Volt's on-road target date: November 2010
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
"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
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
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."