Not a bad looking car IMO. I like that it can run on electric without the fuel for 40 miles and has a generator for going futher than that and can use E85/biodesiel.
By Stephanie M. Peters
(AXcess News) Washington - Picture a car that eliminates those costly trips to the gas pump.
Not even the trendy, environment-friendly hybrid cars can do that, but the next generation of fuel independence might be only a few years away.
With a worldwide tour of its prototype of the Chevy Volt, an electric vehicle set to be released in 2010, General Motors is amping up public curiosity about the car that can run entirely on the charge from a standard 120-volt outlet.
"A lot of people are never going to use gas with this car," said Bob Boniface, director of GM's E-flex systems design. He explained the concept car to passersby, attracted by the vehicle's sleek exterior, outside the Ronald Reagan Building on Pennsylvania Avenue Friday morning.
Using a lithium-ion battery to power its electric motor, the Chevy Volt will give commuters a 40-mile drive range before the battery needs to be recharged. GM estimates that 78 percent of commuters travel 40 miles or less in their round-trip travels from home to work, Boniface said.
However, commuters don't need to have their eyes glued to the odometer. The Volt is equipped with a "range-extending power source" - a small internal combustion engine and a 12-gallon fuel tank attached to a generator - that kick in to recharge the battery as needed.
The generator can recharge the battery using gas, ethanol or bio-diesel and gives the car an extended range of up to 640 highway miles without plugging into an outlet or refueling, Boniface said.
GM does face one large hurdle before the rubber hits the road - production of a lithium-ion battery large enough to power the car, Boniface said. The company is working with battery manufacturers, but it's that technology that's preventing the cars from reaching the market any sooner.
Unlike the Tesla Roadster, an electric sports car expected to hit the road late this year with a price tag approaching $100,000, the Volt is expected to cost about $30,000, a GM spokeswoman said.
"That's in the range of a lot of regular cars, and the design of this is high end," said Paula Fyne, 56, of Stafford, Va., who stopped to look at the car. She is retired and doesn't commute but said her husband still travels into the city. "The higher the gas goes, the more something like this is appealing."
John Bradshaw, 46, of Nuevo, Calif., was touring the city with his wife and two sons when they came upon the Volt.
"I like the savings," Bradshaw said. "If we can get away from the fossil fuels at all and end our dependency, we could avoid another war."
A union carpenter, Bradshaw drives a Ford F-250 pickup truck, and his wife owns a Chevy Tahoe, but he thought the Volt was very practical looking and said it "would make a great commuter car."
The Volt has a streamlined, innovative appearance, despite being a four-door sedan that can seat five. Folding down the back seats creates a spacious area for cargo. GM partnered with General Electric to outfit the Volt with exterior parts, including the roof and a rear deck door, made of a lightweight plastic treated with an Exatec coating that gives it the shine and scratch resistance of glass, Boniface said.
"Current hybrid cars on the market look sensible and are comfortable, but we wanted to create a vehicle people wanted to own, to motivate people to be part of the solution," he said.
Appealing as the Volt's exterior is, it was the vehicle's economic practicality that grabbed Diana M. Barker's attention. She stopped driving the 40 miles from her home in Tooele, Utah, to the brokerage firm where she works in Salt Lake City when gas prices soared beyond $3 a gallon, instead relying on an "express bus" that takes more than an hour.
"I love it," said Barker, 50, of the car. She was visiting Washington with her son and daughter. "In Utah we commute great distances, and this is exactly what we need."
Source: Scripps Howard Foundation Wire