Think of the Volt as an electric vehicle with an onboard generator. The wheels are driven exclusively by electricity, with an E85-compatible engine available to replenish the lithium-ion batteries when needed. GM claims the Volt will travel up to 40 miles on power from its T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack, which lies under the rear seat and center tunnel. The battery weighs 375 pounds and has a 16 kw/h capacity. The 1.4-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine can extend that range as needed. The electric drive unit produces 150 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. Zero to 60 mph is expected to be around nine seconds.
A plug-in vehicle, the Volt can be recharged from both 120- and 240-volt electrical outlets, with an eight- and three-hour charge time, respectively. Based on 10 cents per kWh, GM estimates that the Volt would cost about 80 cents a day to operate fewer than 40 miles. Or put another way, recharging once a day would cost less than operating the average household refrigerator. For contrast, a Toyota Prius Touring earning 42 mpg in our overall fuel economy test would cost almost $4 to go the same distance based on current gasoline prices.
Sizing it up
The four-seat Volt is similar in length and height as the Honda Civic sedan, though it does measure about two inches wider. While it stretches two inches longer than the current Prius, the manufacturer-claimed cargo volume is less at 10.4 cubic feet versus 14.4.
Production is expected to begin late 2010.