GM's Bob Lutz: Weather will impact Chevy Volt's electric range
Jack Frost is no friend of the Chevrolet Volt.
Nathan Bomey | AnnArbor.com
The Volt, General Motors’ much-anticipated extended-range electric vehicle to be released in November, won’t be able to travel the promised 40 miles on electricity in colder temperatures.
“The range can vary on any given day depending on temperature, terrain, driving conditions and so forth -- especially temperature,” GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz told reporters this morning at the 2010 Detroit auto show. “Many people don’t understand that. The distance you can go in an electric vehicle varies hugely with the outside temperature, including with the Volt.”
GM has said the Chevy Volt will be able to travel an average of 40 miles on a single charge of electricity. After that, a gas engine kicks in and recharges the battery, which always drives the wheels.
But the battery’s charge won’t last quite as long in cold weather.
“If on a standard day you see 40 miles with the Volt, on a cold day where it’s right around 32 degrees, you’re going to see 28 or 30 miles,” Lutz said.
Nonetheless, GM is confident that the Volt is the right strategy. GM has invested more than $1 billion in the vehicle.
The automaker expects to produce 10,000 to 11,000 Volts in 2011 before ramping up to full production in 2012 with 50,000 to 60,000, Lutz said.
The Associated Press reported yesterday that GM would build a pure
electric version of the Volt by simply taking the internal combustion
engine out of the extended-range version.
Nathan Bomey | AnnArbor.com
But Lutz today reiterated
that he believes extended-range electric vehicles are more viable
because drivers won't have to worry that their lithium-ion batteries will run out of
"I frankly foresee a limited future for pure electric vehicles because the range is limited," Lutz said.
Volt engineers are still working feverishly to reduce the cost of the vehicle’s 400-pound lithium-ion battery pack, improve its durability and ensure its reliability. The Volt is likely to cost close to $40,000, although that will be offset by a $7,500 federal tax credit.
“The Volt has to be absolutely perfect and it’s got to perform exactly as advertised when it comes out,” Lutz said.
The vehicle is on track to hit showrooms in November 2010 - though Lutz said the program can’t be rushed:
We’re going to make a max effort to get some out into consumers’ hands in November. But it won’t be a significant quantity and it will be a quantity where we’re able to watch them very closely.
Because hey, this is a cake where the recipe calls for 45 minutes in a 375 (degree) oven. And you can’t just say, ‘We’re not going to do 45 minutes, we’re going to do 35 minutes.’ If you try to speed up a program like that, you’re doing it at your own peril. It means the cake is going to be half-baked. And we’re definitely not going to risk a half-baked cake with the Chevy Volt.