It was a $500 million bet that General Motors could become a leader in technology and environmentalism.
This was championed by several of the automaker’s key executives, notably Bob Lutz, head of product development, and Jim Queen, global engineering chief. They didn’t want to call it a hybrid for fear of being compared to Toyota’s boasted Prius.
Instead, GM called the Chevrolet Volt a “long-range electric car.”
When it debuted as a concept at the 2007 Detroit Motor Show, popular mechanics Volt’s technical prowess said it defined “a unique new category, a combination of EV and hybrid that defies conventional definitions.”
The product version is “Series Hybrid”. The wheels are turned by an electric motor powered by a battery pack. The battery pack was charged by a small petrol engine not connected to the wheels. Its sole role was to charge the battery.
There were actually two electric motors. One was primarily to propel the wheels and the other to generate electricity from the petrol engine.
Like other gas-electric hybrids, the Volt could run with gas in the tank.
GM began manufacturing the Volt in 2010, with deliveries beginning in December 2010 in California, Texas, Washington DC and New York.
Car and Driver said that beyond its “impressive powertrain”, the Volt “drives remarkably well, with reassuringly stable suspension”.
The Volt was named the 2011 North American Car of the Year in Detroit on January 10, 2011, ahead of two other finalists, the Nissan Leaf and the Hyundai Sonata.
It is the third time Chevrolet has won the North American Car of the Year award and the fourth time for General Motors.
“Since development began, we believed the Bolt had the potential to transform the automotive industry,” GM CEO Dan Akerson said at the time. It was also the first electric vehicle to win the North American Car of the Year award.
GM increased production of the Volt US from 30,000 to 45,000 in 2012, citing strong public interest.
The car also led GM down a decade-long electrification path, resulting in a battery-powered future that heralded a future of driver-assisted, emission-free vehicles that consumers could share rather than own. culminating in the Chevy Bolt, a car from
With this award, GM wanted to convince customers that the Volt represented a breakthrough in offering the benefits of electric drive.
It has the potential to operate under a wide variety of weather and driving conditions with little worry of getting stuck due to a draining battery. Based on EPA estimates, the Volt had a maximum mileage of 379 miles. For the first 35 miles, the Volt used a full charge of power stored in the 16 kWh Lithium-Ion battery to run clean on gasoline and emissions. When the Volt’s battery ran low, the petrol-powered engine/generator kicked in seamlessly, extending the range on a full tank by an additional 344 miles.
Decommissioned as part of a major corporate restructuring in March 2019.
Volt sales in the US peaked at 24,739 units in 2016, with a total of 157,127 units sold.