Europe's press were given their first chance to see the Chevrolet Volt when it was unveiled at the Paris show. GM’s revolutionary range extender car breaks the mechanical link between the internal combustion engine and the wheels for the first time.
More details have also emerged about the Volt’s mechanical make-up. It will use a new 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine (which will also be used in the new Chevrolet Cruze) that’s been detuned to produce just 53bhp.
That’s enough, at 1100rpm, to power the Volt’s electric motor although the engine doesn’t recharge the battery. Instead it kicks in to generate power when the battery’s charge drops to below two thirds full; the battery then drives the motor.
The economy and emissions figures are exceptional, unrivalled by any mass-produced car on sale today or due on sale in the next 18 months. GM claims around 176mpg and 40g/km of CO2
The car’s exterior, which has attracted criticism for looking too conventional and not being attractive enough, has been designed to be as aerodynamically efficient as possible and still accommodate four people plus luggage. The door mirrors, for instance, are straight off the Volt concept car, but greatly cut drag.
Inside the Volt is a four-seater, because the lithium-ion battery pack divides the rear of the cabin, creating the effect of a transmission tunnel.