News: The car that's been more heavily hyped than LeBron James's summer free agency is here at last. Sort of.
Noteworthy: A trickle of Volts will start appearing in California; Washington, D.C.; Austin, Texas; and the New York City metropolitan area late this year, with sales expanding to other regions over the next twelve to eighteen months. The region-by-region rollout gives General Motors time to train dealers and work with the hundreds of local utility companies upon whom Volt customers will be relying for recharging.
Despite packing a 1.4-liter gasoline four-cylinder under the hood, the Volt drives like any other single-gear electric vehicle. The 150-hp motor is the only propulsion source connected to the front wheels, with the gasoline engine kicking on after roughly forty miles to spin a generator. It's still unclear what fuel-economy numbers will land on the Volt's window sticker, but we do know that the car won't earn the 230-mpg rating that GM widely publicized in mid-2009. The final EPA testing procedure will lower that number, but GM still anticipates a triple-digit city rating.
GM expects to build some 10,000 Volts at its Hamtramck, Michigan, facility by the end of 2011 and ramp up to 45,000 by 2012. GM is offering an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty on the lithium-ion battery but has its fingers crossed in hopes that few customers will need to use it. The potential cost of such battery replacements is the biggest threat to the vehicle's short-term profitability and long-term credibility.
On sale: December
BASE PRICE: $41,000 (excluding tax credit)
SPECS: Liquid-cooled AC motor, 150 hp, 273 lb-ft; lithium-ion battery, 16 kWh; 1.4L I-4 gasoline engine range extender; front-wheel drive
The Twitter Feed:
The Chevy Volt, a car so hyped that it has its own Twitter page, can't afford any first-year bugs. The gradual ramp-up is a smart move.