This week we’re looking at the 2012 Chevrolet Volt all electric passenger car. Remember the Saturn EV-1 all electric little coupe? Well that was truly all electric and nothing else. The Volt is not technically all electric, since it has a small engine to generate the electric charge for the batteries that in turn run the motor that powers the drive wheels. You can however charge the batteries from home where you charge the batteries by plugging into your electric outlets. It takes about 8 hours or you can hook up to 220 and charging takes 3 hours.
GM says, “The Volt is Chevrolet’s new front-wheel drive, four-passenger electric vehicle with extended range capability. Powered exclusively by the electric motor, the Volt also includes a small gasoline engine that powers a generator to charge the battery for additional range beyond the storage capacity of the battery. The Volt is expected to have a 40 mile range on electric power when the 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack is fully charged. The range increases to 300 miles with the battery fully charged and the fuel tank full. The battery can be recharged in less than 3 hours on 240 volts or in about 8 hours on a standard 120-volt outlet. Volt is expected to initially be available in California, Michigan, Washington D.C., New York and Austin, Texas. The Chevrolet Volt comes standard with the OnStar advanced communication system.”
Handling & Performance:
Other than being quiet as a mouse while running it is a nice performer and very comparable to a conventional gas powered car of similar size. 0-60 mph was clocked at about 8 seconds. Not bad.
This is a very nice looking car in my opinion. It is immediately recognizable but I think that is because I had driven the car. You know when you own a Chevy Malibu you notice ever one on the highway. Chevrolet has always had such classic styling and GM generally. At a car rally at Bob’s Big Boy in Taluka Lake (Friday Nights) I saw so many Chevy products because they were so Popular. My ’57 Hardtop came back to mind and I loved that car. Yellow with a White top. Classic doesn’t get any better for me. Second best for me was my ’32 Ford Corvette powered Sedan. Memories are great and probably better than being there. It was Will Rogers who said, “Things ain’t what they used to be and probably never was”.
Fit and Finish:
Very good in class.
As you can see, the Volt is at the high end of these ‘Pseudo’ competitors. All the others are Hybrids and they just aren’t the same thing, with the exception of the Nissan Leaf that is also all electric… really ALL ELECTRIC, with no engine at all. Volt is more money but the range is right around 300 miles depending on how heavy your foot is on the accelerator.
Conveniences and comfort:
Very comfortable for a compact car with all the conveniences you’d expect. However the back seat is quite cramped reminding those of us who sat back there, of a Camaro or Mustang – very little foot room.
You will have to consider the purchase price of the Volt and factor in the charging facilities at the office and home. I found I could run the extension cord provided to my outlet at the office just fine but in an 8 hour day I’d get a charge of about 25 miles from a totally spent battery. The anxiety of worrying about running out of battery rules out the Nissan Leaf that has a range of 75-109 miles. Owners dispute that claim which I can understand by driving the Volt on electric alone (I experienced with my driving habits about 32 miles on a full charge). Going down a grade extends the range dramatically but what goes down must go up and that is far more taxing on the batteries. A major advantage of the Volt however is that it DOES have a gas engine to keep the charge of the batteries at enough to continue to drive another 250 miles.
The knee jerk reaction of most I spoke with is that simple math says that you won’t break even for about 10 years when you consider the added cost to buy the car coupled with the added cost of recharging the batteries and if you drive over 35 miles on your commute one way, you will begin using gas.
I could see where someone drives under 15 miles to the office and 15 back you could run a long time without ever having the engine come on. Then you’d only have the cost of electricity. In that regard I noticed the usage before and after plugging in the charger to be twice the speed of the wheel turning… however I have not calculated the kwh usage consumption. GM claims 36 KW-hrs per 100 miles and 2.7 gallons of gas usage per 100 miles. That sounds about right.
Chevrolet Volt $40,000, Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid $ n/a, Ford Fusion Hybrid $29,000, Honda Civic Hybrid $26,000, Honda Insight $20,000, Infiniti M Hybrid $54,000, Lexus CT 200h $29,000, Nissan Altima Hybrid $27,000, Nissan Leaf $33,000, Toyota Camry Hybrid $27,000.
Great manageable fuel economy, great commuter if less than 40 miles round trip, a lot of neat convenience features standard, made in USA and very ‘green’.
Recharge plug-in procedure is a constant daily requirement for the average commuter.
1.4 liter engine for electric power generation, Lithium Ion battery propulsion via Voltec electric drive unit, portable charge cord automatic transmission, front wheel drive, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, stability and traction controls, front & side airbags, 17” forged aluminum wheels, power mirrors, climate control, power windows & locks, tilt & telescopic steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, remote start & keyless entry, Bluetooth phone, color touch radio with 7” screen & 6 speakers with XM satellite radio with 3 month subscription, tire pressure monitor, usb port, aux. audio input jack, front bucket seats, 40/40 split folding rear seatback, 3 years OnStar directions with auto crash response, turn-by-turn navigation, myvolt.com and remotelink, theft deterrent system with content theft alarm.
$3.85/ Gal avg. October 30, 2011
for more information.
37 City and Highway MPG
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