GM's plug-in hybrid concept: the Chevy Volt

Rumors have been swilling about an upcoming plug-in hybrid from GM, and it just hit the wires in all its gas-budget-friendly wonderment. While the Chevy Volt concept car does kick it 20th century style with an internal combustion engine, the 71 hp, 1.0L three cylinder engine isn't directly hooked up to the wheels. Instead, GM's new E-Flex platform uses the engine to automatically keep a 40 mile li-ion battery charged, which in turn powers the car. With a full fuel tank, the Volt has a range of 640 miles, but the battery should do just fine for most commutes, with an overnight charge (6-6.5 hours) off of a standard 110V wall outlet to fill the juice. As for performance, the Volt can manage 0-60 in 8.5 seconds, which isn't terrible for a four door sedan that's saving you a bundle on gas money -- to the tune of roughly 500 gallons per year for the average commuter. Unfortunately, this one's just a concept for now, with no potential production plans in sight. The big holdup is the batteries, since powering a car solely on li-ion is still a bit of a risky proposition given the fact that nobody has brought one to market yet (we're all rooting for you, Tesla). GM's also vying for an actually financially viable solution: a total cost of ownership that bests current production cars. You'll hear no complaints from this side.