At the same time, they emphasized that development of the Chevy Volt has met all the milestone deadlines on its development timeline. They said the car will arrive in dealerships as planned at the end of this year.
Recent calibration drives of pre-production Chevrolet Volt extended range electric vehicles have achieved up to 39.9 miles of emission-free, electric-only driving range, chief engineer Andrew Farah said during a program update for news media.
GM is no longer claiming the Volt will get 230 mpg. Farah admitted that number was based on ongoing negotiations with the EPA over how to rate the fuel efficiency of plug-in (or “range extended”) hybrids such as the Volt.
Now the company says it is targeting 50 mpg, and a remaining range of 300 miles on gasoline once the Volt’s batteries are depleted. Farah said engineers are getting very close to that mileage in testing. But the company is still closely guarding the capacity of the Volt’s gas tank.
The Volt, which can travel up to 300 miles beyond its pure electric range because of a small on board gasoline engine, recently completed a round of cold weather testing in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada, and will undergo additional hot weather testing in Yuma, AZ, in June and July.
The Volt remains on schedule for start of regular production in the fourth quarter. Farah, chief engineer for the Volt and the Opel Ampera, said more than 500,000 test miles have already been put on the pre-production Volt vehicles.
Farah said engineers at GM’s Warren, Mich., Technical Center will begin building pre-production versions of the Ampera later this month in preparation for its launch in Europe for the 2012 model year.
Monday’s update followed the announcement that GM plans to invest an additional $8 million to double the size of its automotive battery lab in Warren.
Micky Bly, GM’s executive director of global electrical systems, hybrids, electric vehicles & batteries said more than 300 pre-production packs were slated to be built at GM’s Brownstown, Mich., battery plant.
So far, more than 850,000 miles of customer use lab testing have been completed on the battery pack design for the Volt and Ampera. Bly said the team continues to study additional applications of the Voltec battery-based propulsion system in future vehicles, although no details were provided.