Earlier this month, General Motors hosted about 90 journalists from around the world to provide an update on progress with the Chevy Volt, an extended range electric vehicle they announced as a concept in January 2007. On third of the way between announcement and planned launch in November of 2010, the Volt appears to be on track to be the fastest launch of a production vehicle in GM’s history, and the first time ever GM has managed a technology program (the EREV technology) and a vehicle program (the Volt) simultaneously.
If you read our recently published feature “The Chevy Volt EREV” you can access a lengthy report on our trip to Detroit on April 2-4, including several photos. One of the photos released by GM during this briefing was the one shown below, revealing GM’s plans for the interior of the Volt in more detail than previously disclosed.
|The interior of the Chevy Volt.
We have been waiting for an EREV, or series hybrid, for a long time, and GM appears to be likely to be the first major automaker to deliver one. In an EREV, traction is provided exclusively by an electric motor, but a gasoline engine and onboard generator can power the car when the battery is depleted. The car has a range of 40 miles on a fully charged battery (which can be plugged in at home), and a range of 400 miles (at 50 MPG) using gasoline only. We think this car is a breakthrough – it long-range capacity, but it can run on plug-in power for nearly all local or commute duty cycles.
Other EREV technology utilizing an onboard gasoline powered generator are Fisker and Aptera, but it is unlikely these startup companies will produce vehicles in the quantities GM is likely to deliver. Among major automakers, Volvo has announced the C30 concept car, which is similar to GM’s Opel “Flextreme” concept, that is, an EREV series hybrid just like the Volt, but using an onboard diesel instead of an onboard gasoline engine.
Our money is on the EREV series hybrid technology to deliver the next generation automobile, because it is practical now, should be affordable, and combines the only the best attributes of gasoline cars as well as 100% battery powered cars.