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Chevrolet has pulled off a surprise announcement with news that a 2-door convertible version of the brand’s Volt electric hybrid will come to market as early as this summer. Set to make its debut next month during the New York Auto Show, the Volt convertible will be powered by the same hybrid gas/electric powertrain found in the sedan. Power comes from a lithium-ion battery pack or, when extra range is needed, a generator connected to a 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. Range is approximately 40 miles in electric-only mode, with about 200 additional miles provided by the small-displacement engine.
Of course, the biggest news here is what this version of the Volt doesn’t have—the four doors and roof found of the sedan. Thanks to the omnipresence of social media, not to mention our savvy spy photographers, automakers rarely surprise us with a totally unexpected model. But Chevrolet has pulled off a coup with the Volt convertible, a car no one expected or anticipated. “We kept our engineers busy when it came time to disguising prototypes as standard Volts,” said GM spokesperson Taylor Wildwood.
A Natural Eco-Convertible“The hardest part about engineering the Volt was the drivetrain,” explains Wildwood, who points out that the rigid chassis underpinning the sedan made it the ideal platform for a convertible. “The Volt is already built to be a class-leading electric vehicle, one with the added comfort of knowing the gasoline engine is there when you need extra driving range. We believe a convertible version of the Volt is totally in keeping with the surprise and delight qualities already found in the sedan.”Unlike most modern power-top convertibles, the Volt’s is lowered and raised manually to conserve the vehicle’s pure electric range. The entire process is faster than a power system and a rigid tonneau easily pops into place over the folded top for a nice, clean and fuss-free design. The one hand operation also means the top can be lowered while the vehicle is in motion. “Like the standard Volt sedan, we wanted the Volt convertible to offer all the things you expect, plus a few surprises,” says GM’s Wildwood. “We’re extremely excited about the new GM-patented photovoltaic film that covers two-thirds of the soft-top’s surface.”
Solar PoweredThis transparent film transforms the sun’s energy into solar power, which, according to Chevrolet, can be used to power interior cooling fans when the Volt is parked in hot weather. The stereo system and other vehicle functions that require a minimum of electrical energy can also receive supplementary power from the Volt’s convertible top. Despite the high-tech nature of this photovoltaic film, customers will still have a choice when it comes to matching personal style to their eco-friendly convertible. The Volt soft-top will be available in a choice of three colors: black, navy blue and tan.
However, the Volt’s 10.6 cu. ft. worth of cargo capacity is likely to suffer in the transformation from sedan to convertible. Chevrolet wouldn’t comment on the Volt convertible’s load-lugging capability, except to assure us that rear seat room will be “nearly identical” to the space provided in the Volt sedan. Full specs of the Volt convertible will be provided when the car is officially unveiled during the New York Auto Show.
As for price, Chevrolet has managed to keep one last trick up its sleeve. Despite the added cost and complexity of the soft-top, the Volt convertible will be priced only slightly more than its sedan counterpart. Our sources confirm a starting price of $43,000 (excluding state and federal incentives) when the Volt convertible goes on sale this summer.
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