Electric Vibes for a Car That Can't Be Built

As cool as the Chevrolet Volt is, the technology does not exist to make it happen, writes Sentinel Automotive Editor Steven Cole Smith.

Published: 22-Jan-2007

In a letter to the editor printed in the Orlando Sentinel, a reader complained that we've had inadequate coverage of the "revolutionary Chevrolet Volt concept car, covered by CNN, MSNBC, Newsweek and other media." The Volt, said the reader, "can go 40 miles on battery power alone, before its charger-engine even starts up. This machine can free us from foreign-oil dependence and reduce U.S. air pollution by a quarter. Is this not news?"

So allow me to direct this to the letter writer, Hugh E. Webber of Winter Park: Yes, it would be news, except for one thing.

To quote from General Motors' own press information: "A technological breakthrough required to make this concept a reality is a large lithium-ion battery. This type of electric car, which the technical community calls an 'EV range-extender,' would require a battery pack that weighs nearly 400 pounds. Some experts predict that such a battery -- or a similar battery -- could be production-ready by 2010 to 2012."


Allocating significant money to produce a saleable hydrogen fuel cell car is likely to be a tough decision for GM. Larry Burns with image of Sequel fuel cell car behind him.

The dual-mode hybrid system will be available in a wide range of cars, trucks and S.U.V.'s made by the three companies, starting with the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe that goes on sale in fall 2007.

The pollution-free technology holds the potential of zero emissions and a sustainable source of energy produced when hydrogen and oxygen are mixed.


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