GM Plans Extended Warranty for New Volt Electric Car

With so much riding on the success of its long-awaited Chevrolet Volt electrically propelled vehicle, GM officials are eager to reassure potential customers that the company will stand behind the car long-term. On Wednesday, the Detroit-based automaker said it will offer an 8-year, 100,000 mile warranty on the Volt -- three years longer than the coverage offered for drive components in other GM models.

The warranty includes all 161 components of the Volt's battery, its charging system, thermal-management system and its electric-drive components, GM said in a statement. The warranty will also be transferable to other vehicle owners and is applicable in all 50 states, the company said.

GM is taking the step to allay concern that battery powered vehicles may become less reliable as the batteries age. Popular hybrid car models currently on the market, including Toyota Motor's (TM) Prius and the Ford Motor's (F) Escape Hybrid, have similar warranties on their battery packs.

In "normal" driving the Volt can travel 40 miles on a single charge, GM says. The Volt has a gasoline engine connected to a generator that powers the electric motor if the charge is depleted. The Volt's batteries can also be recharged at home via a special adapter.

GM said it has developed a liquid cooling system for the Volt that keeps the batteries cool in warmer climates, because high outdoor temperatures negatively affect battery longevity. "The liquid-cooled and -heated thermal management of the battery [enables] the Volt to consistently perform well in different climates," said Tony DiSalle, marketing manager for the Volt, during a live blogging event to announce the warranty coverage.

The Volt's system regulates the battery's temperature but won't eliminate variations," GM product chief Tom Stephens told The Wall Street Journal. "We are as susceptible to that as anyone else," he said.

Warranties governing other components of the car differ from those of the battery system, GM said. For example, the gasoline engine has a standard 100,000 mile, 5 year transferable warranty. Other parts of the car will be covered by GM's standard 3-year, 36,000 mile "bumper-to-bumper" warranty, which matches that of most other major automakers.

The Volt will be introduced on a limited basis and will begin to arrive in showrooms in seven states later this year. GM intends to produce 10,000 Volts, with plans to expand production to 30,000 in 2012.
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