Chevrolet's Volt range-extender electric car is going farther than the claimed average of 37 miles on battery power in the hands of its owners, the company claims.
The Volt was designed to be used as an all-electric car, but it has a 1.4-litre petrol engine to act as a generator for long journeys or emergency use when the batteries are dead. It went on sale in America just before Christmas and will come to the UK at the beginning of 2012, at the same time as the mechanically identical Vauxhall Ampera.
'The first users are getting on the high side of the 60-kilometre [37-mile] average we quote [on battery power],' said Hoss Hossani, Chevrolet's European iconic products manager. 'It will take us a few more seasons to get accurate figures because the car was launched in winter and there's always the possibility that the cold can affect its range.'
With demand far outstripping supply Chevy will build only 12,000 Volts this year and 45,000 next the company is being careful to ensure the people who buy it are in a position to derive maximum benefit from it.
'There's no way we want a customer who's not suited to a Volt to end up with a Volt,' said Hossani. 'Our dealers will point out other options in certain cases, and they will make sure everyone who buys a Volt gets a full driving experience before parting with their cash.'
Early adopters in the US tend to be technophiles, says Hossani, but European interest is largely being driven by taxation policies and the availability of government subsidies.
'The biggest interest is in countries where the governments are most pro-active, such as the UK, the Benelux countries, Spain and Portugal,' said Hossani.
Chevrolet's 'passion-heavy' cars
The other part of his 'iconic products' role involves the Camaro V8 and Corvette muscle cars a thankless task, you might think, at a time of escalating oil prices.
However, Hossani says sports cars have always been a part of Chevrolet, and that the Camaro and Corvette offer something that isn't found in European or Japanese rivals.
'We don't refer to them as muscle cars any more, but as passion-heavy cars,' he said. 'The Corvette is our flagship and you'd be hard-pressed to find that kind of performance anywhere else at twice the price, while the Camaro is our heart and soul.'
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