Wagoner Says Volt Timeline Isnt a Sure Thing

By: Anthony Fontanelle

There is no denying it. General Motors Corp.'s most influential vehicle these days is the Chevy Volt. As announced, the Volt plug-in hybrid is expected to invade the roads by 2010. But GM CEO Rick Wagoner said Thursday the timeline is not a sure thing as the automaker works to develop the technology required to produce a battery-powered car for the masses.

It can be recalled that the Volt concept made its official debut at the North American International Auto Show January this year. An updated version of the plug-in hybrid was launched at the Shanghai Auto Show in April.

The Volt is engineered to run purely on electricity from on-board batteries for up to 40 miles. The distance is said to be large enough to accommodate most Americans' daily commutes. According to reports, the automaker may manufacture as many as 60,000 Volts for their inaugural year on the market. The number is twelve times the sales of Toyota Motor Corp.'s hybrid Prius for their inaugural year.

"We continue to put massive resources into production as soon as possible," Wagoner said during an online chat session with bloggers and auto journalists to kick off the GM's 100th anniversary. "2010 would be great, but (we) can't guarantee that at this time. We'll keep you posted regularly on our progress."

The availability of the much-awaited Volt is dependent on the development of a lithium-ion battery capable of powering a mass-produced vehicle. A lithium-ion battery would drive the vehicle's powertrain. The onboard fueling system, on the other hand, would recharge the battery while on the road. The Detroit automaker is working on E-Flex, a fueling system that could run on gasoline, diesel fuel and hydrogen fuel cells.

"The Chevy Volt and the E-Flex system are really important for GM's, and I think the whole industry's, future," Wagoner said. "With the growing demand for oil, we need to diversify the sources of power for autos, away from our traditional 98 percent reliance on oil."

The automaker said that it is in the midst of designing a production-ready version of the Volt. Simultaneously, GM is testing battery packs for factors like longevity and durability.

Wagoner fielded a few candid questions including one from a participant who wanted to know if he felt the automaker was caught "napping" because Toyota had hybrid vehicles on the road nearly ten years before GM, reported the Detroit News. "Toyota has done a fine job with the Prius," Wagoner said. "But, we are moving fast with technologies like E-85 (ethanol), all-electric, fuel cells and a wide range of hybrid offers. GM is very much in the race in all of these technologies, including leading in several already."

GM ensures that the Volt production epitomizes ultimate precision like exquisite to satisfy the long wait.

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