As Chevrolet releases these new teaser images of its 2010 Volt electric family car, Autocar has learned that parent company General Motors is deep in talks with the UK Government over plans to build European versions of the Volt in Britain.
The underused Vauxhall plant at Ellesmere Port on Merseyside is believed to be the front-running European factory for Volt production. The plant currently produces the Astra, but volumes were scaled back last year.
Carl-Peter Forster, GM’s European boss, has gone on record as saying his company is “seriously considering” bringing Volt production to Britain, and he met with Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the British Motor show last month, where the future of Ellesmere Port was discussed.
The Government has also recently announced plans to introduce electric car infrastructure - including roadside recharging points - and has committed £90 million to backing electric car and hybrid projects.
Brown wants Britain to adopt low-emission alternative fuel cars on a larger scale by 2020. He told the FT that the rising price of oil presented "a once in a generation opportunity… for technological innovation.”
Meanwhile, bosses at GM plan to introduce the Volt to Europe in 2011, one year after it goes on sale in the 'States. It makes little financial or environmental sense to import the Volt to the EU from America, largely due to the difficulty and expense of shipping its lithium-ion batteries.
When the Volt does come to the UK, GM sources suggest that it will cost around £20,000 - similar money to the third-generation Toyota Prius that it will compete against. An annual electricity 'fuel' bill for those using its plug-in potential to travel under 50 miles a day would be about £150 at current prices.
The Volt's powertrain consists of an electric motor and batteries, which can be recharged either from the mains or by a small capacity engine that runs at a constant speed and acts as a generator.