GM is targeting a 2010 launch date for its new Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid vehicle and despite the hype surround its development only 10,000 examples are expected to be built in its first year of production. Depending on its success, GM will lift production to 60,000 units in the following year once all early-build issues are sorted.

The information was revealed by GM vice chairman Bob Lutz, who also confirmed to the Detroit Free Press that the Volt will be on sale in November 2010 with a price tag of $40,000. This is in stark contrast to previous claims by GM CEO Rick Wagoner that the Volt could be priced less than $30,000 and on sale at the start of 2010. Not only are there increases in raw material and labor costs to deal with, but engineers have also been forced to redesign most of the car’s electrical components.

In a regular car, electric components such as the windscreen wipers or stereo would simply draw power from the engine’s alternator. However, with the Volt, these components would draw significant power from the battery when running on electric power alone and thus have to redesigned to use less energy.

GM has called the Volt its top product priority, as it hopes to use the vehicle to outdo Toyota in reputation for automotive technology leadership. Toyota also expects to have its first plug-in hybrid vehicle on the market in 2010 and will be in direct competition with the Volt.

Both vehicles will feature a low capacity petrol engine used to charge an array of lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are used to power an electric motor that drives the wheels and can be charged by a regular household power outlet. When fully charged, GM expects the Volt to be able to drive up to 40 miles (64km) on electric power alone or up to 400 miles (640km) when combined with the internal combustion engine.