Even as General Motors is caught in a desperate bid to secure loans in Washington, the Detroit based manufacturer is keen to continue development of a range of plug-in hybrid vehicles, focusing primarily on the Volt. Bob Lutz recently spent some time in the latest development vehicle and felt like sharing his thoughts and perceptions with the public.

The plug-in technology used in the Volt will not be restricted to the small car segment, or even the Chevrolet brand, as GM is keen to capitalize on its investment in the technology by implementing it in a number of vehicles that span its brand range.

But its first implementation will be the Volt, and both that car and the Chevrolet Cruze will be built around the company's new global compact platform. Previous development mules had been built around the last-generation Malibu, but now the Volt is moving forward on the global architecture. Lutz noted that the platform itself is remarkable, feeling, as he put it on the GM Fastlane blog, "several price classes higher than what it actually is" thanks to its quietness and refined ride.

During a 30mi (48km) jaunt in the new car, Lutz got to feel the combustion engine kick and described it as "quiet and non-jarring." The algorithm that controls the engine's start-up and shut-down during low-speed driving was apparently tuned a bit aggressively for Lutz's taste, but the head of GM's product development assures us that it will be worked out as part of the ongoing process of bringing the Volt to market by 2010.

A GM spokesman signaled that while GM was keeping tight lipped about any other possible plug-in hybrids for now, the plug-in hybrid technology itself is "not a niche product" and that "the architecture is flexible", reports Reuters.

Earlier we reported on Cadillac considering a plug-in hybrid, and the fact that the Chevrolet Volt will be sold as an Opel car in Europe and now sources close to GM are saying that the plug-in hybrid for Cadillac is in fact under development, along with other Opel plug-in models and even a possible plug-in hybrid SUV for the Chevrolet brand.

Currently, the Volt is scheduled for release in 2010, but any other GM branded plug-ins would likely come to market around 2012 or later.