Fritz Henderson, GM's president and CEO, addresses.
(photo credit: AP)
General Motors Corp. said Tuesday its Chevrolet Volt
rechargeable electric car should get 230 miles per gallon (98
kilometers per liter) of gasoline in city driving, more than four times
the current champion, the Toyota Prius.
The Volt is powered by an electric motor and a
battery pack with a 40-mile (65-km.) range. After that, a small
internal combustion engine kicks in to generate electricity for a total
range of 300 miles (480 km.). The battery pack can be recharged from a
standard home outlet.
came up with the 230-mile (370-km.) figure in early tests
using draft guidelines from the US Environmental Protection Agency
calculating the mileage of extended-range electric vehicles, said Tony
Posawatz, GM's vehicle-line director for the Volt.
If the figure is confirmed by the EPA
, which does the tests for
the mileage posted on new-car door stickers, the Volt would be the
first car to exceed triple-digit gas mileage, Posawatz said.
GM has produced about 30 Volts
so far and is making
10 a week, CEO Fritz Henderson
said during a presentation of the
vehicle at the company's technical center in the Detroit
Henderson said charging the volt would cost about 40 cents a day.
"The EPA labels can and will be a game-changer for us," he said.
Most automakers are working on similar plug-in designs, but GM
could be the leader with the Volt, which is due in showrooms late in
Toyota's Prius, the most efficient car now sold in the US, gets
48 mpg (20 kpl) of gas. It is a gas-electric hybrid that runs on a
small internal-combustion engine assisted by a battery-powered electric
motor to save gasoline.
The first-generation Volt is expected to cost near $40,000,
making it cost-prohibitive to many people even if gasoline returns to
$4 per gallon. The price is expected to drop with future generations of
the Volt, but GM has said government tax credits and the savings on
fuel could make it cost-effective, especially at 230 mpg (98 kpl).
"We get a little cautious about trying to forecast what fuel
prices will do," Posawatz said. "We achieved this number, and if fuel
prices go up, it certainly does get more attractive even in the
near-term generation," he said.
Figures for the Volt's highway and combined city/highway
mileage have not yet been calculated, Posawatz said. The combined
mileage will be in the triple digits as well, he said, but both
combined and highway will be worse than city because the engine runs
more on longer highway trips.
The EPA guidelines, developed with input from automakers,
figure that cars like the Volt will travel more on straight electricity
in the city than on the highway. If a person drives the Volt less than
40 miles (65 km.), in theory they could go without using gasoline.
The mileage figure could vary as the guidelines are refined and
the Volt gets further along in the manufacturing process, Posawatz