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GM launches electric vehicle Chevy Volt

January 7, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
With gas prices averaging more than $3.30 per gallon in Southern California, many are wondering about the future of transportation. Carmakers will be rolling out a new line of electric cars this year. One was the Chevy Volt.After a false start in the 1990s with the EV1, General Motors is now back in the electric car business.

"The benefits of electric vehicles are paramount. You can get zero-emission driving, no tailpipe emissions at all," said General Motors Spokesman Shad Balch.

The new GM take on the EV is the Chevrolet Volt, which whizzes along quietly on battery power for 25 to 50 miles. But then, it can keep going.

"You will never get stranded on the side of the road with a dead battery. You have a backup generator that will take you as far as you need to go," said Balch.

So the Volt can go anywhere, all the way across the country if you want.

Or the gasoline-powered generator can just be on standby, and if you only drive the national average of 40 miles a day, you might never use any gas.

"It's designed to drive on electric only, that is its primary purpose. But if you want to go farther, you can," said Balch.

Re-charging takes about 10 hours on household power, or four hours with higher voltage. GM says Southern California residents will pay about a dollar at current electricity rates for a full charge.

The Volt is new technology that many people have been waiting for, but others may be on the fence about owning something like this. If that's you, then you don't need to take the plunge right away. You can always rent one.

After all the Volt's sticker price is $41,000, and even with a federal tax credit it's well over $30,000.

So how about heading to Enterprise car rental at Mark Christopher Chevrolet in Ontario?

"They can rent it for a day, rent it for two days, see if they like it. All the questions that a customer may have could now be answered because they can test-drive the car," said Christopher Leggio, spokesperson for Mark Christopher Chevrolet.

Two will be at the location by month's end. Other Enterprise locations will get them later in the year.

Whether you might want to rent one, or take the plunge and buy or lease, the Volt is carving a unique niche in the burgeoning EV 0market.

"A pure-battery-electric is likely going to be your second car, but this can be your only car because it has the best of both worlds combined into one," said Balch.