During a live webchat this afternoon, General Motors VP for Global Program Management Jon Lauckner said that final pricing for the Chevrolet Volt would not be finalized until mid to late 2010. Although cars are generally developed to a target price point, Lauckner responded to a pricing query "We typically do not lock in on pricing until about 3-6 months prior to start of production. The reason is primarily so we have an opportunity to take a look at the market, competitors and other factors. So stay tuned." As for alternative versions of the Voltec such as a lower cost non-plug-in version, Lauckner ruled that out as defeating the whole point of the Volt. Without the benefits of running on grid power, the Volt's architecture would likely be less efficient than a current parallel hybrid because of the losses in always going from mechanical to electrical and back to mechanical energy.
What could and likely will change eventually is the configuration of the range extender. Lauckner ruled out a Wankel, which has high power density compared to a piston engine. However, Wankels are not very fuel efficient. He did highlight HCCI as an alternative that does have promise for increased efficiency. None of these alternatives are likely to appear before at least the second gen Volt. The first gen Volt will be e85 capable at launch just as announced when the original concept appeared. More after the jump

[Source: General Motors]

Lauckner declined to give a specific timeline for the debut of the Gen II Volt. However, GM engineers are already working on the second generation model and as the cost of major components like the battery, power electronics and motor are reduced, GM will be integrating them as quickly as possible.

In response to a question about charging at 220V, Lauckner confirmed that the Volt's charging system and cable will be UL approved and ready to go at launch, unlike another recent EV that hit the streets.

Since the Volt is not totally dependent on the plug for propulsion GM has no plans to support fast battery swapping for the Volt. Just filling the gas tank will keep it going indefinitely. As for the life of that battery, Lauckner says it will be warranted for 10 years or 150,000 miles. GM will guaranteeing the original performance of the Volt pack for that time, in other words it will still have a nominal 40 mile range after 150,000 miles. If it doesn't live up to that spec, the pack will be replaced free of charge.

One of the questions asked repeatedly since the debut of the Volt is why not dump the range extender and use a larger battery for a pure EV. Lauckner explained that the Volt is intended to operate in all climate conditions throughout North America. He expressed concern that the pure EVs from other automakers will have range problems in hot climates like Arizona and cold climates like Michigan or Minnesota. While Lauckner did not address the cost issue, it's likely that at this point, a Volt with double the battery would be even more expensive than the ER-EV version. You can read the entire transcript with all the questions here.


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