Revealed: 2011 Chevy Volt Plug-In Electric


Today, we get our first official look at GM’s upcoming plug-in electric hybrid, the Chevy Volt. The four-door hatchback looks remarkably different from the sleek concept vehicle that debuted at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show. GM says the production Volt needed to be more aerodynamic to achieve the efficiency the company was aiming for.

As previously announced by GM, the Volt will have a range of 40 miles on a full-electric charge. Then a gasoline/E85 capable engine will kick on to recharge the battery. All power to the drive system is electric, so the gasoline engine works like a generator.

GM did unveil some specifications today. The electric motor will achieve the power equivalent of 150 horsepower (a Toyota Prius puts out 110 hp) and a maximum speed of 100 mph. We also learned that there will be 220 lithium-ion battery cells powering this unit.


The Volt can be fully recharged in eight hours via a standard household 120-volt outlet. If you have a 240-volt outlet, the charge takes just three hours. Obviously, the charge time is shorter if the battery is not fully depleted.

When the gasoline engine is not charging the motor, Chevy says the Volt will be exceptionally quiet on the road. The company also added sound deadening materials to keep road and wind noise at a minimum.

GM says it will cost 2 cents per mile to drive the Volt less than 40 miles per day versus 12 cents per mile for gasoline at a price of $3.60. The national average for gasoline is actually higher than that at $3.85. For people who drive 40 miles a day and put on 15,000 miles per year in the Volt, they’ll save $1,500 a year in gasoline costs. We checked into it: You’d have to drive 41 miles a day for a year (365 days) to hit 15,000 miles, but that’s just splitting hairs.

Sizewise, the Volt is 177 inches long or 2 inches longer than a Prius. It’s also more than 2 inches wider than a Prius. However, the electric batteries eat up cargo space. The Volt has just 10.6 cubic feet of cargo space versus the Prius’ 14.4 cubic feet. Interior volume figures were not released. 

But not all is rosy. While the Volt is ready to start prepping for production, GM said in its press release that its future is “subject to GM successfully negotiating satisfactory government incentives.” Basically, the Volt’s existence hinges on government help for emerging technology. We’re not sure if that means getting a new tax incentive on the books or if it has to do with the $25 billion in low interest loans that U.S. automakers are trying to push through Congress over the next two weeks.

More photos are below, and we’ll have reactions from our staff on the car’s looks later today.

More Chevy Volt News

By David Thomas | September 16, 2008 | Comments (24)
Tags: Chevrolet



The interior's center console looks like that white plastic toy you get for your nephew, at Toy's R Us. The Prius will continue to dominate the Hybrid market. The Volt looks like a joke and at 40K it' almost laughably sad.

Having been in a Prius many times, this looks like a step up from the current model. We'll have to see what Toyota does to the next generation one.

Do you think it's a failure if it gets a $5000 tax credit?

I think it will sell out of its probably limited production run, regardless.

Although I'm surprised the materials are so different in it. You'd think they'd want to save money on it with analog gauges, bin part center stack etc. Unless this is what all GM center stacks will look like for 2011.


I agree... I almost feel bad for the engineers who have been slaving away on this. Why doesn't GM have anyone who understands industrial design? No matter how much they charge, they always make their interiors look cheap.
The next-gen Prius comes out around June and will get about 52mpg (real-world) using just NiMH batteries. Then in 2010 Toyota will be producing Li-ion batteries at full volume, which almost certainly means that the 2011 Prius will get a new battery pack and will probably jump to 57mpg. So at that point people will be choosing between a car they understand that looks plenty futuristic and gets 57mpg for $25K, vs the Volt at $40K. No contest. And if that weren't bad enough, the plug-in Prius will be out by late 2011 or early 2012 to directly compete with the Volt. I just don't think GM stands a chance. Which means they will in fact go under unless there's enough in the pot for the taxpayers to fund another bailout. In fact the Volt won't even get off the ground unless there's a "bailout" in the form of heavy government incentives.


There's what the interior of the 2010 Prius looks like. Basically, it looks like the interior of a very well designed $24-25K car.

Not quite sure how they won't stand a chance. First off, people have been clamoring for this car for years. So GM builds it. Now those people won't want it?

The numbers they make will sell. If the govt gives a $5000 tax credit (I think the biggest previously was around $3,000, but this will be more efficient) for a car that never has to run on gas?

If gas is above $4 a gallon by 2010 I think it will be seen as the right car for the time.

With the market changing there will be plenty of room for a 50+ mpg Prius and a Volt.

And again, I don't know if you've been in recent Toyota's and recent GMs, but there are many GMs I'd take over Toyota in terms of interior quality.

Hadn't seen that spy shot but do see the Corolla door handles. The new Corolla was thoroughly disappointing in interior quality IMHO. Until I see both in the flesh it is wrong to judge though.


They've implemented one of the things I really don't like about the Prius: the lack of analog gauges. I hope there will at least be some kind of graphical instrumentation and not just numbers on a slick background. It looks like GM might be using the Toyota's strategy for the Prius in disguising an interior that's fairly cheap as something funky and futuristic.

I don't think it's fair to compare it to the Prius. They're quite different types of cars, and obviously the Volt won't sell as well since it's much more expensive (and production will be very limited).

Why would Li-ion batteries give a 5mpg improvement. I don't think it would improve mpg at all.

Colin B

Look at the semi-translucent door trim (like in the Saab 9-4x). That weird shifter,a LCD instrument cluster?

doc3osh is right, judging from the Prius spy pics, the Toyota's interior/exterior match its expected $23k price.

The Volt after supposed tax rebates (which the Prius doesn't get anymore) should cost under $30k. I don't know of any vehicle that has such a well crafted and detailed exterior/interior for under $40k. Here is a example of getting more than you paid for.

Well done GM!


Lil'Tom, from what I understand Li-ion batteries are lighter (which is a bonus for efficiency) and pack more power (meaning more electric only mode). It should improve city mileage by be able to run on batteries more often, and improve hwy because it's lighter.


just a prediction... this car will fail, gm cant pull this off, and gm will kill this project within 2 years

I think the design is adequate, if not groundbreaking. And it seems like the specs are there. I only worry about the constantly rising price. Hopefully it levels off at a reasonable price soon.


Just give them to some liberal celebrities in Hollywood and it will become the next "status car", like the Prius is now. Sad but true.

It is a nice commuter car, not for long drives but it is a start.


Since when does the Volt not run on gas?

Semantics aside, it gets 40 miles on a charge and then uses a gasoline engine to charge the batteries.

Yes the wheels turn only through electricity but the thing still burns gas once you travel more than 40 miles.


Kudos to GM. Great car.


Another thing we don't know is what the real world (in traffic, on highway) range will be. What if it's only 30 (or quite possibly less) real world miles? Then what would the real world benefits of the Volt be over the Prius or Insight? When the Volt charges the battery (using it's gas engine) it only get 48 mpg. Not exactly Prius killer mileage.


Well, Li-ion batteries can make the car lighter, but given the weight of the Prius' battery pack I don't think the difference will amount to any significant improvement in fuel economy.

An increase in power could keep the ICE off during low speed acceleration, but I don't think there will be anywhere near a 10% improvement in fuel economy over NiMH batteries.


I don't know exactly the increase in benefit (percentage-wise), but there should be "some" benefit. Like you said, maybe not 10% EPA, but it should yield tangible benefits real world. Also with the increase in power that Li-ion batteries provide a smaller ICE can be used which can also benefit economy. Again I'm no "expert" in hybrid technology, but it just makes sense that there would be benefits to Li-ion batteries.


Dave T., I believe you misinterpreted the press release. The future of the Volt is not "subject to GM successfully negotiating satisfactory government incentives" but the future of Volt production at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck facility is "subject to GM successfully negotiating satisfactory government incentives". These are incentives from the state of Michigan and without them GM would move production to a state which gives them the tax breaks, etc. that they are looking for.


it almost looks like apple designed the center console with it's white color, I actually like it. The design is very cool, but the back is sort of weird looking. I hope they get rid of the lower window on the back, it seems unessesary unless it serves some aerodynamic purpose.


I'd prefer a honda insight at $18,500. The $22,000 in price savings far outweighs any gas savings with the volt.


PS, I have a white iMac, MacBook, and iPod and I can tell you that, that center console looks like NOTHING Apple has ever or will ever design.

Ken L.

By the way, is it just me or is that fat gear shifter flushed into the center console? If so, that’s a horrible design since it looks like your hands will need to fit into that small open space to move it. I could already see people punching into it. The taillights also looks a bit too small.

Amuro Ray

I would like to make one "correction" for those who suggests a big $$$$ tax incentives on Volt, including Dave T. here. The tax incentives currently in place - it's for AMT. For those who don't know much 'bou AMT - sorry, I ain't a tax expert. However, in very high level explanation, you can benefit from this AMT iff (if and only if):
(1) You MAKE A LOT OF $$$ in salary + investment +...;
(2) You are SINGLE;
(3) You have essentially no tax deduction/income tax claim when you file your taxes every year.
So if you are looking for the tax incentive as a way for people to purchase the Volt, and think that you can get it for $35000 or even less...


(Unless you are 1 of those rare #1+#2+#3 iff people!)

I almost spent my $ on an Altima Hybrid 'coz it's like a Camry Hybrid but with $2350 tax incentives (vs like $0 for Toyota), my accountant did the math and most I could claim was $200...IFF I didn't put any $ in 401K or health benefit accounts :(

The Volt can and only be a halo hybrid vehicle. It doesn't have the practically in terms of $$$ like the Pirus or (future) Insight, or even the Civic/Altima/Camry Hybrid.

J.E. Turcotte

I see a lot of people harping on the Volt here, and that's not completely uncalled for... but comparing it to the Prius is like comparing apples and oranges (well, until a plug-in 0-gas per X-miles prius becomes the norm)... the drives do not work the same at all.. with current Prii (plural for prius, hehe?), you are burning gas from the get-go, and will be filling that tank (albeit at a less painful rate than with nonhybrids)... i.e., it's a 'parallel hybrid' ... both engines work in conjuction. What the volt offers is a 'series hybrid' ... the gas engine never touches the drivetrain. Right out of the box, all volts offer the ability for 90-95% of weekday driving routines to be done on no gas at all... the current prius cannot do that, though that may well change, with luck... they have a head-start after all.

So, before comparing the two (for good or ill) keep in mind that they are two wholly different beasts.

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