General Motors Corp has announced plans for a significant production run of its plug-in Chevy Volt.

Jon Lauckner, GM’s Vice president for Global Program Management said that the Company hopes to start production in 2010. “We’re talking about large numbers — in the tens of thousands. It’s not a niche market” he said. He acknowledged that the current high cost of batteries was a problem but said that GM expected prices to fall as production ramps up.

Chevy Volt Concept
Chevy Volt Concept

Plug-ins, such as the Volt, are designed for short trips powered entirely by an electric motor with a battery charged from an ordinary domestic power point. In the case of the Volt, a petrol engine will take over when the battery runs down after about 65 kilometres.

Meanwhile, the University of Technology, Sydney, has developed the first Australian plug-in. The vehicle is a converted Toyota Prius which can achieve 50 kilometres on a purely electric motor before the standard Prius hybrid kicks in.

The UTS vehicle haso has the ability to return surplus power to the grid – and to make toast! It is expected to make a its first major road trial, from Sydney to Melbourne, in March.