Chevy Volt Gives a Shock to the Auto Industry


General Motor’s 2010 Chevy Volt is getting more than its fair share of media coverage recently. One significant reason for all the attention is the claim by GM that the car will get an amazing 230 miles to the gallon. This is far more fuel efficiency than any other hybrid vehicle that is presently on the road. Currently, the Toyota Prius, with an estimated 51 mpg in city driving, is a distant second.

The impressive number has skeptics questioning how the 230 mpg figure was calculated. The answer lies with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) latest guidelines for measuring fuel mileage. With the trend for car manufacturers to start producing a competitive hybrid, the EPA is in the process of changing their testing procedures to include vehicles with electric motors. The EPA has not officially released their guideline revisions yet, but stated the changes will include driving on hills, acceleration rates, and driving conditions. Cars equipped with electric motors will be rated on battery life per charging cycle.

Although the EPA hasn’t officially tested the Chevy Volt’s performance, they haven’t contradicted any of GM’s claims, and appear optimistic the numbers are reliable.
The Volt, classified as an extended range electric vehicle, will travel up to 40 miles without need of a charge. When the battery runs down, a small gasoline engine will work as a generator, charging the battery and allowing for the extended range.

GM plans on building the Volt in a dedicated plant in Hamtramck, Detroit. They also announced construction of a lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility in Brownstown Township, Michigan. Insiders say the number of Chevy Volts manufactured in the first year will be relatively low, possibly only 200 to 400 in the first couple of months of production in 2010 and an estimated 10,000 total in 2011. By comparison, Toyota is expected to produce 135,000 to 140,000 Prius during that period.

The GM Chevy Volt won’t be without competition. Following the announcement of the Volt’s amazing fuel mileage, Nissan issued a statement saying their completely all electric car, the Leaf, will get an incredible 367 mpg, using the same EPA guidelines. The figures are somewhat confusing however, considering the Leaf has a range of 100 miles before a plug in charge is required.

by Karl Martin

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