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Chevy Volt Not Quite What We Expected

If you were expecting the arrival of the Chevy Volt to be the beginning of the electric car revolution you’re going to be disappointed. Back when GM was on the verge of collapse the Volt was put forward as GM’s answer for the future. But more than two years later the Volt has turned out to be somewhat less than we had hoped for.

According to a review in the Globe and Mail the Volt is a disappointment in a number of ways…

Price – $41,000 U.S. Comes with a 10-12 hour plug in charger. If you want the 240 volt 4 hour charger that will be another $490 plus the installation of a 240 volt outlet (approx. $1000-$1500).

Range – This is the biggest disappointment. Somewhere between 40 and 80 km (25-50 mi)

Performance – sluggish – “…the Volt felt less like the car of tomorrow and more like an overweight Chevrolet Cruze, the new compact to which it is related: less responsive, not as nimble, falling short of Cruze’s exceptional ride and road-holding.”

Technology – This is also a major downer. The Volt has been turned into a hybrid. Because of the poor battery performance the car has been given a 1.4 four cylinder gasoline engine. The primary drive unit is the electric (battery powered) system. But when the batteries start running out of juice the gas motor kicks in automatically. Some of the power from the gas motor is used to partially recharge the batteries. This gives the Volt a cruising range of 560 km between fuel refills. Depending on driving habits less than 100km of that are from the batteries.

It continues to surprise me that a company the size of GM cannot do better than this.

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Rick says:

Hi Mike – Thanks for your excellent first hand account of the Volt’s performance. I haven’t driven one myself and would not pretend to know much about them. I’m glad to hear it performs as well as it does.

BTW, I doubt it will actually beat a Ferrari up to 60. One of my golfing buddies has a couple of them and they are scary fast. We’re talking plastered-to-the-back-of-your-seat-unable-to-move fast.

Mike Pedigo says:

Hi Rick:

I don’t know if you have test driven a Chevy Volt. Performance is outstanding, probably will beat a Ferrari up to 60 mph.

We have a new Volt and use it as a general family vehicle. Except for running to the grocery story, doctors, schools, etc. we took the car on weekend trips of 70, 120 to 160 miles each. The car now has about 700 miles on it and we have used 5 gallons of gasoline. So far we really have not used any gasoline while driving the Volt in our local metro area (Santa Cruz, CA).

Unlike normal hybrids the Volt is an electric car. The on-board engine only drives a generator and does not directly power the wheels. Even when the batttery is depleted, and the car is using the engine for extended range, the performance is outstanding.

With the Volt there seems to be no down-sides. What you get is tremendous acceleration, very quiet running, a good ride, very low energy costs, alot of high tech gadgets, and enough range to drive across a continent.