Volt leads the charge
GM’s future is riding on its revolutionary electric car, writes NEIL McDONALD
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.