The company that supposedly killed the electric car will unveil a sleek new electric vehicle that someday could ease America's addiction to gasoline at the Detroit auto show.
General Motors Corp., accused in the 2006 documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?" of conspiring to cancel its 1990s EV1 model, was to unveil the Chevrolet Volt sedan concept at the North American International Auto Show on Sunday.
The Volt has a battery-powered electric motor that can run the car for up to 40 city miles on a single charge. Beyond that, a gasoline-powered, one-liter, three-cylinder engine can generate electricity to power the car and replenish the battery, with a range of up to 640 miles, GM said.
The car can be fully recharged by plugging it in to a 110-volt outlet for about six hours, and the gasoline engine can get about 50 miles per gallon when producing electricity to run the car, GM said. The turbocharged engine also can run on E85 ethanol, the AP reports.
GM did not release cost estimates but said they recognize the Volt's price will have to be competitive.
Company Vice Chairman Robert Lutz said in a statement that more than half of Americans live less than 20 miles from their workplace and could go to work and back on a single charge. "In that case, you might never burn a drop of gas in the life of the car," he said.
The EV1, introduced in 1996, had limited range, limited interior space and had trouble climbing hills and running the air conditioning, GM said. It also had no power source if the battery ran low.
But the Volt can carry up to five passengers and is adept at climbing hills or running a cooling system, GM said.
GM announced this week it would team with two automotive and battery manufacturers to develop a lithium-ion battery that would let sport utility vehicles get 70 miles per gallon.
The Volt is part of GM's bid to demonstrate it is investing in break-through technology with some of the $9 billion (4.7 billion pounds) saved through a wrenching program of job cuts and plant closures.
The push to develop environmentally friendly cars is also an attempt by GM to distance itself from its close association with gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles, a reputation executives say has hampered its sales in some markets.
The Volt's combustion engine is designed only as a supplement to keep its batteries charged, an innovation GM executives hope will help the automaker jump ahead of Toyota Motor Corp., which now dominates the hybrid market, Reuters reports.
GM cut 34,000 jobs last year and plans to close 12 plants. Toyota is expected to surpass GM in global production this year, ending a run of more than 80 years for GM as the world's No. 1 automaker.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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