General Motors Co. is moving to boost the confidence of car buyers in the durability of its new Chevrolet Volt electric car with an eight-year warranty on its battery.
The Detroit automaker made the announcement at the factory in Brownstown Township, Michigan, where the batteries will be built. Next year, GM will build 10,000 of the cars, which run on all-electric drive for 40 miles before a gasoline engine recharges the battery. The Volt will initially be sold this year in parts of Texas, New York, California and Washington, D.C.
GM is seeking to use the Volt to challenge the high-tech image Toyota Motor Corp. won with the success of the Prius hybrid, said Jim Hall, principal of consulting firm 2953 Analytics in Birmingham, Michigan. Doing so will require GM to ensure the car performs and to stand behind it with a strong warranty, he said.
“Toyota defined what a hybrid was with Prius,” Hall said. “GM can define an extended-range electric vehicle, but if the car doesn’t perform well, you have a fiasco.”
While GM hasn’t given a price on the Volt yet, executives have said they want to keep it below $40,000.
Tom Stephens, GM’s vice chairman of global product operations, said the car’s battery can last longer than the warranty. Even after eight years, the unit should have 70 percent of its capability, Stephens said. The vehicle would still drive fine, though with less all-electric range, he said.
“We wouldn’t put out a warranty like this if we didn’t think we had capability beyond it,” he said.
The Volt’s official mileage rating may be different than the 230 mpg the company promoted a year ago, Stephens said. The Environmental Protection Agency may give different ratings for long drives that rely more on the gasoline engine and for short trips that use little or no gas, Stephens said.