General Motors has taken the wraps off the most radical car in its recent history, the Chevrolet Volt, as part of the firm’s centenary celebrations today in Detroit. The Volt is the first mass-produced car that isn’t driven by an internal combustion engine. The front wheels are driven by a 148bhp electric motor, with 273 lb ft, powered by lithium-ion battery pack. The battery gives a range of 40 miles on electric power only. Beyond that, a small petrol engine (that can also run on ethanol) charges the battery but is not directly connected to the wheels.
The Volt can also be charged by plugging in to the mains supply, a 240v supply will recharge the battery in three hours, increasing to eight hours for North America’s 110v supply. GM maintains that the average American commuters’ daily journey is under 40 miles, so the Volt’s range will be adequate fro most customers. Top speed is 100mph. Underneath the Volt is GM’s new Delta platform, just launched in the new Chevrolet Cruze, which will also underpin the next Astra. The Volt uses a torsion beam rear suspension. It goes on sale in the US in 2010, and should arrive in Europe in 2011.Vauxhall is lobbying GM to build a Vauxhall-badged version of the car for the UK market.