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2011 Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt
2011 Chevrolet Volt PHOTO BY LARRY CORNWELL Speedracer Syndication

Cutting Room Floor: Unlike most vehicles, when you pull on the turn signal stalk to flash the lights in the Volt, the horn blows too. I asked an OnStar representative why and was told that it was a safety feature, because the Volt is so quiet. This is true, but the problem is that most people are not use to this and did cause some potentially raw reactions. GM has always been great at marketing its cars, and it showed with the Volt. A lot of people knew what it was, with one driver jumping from his truck at an intersection to tell me that he was going to buy one. That being said, Chevrolet has not sold many Volts at all, which is surprising to me.

Before I sink my teeth into the meat of the matter, an explanation is needed first. Traditional hybrids like the Ford Fusion hybrid or the Toyota Prius are assisted by electric motors. These electric motors will propel the car from 0 up to a certain limit, whether that limit be speed or distance. Typically this distance limit is around 34 miles or so. Once this limit is reached, the gasoline engine kicks in and propels the car.

The Chevrolet Volt is similar but different. It is similar in that it has a gasoline engine too, but it is also a plug model. It is different because this gasoline engine is only used as an electric generator. This engine/generator does not propel the car but only generates more electricity, which in turn moves the car.Unlike electric models such as the Nissan Leaf, which has a tested range just over 100 miles, the Chevrolet Volt can continue far beyond that.

When using a standard 110v outlet to charge the Chevrolet Volt as I did, it will take between 12 to 14 hours for a full charge. A 220v power conversion kit will no doubt cut this charge time to six to eight hours, or the amount of time the typical car sits overnight before the next work day.

When it comes to models like the Chevrolet Volt, the most demanded and most important information is one of efficiency. The fact that the Chevrolet Volt has the low slung stance and style of a sports car is secondary. Even the Volts near luxury ride and four supportive, but comfortable sport seats is secondary. The Volts good trunk space in the Volt is secondary.

As you would expect, the Volt is quiet, but it is very smooth as well. Even in the most luxurious models, vibrations from internal combustion engines and traditional transmissions are all but imperceivable. However, when you drive an electric model like the Volt, the absence of these vibrations is magnified. But again that too is secondary.

Now let us get down to it. The Chevrolet Volt achieved a combined city/highway average between 66 & 68 “mpg” during my week long test. My shortest range in assisted electric mode was 27 miles on one gallon of gasoline generated electricity. This was impressive because this was achieved in the mountains where the elevation put the most strain on the generator. The fact that I had two adult passengers with me on this trip made this even more impressive. My longest non-assisted electric charge was 62 miles.

By my estimation, the Volts range could be extended far beyond the 622 total miles that I achieved. These 622 miles was covered on neighborhood streets, busy roads, highways, mountains and speeds up to 101mph.

When I ride my all carbon-fiber Specialized Roubaix bicycle into work, it’s a 15 mile ride each way covering 30 miles round trip. Even with stops by restaurants, or errands runs to the grocery store or pharmacy most of these points are along my ride route. This means that someone with a 220v charger could get a full charge every night after work. In turn, they could drive the Volt for days without tapping into the gasoline generator.

Long story short, the Chevrolet Volt delivers the goods.

While the $40,000+ price is steep, I am surprised that Chevrolet has not sold more Volts. If you are looking or considering the Nissan Leaf, or a traditional hybrid take a serious look at the Chevrolet Volt. For additional information, find the Facebook page 2k11 Chevrolet Volt.