GM promises 435 mile range for Volt electric vehicle (sort of)

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

I don’t really know many people who have not looked up GM’s Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle and what it might be able to offer. And it seems that most people have two key concerns. The potential price of the, which appears to be climbing and may be closer to $40,000 than to $30,000 and the tiny range of just 65 km – about 40 miles.

40 miles would make the Volt a car almost useless for a typical use. You may make it to work or the  grocery store and back, but you may have to take another car for a weekend trip. But it turns out that the Volt has a much greater range of up to 700 km or about 435 miles. The secret lies in the Volt’s  plug-in lithium-ion battery pack to propel the car on pure electric drive up to 65 km, but it would have the ability to recharge the battery while driving, “extending” the range to more than 700 km, GM said. You may hear the phrase range-extended electric vehicle” or “EREV” from GM more often in the future.

In a blog post, GM’s Carl-Peter Forster writes:

“We are somewhat insistent in categorizing this technology as an electric vehicle because we believe the vast majority of customers will buy it to be able to drive completely petrol free…they would only use the range extender for emergencies or a few special occasions. This is a far different thesis than a parallel hybrid configuration, which uses both the electric drive and petrol engine to propel the vehicle. This is a strategy for maximum fuel economy, but it is reliant on petrol all of the time. EREVs would free customers of petrol for the vast majority of commuting needs.”

GM currently plans to start production of the Volt in late 2010, but only if the company will continue to attain all of our goals and milestones for the battery and integration of the power electronics. Translation: If everything goes to the plan, you could be getting a Volt in the first half of 2011. GM did not say how many Volt’s it will produce, so there is an obvious scenario that could enable dealer markups.

Europe will be getting the Volt under the Opel/Vauxhall brands in late 2011, Forster said.