Last year’s film “Who killed the electric car?” accused GM of the ‘murder’, ten years ago, of its EV1 electric vehicle. However the corporation obviously feels it needs to renew its efforts with green cars – hence the appearance of the Chevrolet Volt at the Detroit Show.
The Volt is more of a hybrid than an out-and-out electric car. Its batteries are recharged on the go using a 1-litre engine that runs on low-emissions E85 ethanol fuel, giving the car a range of 640 miles and making it practical for long-distance journeys – something the pure electric EV1 couldn’t achieve.
The Volt’s lithium ion batteries give it a range of 40 miles without needing to use the ethanol engine. GM say that this makes it suitable as a commuter car for most users, as “more than half of all Americans live within 20 miles of where they work.” The Volt’s batteries can be fully recharged in six hours by plugging it into any power socket.
But is it imminently available? No. GM say it could “form the basis of a production car early in the next decade”.
GM is also developing a fuel cell version of the car using a similar propulsion system to that used in the Chevrolet Sequel fuel cell concept car.
Whereas the GM concept ‘may’ translate into a real model in the next decade, Japanese firms Toyota and Honda continue to be very successful today with sales of their hybrids in the US.