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General Motors (GM) said yesterday its engineers are scaling down the gas tank of the Chevy Volt and reducing its planned range by more than 200 miles.
The range change would be a significant one for the Volt, which was originally expected to have a driving range of approximately 640 miles. With the smaller tank, it is now expected to have a range of approximately 400 miles.
A GM spokesman said the change is being made because the giant automaker has determined the longer range could be overkill. “Most drivers won’t ever turn the engine on,” said GM spokesman Robert Peterson. “If you rarely turn the engine on, then you really don’t need to carry the extra gas, which weighs about eight pounds per gallon.”
The Chevy Volt is a plug-in hybrid that uses a lithium-ion battery to power itself for the first 40 miles. After that, it uses a gasoline-burning engine-generator set to recharge the battery pack while it drives. Many GM engineers believe commuters will rarely employ the engine-generator set. Instead, they will plug the vehicle into a 110V AC outlet at night and recharge the batteries. The vehicle is expected to be launched in 2010.
GM would not say how big the planned gas tank is, but they estimated it would be big enough to enable a 400-mile range.
Even with the range change, GM still expects the Volt to hit extraordinary levels of fuel efficiency. The company originally predicted commuters who lived within 30 miles of work could achieve gas mileages of 150 miles per gallon, and it has not changed that prediction.