Gm not Rushing to Build Chevrolet Volt

By: Anthony Fontanelle

Saying "we don't want to rush" the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle concept into production, the vehicle's chief engineer took to the Internet over the weekend for a progress report. The report was published on the GM FastLane blog and YouTube.

Chevy Volt Vehicle Chief Engineer Nick Zielinski announced a number of enticing information. One of which is the fact that General Motors Corp. is considering installing a solar panel in the Volt to power fans or provide a small charge to the battery. "We can't use it to power the motor," he said. "The amount of energy for a solar cell is 75 watts, not enough to power the vehicle at 20-50 mph." He noted that "a lot of people" have contacted the automaker to sign up for a test-drive of the Volt, but "we're not at a stage where we can do that." He added that the automaker is not ready to take deposits on a production version of the vehicle.

The Volt chief engineer also was modest about when and where production of the Volt will take place, saying, "We do not assign assembly plants this early in a program." He assured viewers that "we will be building it," although he refused to "share timing targets." He decline to divulge pricing information about the Volt, but said that it may have a "slight premium" over unspecified competitive vehicles.

Zielinski said that the Volt's system is "tailored more to compact and intermediate-size vehicles" and assured viewers that "we'll have other vehicles out there." But "you may not see a pickup truck with E-flex," he said. GM describes the E-flex as a "family of propulsion systems." He appeared to be speaking from a GM garage. He asked himself queries drawn from what was deemed as a list compiled from consumer questions on the FastLane blog and then answered them.

Though the report divulged little about the Volt, the information is still worthy of attention. The same involves one remarkable car that could spell a big difference in the auto industry. The Volt will drive about 40 miles on pure electric power. Vehicle Line Director Tony Posawatz said that GM arbitrarily picked this distance because the Department of Transportation studies show that half of U.S. households travel less than 30 miles per day, while 78 percent of commuters travel no more than 40 miles per day to work. "Most Volt drivers would use little or no gasoline," Posawatz noted.

GM has unveiled the Chevrolet Volt concept, the company's first plug-in hybrid vehicle, at the 2007 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The Chevrolet Volt concept is the first vehicle to use the automaker's new E-flex family of propulsion systems. The automaker claims the Volt delivers triple-digit fuel economy and can travel up to 640 miles without a fuel fill-up or a battery recharge.

The Volt may not be equipped with the but its features are outstanding in their own right. The Volt features a front-mounted electric motor that generates 160 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Lithium-ion batteries are housed beneath the Volt's floor. Also onboard are the 53-kilowatt electric generator, turbocharged, 1.0-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine, and a 12-gallon fuel tank.

By GM's calculations, the Volt would save the typical driver 500 gallons of fuel per year, amounting to a net cost savings of $900 (assuming gas costs $2.40 a gallon). The addition to a home electric bill would be approximately $300. Additionally, the Volt saves the environment some 4.4 metric tons of CO2 that might otherwise be emitted into the air in a year, GM claimed.

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