Stepping It Up: The 2007 Chevy Volt

Hybrids are quickly becoming a dime-a-dozen, and it was just a matter of time before one of the major car companies had to step up and redefine the new direction of vehicular transport. Chevy could well be that company. They haven’t just produced another hybrid; they have created the concept for a plug-in electric car, the 2007 Volt. If everything goes according to the plan Chevy has at this point, the Volt will get 150 miles per gallon (I’ll explain the gallon part). Right now, the Volt only exists as a concept, but Chevy hopes to go ahead with production within the next few years.

The Volt is driven by battery power, a battery that can be recharged by plugging the Volt in. The battery lasts up to about 40 miles, but after that, though, you don’t sputter to a halt, don’t worry. That’s where the gallons come in. A 3-cylinder engine is there to charge the batter again. The engine cannot power the driveshaft, it only recharges the battery when it gets below 30%, shutting off again when the battery reaches 80%. While the engine is running, the Volt should get around 50 miles per gallon.

The 2007 Chevy Volt is designed for people who have a reasonably short commute to work. If your daily travel is under 40 miles, then there should be no reason for you to use any gasoline at all. Even if you do have to go more than 40 miles, the savings on gas would be extraordinary. But Chevy wasn’t simply satisfied with using gasoline. The Chevy Volt is also designed to run on E85, though it could conceivably have just about any power source installed to recharge the battery. In concept, the Chevy Volt is the perfect environmental, fuel efficient vehicle.

Unfortunately, there are some problems. First of all, the 400lb lithium battery that would be used to power the Volt doesn’t exist yet. Chevy designers are betting that within the next 5-10 years, batteries will have reached a point where the Volt can be made. However, it should also be substantially more expensive than other hybrids, perhaps as much as $12,000 more than a comparable regular gasoline car. The idea is the important part, however, and Chevy has come up with a potentially revolutionary concept. I’ll be on the lookout for a production model over the next few years.

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