Chevy Volt
GM drops a bombshell during its public webcast regarding the Volt's fuel economy

Chevrolet's Volt is still more than a year away, but the vehicle is still creating a lot of buzz around the internet. The latest news sheds some light on the Volt's expected EPA rating when it is released late next year.

General Motors announced today in a public webcast that the Volt will be rated an an impressive 230 mpg in the city. The combined city/highway fuel economy rating for the Volt will still be rated at over 100 mpg.

The 230 mpg rating is no doubt boosted by the fact that the Volt can travel a total of 40 miles on battery power alone before the gasoline engine/generator has to kick in to keep the vehicle moving. Once the initial 40 miles is exhausted, the Volt can travel an additional 300+ miles through the use of the generator.

For comparison, Toyota's hot-selling Prius is rated at 51 mpg city and 48 mpg highway (50 mpg combined). Nissan's upcoming LEAF EV will travel a total of 100 miles before exhausting its lithium-ion battery pack. However, unlike the Volt, the LEAF doesn't have a gasoline engine/generator as a backup when the battery is depleted.

While the Volt will definitely have an EPA mileage advantage over both the Prius and the LEAF, both vehicles will significantly undercut Chevrolet's offering. The Prius currently starts at $22,000 and a new $21,000 model will hit dealer lots in September. The LEAF is being billed as "the world's first affordable, zero-emission car," so pricing will like be well below $30,000.

The Volt will retail for over $40,000 -- a figure that even took GM Vice-Chairman Bob Lutz by surprise. "When I said I hope to sell it in the 20s, I just thought, well, if a conventional car of that size with a conventional four-cylinder engine, we can sell it for $15,000 or $16,000, then let's notionally add $8,000 for the battery and we're at $25,000," said Lutz in an interview with AdAge.

GM CEO Fritz Henderson repeatedly commented during the webcast that the price of the Volt is indeed high, but that is the result of it being a first generation vehicle. Henderson added the prices will come down with the second generation Volt and the GM engineers are already hard at work on second generation technology.

Other vehicles announced by General Motors today include a new Cadillac ATS compact which will do battle with the BMW 3-Series, a replacement for Cadillac's long-in-the-tooth DTS called the XTS, and CTS Coupe/CTS-V SportWagon models.

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