- The latest in high-efficiency technology provides extreme fuel economy with few compromises in performance or features.
The Chevy Volt is GM's first vehicle to use so-called "extended range technology." It carries a lithium-ion battery as its primary fuel source. The battery is charged by plugging the vehicle into a socket overnight, and will provide a GM-claimed range of 35 miles. Should the driver need to drive further, an on-board 1.4L 4-cylinder gasoline-powered engine automatically starts up to generate additional energy. A regenerative braking system provides additional charging whenever the vehicle slows.
The Volt is capable of a top speed of 100 mph, making it suitable for highway driving. Like all cars driven by electric motors, the Volt has lots of torque right from the get-go, making for quick starts and fun driving. Driving at faster speeds and flooring it at every red light as well as steep hills will all reduce that 35-mile electric-only range and engage the gasoline engine sooner.
Chevrolet understands that this type of car will only be successful if drivers and passengers don't feel compromised by the experience. The Volt comes with eight standard air bags, which include a knee bag for the driver as well as side curtains for all passengers. Satellite radio, Bluetooth and remote keyless entry are all standard equipment, while navigation is optional. A standard cargo cover keeps the contents of the 10.6-cubic-foot trunk hidden.
GM's OnStar system is included for three years. An optional Bose sound system includes a 30GB hard drive. This system is designed to use less energy than other stereo systems, allowing more power to be utilized at the wheels. Leather seats are even available for a little touch of luxury. A rear-view camera and park-assist system are also available, as are heated front seats.
The Volt sees few changes for 2012. Most notably, it now features keyless entry on all four doors, functioning through chrome buttons mounted on the door handles. Inside, the Volt's display has been revised slightly for a better user interface. The main gauge display now displays navigation information, and kilowatt-hours used has been added to the center display stack. In addition, printing has been improved on the center stack and the gear selector readout is now much easier to read in low light thanks to revised backlighting. Drivers also now have the ability to disable the Volt's traction control.
The Chevy Volt is unique in that is the first electric vehicle that successfully marries an electric motor and battery with a conventional engine that keep the vehicle powered up over longer trips. In doing so, GM has created an ultra-efficient vehicle that for many commuters, may require no gasoline at all.
The Volt was intended to be a super-efficient car that also includes all the modern safety and convenience features expected from a modern 4-seater, and as a result, the MSRP of the Volt might initially seem a bit high at just over $39,000. But this price buys impressive technology that is the first of its kind in the US, and running costs that some have estimated as low as 5.7-cents/mile. Volt buyers may be able to take advantage of federal and state tax credits as well, making this revolutionary car more affordable than its base price suggests.