Chevrolet Volt…Is it the future?
When I picked up my Volt on a Friday afternoon I was impressed..It is a nice looking car a bit bigger than I thought it would be. It is a four seat sedan because a hump in the back..the battery pack…eliminates the middle seat. Technically this is not purely an electric car..it has a backup engine to power the electric motor when the battery runs down..hence GM calls it an Extended Range Electric vehicle.
Once you get into the Volt and press the start button the first thing you will notice is the absolute silence. Once that soaks in the dash will amaze you. Like a modern airliner it is what they call an all glass cockpit..two multi-purpose screens provide all the information you need.
The centre panel also includes a back-up camera with trajectory indications. It also includes parking assist that beeps at you when you are too close to the car in front or in back of you. Notably absent were indications on the screen about the locations of whatever was causing it to beep.
The Volt is amazingly quiet, even at highway speeds. This compact size car drives more like a Cadillac..quiet and comfortable but, it handles like a sport sedan with torque to burn. You will notice the range in electric mode showed as 40Km because of the demands to keep the passengers moderately comfortable on a cold winter day. The summertime range is about 60Km with judicious use of the climate control..just put it on eco and let the computer control it.
Touch controls on the panel below the centre screen give you access to all the whistles and bells. A nice sounding Bose entertainment system features AM/FM, SiriusXM Radio, USB/iPod input andCD/DVD player with 30 GB Hard Drive for music storage. The Bluetooth hands free is a little more complicated than I like..You can buy an add-on system for less than $100 that will download your address book and react to “call so and so” with no fuss so I have never understood why it can’t be as simple with an installed system. That said, the Volt’s hands free is still pretty good..
The Volt comes standard with a very good navigation system that provides clear maps, solid turn by turn voice commands and great lane guidance that is especially valuable for complicated intersections.
Manual destination entry, like pretty much every system is a bit clunky but there is a better way using technology GM has been putting in cars well before tech was considered a necessary accessory.
Keeping the volt charged is pretty simple..it comes with a 110 volt charging kit that plugs into the industry standard outlet on the side of the car and any standard household outlet. It takes about 8 hours to deliver a full charge. If I owned a Volt I would install a 220 volt system in my garage that would deliver a full charge in 4 hours.
I drove the Chevrolet Volt for a weekend doing all my usual weekend messages with it. I drove for 71 Km and never ran out of charge..unfortunately I did use a little bit of gas because temperature both days was -12°C so the engine turned on to warm up the battery pack. By the way the engine start was almost silent and seamless.
I loved the silent running and the torque from the electric motor than made this a good performing car at all speeds. I could see myself owning the Volt….with one caveat..as I drove it, the Volt is a $50,000 car before taxes..my demonstrator was fully loaded with $6000 in extras. There are subsidies for buyers of electric cars that vary depending on where you live..still the most generous will just cover the taxes so expect to fork over 50 big ones for a fully loaded Chevrolet Volt. But, is it the future? I think so..improvements in battery technology will bring the price down and improve the range.