Volt's on-road target date: November 2010

Volt's on-road target date: November 2010 http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071115/BUSINESS01/711150381/1014
LOS ANGELES -- General Motors aims to have its revolutionary Volt
electric vehicle on the road by November 2010, company vice chairman Bob Lutz said at the Los Angeles Auto Show Wednesday.
It's the most specific date Lutz has given for the rollout of the Volt, the concept GM unveiled in Detroit in January with the hopes it will leapfrog the advantage Toyota's hybrids have given the Japanese company and establish GM as a leader in advanced, environmentally friendly technology.
"It is aggressive," Lutz said of the target, "but we're not going to let up" on development of the concept car's drivetrain, which combines advanced lithium-ion batteries -- a still unproven technology in vehicles -- with plug-in capability for recharging from household current and a small gasoline engine to keep the batteries charged on trips longer than 40 miles.
Lutz's comments also ratchet up a war of words between GM and Toyota on whether lithium-ion batteries will be ready for production cars by 2010. Toyota has postponed using lithium-ion batteries because of problems it had developing them.
Lutz was only too happy to further the battle.
"There's a showdown at the OK Corral coming," Lutz said, "About Easter, we'll find out who's right and whose credibility takes a hit" over battery claims, Lutz said.
GM plans to test the system on the road extensively in the first half of 2008.
The Volt would not use any gasoline to go 40 miles or less, and the combination of battery power and the efficient small engine to generate electricity could give it fuel economy ranging from 50 m.p.g. to 150 m.p.g. on longer trips. Actual fuel economy and the amount of time the gasoline-powered generator was running would depend on the length of the trip.
GM is to begin testing the system with lithium-ion batteries late in the first quarter of 2008, slipping the revolutionary powerplant into versions of its 2007 Chevrolet Malibu midsize sedan.
GM has been working with battery development partners A123 and LG Chem to produce safe, reliable lithium-ion batteries.
The batteries are lighter and easier to recharge than those that current hybrids use. That raises the possibility of a vehicle like the Volt that can recharge quickly from household current. However, the batteries produce a lot of heat, and avoiding vehicle fires and battery failure is a major concern.
The production model using the Volt concept's drivetrain will look different from the model GM revealed in Detroit last January.
The automaker's new contract with the UAW revealed plans to build the car, which GM calls an extended-range electric vehicle because of its on-board generator, at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant.
Lutz has said the Volt would be sold around the world, and that GM hopes to sell around 100,000 a year initially. Company executives have said that, if they could get it to work, GM would use the Volt's drivetrain in a wide variety of vehicles produced around the world.
Lutz revealed GM's plan for the Volt following a news conference at the LA auto show, where Chevrolet unveiled a campaign to improve its environmental image by promoting the fuel-efficiency of its vehicles, its growing line of hybrids, and a fleet of 100 hydrogen fuel-cell Equinox SUVs it plans to have consumers evaluate next year.
"It's not a short-term effort" to make Chevrolet a global environmental leader, Lutz said. "It's not an advertising campaign. It's a global long-term commitment to technology."

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