BMW hires Frank Weber, GM’s lead engineer for Chevrolet Volt

Article by Christian Andrei, on April 9, 2011

BMW, the world's leading luxury carmaker, will surely get a boost up when it comes to electric vehicle development as it has been confirmed that it has hired Frank Weber, formerly the Opel product chief. Weber has extensive experience in this field as he has also worked as the lead engineer for the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid. BMW is planning to schedule the launch of its i3 full-electric car and its i8 plug-in hybrid in 2013.

Sources told Automotive News Europe that Weber will report to Klaus Draeger, the head of research and development at BMW. The appointment of Weber shows how much automakers value experts in alternative powertrains especially since BMW prefers to promote from within its ranks instead of hiring execs from rivals.

This is the second time in the past several months that a top-tier engineer has left Opel. The first was Hans Demant, formerly an Opel Managing Director, who left in October 2010 to become Volkswagen AG’s senior vice president in charge of international relations.

To date, Opel hasn’t named who will succeed Weber. He spent two years in the development of the Volt. The Ampera, Volt and Opel's version of the car, made its debut in Europe last November.

Chevrolet has recently introduced an electric vehicle, the 2011 Volt that comes with a comprehensive range, creating a totally new segment in the worldwide automotive market. The 5-door, 4-passenger Chevrolet Volt gives the advantages of an electric vehicle with no range restrictions commonly associated with electrical vehicles.

GM North America president Mark Reuss said that if you would own just one car, this should be the Chevy Volt. It has everything you need, including cutting-edge propulsion system, advanced styling, superior amenities plus user-friendly technologies, spirited driving dynamics and industry-leading safety.

In a span of 29 months, the Chevrolet Volt has been designed, engineered, developed then delivered to customers. It will be sold at Chevrolet dealers before 2010 ends. It is presented in a well-equipped standard trim level together with two packages as an option: Premium Trim Package as well as Rear Camera and Park Assist Package.

Chevrolet Volt, A Class of Its Own

The Chevrolet Volt, not a hybrid but an original, all-electrically driven vehicle, is designed and engineered to perform in all weather conditions. Equipped with GM's innovative Voltec propulsion system, it comes with a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack plus an electric drive unit, which delivers from 25 to 50 mile pure electric range, subject to the terrain, temperature and driving style. It has a 1.4L gasoline power-driven engine that stretches the range by an extra 310 miles on a full fuel tank by operating the car’s electric drive system until it can be plugged in and refueled or recharged. This sets the Volt apart from purely electric-powered vehicles, which can’t function when recharging is not instantly available like on a long-distance travel or during a power outage.

According to Volt global vehicle line executive Doug Parks, the electric driving experience given by the Chevy Volt is as productive, efficient, intuitive, fun and safe as other premium vehicles of the same size in the present market.

All major components of the Chevy Volt were designed and inspected for efficiency such as its specially designed tires, lightweight wheels and energy-saving premium stereo system, among others. The Volt is among the most energy-efficient and aerodynamic vehicles in the market because of the special attention given to details.

Chevy Volt: Redefining Electric Drive

The heart of the Chevy Volt lies in its Voltec propulsion system, combining pure electric drive with an efficient range-lengthening engine to give a total maximum range of 350 miles.

Its long-life battery includes a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that is 5.5 feet long, weighs 435 pounds (198.1 kg), has a T-shape and is manufactured in Brownstown Township, Michigan. This delivers energy to a state-of-the-art 111-kW or 149-hp electric drive unit to activate the vehicle. The Volt provides a drive of from 25 to 50 miles that’s fuel-free as well as tailpipe emission-free, with variations subject to terrain, temperature and driving technique.

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