BANGOR, Maine — General Motors Inc. showed off the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, its new entry to the world of electric cars, on Thursday at Eastern Maine Community College.
Maine Chevy dealers arranged for the preview in time for Bangor’s American Folk Festival, where the Volt will be displayed all weekend.
The Volt is a four-door hybrid that uses a 700-pound battery for 40-mile trips, but it can travel another 300 miles using its flex-fuel-powered generator, which maintains the battery power through the use of gasoline and takes over after 40 miles.
GM has spent several million dollars creating the Volt, which uses technology the corporation plans to apply to other vehicles.
“We are going to use it in a lot of other cars in the future,” said John Stiller, the northeast district sales manager for Chevrolet.
Whether the Volt will sell is another question. Back in 2008 the price of gas drove the demand for hybrid vehicles.
“We just want to build what the customer wants to buy,” Stiller said.
But what the customer wants changes when gas prices change, Stiller noted. The Volt will sell well, he said, but getting the message out about it will be the difficult part.
The Volt isn’t meant for Mainers who live in rough back roads or haul heavy loads, Marlin said.
According to Volt product specialist Stephen Marlin from GM, the hybrid is designed for the typical suburban commute.
The hybrid seats four people and is quiet while running. It includes three driving modes called normal, sport and mountain, each of which applies the battery power differently to suit the driving conditions.
When the Volt starts up, it sounds futuristic and it doesn’t use a typical key either. Instead, the Volt’s key is a transponder that the car can sense when it is inside the vehicle. Then all the driver has to do is tap the brake and hit the road.
The Volt has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $41,000, according to Stiller, but buyers can apply for a $7,500 government rebate for new hybrids.
GM plans to build 10,000 Volts for model year 2011 and 45,000 for 2012. They will be built at GM’s production facility in Hamtramck, Mich. GM plans to build its own battery plant there to manufacture the lithium-ion batteries for the Volt.
The Volt will be available in six colors.