Commentary: Volt might give GM a jolt

General Motors has seen hard times in recent years. But its new Chevrolet Volt might electrify customers (pun intended) and make GM competitive in the international car market once again.

This fact alone makes the Volt interesting: It gets 230 mpg in city driving. That's four times more than the popular Toyata Prius Hybrid, the most efficient car now sold in America.

The Volt, however, is more accurately described as a true electric car than a hybrid, although it does have a small internal combustion engine. Unlike the Prius and other traditional hybrids, the Volt is powered by an electric motor and a battery pack with a 40-mile range. After that, the gas engine kicks in to generate electricity, giving the car a total range of 300 miles.

But a 40-mile range would cover around-town driving for most of us. Then, the Volt could be plugged into a conventional home outlet to be recharged overnight.

The Volt, at $40,000, is priced more like a luxury car than an economy car. But GM is working on an electric family sedan that will be priced considerably less.

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