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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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Gas tank size decrease is confusing
By Creig on 7/9/2008 10:47:29 AM , Rating: 1
Dropping the gas tank size from 12 gallons to 7.2 gallons isn't saving any appreciable weight OR volume. The new tank size is 4.8 gallons smaller than the original. 4.8 gallons of gasoline only weighs 29.3 lbs and takes up a whole 0.64 cubic feet of space.

To me, those figures seem a small price to pay for going 600 miles per tank rather than 360, especially for those people who regularly go for long hauls and would prefer not having to stop to fuel up in order to get there. As someone who used to make two 400 mile jaunts per week, I know which size tank I would prefer.

RE: Gas tank size decrease is confusing
By Parhel on 7/9/2008 12:24:19 PM , Rating: 2
I disagree. Who buys a car expecting to get 600 miles on a single tank of gas? My Grand Prix gets 320. Besides, the Volt is a sports car . . . every added pound counts. And if you require 600 miles between fill-ups, you are likely looking for a different type of vehicle anyways.

RE: Gas tank size decrease is confusing
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2008 12:41:06 PM , Rating: 2
Um...its a hatchback. Where did you get the idea that its going to be a sports car?

RE: Gas tank size decrease is confusing
By Parhel on 7/9/2008 1:32:38 PM , Rating: 2
Where did you get the idea that its going to be a sports car?

I think the Volt is supposed to have a 0 to 60 time of between 5 and 6 seconds. Not drag racing speeds, but solidly in sports car territoy.

RE: Gas tank size decrease is confusing
By Spuke on 7/9/2008 2:25:59 PM , Rating: 2
GM said that Bob misspoke and the actual 0-60 target will be 8.5 to 9 seconds. Who knows what it will actually be.

RE: Gas tank size decrease is confusing
By Parhel on 7/9/2008 4:19:54 PM , Rating: 2
GM said that Bob misspoke and the actual 0-60 target will be 8.5 to 9 seconds.

Hmmm . . . you're right. I wasn't aware of that. I thought the 5 - 6 second figure was valid. At least it looks like a sports car. :)

By Spuke on 7/9/2008 7:17:45 PM , Rating: 2
I'd rather have the 5-6 second time. It would make the car competitive with the BMW 328i but would get MUCH better gas mileage.

By Hoser McMoose on 7/10/2008 12:42:34 AM , Rating: 2
Looking at the weight, the power of the car and comparing it to other pure electric drivetrains, I think the 8.5 to 9 second figure is some serious sandbagging. I don't think it'll hit 5 seconds, but I'd be surprised if the final numbers are over 7 seconds for 0-60mph times.

Electric motors have much better power bands than gasoline engines and should accelerate a vehicle much better. Rough guesstimate, it should offer acceleration at least close to what the Honda Accord V6 (about 6 seconds flat 0-60mph) and Toyota Camry V6 (about 6.5 seconds 0-60mph) offer.

Of course we'll need to wait for final numbers.

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