That is the production targeted by General Motors for the introductory year of the Chevrolet Volt, according to Bloomberg News. Bloomberg said the information came from a GM insider. GM’s Robert Lutz has predicted the Volt’s introduction by late 2010.
At that production level, GM would be building four times as many Volts in the introductory year as Toyota did of the Prius in its first year on the market. Putting that into perspective, Chevrolet plans to produce as many Volts in its first year as Toyota did of the Prius in its fifth year.
Of course, the comparisons aren’t entirely fair, as Toyota was establishing a market and GM is merely entering an established market. But if they can sell 60,000 Volts in the first year, waiting may have been a sound strategy.
But the big impact of that volume is on price. According to Bloomberg, targeting that level of production will allow General Motors to price the Volt below $30,000. That would still be above the $22,000 base price of a Prius, but the Volt is much more attractive than the anticipated next generation Prius, which appears to be an evolution of the rather plain current model. Currently, the average price of a new car in the United States is about $28,000.
The Volt differs from current hybrids because, first, it is plug-in capable and can be charged on household current and, second, the on-board internal combustion engine is used only to recharge the battery as the car travels, while the electric motors are the exclusive means of propulsion. The Prius uses it’s engine to move the car, with the electric motors only kicking in at lower speeds and when accelerating from a stop.
It is known, of course, that Toyota is working on an improved version of the Prius which would use lithium ion batteries and, thereby, be plug-in capable, too. The company expects to be testing such vehicles in Japan by the end of this year, but has publicly acknowledged that it is not yet close to production of a lithium ion battery powered car