By Clifford Atiyeh, Boston.com staff
After months of fanfare and blogosphere rumors, General Motors this morning unveiled the production version of its Chevrolet Volt, the plug-in hybrid that will be heavily targeted toward commuters with its promised 40-mile battery range.
The extreme low-cut roof and large wheel sizes (see photos here) have been tamed for production, which GM said is scheduled for "late 2010" as a 2011 model. CEO and Chairman Rick Wagoner said in a recent interview with Charlie Rose that he expects Volt pricing to be "in the mid to high 30s." However, the company is betting heavily on unapproved government tax credits to offset the sticker price, similar to those offered for hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles.
While not a plug-in hybrid in the traditional sense, where the gasoline engine is used as the primary power source, the Volt drives its front wheels on electricity. The gasoline engine, which GM has not specified, instead works as a generator to power the electric motors. In total, the Volt produces 150 horsepower and 273 lb. ft. of torque.
Striking features abound: an all-black roof, solid front grill, and in the interior, a bright white center stack and customizable LCD displays.
According to GM, the Volt's lithium-ion battery can be charged in eight hours on a 120-volt plug. Using a 240-volt outlet cuts the time down to less than three hours. The claimed 40-mile all-electric range is based on the EPA city cycle, but GM has not said how power accessories and components like air conditioning will affect it.
Citing a 10-cent per kilowatt electric utility rate, GM estimates Volt owners will spend about 80 cents per day recharging without filling up at a gas station.
What do you think of the Volt? Would you drive one? Would you buy one? Let us know in our comments section.