2010 chevrolet volt 004Enlarge Photo
If you're one of the tens of thousands of green car fans excited about the launch of the 2011 Chevrolet Volt electric car, start making nice to your local Chevy dealer. Because the number of Volts built is going to be very, very low for at least its first year of production.
Despite excitement over the car's substantial electric torque and quiet operation, even if the 2011 Chevrolet Volt does make it into dealers in November 2010--as GM continues to promise--the numbers will be miniscule.
For 2010, just a few hundred
Industry trade journal Automotive News reports that GM will build only 200 to 400 Volts in November and December 2010, and no more than 10,000 during 2011, the car's first full year of production.
For 2012, GM has said Volt volume may rise as high as 60,000. That's roughly the maximum number of 16-kilowatt-hour battery packs that can be made from the output of one entire factory making the large lithium-ion cells used in modern electric cars.
By comparison, sales of the 2010 Toyota Prius are expected to be 135,000 to 140,000 units. In 2008, the single best year for Toyota Prius sales to date, more than 180,000 of the hybrid electric cars were sold.
Yesterday, General Motors previewed its next two years' worth of new cars for the press. Many lucky journalists got rides in actual pre-production Volts. Dozens of those "integration vehicles" are now being built, many of which will be destroyed in crash testing.
The 2011 Chevrolet Volt will be built in a dedicated facility in Hamtramck in Detroit. It shares elements of its understructure with the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze and upcoming Chevrolet Orlando 7-passenger crossover.
Extended-range electric vehicle
Its series hybrid powertrain, however, is unique to the Volt for the moment. The Volt is run solely on electric power, fed by the battery pack for its first 40 miles of travel. After that, a 1.4-liter gasoline engine powers a generator to provide electric power for another 250-plus miles.
GM yesterday released its calculation the Volt would achieve 230 miles per gallon in city use under proposed EPA regulations for extended-range electric vehicles. The EPA declined to confirm that calculation, saying the regulations were still preliminary.
2011 Chevrolet Volt mule - Volt powertrain in Cruze bodyEnlarge Photo
2011 Chevrolet Volt logoEnlarge Photo
[Automotive News (subscription required)]