Sunday, January 07, 2007

Extra! Extra! GM announces car I might actually buy, some day

Put this in the good news category: GM has finally confirmed that, yes, it is planning a plug-in hybrid model - the Chevy Volt. Better still, they've actually exceeded my expectations in one area: I'd assumed the first PIHs on the market would have rather short all-electric ranges (20 miles or so.) GM says that the Volt will have an AER of about 40 miles, after which it will switch to the internal combustion engine. Incidentally, 40 miles is the US average daily two-way commute. Charging capability at workplaces would make it possible to live an almost gasoline-free life. If you're an ethanol buff, it's also flex-fuel capable, sipping anything from 100% gasoline to 85% ethanol.

It being a GM car, there's some concern whether this will actually make it off the show floor and in to people's garages -- GM hasn't yet announced a battery supplier, kinda an important aspect of the car. On the other hand, given the negative publicity from the recent documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? I'd be willing to bet that GM won't strangle this baby in the crib.

Let's see what Toyota and Honda do to raise the ante. For the first time in a while, I'm actually optimistic about the automobile industry.

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