GM's E-Flex System Moves the Automobile Toward New Electric Age
General Motors Corp. will introduce multiple propulsion systems that fit into a common chassis, using electric drive to help the world diversify energy sources and establish electricity from the grid as one of those sources.
GM refers to this family of propulsion systems as the "E-flex System."
"The DNA of the automobile has not changed in more than 100 years," said Larry Burns, GM vice president of research and development and strategic planning. "Vehicles still operate in pretty much the same fashion as when Karl Benz introduced the 'horseless carriage' in 1886.
"While mechanical propulsion will be with us for many decades to come, GM sees a market for various forms of electric vehicles, including fuel cells and electric vehicles using gas and diesel engines to extend the range. With our new E-flex concept, we can produce electricity from gasoline, ethanol, bio-diesel or hydrogen.
"We can tailor the propulsion to meet the specific needs and infrastructure of a given market. For example, somebody in Brazil might use 100-percent ethanol to power an engine generator and battery. A customer in Shanghai might get hydrogen from the sun and create electricity in a fuel cell. Meanwhile, a customer in Sweden might use wood to create bio-diesel."
The Chevrolet Volt, introduced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, is just the first variant of the E-flex System. The Volt uses a large battery and a small, 1L turbo gasoline engine to produce enough electricity to go up to 640 miles and provide triple-digit fuel economy. GM will show other variations of the propulsion systems at future auto shows.
"GM is building a fuel cell variant that mirrors the propulsion system in the Chevrolet Sequel (fuel cell vehicle)," Burns said. "Instead of a big battery and a small engine generator used in the Volt, we would use a fuel cell propulsion system with a small battery to capture energy when the vehicle brakes. Because the Volt is so small and lightweight, we would need only about half of the hydrogen storage as the Sequel to get 300 miles of range."
Future concepts might incorporate diesel generators, bio-diesel and pure ethanol (E-100).
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