What does an automobile manufacturer have to say about energy and the environment? Quite a lot. The GM ability web site
offers background and information to help you understand where GM is
today and where they are headed in relation to this planet we all
share. Because if you’re reading this article, we assume you care about
the world around us. We do, too.
GM Vice President, Environment and Energy
I had an opportunity to interview Beth Lowery just before the reveal of the new GM plug in concept Volt vehicle yesterday. Beth is an environmental attorney and is responsible for all environmental and energy policy for GM. Beth will be honored by the Automotive Hall of Fame during NADA in February 2007 for her distinguished career at GM. I applaud her efforts in regards to the environment and respect the complex job and issues facing her at GM as they work to develop less dependency on oil and search for alternative energy sources and vehicle designs. GM is on a march to Zero emissions.
The Volt concept car shows a huge commitment from GM to move forward and 'force the issue' in designs to come market for drivers who want to drive 100% electric powered vehicles. Lithium Ion battery technology designers and manufacturers will be forced to catch up to demand from GM and I am sure other auto manufactures who want to get these electric powered vehicles built and shipped to the growing environmental conscious consumers.
Here are Beth Lowery's recent remarks on the GM FastLane blog:
"I was proud to participate in the unveiling of the Chevy Volt electric car concept today. What a cool-looking car! As you may know, GM has worked on electric cars for years. We’ve taken a lot of heat for some of our past decisions on that front, and we’ve been paying attention to our critics. We get it — we’re not perfect, but we’ve learned a lot. The Volt incorporates many of those lessons and represents a giant leap forward.
For instance, we’ve added a range extender using a system we call E-Flex. Basically, it works by using the onboard engine to generate additional energy for the battery. On a long trip, this system would continually charge the batteries, even after the initial battery range is passed.
The range extender can be used with any type of onboard engine, whether it is powered by gasoline, ethanol, electricity or hydrogen — hence the “Flex” in E-Flex. This system will make the Volt the most versatile electric car when it comes out, virtually eliminating gasoline use for those who only take their cars for short distances, such as back and forth to work, while providing the ability to recharge while driving. "
Sounds good, right?
It sure sounds good to GM ... but the big challenge now is for us to turn this concept into reality — no easy feat, but one we are deeply committed to.
The Volt clearly isn’t the only solution to our reliance on petroleum,
and some solutions may work better in some areas of the world than in
others. That’s why GM is working on a whole range of technologies to
address petroleum dependence, including hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell
vehicles, Flex Fuel vehicles that run on either ethanol or gasoline,
and biodiesel-fueled vehicles. That said, we believe the Volt is a huge
step in the right direction, and as technology continues to improve, so
will our solutions.
Of course, we also have a responsibility to our shareholders to make good business decisions. That is why we are constantly improving the performance of today’s vehicles and the processes used to manufacture them, through technology, partnerships and process improvements."
Here are some of the initiative Beth is working on for GM currently:
There is no question that GM products and manufacturing facilities have an impact on the environment. Not only do internal combustion engines produce emissions and greenhouse gases, but in the process of building millions of vehicles per year, our manufacturing facilities emit CO2 and greenhouse gases as well. The good news is that GM is hard at work trying to reduce our impact on the environment.
Innovative technologies have already helped us improve the environmental performance of our facilities. Greenhouse gas emissions are down, as are total carbon dioxide emissions. And recycling is up. That’s all good news.
Cars and Trucks – Hydrogen is the Future
GM is best known for our products – cars and trucks to meet the needs of drivers around the world. From the beginning, those products have been powered by the internal combustion engine, and while we are making the ICE better every year, improving old technology is not enough. Innovative technologies will provide the answers we need going forward.
Hydrogen Fuel Cells: Ultimately, we expect hydrogen fuel cells to replace the internal combustion engine altogether. Fuel cells, which produce electricity from hydrogen and oxygen, emit clean water and nothing else. Over the long term, the hydrogen fuel cell offers the best strategy for reducing our dependence on petroleum and eliminating CO2 emissions.
Hybrid Electric Vehicles:
It will take approximately a decade until safe, affordable hydrogen fuel cells are widely available. In the meantime, GM will offer a range of hybrid cars and trucks and continue to improve the internal combustion engine. Beginning this year, we will introduce our first hybrid electric powertrains, which will eventually power over a dozen vehicle models, including pickup trucks, SUVs and sedans. If customers embrace hybrids as an environmentally sound alternative – and we believe they will – GM could sell more than a million hybrid cars and trucks over the next several years.
Better Internal Combustion Engines
We also are continually improving the internal combustion engine to provide better efficiency, fuel economy and performance. We have already begun rolling out a range of technologies, including the fuel-saving Displacement on Demand. In the short run, these technologies will help protect our natural resources, as we work toward longer-term solutions.
GM and E85 Ethanol Live Green Go Yellow
GM has made a major commitment to producing E85 flexible fuel vehicles and promoting the use of E85 ethanol, an alternative fuel made of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Producing E85 flexible fuel vehicles is one part of GM’s strategy to reduce vehicle emissions and dependence on petroleum, along with advanced technologies like hybrid powertrains and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Go here to learn more.
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