Here are some highlights of this great interview covering General Motors’ long term view of vehicle electrification. General Motors chief technology officer John Lauckner and global electrification director Larry Nitz were both on hand this year at the Detroit Auto Show, and were able to give some insights into the future of vehicle electrification technology.
As we know, General Motors has brought to the table, perhaps most famously the Chevy Volt, an extended range electric vehicle, as well as tantalizing us with the Chevy Spark EV, a pure electric vehicle. Perhaps less well known is the second-generation eAssist light hybrid vehicle electrification technology, which is now standard on the Buick Regal, and optional on Buick LaCrosse and Chevy Malibu.
What’s the way forward for General Motors and vehicle electrification in general? First of all, Lauckner points out, that vehicle electrification does things for performance and fuel economy that other technologies can’t compete with. Electric motors provide instant maximum torque, which would be lagged in a turbocharged engine, and would sacrifice overall fuel economy in a larger engine. On the other hand, only an electric motor can provide for regenerative braking, recovering energy that would otherwise be lost so it can be used again on acceleration.
General Motors isn’t just sticking with a single vehicle electrification project, say, just the Chevy Volt or only the Buick Regal eAssist system. Most of the components in the Spark EV are the same or at least in the same family as those in the Volt, making it much easier to expand the line of vehicle electrification. The same goes for the eAssist system. The main issue for vehicle electrification in the future will be infrastructure. More LI and LII charging stations are being installed on General Motors grounds, but once more plug-in vehicles are on the road, these might be insufficient. Of course, this is why the Chevy Volt is such a great idea right now, because then a charging station doesn’t become such a critical problem.