Anyone looking for a little extra reading this week could do worse than check out a 29-page history of the Chevrolet Volt. The story of the extended-range plug-in vehicle comes from a professor at San Francisco's Presidio Graduate School, Dariush Rafinejad. A disclaimer, however, is in order, as the study received "generous support" from Chevy parent General Motors.
The report recounts the Volt's development from GM's EV-1 electric vehicle program to the prototype concept (pictured) that was revealed to the world in early 2007. The study allows that GM's sheer size could have posed problems for those looking to develop the type of new powertrain technologies featured in the Volt. Then-GM CEO Rick Wagoner said in late 2006 that the auto industry would need to lessen its oil dependency, and that's just as then-GM executive Bob Lutz was going full speed ahead to develop a car that could go 40 miles on electricity alone. The Volt was meant to challenge both the Toyota and its Prius hybrid and to answer the new EV call from Tesla Motors. That 40-mile figure was key because three-quarters of American commuters drive less than that distance on a daily basis.
Whether the Volt's story up to today is a success depends on who's being asked. Proponents will point to the fact that sales are up. General Motors moved a monthly-record 3,351 Volts last month, an 18 percent jump from a year earlier. Others will note that GM has spent about $1 billion on the powertrain technology, and that Chevy takes a loss for every Volt sold. Both sides can find something to arm themselves with in the paper, so get it here.