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Chevrolet Volt
General Motors' all-electric Volt to reach consumers in late 2010

General Motors is quite confident these days. The company recently priced its highly-anticipated full-size hybrid SUVs and showed off a concept version of its full-size hybrid Chevrolet Silverado. GM CEO Rick Wagoner also noted that his company will release one hybrid per quarter for the next four years -- lofty goals indeed.

Likewise, the company's brand new Chevrolet Malibu mid-sized sedan has been generating an overabundance of praise and its new $32,000 second-generation Cadillac CTS just walked away with Motor Trend's Car of the Year award.

GM is hoping to use this momentum and high level of interest in its vehicles to push the electric motor-powered Chevrolet Volt to customers by the end of 2010.

GM vice chairman Bob Lutz has heard all of the critics who question GM's aggressive ramp for the Volt, but is still committed to moving forward.

"There is a lot of skepticism within the company about the timeline," said Lutz. "People are biting their nails, but those of us in a leadership position have said it has to be done."

GM is hoping to use the Volt as a halo car to further strengthen its brand and its commitment to fuel economy. Dodge used the Viper to enhance its image for performance and styling in the 1990s. Toyota used its Prius at the turn of the century to shroud the entire company with a green image despite the fact that gas guzzlers like the Tundra and Sequoia share the same showroom space.

"When they think of GM, the iconic brand is, unfortunately, the Hummer," continued Lutz. "That perception needs to change.

The GM Volt features a 1.0 liter, 3-cylinder gasoline engine which is solely used to recharge the onboard lithium-ion battery pack. The battery pack, which will be manufactured by Compact Power and Continental Automotive Systems, powers the Volt's electric motors for forward propulsion.

GM says that the Volt can travel for up to 40 miles on battery power alone. After the 40 mile threshold has been reached, the gasoline engine kicks back in again to recharge the battery pack.

The entire industry has its eyes on GM and its Volt. Toyota took a big risk with its Prius and it has paid off dearly for the company.

"We have since realized that letting Toyota gain that mantle of green respectability and technology leadership has really cost us dearly in the marketplace," Lutz added. "We have to reestablish GM's leadership and the Volt is, frankly, an effort to leapfrog anything that is done by any other competitor."

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RE: Lets see real world performance
By TomZ on 11/21/2007 5:13:29 PM , Rating: 2
Uh, 55MPG is not "modest," it is exceptional. Most people are driving cars and getting 20-30MPG.

For an apples-to-apples efficiency/cost comparison, you really have to compare the Volt to a similar car with a traditional ICE.

RE: Lets see real world performance
By Alexstarfire on 11/22/2007 4:20:00 PM , Rating: 2
I was saying it's modest for my car. It's not modest in general, hell no. That's damn good in general. It's just that I'm getting about 55 MPG right now, because of the colder weather, but my lifetime average is about 59 MPG, with my best MPG being like 64.

Why would you compare a Volt to a traditional ICE when the Volt uses electricity to power the car? I thought it'd make sense to compare it to a hybrid since they are VERY similar. The only real differences are how they use the power from the ICE and the types of batteries and such they use.

I have always wondered if it really is better to run the ICE the way the Volt does. I mean, it'll ALWAYS be in the absolute most efficient state, but then you have conversion loses. Does running in the most efficient state overcome the loses that incur from conversion? For that matter, will it provide enough juice for someone to drive normally or will the car end up having a slower top speed. I'm under the impression that because the ICE is running in the most efficient state that it doesn't produce enough power to drive the same as running just off the batteries. I could be wrong though. Hard to say since no one has test driven one yet, at least I don't believe anyone has.

RE: Lets see real world performance
By clovell on 11/23/2007 11:43:56 AM , Rating: 3
It's not hard to say. ICEs are highly inefficient when they operate outside their powerband. Using a generator that always runs in the powerband to power an electric motor makes a lot of sense as electric motors develop the same amount of torque throughout operation - they have no powerband. This principle is used today in diesel-electric trains.

Serial hybrids will also have less moving parts than parallel hybrids and probably more accessible to the home mechanic. It's my understanding that the Volt has a top speed of 100+ mph. Lastly, to make a fair comparison among hybrids to the Volt's 55 mpg figure, you have to take the highway mileage from a hybrid, which can be lower than its city fuel efficiency.

By Alexstarfire on 11/23/2007 2:56:18 PM , Rating: 1
And why do we HAVE to take the highway mileage?

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