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Despite slow sales, GM executive says the Chevrolet Volt is not dead

Chevy Volt review exterior front left side angle“The electric car is not dead,” Mark Reuss, President, General Motors North America told the Detroit News at this week’s Detroit Auto Show. Despite lower-than-expected sales, GM is still committed to its extended-range electric Chevrolet Volt.

The Volt is technically a plug-in hybrid, because it has an onboard gasoline engine. However, the engine is only used to power the wheels under very limited circumstances. Most of the time, it is used to recharge the Volt’s batteries.

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When it launched in late 2010, the Volt seemed the like the perfect compromise between zero-emission electric motoring and flexible gasoline power. However, sales numbers were disappointing.

In 2011, Chevy sold 7,671 Volts, falling short of its 10,000-unit goal. In early 2012, dealers had so many of the cars on their lots that production had to be shut down for a few weeks to get rid of them. Chevy still managed to move 23,461 unites in 2012, an increase of 205 percent, but still well short of GM’s 45,000-unit goal for the year.

Regardless, Reuss said GM “couldn’t be happier… with the Volt.” He believes the current Volt, and a second-generation model that will reportedly be a big improvement over the original, represents a first step toward an electric car (or presumably, a plug-in hybrid) that can rival the average gasoline car’s performance and price.

“We’ll see the day when we have an affordable electric car that offers 300 miles of range with all the comfort and utility of a conventional vehicle. We’re talking about a transformation here. And transformation takes time.”

The “affordable” part of that vision is what might take the most time. There is an electric car with a (nearly) 300-mile range, but it’s not made by GM. With the biggest, 85-kWh battery pack, the Tesla Model S has 265 miles of range, and its five-door hatchback body is very utilitarian. However, that Model S costs $79,900.

For the time being, GM’s confidence in electricity is also being expressed in a premium product. The Cadillac ELR uses the Volt’s powertrain, but Cadillac levels of luxury will probably add a significant amount to the sticker price. The ELR will be built alongside the Volt and the European Opel/Vauxhall Ampera at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, and economies of scale could eventually lower the price of the cars’ powertrains.

Last year’s Volt sales may have fallen short of GM’s expectations, but they still handily beat fully electric cars like the Nissan Leaf (9,819 sold) and Ford Focus Electric (685 sold).

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The 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: The first true American supercar
2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 front

There are a few monumental moments in American history: signing of the declaration of independence, the moon landing, and the unveiling of the 2015 Corvette Z06 here in Detroit.
If you think I am overselling this debut, you might be right. If you have even a modicum of American pride pumping through your veins, you might well agree with me. Honestly, the now-unveiled Z06 is already a thing of legend and stamp on the history books.
First-look video

Let’s start with the highlights – and one I think perfectly encapsulates the adroitness of the Z06. When fitted with the Z07 package, the Z06 – even during preliminary testing – has already recorded some of the fastest lap times ever for a Corvette, surpassing even the last-gen $100,000 Corvette ZR1. Let that sink in for a second.
How has it bested its older brother? It’s the first Z06 model to offer a supercharger. That’s right; under that long, shapely hood, Chevy wedged the all-new 6.2-liter LT4 V8 that makes over 625 horsepower and 635 pound-feet of torque. Backing that up is either a seven-speed manual or an all-new eight-speed automatic developed in-house by Chevrolet. To top it all off, the Z06 grips the road like never before thanks to its downforce-inducing body.
And oh what a body it is. Look at the damn thing. With that massive carbon fiber splitter, it looks like evil incarnate. I joked when we saw a teaser image of the Z06 that it was slathered in ‘combat yellow’ paint. Seeing the Z06 in its full livery is truly awe-inspiring. I’d say that, even with that yellow paint, the Z06 looks less combative than it does ominous. It draws you in with its razor-edge beauty but makes you a bit nervous for what’s in store for you behind the wheel.
Muscle to the nth degree
Chevrolet has made supercharged pushrod V8s for decades. None, however, is like the all-new 6.2-liter LT4.
Engineers were able to fit the supercharger and intercooler down into the valley of the motor, making it only about an inch (25 mm) taller than the standard, naturally aspirated LT1 V8 that powers the Stingray. Amazingly, for as compact as it is, the LT4 makes 37 percent more horsepower and 40 percent more torque than the LT1.
Engineers didn’t just get tricky with the supercharger packaging; they also added cylinder deactivation (one of the only supercharged V8s on the planet to receive such fuel-saving tech), direct injection, and variable valve timing. The result is a hunk of American aluminum built in Tonawanda, New York that makes at least 625 hp and 635 lb-ft.

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Chevrolet’s fast and light Camaro Z/28 returns for track duty

Just when we thought the Camaro couldn’t get any more awesome, Chevrolet has pulled off an epic comeback: the Camaro Z/28, a hallowed name from the 1960s, will be reborn as part of a refreshed 2014 Camaro lineup.
Chevy’s existing Camaro ZL1 sets a pretty high bar, but the Z/28 will be entirely different in character. It’s designed for one purpose: to devour racetracks. Chevy says the Z/28 is three seconds faster per lap than the ZL1 on its test track.
For that extra speed, buyers will have to sacrifice some comfort. Chevy removed interior sound deadening materials, the trunk carpeting, and installed thinner glass for the rear window.
Air conditioning is an option, and there is only one speaker for the stereo (which is now mono). General Motors North America president Mark Reuss said he wanted to remove all of the speakers, but engineers needed to leave one for the door chime.
Under the hood is a 4.0-liter naturally aspirated V8. Based on the unit from the C6 Corvette Z06, it produces 500 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. It’s coupled to a six-speed manual transmission.
Chevy also specified unique carbon ceramic brakes for the Z/28, specially designed to prevent fade during track driving.
The Z/28 gets the same revised styling as other 2014 Camaros, including a tweaked grille that Chevy says is more aerodynamic, and taillights that look like they were taken off a 2001 Honda Prelude. The Z/28 also gets a front splitter connected to an underbody tray for increased aerodynamic efficiency.
The original Z/28 became a legend because of its adroit combination of power and handling. It was designed to take on the Ford Mustang Boss 302 in Trans-Am racing, and that’s more or less the role the new Z/28 will fulfill.
Trans-Am is long gone, but the Boss 302 is still around. If the ZL1 is a no-compromise performance car like the Ford Shelby GT500, then the Z/28 is a track rat like the Boss.
The 2014 Chevy Camaro Z/28 will appear at track events in the spring of 2014, and will go on sale shortly after that. When it does, buying a Camaro will get a whole lot harder.

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Updated Chevrolet Camaro to bow at New York Auto Show

Only a select few will get their hands on a high-performance COPO Camaro, but everyone will be able to enjoy a refreshed 2014 model. Chevy will show the updated Camaro at the 2013 New York Auto Show later this month.
The 2014 Camaro won’t be fully redesigned, but it will boast a few updates that should keep it fresh until a completely new model arrives. However, Chevy isn’t saying what those updates will be, only hinting at enhancements to the car’s “design and performance attributes.”
Some small changes to the styling seem likely although, but with its blend of retro and modern cues, the Camaro is already among the best looking of the neo-musclecars. It’s unlikely that the changes will be significant enough to fix the car’s bunker-like windows, though.
Engine choices will probably remain the same. That means a 3.6-liter V6 with 323 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque in base models, a 6.2-liter V8 with 400 or 426 hp and 410 or 420 lb-ft in SS models, and a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 with 580 hp and 556 lb-ft in the ZL1.
The 2013 Camaro also offers Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system, which includes expected features like smartphone integration, Bluetooth, and Pandora and Stitcher connectivity.
The Camaro has been on sale since 2009, but Chevy has been steadily updating it over the years. The original deep-dish steering wheel was replaced by the Volt’s tiller in 2011, and a new center stack was added last year.
Like the rival Ford Mustang, Chevy has also added a few models to the Camaro lineup, including the range-topping ZL1 and the midrange SS 1LE.
We’ll learn more about the 2014 Camaro at the New York Auto Show, which begins March 27.
New York will also mark the U.S. debut of the 2014 Corvette Stingray convertible, and the first auto show appearance of the SS sports sedan, which was unveiled at Daytona, Florida in February.

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