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USA: Under the hood: GM blueprint for Volt 2.0

TROY, Michigan (Reuters) – The Chevrolet Volt stands as the most heavily promoted – and harshly scrutinized – vehicle from General Motors Co in decades. And that’s just version 1.0.

Amid the debate, one aspect of the Volt has escaped the notice of fans and critics alike: the roadmap for potential upgrades GM left buried deep inside.

A bolt-by-bolt, surgical deconstruction of the Volt attended by Reuters without the involvement of GM showed how the plug-in hybrid was designed for relatively quick upgrades such as a longer driving range under electric power.

By leaving what amounts to a blank slate at the heart of the Volt’s complicated electronic controls, GM has cleared the way – if the Volt succeeds – for the quick improvements more common in consumer electronics than the slower-moving auto industry, analysts said.

The glimpse of GM’s ambition for future versions of the Volt comes at a make-or-break moment for the vehicle, designed to provide 40 miles of pure-electric driving range before a gasoline-generator kicks in to keep it rolling.

Chief Executive Dan Akerson sees the Volt’s electric-drive technology as an area where GM leads rivals like Toyota Motor Corp and has pushed to drive it into other vehicles so it can start to make money for the U.S. company.
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