200 mpgs in 2010

Is it possible to purchase a car mass produced in America that achieves over 200 mpgs? Not yet, but Chevy is planning on releasing it's electric car in late 2010. This achievement hasn't been approved by the EPA yet, so it's only Chevy claiming that this mpg is possible, but if a car can get anywhere near this gas mileage - it would be the first American car to reach the triple-digit goal.

But when the four-door family sedan hits showrooms late next year, its efficiency will come with a steep sticker price: $40,000.

Still, the Volt’s fuel efficiency would be four times more than the Toyota Prius hybrid, the most efficient car now sold in the U.S.

Most automakers are working on similar designs, but GM would offer the first mainstream plug-in with the Volt, which seats four and was introduced at the 2007 Detroit auto show.

The Volt will join a growing fleet of cars and trucks powered by systems other than internal combustion engines.

However, unlike the Prius and other traditional hybrids, the Volt is powered by an electric motor and a battery pack with a 40-mile range. After that, a small internal combustion engine kicks in to generate electricity for a total range of 300 miles. The battery pack can be recharged from a standard home outlet.

GM also is finishing work on the power cord, which will be durable enough that it can survive being run over by the car. The Volt will have software on board so it can be programmed to begin and end charging during off-peak electrical use hours.

It will be easy for future Volt owners living in rural and suburban areas to plug in their cars at night, but there will be re-charging challenges for those urban, apartment dwellers, or those who park their cars on the street. There could eventually be charging stations set up by a third-party to meet such a demand.

Right now - the first-generation Volt is expected to cost nearly $40,000 - making it cost-prohibitive to many people even if gasoline returns to $4 per gallon.

The price of the sporty-looking sedan is expected to drop with future generations of the Volt, and could be further supplemented with government tax credits of up to $7,500. The savings on fuel could make it more affordable, especially at 230 mpg.

But is the cost and inconvenience of plugging the car in at night worth the fuel savings?

What if gas were $8 a gallon? At what tipping point does the price of the car outweigh the cost of gas?

Mindy Crouchley

- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32370233/ns/business-autos//