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gm-volt.jpgThe Chevy Volt has been called many things by many people. Some say it is the first great American hope for breaking foreign oil dependency and possibly the first really viable, mass-produced, all-electric car. Others say that it is vaporware, a car that will never be produced, and even if it is, it will be late to market and overpriced. Whatever your stance on the vehicle, the good folks at are putting together the scraps of info that escape GM into a relevant and interesting website. Take a look at the info the have collected and make up your own mind. Do you think the Volt will be here at KARL Chevrolet HUMMER by 2010? Would you buy a car that can go 40 miles without burning any gas? How much would you be willing to pay if they bring to market the Volt with all the capabilities they are shooting for? Drop us a comment…

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The Volt is radically different than any on the road today. Although agreement about definitions vary, GM doesn’t not consider it a hybrid. Current hybrids cars, such as the Prius, are defined as parallel hybrids, meaning they have a small electric motor that moves the car when it is going slowly, but when speed or acceleration increases, a gasoline motor kicks in. The Volt, however, is considered an extended-range electric vehicle (E-REV). It has a very powerful all-electric 161-horsepower 45KW (53 KW peak) motor that is the only engine to power the car at all times. This engine should be capable of moving the car from 0 to 60 in 8.5 seconds, and have a top speed of at least 100 mph.

The electric engine gets its juice from a very powerful high-voltage battery pack that can store enough energy to drive the car up to 40 miles in standard driving conditions. That battery pack is recharged by plugging the car into your standard home 110 volt wall outlet, just like you do your iPod or cell phone. The full-charge cycle should take about 6 hours. Yes, this will increase your electric bill, but you will charge the car overnight when rates are lower. Much more importantly, you will need NO GASOLINE for drives up to 40 miles. So, if gas prices continue to go through the roof, you really won’t care. In most areas, your electricity costs should amount to a gas equivalent price of 50 cents per gallon. Studies suggest that 78% of drivers drive less than 40 miles per day.

Another very important feature of the Volt, and the reason some people (not GM) still consider it a hybrid, is that it will still have an on-board gasoline/E85 combustion engine. Only in the Volt, this engine is the smaller one, and has only one task, it charges the battery pack when the stored power gets low. The motor is not connected to the wheels, it is only a generator. The brilliance of this feature is that you will have an overall driving range of 600-700 miles, greater than most gas cars now. The efficiency of this motor amounts to about 50 mpg, for each gallon you use to charge the batteries. The old EV-1 did not have this function.

This gas motor will not need gears or transmission, and only has to run at a single rpm. It could also be considered an emergency generator. If you have to drive more than 40 miles, you needn’t worry because the generator will allow you to continue to drive.
The electric motor also can generate a lot of instantaneous torque, and should be extremely responsive, and not require gears either.

All the technology for the car is here today, except for the battery pack. It will use lithium-ion (li-ion) technology. Current hybrids use nickel-metal hydride (NiMh), which carry much less energy per unit weight. The li-ion cell technology exists but putting it into tested and safe packs is what will take some time. There are companies working with GM and trying to get these Li-ion batteries and their packs ready for automotive use, and in fact as of late October 2007, GM has received the first of these experimental packs. To learn more about the batteries, we have some interesting original interviews with the battery company executives here:

For more detailed vehicle specifications, click here.