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It's Official: 2011 Chevrolet Volt

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2011 Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt

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The 2011 Chevrolet Volt finally made its world debut this morning--and undoubtedly, it's the most important vehicle that General Motors has built in the past 50 years.

For a full preview, head over to our model-intro page for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, where you'll also find the latest photos.

Much is riding on the gas-electric Volt, which appeared as a concept at the 2007 Detroit auto show, and is being teased and shown off in tantalizing bits by GM's PR department as it heads to an on-sale date by 2010. General Motors has had experience before with electric vehicles and hybrids; it killed off its first attempt at a pure EV, the EV1, after a few years of leasing them to the general public. The outcry at the EV1's cancellation was strong enough to spark a film, "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

The Volt is, in a way, GM's response to that negative publicity and to the perception that the lead in green cars has been grabbed by Toyota. Toyota introduced the Prius to the U.S. as GM was killing off the EV1--and in its second generation, the Prius is one of the best-selling vehicles in America, and has helped spawn a whole fleet of Toyota and Lexus hybrids.

GM is now catching up with two-mode Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon hybrids, as well as less complex hybrid versions of the Saturn Aura and Chevrolet Malibu. But it's the Volt on which GM is pinning its future reputation for innovation.

The Volt, as seen in the first production pictures obtained by TheCarConnection.com and now in full production form, is a four-door sedan that shares many cues with mid-size sedans from other automakers (commentors on our site have compared it to everything from the Prius to the last-generation Chrysler Cirrus). While photos of the exterior surfaced--blocked somewhat by executives charged with its development--a photo floating around the interior purports to show its center console, free of disguise. That interior photo turned out to be accurate--and the interior itself is remarkably influenced by consumer electronics like Apple's iconic iPod.

The theory and practice underpinning the Volt isn't remarkably different from other hybrids, but for one detail: The Volt's engine only powers its batteries. Unlike the Prius, the Volt uses only its lithium-ion batteries and electric motor to power the vehicle. When the Volt uses up its estimated 40 miles of range on battery power alone, the gas engine kicks in to produce the power to regenerate battery power. GM said of the concept version, owners could recharge the vehicle through a household outlet, and estimated the Volt could attain as much as 150 mpg. GM now confirms the top speed of the Volt will be 100 mph, and that it can be quick-charged on a 240-volt line.

Along with the Volt, there are murmurings that GM will also use the same powertrain to produce hybrid vehicles for its Opel, Cadillac, and Pontiac brands. The Volt is likely to draw attention no matter who's elected president in the fall, but we've blogged about the Volt doing particularly well under a McCain administration, since the Arizona senator is in favor of renewed tax credits for all sorts of hybrid vehicles.

GM isn't alone in working on plug-in hybrids: Toyota is planning a plug-in Prius, and a range of pure EVs like the Tesla Roadster and the Fisker Karma are in the works, emerging from back channels of venture-capital funding and Silicon Valley engineers completely outside the usual Detroit norm.

Stay with TheCarConnection.com as we keep in touch with the Volt today, with more photos and details.

2011 Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt

Enlarge Photo

2011 Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt

Enlarge Photo

2011 Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt

Enlarge Photo

2011 Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt

Enlarge Photo
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Comments (10)
  1. When they make a list of companies that missed the boat when it comes to reaction of concept to production, the Volt will be number 1 on that list. They took the prius and the insight and through on a flashy "Camaro" grille and thought they could fool everyone. This car will flop and they will be asking themselves why.
     
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  2. Interior: Needs center armrest to be extended for comfort; get rid of cupholder eyesores on center console and relocate.
    Exterior: Looks awkward rather than smooth flowing.
     
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  3. What a slick looking car! I love how it is not only gas-electric, but it also comes with a lot of amenities you find in higher end cars. I think I will be the first in line for this one!
     
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  4. Thomas,
    I know that English is my second laguage, lad, but I couldn't understand your second sentence. That much hate for GM?
    I am not a 'buy American only' type of person. In fact, I've own Nissans and Hondas until recently, but I don't favor either company. I am more of a "My loyalty is to my money" type of person.
    My only disappointment with the Volt is the price. I was hoping it would be in the low 30s.
    Good luck GM.
    BrueLee (in San Fran - home of the import buyers)
     
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  5. Is that an updated Chrysler Sebring? The entire design misses the boat as compared to the show car. Great technology wrapped in a me-too, plain Jane wrapper.
     
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  6. Sounds like a great car,looks great to me but the price of $30-40 thousand is way out of our budget! There are a lot of people in West Virginia that can't afford one.How well does it preform on hills & mountains.Plus what kind of warrenty does it come with? Thanks GM but no one in here ca afford it.
    Helen Earley hlearley@yahoo.com
     
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  7. How the hell do they plan to achieve 150mpg? And under what conditions?
    That is more that two to three times better than a Prius!
    By only using the engine to charge the batteries (not connected to the driven wheels) the Volt powertrain will add the losses due to the generator+batteries+electric motor compared to driving the wheels directly.
    The only gain will be that engine can be run at a constant speed equivalent to its optimal efficiency.
     
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  8. Guys, think for a minute here... GM is introducing a car that is new in every respect. They don't have mass production to help them cut costs, so it's going to be expensive for the first few years. Then, competition and mass production will kick in, minus some inflation, and we'll see prices come back down a little more.
    When Toyota introduced the Prius originally, I'm sure their initial input costs, etc, were high and they lost a fair amount of money. But then people started to buy it, production costs went down along with price, and here we stand.
    Seems like there's a lot of "anti-GM" attitude out there, and frankly, it doesn't make sense. Give them a break - they've just introduced some of the finest electric technology since the Prius, and they've helped to develop a lithium-ion battery big enough to get 40 miles of range without overheating the car. That's a huge amount of technology here.
    New technology is expensive, but even if this thing gets 70 or 80mpg instead of the purported 150mpg, it will justify itself within 2 or 3 years for regular commuters.
    So get over your complaints and recognize the significant technological advancements you're seeing. We're in incredible times - high gas prices are driving all sorts of new technology to market. Shouldn't that excite us?
     
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  9. This is a hybrid with a very pricey battery. The comment about McCain is odd. We can all check the candidates web sites and discover that renewable/EV infrastructure is mostly advanced by the democractic side.
    I applaud GM for the volt but the low cost EV that will become the standard vehicle on the road will not have an gas engine, get 100+ miles on a charge, will charge quickly or swap batteries. The volt does not replace the EV1 or make up for it. It just proves that GM can belatedly compete with Toyota.
    EVs will be like computers when they become economically viable for the mass market. They will advance, and become very inexpensive, much faster than we can imagine because the underlying technology is much simpler and requires much less complex parts. Much promise hinges on advanced energy storage but beyond that vehicles should be less expensive to build, maintain and propel.
     
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  10. There will be plenty of people dropping $50K or more when it all said and done (including dealer's mark-up) Supplying West Virginia with these cheaply is probably the least of GM's concerns :-)
     
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