After a nearly two-year tease, General Motors unveiled the final design for the car that it hopes will save the company: the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, the world's first production plug-in hybrid.
(more...) The Volt is designed to drive 40 miles on a single charge of its giant lithium-ion battery; after that, an onboard 1.4-liter four-cylinder flex-fuel engine kicks in to power the electric motors that drive the car.
GM will most likely make 10,000 of the cars in the first year of production; it's expected to go on sale in November 2010. It's unclear how much the car will cost, though the relatively unproven lithium-ion batteries could drive the cost close to $40,000. Government incentives could help drive that cost down closer to the $30,000 mark.
It's not an exaggeration to say that the Volt is probably the most important car in the company's history. At a time when GM is hemorrhaging billions of dollars each quarter, the Volt is an attempt to revive the company's reputation and steer it in a "greener" direction. For the past five years, GM has been best known in some circles as the giant corporation that killed the electric car; the Volt, GM hopes, will change that. (less)