General Motors takes the wraps off the production version of the 2011 Chevy Volt. Can this save the company?
DETROIT – General Motors launched its next 100 years today by unveiling the much-anticipated production version of the Chevrolet Volt – a vehicle that delivers up to 40 miles of gasoline – and emissions-free electric driving, with the extended-range capability of hundreds of additional miles.
“Revealing the production version of the Chevy Volt is a great way to open our second century,” said Rick Wagoner, GM Chairman and CEO. “The Volt is symbolic of GM’s strong commitment to the future … just the kind of technology innovation that our industry needs to respond to today’s and tomorrow’s energy and environmental challenges.”
Form follows function
The design of the Chevrolet Volt production car has evolved from the original concept that was unveiled at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Because aerodynamics plays a key role in maximizing driving range, GM designers created an aerodynamically efficient design for the production vehicle. Many of the design cues from the concept vehicle endure in the production Volt, including the closed front grille, athletic stance, rear design graphics, outside rearview mirrors and more. 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.
Working closely with GM aerodynamicists to shape the Volt, design and engineering teams developed one of the most aerodynamic vehicles in GM’s history. They spent hundreds of hours with the Volt in GM’s wind tunnel, testing and re-testing parts such as the front and rear quarter panels, rear spoiler, rockers and side mirrors. Aerodynamic improvements enabled GM to reach the Volt’s target of driving up to 40 miles (based on EPA city cycle) without using gasoline or producing emissions.
Inside, the Volt offers the space, comfort, convenience and safety features that customers expect in a four-passenger sedan, and it delivers them in a variety of interior color, lighting and trim options unlike any offered before on a Chevrolet sedan. Modern controls and attractive materials, two informational displays, and a touch-sensitive infotainment center with integrated shifter distinguish the Volt’s interior from other vehicles in the market.
Some of Volt’s interior technological features include:
- Driver-configurable, liquid crystal instrument display
- Standard seven-inch touch screen vehicle information display
- Touch screen-style climate and infotainment controls
- Optional navigation system with onboard hard drive for maps and music storage
- Standard Bluetooth for cellular phone and USB/Bluetooth for music streaming
New era in automotive transportation
The Chevrolet Volt could mark a new era of electrification of the automobile by creating a new class of vehicle known as the Extended-Range Electric Vehicle, or E-REV.
The Volt uses electricity to move the wheels at all times and speeds. For trips up to 40 miles, the Volt is powered only by electricity stored in its 16-kWh, lithium-ion battery. When the battery’s energy is depleted, a gasoline/E85-powered engine generator seamlessly provides electricity to power the Volt’s electric drive unit while simultaneously sustaining the charge of the battery. This mode of operation extends the range of the Volt for several hundred additional miles, until the vehicle’s battery can be charged. Unlike a conventional battery-electric vehicle, the Volt eliminates “range anxiety,” giving the confidence and peace of mind that the driver will not be stranded by a depleted battery.
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. At a cost of about 80 cents per day (10 cents per kWh) for a full charge that will deliver up to 40 miles of electric driving, GM estimates that the Volt will be less expensive to recharge than purchasing a cup of your favorite coffee. Charging the Volt about once daily will consume less electric energy annually than the average home’s refrigerator and freezer units.
Charge out of driving
The Chevrolet Volt offers spirited driving performance in a remarkably quiet interior. More than 220 lithium-ion cells contained within the Volt’s battery pack provide ample power. The Volt’s electric drive unit delivers the equivalent of 150 horsepower, 273 lb-ft. (370 Nm) of instant torque, and a top speed of 100 miles per hour. The lack of engine noise, combined with special sound-deadening materials, make the Chevrolet Volt an extremely quiet vehicle to drive.
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.