Yesterday, Department of Energy staff members were able to experience the newest in market-ready vehicle technology when representatives from General Motors brought two Chevy Volts to Department headquarters. Officials and engineers alike, including the Department’s Chief Financial Officer, Steve Isakowitz, test drove the Volt, and peppered the GM representatives with questions about the new plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.
Unlike an all-electric vehicle (EV), the Volt has a gasoline engine that supplements the electric drive once the battery is depleted. The Chevrolet Volt will reach an estimated 93 mpg-equivalent when running on all-electric power, 37 mpg when relying on its gasoline engine and about 60 mpg average, according to the label issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). So that drivers can maximize their all-electric driving, the vehicle includes a full dashboard display that shows the electric range remaining and the approximate time needed to fully recharge the battery. Using the vehicle in all-electric mode is cheaper to fuel, decreases our country’s reliance on petroleum, and when charged with clean energy, reduces lifecycle greenhouse gases and smog-forming emissions. As the average American drives only 13.9 miles to work, the Volt will allow drivers to use all-electric mode most of the time, while having the flexibility to go on longer trips as needed.
Through the Recovery Act, the Department’s Vehicle Technologies Program has awarded General Motors $105.9 million to develop and manufacture advanced batteries for the Volt in Michigan. In addition, a $151.4 million Recovery Act award to Compact Power will support the production of lithium-ion polymer battery cells for the Volt. The technology in these battery cells was actually a result of a long-standing research and development collaboration between the Department and Compact Power. The Department’s investment in these manufacturing facilities is creating jobs, building the US advanced batteries industry and leading the way toward a new clean energy economy.
In addition to battery cell chemistry, the Volt is equipped with several technologies that are paving the way for future electric vehicles. Such technologies include the drive unit, which consists of two motors, three clutches and a planetary gear set that improves overall efficiency. According to GM, this configuration reduces battery drain at highway speeds, adding up to two miles of additional EV range.
The Volt can be recharged at home with Level 1 (120 volts) and Level 2 (240 volts) charging equipment. For more information about electric and other advanced vehicles, visit the Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicle Data Center.