[ad#post_ad]I had the chance to attend a Chevy Volt developmental update for the media. It was a brief web presentation followed by Q&A that was hosted by Mickey Bly, GM's Executive Director Global Electrical Systems, Hybrids, Electric Vehicles And Batteries and Andrew Farah, Volt Chief Engineer.

As in every update I've attended since early 2007, the team once again stated the program is going extremely well and on track. Bly noted the whole process has not exactly been "a walk in the park," but at this point the production infrastructure is "fully ready" and there are "no issues in the way" of a successful Volt launch in November.

Range Goals Met or Exceeded

Th team was questioned about whether the Volt prototypes are achieving their stated goal of 40 miles of pure electric range from a full charge. Farah replied that "things are going well."   He said "we are regularly hitting our 40 mile target and exceeding it."

He expects consumers too "will be able to do that depending on terrain and weather." As an example, Farah spoke about his experience in one of the pre-production prototypes. "This weekend I got 41.5 and 42.5 cycles around town," he said.

"I'm not speeding, I'm not taking it particularly easy either, because I'm driving the way I would normally drive," he added.

He is "very confident the batteries are delivering the range they need to deliver," though adds at this point there are "still some last minute tweaks and tunes on aero(dynamics)" the team is engaged in.

Farah did explain that consumers will experience about a 20% variability in electric range depending on three variables in the following order of importance:

"Driving aggressiveness is number one, terrain is number two, weather and temperature 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.

Nonetheless even if circumstances reduce range below 40 miles, the whole design of the range extender obviates any concerns or loss of consumer comfort and confidence.

"We're always trying to provide that consistent experience," said Farah. "Even if you get twenty percent less range you’ve got that range extender to fall back on," he said.  "So day to day you're not inconvenienced."

50 MPG Still on Target
For three years we've conjectured about what the Volt's miles per gallon in charge sustaining mode will turn out to be.

The team was again asked this question. Farah explained the team is still using the original 2007 concept's goal of 50 mpg, and for the first time provided a clue as to how it will turn out.

"I still use the target of 50 MPG as the bogey," said Farah. "So far I haven’t been disappointed."

He clarified that the 50 MPG target is unadjusted, and that the official number will be "released closer to production."  Fuel tank size remains a secret, but the official spec at this point is 300 miles of range on a full tank of gas in charge sustaining mode, starting after the 40 miles of battery electric range.

It remains unclear as to how the EPA will officially rate the Volt's fuel economy, and the controversial 230 mpg average fuel economy taking into account average combined electric and gas driving, remains unofficial.

"The 230 mpg number talked about a few months ago was based on some preliminary discussion with the EPA," said Farah. "Those conversations have been continuing and have not yet come to a conclusion."

See the very first Volt roll off the Detroit-Hamtramck line in the video below:
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