In the middle of the summer, General Motors made an ambitious announcement: by 2010 the production of the 2011 Chevrolet Volt would be increased from the planned 30,000 units per annum by 50 percent up to 45,000 vehicles a year. The motivation for the decision was credited to strong public interest in the vehicle, which is scheduled to go on sale later this year. So now, in the wake of the media’s flurry over whether or not the Volt is actually a hybrid as opposed to the “extended range electric vehicle” (ER-EV) that GM has been claiming for the last three years, it might surprise you to learn that the General has upped its production forecast yet again to a whopping 60,000 vehicles a year by 2012. Just to put that number in perspective, General Motors only expects to sell 10,000 to 15,000 Volts in 2011, so they really are expecting the $41,000 vehicle ($32,500 after tax credits) to be a hit with the public.
And regarding last week’s hoopla as to whether the Volt is actually an ER-EV as opposed to just another overly-hyped hybrid (speaking of which, stay tuned for our review of the Honda CRZ), GM has issued a statement in which they explain that the internal combustion engine (ICE) does in fact assist in moving the vehicle at high speeds, however, unlike hybrid vehicles, there is no direct mechanical connection (fixed gear ratio) between the ICE and the Volt’s drive wheels. This means that the engine cannot move the vehicle without first sending its energy through the electrical system. While some might consider this to be a technicality or a gray area, as far as I’m concerned the issue is settled: the Volt does what it has always claimed to do and it does it as an ER-EV. The only question left to be answered is: Will the public like it?
[The Detroit News, Chevrolet Voltage]