No doubt about it: even priced at a relatively modest $30,000, the Chevrolet Volt, due for release as a 2011 model, may be too expensive for some consumers, regardless of how eager they are to engage in more eco-friendly driving.
Almost half of the cost of the vehicle will be its lithium-ion battery pack, and although the Volt boasts a range of 40 miles on one charge, a study released today by Carnegie Mellon University suggests that vehicles that are powered by lithium-ion batteries (such as the Volt, which was not mentioned by name in the study) may not be as appealing to drivers simply looking to save money at the pump as the less expensive but fewer-miles-on-pure-battery Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid (also not mentioned by name in the study).
The study concludes that the new battery technology, plus the added recharging costs, add up to more than what a typical consumer would spend on recharging and refueling (with traditional fossil fuels) a plug-in hybrid. Toyota’s philosophy seems to match the study findings. In a recent interview, unrelated to the Carnegie Mellon report, Bill Reinert, U.S. national manager for advanced technology for Toyota was quoted as saying, “We believe that if you have a smaller battery charged more frequently, you can run on electricity more of the time, then your carbon emissions are going to be lower overall.”