly charges the battery, if the battery "dies" or goes flat, that's it, not brakes, no steering, no airbags, nothing

as for the grass, I've found that parking a car over grass for a few days makes the grass thinner, taller and yellower, then it get scraggy and dies, making some sort of hayish like grass that would be great to light on fire,
07:15pm 23/01/12 Permalink
sLaps_Forehead
Brisbane, Queensland
5759 posts
Just buy a Nissan Leaf
10:27pm 23/01/12 Permalink
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10:27pm 23/01/12 Permalink
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