GM Gives First Look At PHEV Chevy Volt

By dancurranjr On August 14th, 2008

General Motors Corp. (GM) on Thursday showed off the first images of the production version of its battery-powered Chevrolet Volt.

The auto maker, racing to ready the electric Chevy for production by 2010, made significant changes to the exterior of the vehicle the company first unveiled at the 2007 Detroit auto show.

Bob Boniface, GM director of advanced design, displayed sketches of the final Volt at an automotive conference in Traverse City, Mich.

“It is important not only for GM but for the industry as a whole and for transportation,” he said of the vehicle, which has generated a massive amount of attention as GM positions the car as its answer to the nation’s energy crisis.

GM, under enormous pressure to deliver the car as promised, has said Volt production remains on schedule despite the formidable challenges involved in delivering a battery powerful, durable and affordable enough for a mass-market Chevy.

A rechargeable lithium-ion battery capable of lasting for about 40 miles would power the Volt, with a small motor onboard to recharge the battery between stops. GM hopes to use the powertrain system, which it calls E-Flex, in a range of other models around the globe.

The Volt is GM’s strategy to address Americans’ growing interest in ultra fuel-efficient vehicles, as evidenced by the runaway success of Toyota Motor Co.’s (TM) Prius hybrid.

Rival auto makers are stepping up their efforts as well. Honda Motor Co. (HMC) said Wednesday it plans to launch a new hybrid next spring to compete with the Prius. Honda said it hopes to sell 100,000 units in North America of the new hybrid, a five-door, five-passenger vehicle that will be priced lower than that of its Civic hybrid.

The Volt would be a variation of a plug-in hybrid vehicle, but different than those being developed by rival auto makers because the onboard motor would recharge the vehicle while on the road. A main barrier to plug-in vehicles has been consumers’ reluctance to buy a vehicle that could leave them stranded between charges.

The version GM showed on Thursday is more aerodynamic than the concept vehicle. GM was able to increase fuel economy by six to seven miles per gallon by tweaking pieces on the vehicles, such as spoilers, Boniface said.

Source: CNN Money

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