This variant of the E-Flex system uses GM's new fifth-generation fuel cell propulsion technology and a lithium-ion battery to provide up to 300 miles (483 km) of petroleum- and emissions-free electric driving. It is plug-in capable, adding up to 20 additional miles (34 km) each time it is charged, further reducing trips to the refueling station.
GM's fifth-generation fuel cell system is half the size of its predecessor, yet it provides the same power and performance. The fourth generation currently powers the Chevrolet Sequel concept vehicle. The Sequel stores 8 kg of hydrogen and delivers a range of 300 miles (483 km). The fuel cell Volt will also deliver 300 miles of range, but with only 4.0 kg of hydrogen (75 miles / kg). Big improvement, but what's the cost?
The E-Flex fuel cell variant also showcases GM's third-generation wheel hub motors, packaged inside the rear wheel to add considerable torque for all-wheel electric drive capability. The new coreless motor technology reduces mass and produces more power compared to the first generation shown in 2003.
The fuel cell propulsion system is packaged entirely under the hood and is equivalent in size to a four-cylinder engine with automatic transmission. The Volt also features molded GE plastic panels on the fenders, window glazings, instrument panel and steering wheel, which offer between 30 percent and 50 percent weight reduction per part.
The first varient of the E-Flex system was the Chevrolet Volt concept which is a battery electric vehicle with 40 miles of all electric-range and uses a small bio-fuel engine with a generator to extend its range to 640 miles (1030 km).
"E-Flex provides flexibility in two ways: in the propulsion systems that can be used, and in the sources of energy that can be commercialized to compete with oil and meet global transportation growth in a sustainable way," said Larry Burns, GM's vice president of Research and Development and Strategic Planning.