Why Is Everyone Going Crazy About the Chevrolet Volt?
Considering there are a handful of electric cars coming out next year and a hybrid in almost every automaker’s line-up, what makes the Chevrolet Volt so special?
The key is in the drivetrain. While the Volt comes with a gasoline powered engine, this is no hybrid; the drive-train is fully electric. The internal combustion engine is a battery charger, which extends the estimated 40 electric-only miles to about 360 additional miles, using just nine gallons of gas. This is one of only two cars coming to market that utilize this type of drivetrain. The other car is the Fisker Karma, which will set you back about $87,000, while the Chevrolet Volt is a palatable $41,000. Both cars are eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit which makes the sticker price sting a little less.
I was recently given the opportunity to test drive the 2011 Chevrolet Volt at the State Fair of Texas. I jumped at the opportunity to preview a car that I have been anticipating for about two years now. The first thing I noticed was how stylish the car was considering that it was developed with aerodynamic resistance in mind.
Climbing inside the car is like climbing in to the cockpit of an airplane. The instrument cluster is a LCD monitor and that is accompanied by a center-mount touch-screen LCD display which combines climate control, navigation and economy displays to provide a nice infotainment display. Pushing the start button the first thing that went through my head was “is it running?” which was answered when I put the transmission in drive and took off around the test track. Because this car is near silent when running on the batteries only, GM has included a number of synthetic noise makers, so as the “chirp” of the turn signal.
Driving the car around the curvy test track, which was designed to keep speeds low, it was evident that the car was very nimble even despite a curb weight of around 3,500 pounds (1,588 kg) and a street tuned suspension. The GM employee with me attributed that to the mounting location of the batteries and the resulting low center of gravity.
After having an opportunity to experience the car in person I’d say that GM has really done something special here. They have shown their engineering prowess by making a car that is completely different than what is in their standard lineup. While there was the EV1 once upon a time, it is no comparison to this new-age electric car.
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