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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 Alexvrb on 11/24/2007 10:17:40 PM , Rating: 3
"I wonder if it has the capability to manually run the motor, to charge the battery, say, on the ride home to not have to spend so much time charging off the pole?"

Charging the batteries via an AC outlet is completely and entirely optional. Its there so you can plug your car in when you get home, giving you a low-cost initial 40 mile charge. This would actually be enough for a lot of people's daily drive, or at least a large chunk of it. If you don't charge it up, or after your battery runs low, there's no need to manually run the engine. When the batteries reach a certain point, the engine will kick on and will charge the batteries while you drive. It's able to provide enough power to charge the batteries and propel the vehicle, so there's no need to ever run the engine manually as it will run and shut off as-needed.

They could have extended the battery-only range, but it would mean larger/more expensive batteries, as well as increased charging time. 40 miles is a good compromise between cost and usefulness, and again, the car will still be more efficient than a non-hybrid even after the initial charge runs out (due to the engine running at highly optimized ranges, regenerative braking, etc).

Also the drivetrain is designed to be flexible. It could be a turbo inline 3 flexfuel motor (E85 and regular gasoline), or it could be a diesel, etc. Any combustion engine that can be used to generate electricity, could be mated to their setup.

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