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'LTU@LTU' Crowd Gets Close-Up Of Chevy Volt

The Chevrolet Volt is more than a revolutionary car.

It's also a "great Michigan story," Chevy Volt Vehicle Line Director Tony Posawatz said at the "Last Thursdays Unwired @ Lawrence Technological University" monthly breakfast at Lawrence Tech.

Posawatz pointed out that the Volt is assembled in GM's Detroit-Hamtramck plant. Its battery module is assembled in Brownstown Township. And its individual battery cells, now made in Korea, will soon be made in Holland.

And Posawatz said there are also opportunities for Michigan companies in Volt applications, charging stations and more.

Posawatz offered a detailed technical look at the Volt's electronic innards, from the battery to electronic components, software controls and thermal management system.

The Volt is a four-passenger electric vehicle capable of all-electric operations for 25 to 50 miles, depending on conditions and driving style, at up to 100 mph. But it has a total range of almost 400 miles, because when the batteries are depleted, a small, 1.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine generates electricity to make the electric drive motors propel the car. The gas engine requires premium fuel, and kicks on from time to time even when not needed to propel the car in order to lubricate its interior parts and burn off old gasoline.

Posawatz said the Volt was designed from the ground up around its T-shaped battery pack, which runs between the front seats in a tunnel much like that found in a rear-wheel drive car and extends under the back seats. He said that configuration provides plenty of protection for the battery pack in the event of a crash.

But the Volt also borrows other architecture and components from other GM cars.

The Volt's battery pack carries an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty, and is designed for 10 years of use and 150,000 miles. GM intentionally designs the Volt to use only about 60 percent of its power to prolong its life.

The Volt's battery recharges in eight to nine hours on 110-volt current, drawing 1.2 kilowatts, meaning a recharge costs a little over a buck. The recharge time on 220-volt current is about four hours.

The Volt also features a variety of suspension and driving modes, including Normal Mode for everyday driving, Sport Mode for more "spirited" driving and Mountain Mode to reserve some battery charge to use for the climb.

GM has also creeated an OnStar MyLink mobile app that tells the Volt owner her vehicle's state of charge, EV range, total range, whether it's plugged in or not, voltage at plug and charge mode. Using the phone, the driver can start charging, unlock doors and perform other functions.

Posawatz said the Volt should cost 2 to 3 cents a mile in electric mode, vs. 12 cents a mile for gasoline vehicles.

Also speaking Tuesday was Lawrence Tech mechanical engineering professor Robert W. Fletcher, who described the increasing complexity of electronic controls required to make electric cars possible.

He said EVs require more sophisticated systems to help the driver control the vehicle -- there's simply too much going on in the vehicle for the driving to control everything without the assistance of sensors, signal processors and more.

He joked that our next car is just as likely to have a Kalman filter as an air filter. (A Kalman filter is a mathematical method to keep good signals and ignore noisy or erroneous data.)

For pictures of Thursday's event, visit

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