General Motors announced today that its newest vehicle, the rechargeable electric Chevrolet Volt, should get 230 miles per gallon in city driving. Highway mileage estimates have not yet been released.
Although the claims must first be verified by the Environmental Protection Agency, if they are true, they would beat out the current model of green driving, the Toyota Prius.
GM is marketing the Volt as an extended-range electric vehicle (E-REV). Unlike a traditional electric car, where a small electric motor powers the car when it’s moving slowly and the gasoline motor kicks in when the car accelerates, the Volt is a bit different. The Volt’s power comes from a high-voltage battery pack made from lithium-ion technology that is capable of storing enough energy to drive the car up to 40 miles in normal conditions. What to do when your battery is low? Simply plug it in just like you would any other appliance. A full charge takes three or six hours through a 110 or 220-volt wall outlet.
In addition, the Volt will still have a small internal combustion engine to produce electricity when the stored power is low, providing the driver with a total range of 300 miles. Think of this as a generator that kicks in, in the event you drive more than 40 miles. Some areas of the car are still being tested and refined, but the Volt is scheduled for release in late 2010.
The first-generation Volt is expected to cost almost $40,000, but hopefully the price will drop with future models. Alas, as I’ve said before, sometimes being green costs more from the get-go — but the long-term effects are most definitely worth it!
Consumers are much more conscious about the environment and many want to reflect that through the vehicles they drive. If the Volt can live up to its claims, it will be a great step forward and hopefully other automakers will follow suit.