Volt leads the charge

GM’s fu­ture is rid­ing on its rev­o­lu­tion­ary elec­tric car, writes NEIL McDON­ALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

YOU’RE looking at the first of­fi­cial pho­tos of a 21st cen­tury Holden. An ‘‘ac­ci­den­tal’’ post­ing of the im­ages on an of­fi­cial Gen­eral Motors web­site man­aged to spill the beans on GM’s best-kept se­cret.

To be known as the Chevro­let Volt in North Amer­ica the elec­tric car will be in show­rooms there in 2010. Other global mar­kets, in­clud­ing Aus­tralia, will fol­low.

Gen­eral Motors has pinned its fu­ture on this multi-mil­lion dol­lar car and with it the com­pany’s global hopes.

The im­ages of the Volt are ex­pected to be of­fi­cially un­veiled by GM this week.

Though the car’s over­all sil­hou­ette is masked in th­ese pho­tos by Volt ve­hi­cle line di­rec­tor Tony Po­sawatz and global ve­hi­cle line ex­ec­u­tive Frank We­ber, the pro­duc­tion car looks quite con­ven­tional, com­pared with the orig­i­nal con­cept.

Nor does it have the dis­tinct de­sign cues of the next-gen­er­a­tion Toy­ota Prius or Honda’s new In­sight II hy­brids that mark them as al­ter­na­tive-pow­ered cars.

The orig­i­nal Volt con­cept sedan, with its coupe-like roofline and bulging wheel arches, was un­veiled at last year’s Detroit Mo­tor Show.

GM does not call the Volt a hy­brid but rather an elec­tric ve­hi­cle with range-ex­tend­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties, called the E-Flex Propul­sion Sys­tem.

The 52kW 1.0-litre three-cylin­der petrol en­gine in the car has no me­chan­i­cal con­nec­tion to the wheels.

The en­gine runs at about 1800 revs and drives a 52kW gen­er­a­tor that charges the lithium ion bat­tery pack.

It starts and stops au­to­mat­i­cally as needed to charge the bat­tery.

Gen­eral Motors ex­ec­u­tives say the Volt’s rev­o­lu­tion­ary E-Flex, will be dif­fer­ent from any pre­vi­ous elec­tric ve­hi­cle be­cause the lithium ion bat­ter­ies will be used with a va­ri­ety of range-ex­tend­ing on­board power sources, in­clud­ing petrol and, in some ve­hi­cles, E85 ethanol to recharge the bat­tery pack.

In North Amer­ica the Volt is de­signed to use a com­mon 110 volt house­hold plug for recharg­ing.

For some­one who drives less than 75km a day, it will use zero petrol and pro­duce zero emis­sions.

For longer trips, the car’s range­ex­tend­ing power source kicks in to recharge the lithium ion bat­tery pack when re­quired.

The Volt is ex­pected to cost more than $35,000.

21st cen­tury car:

Tony Po­sawatz (above) and Frank We­ber (right) with the Volt, quite dif­fer­ent from how it looked (be­low) in an ear­lier con­cept.

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