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Chevrolet Volt concept news - Detroit show: Chevrolet Volt Concept - 2007

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Brace yourself for a shock (shock… Volt… do you see what we did there?). What you see before you is a truly futuristic concept: an electric vehicle that uses a gas engine to create additional power. The shocking bit? It’s American.

Yes, this is the Chevrolet Volt, and it’s a clever bit of kit.

To get around the problem of the short range of electric vehicles, in addition to a lithium-ion battery, the Volt also boasts a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine. This spins at a constant speed to create electricity and replenish the battery.

Chevy reckons that, with timely recharges, the Volt will return about 150mpg. Running on bio-ethanol, this figure jumps to 525 miles per gallon of petrol.

Even without charging, the Volt’s range is a giant 640 miles. Chevy says the technology can also be modified to run on hydrogen power, diesel or 100 per cent ethanol.

Experts predict that the technology needed to move the Volt into mass production could be ready by 2010.

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