The battery pack is one of the most vital and expensive components in a hybrid car, and the fear that it would fail is one mental hurdle in consumers’ minds. General Motors seems to understand this issue and has rolled out an 8-year, 160,000 km battery warranty for its upcoming Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid. GM says that it’s the longest and most comprehensive warranty offered by an automaker on batteries that will cover 161 parts of the power pack. The warranty is transferable.

The Volt works on a range extender system and is powered with electricity at all times. For up to the first 65 km, it’s powered solely by electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery, using no fuel and producing no emissions. When the lithium-ion battery runs low, an engine/generator seamlessly operates to extend the driving range by another 480 km on a full tank of fuel.

The Volt is the only mass-market EV with a battery that can be warmed or cooled. The battery is designed to provide reliable operation at temperatures from -25 C to over 50 C. In cold weather, the battery will be preheated during charging to provide full power capability. In hot weather – the most challenging environment for a battery – the Volt’s unit can be chilled during charging.

Did you know that fully charging or fully depleting a battery shortens its life? The Volt’s energy management system never fully charges or depletes the battery and has top and bottom “buffer zones” to ensure a longer life. Another cool fact about the Volt’s battery is that more than 500 diagnostics run at 10 times per second, ensuring the the battery is operating safely and keeping track of performance and life.

Sales of the Volt and its European Opel/Vauxhall Ampera equivalent will start in 2011.