GM says testing of the pre-production Chevy Volt is going well. The Volt batteries are averaging about 40 miles of all electric driving, but of course, your mileage will vary. After the initial all electric range, drivers can expect very high fuel efficiency from the small gas motor.
In the call this morning Andrew Farah, Volt Chief Engineer, had some interesting things to say.
Farah did explain that consumers will experience about a 20% variability in electric range depending on four variables in the following order of importance:Farah also said that he uses 50 mpg as his 'bogey' when driving in charge sustaining mode (when the gas engine is recharging the battery pack). And that "So far I haven’t been disappointed.” But don't expect the EPA numbers to reflect that.
“Driving aggressiveness is number one, terrain is number two, weather and terrain is number three,” he said. Bly noted in cold weather a car consumes as much energy to keep its occupants warm as it does to travel down the road.
Also, GM is hoping battery costs will drop drastically as each successive generation enters production. Given the overall cost, it's the battery pack that is putting early estimates into the $40K range. So, if each successive generation can halve the cost, that's going to make the Volt into a contender against even the Prius.
But then, GM may just end up relying on smaller battery packs, with less electric range. That would certainly cut costs, but it would also make the Volt less attractive to buyers, who may just opt for the Prius.
GM has recently completed a round of cold weather testing in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada, and will undergo additional hot weather testing in Yuma, AZ, in June and July.
The Volt is set to launch in November, with little chance the date will move either way at this point. As the date gets closer, GM says it is beginning to ramp up its production capabilities, with an additional $8 million to double the size of its automotive battery lab in Warren.