GM shows off electric Chevy Volt

February 10, 2009 5:53:56 PM PST
General motors says it's cutting another 10,000 jobs. G.M., like other carmakers, is struggling to survive the recession, and a lot is going to be at stake when the Chicago Auto Show opens up later this week. The General Motors vice president is in Chicago for the auto show and also for the preview of the Chevy Volt. He acknowledged that auto industry is certainly in a crisis but he said, "We will make it, we are resilient."

A big part of that plan is the Chevy Volt. Parked on the ballroom floor, it looks like a sleek new car - not that much different than most of the other cars on display at the auto show. But the hopes and expectations of an entire company and an industry in crisis, to a certain extent, are riding on the Chevy Volt. It's G.M.'s first extended range electric vehicle, due out late next year.

"It wasn't an easy day today back in Detroit. But products like the Volt, they give us so much hope and so much confidence going forward," said Ed Peper, General Motors vice president.

The handsome-looking vehicle can go 40 miles on a single electric charge sand has a backup motor that will take it several more hundred miles, if necessary. G.M. boasts that drivers sacrifice nothing in terms of performance or luxury with the electric car.

"People want advanced technology, but they're not willing to sacrifice anything, including quality," said Frank Weber, Chevrolet Volt project manager.

Luxury includes the sound system, designed by Bose, to be lighter and more efficient than the speakers they put in current models.

"Any watt that you're using together power the sounds system is a watt that you can't use to move the car further down the road. So energy savings is critically important," John Pelliccio, Bose Sound Systems.

Early reviews of the car are good. Motor Trend magazine says G.M. still has a lot of work to do to have the volt in production by next fall.

"Until these things make it to the street, nobody is going to believe them. But they are betting a lot on it, no question," said Todd Lassa, Motor Trend magazine. "General Motors insists it's going to have this car available to customers by the end of 2010."

And among the work that they have to do, they have to talk to a lot of the cities about infrastructure issues, docking stations, electrical places to plug in the cars. They say that cities have been pretty receptive to that so far.

General Motors has not put out an estimated price for the new car at this point. However, Motor Trend magazine is estimating it will probably come out somewhere around $40,000 per car.