GM wants its leadership back -- if not in sales, then in technology, and the Volt is going to do it. The General has put the car into the official production pipeline. Typically a 36-month process for GM, the car could go on sale as early as 2010, though no production date has been set.

The Volt has been chosen to ride on the next generation Delta platform, which will also carry the next Cobalt or Astra. GM has set aside the funds, and started engineering a car that will be tailored for international markets. Bob Lutz has said the development of the car would cost at least $500 million dollars, which includes a plug-in gasoline version and a fuel cell version. The gasoline model would be a "series hybrid," in which a gas engine charges a battery pack that in turn powers electric motors at the wheels. The car could then run as long as there's gas in the tank, yet could also be plugged in overnight to recharge the battery. Charged up, the battery by itself would be good for 40 miles. Fuel cell Volts, too expensive for volume production, would be sold mostly in China. European versions of the Volt could get diesel engines, and a South American Volt could get an ethanol-powered car.

Though a world car, GM wants to build the Volt in the US. The leading option right now is the assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio. However, the key to all of this, says Lutz, is suppliers to come through with a reliable lithium ion battery. If that's done, the company is even willing to initially lose money on the car in order to get it produced and sold. The Volt is expected to be a low volume vehicle and not a big money maker, but it could battle the Prius and burnish restore GM's green credentials.

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd, AutoblogGreen]