Chevy Volt will start being seen on U.S. roads in December

Chevy Volt electric car

The Chevy Volt will make the transition from auto shows to American driveways in December. Image: CC stevelyon/Flickr

The Chevy Volt went into production Tuesday following a celebration at the General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck plant. GM plans an initial run of 10,000 Chevy Volts,which will start being seen on U.S. roads in December. Auto analysts say the Volt, which as already won two 2011 Car of the Year awards, could be a game-changer for the electric car industry.

Chevy Volt strikes a balance for GM

GM hopes the Chevy Volt will help rebuild the company’s image after bankruptcy and vault it into the lead among electric automakers. Priced at $41,000 before the generous electric car tax breaks that come along with it, Chevrolet’s Volt is being billed as the electric car for average Americans, instead of eco-conscious celebrities. Analysts are saying that the Volt’s innovative battery-gas engine power train will overcome the “range anxiety” consumers fear from electric cars that rely on battery power only. GM has tried to strike a balance between expensive innovation and conventional economy with the Volt. Company officials have said the Volt will give it an edge in the electric car race because the technology has been designed to be adaptable to other models.

Why the Chevy Volt is different

The first difference noticed about the Chevy Volt is that the four-door sedan doesn’t look like a typical electric car. But what makes it stand apart is the distinctive power train. The Volt’s 150-horsepower electric motor is backed up by a 1.4-liter four cylinder engine. However, the gas engine has no connection to the drive train. When the Volt reaches its battery range of 40 miles, the gas engine generates electricity to drive the electric motor. This “extended-range mode” gives the Chevy volt a range of 344 miles. The 100 percent battery-powered Nissan Leaf introduced in 2010 has an estimated range of 73 miles.

Auto mags love the Volt

As the Chevy Volt enters production, several developments have occurred in its favor. The most significant is the $7,500 tax credit for electric car buyers. Plus, the Volt is getting a lot of great PR. Green Car Journal has named the Volt the 2011 Green Car of the Year — the first electric car the magazine has awarded the honor. Automobile Magazine has named the Volt the 2011 Automobile of the Year, calling it not just a car, but an “idea.”



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