General Motors has only just started to promote its electric vehicle segment in China. So far, sales of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid car have been low. But even so, GM aims to be a major play in this segment as the market for these vehicles widens. Ray Bierzynski, head of GM's electric vehicle strategy in China, said that Volt sales are minimal.
One reason is because Chinese import duties raise the price to nearly double its price of slightly below $40,000 in the U.S. He also said that GM is relying on this vehicle to cement the name of GM as it unleashes the similar alternative-energy vehicles in the future. He didn’t give Volt’s sales figure but then it’s likely to be a low-volume car.
GM has talked about its plan to eventually sell the Cadillac ELR luxury electric coupe in China. There are also plans to explore an all-electric version of its Chevy Sail, a best-selling car in China, where GM held the biggest market share. When interviewed, Biergzynski disavowed the presence of a “silver bullet.”
He said that all of these may soon be applied. He said that the present emphasis in China is mainly on the commercial sector, for which 84% of all new-energy vehicles have been certified.
The Chinese government is hoping that there will be 500,000 electric and hybrid vehicles on the road by 2015. This figure will increase to 5 million units by 2020. It also said that construction of related infrastructure, like charging stations, would have to be done faster.
Bierzynski said automakers will have to sell alternative-energy vehicles to cope with the aggressive fuel economy standards China established for 2020. He reiterated what Dan Akerson said last April that there are no plans from GM to build the Volt in China.
Chevrolet Volt’s Voltec propulsion system features a pure electric drive as complemented by a range-extending engine. Voltec’s 111-kW (149-hp) electric drive unit is powered by durable T-shaped, lithium-ion battery pack. Measuring 5.5 feet and weighing 435 pounds (198.1 kg), this 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack –as produced in Brownstown Township, Mich. – allows the new Volt to have an all-electric range of between 25 miles and 50 miles.
Total range depends on terrain, temperature and driving techniques. If this range isn’t enough, the range-extending engine allows the Volt to drive farther to 350 total miles.
The lithium-ion battery pack in the Chevrolet Volt was developed and designed not just to be high-performing and reliable, but also durable and safe. In fact, these attributes have already been confirmed by more than a million miles and four million hours of validation testing. This validation tests were conducted not only on each battery, but also on its nine modules and 288 prismatic cells. Moreover, GM’s development, validation and test teams were able to comply with thousands of specifications, validating each of the battery's 161 components.
Micky Bly, GM executive director for global electrical systems, remarked that as customers commit to technology that could help reduce their dependence on petroleum, the carmaker also commit to delivering the highest standards for performance, quality, safety and reliability to them.