GM's Volt on track for 2010

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.
(Photo: GM)

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.

9 Responses to “GM's Volt on track for 2010”
  1. troy matson says:

    I agree.. Look up the DOT stats on commute distances traveled by Americans every day, realizing that over 50% of gasoline is used for commuting, and you find the 40 mile ranged Volt acheiving 300 MPG and avoiding 93% of gasoline. But the Volt will actually have a 50 mile
    range when new (40 mile at end of battery pack service , roughly 10 years down the road), which yields a remarkable 490 MPG and avoidance of 96% of gasoline during commuting. Add recharge at the workplace and the number become mind-boggling – if 1/4th can
    recharge, a commuter fleet of Volts achieves almost 590 MPG
    and needs roughly 2.7 percent as much liquid fuel as before.

  2. I will buy a volt. This is the exact platform we need to get cars moving towards different fuel sources.

  3. Jeff Sutter says:

    It’s hard to overstate the importance of auto electrification and the potential of the PHEV configuration to create real value. When its reliability has been established, it should be widely accepted in the marketplace because fuel saving in the thousands of dollars per year range gets people’s attention. This will leverage idle electric generation capacity that’s available overnight when these vehicles recharge. There is currently sufficient capacity to accommodate converting 83% of the US auto fleet to PHEV.

    When we get there, there will be no need for importing oil for transportation, the current account trade deficit will be eliminated, and we will no longer be dependent on rogue producer governments. And having moved the bulk of emissions to power plants there will be a 50% reduction on average given the current mix of power generation modes in the US today.

    There is a very interesting technology going into wide scale demonstration this year for mitigating fuel burning power plant emissions. It turns out that it’s a waste to vent CO2 to the environment because it can be used as an input to micro algae cultivation yielding a stunning growth rate.

    For comparison, fermenting corn to make ethanol (80% of gasoline volume energy density) yields about 100 gallons per acre per year. Squeezing lipids from algae yields between 4 and 20 THOUSAND gal/acre/year of biodiesel (93% of gasoline volume energy density). If the biodiesel that results is burned at the power plant, it would reduce the amount of new fuel needed by half.

    Farming marine algae as an adjunct to fuel fired power generation gets value by taking emissions from both power plants and PHEV autos through the floor, moving biofuel production to land that’s not suitable for farming, and by using only 5% of the water needed for cultivation of terrestrial crops.

    There’s a tantalizing possibility for using the biomass remaining after the oil is harvested from algae. In addition to use as high protein cattle feed or processing into glycerin and ethanol, it can also enable charcoal based “terra preta” fertilizer production.

    This product effectively sequesters the remaining carbon from power plant emissions in the soil when it is applied. It is better than conventional fertilizer because the carbon matrix protects nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria from pesticides and prevents nutrient runoff so less is needed. If it were widely adopted in areas like the Chesapeake Bay watershed, it would prevent runoff overstimulation of the aquaculture that chokes the crab and mollusk population and it would replace even more imported oil.

    Better yet, the time is coming soon when it will no longer make sense to build additional power plants. Last December Nanosolar Inc. started production of photovoltaic solar panels for utility power production that has a lower installed cost than coal fired power plants. Instead of using the conventional vacuum deposit process, they manufacture their panels using a process similar to offset printing that’s vastly more efficient and less capital intensive. Their first “press” produces 435Mw per year using mile long rolls of aluminum foil instead of glass or silicon – it doubles the US output of PV!

    The DOE has granted Nanosolar $400M for development in support of its objective of getting PV installed on 100% of commercial buildings. Because their manufacturing process scales easily to meet demand, it’s not out of the question to expect wide adoption of residential rooftop generation when PV can be installed with a 3 to 6 year payback (depending on the number of sunny days per year).

  4. Tom says:

    I just started an atomBoard to discuss the Volt. You can click on the link for this post or go to this URL:

  5. Louis from Monroe New york says:

    Let’s get the ball rolling here, I hear and see all the earth friendly cars, let’s see the dealerships start to open up and sell the cars that run on engines that are the most effective. America should be ashamed of itself,you have one dealership that has all gas vehicles and then you will see one that is earth friendly? No it should be a law that has anyone who purchases a vehicle has to be an earth friendly vehicle. All the people that have gas powered vehicles will be grandfathered in and when these gas powered cars die out, that is it.

  6. John Dallas says:

    You don’t have to wait until 2010/2011 for a practical electric car. The “Think” city car is expected to be available in California sometime next year. It may not be as refined as the Volt, but it will get 110 miles per charge, and reach speeds up to 65 mph. I hope to get one for my daily work commute. I’ll charge it (as much as possible) with my solar PV system. The car will almost pay for itself with the savings in gasoline alone!

  7. Jason says:

    This is a great article! It’s nice to read an in depth well written story on the Volt. Good pictures as well.

  8. A fundamental change in our driving habits is now required.

    The Automobile Industry is going to be in the same position as the Airline Industry in the next few months. Unless we get away from gas combustion vehicles, including Hybrids, the automobile industry (as we know it) will die.We need to make drastic moves. America needs to move to ELECTRIC. The vehicles are not as fast, not always as fun to drive, but the move will save Americans money (Billions) and help bring change to our automotive companies. Let’s “Be Green”!!!!!!!!!!!! BG Automotive Group Ltd. has a car that will travel 80-100 miles per charge for $15,995. Finally a car that most Americans can afford. Did you know that 80% of all drivers, drive less than 50 miles per day? This new car will cost an equivalent of $0.20-0.25 cents/gallon (depending on electricity rates in your area). Why send $700 Billion per year to OPEC (now buying up U.S. companies) when we can use this money for our schools, health care, social security for all Americans, etc, etc, etc. We can make the difference if WE change.

  9. ty says:

    this is one of the greatest inventions of our time. more grease to your elboe chevrolet


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