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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

2011 Volt Finally Revealed- production set for Nov 2010

RENAISSANCE CENTER, DETROIT -- After serving up live feeds from General Motors' operations around the world, a celebration designed to show the company's strength and diversity, Rick Wagoner, Bob Lutz and Fritz Henderson brought out the big present: the 2011 Chevrolet Volt.

"The world has changed a lot in the last hundred years. In fact, it's changed a lot in the last hundred hours," CEO and chairman Wagoner said. GM is committed "to leading the industry ... in the development of alternate fuel propulsion."

Like the GMNext program that began in January, the centenary celebration paid very little attention Tuesday to the automaker's past, and instead worked hard to convince the press and public that it has another century's life in it. Vice chairman for global product development Lutz, and Jon Lauckner, vice president for global program management, revealed a bit about the production Volt, which is set to go on sale in November 2010. For example:

  • Don't call it a plug-in, or parallel hybrid (the upcoming Saturn Vue hybrid is a plug-in). Lutz describes the Volt as an electric car that uses its internal combustion engine strictly to generate electricity beyond the expected 40-mile range.
  • The Volt is about 400 pounds heavier than the Chevrolet Cruze. GM is using pre-production Cruzes from South Korea, with their transmission tunnels widened for the powertrain, as mules for the Volt.
  • The heavy battery pack, placed low in the global GM Delta compact platform, results in a good, low center of gravity for better handling, Lutz says.
  • Lutz equates the competition's (Toyota's) insistence on developing nickel-metal hydride batteries for its internal combustion-generated electric to when he was at GM in the early '60s, and the company insisted on not switching to disc brakes because it had invested so much into drum brake production.
  • The Volt will use lithium-ion batteries, and the development is on time, Lutz insists. He says Chevy could sell it today, but GM isn't interested in putting a handful of cars on the street and call it "production," an obvious slam at the Honda FCX Clarity fuel cell car.
  • Top speed will be 100 mph, and GM expects a sub 9-second 0-60 mph time, Lauckner said.
  • "We want people to have a driving sensation that a car can be clean and fun to drive, at the same time," Lauckner added.
  • A real production car, Lutz said, means GM expects to sell about 10,000 Volts in its first full year of production, with a goal of 60,000 per year, or more if there's demand, when production ramps up. GM will sell it as both a Chevrolet and an Opel, but isn't talking about any other divisions just yet. This being GM, though, you can pretty much count on versions for Cadillac, Saturn, and one for the Buick-Pontiac-GMC channel at least.