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Episode 1058 – Will Fuel Cells Sell? Suppliers Face Capacity Crunch, The Corvette Car Company

January 28th, 2013 at 11:58am

Runtime: 8:10

Three major automakers are teaming up to develop mass-produced fuel cells that will be on the market in a few years. Suppliers are struggling to keep up with demand as the automotive market heats up. Should Corvette break away from the Chevrolet mothership? We asked you in our Autoline Poll, find out how everything panned out. All that and more, plus Isaac Bouchard visits the Skip Barber Racing School to find out what it takes to become an expert driver.

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Welcome back to Autoline Daily, we are so pleased you’ve joined us today. Maybe that’s because we’ll be announcing the results of our poll where we asked you if the Corvette should remain in the Chevrolet family or break off as a brand of its own. More on that later — now to the news.

EVs DON’T SELL, WILL FUEL CELLS SELL?
Fuel cells are difficult to manufacture and expensive to build. That’s why Daimler, Ford and Nissan announced this morning they’re partnering up to develop fuel cell systems — to split the costs and hedge the risks. Specifically, they’ll develop a common fuel cell stack and fuel cell system, which they expect will lead to mass-produced fuel-cell cars by 2017. This comes on the heels of a Toyota and BMW collaboration to do the same thing. And, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of other automakers teaming up to do it, too.

SUPPLIER CAPACITY CRUNCH
At the recent Autoline Supplier Symposium we learned that suppliers are on the verge of running into critical shortages in production capacity, tooling, and people. The shortage is particularly acute in plastics, rubber, castings, powertrain components, and specialized tooling. So far, suppliers are keeping up with demand by running maximum overtime. But they can only push their people and machinery so far before they’ll start to break down. You can check out that entire discussion in the John’s Journal section of our website, or follow the link in today’s show notes.

ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK
Motor racing fans were relieved to see an end to the winter break with the 51st running of the 24 Hours of Daytona. What a race! We saw a great battle between BMW, Chevrolet and Ford for the overall win in the prototype class, with BMW coming out on top. In the GT class, with production-based cars, there was a terrific battle involving Audi R8s, Ferrari 458s, and Porsche GT3s, with Audi taking the top two positions. You may remember that Mazda entered a trio of diesel-powered Mazda6es in the experimental GTX class. All of them dropped out early, but hey, that’s why you go racing — to find the weak spots in your program. Undoubtedly, Mazda is learning important lessons of how to make its diesels stronger. I think we’ll see other manufacturers getting involved as sports car racing is making a comeback in the U.S.

GOOD DAY SUNSHINE
Volkswagen just opened a gigantic solar park. The 33-acre installation is located at its factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee. When the production lines are running, the panels will provide 12.5 percent of its energy needs and 100 percent between shifts. Interestingly, VW plans to use all of the energy the solar park generates and won’t sell any electricity back to utilities.

THE CORVETTE CAR COMPANY
And now it’s time for the results to last week’s poll question. We asked you if you think the Corvette should always be a Chevy. Or should it be split off from Chevrolet and become its own standalone brand? That’s the idea my After Hours co-host the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo, came up with. Most of you agree with Peter. 55 percent said Corvette should be separated from Chevy while 45 percent of you voted against the idea. Hey Chevrolet, these are the same viewers that absolutely nailed it when they voted on the North American Car and Truck of the Year finalists. This is an idea that’s worth further discussion.

Speaking of the Daytona 24 Hours that we just reported on, have you ever wanted to go racing? Well, you’ll probably want to start with a racing school. More on that, after this.

(The feature on the Skip Barber Racing School is only available in the video version of today’s show.)

I’ll tell you, if you’re a gear head, there’s nothing like going wheel to wheel on a track to truly appreciate driving a car. But on the track, people, not on the street. Enjoy the rest of your day and we’ll see you back here again tomorrow.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog and WardsAuto.com

77 Comments to “Episode 1058 – Will Fuel Cells Sell? Suppliers Face Capacity Crunch, The Corvette Car Company”

  1. HtG Says:

    TESLA

    This weekend I went to the TESLA storefront at the Westchester Mall in White Plains, NY. Let me rephrase that; I visited the TESLA display.

    THE STOREFRONT : TESLA is showing their car at an upscale mall around here. The people working there are not salesmen and women, but are Product Specialists. I hung around for a while to try to learn about the sedan and to pick up how things worked with the company. The guys and gals working there are not selling the car, but are helping curious people and tending to customers. The Product Specialists are wearing TESLA jackets and consistent clothes just like you’re at an autoshow. I asked plenty of questions and found that they were exceptionally knowledgeable about the car and the company. Much better than at a ‘real’ autoshow(in fact one of the PSs was at the Detroit show, she brought the cold weather with her too, what’s with that?)I learned that TESLA wouldn’t be at any show beside Detroit’s. I think these storefronts are truly autoshow displays.

    EXTERIOR: The car is beautiful. It looks like an Aston Rapide, except smoother and more understated. The PS pointed out that the designer had worked on the Aston. The front lights had those LED character sections like on Audi. I coincidentally saw a red one coming at me yesterday on the highway, and it makes a strong impression from a good distance. The door handles are highly polished metal, and pop out as you approach the car with your key fob. You can select from different wheel patterns, but the one on the floor had wheels that looked like the hungry end of a jet engine.

    One big criticism I have was the seams between the front hood and the fenders. You didn’t have to run your finger along the seam to find fault, so visible was the mismatching. I don’t imagine this was an intentional alignment, but you’d expect that the Fremont plant can do better. (I was told that they’ve already reached 400 units per day, the target for this year.)

    INTERIOR: Holy Moly. That’s well done. Not just fit and finish and materials, but the design language seemed to originate less from cars than from the interiors of Frank Lloyd Wright houses. At the center of the dashboard is a large vertically oriented screen. Photos make it look awkward, but when you sit in the driver’s seat , it’s utterly natural and convenient. The interface is sharp, switches apps quickly, resizes maps just like a smart phone, and just plain feels non-confusing. The PS told me that it is designed in house at TESLA and that the person that did this work for Apple has designed the TESLA offering. There was a cool feature that let you shift the audio sound balance by dragging a blue dot across an image of the car interior; tres trick.
    As you enter the car from the driver’s door the thing I noticed was just how high the floor is.

    There’s basically no footwell, and I presume that’s because the batteries are filling the spaces across the floor.

    The steering wheel is very sporty, small in size, thick, and flat bottomed.

    INFORMATION FROM THE PRODUCT SPECIALISTS
    TESLA is doing something very different in the stores. The PSs are really knowledgeable, so much so that one knew that the ABS control unit was located under the front trunk. I didn’t have my usual feeling of not wanting to ask detailed questions for fear of showing the end of someone’s knowledge. (The only thing that wasn’t known immediately was who made the chip in the center scree, but this is my private nerd problem). I learned that most people who walk into the store need to learn the most basic things about the car, and that the PSs appreciate that this is the first time for most people. It was a little funny when someone asked where the engine was, and the PS said it didn’t have an engine. (Get it? It has a motor, as an engine is for combustion things). The storefronts are strategically located; the suburbs around this mall are prime, and there are giant corps like IBM/GE/MorganStanley/Pepsi/etc located very close by.

    If you ask about charging time, that answer is ’31 miles an hour,’ which is a specific formulation meaning for every hour you charge you get 31 miles. Tesla is locating super charging stations in strategic locations mapped onto longer trips taken by customers. Thus, there are 6 superchargers at the Delaware Welcome Center on I-95 between NYC and DC. You pull in and hook up, after about an hour and a half your car is fully charged at no cost to the owner. The Delaware location, as well as one in Millford CT were chosen after asking owners where they stopped to rest on their trips between DC, NY, and Boston. I gathered that there were about 100 other such superchargers available across the country according to similar criteria. There are also thousands of other chargers at retail and public locations, but they aren’t superchargers. One PS took me to a wall mounted computer screen to do a calculation of how it only costs a retailer like BestBuy or Starbucks $ 1.10 to charge a Tesla for an hour while the customer is at the location. The car uses the industry standard power adaptor, but the supercharger ability is not yet something other makes can handle. (Does it look like Tesla is helping create a common charging infrastructure?)

    MISC
    If you drive the car in a parking lot, the rolling of the tires is adequate noise to alert pedestrians.

    The air supported struts control the lean of the car, anti-dive and anti-squat, and also can raise and lower the whole car for you. The max clearance is 7.5 inches

    The front radiator is only 3-4mill thick and has two fans.

    The charging station at the mall was in the garage, one flight down and a few steps from the TESLA storefront.

    The batteries under the car are grouped into, well, batteries of different numbers of batteries, according to spaces under the car.

    If you want a car, you go online and reserve one. The store does not sell the cars. (but you can get accessories like mugs, hats, shirts, jackets) It will take 3-6months to get a car. I’m not too sure about it, but I think you may need to reserve a car to get a test drive. But I think I’m wrong about this.

    Tesla can help with financing a purchase, as they have some arrangement with BofA and WellsFargo. They do not yet lease cars.

    The ‘motor’ is the size of a breadbox, really easy to turn by hand, and it’s liquid cooled. For the life of me I couldn’t understand how it worked. Electromagnet waves opposing each other, third order interactions, no magnets, 16,000 rpm at 0mph, 3-400 lbs of torque. Sound right to you guys? Oh, and if you look at the photo I link to, you’ll see that the axles will need some trick differential to get power to the wheels. So there’s an electronically controlled diff that splits the torque.

    PHOTOS at FLICKR
    Here is a link to photos I took at the Mall. There are captions. The camera is from an Ipod Touch-Sorry about that http://www.flickr.com/photos/76985302@N03/sets/72157632633657604/

  2. HtG Says:

    test

  3. HtG Says:

    Jijojponon test

  4. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Whatcha testin’?

  5. HtG Says:

    Hey, Ben. I’m trying to post a report on a TESLA store I visited. The server won’t cooperate. Don’t make me have to turn off the fan.

  6. HtG Says:

    can’t post a long report, GA

  7. Bradley Says:

    I voted for spinning off “Corvette”, but I have reservations. Not that I don’t think the idea is good, but rather GM historically doesn’t manage separate brands well.

  8. ColoradoKid Says:

    Hydrogen & Fuel cells ;

    For those that haven’t heard the news ….. now Mercedes Ford and Nissan have teamed up to cooperate on furthering Hydrogen power and Fuel cells

    HtG I’d had similar issues last week .

  9. HtG Says:

    SkipBarber. (this isn’t my Tesla report)

    The techniques SkipBarber teaches are No Kidding Around. In a short time you get severely challenged to learn how to use your eyes properly in order to steer a car that’s on its limits. Without this, there’s no way to handle a car that isn’t nannied to the point of bedwetting. The trail braking technique is maybe the most powerful tool I have to go quickly through turns at controlled speeds. And dayyum is it fun. One thing I’ve heard another instructor say is that if you perform driving techniques properly, the speed just happens. This is so true, that I sometimes think people in performance cars just have not clue how to drive fast. The money you spend at SkipBarber translates into not blindly pining for a fast car, as your modern plain car has a huge performance envelope, if you know how to use it. It’s a bargain, but yeesh eet esspensseev.

  10. ColoradoKid Says:

    So …… BMW hooks up with Toyota …….. Ford hooks up with Mercedes and Nissan/Renault ….

    ….. and who does GM get in bed with ?

    PSA and SAIC . Somebody please show Mr Ackerson the door before the man brings the company to its final knees

  11. ColoradoKid Says:

    HtG – Honestly ….. I’m kind of relieved ( that the TESLA thing keeps getting blocked )

    Nuthin agin yer writing mein herr …. but rather agin TESLA ;-)

  12. ColoradoKid Says:

    Here’s the link for the Ford Nissan Renault Daimler thingy ;

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/ford-daimler-renault-nissan-alliance-sign-huge-hydrogen-pact/#more-475522

  13. HtG Says:

    Oh yeah, safety.

    With what I’ve learned at Skip, I’m much more aware of being safe. This is because I can see threat better, have more brain space to watch other people, especially behind me, and have more time to do what I need to because I’m thinking so far ahead of the car. I also will never drive faster than my eyes, which means going around blind turns or over brows is rightfully constrained.

    The downside to having skills, is that driving becomes quite boring most of the time since pubic roads are built mostly for safety and utility.

    And what in the world is the C7 doing having the computer match revs for the manual box. HUH?

  14. HtG Says:

    10 I learned a lot at the Tesla store. I’ve got pics too.

  15. ColoradoKid Says:

    Uno mas

    I was wondering why Audi had challenged the new C7 when its gets released …. with of all things …… its RS6 ( vs say the R8 etc )

    And then this morning …… I read this ;

    http://www.carmagazine.co.uk/Secret-new-cars/Search-Results/Spyshots/Audi-RS6-Plus-to-get-power-boost-more-Plus-models-on-the-way/

    Nowwwwwwww …. I get it 8)

  16. HtG Says:

    12 heh heh, little typo up there

  17. ColoradoKid Says:

    Rolex 24 Hours ;

    If the rows and multitudes of empty grand stands at the finish is any indication ;

    I wouldn’t go holding my breath for a US Sports Car Racing resurgence anytime soon ..

    … unfortunately

  18. ColoradoKid Says:

    HtG – Oooops :o

  19. HtG Says:

    16 how could that race have been more boring? A bunch of toffs, and an overpowered BMW. Unwatchable TV coverage.

  20. Chuck Grenci Says:

    #12 C7 computer matching revs……………

    This can be turned off for enthusiasts that wish to ‘heal and toe’. (matching revs is probably a good thing, all things considered)

  21. HtG Says:

    19 It does make you wonder if the engine has so much rotational inertia that one might need a little help.

  22. gmveteran Says:

    GM probably doesn’t need a partner for fuel cells. They have had a very large research department and facility dedicated to fuel cells for about ten years, perhaps more. They had a facility in the middle of nowhere in upstate New York built specially for this project. Not sure where they stand on their progress, but they may surprise everyone like they did with the Volt.

  23. Chuck @ GM Says:

    Rick Wagner thought of inventing fuel cell cars as a way to get the auto out of the environmental discussions about 15 years ago. He also hooked up with Dow to use their “waste” hydrogen near one of their plants to develop the stack, and gave them the electricity in return. This is, or at least was a fleet of ready for prime time hydrogen vehicles that drove 300 miles or more on a single fueling.

  24. ColoradoKid Says:

    20 ….. or more likely that those ‘ leaf ‘ springs along with an incompetent chassis aren’t up to the torque and HP the engine’s capable of producing ….

    Ya think ?

    Hmmmmn. Where is everyone today ?

  25. ColoradoKid Says:

    21 & 22

    Oh my . Both of you have me rolling on the floor laughing almost to the point of tears .

    Here’s a clue . GM needs a competent partner ….. in everything . In case you hadn’t noticed GM’s on the floor .. down and counting . World Wide !

    Then …. trying to claim GM was first in line with Hydrogen .

    Sorry GM cheerleaders … but that status belongs to BMW

    First to develop a hydrogen powered ICE – first in line with a fuel cell – first in line with a road going Hydrogen ICE … first in line with a road going fuel cell – first to claim Hydrogen is the Future of the Automobile …. whereas GM ? Day dreaming a lot and not much anything else .

    So …. in light of todays bit of GM Dogma & Doctrine …. may I assume you both also work for the General ?

  26. C-Tech Says:

    The Corvette Motors Division (or How to Finally get rid of that pesky sportscar)

    6-1-13 GM announces the creation of a new division, splitting the Corvette away from the Chevrolet division and selling multiple versions of the Corvette through a separate dealer network. 6-2-13 The 3,000 Chevrolet dealers file a lawsiut against GM claiming a violating of their franchise agreement. Settlement: 3 Billion
    8-1-13 Corvette Division will have its division offices and engineering located in southern California (far, far, away from GM Hq) Cost 2 billion (Gov. sends a thank you plaque). Bowling Green, Kentucky says “WTF???”.
    10-1-13 Corvette Division asks GM board for 6 billion to develop 2 new vehicles. Board says “sure, anything for the true believers”.
    6-1-16 GM ousts the top management from Corvette Division. Blue suits close the California campus and move remaining engineers and staff to large closet at Bowling Green plant. Janitor says “WTF???”.
    6-3-16 Blue suits announce a plans to expand the appeal of Corvette division by offering a lower cost sporty version of the Chevy Cruze and Equinox to join the line-up. Other Corvettes to be carried over indefinitely.
    12-1-18 Blues suits announce the last year for the Corvette Division. “We had a great run but could overcome the losses after investing 11 billion dollars” Corvette jackets and T-shirts will continue to be sold online.

  27. T. Bejma Says:

    #9

    GM doesn’t need to team up with another manufacturer to “develop” fuel cell technology, they have been working on it for YEARS(!!) not just recently…

    “General Motors has just shown dramatically shrunken fifth-generation fuel-cell technology with the same 93-kilowatt output as the previous generation now on the road in fleets of hydrogen-powered Chevrolet Equinoxes. The new stack is about the size of the company’s pretty small EcoTec four-cylinder engine.”

    “The 116 Equinoxes being tested as part of Project Driveway on the East and West coasts have accumulated more than a million miles, but their stacks are relative dinosaurs, several year-old technology.”
    http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/transportation/blogs/gms-very-small-fuel-cells-pack-a-punch-0

    Sorry CK, but you can’t continue your internet vendetta against GM on this one…

  28. T. Bejma Says:

    Corvette takes 5 of the top 10 positions at the Rolex 24 hours.

    Want to know how I know that PMD? I got a social media blast from GM touting their racing success. They must be listening to you?

  29. HtG Says:

    ck, check out comment #1. Thanks, Ben!

  30. C-Tech Says:

    @ #29 If only they will allow the Corvette and Viper teams to unleash more of their power….

  31. T. Bejma Says:

    #26

    “In 1966, General Motors developed the first fuel cell road vehicle, the Chevrolet Electrovan. It had a PEM fuel cell, a range of 120 miles and a top speed of 70 mph. There were only two seats, as the fuel cell stack and fuel tanks took up the rear portion of the van. Only one was built, as the project was deemed cost-prohibitive.”

    GM didn’t need a partner on the Voltec drivetrain, OnStar, and the several thousand other patents that they own as well. At this point anyone that teams up with GM would be catching up, the same way that Toyota is LEARNING from BMW…

  32. T. Bejma Says:

    Nice review of the TESLA HtG. Also enjoyed hearing about the driving school results. Always wanted to go (in fact my wife’s wedding present to me was the 5 day school at Bondurant – but that was 12 years ago and it still hasn’t happened :-( ). It sounds like my few years of SCCA Road Racing got me most of the way there anyway.

  33. RonE Says:

    Re: #27,
    +1!

  34. HtG Says:

    33 thanks TB. What do you think was up with the panel gaps? Early production unit?

    Skip GO! The teachers are so good, the methods are so acute. Right now they’re doing a 20% off sale(there’s lots of sales actually) That one day school lists for about 1500, and I’m considering it. I’ve taken the 1/2 day Advanced Car Control course, where you practice on the limit turning around a wet skid pad, drive straight at coned gates and trail brake a 90degree turn(this on a wet surface in a diabolically oversteering RX8), then drive the MX5 cup car or the Formula car around an autcross. This was a sick and challenging experience. Worth multiples of the cost is what I tell people.

  35. T. Bejma Says:

    #34

    TESLA panel gaps sound like just inexperience in the manufacturing tricks the other automakers have to get the tight even gaps we get now. Back in the 90′s Lexus bragged about their gaps and we all learned the Japanese methods to get there. Today’s Cruze has better gaps than the first Lexus. TESLA will get there in time with improved designs and manufacturing techniques – a lot quicker than we did…

  36. T. Bejma Says:

    Good news about GM Fairfax Plant…

    “General Motors announced plans Monday to pour $600 million into a new paint shop and other upgrades at its assembly plant in Kansas City, Kan., an investment that likely ensures the facility’s long-term viability.”

    “Construction on the 450,000-square-foot paint shop, a new stamping press and efficiency enhancements at the Fairfax Assembly Plant will begin this year and should take about two years to complete, the automaker said in a statement.”

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_GENERAL_MOTORS_KANSAS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-01-28-13-07-49&source=email_rt_mc_body

  37. T. Bejma Says:

    This is hilarious!! Be sure to watch it to the end, some of the best lines are there…

    “Hitler finds out about the C7 Corvette!”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CKRrXvrSukc

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    1#
    Thanks for the report, HtG.

    The Tesla motor would turn zero rpm at zero mph. It is geared directly to the wheels like most other pure EV’s, with no clutch or gear change. At least that is what I’ve read about it.

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Regarding a separate Corvette “brand,” that would make sense for Europe and other non-U.S. regions where Chevrolet mainly means minicars from Korea. For the U.S. and Canada, Corvette should remain a Chevy.

    The dealers should be required to have at least one well-trained tech, though, and small dealers, if there are any left, should be able to “opt out” of selling Corvettes.

  40. Duke Says:

    Ck in #17
    Obviously, you have never been to a sports car race. Sports car fans do NOT sit in grand stands. They “walk” (around) the track to see a race from every vantage point.

    If you were to go to Sebring for the 12 Hrs, or Road Atlanta for the Petit – with 150,000+ spectators in attendance – and you will often see the bleachers around the track – with lots of places to sit.

    DIS has seating for 250,000+ peeps and even if there were 250,000 peeps in attendance for a sports car race – you wouldn’t see them in the grandstand.

  41. HtG Says:

    uh oh

  42. cwolf Says:

    We may have nailed the car and truck of the year, but so did those on autoblog: and they voted 63% against the Vette split. Under every developement aspect, peter’s vission cannot be justified. Marketing guys never cease to amaze me!

  43. Jim Thykeson Says:

    Hydrogen fuel-cells are the answer. All of Scandanavia and most of Europe is betting on them; ergo, making the transformation as we speak. This stuff can be made at the fueling station and really doesn’t even need a refinery! It comes from water and has NO bad by-product. The U.S. doesn’t need to be the ‘last to the dance’ on this technology.

  44. ColoradoKid Says:

    Duke re;40 ;

    Really ? Never been have I ? Guess all those CanAm , IMSA , TransAm ( back in its glory days ) ALMS LMS … not to mention Daytona Sebring races etc were all just a dream then . Right ?

    Come on . Reality fix time Duke ! There was NO crowd to be seen … on the ground or otherwise in all the coverage at this or the last three years of the Rolex 24 hours at any time in the race I might add . And errrr … BTW …. REAL sports car fans go back to their seats for the finish so’s they can SEE the final results …

    Honestly Duke ol bean . ( or young bean what ever the case may be ) I loved ( past tense ) sports car racing when it WAS racing . But in truth from LeMans to Daytona Sports Car racing has become irrelevant over the last decade or so

    HtG – No uh oh’s here . Just a statement of fact .

  45. Kit Gerhart Says:

    43,
    ….but you need huge amounts of energy to separate the water into hydrogen and oxygen.

  46. ColoradoKid Says:

    cwolf – If what you say is true about PDL’s vision …. well then I guess we better start preparing our final goodbyes for the inevitable and upcoming demise of the Corvette . Cause what GM’s been doing of late …. aint workin ….. and 12,000 units per annum is a guaranteed financial loss per car sold .

    Marketing aint gonna save the Vette this time I’m afraid cwolf . Especially with its adolescent looks , Neanderthal mechanicals and compromises galore

  47. ColoradoKid Says:

    #45

    Yeah but when they get it figured out …. and they will …. cause its a lot easier problem to resolve than all the foibles contained in an E/V … well then … look out

  48. HtG Says:

    Check out this US DOE page on making hydrogen from natural gas.

    A quote…”Greenhouse gas emissions are lower than gasoline-powered internal-combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.
    Producing hydrogen from natural gas does result in some greenhouse gas emissions. When compared to ICE vehicles using gasoline, however, fuel cell vehicles using hydrogen produced from natural gas reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60%.

    Link
    http://www1.eere.energy.gov/hydrogenandfuelcells/production/natural_gas.html

  49. pedro fernandez Says:

    What’s next? A Vette SUV? A Vette hybrid? let it be the way it was meant to be, gets people into the Chevy showroom and they end up buying something else, used to be an Impala or Chevelle, now Cruze or Sonic.

  50. Kit Gerhart Says:

    47,
    Huh? The only “foibles” with EV’s have to do with the batteries’ limited capacity, long charge times, etc. If you have electricity available, electric motors work great for everything. That is why they are always used to power things were “line” power is available.

    A hydrogen infrastructure is not something “easy” that will be done any time soon.

  51. RonE Says:

    #49, Pedro, maybe they will drive home in this Impala SS.

    http://www.motortrend.com/features/auto_news/2012/1205_2014_chevrolet_ss_rear_drive_performance_sedan/

  52. W L Simpson Says:

    John, u better hire HTG

  53. jesse Says:

    A Corvette spinoff store is a good idea.Now if they would only make a good looking Vette again,they may have a winning formula.I just can’t,no matter how hard I try,come to like the look of this new C7. The roof line is horrendous,there are to many scoops,even though they are functional,still to many!The ass end,as a whole lot of people have stated,looks like a Camaro.The car just doesn’t “flow”like the c6 does.When I first saw the c6 back in 04 my jaw dropped and I had to have one,and I do have one.It was love at first sight.With this new c7 Vette,although the technology is cool,great,whatever you want to call it,the look is just off.I’m sure people will scoop it up,it just won’t be me in any lines to buy one.GM can forget about the younger generation too as they are pricing themselves completely WRONG for those people.They will buy BMW/AUDI/even VW before they buy anything with a CHEVY name attached to it.I don’t hate any Vette,but this new one is way,way over done.

  54. pedro fernandez Says:

    I hope they don’t use that rear end on the new Impala RWD, it looks too much like the current Impala, bring back the round triple tail lights, like they always had them.

  55. RonE Says:

    #54, Pedro, sorry, that was an old link. I had just read in the March 2013 issue where Mark Reuss said this will be a special SS. The pic was a NASCAR version, side and front pic.

  56. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Back to hydrogen powered vehicles, IF you have a source of hydrogen, whether from electrolyzing water, getting it from methane, or whatever, you then have to store it in the car. With hydrogen, you have the same issues as with LNG, only more so. You need extremely high pressures to store much, and in liquified state, it is at a temp of minus 400 F. The volumetric energy density of liquid hydrogen is very low, so a lot of space in the car will be occupied by those big thermos bottles. The bottom line is that we are very far away from seeing viable H2 powered fuel cell cars from anyone.

  57. Julius Lambert Says:

    I do not think the Vett could bring in eough funds.Continuously R&D is developing NEW ?????,and going from one Gen to the next is EXPENSIVE.Lets hear from Bob Lutz on this subject.He should be able to talk sense on the #s.The unit has been carried for ever.Just because the ’14 is stirring up enthusiamdoesn’t mean the ship will FLOAT.

  58. Julius Lambert Says:

    This Vett thing would be like asking if the Pentagon could fund itself.We do not need Bob’s #s for that answer.

  59. blueovalblood Says:

    John, I’ve got news for you: the auto mfg’s suppliers are already maxed out!! I work at a Ford dealership parts dept., and when I have to special order parts the majority of them are on back order because ” the demand exceeded the suppliers capacity”.

  60. T. Bejma Says:

    #59

    You are definitely right. No supplier is ever going to say they are over capacity in this fragile economy but missing shipments is very good proof that they are maxed out (and I am seeing a lot shortages)…

  61. jmann Says:

    Pulling the Corvette away from Chevrolet would be bad news for Chevrolet. Not to mention increased maintenance(parts/labor)expense for Corvette owners. Also, the basic vehicle price would (seemingly) have to increase – a lot! It doesn’t cost Chevy all that much to keep Corvette under its wing and provides big engineering benefits – skunk works – along with sales boost through image. Going it alone is not always a good thing.

  62. T. Bejma Says:

    #61

    I don’t think PMD thought to make Corvette like Saturn with it’s own Purchasing, Engineering, etc. but more to make it like a Buick or Cadillac where the GM resources are still used but Marketing and Dealer experience are separate. Kind of like Lexus. Toyota Engineers still work on every Lexus vehicle (especially the re-badged versions) but the brand is handled differently…

  63. HtG Says:

    62 Pontiac revanchism, methinks.

  64. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Someone fell asleep at the wheel (at Pontiac) years and years before they pulled the plug. The weak attempt to maintain the brand, with the G8, was way to little and woefully late. Oldsmobile on the other hand, gave it a good try (to stay viable) with the intro of the Intrigue (very good effort), the Acheiva (not so much) and the Bravada (I’d rate this as good); Pontiac just about rolled over and died (in comparison). Sad to see them both go (but such was probably needed). I purchased both an Intrigue and a Bravada; my daughter is still driving the Intrigue (2000) and I’m still driving the Bravada (2004). Orphaning the Corvette to its own brand might just kill it, and that would be a pity (a pity indeed).

  65. ColoradoKid Says:

    Hydrogen ;

    One more hidden advantage which Hydrogen powered cars ( ICE ) have over …… well just about everything else on tap at the moment .

    Got that 32 Deuce Hot Rod .. 67 Shelby GT500 … Ferrari 365GTB-4 .. 65 327 Stingray convertible .. restored 23 Model T etc in the garage ?

    Want to Drive your car and Breath clean air as well ?

    BMW has the solution . They’ve already shown with one of their classics …. the hydrogen conversion is easy …. and once put on the market would cost between $1200 and $2300 … parts an labor to do .

    Can’t say I much like/love BMW’s cars but sure gotta admire their common sense approach to technological advances
    8)

  66. ColoradoKid Says:

    #64 – Unfortunately if GM keeps up with its current paths I’m afraid GM is damned and determined by its own ineptitude to kill off the Vette regardless … so creating a separate division may be its only potential salvation

  67. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Hydrogen conversion is NOT EASY. You need several times as much volume of liquid hydrogen as you need in gasoline to go the same distance, and that fuel need to be very cold, and stored in Dewers (thermos bottles). There are claims of viable hydride ion exchange systems, but “real” companies don’t seem to be talking much about that.

    Yes, an ICE itself can be easily converted to run on hydrogen, but, beyond that, it is less practical than LNG, and that has its issues, beyond availability of the LNG for road trips. The only mass produced LNG car, the Civic, loses at least half of its trunk, and half of its range compared to a regular Civic. A hydrogen conversion would fare even worse.

  68. T. Bejma Says:

    The combustion of hydrogen with air can also produce oxides of nitrogen. Although it is only produced in small quantities, research has shown that the oxides of nitrogen are about 310 times more harmful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

    Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of using Hydrogen as fuel in an ICE?

  69. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of using Hydrogen as fuel in an ICE?”

    Yes, and producing hydrogen from natural gas to use in ICE’s seems counterproductive, given the energy involved. You’d might as well just burn the nat gas in the engine.

    If fuel cells are highly efficient, such hydrogen could make sense of fuel cell vehicles, given that the electric motor would be ~90% efficient, while ICE’s efficiency is 20-some %, under best conditions.

  70. Kit Gerhart Says:

    68,
    Also, NOx emissions are a big contributor to photochemical smog in places like LA.

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