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Chevrolet Volt


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Shown: Photo of Chevrolet Volt

Advance Copy: The New York Times; Sunday 01/07/07:

Page 12-1; Additional photos are on page 12-2.

Top Speed: 120MPH

0-60 Acceleration: 8.5 Seconds

Range: 640 Miles (with batteries and on-board generator).

Battery only range: 40 Miles

Weight: 3200 pounds

Recharge Time: 6.5 Hours

Article content:

"General Motors will unveil an electric concept car, the Chevrolet Volt, which has created the most buzz in advance of the (NAIAS) show. GM says the Volt, a plug-in hybrid, could deliver the equivalent of 150 miles a gallon.

The Volt thus promises - at least in theory, given that it would not be produced without a leap in battery technology - three times the mileage of a Toyota Prius."

When General Motors unwraps the Chevrolet Volt for the press today (Sunday 01/07/07), it will be revealing much more than the latest fantasy from its styling studios.

Beyond its striking coupe-like lines, the Volt is also a declaration of GM's intent to mass-produce a new type of hybrid-electric vehicle, one that can drive up to 40 miles on batteries alone and recharge itself with an onboard generator - or by plugging into a standard 110-volt household outlet.

The Volt is also less than it appears. The batteries to make it roadworthy do not yet exist, a shortcoming GM acknowledges.

The squat four-seat hybrid sedan previews a new family of plug-in electric drive systems that GM calls E-Flex. The system, which the company plans to begin installing globally when the batter technology is mature, will be capable of delivering the equivalent of 100 miles a gallon or more in urban driving, GM officials said. The Volt's total range is 640 miles using the combined capacity of fully charged batteries and a built-in gasoline-powered generator.

While hybrids like the Toyota Prius can drive short distances on batter power and make longer trips using a thrifty gasoline engine, the Volt's gas engine is not connected to the wheels. It turns only a generator to charge the battery pack, a design typically called a series hybrid, and operates in a narrow RPM range for maximum efficiency.

In the Volt, the E-Flex drive system consists of a small three-cylinder gas engine, a 53-kilowatt generator and a long lithium-ion battery pack that forms a spine down the center of the car's floor.

To maximize batter life, the engine that drives the generator automatically kicks in when the battery's charge falls below 30% of capacity and shuts off when the battery charge reaches 80% of maximum; at that point E-flex reverts to pure electric mode.

"We've dubbed this feature a 'range extender'" said Robert A. Lutz, GM's vice chairman for product development. "It also provides a steady flow of electricity to get the vehicle home or to the nearest charging plug."

GM is planning to offer E-flex power systems in all major world markets. The company's next generation compact car platform due in 2009, has been designed to accept an E-Flex battery pack, generator and related hardware.

While development of the new electric drive system has already begun, the company can not set a production schedule until the proper batteries are ready, said Nick Zielinski, the Volt's chief engineer.

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