2013 Chevrolet Volt (977)


This week we’re looking at the 2013 Chevrolet Volt because in all fairness, it deserves another look since 2011.

The last look in this column discussed an automotive engineers view of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation into battery fires in the Chevrolet Volt.  But this is one of the most important cars ever built by General Motors or any company. The fire problem was caused by an internal defect in the battery pack.

It is important to mention buy my take is that this is a lot to do about nothing when you consider the growth of the industry for over the past 100 plus years. There have always been glitches in design and they always get fixed.

As for this innovative transportation energy source vehicle, the sales have been relatively few, which is understandable, since it’s a $40,000 Compact car that is nearly experimental. Clearly, the Volt is an example of GM creativity that comes to us from great experience, and GM has always been a company known for excellence over the years.


General Information: 

It is assembled in Detroit, MI. Classification is Compact.

Cars from Chevrolet:

Avalanche, Aveo, Aveo5, Camaro, Colorado, Corvette, Cruze, Equinox, Express / Cargo van, HHR, Impala, Malibu / hybrid, Silverado 15,25 and 3500 and Hybrid, Sonic, Spark, Suburban, Tahoe / Hybrid, Traverse and Volt.


Opinion and Observation – Automotive Innovation:

History: 1948 – Daimler Mercedes Benz introduced Electric Windows; 1940 – First car to have air conditioning was a 1940 Packard; 1938 – Buick introduced turn signals; 1929 – First car radio introduced; 1923 – First Supercharger Ferdinand Porsche, Stuttgart, Germany; 1920 – Power steering invented by Francis Davis; 1903 – Windshield wipers patented; 1885 – first patent for seat belts; 1901 – invention of disc brakes by British inventor Frederick William Lanchester; 1901 – New York first state to require license plates that were called “Number Plates”. France did it in 1893;

1898 – First drive shaft invented by Louis Renault; 1890 – Canadian Thomas Ahearn invented the first electric car heater;

Handling & Performance:

I found with a full charge I could travel 35-38 miles before the engine kicked in. It is clear to me that if you live within 40 miles of work and can plug in at the office you will indeed get the maximum MPG and this can be an inexpensive car to operate. Of course, if work is only 20 miles from home, this car makes even more sense. A full charge takes about 4 hours, but I found it was better when left plugged in all night.

It has an 8 year 100,000 mile battery and Voltec Component warranty and 5 year power train warranty.


I like the look and always found others agreed that it is attractive.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.


Not so good. This is where the Volt falls down a bit. I’m guessing that those I’ve discussed this with are correct in thinking the price is high because of the huge development cost. I understand  GM doesn’t have any choice in selling at this price because no one can take a loss on every car sold.

Conveniences and comfort:

The Volt is eligible for single occupancy HOV land Access in California and New York and that is worth the price of admission for many, if of course, you live in either of those states.

Consumer Recommendation:

Although it does what it says it does as far as the economics of operation, the cost to purchase initially will take much of the advantage of operations away. Consider how long it will take to make up the difference in cost to buy compared to almost any other compact car with only an internal combustion engine. You do the math based on a compact at $20,000 that gets 40 MPG and this Volt at $40,000 even if it gets 80 MPG. I believe few will be able to justify the extra cost  of the Volt…  unless of course you are related to Al Gore or buy his BS about our duty to the environment while he represents a huge carbon footprint for his part.

Recognized Competition:

Chevrolet Volt $39,000, Ford Focus $39,000, Honda Fit EV $37,000, Nissan LEAF $29,000.

Good News:

Nice looking, comfortable commuter that is VERY efficient to operate if your commute is less than 20 miles.

Bad News:

Cost overall is hard to justify.

Standard Equipment:

1.4 liter internal combustion engine, Electric Drive unit, Lithium Ion battery propulsion, front, side roof rail airbags, 4-wheel ABS disc brake system, LATCH child system, thert deterrent and alarm, stability control with traction control, remote keyless entry with remote start, power door locks with lockout protection, tire pressure monitor, keyless access, heated power mirrors, rear defroster, 17” aluminum painter wheels, Mylink radio with XM and 7” screen and 6 speakers, climate control, tilt and telescoping steering wheel with radio controls, efficiency display screens, cruise control, front bucket seats, rear 40/40 split folding seatback, power windows, USB port and Bluetooth hands free.

Gas Stats:

$3.79/ Gal avg. May 12, 2013


for more information.

37 MPG Gas Only and 98 MPG Electric only / Combined City and Highway MPG


MSRP $39,145.
Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

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