Enough About the Chevy Volt, Already!
It does deliver the 'green' goods and is a marvelous piece of technology. Get over it.
After all the hype -- and all the hate from knee-jerk opponents -- the Chevy Volt has backed up its promise in a big way. Delivering up to 50 miles of all-electric driving range, at an energy equivalent of 150 mpg or more, followed by a seamless switch to gasoline power that runs at roughly 35 to 43 mpg, the Volt turns out to be the potential game-changer that GM promised all along.
Sure, at roughly $35,000 -- and that's after its $7,500 federal tax credit -- the Volt is expensive. And the recent "news" that the Volt is more a plug-in hybrid than an electric car, which I've argued all along, is correct.
But it's time to put aside the quibbling about the Volt's price and the semantic arguments as to its classification. After my two-day test of the Volt in the Detroit area, I’m convinced that no buyer will feel shortchanged. Instead, buyers will brag nonstop that they’re driving the Volt for weeks or even months without ever stopping at a gas station. That’s a powerful thing, and it’s something that opponents rarely stop to consider when they scoff at the possibilities of electric cars. It will make drivers feel ahead of the technological curve. It will let people cast a vote for breaking our dirty, dysfunctional arrangement with Middle East scumbags, and against having to send American troops abroad to fight for our oil. It will make people feel, in a word, special.
My test began with a fully charged Volt, which I drove for 51 miles (11 more than GM’s conservative estimate of 40 miles) before the gas engine switched on, so quietly that you could barely tell the difference. Those 50 miles would have cost about $1.50 in electricity, and far less if you charge at night at off-peak rates; compare that to the $6 it would cost to cover the same distance, in a typical 25-mpg car, using gasoline.
The next day, this time driving with nearly no mind to fuel economy, I logged 42 miles on electric power before the Chevy switched to its extended-range operation, which adds at least 310 miles of additional driving range. After the first 60 miles -- meaning 40 miles of electric driving and 20 on gasoline -- the Volt had delivered a remarkable 128 mpg.
That’s the point of the Volt, and why it’s tricky to nail down just what mileage owners will see: If you charge it every night and drive 40 miles or less, you could in fact cover roughly 15,000 miles a year and never use a drop of fuel. But even if you log some serious miles on the gas engine, you’re still far, far ahead of any conventional hybrid or diesel in terms of mileage. It’s not even a contest: When I had driven 60 miles on electricity and another 60 on gasoline, the Chevy had still returned a combined 84 mpg. And of course, most drivers will do much better than an even split between electric and gas miles, because they’ll be charging up daily.
But just to see what would happen in a worst-case scenario, I drove the Volt in extended-range mode -- in which the Volt blends drive power from the battery, electric motors and gasoline engine -- and whipped the tar out of it. I pushed the Volt to its limited top speed of 100 mph, tore around curves and totally ignored fuel economy. And the Chevy still showed me 37 mpg in combined city and highway driving, beating what you’d see from, say, a Ford Fusion Hybrid sedan driven in the same aggressive manner -- and once again, that doesn't even count the first 40 miles I drove on the battery alone, at a no-fooling equivalent of more than 150 mpg.
Just as importantly, the Volt looks, drives and feels like a real car. It’s not sporty like a BMW, but the Volt certainly steers and carves corners better than the Prius or most other conventional hybrids. Goodyear developed a special tire compound for the Volt’s tires that combines low rolling resistance, which boosts fuel economy, with a surprisingly strong grip. The Volt scoots from zero to 60 mph in about 8.8 seconds and pulls smartly all the way to its 100 mph top speed.
I’ve argued that GM doesn’t have to sell, say, 100,000 units a year to make the Volt project a success. It’s far more important to prove that GM can deliver a world-class "green" car. A car that chews up and spits out the Prius in every imaginable way: looks, performance, fuel economy. The Volt does all of that and then some.
Meaning you lose 10 to 20 percent of your EV range, and at that time you would replace the battery
Is it not possible that people such as this gravitate more towards electric/PHEV cars and let the automaker deal with battery disposal?
My hunch is at first the 8 year battery recycling/replacement won't matter one bit. My prediction is that GM will be lucky to sell 1,000 Volts.
I think that GM will lease every last Volt to come off the assembly line. I think that after the 3 year lease is up, each and every Volt will probably make its way back to Michigan to be dissected and carefully studied.
Now after the initial wave, you have a valid point. If the prices come down enough, and more people buy these things then that will be an issue. However, I think I raised a good point. Will the nature of electric and PHEV cars lend themselves more to leasing than buying? You already see that there is a segment of the car buying public that have no interest in owning their own cars permanently. Is it not possible that people such as this gravitate more towards electric/PHEV cars and let the automaker deal with battery disposal?
It will make drivers feel ahead of the technological curve.
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