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GM's Bob Lutz  (Source: Photobucket/willfusion)

Production Chevrolet Volt
GM gives a thumbs up to the Volt's battery pack

General Motors' Bob Lutz made headlines earlier today for his comments on crash testing for European-designed vehicles. Lutz argued that differing crash testing standards are preventing the GM from bringing over smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles from Europe that would help the company boost its Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE).

When Lutz isn't championing GM's efforts to pump the U.S. market full of high quality, fuel efficient vehicles with traditional internal combustion engines (ICEs) and drivetrains, he is singing the praises of the upcoming Chevrolet Volt. In the latest saga of the Volt's development, Lutz proclaims that testing of the vehicle's lithium-ion battery pack is going smoothly.

"We haven't hit any obstacles so far for the batteries," remarked Lutz to Kicking Tires. "They are all performing flawlessly. It's almost scary we are not seeing any problems with the batteries."

Lutz went on to explain that the batteries have been subjected to numerous reliability and durability tests which encompass rigorous road testing and extreme temperature variances. That being said, the battery life of the lithium-ion battery is a concern for GM. As a result, the battery along with other powertrain components will be covered under a 10-year warranty.

"We're being conservative on battery life. For our cost calculations we're assuming each car will need a replacement during the warranty period," added Lutz.

Lithium-ion batteries -- when used to provide 100% propulsion for a vehicle -- have largely been untested on a large scale in the U.S. auto market. There have been niche players like Tesla Motors with its Roadster, which features a 6,381 cell lithium-ion battery pack, but it also carries a hefty $100,000+ price tag.

GM's Volt, on the other hand, is expected to carry a much more palatable price of around $40,000 to $45,000 before the requisite government rebates and tax credits.

The Chevrolet Volt was recently spied on the set of the “Transformers 2” set wearing what appeared to be production bodywork. Shortly before the exterior was spied, picture of the Volt’s interior was also leaked for the world to see.

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RE: Estimated Electric Costs
By Murst on 9/3/2008 12:17:22 PM , Rating: 2
Nevermind, found my own answer:

The U.S. average for 2007 is 10.65 cents. To see the numbers for the current year click here. If we use the average, the cost to recharge the Volt will be $0.85, and the range for 2007 will be from 48 cents to $1.34 depending where you live.

Now, by 2010, if prices keep going up, it could cost $1 - $2 to recharge the volt. So, lets take the average and assume $1.50 for 40 miles.

If you do the math, the Volt costs half as much to drive for the first 40 miles as the Prius (after that they're equal), but then again, the Volt costs 20-25k more. That doesn't really seem like that much of a bargain.

RE: Estimated Electric Costs
By MozeeToby on 9/3/2008 12:38:29 PM , Rating: 3
Well, they're calling the $50k price a misquote now, and saying that although it's still just an estimate the price should be around $35k puting it in at $10-15k more than the prius.

For that, you save about $2 every day you drive the battery dry... for myself that would be about $40-50 a month or $600 a year. 10 year lifetime would put the price difference in at $4-9k. Depending on where you life, if you fill it up with E85 you can probably bring it down to near even.

Of course, you also get 60 HP more than the Prius, you look like less of a tool (at least in my opinion) and you support American automakers at a time when they desperately need it (if you care about that kind of thing).

Finally, keep in mind that this is the first generation Volt, Toyota has had years to trim the fat out of the Prius design. Also, I suspect that within 5-10 years, the seriel hybrid drivetrain will be available in a number of GM vehicles which should reduce per vehicle engineering and manufacturing costs.

RE: Estimated Electric Costs
By FITCamaro on 9/3/2008 12:44:14 PM , Rating: 3
One definite thing the Volt has over the Prius is styling. It's also a larger vehicle that will better suit families.

The Volt will be a bit expensive. But if I needed a hybrid, it'd be what I was going to buy.

RE: Estimated Electric Costs
By 67STANG on 9/3/2008 12:56:52 PM , Rating: 3
One thing I haven't seen, now that you mention the volt will "better suit families" is how the expected electric range is diminished when the vehicle seats a family of four as opposed to just 1 or 2 drivers. Is the stated range a worst case scenario, or is it with 1 average driver?

RE: Estimated Electric Costs
By FITCamaro on 9/3/2008 1:53:11 PM , Rating: 2
That is a good point. I don't know whether they're rating it at 40 miles on batteries with one driver or four people in the car. I would assume that number would reflect that average number of passengers for a days drive.

RE: Estimated Electric Costs
By Murst on 9/3/2008 1:03:37 PM , Rating: 2
Finally, keep in mind that this is the first generation Volt

That's the exciting thing about it. I actually hope this is a huge success, so that many more cars (built on similar technology) come out in the future at lower prices.

My comment was more from my own personal view about buying the 1st gen Volt - it just doesn't make that much sense when you look at it as a way to reduce your cost of driving.

And yeah, it looks much better than the Prius. Hopefully they don't change the design too much before it goes to production.

RE: Estimated Electric Costs
By Spuke on 9/3/2008 2:18:09 PM , Rating: 2
Hopefully they don't change the design too much before it goes to production.
They had to change it because the concept car had terrible aerodynamics. See the spy pic article.

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