Chevrolet Volt
GM is charging ahead with Chevy Volt development

The Chevrolet Volt is probably one of General Motors' most highly anticipated vehicle launches in its long and storied history. The Volt promises to revolutionize the way people commute and GM is investing an incredible amount of money and manpower into ensuring that its upcoming launch is smooth and as awe-inspiring as expected.

Development of the vehicle is progressing nicely and GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz stated that he is confident that the Volt will show up on schedule. "I would say there's almost no reasonable doubt in our minds anymore that this is going to work," Lutz told Reuters.

GM is currently using a previous generation Chevrolet Malibu as a test platform for the Volt's innovative powertrain. The vehicle uses a powerful lithium-ion battery pack to power the vehicle for 40 miles. Once the battery pack exhausts its stored energy, a 1.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine cranks up to recharge the battery pack and keeps the Volt moving along. The Volt can also be recharged from a standard household outlet for those that wish to recharge a nearly empty battery overnight.

Even though the launch of the Volt is still more than a year and a half away, Lutz says that battery testing is currently meeting expectations. "They've routinely had it to the high 30s, low 40s and they go up hills with it and everything."

One thing that Lutz said needs to be worked on before the Volt arrives on dealer lots, however, is the tiny internal combustion engine (ICE). In its current form, it's not quite refined enough for the public.

"It all works real well, it's just that the transition from battery power to the internal combustion," stated Lutz. "They said it's still noisy and it's a little rough. But heck, we've got a little more than a year and a half to work on that."

Although Lutz was mainly interested in talking to Reuters about the Volt, he took a jab at Toyota which he feels gets a pass from the media for poor decisions and much praise for its good decisions.

Nearly a year ago, Toyota shunned lithium-ion battery technology for automobiles citing problems with exploding cells (a la the massive Sony notebook battery recall). The company also tried to shed doubt on GM's ability to provide lithium-ion batteries in its stated timeframe.

However, Toyota recently announced that it will begin producing lithium-ion batteries in 2009 with partner Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and that the batteries will show up in production vehicles the following year.

"They told the world that GM was taking a huge risk, that lithium ion batteries were prone to explode and that we were putting our customers at risk and that they would stay with the tried and true," fired back Lutz. "When it comes to Toyota, let me tell you, the press has a short memory."

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
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