The new Volt is part of GM's so-called E-Flex strategy to develop a family of electric vehicle propulsion systems. The plan is to match the basic electric-drive system with various recharging sources, including engines that burn gasoline, ethanol and biodiesel fuels as well as hydrogen fuel cells. "Basically, the drive side will be a black box that can get electricity from a variety of sources," Zielinsky says. In Europe, the car would be fitted with a diesel engine, whereas in Brazil the power plant would burn E100 ethanol. Meanwhile, the fuel cell variant would feature a smaller battery for energy-storage purposes, as GM's next-generation, high-energy density fuel cell stack will be able to provide sufficient quantities of electricity to the motor on its own.
The well-known limitations of battery technology kept the EV-1 from practical and market success--and continue to hinder the progress of battery-only electric vehicles--but GM's development of the Volt just might lead to a new film titled: Who Revived the Electric Car?