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Chevrolet Volt - Paris motor show news - 2008

Chevrolet can’t usually raise much of a
flicker in the capital of the cheese-eating surrender monkeys, but at the Paris
show there was always a crowd around the Chevy Volt.

The Volt, debuting in Paris and on sale in
the States from 2010, is a hybrid. But not as we know it. They’re calling it
the extended-range electric vehicle.

There is an engine, a new 1.4-litre petrol
four, mounted at the front as per usual. But it never drives the wheels
directly. That’s what makes the Volt so different from the Toyota or Honda
hybrids, including the Insight that’s also here at Paris.

In fact, the Volt is designed to give up
to 40 miles on battery power alone, with full 150bhp electricity performance
 available.

This, says GM after lots of study, is
enough for the habitual daily mileage of the vast majority of drivers - 12,000
miles a year at 40 miles a day, six days a week.

So they’ll get home at night and plug in
to cheap household electricity, getting that 40 miles for under a quid. They
might go weeks or months never needing the engine.

When it does spark up, the engine simply
charges up the battery - although only partially, as GM wants the car always to
arrive at its destination in a depleted state so you can use the mains to re-charge.
Even with the engine cycling to keep the batteries at constant charge, the Volt
will do about 60mpg.

And while the engine is running, you’ll
still have full acceleration from the 150bhp electric plant.

Disappointed that this doesn’t look have
the electric-Camaro looks of the original Volt show car? C’mon, it’s still a
whole lot better than a Prius. The shape has morphed from show to production to
make space for four adults, and the corners had to be rounded off because every
scintilla of drag knocked back the electric range.

It’s only a four-seater because the upper
body tapers backwards to cut drag, and because there’s a big battery box
running along the car like an overgrown tranmission tunnel. The lithium ion
pack weighs 180kg, taking the whole Volt to 1800kg.

By 2012 or so, there will be a Vauxhall/Opel
version for Europe with unique styling. The Volt uses the platform of the next
Astra, which gives you an idea of its size.

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