480-mile electric car within two years?

31 August 2007

  • GM's E-Flex cars to start testing soon
  • Production car could be ready in two years
  • Battery is topped up by generator

The Chevrolet Volt is an electric concept car, with batteries recharged by a small petrol engine

GM, the parent company of Vauxhall, could be just two years away from putting an electric car with a range of 480 miles into production.

The company is working on a project called E-Flex, and is set to start road testing vehicles early next year.

The car will be powered by a battery which will hold enough charge to power the car for about 35 miles, which GM says will be sufficient for 95% of journeys.

However, if the car needs to be taken further, then a separate generator will recharge the battery and extend the car's range up to 480 miles.

The generator can be powered by petrol, diesel, biofuel or, in the longer term, a hydrogen fuel cell.

Estimates suggest that the battery will be fully charged in just over three hours.

GM's research suggests that electricity is less than a quarter of the price of oil globally, which it says will lower running costs and offset the initial extra expense of the battery.

The pace at which battery technology can advance will dictate how long the concept car will take to reach production, but sources have said it will be a minimum of two years.

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