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GM Formally Unveils the Production Version of the Volt

The production version of the Volt. Click to enlarge.

General Motors marked its centenary today by unveiling the much-anticipated production version of the Chevrolet Volt extended range electric vehicle. The design of the Chevrolet Volt production car has changed from the original concept that was unveiled at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. (Earlier post.)

Because aerodynamics plays a key role in maximizing driving range, GM designers created a more aerodynamically efficient design for the production vehicle than was represented by the concept. While design cues from the concept vehicle remain in the production Volt, the Volt’s rounded and flush front fascia, tapered corners and grille are functional, enabling air to move easily around the car. In the rear, sharp edges and a carefully designed spoiler allow the air to flow off and away quickly. An aggressive rake on the windshield and back glass help reduce turbulence and drag.

The 2007 Volt concept. Click to enlarge.
The Volt uses electricity to move the wheels at all times and speeds. For trips up to 40 miles (under the EPA city cycle), the Volt is powered only by electricity stored in its 16-kWh, lithium-ion battery. GM uses half of the capacity (8 kWh) in its operating strategy for the Volt. When the battery’s energy is depleted, a 1.4-liter, naturally aspirated gasoline/E85-powered engine range extender kicks in.

The Chevrolet Volt can be plugged either into a standard household 120v outlet or use 240v for charging. The vehicle’s intelligent charging technology enables the Volt’s battery to be charged in less than three hours on a 240v outlet or about eight hours on a 120v outlet. Charge times are reduced if the battery has not been fully depleted. GM estimates the cost of a daily 8 kWh recharge to be about $0.80 (10 cents per kWh).

Layout of the Volt powertrain. Click to enlarge.

The Volt’s electric drive unit delivers the equivalent of 150 hp (111 kW), with 370 Nm (273 lb-ft) of instant torque, and a top speed of 100 miles per hour.

GM estimates that the Volt will cost about two cents per mile to drive while under battery power compared to 12 cents per mile using gasoline priced at $3.60 per gallon. For an average driver who drives 40 miles per day (or 15,000 miles per year), this amounts to a cost savings of $1,500 annually. Using peak electric rates, GM estimates that an electrically driven mile in a Chevy Volt will be about one-sixth of the cost of a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle. The cost savings are even greater when charging during off-peak hours, when electric rates are cheaper.

The Chevrolet Volt is expected to be built at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck manufacturing facility, subject to GM successfully negotiating satisfactory government incentives. Production is scheduled to begin late 2010 for models in the United States. Pricing has not been announced.



Maybe the subside price should be based off the battery price.



If Toyota chooses to produce in the US as it appears they will they will most likely also get some benefits from picking a particular state or city. It is such a common business practice that car producers and other industries simply expect to be benefitted whenever they make a large investment and create jobs and future tax incomes etc.


People on this board hate GM no matter what...from outright misreading the press release to complaining about the cost of the batteries.

I love this car.

If you want to know total cost of ownership, you will have to wait for pricing details and do the math yourself. I am going to guess, since GM said so previously, that the car will cost less than $30k. So take $30k and do the math. If you never use gas and keep your trips under 30 miles per day....02 per mile. Do the math. Add in some gas too if you want.

I did, and I came with the same answer every time... = one more step to eliminating foreign oil.


When/where can you get a 25K plug-in Prius. Around here you can get a Prius for about 30K if your willing to wait several weeks and then calcars will make it plug-in for 10K. I have not heard of Toyo introducing a plug-in, unless you are referring to the vaporware that was supposed to be out this month.

pay back in 5 years? No way, most companies expect a ROI of 18 months and everything past 18 months to be profit otherwise it is not considered worthy of effort; with the exception of product that is expected to have extremely long sales periods (like airplanes for example).



Comments like that are precisely what makes consumers unnecessarily wary of adopting EV technology. When buying a new car, does anyone realistically factor in the costs of replacing the engine and transmission 150k miles down the road? These batteries are conservatively estimated to last 150k miles, and will probably last much longer under the conditions GM is running (limiting to 50% discharge). I'll tell you this - over that first 150k miles, I can almost guarantee you'll spend far more money maintaining an ICE/mechanical transmission than a battery/motor. I see too many people being scared off by replacement battery costs, ignoring the maintenance costs of what they are comparing EVs to in the first place.

Roger Pham

Given the high price for the PHEV version, why not make a full HEV version (serial hybrid) using a 2kWh battery pack to save money? A 2kWh pack can deliver 40-50 kw of burst power to augment the 53-kw engine for good acceleration. The owner should be allowed to "up-grade" to the PHEV version later by adding more battery, just like adding RAM to your current PC?


Obama's tax incentive is a $7,000. credit which would bring the probable price down to $27-31K. Henrik is right, they produce a first revision of the car as loss-leader and tool up for mass production in next rev.

This car begins road tests in December. 2011 model year cars begin accepting orders Spring for delivery in November 2010. According to the GM-Volt web site suppliers are preparing to ship 100k parts to the Michigan plant.

This has got to be great news for those of us who believe in the electrification of transport. I say congratulations GM for leading the way to petroleum free transportation.


The car looks fine. I hope they sell a bunch, blah, blah, blah.
In 14 years of progress (1996-2010)they go from the EV-1 to the volt. The EV-1 got more than 3 times the range in all electric with a 60% greater capacity (26kWh) NiMH battery pack. If they had spent the time and money producing more rather than crushing them they would not be in a position of having to ask congress for $25B in federally guaranteed loans to 'retool' for more efficient vehicles (
Honestly I think they need to go out of business and step aside to make room for the real innovators and visionaries that are already emerging.


Don't forget to consider source of the electricity. Our state, MD, is already threatened with brownouts. And a big local issue is building more towering transmission lines across the countryside. Not to mention the nuclear power requests for expansion along the Chesapeake Bay. Or the increase in electric rates that is coming with deregulation.

And, I understand that we can anticipate the batteries to be coming from China. So, we exchange Arab oil for Chinese batteries. Doesn't seem to diminish our reliance on foreign powers or to erase resulting limitations on military strategic decision-making.

I see more hope in home-grown bio gasolines and bio jet fuels.


"..give the politicians some good arguments for supporting these subsidies."

The automakers talked with Bush more than a year ago and he basically said "good luck". Obama said before he was a candidate for President that he favored helping them with retiree health care in exchange for building the right cars.

They got $25b in loan guarantees last year and now are looking for and extra $25b in direct loans for next year to tool up for hybrids. After Bear Sterns, Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac, the federal government is tapped out. Maybe if we had not accumulated $4 trillion in debt the last 8 years we could, but not now.


Brownouts are happen most during periods of peak usage (mid day) which is precisely when a PHEV is LEAST LIKELY to be charged. The majority of PHEV charging will take place at night when utilities have massive overcapacity. IMO PHEVs will be a big boon to utilities.

Fat Knowledge

So the engine is only 18% efficient in converting gasoline into electricity? That seems a bit low to me, but I am no expert on the matter.

Can someone check my math here?

This is completely electric driven, so gasoline is converted into electricity.

$3.60 a gallon and $.12 a mile = 30 mpg
40 miles on 8 kWh = 5 miles/kWh or .2kWh a mile (same as a Tesla)

30 mpg, 5 miles/kWh = 6 kWh of electricity generated per gallon of gasoline.
Gasoline has 33 kWh of energy.
6 kWh /33 kWh = 18% efficient conversion efficiency.

30% efficiency by their 50mpg claims...perhaps a 37% efficient gas engine, 85% efficient generator and 95% efficient power electronics (convertors, etc). Though I initially pointed out the math resulting in 30mpg I am willing to bet they intended to mean "against the average vehicle in its segment which gets 30mpg" rather than implying that the Volt itself only attains 30mpg. At 200W-hr per mile I'd be looking at a cost of $0.016 per mile with no oil changes required if I never run the ICE. I bet the performance to 60mph would be quite nice if you remove the whole 1.4L generator and fuel tank (maybe 300lbs).


It looks great , it's just the price that decides if it's good. Hopefully it'll chock people positively.


The Volt looks fairly good, 4 doors are useful, liftback is cool, and it has a plug, which is incredible! I can use Domestically produced electricity instead of foreign oil! And it is cheaper by far to operate, I drive 12,000 miles a year, the vast majority of the time I drive about 30-35 miles a day. I will use about 4 or 5 gallons of gasoline a month with the Volt, only because I am able to get away on a roadtrip once a month, something that would be a major pain in the EV1. Plus I can bring 3 friends, something I couldn't do at all in the EV1. Anyway, I use 50 gallons of gas a month, about $200 at $4, or $2400 per year. With the Volt I will use about 5 g. per month or $20mth/$240 per year, plus $20 worth of electricity per month/ $240 per year. So my fuel expense goes from $2400 a year to $480 with the Volt, so I not only save $1900 a year but my money goes to domestic energy sources rather than OPEC and Putin. This is game changing. This will change the way the international economy works.
Bob Lutz is not my favorite GM source, he mentioned $48,000 once and had to admit later that he had mis spoke. Most of the estimates have been in the range of high $30's to low $40's, so with the $5,000 - $7,000 tax incentive the two candidates are talking about plus what ever else states add, the Volt looks pretty good at a net price from $32,000 to $37,000, and in CA and other places it could be less. The Prius is selling in the high $20's and you have to wait to get it. When the plug in Prius arrives, it will be shorter legged and much more reliant on gasoline. Its tax incentive will be smaller due to the incentives being larger for larger batteries/longer AER. As the Volt moves into its second year the price could very well come down due to the batteries getting more economies of scale. Also, with the cooling system GM is looking at and the limited depth of cycling, the battery pack will probably last 200,000 miles or until 2026. I think we might have a better, less expensive replacement by then.
If GM can deliver this car for less than $40,000 by the end of 2010 with an AER of at least 40 miles they will have a huge hit on their hands. And then they can build an EREV CUV, an EREV sports car, (look at those torque numbers, now think of a 24kWH battery pack!) and all the other cars in their line begin to offer EREV as an option. Remember that batteries aren't like gas tanks, with gas a smaller tank means that your range is shorter but power is the same. With batteries, if you cut the size of the battery, you also cut the performance, so cutting the Volts battery to save money also costs you acceleration.
My next car will have a plug. End of story.


I was not complaining about the battery, she wanted to know how look it would take for it the pay back for having a serial hybrid transmission over a conventional one. I'll admit that a serious unfair comparison, as the price of the motor and generator is not added, as well as the price of a transmission is not subtracted, nor is the price drop in gasoline and energy in general provided by a massive PHEV economy using smartgrid technology even considered.


Want some mind-blowing numbers? Figure your petroleum usage if the Volt is (cellulosic) E85-capable. Running the numbers assuming 50mpg in charge-sustaining mode yields a 96% reduction in petroleum usage for my daily commute. 98.5% reduction if I can eventually charge at work.

How fast can we get 10 million of these on the road, please?


The car looks fine. I hope they sell a bunch. I hope they are priced for minimum profit. I know GM has to make money but if they sell TWICE as many Volts as Prius have been selling recently, that’s still only about 4% of the market. That’s nothing. So sell me one for 20% more than a Prius, - Whoo Hoo. - This just shows what you can do if you don’t get diverted with dead end technology like the EV1.
If this were somehow able to propel GM back into a leader of automotive technology, people would say “Brilliant, they used the huge market demand for Tahoes, with their huge profits, to bridge the bad years (when people wanted simple Japanese small cars but Prius could only capture 2.5% of the market) to the era when the technology and market could support the Volt.” (Umm, No. I’m not holding my breath).

Franklin E. Fraitus

I love the idea of these cars. Sure would like to see the roof, hood and trunk populated with high efficiency solar cells.

Bob Downs

Where in the calcs are the taxes on the juice???

These taxes will have to come if we are to have roads and
other infrastructure. We tax gasoline now for that purpose.

I like the concept of EV's but I don't see anything here
that is particulary looks like any other
econo-box and the performance seems just so-so.

Just my opinion

Alex S.

Rob, FYI, the EV1 was NOT dead-end technology. Replace those lead acid batts. with lithium-ion and advances in electrical technology and you'd sell a million of them over night. GM made a 'too good' car for the times and the oil industry freaked and came down hard on everyone, so the cars were all but destroyed. The EV1 would be a god-send now. It was a great car. Even by today's standards, the styling is cool. Only way GM will be #1 (as if!) is if they come out with an all electric vehicle with a range of 150 miles + with a top speed of 85 mph. This can be done now.

John Saggese

This is all rather sad. In May, 2000, I bought a Honda Insight for $20,000. It now has 186,000 miles on it. For that entire time I have gotten in excess of 50 mpg! (Note that the insight is basically a small, gasoline engined car. The battery only provides assist during acceleration, and is recharged when the car is up to speed. If the battery trips off-line, as it has a couple of times due to overheating, the car stills runs fine, but the acceleration suffers noticieably. Since most of my driving is long distance at turnpike speeds, there is very little decline in gas mileage.) Now, ten years later, Chevy offers the Volt, price not disclosed, which gets 40 mpg. Truly a sad testimonial to American engineering. I'me gonna keep the Insight forever, or until I can get a car that gets 80 mpg, whichever comes first. And I don't really care which comes first!


Looks fantastic. These guys are ahead of the curve.


John, where did you ever get 40mpg from? Obviously, you aren't getting the point of this car. How many gallons of fuel does your Insight use in your daily commute? Additionally, divide your Insight number by two, since you'll need to drive two of them to move the same 4 people that can fit in the Volt.

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