General Motors’ Chevrolet division Sunday formally introduced its 2011 Volt, which it’s billing as a plug-in electric car with “extended range,” meaning a small onboard gasoline engine to charge the batteries.

GM says the five-door, four-passenger Volt is designed to provide the benefits of an electric vehicle without the range limitations associated with other electric vehicles in the market.

“The Chevrolet Volt can be the only car you own,” said Mark Reuss, president, GM North America. “The Volt delivers it all: a revolutionary propulsion system, progressive styling, industry-leading safety, premium amenities and user-friendly technologies, and spirited driving dynamics.”

Designed, engineered, built and delivered to customers in 29 months, the Volt will go on sale at Chevrolet dealers before the end of 2010. It is offered in one very well-equipped standard trim level, along with two option packages: a Premium Trim Package and a Rear Camera and Park Assist Package. 

GM says the Volt is not a hybrid. It’s propelled by a 16-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack and electric drive that provide pure electric transportation for between 25 and 50 miles, depending on terrain, driving style and temperature.

A 1.4-liter gasoline engine extends the range up to an additional 310 miles on a full tank of fuel by operating the vehicle’s electric drive system until the car can be plugged in and recharged or refueled.

This distinguishes the Volt from electric-only vehicles, which cannot be operated when recharging is not immediately available — such as during a power interruption or on a long-distance trip.

“The Chevrolet Volt makes the electric driving experience as productive, efficient, intuitive, safe and fun as any premium vehicle its size in the market today,” said Doug Parks, Volt global vehicle line executive.

Every major element of the Volt was designed and analyzed for efficiency, including its highly aerodynamic exterior, lightweight wheels, specially designed tires, energy-saving premium stereo system, and more. This attention to detail makes the Volt one of the most aerodynamic and energy-efficient vehicles in the market.

The Volt’s battery pack weighs 435 pounds and is manufactured in Brownstown Township. It powers a 149-hp electric drive unit. The battery is covered by an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty.

GM says that since 2007, GM engineers have completed more than one million miles and four million hours of validation testing of Volt battery packs, as well as each pack’s nine modules and 288 prismatic cells. The development, validation and test teams have met thousands of specifications and validated each of the Volt battery’s 161 components, 95 percent of which GM designed and engineered.

“Our customers are making a commitment to technology that will help reduce our dependence on petroleum,” said Micky Bly, GM executive director, global electrical systems. “In turn, we commit to deliver the highest standards for value, safety, quality, performance and reliability to our customers.”

When the battery energy is depleted, the Volt seamlessly transitions to extended-range mode. Power is inverted from a technically advanced, 1.4-liter, 84-hp gasoline engine to the electric drive unit to provide up to 310 additional miles of range.

The Volt proves electric driving can be spirited. Not only does the Volt reach a top speed of 100 mph, the electric drive unit’s excellent low speed torque of 273 foot-pounds takes it from 0 to 60 mph in less than nine seconds and the quarter mile in less than 17 seconds.

Charging the Volt’s battery is simple and intuitive, and can be done through 120-volt conventional household electrical outlets, or through a dedicated 240-volt charging station. The vehicle is completely rechargeable in about four hours using a 240-volt outlet and 10 to 12 hours in a 120-volt outlet. Once the vehicle is plugged in, owners can schedule either immediate or delayed charges, even coordinating charging according to departure time or when electricity rates are lower.
Owners also can manage and monitor the Volt remotely via computer on; or an exclusive smart phone application, Chevrolet Mobile App powered by OnStar MyLink.

As for the Volt’s body, GM design and engineering teams developed the most aerodynamic vehicle in Chevrolet’s history. By reducing the energy needed to overcome air resistance, Volt aerodynamicists contributed an estimated eight miles of electric range, and 50 miles of extended range. 

The Volt’s rounded and flush front fascia, tapered corners and grille enable air to move easily around the car to reduce drag. In the rear, sharp edges and a carefully designed spoiler control air flow. An aggressive rake on the windshield and back glass also helps reduce turbulence and drag.

Inside, the Volt offers ample storage compartments and rear folding seats. Its instrument panel features two seven-inch high-resolution color screens. One is a reconfigurable graphic cluster display and the other, in the center stack, features a  touch screen display, touch-control switches and integrated shifter.

Standard infotainment features include:

*Navigation radio with 60-GB (30 GB for music storage) hard disc drive, AM/FM/DVD-Rom/MP3 playback capability, voice recognition, Radio Data System, Bluetooth and pause-and-play radio functions
* XM Satellite Radio with XM NavTraffic/Weather, one of the industry’s most advanced, real-time information systems
* Premium, energy-saving Bose audio system with six speakers and subwoofer
* Five years of OnStar Directions and Connections service.

In addition to enhancing safety and solidity, the Volt’s stiff structure accommodates features that help to isolate engine and wind noise for a quiet cabin.

GM also says Volt’s driving systems offer features commonly found on premium sport sedans. A regenerative brake system captures braking energy to help recharge the batteries. The Volt’s lightweight aluminum wheels that weigh only 17.8 pounds each, and are wrapped in Goodyear Fuel Max all-season, low-rolling resistance tires optimized for electric vehicle range, noise, feel and performance.

Crash-avoidance features include standard anti-lock brakes with traction control, StabiliTrak electronic stability control and advanced, and LED daytime running lamps that make the Volt more visible to other motorists and pedestrians.

Nearly 80 percent of the Volt’s overall structure consists either of high-strength, advanced high-strength or ultra high-strength steel. Active occupant protection features include eight standard air bags and safety belts with dual pretensioners to help reduce the risk of injury.

Because the Volt operates so quietly in all-electric mode, a driver-activated feature sounds a noise to alert pedestrians, particularly those with visual impairments, in an intersection. The alert was developed in conjunction with the American Federation of the Blind.

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(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.


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