Chevrolet Volt is a game changer from General Motors (GM), in fact this could be one of the vehicles to save the venerable brand. The Volt is a plug in hybrid to be produced by GM, unlike current available hybrids like the Toyota Prius, the propulsion of the Volt is accomplished by the electric motors, it has a regular gas engine which recharges the batteries, but the gas engine does not power the wheels.
It's lithium-ion batteries have a range up to 40 miles (64 km), which exceeds the daily commute of 75% of Americans, which is an average of 33 miles (53 km). A small 4 cylinder gasoline engine drives a generator to provide a longer range. This effectively extends the Volt's potential range to as much as 640 miles (1,030 km) on a single tank of fuel, but the range could be extended indefinitely by refueling the vehicle. The Volt's lithium-ion battery pack can also be fully charged by plugging the car into a 120-240VAC residential electrical outlet.
Since the current Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) definition of a hybrid vehicle states the vehicle shall have "two or more energy storage systems both of which must provide propulsion power, either together or independently", the company has avoided the use of the term "hybrid" when describing its non-conforming Voltec designs. Instead GM has described the Volt as an electric vehicle equipped with a "range extending" gasoline powered internal combustion engine. However, the combination of an internal combustion engine and electric motors in such a configuration is most often referred to as a series hybrid.
An optional feature will be a a thermovoltaic solar power roof, allowing the owner to charge the battery by leaving the vehicle in sunlight. GM has decided on a new descriptive terminology to distinguish it from traditional hybrids. They are calling the Volt an E-REV, for extended-range electric vehicle, although it still qualifies as a hybrid.
The estimated production plans are 10,000 first year with a ramp up to 60,000 units in the second year. Production in the U.S will be done at GM's Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly. GM is considering building all of the Volts for the European market, branded Chevrolet, Opel and Vauxhall, at their Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port in the United Kingdom. GM indicated that the Volt would be available for sale in Europe in 2011, then available in Australia by 2012.
General Motors was reportedly in disagreement with the United States Environmental Protection Agency regarding how the Volt should be tested to determine its official fuel economy rating. The EPA reportedly wants to alter the method of testing currently used for all other hybrid vehicles. If tested with the same EPA tests used by other hybrids, the Volt's ability to use the energy stored in the batteries would result in it achieving a fuel economy rating of over 100 mpg, which would make the Volt the first mass-produced automobile to achieve such a rating. Currently, the 2010 Toyota Prius has a combined city/highway rating of 50 mpg.
Pricing for the Volt in the U.S. is estimated at $40K plus, with a government tax incentive rebate of $7500 bringing the price to around $32.5K. Pricing in the U.K. market would be estimated at GBP£20K, less a government tax incentive rebate.
My take on this vehicle is that the Chevrolet Volt will be a game changer in a number of different ways. First, it will help to get GM sales and image back on track after the government sponsored bankruptcy, second it is a mass market vehicle that can change the hybrid landscape, which Toyota dominates presently. Third it will be a major milestone on the way to American energy independence!
Shown below is the original Volt concept vehicle!
Information via Wikipedia!