The Chevy Volt, expected to debut in 2010, will quite possibly be the first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) from any of the major automakers (of course, Toyota might have something to say about that). Regardless of when the Volt actually debuts, and whether or not it is the first PHEV to be mass produced, the fact of the matter is that the Volt will be a unique vehicle. Much like the Aptera Typ-1, the Volt will be a series hybrid, meaning that "power is fed directly to the motor, not the battery. It can be plugged into a household electric socket and charged fully within about six hours." And when the battery runs down, "the 1.0-liter, three-cylinder gas engine acts as a generator to charge the battery and provides enough power to for up to an additional 600 miles."
Understandably, then, the biggest obstacle to bringing the Volt to market has been the limitations of existing battery technology. So we're happy to learn that "The lithium-ion batteries to be used in General Motors' Chevrolet Volt electric car will soon be installed and tested in specially-equipped versions of the Chevrolet Malibu." This kind of testing will be essential for figuring out "how this battery will perform over the life of the vehicle. The challenge is predicting 10 years of battery life with just over two years of testing time." The car is being designed from the ground up to accommodate the battery and maximize efficiency. For instance, "the vehicle now has a coefficient of drag that is 30% lower than the original concept," and the battery itself had to be designed in a T-shape in order to increase its size without compromising aerodynamics. According to a GM press release:
The Volt will be a four-seat car. Not having a center seating position in the back will allow room for the car's battery to run longitudinally down the center of the car while keeping the roof low for better aerodynamics
See Also: ::GM Up the Voltage, ::Mercedes-Benz to Produce Hybrid with Lithium Ion Battery, ::Nissan and NEC to Make Lithium-Ion Batteries for Hybrids, ::Green Basics: Hybrid-Electric Cars, ::Unveiled: Aptera Typ-1 100% Electric and Series Hybrid Vehicles, and ::GM's Chevy Volt Price Goes Up; Stereo, Wipers to Blame