GM Aims for EVs with 200-Mile Range, and More V8 Gas Cars

By · March 07, 2013

Chevy Spark EV

Chevy Spark EV

General Motors is developing an electric car that has a range of 200 miles, according to Dan Akerson, the company’s chief executive.

Akerson asserted that breakthroughs in breakthrough technology could change everything. “We’re actually developing a car today which is really anathema to the way the auto industry works,” said Akerson today during a presentation at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference in Houston. He explained that G.M. is evaluating two types of technology—one that could yield 100 miles of range and the other with 200 miles. Akerson also said that G.M. is "aggressively investing" in new lightweight materials and technologies such as carbon fiber, nanosteel and resistance spot welding for aluminum structures.

During his speech, Akerson called on President Barack Obama to develop a 30-year energy policy with diverse set of technologies and fuels. Akerson referred to the expanded use of CNG for commercial fleets and trucking as a “huge” opportunity. Building more infrastructure for CNG fueling is an important step, according to Akerson. "Everywhere you look there are opportunities to seize the energy high ground," he said.

The higher ground will apparently not rule out the use of V8 gasoline engines. Akerson said that G.M., by using technologies such as turbocharging, direct injection, variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation, can keep vehicles with eight cylinders alive and well. He said that news about the death of the V8 engine has been “greatly exaggerated.”

G.M.’s effort on a longer range EV represents something of a departure for the company, which has focused its plug-in efforts on the range-extending system used in the Chevy Volt (and others plug-in hybrids that will follow.) As opposed to emphasizing the role that pure electric cars can play in serving the lion’s share of driving needs, the company for the past two years has marketed the idea that electric-drive vehicles need to have the same range capabilities as gas-powered vehicles. Its own Chevy Spark, due out later this year in limited numbers, has a range of about 75 miles.

The evaluation of an EV with 100 miles of range, alongside a 200-mile vehicle, is somewhat odd, considering that many of today’s electric vehicles already have nominal range ratings of more than 100 miles using current battery technology.

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