Sunday, July 10, 2011

2011 Chevrolet Volt

The Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle is powered by a 111 kW (150 horsepower) electric motor with electricity stored in a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. A 1.4-liter gasoline engine does not power the car but is used to recharge the battery and extend the available range on electric power. The range is expected to be 40 miles on electric power when the battery is fully charged and extend to 300 miles when the fuel tank is full.
A comfortable and attractive interior. 127 mpg. No range anxiety. What's not to like? After years of very public development, the Chevy Volt is finally here and delivers on the hype. For the first 30 or 40 miles after an overnight charge, the Volt is the best-handling, most comfortable all-electric car you could find. It's almost silent yet delivers a driving experience indistinguishable from other $40,000 cars. I intentionally performed as many errands as I could think of during a day, covering 64 miles yet using only 0.50 gallons of gas and never once worrying about running out of electricity. The only compromises forced on a Volt owner are a little less legroom for rear passengers and a slight tendency to bottom out when braking hard for a corner on an uneven surface. The Volt is very impressive. –Paul Hagger
After years of anticipation, I wasn't sure the Chevrolet Volt could live up to all the hype. However, I found it to be an interesting vehicle and one that I enjoyed driving immensely. It feels quick and responsive, although a bit heavy from the extra weight of the battery. And there is plenty of power on tap. It is odd, though, to hear the gasoline engine running while you can feel the electric motor propelling the car. For me, that will take some getting used to. The fuel-economy computer resets automatically after each charge, and once the gasoline engine kicks in, the computer includes all the miles traveled since the charge to compute mileage. I saw as high as 300 mpg, but it's actually more like 30 mpg when the gas engine is producing the electricity. –Mike Meredith
The Volt is easily one of the most innovative cars on the road today — not to take anything away from the Nissan Leaf, because it too is an impressive piece of technology. But the Volt adds a level of versatility not found in the Nissan. The Volt provides all the benefits of an electric car — albeit with a smaller electric range than the Leaf's — but without the usual concern about range because of the onboard gas engine. When the 30- to 40-mile electric range is exhausted, the engine almost undetectably starts up to provide power to the electric motor, extending the driving range to around 250 miles. Access to a 220-volt charging station at work and 110 power at home made it possible to travel more than 100 miles while only using a half-gallon of gasoline. Aside from the impressive technology, the Volt looks great inside and out. There's plenty of cargo space and a roomy rear seat, and in general the car feels solid. One annoyance with the cargo space: With no divide behind it and the rear seat, braking hard put my groceries into the rear seat. Performance is impressive — at the cost of a few miles in electric range, the Volt can move off the line very quickly, and freeway cruising at 70 mph is no problem. The Volt would be high on my list as a daily driver, able to fill the role of electric commuter as well as that of primary family vehicle. –Perry Stern

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