Will Chevy Volt battery warranty convince electric car skeptics?

a three quarter panel shot of the Chevy volt

GM has announced that the Chevy Volt battery warranty extends for 8 years or 100,000 miles in a bid to inspire confidence among potential buyers. Picasa web photo.

The Chevy Volt lithium-ion battery has emerged as the most worrisome part of the electric car General Motors is staking its future on. To inspire confidence among potential buyers of a limited number of Chevy Volts, GM announced Wednesday that the Volt’s lithium-ion battery will be for eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Chevy Volt battery different from other electric cars

The Chevy Volt battery warranty is better than warranties on GM’s conventional car engines and transmissions, which run for five years or 100,000 miles. CNN reports that popular hybrid car models currently winning bank loans on the market, including the Toyota Prius and the Ford Escape Hybrid, have similar warranties on their battery packs. But the Volt’s lithium-ion battery uses a chemistry different from Ford and Toyota. And concerns are that the Volt battery will have to work harder, since the car is powered solely by the battery for up to 40 miles before the gas motor kicks in.

GM says Volt battery will last for many years

A GM spokesman told CNN that the Chevy Volt lithium-ion battery warranty will be transferable to a new auto loan when the original buyer wants to sell the electric car. GM hopes the longer warranty will help convince electric car skeptics that the Volt’s lithium-ion battery will last for many years. The Associated Press reports that the Volt’s battery is similar to the chemical composition of cell phone and computer batteries, which often wear out and are expensive to replace. The Volt battery weighs 400 pounds and will likely cost thousands of dollars to replace.

GM confident in Volt battery technology

The Volt battery can charge in 8-10 hours on 120-volt power or about four hours through a 240-volt hookup. Auto Week reports that the GM warranty will cover the lithium-ion battery’s 161 components. The warranty also includes the battery’s thermal management system, charging system and electric-drive components. GM is offering a longer warranty because of confidence in the Volt’s liquid heating and cooling system, which GM says extends the battery’s life by keeping it at optimal temperatures. The Volt is the only such mass-market vehicle with a liquid-powered thermal management system. The Nissan Leaf electric car, available in December, has an air-cooled battery.

Get in line for your Chevy Volt

If the Chevy Volt lithium-ion battery warranty has convinced you to borrow money to own one, you need to get lucky. Another CNN article about the Volt said GM plans to build only 10,000 Volts in 2011. In 2012, GM plans to increase production to 30,000 Volts but that isn’t expected to meet demand. GM is also limiting where the car will be sold. The Volt will initially only be sold in six states and the District of Columbia. With limited supply, expect to pay more for your Volt than its advertised sticker price of about $40,000–or about $32,000 after federal tax credits for electric cars.

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