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GM Specifies Volt Electric Range of 20 to 50 Miles Depending On Conditions

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On: Fri, Oct 1, 2010 at 11:21AM | By: Chris Weiss

GM Specifies Volt Electric Range of 20 to 50 Miles Depending On Conditions

For as long as we can remember, the Chevy Volt has been defined by a 40-mile electric range. Chevy quotes that range in official materials and it's been the most practical number that we've seen to denote how far the car will drive under battery power. Much more practical than the 230 mpg number the company once touted.

Of course, any such figure, even those prized mpg numbers from the EPA, are subject to a certain amount of variation based on how, when and where you drive. And the Volt is no different. GM recently clarified that Volt drivers can expect to get anywhere from 25 to 50 miles of all-electric driving depending upon a range of factors.

Spokesman Rob Peterson said last week that after further testing Chevy had come to the new conclusion. Certain predictable factors like use of air conditioning, heating, extreme weather, aggressive driving and hilly drives can limit the range of the Volt. The extra 300 miles provided by the range-extending gas engine was unaffected by the new announcement.

Despite these newly detailed caveats, GM is sticking with its 40-mile range for "most drivers under normal conditions." This is an important distinction, since Chevy has said that that figure gives the car enough electric range for 75 percent of U.S. drivers to get to work under pure battery power.

Overall, the news is not surprising. Any car--gas, hybrid or electric--will drive more or less efficiently depending upon conditions. And the range still puts Chevy's original figure toward the middle, with Chevy still sticking with the 40 mpg for most drivers, so it's a small asterisk on the Volt's spec sheet.

The Volt will launch in less than two months with sales beginning in California.The EPA is currently finalizing its own certified numbers for the Volt, which it will have to release before the car hits the market in November. The EPA's numbers will render Chevy's own estimates largely irrelevant, and will give buyers a more concrete idea as to how efficient the Volt will be.

The Volt's electric range is motivated by a 111 kW electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery. Once the battery is 70 percent drained, an 80-hp range extending gas motor kicks in to deliver the extra 300 miles of driving.

The Volt carries a base price of $41,000, but buyers will be able to take advantage of tax breaks up to $7,500.

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