Volt Unveil Officially Kick Starts GM's Second Century
General Motors Corporation celebrated its 100th anniversary with a look to the future by formally showing the production version of its 2011 Chevrolet Volt. While there was still no confirmation as to who had been chosen to supply the 16-kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery for this Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV), several other key operational details on the four-door plug-in sedan were presented, along with its final exterior and interior configurations.
Mechanically, the Volt will be capable of running up to 40 miles (on the EPA city cycle) emissions-free on pure electric power and have a range of several hundred miles while having its electric charge "sustained" on the fly by a 1.4-liter internal combustion engine/generator that can burn either regular gasoline or an E85 blend. Static recharging a fully-depleted battery pack will require less than three hours using 240V current or about eight hours when the car is plugged into a standard 120V household outlet. GM estimates that a full recharge will cost about 80 cents, roughly one sixth of what the equivalent would be to go 40 miles using conventional gasoline power. The Volt's electric drive unit should deliver fairly spirited performance, offering 150 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque -- all of which is available from 0 rpm. Top speed is a claimed 100 mph.
The Volt design team spent hundreds of hours in the wind tunnel, tidying up numerous exterior details. Their efforts are most obvious in its low-drag fascias and side mirrors, closed-off front grille treatment and heavily raked windshield. To complement its optimized aerodynamics, the car also will be fitted with bespoke low-rolling resistance tires mounted on lightweight 17-inch aluminum wheels. Inside, the Volt's cabin has an equally contemporary feel with well-formed sport bucket seats up front and a thick-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel. Other highlights include a driver-configurable liquid-crystal instrument display, a seven-inch vehicle info display and slick touch-sensitive controls for climate and infotainment that are neatly arrayed on its center stack. Bluetooth and USB connectivity will be standard on the Volt, while a navigation package and map/music hard drive will be optional.
Volt production will start late in 2010, and is likely to take place at the automaker's Detroit-Hamtramck, Michigan facility -- a location contingency somewhat cryptically qualified by the caveat "subject to GM successfully negotiating satisfactory government incentives." While no pricing info was presented at the gala intro ceremony, the Volt is now expected to sticker somewhere between $35,000 and $40,000.