This article explains how Chevrolet promises you will get more bang for your buck with the Chevrolet Volt.
To say Chevrolet executives are excited about launching the new Chevrolet Volt is almost on a par with saying NASA officials were excited to see the first astronauts land on the moon. The Chevrolet guys and gals are quick to point out the Volt is NOT a hybrid, but a unique all-electrically driven vehicle designed and engineered to operate in any climate, with a range of up to 379 miles.
“The Chevrolet Volt makes the electric driving experience as productive, efficient, intuitive, safe and fun as any premium vehicle its size in the market today,” says Doug Parks, Volt global vehicle line executive.
My husband and I recently joined a group of car writers in the picturesque Texas hill country, near Lake Travis just outside the state capital of Austin, to test drive these highly touted new vehicles. This proved to be a great place to drive the new vehicles, with lots of winding roads and beautiful scenery near The Crossing Resort on the lake. The first Chevrolet Volts arrived in Austin, one of the first retail launch markets, late December.
South Central Regional Communications Director Craig Eppling jumped in the roomy backseat of the four-passenger Volt hatchback sedan to join us for a first drive, telling us the “heart” of the Volt is the Voltec electric propulsion system, combining battery-only electric driving with an efficient, gas-powered engine. This adds up to 379 miles before the battery either has to be recharged or the gas tank refilled.
One of the more amazing things about the Volt is how quiet it is. Without the radio on, and with the windows rolled up, it was abnormally quiet on country roads. The revolutionary Voltec propulsion system delivers from 25 to 50 miles of electric driving with a 16 kWh lithium-ion battery and 111 kW (149 HP) electric drive unit, supplemented by up to 344 miles of extended range with its 1.4 L engine. The Volt’s aerodynamic exterior, lightweight wheels, specially designed tires, and other details make it one of the quietest and most energy-efficient vehicles on the road.
Just as remarkable as the silence from the engine, we discovered on a longer drive the following morning that when the Volt switches from all-electric to gasoline mode, there is absolutely no indication that you’ve switched modes—unless you are watching the command center, which plainly shows that you are now powered by gasoline.
“The Volt can be the only car you need to own. The Volt delivers it all: a revolutionary propulsion system, progressive styling, industry-leading safety, premium amenities and user-friendly technologies, and spirited driving dynamics,” said GM North America President Mark Reuss.
The Volt is also very sporty looking for such a sensible vehicle. Extensive use of high-strength steel materials and other state-of-the-art safety features, combined with updated technologies including configurable display and OnStar directions and connection service, truly seem to make the Volt in a class of its own. With the new OnStar MyLink mobile app, the driver can manage the charge of the battery and display vital stats.
The Volt’s long-life battery consists of a 5.5-foot, 435-pound T-shaped, 16 kWh lithium-ion battery pack manufactured in Michigan. It supplies energy to an advanced 111 kW electric-drive unit to propel the vehicle. The battery is covered by an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty. It can be charged by either 110 or 220 volts (obviously 220 is much faster), and cities who pride themselves on being greener than most, like Austin, are building plug-in stations downtown.
Chevrolet hopes to build 10,000 Volts in 2011, with an MSRP of $40,280 (although there are some online postings of people complaining of dealers charging $5,000 or more over sticker price). There is also a tax refund of $7,500 for purchasers of the Volt.
While the Volt may not be “one small step for mankind,” it’s still a giant leap into a greener future for all of us.