How the Chevrolet Volt is a different kind of electric car

Electric cars used to be a green-tech dream. Now they’re an attainable reality: Estimates show global sales growing to 6.6 million electric cars per year by 2020, compared to just under 1 million sold last year.

It’s taken the public a long time to embrace the electric vehicle. The main reason? Range anxiety. With a pure electric vehicle, how far you can go depends entirely on how easy it is to charge the car — and drivers inevitably have to plan their trips around these charging events.

But extended-range technology has changed the game, and the first car on the market with that technology came from General Motors. Not quite a pure electric vehicle and not a hybrid, the Chevrolet Volt, introduced in 2010, was the first commercially available plug-in to use both an electric motor and a gasoline-powered generator. And the second-generation Volt, all-new for 2016, is even more impressive: Its advanced batteries offer drivers up to 53 miles of pure electric driving, and its 1.5-liter gas-powered generator can power the battery for a total range of up to 420 miles on a full charge and full tank of gas. (The EPA-estimated 53-mile EV range is based on a 106 MPGe combined city/highway on electric. The 367-mile extended range is based on 42 MPG combined city/highway on gas. Actual range varies with conditions.)

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