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Old 01-31-2018, 02:51 PM   #1
ebristol
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Default Saturn Greenline as a PHEV

Hello everyone,

I've been looking into the possibility of converting a Saturn VUE/Aura to a plug in hybrid.

I've been a a couple of different diy ev car forums and most people aren't that impressed with the GM BAS system. I think they look at the actual fuel economy gains and performance and it doesn't compare to that of other popular hybrids. Which is true.

HOWEVER.

I don't feel like that is the fault of the components of the GM BAS system as much as how it was implemented.

Here is what I mean.

People who buy the Chevy Volt most likely have daily commutes less than the total EV only mode. Because that is how the Volt system was implemented. It was designed to be fully charged at night and for the driver to start their commute with a fully charged battery. The system is designed to give full performance for a designed distance. Once that distance is reached, the system is designed to go into a traditional hybrid mode.

I think GM made the mistake of not giving the BAS system a plug in option.

Compared to the design of the Volt, the BAS system is completely confused. The BAS system doesn't how far you plan on driving the vehicle on your daily commute. The BAS system doesn't know there are options to fully charge the batteries without regeneration. The BAS system was designed to help out a little here and a little there.

Instead, what if the system was designed to give you full performance (assistance) until the battery charge status reaches a certain discharge status? Then it reverts back to its normal operation of a little assistance here and there while trying to recharge the battery. That distance might be enough to cover your daily commute.

Instead of the BAS system only assisting during stop/start and acceleration it could also assist during cruise until the battery is nearly depleted vs holding a larger reserve because it doesn't know the next chance it will get to regenerate.

Has anyone looked into this before?

I noticed that the VUE/Aura/Malibu hybrids are supported by HP Tuners software but I couldn't find any tune examples in the tune repository.

Has anyone tried to recharge the hybrid battery with an external sources?

Has anyone closely monitored the hybrid battery voltage to observe how the BAS system works under different charge statuses?

Has anyone every tried something like this?

Thanks!

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Old 01-31-2018, 10:35 PM   #2
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Default Re: Saturn Greenline as a PHEV

I drove a plug in cue back in the day. Think it was a 2009. Pretty neat car. Unfortunately it never made it to production. Vue not cue.

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Old 02-01-2018, 03:07 PM   #3
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Default Re: Saturn Greenline as a PHEV

I think when you examine GM's bas system, you may find a major weakness to it - it was never meant to provide supplemental power for any length of time with a very small 36(?) volt battery made with nickel metal hydride technology. NMH rechargeable batteries have less power to weight storage capacity than lithium batteries, the current battery of choice the world over for highest storage of power per weight. The design restraints of the Vue hybrid system and combination starter-generator belt drive configuration isn't suited to provide electric power to supplement the gas engine. A belt drive to couple an electric motor to the crankshaft places a large load on the drive belt hence the more complicated belt tensioner system. Electric drive motors like Teslas are more or less direct coupled to wheels, eliminating loses from transmissions. The belt drive of the bas system robs power and with a small battery can discharge it quickly. If I'm not mistaken, the 36 volt battery runs the starter while in generating mode requires different circuitry to recharge the two batteries (12 and 36). This complicates the electronics and creates another challenge if GM wanted to have plug in capability. Another inverter circuit would be needed for charging. As it is, the small battery used to start and provide a small boost in power then needs the generator to recharge batteries as quickly as possible. The Vue hybrid doesn't lend itself to mods with plug in capability as you'd have to figure out where the connections are to recharge and whether it interferes with on board electronics that may not tolerate modifications. You'd also have to determine what voltages are needed for recharging and what's available for a custom made setup. Tesla made it easy by eliminating the gasoline engine with an all electric car and providing on road charging stations so drivers feel less 'range anxiety', more battery capacity for long distance drives, and allows an owner a second option for at home faster recharging. All this eliminates the complicated electronics of GM's hybrid bas system. Tesla did all the homework by designing from the ground up as opposed to GM's attempt to add a hybrid electric system to a car.

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Old 02-02-2018, 05:02 PM   #4
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Default Re: Saturn Greenline as a PHEV

Quote:
Originally Posted by onefunkar View Post
I drove a plug in cue back in the day. Think it was a 2009. Pretty neat car. Unfortunately it never made it to production. Vue not cue.
I think Plug Ins are the way to go. Most people's daily commute is so short the vehicle doesn't need a large battery.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
I think when you examine GM's bas system, you may find a major weakness to it - it was never meant to provide supplemental power for any length of time with a very small 36(?) volt battery made with nickel metal hydride technology. NMH rechargeable batteries have less power to weight storage capacity than lithium batteries, the current battery of choice the world over for highest storage of power per weight.
Absolutely. At the time lithium was very expensive and cost prohibited. But I think the 10 year results would be completely different if they were able to use lithium batteries.

The GM Gen 2 BAS system directly addressed the major weaknesses by using Lithium batteries and running a 120v system. It's performance was better than the Gen 1 so much that they offer the eAssist system on full size trucks in 2016 in California. But it's still has a tiny battery without a plug in option.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
The design restraints of the Vue hybrid system and combination starter-generator belt drive configuration isn't suited to provide electric power to supplement the gas engine. A belt drive to couple an electric motor to the crankshaft places a large load on the drive belt hence the more complicated belt tensioner system. Electric drive motors like Teslas are more or less direct coupled to wheels, eliminating loses from transmissions. The belt drive of the bas system robs power and with a small battery can discharge it quickly.
Your right that there is more tension on the belt system because of the BAS setup. But the BAS system doesn't take any additional power from the hybrid battery while not in use. So the battery should be drained unless it's helping to move the vehicle. The extra tension would affect the mpg of the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) however.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
If I'm not mistaken, the 36 volt battery runs the starter while in generating mode requires different circuitry to recharge the two batteries (12 and 36). This complicates the electronics and creates another challenge if GM wanted to have plug in capability.
Kind of but it's simpler than you think. The Starter/Alternator/Motor connected to the belt system on the GM BAS system only runs at 36v. The 36v power is sent to and from the hybrid battery only. Inside the hybrid battery controller is a DC to DC converter which reduces the 36v to 12v for standard 12v setup of an automobile. So the 36v and 12v systems don't really cross over each other. There logically isolated.



Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
This complicates the electronics and creates another challenge if GM wanted to have plug in capability. Another inverter circuit would be needed for charging. As it is, the small battery used to start and provide a small boost in power then needs the generator to recharge batteries as quickly as possible. The Vue hybrid doesn't lend itself to mods with plug in capability as you'd have to figure out where the connections are to recharge and whether it interferes with on board electronics that may not tolerate modifications.
Yes. Plug in charging could be managed in the vehicle like a traditional PHEV. That would be tough to integrate into the current design. Or the charging can be handled by an external 36v charger. The external charger would only need to hook up to the positive and negative terminals of the hybrid battery. It could charge it without the vehicle even knowing. Most of these hybrid batteries have big lugs just like a 12v battery. The battery is always putting off some voltage so charging it as close to the lugs shouldn't cause an issue.



I'm not sure if the BAS system is designed to recharge the battery while the ICE is moving the vehicle. If it is, that is a huge design flaw. That would put a strain on the ICE and decrease fuel economy. Most hybrids only recharge the hybrid battery under deceleration.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
You'd also have to determine what voltages are needed for recharging and what's available for a custom made setup.
Yes. NiMH is very similar to lead acid batteries so nominal voltage is 36v. Max voltage is ~42v and minimum is ~30v.

So to fix battery problem the batteries would need to be replaced OR supplemented with lithium batteries. I know that sounds impossible but it's really not. A person could build a 36v Lithium Ion battery pack could run in parallel with the NiMH battery to increase the capacity. The LI battery could also recharge the NiMH battery to always keep it topped off.

I wonder how much better the vehicle would perform if it always though it was full?

From the looks of that simple diagram it appears that those 3 12v batteries in the BAS system could be replaced with lithium cells.

Yes there are going to be hurdles but I feel like they could be over come. Has anyone else given any thought to this? I would love to hear it.

Thanks for your input fdryer!

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Last edited by ebristol; 02-02-2018 at 05:11 PM..

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Old 02-02-2018, 06:37 PM   #5
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Default Re: Saturn Greenline as a PHEV

Plug ins are nice but such a huge part of population donít own a house. No house pretty much means no home base to charge up.


























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Old 02-02-2018, 08:07 PM   #6
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Default Re: Saturn Greenline as a PHEV

^ Well said as far as non home owners without a garage or electrical outlet designed specifically for recharging PHEVs. That's another hurdle no one has addressed and indirectly if plug in charging stations are used.....

ebristol, I learned some things about rechargeable batteries, going back to nickel cadmium technology. Specific charging rates are used along with voltage measurements during charging to determine correct full charge status. With this knowledge learned from nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride and lithium are two completely different technologies with their own specific charging rates that do not lend themselves to mixing any two battery configurations with a one size fits all recharger. In GM's case using nickel metal hydride for the 36 volt pack, NMH batteries have a specific discharge rate that's known and specific recharging rates wholly different from lithiums. If you imagine using two battery packs, one NMH and the other lithium, you'd need two separate charging systems. Each one is designed specifically to accommodate NMH and lithium and cannot be interchanged without (explosive) disastrous results. Perfect examples are Samsung cellphones exploding at random and laptops exploding - both are lithium rechargeable. The very worst example were Boeing 777s, debuted with Nippon airlines the first to buy and use for their fleet of new aircraft. Early lithium battery packs self ignited and caused approximately an extra $350 million in aircraft shutdowns and redevelopment costs to rebuild a better hardened battery case and modified battery configuration to eliminate the first lithium battery pack fires on board commercial aircraft. The news coverage showed how embarrassed 777s newest airliner caught fire, luckily on the ground and not in the air. Once the cause was found and corrected, no more lithium failures in the fleet of 777s. This was the first debut to replace sealed gel cell batteries that weighed more with less capacity for on board use for self starting and other uses before the engine generators are up and running.

While its easy to discuss the what-ifs to modify GMs BAS battery to add a custom battery pack for additional power, the devil is in the details, NMH needing its own recharging circuitry separate from lithium needing its own recharging circuitry. You don't have to take my word for info. A search of NMH and lithium battery characteristics and specially designed charging circuits may reveal the difficulty in open discussions. My knowledge of nickel cadmium technology came from model aircraft. Once NMH batteries came to the hobby, new recharging equipment was needed and nickel cadmium rechargers cannot be used on NMH battery packs. The same for lithium batteries, requiring their own specifically designed recharging electronics that cannot be used on older rechargeables. Each battery has its own unique charge and discharge characteristics and equipment to recharge each type of battery is tailored for safety and efficiency. Overcharging any battery, nickel cadmium, NMH or lithium can easily overheat and lead to disaster. Lithiums are already known to be more hazardous than previous rechargeables but industry engineering maintains respect for the power of lithiums while incorporating the best technology for efficient recharging at the lowest time needed. Tesla is an example of using the best designs possible to pack a set of lithiums for the greatest power exceeding most muscle cars in demonstrated 1/4 mile drag races. A stock Tesla against most custom or high end cars that cannot produce the exact traction control a Tesla with AWD can when set for 'ludicrous' mode. Electric power has exceeded gasoline engines in the 1/4 mile drag race. And that's with traction control electronics to prove electronics is far better than any driver can modulate his right foot on the gas pedal. It may be said that if grandma or grandpa is a racer, they can step into a Tesla and beat any car in a 1/4 mile drag race simply because electronics takes over traction control to ensure zero wheel slippage to all four wheels for the fastest power application without any wheel slipping. There are youtube videos embarrassing muscle cars against A Tesla, presuming the driver selected 'ludicrous mode'.

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Old 02-03-2018, 12:26 PM   #7
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Default Re: Saturn Greenline as a PHEV

I also watch too much YouTube and have seen hours of the videos you're referring too. it's fun watching muscle cars getting beat by electric cars!

I left this out of my last post but I believe Telsa already has and will continue to shape the future of EVs. Once there are are 300,000 model 3s on the roads and any one can buy one with out waiting It's going to put so much pressure on all the other EVs and hybrids out there. We all know that the resale value of hybrids are already bad. It's only going to get worse..

I'm certainly not trying to change the world with this discussion. I'm just trying to find out if anyone has tried applying any new technology to improve the current setup found in these vehicles.

I understand the differences with charge cycles of NiMH vs Lithium batteries. I agree that the regen process used on the GM BAS might not work well with Li batteries. Lithium batteries like to be "woken up" with low amps and low voltage and the charge at a consistent voltage and amperage until full. I doubt the current design could do that with out issues.

NMH isn't as picky. You can slam them with current and take it out just the same. (Within reason)

I think a good starting point would be add a lithium Ion battery pack to the vehicle and use that pack to keep the NiMH battery topped off using a dc to dc converter.

https://www.amazon.com/Yeeco-Numeric...88777568a189d6

This would isolate the Li battery from the entire BAS system because it only allows the current to flow one way.

The DC to DC converters can take a wide range of input voltage and up convert or down convert the voltage for custom output. The output voltage and amperage could be tuned to match the best charging preference for the NiMH batteries.

The idea would be to charge the lithium ion battery pack at home. You wouldn't need an expensive charger you would see for a Volt or Tesla. Those battery systems run at 300 plus volts. You could easily get away with a cheap hobby charger designed for your Li battery pack.

https://evfittinggreentime.aliexpres...f8ce943603f1a3

For li batteries I would look to the Chevy Volt battery packs. They consist of 48v and 24v packs connected in series. Run 2 or 3 of the 48v packs in parallel to support the NiMH battery.

https://youtu.be/Vnq30FNKsig

Again the idea is that the BAS system would perform better if it thought the NiMH battery was fully charged. Which we don't know yet...

It's also important to design the capacity of the Li battery pack around your life style and driving habits. If you only have a 20 mile commute, You wouldn't need a huge battery pack. People who build custom plug in EVs often only size the battery to make their daily commute to keep down on weight and cost.

I should add that I don't own a Satrun Greenline. So I can test any of this myself.

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Last edited by ebristol; 02-03-2018 at 12:38 PM..

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Old 02-03-2018, 12:30 PM   #8
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Default Re: Saturn Greenline as a PHEV

If you want to see a serious performance adaptation of the GM BAS system check out this video.

https://youtu.be/4-Vck6oCi3A

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Old 02-04-2018, 03:31 PM   #9
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Default Re: Saturn Greenline as a PHEV

Not familiar with the Greenline, can it run on just electric like a Prius, or is the electric motor just a booster like on an Insight? Does it shut off at red lights? Is the A/C compressor off then too?

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Old 02-04-2018, 11:29 PM   #10
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Default Re: Saturn Greenline as a PHEV

Vue green line (just called hybrid in 09) was a booster and couldnít drive only on electric. Did have stop/start similar to many cars today. Drivetrain used after Saturn by other gm cars. Chevy and Buick.

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Old 02-05-2018, 08:36 PM   #11
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Default Re: Saturn Greenline as a PHEV

Quote:
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Not familiar with the Greenline, can it run on just electric like a Prius, or is the electric motor just a booster like on an Insight? Does it shut off at red lights? Is the A/C compressor off then too?
Electric AC units so the vehicle can still be cooled when the motor is shut off.

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