GM announced the Chevy Volt at the North American Auto Show last week, and its a pretty big announcement if GM can make it happen. A plug-in hybrid that could get 150 mpg, the Chevy Volt uses a small 3 cylinder gasoline engine only when it needs to recharge the batteries – the car’s powered solely by its electric motors, unlike the current crop of hybrid cars, such as the Prius. After an overnight charge and with a tank full of gas, the car would have a range of about 640 miles, and even without an overnight charge, the car would get about 50 mpg out of its turbocharged three cylinder gas engine powering its electric motors. Oh, and the Volt also will run on E85, even further increasing its oil conservation value.
Alot is dependent on this ever coming to market, though. GM says that they need a more affordable lithium-ion battery to be developed first – while there’s lots of companies working on improving battery technology, none of them are at the level that GM needs to build the Volt. Estimates are that the needed batteries will be viable in 2010-2012.
“Advocates for environmentally friendly vehicles think a car like the Volt shows promise.
“It’s darn intriguing car,” says Chelsea Sexton, executive director of Plug In America, a group that advocates for electric cars. She says that the battery issues shouldn’t hold up the show. Now, she adds, putting plug-in hybrids on the streets is more a matter of corporate will.
Another alternative-fuel specialist, Ron Cogan, publisher of the Green Car Journal, says Volt is proof that GM sees promise in hybrids.
“I would look at the Volt as tangible evidence that GM gets it, (that) they have listened to customers,” he says. “It’s not just smoke and mirrors. They can’t afford smoke and mirrors at this point.””