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The Volt's gasoline capacity is being cut back

The Chevy Volt plug-in electric car from GM is one of the most desired new cars coming to the market.  Everyone is talking about the car's stylish design and relatively affordable price tag of around $40,000; not bad compared to past electric cars totaling over $100,000 like the Tesla Roadster.  With sales planned to commence in 2010 and with a production model possibly being unveiled later this year, the buzz surrounding the new vehicle is intense.

One fact many people didn't know is that while the Volt is an electric car, relying first on charge, it also sports hybrid capabilities.  It features a 12 gallon gas tank, which will only kick in after the lithium-ion battery charge is depleted.  This could take the car 600 miles, thanks to an impressive 50 MPG projected fuel economy.

However, recent reports have revealed that GM, in a surprising development, has decided to cut down the fuel tank for the Volt.  They won't say what the new capacity will be, with the source only saying, "We're working on that." 

The original goal for the Volt was to equip it to drive 40 miles on a charge, without using any gas.  This goal remains, and appears to be within GM's reach.  Additionally, since 40 miles isn't long enough for road trips or longer business travels, GM planned on adding the gas tank.  The gas does not power a traditional engine, but rather a generator, which provides enough charge to keep going, and actually performs more efficiently than most gas-engines.

GM has revised the target range to 360 miles, which would seem to indicate a fuel tank of 7.2 gallons.  The reasoning behind the cut is research that cars, on average, travel less than 40 miles a day.  While GM wants to provide a comfortable extension to this range, it decided that 600 miles was a bit excessive.  Many older sedans don't get much more than 300 miles on a 12 gallon tank, so the new range seems relatively reasonable.

Jim Hossack, vice president of AutoPacific, an automotive research and consulting firm states, "Most cars today have a range of more than 300 miles and less than 400 miles before refueling.  GM didn't need a longer range because most bladders can't go 600 miles.  By going with a smaller tank it means GM can take weight and price out and make Volt a little lighter and a little cheaper, and that's what you call making an improvement."

While GM's move should help it cut costs and cut down slightly on the weight of the vehicle, it may come as a disappointment for fans of ultra-long treks across the country.  Still, it is dubious that such minor gripes will be able to do anything to quell the PR frenzy surrounding the Volt.

At its price tag, even with possible subsidies, the Volt will likely fall into the luxury car class.  However, with its wild popularity and sleek looks, it seems likely to thrive in this class, or whatever class it may enter as prices drop.

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By RabidDog on 7/9/2008 10:44:25 AM , Rating: -1
...relatively affordable price tag of around $40,000...

Someone did the calculation the other day, THIS AIN'T AFFORDABLE!!!

Give me a $15000 fit that gets 35MPG and I think I'm well ahead of the game. As for plugging it in, this is just making a longer tailpipe. Instead of coming out of the back of the car, it comes out at the electric plant.

And in 8-10 years, what do you do with the battery? This is an environmental desater waiting to happen.

RE: ummm...
By Sunrise089 on 7/9/2008 11:02:30 AM , Rating: 1
1) Few hybrids are affordable in a net-savings sense - people buy them for image and other intangible reasons.

2) All Hybrids have batteries that will go bad eventually.

3) The Volt does have two advantages that make it unique - it can get much better than the equivalent of 50mpg on its first 40 miles of travel, and those 40 miles of energy can be produced cleaner at a large powerplant than in a small portable engine.

RE: ummm...
By Parhel on 7/9/2008 12:08:41 PM , Rating: 2
Few hybrids are affordable in a net-savings sense

That's not necessarily true. At today's gas prices, the premium on many hybrid models will pay for itself, resulting in net-savings, in just a few years. Here's an article to that effect that was posted on this board a few weeks ago:

people buy them for image and other intangible reasons

Of course some people do, but I doubt it's more than a small percentage. All of the people I know who own hybrids bought them to save money on gas, and I will definitely buy one for my next car because I'm very uncomfortable with where gas prices are going.

All Hybrids have batteries that will go bad eventually.

I could just as easily say that all cars have engines that will go bad eventually. I haven't heard any reliable studies that show that hybrid batteries, in general, will have to be replaced within a vehicle's lifetime.

RE: ummm...
By randomly on 7/9/2008 11:44:05 AM , Rating: 2
The old batteries are not an environmental disaster. They would be recycled. Regardless of whether it is the environmentally safe and correct thing to do but because the batteries have a very high value of materials in them. They will be recycled because there is a lot of money to be made doing that. Besides these are LiFEPO4 batteries and do not contain heavy metals like previous hybrid batteries.

RE: ummm...
By Alexstarfire on 7/9/2008 11:45:02 AM , Rating: 3
You morons need to start realizing that power plants emit fewer pollution particles per energy unit than cars. It's not that much more than common sense to figure it out. Bigger stationary object that has tons of space to put pollution control in, or a small tiny car where space, weight, etc play a big factor in what goes towards pollution control. And yes, I'm talking about the worst for of power plants too, coal. Other forms are far more greener for the environment.

RE: ummm...
By MozeeToby on 7/9/2008 11:54:06 AM , Rating: 3
Do you have any idea how innefficient car engines are? An average car engine is ~20% efficient. An old power plant is around 50% with newer, combined cycle plants getting up to 85% efficiency. You could get your electricity from a coal power plant and still produce less polution and waste than a normal car, even with transmission and charging losses.

RE: ummm...
By randomly on 7/9/2008 12:23:40 PM , Rating: 2
The newest combined cycle plants only get up to about 59-60%, not 85%.

Besides, put a few Kw of solar panels on the roof of your house and you've brought your car emissions down to zero.

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