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Google.org's RechargeIT initiative welcomed the Chevy Volt concept-car to our Mountain View campus yesterday. The Chevy Volt is a plug-in extended-range electric vehicle that operates on a combination of gasoline (biodiesel, E85, and gasoline fuels) and electricity. Its large lithium-ion battery pack allows it to run only on electricity for up to 40 miles. Since 78% of U.S. commuters drive 40 miles or less from work, charging overnight can provide enough energy for most daily commutes. On longer trips, the car uses its combustion engine as a "range extender" but GM still expects it to get about 150 miles per gallon. According to GM, the Volt is expected to save drivers 570 gallons (or $1368 per year, electricity included) in fuel cost.
Googlers were invited to check out the Volt and ask GM representatives questions about the vehicle as part an effort to showcase different green technologies and educate employees about their potential benefits. Many major auto-makers are exploring the production of plug-ins in the coming years, and we look forward to checking out other models on our campus as they become available. However, we also hope to see commitments to a schedule of production from the auto-makers so that cars like the Volt will be more than just displays on our campus. Plug-in vehicles are an important solution for reducing emissions produced by the transportation sector. Of course, by reducing emissions, we reduce our dependence on oil. We are happy to see auto-makers working to make this solution a reality.