This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Tue, Nov 2, 2010
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Finally, the left and right can agree on something… General Motors has managed to do what many politicians have promised, but failed miserably at—i.e., unite those on the left and right of the political spectrum. Unfortunately, what unites them appears to be mutual ire over how the new Chevrolet Volt has been presented to the public.
For years, GM had touted the Volt as an electric car with a gas motor back-up—or as the automaker put it, “an extended-range electric car.” Information released by GM led some to believe that the Volt is more of a plug-in hybrid electric gas vehicle, rather than an electric car. It turns out that when the Volt’s lithium-ion battery pack runs down at speeds near or above 70 mph, the vehicle's gasoline engine will drive the front wheels along with the electric motors—like a hybrid car. According to GM officials, this sleight-of-hand was deemed necessary in order to secure pending patents on the extended range electric car technology.
That’s left some environmentalists steaming because the Volt really isn’t a zero emissions vehicle. Similarly, some talk show pundits are angry because the technological wonderment of the Volt had been held out as a selling point for the government’s bailout of GM. With this backdrop, we recently had an opportunity to spend some drive time behind the wheel of the new Chevrolet Volt. All politics aside, this is really an amazing vehicle. Turn on the car, and it drives away in utter silence. Put it in power mode, and you’ll experience acceleration atypical of a compact hybrid. Handling is also in a league of its own. The Volt takes corners like a sporty grand touring vehicle. And the overall profile and stance of the car looks more like the kin to the Camaro and Corvette that it is, rather than the green vehicles that choose to look more like guppies than cars.
As for fit and finish, the Volt feels like an expensive piece of machinery—perhaps not $40,000+ expensive, but certainly in keeping with a mid-$30K car (which the Volt is, after including the available Federal subsidies). Whereas the graphic displays on many hybrids resemble the video cartoons off of a Nintendo Wii, the graphic display in the Volt is a work of art—more like something out of a high definition James Cameron movie. All-in-all, the Volt feels like a finished product—not the work-in-progress one might expect from such a cutting edge car designed in Detroit. At the raw MSRP of $41,000, it is asking a lot. However, at the project net of around $33,000 after the rebates and tax incentives, the Volt feels like it’s worth that amount of money. Even if it’s not exactly a pure electric car, there’s enough dazzle packed into this vehicle to satisfy the most demanding techno geek. Just give it enough time to let the political dust clouds clear. - Roy Nakano
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2011 Chevrolet Volt Vehicle type: 5-door, front-wheel-drive sedan Category: Plug-in hybrid with limited range pure electric operation Chassis: Independent MacPherson struts front, compound crank twist axle rear, four-wheel disc brakes, full regenerative brakes to maximize energy capture, electric power-assist steering Seating capacity: Four Manufacturing location: Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Performance Top speed (mph): 100 EV range, city (miles): The Volt is powered only from electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery for a typical range of 25-50 miles depending on terrain, driving technique, temperature and battery age. Battery system type: lithium-ion Energy (kWh): 16 Electric drive unit Power (kW / hp): 111 / 150 Torque (lb-ft / Nm): 273 / 370 Tire and wheel size: Specially developed low rolling-resistance tires on 17-inch forged aluminum wheels Dimensions Wheelbase (in / mm): 105.7 / 2685 Length (in / mm): 177 / 4404 Width (in / mm): 70.8 / 1798 Height (in / mm): 56.3 / 1430 Cargo volume (cu ft / L): 10.6 / 301
For more re-Volt-ing info, go to www.Chevrolet.com/Volt