Browse Publications Technical Papers 2008-01-0458
2008-04-14

The Electrification of the Automobile: From Conventional Hybrid, to Plug-in Hybrids, to Extended-Range Electric Vehicles 2008-01-0458

A key element of General Motors' Advanced Propulsion Technology Strategy is the electrification of the automobile. The objectives of this strategy are reduced fuel consumption, reduced emissions and increased energy security/diversification. The introduction of hybrid vehicles was one of the first steps as a result of this strategy. To determine future opportunities and direction, an extensive study was completed to better understand the ability of Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) and Extended-Range Electric Vehicles (E-REV) to address societal challenges. The study evaluated real world representative driving datasets to understand actual vehicle usage. Vehicle simulations were conducted to evaluate the merits of PHEV and E-REV configurations.
As derivatives of conventional full hybrids, PHEVs have the potential to deliver a significant reduction in petroleum usage. However, the fuel consumption benefits are limited by the underlying constraints of the base hybrid systems and vehicles. Even with incremental electric power and speed improvements, the PHEV's lack of full-performance, all-electric capability requires engine operation under everyday speed and/or load conditions, regardless of available battery energy. This creates emissions concerns and can severely limit the actual all-electric driving range in the real world.
The E-REV is principally an Electric Vehicle (EV) with full vehicle performance available as an EV. Significantly, it overcomes the historical EV re-charge time limitations by adding a fuel-powered electric generator to extend driving range. Actual all-electric driving can regularly be experienced throughout the working energy range of the vehicle's battery without fear of being stranded. The E-REV offers the opportunity for petroleum independence, and a dramatic reduction in emissions for many drivers.
An E-REV traction drive and battery system needs to be specifically designed for the task. The systems are significantly more capable and larger than those designed for PHEVs. An E-REV is typically also architected to accommodate packaging of these systems while retaining performance and utility. The compelling benefits of the E-REV drive GM to address these challenges.
The study results indicate that both the PHEVs and the E-REVs can play a role in addressing future needs. The study shows that in the real world the PHEV is quite likely to run with blended operation, but the E-REV is very likely to remain in EV mode for most drivers.
GM is currently developing both PHEV and E-REV vehicles. The Saturn VUE Green Line PHEV is being developed as a derivative of the conventional 2-Mode Hybrid. The Chevrolet Volt E-REV is also under development with full performance, all-electric capability, but without practical range limitations.

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