Chevy Launches Volt, Readies AMP

December 20, 2010, 4:30 AM HST
* Updated December 20, 5:18 PM
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By now, most have heard of General Motors’ new Chevy Volt, the first of which are now on their way to four test markets in the United States, but rumor has it that Chevrolet may have a new electric vehicle up its sleeve.

A new electric-gasoline combo is expected to be unveiled as the new Chevrolet AMP, a crossover SUV built on the same technology of the new electric-gasoline sedan, the Chevy Volt.  The concept was first demonstrated at the Beijing auto show and was called the Volt MPV5.

In January, Chevrolet is expected to announce it as the AMP, a future plug-in crossover that will allow drivers to use a mixture of electric and gasoline power for improved fuel economy.

Voltec Engine

Like the Volt, the AMP is rumored to feature the same Voltec engine capable of driving a short distance (35 miles, in the case of the Volt) on pure electric charge.  After the batteries are exhausted, gasoline will be used to propel the car and charge the batteries for future electric operation.  The AMP is expected to be heavier and create more air-drag than the Volt and thus offer a shorter all-electric range than the smaller and lighter sedan.  The prototype demonstrated in Beijing was said to offer 32 miles of range before gasoline, but early numbers are almost always moderated downward.  The Volt was first adorned with a tag of 40 all-electric miles by its manufacturer, a number that was later revised down to 35 miles by the EPA.


The Voltec engine on the Volt and AMP will be fundamentally the same, including the engine, batteries, and motor.  Enthusiasts and analysts alike hope that by using the same engine on two vehicles, General Motors can reduce its total production costs.


General Motors seems pleases with the Voltec platform, which allows for the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of purely-electric driving with the convenience and comfort of a gasoline engine, just in case.  The company is one of the few working on a split electric-gasoline engine, with other automakers focusing on all-electric vehicles.  Most recently, General Motors engaged Nissan in a war of words, contrasting the near 300 mile range of the Volt (including gasoline) to the mere 73 miles per charge of the Nissan Leaf.

The new AMP will join other competitors, namely the Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid and the Toyota RAV4 EV in an all out battle to merge efficiency with the cargo and passenger capacity of sport utility vehicles.  It is still too early to tell when, or if, production will begin, but with it’s first American debut one month away, it’s safe to say you won’t bee seeing this car at a dealership any time soon.

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