Everybody knows that hybrid cars are better for the environment than convention petrol and diesel models, in stop-start traffic at least, but with a new wave of plug-in hybrids set to hit the market in a couple of years GM is out and about promoting the benefits of its new technology. Speaking at the recent Hybrid Vehicle Technologies 2008 Symposium, the director of GM Hybrid Powertrain Engineering Pete Savagian touted many of the benefits of the upcoming plug-in hybrid.

Some of the highlights of his speech included tidbits like the fact that anyone driving a Volt less than 75 miles a day would use one-fifth the fuel compared to drivers using a conventionally powered vehicle, or the fact that most Volt owners would never need to use a single drop of fuel on their daily travels. Another area where the Volt would significantly help the environment is during engine starts. "Initial engine starts are a large factor in the total emissions produced by a vehicle," Savagian explained, adding that the Volt would have 70% fewer starts than a convention vehicle.

Savagian’s claims are based on the real-world driving habits of more than 600 motorists in Los Angeles, information which was collected from a Regional Travel Survey conducted by the Southern California Association of Governments. "What we learned was pretty telling," Savagian said. "The potential of the E-Flex technology to improve everyday driving is real." One thing the GM exec didn’t discuss is when the Volt will eventually be released and how many shortcuts engineers are making to get it to production before Toyota releases its rival plug-in hybrid.