The much-talked-about Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle has moved from concept car to production model. As part of General Motors’ centennial celebration, Chevrolet lifted the curtain on the production version Volt, which delivers 40 miles of gasoline- and emissions-free electric driving and has extended-range capability of hundreds of additional miles.
For trips of 40 miles and less, the car’s power comes solely from electricity stored in a 16-kWh, lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery. Its T-shaped battery pack, which comprises more than 220 Li-ion cells, is located down the center tunnel of the vehicle and under the rear seats for greater protection. The Volt’s electric drive unit is expected to deliver the equivalent of 150 horsepower, 273 lb-ft of instant torque, and a top speed of 100 miles per hour.
When the battery’s energy is depleted, a gasoline/E85-powered engine generator provides electricity to power the Volt’s electric drive unit while simultaneously sustaining the charge of the battery. This extends the car’s range for several hundred more miles, until the vehicle’s battery can be charged. The car plugs into a standard household 120-V outlet or uses 240 V for charging. Thanks to its intelligent charging technology, the battery can be charged in less than three hours on a 240-V outlet or about eight hours on a 120-V outlet.
GM estimates that the Volt will cost about two cents per mile to drive while under battery power compared to 12 cents per mile using gasoline priced at $3.60 per gallon. For an average driver who drives 40 miles per day (or 15,000 miles per year), this amounts to a cost savings of $1,500 annually. For a full charge, GM estimates cost to be about 80 cents per day (10 cents per kilowatt-hour). Charging the Volt about once daily will consume less electric energy annually than the average home’s refrigerator and freezer units.
Aerodynamics, which helps maximize driving range, was carefully considered in the upcoming production vehicle’s design. Many of the design cues from the concept vehicle, which first appeared at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, are included with the production model, including the closed front grille, athletic stance, rear design graphics, and outside rearview mirrors.
Its rounded and flush front fascia, tapered corners, and grille are functional, which substantially boosts the aerodynamics. Overall, aerodynamic improvements on the Volt test vehicle enabled GM to reach its target of driving 40 miles (based on EPA city and highway test cycle) without using gasoline or producing emissions.
It’s expected that the Volt will be built at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck manufacturing facility. Production is scheduled to begin late 2010 for models in the U.S. Pricing has not been announced.