900 Miles Reliability Report in the Chevy Volt
Driven, tested, and evaluated. Here is all the data -- including EV range, fuel economy, and acceleration -- on Chevy's new plug-in hybrid.
Don't call the Volt a plug-in hybrid. GM engineers steadfastly claim that the Volt is an electric vehicle with an on-board generator, or in their words, an "EV with a range extender." We tend to favor the former. Semantics aside, the Volt is the most thoroughly tested car in GM's history, a new type of vehicle that vehicle line director Tony Posawatz claims is overengineered because, "Frankly, we have to change minds about the quality of GM vehicles." Ever since the concept debuted in Detroit in 2007, we've covered every tidbit Chevy felt worthy to release. Now, we've finally spent three unsupervised days and over 900 miles in the car that has been called "GM's moonshot." Does it deliver?
With a 105.7-inch wheelbase and 177.0-inch exterior length, the Volt is about the same size as the upcoming Chevy Cruze, a car that shares some of the Volt's underpinnings. The big difference of course is that the Volt's 16 kwh T-shaped lithium-ion liquid-cooled battery pack fills the center tunnel and most of the area beneath the rear seats, where the fuel tank normally resides.
The battery leaves room for only four seats and is the Volt's prime power source. After charging the battery, which takes about 11 hours with a standard 120-volt outlet and less than half that time with a 220-volt line, the Volt silently motors and recaptures some energy during braking. GM estimates the Volt can travel between 25 and 50 miles before depleting a fully charged battery.
The car could likely travel longer on the juice, but GM engineers treat the battery with kid gloves. In normal use, the car only uses roughly half of the battery's 16-kwh worth of energy storage, never deeply discharging it or overcharging. This strategy, GM says, will ensure the Volt battery meets the eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
When the car's computer decides that the battery is discharged, the Volt's 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine kicks on to spin the 74-horsepower on-board generator. Once in this charge-sustaining mode, the engine does not top off the battery charge, but simply runs long enough to maintain performance. An electronically controlled clutch connects the engine to the generator.
The generator and 149-hp traction motor are connected by a planetary gearset to the wheels in a way that's similar to the transmission in the Toyota Prius. This arrangement allows both electric motors to power the wheels, a strategy that keeps each motor in its most efficient — and refined — operating mode.
As befitting this next-gen car, two seven-inch WVGA screens — one in the center console, the other in the gauge cluster — display relevant information and, of course, an efficiency coach with vibrant graphics. There's even a tutorial mode. While the standard heated seats and power windows seem like power hogs in an EV, the engineers counter that both actually save energy by encouraging drivers to open the windows in the summer and use less heat in the winter.
Capacitive-touch sensors operate basic functions like HVAC and the audio systems. There's also a smartphone app that allows user to specify start times and to precondition the cabin while the car is still plugged in.
The Volt will be monitored as never before thanks to GM's OnStar service. The usually pay-by-the-month feature will be free for five years on the Volt, primarily so data about the car and the health of the battery can be beamed back to GM HQ.
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Laying down the facts, one article at a time:
U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that over 75% of people commute 40 miles/day or less. Which makes 40 miles on a charge very understandable.
How much will it cost/mile? Where I live, I pay just under 12 cents/kilowatt hour. So assuming I never exceed 40 miles in a day, it costs $1.49 or less (rates are high right now) for me to drive that day. How much does your coffee cost?
For those of you ignorants that prefer to bash before you read, the Volt CAN be charged by a 120V household outlet. It takes 10 hrs to charge in this manner. Or you can opt for the 240V installation (which is overpriced) and charge it in 4 hours.
Those of you that complain about EV/Hybrid vehicles not reducing emissions, that is not the problem of the vehicle, its a problem for our power producing tech. If we can get our local power produced via renewable energies, then your car then truly has no emissions.
There is only 1 problem with this car that I can see. Its about $6,000 overpriced (including the gov't credit) for what it is. This is way more car than the Prius/Insight/Leaf, and it should bring a higher price...just not THAT much.
I love the fact of an electric car but why do they keep putting gasoline engines in them!!!!!!! Americans are not STUPID!, we have and have had the technology for an all electric car since 1997!! Im tired of major oil companies buying this sh&t out!!! From 1997 to 2001 toyota created an ALL ELECTRIC, NO Gasoline, RAV-4 that only 328 cars were distributed to the public, the car would go up to 120 miles(which is twice what the volt does) on a single charge and would fully charge in just 5 hours on a 220 plug in!! In 2003 the program was terminated under reasons that no one knows about and all of the cars were recalled and destroyed!!! prty sure the goverment was involved, if you dont believe me google it. GM needs to get it strait and learn how to please thier customers cause their cars are made cheap and sold at an expensive and constantly rising price!
Nice looking car from outside appearances. The article says 'more about range' but I didn't see it mentioned again. After the 25-50 miles, I wonder about the mpg and range of the little motor on fuel. I think it's primary value is the average commuter that drives less than 20 miles each way.
I still see a lot of $600 to $2000 scooters on the road for the 'green minded' or budget commuters. It's hard to imagine one spending this dough unless the buyer just wants a novelty item that is the new trend.
Still, I don't begrudge any of these designers and technology for developing these alternatives. Cost will come down and hopefully meet/create demand.