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Chevrolet Volt concept

Sun, 07 Jan 2007

By Ben Oliver

Motor Shows

07 January 2007 03:24

Don't tell me – it's another me-too green car concept that's too expensive and complex to ever be made…

Not quite. For a start it's an entirely new concept, and important enough to be General Motor's biggest news from the Detroit show. An electric motor drives the front wheels. You can plug the car into the mains and charge the battery in three hours, giving you a range of at least 40 miles, which covers the needs of 78 per cent of drivers. But if you need to go further there's a 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder engine and a 45-litre tank. If the battery gets low, the engine cuts in. But it doesn't drive the wheels; instead, it acts as a generator and charges the battery. This allows the engine to be placed anywhere in the car, makes a gearbox unnecessary and means the front wheels can be pushed all the way forward as only the compact electric motor needs to sit between them. This produces the striking look of the Volt concept car which GM is using to introduce this new E-Flex system.

With a full charge and a full tank, you'll be able to cover 640 miles. If you drive 60 miles between charges you'll get 150mpg, as the petrol engine will only cut in for the last third of your trip. GM reckons that if you drive on electric power alone, you'll save 1900 litres of fuel each year and 4.4 tonnes of CO2. Drive 60 miles a day, and you'll save 2200 litres. And the Volt is no eco-dullard: with 160bhp it will hit almost 120mph and gets to 60mpg in 8.5 seconds, and the AC motor delivers all its 236lb ft of torque instantly.

By Ben Oliver