Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Welcome to the...

...Chevy Volt. Popular Mechanics has a good story on the unveiling of its production version--the one planned for public sales in 2010.

From the story, it is clear that the car is less sporty than the original concept version. But, it still looks good--a somewhat narcissistic yet important thing in the car-buying world.

Aside from that, Daily Sprawl is really curious about this vehicle. It will be a "plug-in" hybrid meaning that you will literally plug it into a normal electric outlet and charge it up. After 75 miles or so, the electric range gives out to a more conventional gas engine. But, that leads to a important question:

Who drives more than 75 miles per day?

If you don't then, according to GM's plans, you will rarely use the gas engine--driving almost exclusively on electric power.

Which, in turn, leads to the second important question:

Does our existing electric grid possess the capacity for the large amounts of new electricity needed to power these type plug-ins?

Tough to say at this point. Issues such as whether power companies can diversify into renewable energy sources (tidal power and river current power being two of the best long-term prospects) remain unanswered.

One positive thing is that most of the plug-ins will likely be powered up during the nighttime hours--as their drivers sleep. This also happens to be one of the times of day with the least amount of stress on the grid.

So, the long and short is that the Volt has the potential to offer a powerful alternative if grid capacity can be expanded through advances in renewable power sources.

Stay tuned closely on this one...