GM says Volt to get 230 MPG

General Motors officials said Tuesday the automaker's planned 2011 Chevrolet Volt plug-in electric car is expected to reach 230 miles per gallon of gasoline in city driving.

GM said the number was achieved through draft guidelines developed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Should the Volt achieve that number, it would be the first car to reach triple-digit mileage figures.

The Volt differs from current hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius, which run electric and gasoline engines in tandem; the Volt is powered only by its 161-horsepower electric engine. The Volt's gasoline engine acts as a generator to charge the vehicle's battery pack when it runs low on power.

The battery pack can also be recharged through common household outlets -- 110 or 220 volts. Plugging in the Volt daily is key to high-mileage performance, GM said.

The Volt is expected to travel up to 40 miles on electricity from a single battery charge and be able to extend its overall range to more than 300 miles with its fuel-powered engine-generator, which can run on gasoline or a combination of ethanol and gasoline, known as E85.

"From the data we've seen, many Chevy Volt drivers may be able to be in pure electric mode on a daily basis without having to use any gas," said GM Chief Executive Fritz Henderson in a statement.

The ability to drive 40 miles without recharging is a key threshold, GM believes. U.S. Department of Transportation data show nearly eight in 10 Americans commute fewer than 40 miles a day.

Should GM be able to achieve the 230 MPG figure, it would do much to recharge the auto-maker's beleaguered image. In addition to its recent bankruptcy that has resulted in the U.S. and Canadian governments becoming major shareholders in the company, GM's reputation was tarnished following its 2002 decision to cancel its previous electric car, the EV-1.

GM produced about 800 EV-1's, which were leased to customers in California and other states. GM angered environmentalists and some car enthusiasts when it discontinued production of the EV-1 and announced it would scrap the vehicles at the end of the lease term, leading to allegations that the world's largest automaker killed the program under pressure from the oil industry, among other reasons.

Like mileage estimates ascribed to all vehicles, GM said the Volt's ability to achieve its optimal mileage figure will vary depending on a number of factors, including the number of passengers, the amount of cargo and the use of power-draining accessories, such as air conditioning.

GM first announced the Volt in January 2007 as a concept car. The car is expected in showrooms in November 2010.
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