Time to get out the popcorn and sit back for a good argument. Remember Carnegie Mellon's recent study on the merits of plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt? According to the University, a PHEV with a 3kWh battery pack would provide the best compromise between price, performance and environmental benefits by allowing for an electric-only range of around 7 miles. The Volt will use a 16kWh lithium ion battery pack and be able to travel 40 miles on electricity before its gas engine kicks in to keep the party moving. If General Motors' calculations are correct, nearly 80% of all American drivers could drive the Volt to work and back without ever using a drop of gasoline, recharging every night using off-peak electricity from the grid.
In response to CMU's report, Jon Lauckner, GM's Vice President Global Program Management, has published a post on GM's Fastlane Blog offering a few good reasons why CMU's data may be skewed. For starters, GM says the cost of its battery pack is quite a bit less than CMU is estimating. Plus, the Volt will be eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit due to its high energy storage capacity that the study fails to recognize.
According to Lauckner, GM is not about to make the mistake of delaying the introduction of plug-in hybrid vehicles after missing the boat on conventional hybrids a few years back, and we agree that they should definitely move ahead with the car's introduction. The idea of offering smaller capacity packs for drivers who don't often drive 40 miles in a day, though, could have merit. We'll see how it all plays out in late 2010 when the Volt is scheduled to go on sale.