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Chevrolet Volt

Nov 30, 2008 04:00PM ● By Super Admin

In 1996 GM shocked the world by releasing the first modern all-electric vehicle, the EV1. It was a bold, broad stroke to the future of the automobile, a sign that traditional gas-powered cars were nearing the end of the popular road and would become a sort of relic, a toy to be used on Sundays. The E-vehicle had arrived, again, and the world rejoiced. But then GM did a funny thing – when all the EV1s returned from their leases, they dismantled and destroyed them. This really upset a lot of people. Fans of the green movement  even protested outside some GM facilities to save the EV1. Interestingly, however, what no one mentions is that only 800 people actually signed on the dotted line to give the EV1 a chance. Only 800. That breaks down to 16 leases per state.

Needless to say, EV1 was not a profit-maker for the company, but rather an exercise in what they needed to look to in coming decades. Interestingly, no one really commended GM for their efforts, but ridiculed and skewered them for “destroying the hope,” as one eco-weenie put it. And no, that particular eco-weenie didn’t lease an EV1, but preferred a large German luxury car. The irony. But that aside, GM was thinking more long term than EV1.

In 1996, the call for an E-vehicle was low. Gas wasn’t overtly expensive and the whole global warming thing, while something we all knew about, hadn’t been truly popularized outside of scientific circles. Things were still good. Besides, the EV1 was weird looking. It made no noise and it was small. People didn’t quite understand it. But the knowledge that GM gained from that noiseless, weird-looking little car was glacial in size. Today, it’s filtering down into a new generation of the E-vehicle called Chevrolet Volt, the only one of its kind slated to be on the road as early as 2010. The Middle East is shaking in its overpriced dino tar.

Despite the obvious hope, expectations and excitement surrounding the Volt are still very delicate topics. After all, a lot is still up in the air about the Volt, but what is known is that it currently has a cruising range of 40 miles on battery power; it will be a more useful sedan opposed to the EV1 coupe; it will carry a gas tank should you need to travel beyond the 40 mile electric range (still no official declaration of what kind of engine it will have, or if it will recharge the battery yet); it can be recharged by plugging it into a typical home outlet and achieve full charge in about six hours; the T-shaped lithium-ion battery will hold 16 kilowatt hours of energy, have less than 300 cells and weigh around 400 pounds; the Volt will not be as odd looking as its EV1 predecessor and will run you between $30,000 and $40,000. GM is taking the car more seriously than most would believe. So seriously in fact, that they’ve devoted a new $359 million facility to much of its development and a team of roughly 650 people to work exclusively with Volt, many of whom worked on the EV1. From body and interior construction, to safety and electrical durability, to battery longevity and transferability, the team is working to ensure that the Volt will amaze. And they have to; a lot is riding on this new car. With it all, transferability is very important, as it indicates that GM is considering the Volt technology for other vehicles. The battery is transferable to other vehicles. Driving this point to fact, GM USA has been working with GM Europe to develop an Opel using the Volt driveline for the overseas market.

For more about the Chevrolet Volt, be sure to pick up this month's copy of Style-Folsom El Dorado Hills edition. Click on the "Get Your Copy" link on the bottom of this page for some of our newsstand locations. Or, to order a copy of this issue, please email Gloria Schroeder at [email protected], or call her at 916-988-9888 x116.