There’s a lot of people saying that the government/union takeover of General Motors has condemned it to a slow death of regulated cars no one will want to buy at a cost ballooned by antiquated union promises. At the same time, however, there is evidence that the original plan is still moving forward, such as the $25 million US-based battery lab designed for the Chevy Volt and other future electric cars. And there’s a good reason.
The future isn’t green. It’s electric!
Every gadget you own needs power. The trick is in creating that power, but in the end, it’s still a bunch of holes moving backward in a straight line. Biochemical, nuclear, hydro-electric, it doesn’t matter; it all winds up generating a spark that makes things go, from music players to refrigerators.
Cars are no longer tuned up; their on-board computers do that. Think replacing an engine or transmission is expensive? Ask anyone who’s had to replace their ECM (electronic control module) and/or have it “reprogrammed.” The next logical step is to take the engine out and put the batteries in; hybrids are two times too much weight and hardware, but their helping to transition vehicles into the next phase of transportation.
According to Popular Mechanics in year’s past, GM’s ultimate goal is a chassis that contains the batteries, motors, tires, breaking, and steer-by-wire systems that will resemble a platform with wheels. Once designed, any number of “toppers” can be added: sportcar, truck, minivan, or whatever. This design idea of sharing the underbody is already used to save manufacturing costs, but what if you could have three vehicle toppers and only have to buy one “underbody?” Just snap on the vehicle topper you need and off you go!
Not only are batteries becoming more efficient, they’re getting smaller, plus the power requirements for battery-powered devices are also becoming more efficient. In other words, it takes less energy to do the same things and less energy is wasted getting to those things. Eventually, power requirements, technology, safety systems, and convenience will converge at the right price to create the must-have all-electric vehicle for the next century, and it’s really only a matter of when, not if.
And when it does, I’ll buy one. Even if it says “GM.”