Chevrolet Launches The Volt — On Time and As Scheduled!

October 10, 2010

It’s 10-10-10…and just as promised, Chevrolet today announced that it’s game-changing Volt is officially on the market. Just yesterday GM exhibited a production Volt in Tacoma, WA as it heads cross-country to illustrate its road trip flexibility.

GM’s future hinges on this car, because as Bob Lutz told me a couple years ago, the Volt’s plug-in technology will soon be offered in every front-wheel-drive car in the corporation’s portfolio. Although I have been ultra-critical of GM in the past, I have been an outspoken supporter of the Volt technology and GM’s plug-in business plan.

The press release keys on the primary advantages that will make the Volt a winner: insanely high real-world MPG (or cost per mile) without the need for a second car — which differentiates it from the Leaf and all of the other thousands of battery-only powered vehicles offered for sale since the late 1800s.

Here is the official press release. Let the Prius market share decline begin!

2011 Chevrolet Volt Reinvents Automotive Transportation In A Complete, No-Compromises Electric Package
2010-10-10
World’s first mass-produced, plug-in electric vehicle with a range-extending onboard engine
Revolutionary Voltec propulsion system delivers between 25 and 50 miles of electric driving (depending on terrain, driving techniques and temperature) with a long-life, 16-kW lithium-ion battery and 111-kW (149-hp) electric drive unit; and up to 310 miles of extended range with an onboard 1.4L engine
Eight-year/100,000-mile warranty on lithium-ion battery pack
Vehicle dynamics, upscale materials, refinement and spirited performance of a premium sports sedan in an ultra-efficient package
Extensive use of high-strength steel and full suite of vehicle safety technologies provide occupant protection before, during and after a crash
Easy-to-use technologies such as configurable displays, Chevrolet Mobile App powered by OnStar MyLink, and MyVolt.com web portal enhance owner experience
Five years of OnStar Directions and Connections service, including Automatic Crash Response, stolen vehicle assistance and connected navigation
DETROIT – Chevrolet today introduced the all-new, 2011 Volt electric vehicle with extended range, establishing an entirely new segment in the global automotive market. The five-door, four-passenger Volt is designed to provide the benefits of an electric vehicle without the range limitations associated with other electric vehicles in the market.

“The Chevrolet Volt can be the only car you own,” said Mark Reuss, president, GM North America. “The Volt delivers it all: a revolutionary propulsion system, progressive styling, industry-leading safety, premium amenities and user-friendly technologies, and spirited driving dynamics.”

Designed, engineered, built and delivered to customers in 29 months, the Volt will go on sale at Chevrolet dealers before the end of 2010. It is offered in one very well-equipped standard trim level, along with two option packages: a Premium Trim Package and a Rear Camera and Park Assist Package.

The Volt is in a class by itself

The Chevrolet Volt is not a hybrid. It is a one-of-a-kind, all-electrically driven vehicle designed and engineered to operate in all climates. Powered by GM’s revolutionary Voltec propulsion system, it consists of a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and electric drive unit that provide pure electric range between 25 and 50 miles, depending on terrain, driving techniques and temperature. A 1.4L gasoline-powered engine extends the range up to an additional 310 miles on a full tank of fuel by operating the vehicle’s electric drive system until the car can be plugged in and recharged or refueled. This distinguishes the Volt from electric-only vehicles, which cannot be operated when recharging is not immediately available – such as during a power interruption or on a long-distance trip.

“The Chevrolet Volt makes the electric driving experience as productive, efficient, intuitive, safe and fun as any premium vehicle its size in the market today,” said Doug Parks, Volt global vehicle line executive.

Every major element of the Volt was designed and analyzed for efficiency, including its highly aerodynamic exterior, lightweight wheels, specially designed tires, energy-saving premium stereo system, and more. This attention to detail makes the Volt one of the most aerodynamic and energy-efficient vehicles in the market.

The Volt redefines electric drive

The heart of the Chevrolet Volt is its Voltec propulsion system, which combines pure electric drive and an efficient, range-extending engine, giving to the Volt up to 350 total miles of range.

The Volt’s long-life battery consists of a 5.5-foot, 435-pound (198.1 kg) T-shaped, 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack manufactured in Brownstown Township, Mich. It supplies energy to an advanced, 111-kW (149-hp) electric drive unit to propel the vehicle. Using only the energy stored in the battery, the Volt delivers between 25 and 50 miles of fuel- and tailpipe emissions-free electric driving, depending on terrain, driving techniques and temperature.

The Volt battery is designed to deliver value, safety, quality, performance, durability and reliability. It is covered by an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty. Since 2007, GM engineers have completed more than one million miles and four million hours of validation testing of Volt battery packs, as well as each pack’s nine modules and 288 prismatic cells. The development, validation and test teams have met thousands of specifications and validated each of the Volt battery’s 161 components, 95 percent of which GM designed and engineered.

“Our customers are making a commitment to technology that will help reduce our dependence on petroleum,” said Micky Bly, GM executive director, global electrical systems. “In turn, we commit to deliver the highest standards for value, safety, quality, performance and reliability to our customers.”

When the battery energy is depleted, the Volt seamlessly transitions to extended-range mode. Power is inverted from a technically advanced, 1.4L 63-kW (84-hp) gasoline-powered onboard engine to the electric drive unit to provide up to 310 additional miles of range.

The Volt proves electric driving can be spirited. Not only does the Volt reach a top speed of 100 mph, the electric drive unit’s excellent low speed torque of 273 lb.-ft. (368 Nm) takes it from 0 to 60 mph in less than 9.0 seconds and the quarter mile in less than 17.0 seconds.

Charging the Volt’s battery is simple and intuitive, and can be done through 120V conventional household electrical outlets, or through a dedicated 240V charging station. The vehicle is completely rechargeable in about four hours using a 240V outlet and 10 to 12 hours in a 120V outlet. Once the vehicle is plugged in, owners can schedule either immediate or delayed charges, even coordinating charging according to departure time or when electricity rates are lower. Owners also can manage and monitor the Volt remotely via computer on MyVolt.com; or an exclusive smart phone application, Chevrolet Mobile App powered by OnStar MyLink.

The Volt is designed and refined to impress

The Chevrolet Volt’s bold, sleek, performance-oriented stance conveys its electrically driven capabilities, and looks like an upscale, midsize sport sedan. This is made possible by its wide front and rear tracks (61.2 / 62.1 inches [1556 / 1578 mm]), 105.7-inch (2685 mm) wheelbase, wheels-out stance, sculpted belt line and premium execution.

“The Volt is a revolutionary car, and we wanted the design to make as sleek and dynamic a statement as possible,” said Bob Boniface, director of design. “When you look at this car, it’s very technical and refined in its execution, with lots of interrelating surfaces that bring clean, crisp edges and creases.”

Working closely with aerodynamicists in GM’s own wind tunnel to shape the Volt, design and engineering teams developed the most aerodynamic vehicle in Chevrolet’s history. By reducing the energy needed to overcome air resistance, Volt aerodynamicists contributed an estimated eight miles of electric range, and 50 miles of extended range.

The Volt’s rounded and flush front fascia, tapered corners and grille enable air to move easily around the car to reduce drag. In the rear, sharp edges and a carefully designed spoiler control air flow. An aggressive rake on the windshield and back glass also helps reduce turbulence and drag.

Inside and out, element-to-element gap and flush relationships are as good or better than any in the segment. Even the underhood compartment is not overlooked: All components are held to a high standard of appearance that harmonizes with the rest of the car, using similarly grained surfaces and colors.

The distinctive, gloss black rear liftgate appliqué carries the Chevrolet bowtie and one of two Volt insignias; the other is found on the forward quarter panel. Six exterior colors are offered on the Volt, including Viridian Joule Tricoat, the winning name chosen in a national contest held last year. The others are Silver Ice Metallic, Black and Cyber Gray Metallic, Crystal Red Metallic Tintcoat and White Diamond Tricoat.

Inside, the Volt offers the space, comfort, convenience and safety features that customers expect in a premium five-door sedan – including storage compartments and 40/40 rear-folding seats. It also delivers them in a variety of interior color, lighting and trim options unlike any offered before on a Chevrolet sedan, but with Chevrolet’s signature dual cockpit design.

Two, seven-inch, high-resolution full-color screens are featured: One is a reconfigurable graphic cluster display and the other, in the center stack, features a touch screen display, touch-control switches and integrated shifter.

The graphics in the instrument panel and door inserts are repeated in the premium cloth or available leather-appointed seats. Bright silver appointments appear around the door switches, center cup holders, door pulls, centerstack switches and climate control outlets. Standard infotainment features include:

Navigation radio with 60-GB (30 GB for music storage) hard disc drive, AM/FM/DVD-Rom/MP3 playback capability, voice recognition, Radio Data System, Bluetooth and pause-and-play radio functions
XM Satellite Radio with XM NavTraffic/Weather, one of the industry’s most advanced, real-time information systems
Premium, energy-saving Bose audio system with six speakers and subwoofer
Five years of OnStar Directions and Connections service.
In addition to enhancing safety and solidity, the Volt’s stiff structure accommodates features that help to isolate engine and wind noise for a whisper-quiet cabin.

The Volt features excellent driving dynamics

Great driving dynamics begin with a solid body-frame-integral structure that enables optimal tuning and provides drivers with an enhanced sense of stability, solidity and confident road manners.

The Volt’s MacPherson strut-type suspension, sophisticated compound crank rear axle and quick-reacting, rack-mounted electric power steering system with ZF steering gear – a feature commonly found on premium sport sedans – have been tuned to deliver a smooth, refined ride with responsive handling and solid, on-center feel. A low center of gravity combines with the wider track and long wheelbase for balanced performance, and front and rear hydraulic ride bushings, another premium addition, help eliminate road harshness.

The electro-hydraulic regenerative brake system captures energy up to 0.2g for transfer back to the battery. The friction braking system features large rotors with a special finishing process that protects against corrosion and promotes longer life.

The Volt rides on lightweight aluminum wheels that weigh only 17.8 pounds (8.1 kg) each, compared to 24.2 pounds (11 kg) for typical 17-inch wheels. They’re wrapped in Goodyear Fuel Max all-season, low-rolling resistance tires optimized for electric vehicle range, noise, feel and performance.

The Volt features Chevrolet’s continuous safety

Like all Chevrolet vehicles, the Volt helps protect occupants before, during and – thanks to OnStar – after a crash. Crash-avoidance features include standard anti-lock brakes with traction control, StabiliTrak electronic stability control and advanced, LED daytime running lamps that make the Volt more visible to other motorists and pedestrians.

Occupant protection continues with a strong structure, and the Chevrolet Volt’s body-frame-integral structure strategically blends advanced steels to help ensure crashworthiness and stiffness. Nearly 80 percent of the Volt’s overall structure consists either of high-strength, advanced high-strength or ultra high-strength steel. Active occupant protection features include eight standard air bags and safety belts with dual pretensioners to help reduce the risk of injury.

After a crash, the Chevrolet Volt offers the security of OnStar, which uses built-in vehicle sensors to automatically alert an OnStar advisor in certain types of collisions. The advisor is immediately connected to the vehicle and can request that emergency help be sent to its location.

Because the Volt operates so quietly in all-electric mode, a driver-activated feature sounds a noise to alert pedestrians, particularly those with visual impairments, in an intersection. The alert was developed in conjunction with the American Federation of the Blind.

The Volt connects with owners 24/7

There is much more technology inside the Volt than its electric propulsion system. Intuitive features such as high-resolution displays, connectivity and the ability to monitor and control vehicle functions remotely redefine how owners interface with their vehicles.

Key technologies include:

Touch-control switch system on the center console
High-resolution, seven-inch, full-color LCD reconfigurable Driver Information Center display. The display shows electric-only range, fuel economy, , extended-range, trip information, tire pressure information and other key vehicle messages.
High-resolution, seven-inch, full-color, center stack-mounted touch screen display that serves as the interface for infotainment and cabin climate controls. An Efficiency (Leaf) switch accesses energy usage, power flow and charging screens – all easy to use and understand.
Charge modes are customizable according to need and electricity rates for efficient programming and lower costs.
A key fob that allows drivers to remotely start the vehicle and precondition the cabin based on outside temperatures
An exclusive mobile app, powered by OnStar MyLink, that enables owners to engage with the Volt functions using a smart phone.
Volt warranties bring value and peace of mind

Volt owners receive outstanding battery and vehicle limited warranty coverage. In addition to the eight-year/100,000-mile limited warranty on the Volt’s 16-kWh lithium-ion battery, Chevrolet will provide:

Three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper coverage
Five-year/100,000-mile roadside assistance and courtesy transportation
Five-year/100,000-mile limited gas engine coverage
Six-year/100,000-mile corrosion protection coverage.


Volt Goes Cross-Country To Show Why It’s A True Paradigm Shift

September 30, 2010

GM announced today that a team of new Chevy Volts will go cross country to show the benefits of its plug-in hybrid. Actually, it is more of an exhibit why the Leaf and other battery-only vehicles are nothing more than toys requiring owners to have another car in the garage.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — the days of Prius rule for mileage-minded folks is over. More importantly, the era of gasoline (or diesel)-only travel is winding down. As Bob Lutz told me two years ago: “all of our front-wheel-drive cars will be standardized on Volt technology.”

The game changer is real — and going across America to prove it. Here’s the full release:

Power to the People – Chevrolet Unplugs Volt and Hits the Road
Cross-country drive brings the Chevrolet Volt directly to consumers
2010-09-29

DETROIT — A caravan of Chevrolet Volts will embark on a 3,400-mile, cross-country drive showcasing how easy it will be to live with the world’s first electric vehicle with extended-range capability.

The tour, dubbed “Volt Unplugged,” will give consumers an opportunity to test-drive the Volt, meet the people behind the development of the vehicles – Chevrolet engineers, designers and others – and participate in activities at each stop.

“The Volt Unplugged tour will give people a chance to get behind the wheel of the Volt and find out for themselves what makes this vehicle so special,” said Tony DiSalle, Chevrolet Volt product and marketing director. “This drive will demonstrate the one-of-a-kind capabilities of the Volt, the only electric vehicle able to drive such long distances under a variety of driving conditions and climates without having to stop to recharge.”

The tour is similar to July’s “Freedom Drive,” where the Volt completed a three-day 1,776-mile drive from Austin, Texas to New York City to demonstrate the Volt’s extended-range capability. Stops on the Volt Unplugged tour include:

Oct. 9 and 10 – Seattle
Oct. 13 and 14 – San Francisco
Oct. 16 – 18 – Los Angeles
Oct. 20 – San Diego
Oct. 22 and 23 – San Antonio
Oct. 24 and 25 – Houston
Oct. 28 and 29 – Miami
Oct. 30 – Orlando
Oct. 29 and 30 – Washington, D.C.
Nov. 1 – Raleigh, N.C.
Nov. 5 – 7 – New York City
Nov. 18 – 20 – Chicago
Along the drive, Chevrolet representatives will reach out to local community leaders, schools and consumers to educate each group about the one-of-a-kind characteristics of the Volt and discuss the progress of the nation’s electrical infrastructure. There will also be many opportunities to sit in and/or drive one of six Volts that will be on tour.

Marriott International and its Courtyard, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites and TownePlaces Suites hotels will serve as the hotel supplier of the Volt Unplugged Tour. Marriott has a long-standing commitment to protecting the environment, building greener hotels, minimizing energy and water use, reducing impacts along its supply chain and investing in conservation projects worldwide. For customers looking to travel in style with a lighter footprint, the Volt and Marriott offer a great solution.

Fans can follow the Volt’s journey and register for test-drive opportunities on the “Unplugged” tab located at ChevroletVoltAge.com, the Volt’s official social network or on the Chevrolet Volt Facebook page. Participants in the tour will share updates using the Volt’s many online platforms including the @ChevyVolt Twitter account, the Chevrolet Posterous page and the Chevrolet Volt Foursquare account. These platforms will feature photos, videos and text updates to keep consumers updated on the tour.

On a fully charged battery and tank of gas, the Volt has a driving range of hundreds of miles. Because the Volt can use gasoline to create its own electricity in extended-range mode, long trips are possible. The Volt is powered only from electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery for a typical range of 25 to 50 miles depending on terrain, driving technique, temperature and battery age. When the Volt’s battery runs low, a gas engine-generator seamlessly engages to extend the driving range

The Chevrolet Volt starts production at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck facility this fall and will be sold in California, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan and Washington D.C. Quantities will be limited. The Volt will be sold nationwide about 12-18 months after start of production.

The Volt’s Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price is $41,000 ($33,500 net of the full federal tax credit, which ranges from $0-$7,500) including a destination freight charge of $720. GM expects to offer qualified lessees a price as low as $350/month with $2,500 down at lease signing, including security deposit based on current conditions, which could vary at time of delivery. The benefit of the $7,500 tax credit is included in the reduced lease payment, with the tax credit going to the lessor. The lease term is 36 months with 12,000 miles per year.


It’s Always Been Chevrolet, So Just Relax!

June 10, 2010

As further evidence that Americans like to worry about insignificant things when there are much more important issues demanding of our time and attention, today General Motors backtracked from a memorandum that was leaked yesterday regarding the usage of “Chevy” versus “Chevrolet”. Apparently, the marketing department wanted to clarify that all official communications should refer to the brand as “Chevrolet”.

And then the shit-storm hit with a vengeance. From talking heads to Skeeter the toothless El Camino driver, a bunch of know-nothings started screaming about what a mistake it was for GM to instruct to minimize the official use of the Chevy name. I’m sure there are some out there who think that this is a big socialist plot by our Kenyan President at the helm of Government Motors to destroy all that is good and godly in ‘Merica.

Not surprisingly, GM issued a press release containing one part apology and another clarification in hopes of receiving forgiveness from all those die hard Chevy fans, which evidently are different from Chevrolet fans.

DETROIT — Today’s emotional debate over a poorly worded memo on our use of the Chevrolet brand is a good reminder of how passionately people feel about Chevrolet. It is a passion we share and one we do not take for granted.

We love Chevy. In no way are we discouraging customers or fans from using the name. We deeply appreciate the emotional connections that millions of people have for Chevrolet and its products.

In global markets, we are establishing a significant presence for Chevrolet, and need to move toward a consistent brand name for advertising and marketing purposes. The memo in question was one step in that process.

We hope people around the world will continue to fall in love with Chevrolets and smile when they call their favorite car, truck or crossover “Chevy.”

I’ve spent plenty of years doing marketing, branding, imaging, and the like. In the past I’ve taken GM to the woodshed for its piss-poor marketing efforts, but today I’m going to come to its rescue. The fact of the matter is that Branding 101 indicates that names need to be consistent. This is exactly what GM was doing: requiring that official materials and communication use the name “Chevrolet”, which is the very name put on all the products the company sells. While there have been “Chevy” badges here and there, “Chevrolet” has always been the primary name on its vehicles since 1911.

This doesn’t mean that the nickname Chevy becomes verboten. It just means that any mention of the car by the company, advertisers, promotional partners, and dealers needs to use the big-boy name, not the nickname. One might also speculate that since Chevrolet is more formal, it helps to imply a larger degree of sophistication or seriousness, which might be needed to prepare for the single most important and significant automotive product launch since the self-starting Cadillac: the Chevy Volt.

I can use the name Chevy…I don’t work for the company, and neither do car clubs, enthusiasts, NASCAR zealots, and other bowtie-tattooed true-believers who all can continue to use Chevy, even if GM requires Chevrolet to be the only name specified for official communications.

Let’s congratulate GM for doing something they should have done a long time ago…and then let’s focus on much more important issues, like how we’re going to get all that oil in the Gulf out, refined and into our cars.


GM Melts Down Again On Windshield Washer Fluid Heaters And The Resulting Recalls

June 8, 2010

Today GM issued a second recall for the heated windshield washer fluid system found in Cadillacs and Buicks. In a small number of cases the system was causing fire.

While it is a small feature, it has been one of those little things that made a good luxury car stand above its peers and build model loyalty. Being able to melt away ice is an extremely nice touch…assuming it doesn’t burn your vehicle to the ground.

Yet when it seems that GM is finally pulling its head out of its collective ass, it goes and falls back into old habits. When the system was first recalled for fire dangers two years ago, dealers installed fuses to cut power in the event of a short. Turns out that this was a knee-jerk bandage that nobody had tested fully for efficacy. (This is what I now refer to as a “floor mat fix” for Toyota’s stupid assumption that tossing floor mats into the trunk would solve unintended acceleration problems.)

So now that the fire risk is still there, GM is simply disabling the feature “under warranty” and paying people $100 for the inconvenience. This is so typical of GM and Ford — if something doesn’t work and it might cost time and money to fix, simply take the most immediate and short-term cost-effective path. When Ford recalled Expeditions for faulty cruise controls, the fix was to disable them. After years of listening to thousands of fifth-generation Corvette owners complain about faulty column locks not releasing steering wheels, GM didn’t fix the steering lock, rather they updated the fuel management system to ensure that nobody could actually drive when the column lock jammed. Now many of these Corvette and Expedition owners are former GM and Ford clients.

As for the $100 rebate, one has to wonder if this is less than the price paid by buyers of cars with the feature…and before people start writing in about it being “standard equipment”, the price of all features are simply built into the price — usually with a nice markup.

If GM wants to be treated like a big-boy company again, it needs to stop making childish mistakes. BMW, Audi and Mercedes wouldn’t disable any feature with which it found problems, much less one considered a competitive advantage, so why would GM? Instead of wasting money paying $100 to each owner (although I understand that given the mediocrity of some of the so-equipped models that the number of owners is relatively small), cancel the country club weekend, have the executive assistants hold all calls, and actually FIX THE FREAKING PROBLEM. After that, spend the next week testing it until everyone is dead-ass certain the issue is gone for good.

At the end of the day, if GM is to revolutionize the world with the Volt plug-in hybrid technology (which is slated to eventually power every front-wheel-drive car GM produces,) it needs all the consumer confidence it can get. How can buyers trust a car running on troublesome and fire-prone lithium ion batteries at high voltage if it comes from a company which is either incapable or unwilling to make high school techonolgy-level hot water bottle heater circuits work safely?


The Dangers Of “Connected” Automobiles

May 14, 2010

Back in November of 2009 I detailed my concerns regarding the safety and security of automobiles as they become more integrated with Web and telephony networks in an article called Forget H1N1 — How Computer Viruses Could Kill Cars And Those In Them In The Near Future. I proposed that good hackers could literally expose and utilize one small hole — be it in a two-way nav, diagnostic or other system to cause dangerous issues with internal engine, braking, handling, or a number of other management systems.

And my story was met with a collective: “yeah, sure.”

Actually, a few of my more tech-based friends found my analysis interesting and very real. It was one of these folks who today pointed me to a study done by University of Washington and University of California San Diego students. Experimental Security Analysis of a Modern Automobile from K. Koscher, A. Czeskis, F. Roesner, S. Patel, T. Kohno, S. Checkoway, D. McCoy, B. Kantor, D. Anderson, H. Shacham, S. Savage was just presented at The IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, Oakland, CA, May 16-19, 2010 and goes more in depth and comes to similar conclusions. Indeed they expose just how easy hacking into cars might actually be.

Read the UW/UCSD study for yourself at http://www.autosec.org/pubs/cars-oakland2010.pdf and tell me you still aren’t interested or concerned with the issues of safety and security in modern and future network-connected automobiles.


GM’s Pointless Press Release of the Day…Which Turns Out Better Than Expected

May 10, 2010

Here I was about to make fun of GM and penalize it with the award for “Stupid and Pointless Press Release of the Day”, but then I actually read the whole press release. Quite honestly, when one reads the headline “2011 Chevrolet Cruze Engines Use Eco-friendly Cartridge Oil Filter”, you kind of expect it to be filler for a boring no-news day.

What’s worse is that the first line of GM’s press release pushes the discerning enthusiast’s bullshit meter to 10.

The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze will make proper oil filter disposal and recycling easier. The Ecotec 1.4L turbo and 1.8L four-cylinder engines will use a cartridge style oil filter which is easier to recycle and service compared to the conventional steel canister-style oil filters.

Anyone who has ever done their own filter changes knows that cartridge filters are a pain in the ass. Aside from the fact that they cost more (even though they are cheaper to produce, since they don’t have a case), cartridge case lids tend to be impossible to budge, since overtightening is really easy. Since most cartridges fit into plastic reservoirs with plastic tops, there is a 100-percent chance that some doesn’t-give-a-shit grease-monkey at the Quick-E-Lube will try to budge an overtightened lid with something other than the recommended filter wrench and put a crack in it. Just ask the local Porsche Boxster owner here who pulled into my friend’s shop with no oil due to a monkey-wrench wielding Jiffy Lube employee.

Recycling canister style filters requires that the metal housing and other elements, like the rubber seal, be cut away or separated, whereas the compact cartridge style is made of only paper and plastic. Because of this, proper disposal of the oil filter is easier for recycling centers.

At this point some environmental jibber-jabber isn’t going to sway me. In fact, most Americans consider themselves environmentalists until it costs them more for something that their neighbors can’t see they are using. Oil filters fall into this bucket. And let’s face it, it’s not really that much of an incremental environmental gain.

So I’m about to go all out and blast GM for its crappy attempt to spin a cost saving decision into a positive PR message, when I finally get to this part:

Another benefit of the cartridge-style filter is that it can be changed easily and is virtually drip free from the top of the vehicle. This lessens the chance of oil dripping to the ground or driveway and possibly making its way into the water system when performing oil changes.
The housing for the cartridge-style filter is part of the engine and reused for the life of the engine. It never needs replacing. The housing also has a screw-on replaceable cap that eliminates the conventional canister-to-engine mating surface that is a potential source of leaks.

Pluck me bald and call me breezy…this is actually news. Having a cartridge filter on the TOP of the engine is a very nice touch. Obviously the hacks in the PR department have never changed their own oil, because this is by far the most important message. It’s not the environmental gains and it’s not about having a filter that is simply on top (any Ferrari owner will tell you changing a top-mounted canister filter without spilling oil is about as easy as teaching your grandfather to tune Weber carbs while speaking only in Piglatin.) The fact that it’s a top-mounted cartridge means less mess…and that’s something for which it’s worth the extra cost of the filter.

So bravo GM — way to do something positive for those who change oil. Now go shoot the person who wrote the press release and replace them with someone who understands what is important to people who buy and service your products.


This Just In: The 2016 Corvette Will Be Mid-Engine…Just Like The 1977, 1984, 1997, 2005…

March 18, 2010

I picked up my copy of Autoweek from the mailbox today and noticed that the most frequently wrong prediction has once again reared its ugly head. Right there in bold type on the cover: “Deep Secrets — Mid-Engine C8 Chevy Corvette”.

I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble, but the mid-engine Corvette rumor has been around longer (and with less traction) than Ringo Starr’s solo career. I must have at least ten magazines with similar claims, dating back to a 1970’s copy of Road & Track. The common thread is that all of these claims have proven false — unless you consider the Fiero a Corvette in disguise.

Like in the past, the claim comes from an unidentified GM executive who says that this generation will be the last for the traditional front-engine V8 configuration. As in stories of old, the rationale is the need to reinvent the brand to go head-to-head in the supercar ranks with more performance and more efficiency. This time the rumor is a high output twin-turbo six-cylinder and a modern monocoque tub. After all, how is Corvette going to compete when the Feds are forcing 35 mpg CAFE standards and the Lamborghini Gallardo and Ferrari Italia are already out there with mid-engine placement…

or the Porsche Boxster, Acura NSX, Porsche 911 Turbo, Lamborghini Countach, Ferrari 246 GT, Lambo Miura? Exactly…it has never had any problems competing. It didn’t need the mid-mounted engine, or the Wankel rotary engine pipe dream from the early 1970s or turbocharged-enhanced small displacement units claimed around the corner throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

At the end of the day, GM always comes back to the same rationale for the traditional layout. Front engine placement still allows 50/50 weight balance, but also maintains large amounts of room for six-foot humans and their luggage. (The C5 Corvette Convertible has 13 cubic feet of luggage capacity, for god’s sake!) It also is cheaper to build, allows for more parts sharing with the likes of the Camaro. Then there’s the ease of service of the current design…and that when matched to the six-speed manual the V8 already can deliver 32-plus MPG.

Given GM’s bent towards not offending the purists, there is no way in hell they are going to risk putting off the traditional Corvette buyers — you know, the ones who have been buying front-engine, V8-powered cars with great performance and surprising occupant and luggage room at an annual rate of nearly more than all the mid-engine sports cars available here combined? It never makes sense to build a more expensive car that in the end is not as profitable, or popular, for that matter.

So don’t hold your breath — for if you believe the 2016 C8 Corvette will be mid engine, you probably also believe that nobody will be using gas propulsion by then, because hydrogen and all-electric will be the standards. The magazines have claimed those for fifty years.