Q: What is the Chevy Volt?
A: The Chevy Volt is an extended-range electric car built by General Motors. It has reached the end of its development cycle and deliveries commenced in December 2010. Cars can be ordered right now.
Q: How is the Chevy Volt different than other cars on the road?
A: The car is a plug-in range-extended electric vehicle with an on-board gasoline generator. It has a large battery that stores power from your home electric outlet and which is connected to an electric motor. The electric motor directly propels the car. The battery can power the car for the first 25 to 50 miles. After that, should one continue to need to drive, the on-board gasoline generator provide electricity for the motor and participate in driving the car.
Q: How is the Chevy Volt different than conventional hybrids, like the Prius?
A: Today’s hybrids are called parallel hybrids. They use a small electric motor for low speed driving, but switch to a regular gas engine for acceleration and faster speed driving with the electric motor providing enhancement, hence both engines work side by side or in parallel.
The Volt is a series vehicle meaning only the electric motor powers the car at all times, the gas engine is just a generator for making electricity once the battery is depleted. A little like the Prius, the engine does help spin the wheels after the battery is depleted. GM engineers chose to do this because it improved efficiency by 10 to 15 percent.
Q: What is the driving range of the Chevy Volt?
A: The car has been designed to drive from 25 to 50 miles on pure electricity stored in the battery from overnight home charging. The actual range will vary depending on temperature, terrain, and driving style.
After that the gas engine will kick in and allow the car to be driven an additional 344 miles on a full tank (9.3 gallons) of gas.
Q: How many miles per gallon will the Chevy Volt get?
A: A bit of a trick question. For the first 35 miles it will get infinite mpg, because no gas will be burned. When the generator starts, the car will get 37 mpg (35 mpg city/40 mpg highway) thereafter. One can calculate the average mpg per for any length drive starting with a full battery:
Total MPG = ~37 x miles/(miles-35). The official EPA fuel economy can be viewed here.
Q: When will the car be available?
A: The car is available to order in seven states: California, New York, Michigan, Texas, New Jersey, Washington DC area and Connecticut. Deliveries began in late 2010. After that the car will roll out to Chevrolet dealers nationwide over a 12 to 18 month period.
Q: What type of batteries will the Chevy Volt use?
A: The car is has an advanced battery pack which uses lithium-ion battery cells. This chemistry appears in cell phones and laptops. For automotive use the packs and cells are more powerful and safe.
Q: Is it a four or five-seater?
Q: How much will the car cost?
A: $41,000, $33,500 after a $7500 tax credit. It may be leased for $350 per month for 36 months, 12,000 miles.
Q: What is the cost of operation of the car?
A: With current average U.S. electric rates GM estimates it will cost roughly $1.50 per day to travel 35 miles. After that, considering mpg in the mid to high 30s, will depend on gasoline rates.
Q: Why did the car taking so long to make?
A: GM moved the car from concept to production in under 4 years.
Q: Who is making the Volt’s battery packs?
A: GM has chosen LG Chem of Korea to supply the lithium-ion cells. GM will assemble the packs themselves.
Q; Does the car use regenerative braking?
A: Yes. This means as the car is slowed, the kinetic or motion-based energy is recaptured as electricity stored in the battery.
Q: How is the car different than the EV-1?
A: The EV-1 had only an electric motor and older technology batteries, and had a 100 miles driving range. There was no onboard generator.
Q: How long will it take to recharge the Volt?
A: Up to 10 hours using a 120 volt (standard home) outlet, and about 4 hours if you have a 240 volt supply.
Q: Is GM recruiting test drivers?
A: No. A hand-picked consumer advisory board of 15 members, including Lyle Dennis who founded this site, will be given test cars for a 90 day period beginning October 25, 2010.
Q: Is there a waiting list for the car?
A: No official waiting list, but we have an unofficial want list here on GM-Volt.com. You will need to get on a local Chevrolet dealer’s waiting list.
Q: What type of electric motor does the Volt have?
A: A/C 3-phase
Q: Will the Volt have a solar panel on the roof?
A: Not on the first releases, though possibly be an option in later models.
Q: Will tall people fit in it?
A: Bob Boniface, chief of Volt design says the car is being designed to accommodate drivers from 5th percentile females up to 95th percentile height males.
Q: Are there any government incentives to purchase this car?
A: Buyers will be entitled to a $7500 tax credit for the first 200,000 vehicles sold.
To understand how the battery is charged by the on-board generator read this.
Here is a video of how the car operates: