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CNET News Video: Daily Debrief: GM Volt to the rescue?
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CNET News Video: Daily Debrief: GM Volt to the rescue?

3:54 /

General Motors is hoping the Volt is the car to save the company and revolutionize the industry. But are consumers going to be willing to pay $40,000 for a sedan that looks like a Chevy Malibu and gets anywhere from 40 to 100 miles per gallon? On Wednesday's Daily Debrief, CNET's Kara Tsuboi and Brian Cooley discuss GM's electric offering that's still two years away from hitting showrooms.

[ Music ] ^M00:00:02 >> Welcome to the Daily Debrief, I'm CNET's Kara Tsuboi here with Editor-At-Large Brian Cooley to talk about the new GM Volt. >> Yeah. >> And just yesterday we saw our very first photos and video of the production vehicle. >> Yeah. >> Why don't you describe it? >> They rolled this car out of this 100th birthday for General Motors. >> Okay. >> What a horrible year for them to turn a hundred, I mean, the business is really in the tank. But this is the car that's supposedly will save the company, or at least turn it around. You can see it looks, kind of like a Malibu from the front, which didn't excite a lot of the critics. >> No, why? >> Because there was a prototype version that look much racier and more concept. Well, production car is to look like production cars. Once you get around the side and the back, it's a little more interesting looking. Even though it's still, you know what it is, an everyday car. They're in get in everyday driver, so don't expect this to be some kind of electric Ferrari. >> Or the Tesla by any means. >> No, exactly. >> Okay, but the fact that it is electric. I mean, like you said, it's -- hopefully, gonna save the company. >> Yeah. >> How fancy is this? How much -- how many miles can you go on a single charge? >> How it works is the first thing to understand. It has an electric motor, which actually drives the wheels. And there's a gas engine also, but it never drives the car. It just runs the generator that charges the batteries to keep running electric motor. >> Okay. >> So, it's what they call the Series hybrid as opposed to today's cars are parallel hybrids. Both engines work at once, side by side. In this one, the gas engine it's just a helper for the electric engine's battery. So that's the big idea. It's a very different way to engineer a car. If they get the kind of MPG ratings that are stratospheric, this will rewrite the book on miles per gallon in the horrible car, but that's one of the big questions is how are they gonna rate the MPG on this vehicle. The EPA doesn't know what to do with it. Is it fish or fowl? How do you drive it? How long will the circuit be? Do you want it to run it on battery only and then rate it or do you let the gas engine kick in. Do you wanna drain the tank, do you wanna drain the battery, what did they do with it. And that's where some reports indicate that they may give it anywhere between a 48 and 100 mile per gallon rating. >> Wow. >> That's a big difference. >> Yeah, big range. >> That will make or kill the product. >> Now where you said a few minutes ago, affordable. How much is this gonna cost? >> The rumors are, as much as $40,000. >> Wow. >> I don't know if that's base or well-equipped as they say in the car biz. >> Sure. >> I wouldn't be surprised if that's base, but with a fair amount of equipment. Here's you gonna have Bluetooth, and Bluetooth streaming, built-in and you have to option up a hard drive base nav system that would also have a media servers. So there's options, but it will come fairly well-equipped. It's not a base car. It's considered a mid-range car with high-technology. So, it's not cheap. The miles per gallon are big question mark and the styling maybe polarizing, but it's a key potential break-through for an American car company to move forward in mind-share of being cutting-edge. >> By cutting-edge you still have to wait two years until the consumers can actually get his hands on it. >> That's right. Production is not slated for a full two- years from now. >> Wow. >> Late 2010 they're saying. So this roll-out of this production car made us all go -- wow, that's great. Will it release, stay looking exactly like that. >> Sure. >> For two long years? >> Yeah. >> Won't you guys make any tweaks? But they say this is the production car. I think maybe slightly revised, but the key is they're gonna work out the whole power train, the battery technology is the biggest hurdle that they're figuring out between now and showroom date. >> And obviously, GM is foreseeing this, you know the price of oil continue to rise over the next two years. >> Yeah. >> Their sales continue to decline. I mean this that really needs to happen for this company to stay afloat. >> And they also need to see consumers staying in this mindset of... >> Exactly. >> Wow, gas is expensive. What if we get used to three to $4 a gallon and what if it stays about there for the next two years. What if we go back to our SUVs and decide, you know what, this crazy unproven electric type car for $40,000 -- I don't know. >> Yeah. >> That could be a big factor, too. That's a soft factor. You can't really measure that or project it and that's one of the big wild cards. >> Absolutely, well, two years to go, I'm sure we're gonna see a lot more changes, mutations to this body. >> Yeah. >> And... >> In all the car companies are gonna be chasing this basic ideas. >> Absolutely. >> So this is not the only car doing what it will do. >> Thank you very much. Editor-At-Large Brian Cooley, I'm Kara Tsuboi. We'll see you at the next daily Debrief. ^M00:03:50 [ Music ]

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