Last week we showed you some leaked photos of the production Chevy Volt, with the good bits mostly obscured by GM execs. Yesterday, the Volt had its official coming out party, with plenty of pictures, video, and a meaty press release. Pretty much the very first paragraph of the press release is designed to explain the, shall we say, subdued production version of the Volt relative to the original concept: Because aerodynamics plays a key role in maximizing driving range, GM designers created an aerodynamically efficient design for the production vehicle. Many of the design cues from the concept vehicle endure in the production Volt, including the closed front grille, athletic stance, rear design graphics, outside rearview mirrors and more. Besides the nebulous “athletic stance,” those are all basically frills. But again, GM has a point: in this case, less exciting design = more MPG.
The big draw of the Volt is arguably the 40 miles of gas-free driving you get after charging the car’s 220 internal lithium battery cells. “The Chevrolet Volt can be plugged either into a standard household 120v outlet or use 240v for charging. The vehicle’s intelligent charging technology enables the Volt’s battery to be charged in less than three hours on a 240v outlet or about eight hours on a 120v outlet. Charge times are reduced if the battery has not been fully depleted. At a cost of about 80 cents per day (10 cents per kWh) for a full charge that will deliver up to 40 miles of electric driving, GM estimates that the Volt will be less expensive to recharge than purchasing a cup of your favorite coffee. Charging the Volt about once daily will consume less electric energy annually than the average home’s refrigerator and freezer units.” That’s not only incredibly cheap (an average driver will save about $1500 per year), but you can get a warm fuzzy feeling from charging the Volt with renewable energy. And how does the Volt handle on batts? “The Volt’s electric drive unit delivers the equivalent of 150 horsepower, 273 lb-ft. (370 Nm) of instant torque, and a top speed of 100 miles per hour. The lack of engine noise, combined with special sound-deadening materials, make the Chevrolet Volt an extremely quiet vehicle to drive.”
The interior is very iPody (although you can get it in metallic black or green in addition to white), with touch sensitive controls and two user configurable 7″ LCD screens. Here’s a walkthrough from interior designer Tim Greig:
Oh, and of course, price and availability… Production is scheduled to begin late 2010 for models in the United States. Pricing has not been announced. Call me jaded, but my guess is that we’re going to see another price hike or two before the Volt finally hits the showroom floor.