Last night we attended the Chevy VOLT press event here in NYC,
and laid our hands and eyes on GM’s $1.2 million dollar prototype,
(“Please don’t slam the doors…”).

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The vehicle looks sharp and rather sporty.  Not as dorky or funky as the Prius, but distinctive — in an intentionally more mainstream way.  Fact is, Chevy wants to sell a lot of these cars, and has designed them to utilize technology and materials that ultimately can be mass produced at an affordable price.  Market research has told GM that most folks, (80%), commute an average of 40 miles or less, each day.  This car is designed to run fully electric for that daily commute, meaning you don’t have to load any fossil fuel into that tank to get back and forth to work.  Your daily commute could cost you less than 85 cents a day in electricity, or save you up to $1,500 (depending on the price of a gallon), per year on gas.

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The VOLT is being referred to as an E-REV, or Extended Range Electric Vehicle, meaning the gas engine under the hood is actually an electric power generator. And this baby runs electric all the time, as opposed to a hybrid, which switches to a conventional gasoline engine for acceleration and high-speed driving.  The car is aerodynamically designed to reduce drag wherever possible to increase fuel efficiency.  Longer trips will require the gas generator to assist in creating electric power.  But unlike hybrids that have a noticeable change in feel and performance when they switch over to the gas engine, the VOLT stays electric with the smooth acceleration only an electric car can provide.

Some stats: The battery area runs beneath the center console, making the VOLT a four-seater. The car goes zero to sixty in a rather mundane 9 seconds and has a top end of 100 mph.  The VOLT’s lithium ion battery will have a ten-year, or 150,000 mile warranty.

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One consideration — you do need somewhere to plug this baby in.  It fully charges in just 3 hours with a 240 volt supply (think washing machine) and 6 hours at 120 volts.  Urban charging sites and infrastructure (if you don’t have a garage) should rapidly expand if these cars catch on.  Available to early adopters in sometime in 2010 for somewhere north of $30K – due in no small part to the limited initial production run.  a bunch of photos after the jump…

gm-volt.com

Related on altCon: Can the Chevy Volt save GM?

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