By on July 20, 2011

Truth seeking is difficult considering the controversy, misinformation and flat-out lies surrounding the Chevrolet Volt. But this is a product with set attributes, some are better or worse than our collective expectations.  The performance reminds me of live music: everyone has an opinion as to how much it rocked.  And the Chevrolet Volt is Jimi Hendrix on wheels: an American likely to influence popular culture for decades after leaving the limelight.  But more importantly, like the influences of jazz and blues in Jimi’s work, the Volt combines Detroit’s future with memorable elements of the past.  It’s true.

Which is painfully obvious in the styling: a mishmash of boring econocar elements with styling cues from the lovely cab-backward design of the Volt concept.  GM Design worked hard to fit the original’s unique bits on the Delta II platform, even the “black eye” window surrounds are crafted nicely enough to look more like a tu-tone paint job, not a cop-out from the concept’s wild window treatment.  That said, it’s another tall and boxy sedan with a big nose, mediocre coefficient of drag and an afterthought-looking hatchback that does little to improve visibility.  Black is certainly the best color.

Not necessarily true inside: the Volt embraces its passenger sedan platform from within, adding CB2-worthy flair to keep the Corolla references at bay.  GM’s corporate center stack gets an extreme iPod makeover with Volvo’s signature negative space just for fun. The buttonage is less intuitive than your average cell phone, but it’s a short learning curve.  Speaking of, the dual-cove dash comes with hard, bright plastic accents that follow around the door’s armrests in a distinctly elbow-averse manner. No matter, the dashtop cubby, (optional) lime green trim and stitched armrests make excellent fodder for Hybrid-owner smugness.

Seat comfort is almost plush, with Corvette-like leather wrapping and matching lime green contrast. Speaking of, there are squidgy plastics where needed and (much to the Chevy Vega’s dismay) the best trimmed glove box in GM’s portfolio.  While rear seat legroom isn’t plentiful, there’s space for two adults between the low-slung console. Perhaps the Volt’s derivative platform is to blame again, taller rear passengers benefit from a warning before closing the hatchback: crushed hats and squashed hair Über Alles.

Driving requires no such precautions. Aside from the “green ball in a tube” efficiency gauge a la economy meter on BMWs, a drive around downtown Houston was an afternoon in the Land of the Lotus Eaters. The ride is controlled, close to silent, and luxury car plush with minimal suspension crashing on bad bumps.  Credit the almost 3800lb curb weight and cushy suspension for that.

Natural-feeling torque management (yes, really) reduces the Volt’s gutsy powertrain to that of a normal vehicle. Steering is lifeless on-center, but turns to the slow and confident responses expected from an American sedan with a few degrees of input.  The brakes are a surprise: light and linear with no grabbing sensations from the battery regeneration hardware.  I couldn’t push the Volt hard, but it’s clear that this ride subscribes to the straight line school of thought.

This is more relevant on America’s stock in trade: the Interstate. Freeway sweepers highlight the smooth and confident steering/braking/handling of many a US-spec sedan. And the Volt is no exception.  Merging in traffic is accomplished with diesel-like effort with only a hushed “whir” from the engine compartment.  It was an absolutely thrilling, if subtle, change to my commute. And that was the wakeup call: the Volt’s unique-but-expected driving demeanor is everything America loves from Detroit’s cushy ride, torque-rich V8 past with everything we expect from our energy independent future. Clarkson’s grinding his xenophobic axe, but Hendrix fans appreciate the duality.

Which instills a (hopeless?) optimism that things can only get better from here, even if both Volts I tested showed MPG figures in the high 30’s. Which was what I earned via hypermiling a $14,000 Cobalt XFE that was far more entertaining in a corner. So I’m not here to complain about/justify the Volt’s numbers, either on a MPG or kWh basis. It’s a moot point since the manufacturing justifications, limited production, loyal fan base and limitless potential in the second generation are in the Volt’s favor.

And I never drove long enough to kick-on the underhood ICE, as Chevy recharged their Volt fleet whenever possible, using hotels that willingly pay extra for Texas’ Green-sourced power. Okay, I made that last part up.

Should you fork over $35-ish grand (incentivized) for a Volt? Being on the bleeding edge of technology is a thrill for many. And this is the 1953 Corvette for a new generation, with its antiquated kingpin suspension and stop-gap straight six motor intact. And that implies a promise: the Chevy Volt has limited production with unlimited appeal. Like any other Detroit Icons from yesteryear, it is an instant classic that must be experienced to fully appreciate.

(I attended the Chevy Volt tour as a registered guest, not a media participant. It was held in Houston’s version of Central Park, building awareness with Texans who avoid the long commutes of a suburban dweller. Thanks to my brother giving hot laps in his Corvette ZR1 for the Volt staffers, TTAC got a closer look. Shockingly, a Chevy Volt arrived at our door the next evening to experience on roads that encompass my normal commute, including highways, light traffic and piss-poor pavement in less-than-desirable neighborhoods.)



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76 Comments on “2011 Chevrolet Volt: Take Three...”


  • avatar

    I drove a Volt recently at a GM event. The drive was 2 miles and speeds went as high as 60 MPH. The Volt was quite impressive and eerily quiet on the drive. The only time I found it less than satisfactory was when I was accelerating in the 40-60 MPH range. Low speed acceleration was quite good, but at higher speeds the engine seemed to be out of step with my pace. It sounded like the car was gaining speed quickly but my pace remained steady. Overall, the Volt offered little incentive over the similarly capable Cruze Eco I also drove (plus an available stick!), unless 99% of your driving is under 30 miles.

    I should point out that the batteries were completely depleted during the course of my drive.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    It may not seem fair but this car should be compared not just to cheaper economy cars but cars in it’s price range.
    Once past the obvious features of electric power, does it measure up to other 35-40K cars in terms of fit, style and function?

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I haven’t seen one up close and personal where I’ve been in one, nor drove one, but I like it and hope it succeeds. Me? I can’t picture myself buying one in my present circumstances, but who knows what the future holds?

    I learned the hard way (don’t we all?) Never Say Never!

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “That said, it’s another tall and boxy sedan with a big nose, mediocre coefficient of drag and an afterthought-looking hatchback that does little to improve visibility.”

    Personally I think the exterior of the Volt looks great. It’s the interior I’m not so crazy about. Either way I think I want one. Hopefully they’ll be available where I live this fall, at least for a test drive.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      Just wanted to comment on “mediocre coefficient of drag.” Searching the Internet, I’d consider the Volt’s CD as good.

      Honda Insight: 0.32
      Toyota Prius: 0.30
      Mazda 3 and Corvette: 0.29
      Chevy Volt: 0.28

      • 0 avatar
        Type57SC

        Not sure where you got those, but there’s no way the insight is .32. The first one was incredibly aero, and the current one is about .26. The prius is .25, which is down from the last gen’s .26. Still well off the EV1′s aero-at-all-costs .19, but pretty good. Even the Sonata hybrid is around .25-.26 so .29 is weak sauce for your company’s efficiency moon shot.

        The ‘tall boxy’ comment is almost as relevant since Cd X frontal area is the drag of a shape. “short” is also a punishing dimension, but that’s accounted for in Cd if I recall aero 101 from long ago.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        @Type57SC

        It seems like there’s some disagreement — I suppose the numbers vary depending on who is doing the measuring. I got my numbers from the gm-volt link below, but Wikipedia supports your numbers.

        http://gm-volt.com/2009/12/04/chevy-volts-coefficient-of-drag-is-0-28-beats-prius-and-insight/

        Given the lack of clarity, Sajeev’s “medicore” qualifier will have to suffice. :)

      • 0 avatar

        Volt’s Cd is the same as an older Camry, worse than a Tucker Torpedo (.27) and even worse than a Lexus LS…especially the LS430 with air suspension @.25. (source, Wikipedia: automobile drag coefficient)

        As Type57SC mentioned, frontal area is the REAL elephant in the room.

        I’d love to see the real aerodynamic number of the Volt compared to the Prius and a host of sedans. It’d be a learning experience for everyone.

      • 0 avatar
        TR4

        Cd of 1950 SAAB 92: .30 Not a whole lot of progress in 61 years!

    • 0 avatar
      56BelAire

      To me the dam thing looks almost……”Aztekish”

      Carlson, instead of buying a Volt, check out Ebay or Edmunds, buy an Aztek, then buy your wife or girlfriend “stuff” with all the money you saved……you’ll be a much happier man.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Now wait a minute. You never drove enough to kick in the ICE, but the Volts showed MPGs in the high 30s? What am I missing? If I’m opening a big can of “here’s how to calculate mpg in the Volt, those of you without PhDs in math and engineering can leave the room,” my apologies.

    Regarding the styling, I think Chevy did a nice job of blending sci-fi with family sedan. If you’re into that sort of thing.

    • 0 avatar

      These vehicles were part of the Volt Tour, so they were driven regularly by many different people. Who knows when Chevy re-charged these Volts, but perhaps they never bothered to reset the trip computer either?

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      Volt’s range is 35-50 miles on a charge. Although electricity rates vary, using an average of $1.50 per charge, we can compare the cost to a gas engine vehicle. If we assume $3.75/gallon of gas- Volt’s energy cost equals a gas powered vehicle achieving 105MPG – 125MPG, far better than the best hybrid.

      Volt is capable of operating as a “pure” EV 100% of the time, though owners are reporting up to 1,000 miles or more before refilling the 9.3 gallon gas tank. That is roughly 111MPG assuming a 9 gallon fill with the tank not being run until empty.

      In this example, MPG cost equivalent ranges from 108MPG to 118MPG.
      With all the variables, it depends greatly on the share of the time the Volt is operated in range extending mode.

      Volt can be fully recharged during the work day, in 8-10 hours at a 120V outlet anywhere and half that tine with a 240V charger. Careful planning can easily allow pure EV operation almost 100% of the time for the majority of Americans.

      Though it would make no sense, given the ease of recharging, in the worst case, Volt in so called “hybrid”(really range extending) mode is rated at 40MPG hwy, 35MPG city and 37MPG combined. Not great, but not terrible.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        Oops! There is a logic/arithmetic error in my example.

        Volt’s actual overall cost would be the equivalent of less than the 108-118MPG I wrote. It depends on what share of the miles are pure EV.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    I’ve driven one and I just can’t get past the price. I understand there’s a distinction between the way a Prius works and the way a Volt works but to me it’s a distinction without a difference.

    Oh wait ! There is ONE difference – a Prius is about $10k less……

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    Eh, it’s just another hush, semi plush to plush sedate family sedan from the US with some green cred.

    It’s overall design seems rather mediocre in most areas but a few bright spots.

    To be quite frank, I’m not all that impressed and I haven’t driven one, but from the description given here and elsewhere, I don’t think I’d want to either.

    Next!

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      But here’s the thing: If you drive under 40 miles per charge and use no gas then you use no oil – then you don’t have to have a military and politics based on assuring that oil supply.

      I’m not being snarky here – there are repercussions to huge gas/oil consumption.

      Of course there are repercussions to coal (electricity ) consumption (30,000/year dead due to pollution) but these are domestic issues that could possibly be dealt with if we had a sane political discourse.

  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    Sajeev, you’re being too kind regarding the back seat accommodations. I’m only 5’10″ and 175lbs, but the first time I climbed into the back of a Volt, I banged my head getting in, then found myself seated, with my knees near my Adam’s apple. Whereupon some idiot decided to slam down the hatch door, crushing my head. This isn’t even marginally acceptable in the Volt’s target market. Hell, my A3–a smaller car known for its cramped rear seat–feels spacious (and luxurious) by comparison.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s funny, because I put a 6′, 180lb-ish dude in the back of the Volt…and while he wasn’t comfortable, he didn’t experience that.

      No matter, at the end of the day, the Volt’s back seat is pretty terrible for many an adult male.

  • avatar

    The VOLT is a very small car. Until electric cars reach the interior space of a Dodge Charger, I’m not even LOOKING AT EM.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      The Prius is very similar in interior room to a Charger.
      Charger Prius
      Front shoulder room, in.
      58.0 55.0
      Front leg room, in.
      42.5 41.5
      Front head room, in.
      3.0 5.0
      Rear shoulder room, in.
      55.5 52.0
      Rear fore-aft room, in.
      29.0 28.0
      Rear head room, in.
      2.5 2.0

      Or is this just a case of moving the goal posts?

  • avatar
    tanooki2003

    I still don’t find the price justifiable for this vehicle, especially for a vehicle made by GM, regardless of the so-called technological advances in fuel saving technology. My money can definitely be better spent elsewhere. In the meantime I will wait for other manufacturers to come out with something better down the road.

  • avatar
    zeus01

    Hmm, that square-ish chunk at the top of the center console looks like it may have been designed by the same person who designed the entire instrument panel in the Pontiac Fiero— after spending the last quarter century addicted to crack.

    Ugly looks inside and out aside, the innovation factor of these cars is worth at least something. I’m just not sure if that “something” is $40,000….

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “No matter, at the end of the day, the Volt’s back seat is pretty terrible for many an adult male”

    More importantly, at least to me, is do both rear seats have the latches for kids car seats? I suspect most will be hauling kids back there, adults would be the exception.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      My understanding is all new cars do – it’s federal law.

    • 0 avatar
      SP

      It doesn’t really matter anyway … the LATCH system only makes it easier to get the carseat in and out. If you are going to leave the carseat in place (or even just leave the base in place, for an infant seat), then the seatbelt method is fine.

  • avatar
    ajla

    If I may…

    This is yet another Volt review that makes me think GM should figure out some way to build the Converj.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I’ve read much about the Volt, but complaints on handling (it’s no Lotus Elise) is not one of them.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    You know, I didn’t say anything yesterday, as I was waiting for some sort of recognition, but for all of you, especially for those who weren’t yet thought of or even born, yesterday marked the 42nd anniversary of the U.S. landing a man on the moon.

    How does that figure in with the Chevy Volt? New technology, if nothing else. Like it or not, the Volt is a unique vehicle and so far, it stands alone in what it does – whether it actually sells or not.

    The moon landing was unique as well. Sure, rockets have been around, but the Saturn V was quite impressive by any standard, as well as the primitive technology (by today’s standards) that worked quite well to get men to the moon and back safely.

    Ironically, my air force experience with supporting the SR-71 was along the same line – primitive by today’s standards, but what that plane could do has never been equalled. For what it’s worth, the navigation computer was 35mm punch tape driven! My job in our operational location was to hand-draw “backup charts” that the RSO (recon. sys. officer) could use in order to complete the mission if that computer failed!

    Anyway, thought I’d mention it to the B&B.

    • 0 avatar
      SP

      So you’re saying that the global car industry will never again achieve feats to equal the fierce adventure of the Chevy Volt?

      ;)

      Hey, I did some reading on the SR71′s navigational system. That’s some interesting stuff right there. If I recall right, it was based on a preplanned flight path, and the mission planners loaded in microfiche with aerial photos of a swath of terrain that encompassed the flight path. Then the microfiche was horizontally shifted by a mechanism that used gyroscopes (inertial navigation) so that the viewer always showed the terrain that the plane was flying over.

      Is that about how it worked?

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Believe-it-or-not, lots of that stuff is still classified! There are lots of things I still don’t know, and I had a Top Secret security clearance, too.

        My work area in California, along with the entire mission planning and intelligence offices were located in a vault(!) that was accessible only by cypher lock. One way in, one way out. No fire escape. Totally secured and guarded solid concrete three-story above ground building.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      Zackman, the Volt is just another hybrid with a larger battery. It’s not nearly as revolutionary as the Leaf (1st mass electric car), or Insight (first mass hybrid), or Prius (first hybrid people can live with).

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        The Volt is not a hybrid, despite bureaucrat’s desire to label it as such with their motive to promote “pure” electric cars.

        The fact is that Volt is a pure EV, with the addition of onboard range extending capability to make it acceptable for consumers with today’s limited battery technology. Just because the range extending capability exists does not mean it must be used. Volt can function as a pure EV 100% of the time, if desired.

        While it is fair to say the Volt MAY operate as a hybrid in range extending mode, a capability the Leaf does not have, It also MAY operate 100% of the time as a pure electric, just as the Leaf.

        Volt is actually a technological tour de force, while Leaf is little more advanced than the GM EV1 of years ago, and little more than a toy with the current state of battery technology.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        doctor olds, a pure EV doesn’t have an ICE. End of story.

      • 0 avatar
        Strippo

        It’s not a pure EV unless it runs on free range, antibiotic-free electricity.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Dr Olds, I’m with you. Calling the Volt a hybrid is just negative folks wanting to bash it. The fact that the engine can pitch in and mechanically drive the wheels should be touted as a plus, not a reason to condemn the car as a hybrid. When you get right down to it, the Volt can act as a pure EV, a generator powered EV, and as a hybrid. Accolades are due here.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        You are correct, the Volt by definition is a hybrid, despite the bloviation by apologists.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        The Volt, by the definition of its creator, is an Extended Range Electric Vehicle. It is far more than a hybrid, though capable as functioning as one in range extending mode.

        The claim that Volt is not as revolutionary as the Leaf ignores the reality that the Volt is everything the Leaf is, capable of functioning all the time as a “pure” EV,PLUS an on-board range extending ICE.

        Why is this obscure to some? Just antipathy toward GM, I suppose.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Re(Volt)ing?

    I wouldn’t have such a problem with it if it weren’t so expensive. 40k? Come on.. I don’t care for the looks inside or out. And that steering wheel.. yuck.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @Zackman…Very cool…I was fifteen and working for a farmer loading hay bales, about as low tech as you could get. However worked stopped and we gathered around the transistor radio. And listened to history being made.

    I guess we sound pretty old eh ?

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      mikey:
      Thank you. You, Educator Dan, geozinger, jpcavanaugh and a few others on here and on “CC” really have my respect. Of course, that goes for Ed and the gang, and over at “CC”, Paul, too.

      Yes, life stopped briefly that day, as my buddy and I were glued to the TV and watched the whole thing in glorious black-and-white! That’s something you will never forget.

      Yes, it does make us sound old, but you know, I’m very proud of my age and all the things I’ve seen and 99% of the things I have done! And the beat goes on…

      By the way, today is another milestone: The final landing of the last space shuttle mission and the end of that program. Sure glad to hear it landed safley, too!

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @Zackman & mikey! Now, I really remember the first space shuttle (Columbia) mission, much better than the Apollo missions. I had a roomie in college (Kent State) who was training for a career in aerospace engineering. He followed the whole mission in April of 1981 and we even held a party in our apartment when it made it back down OK. Hard to believe 30 years later, the whole thing is done…

        @Zackman, thanks for the kind words. I appreciate it greatly.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “Carlson, instead of buying a Volt, check out Ebay or Edmunds, buy an Aztek, then buy your wife or girlfriend “stuff” with all the money you saved……you’ll be a much happier man”

    First – We have plenty of stuff. Although it’s the wife I have to convince.

    Second – I won’t buy, I’ll lease. The Volt won’t really cost me a whole lot to rent considering what I’m currently spending on fuel every month.

    Third – Nothing could make me happier than using domestically produced electricity to get from point A to B versus imported oil.

    And the Volt isn’t too expensive, gas is just too cheap!….LOL

  • avatar
    geozinger

    @Zackman: Oh man, I was an 6 year old kid playing baseball all summer back then. My older brother was crazy about the space race, and was all wound up about the moon shots. I vaguely remember watching it on TV, but being that age, I really didn’t understand the relevance.

    As for the Volt: I would like to have one, to be sure. I see one at the Berger Chevy (GR, MI) showroom all of the time and there’s one I’ve seen several times just east of GR on I-96. I don’t know if it’s a local or sometimes the factory boys come this far west when road testing new cars.

    I’m fascinated by the car, but not so much with the price. I would be an excellent candidate for driving the car, as my commute right now is 8.5 miles (one way). It’s just too far out of my comfort zone to bike to work. My wife’s is even shorter, at 3.5 miles. If I were able to recharge every evening, I’d rarely use gasoline. But, if I needed to go somewhere beyond my regular routine, I’d have the power to keep going.

    But $41K, is too steep for me.Even with incentives, if I got the highest ones, $34K just doesn’t work for me. I’d rather a Cruze Eco with 6 speed man trans for a good deal less than that.

    Maybe Volt Gen 2 will work out better for me.

  • avatar
    vvk

    > The ride is controlled, close to silent, and luxury car plush with minimal suspension
    > crashing on bad bumps. Credit the almost 3800lb curb weight and cushy suspension for that.

    No, credit Opel’s terrific Delta II platform for that. It has nothing to do with weight. If anything, the extra weight hurts it.

  • avatar
    shoes

    I am actually old enough to have attended 3 live performances by Jimi Hendrix. At the first and third concerts, he blew out the amplifiers and sounded pretty crappy. The other time he was so stoned, he forgot the lyrics to his own songs.

    PS, I thought the Volt’s brakes were pretty sucky

  • avatar
    rnc

    I still have the same question about the volt that no one has ever answered, why didn’t they place a transmission b/t the engine and the generator? I mean would that not produce electricity more eff. thus greatly improving MPG. Engine rotates once, generator rotates twice, etc.

  • avatar
    GSPTTAC

    I also think a smaller, lighter, cheaper high speed generator, with gearing to a lower speed ICE would give the max bang for the buck. I don’t know why GM didn’t do this on the Volt, maybe they could be faster to market with lower risk by taking the path they took.

    GSP

  • avatar
    zeus01

    “doctor olds, a pure EV doesn’t have an ICE. End of story.”

    Bicycles with training wheels.

    Swimmers with floatation devices.

    Justin Beiber with brass knuckles and combat boots.

    Lady Gaga with class.

    “Pure” electric vehicles with internal combustion engines.

    Yup, these five examples definitely have something in common…

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      A Volt can easily be driven such that the ICE never, ever has to run. In that case, it is certainly a “pure” EV.

      At least one company is developing a trailer to haul a range extending ICE behind Leaf and other “pure” EVs so that they can be more than around town, glorified golf carts.

      Setting emotional notions aside. Volt is certainly the best EV solution for consumers today, with a range extender to bandaid the fundamental inadequacy of today’s battery technology. It can be a pure EV all of the time with a little planning, but still has the capability to drive from coast to coast whenever desired.

      • 0 avatar
        zeus01

        Agreed, the Volt *could* in theory be driven as a pure electric car and never need to use the ICE if the owner never used the car for more than short commutes, grocery runs and the like.

        But the practicality of pure EVs is not there yet for the vast majority of us. For that to happen we’d need battery packs with a driving-at-typical-highway-speeds range of at least 300 miles and a back-up battery with a range of at least 50 miles in case of bad planning on the part of the operator— the equivalent of carrying a small jerry can of gasoline if you will. Also, said range would have to be achieved even in sub-zero temps with the cars heat turned up and on hot days with the A/C going full-blast.

        Then we’d need an infrastructure of battery-replacement stations in sufficient numbers to support a system where the vast majority of cars on the road are pure electric. These would ideally receive their power from green sources like wind turbine farms, hydroelectric power and even photovoltaic generating means (on a very large scale of course). Suffice to say we’re nowhere near the above targets yet. But I digress.

        The volt is not a hybrid in the traditional sense, ie: it does not use both sources of propulsion in the same manner as say, a Prius does. But the Volt DOES have the ICE as a back-up when needed, even if the owner chooses to never use the back-up. In that sense the Volt IS a hybrid, but a hybrid with a capability that traditional hybrids do not have: the ability to drive several kms at highway speed on electricity alone.

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        People made similar complaints against cars when they came out and replaced horses.. yes horses are a maintenance pain but they do produce lots of natural fertilizer for your garden.. and horses keep you in your community, bonding with your neighbors, since they can do about 20 miles a day before needing a good overnight rest… but before long the public realized cars were a better overall solution.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        – “A Volt can easily be driven such that the ICE never, ever has to run. In that case, it is certainly a “pure” EV.”

        So is a Prius. It’s has a pure E mode.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @wsn: How far does the pure E mode go? IIRC, it’s not as far as the Volt can go.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        Well, we are talking about “what defines an EV”, not “how useful is that EV’s range.”

        If having a pure E mode qualifies a car to be an EV, then all three (Prius, Volt, and Leaf) are EVs. If not, then please define it again. Or, is there a legal range threshold that separates hybrid from EV with an ICE?

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @wsn: Granted, range does not indicate EV labeling, just the fact that they can run in EV mode. By the same token, all cars could be EV’s, though. You’d have to disable some safety features, but you could get a car to run on it’s starter motor for a short distance. If I did that to my old Cavalier, I could say I had an EV, right? (/humor)

        I don’t know if there’s a legal definition of an EV. I’m assuming you mean something like an EPA definition, but as I normally don’t keep up with EV’s all that much, I’ve not heard of one.

        We’re in the early stages of this development of automobiles, we may have to readjust our labels of the cars as more variations become available. Possibly EV doesn’t apply in the case of the Plug-in Prius and Volt as we assume it does now. Or maybe it’s like points along a time line where a specific point indicates that some vehicles can operate in battery mode longer than others? That is, some are more EV than others?

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        – “By the same token, all cars could be EV’s, though. You’d have to disable some safety features, but you could get a car to run on it’s starter motor for a short distance. ”

        I don’t buy it. Any proof is welcome.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @wsn: Before all of our cars were “interlocked” to keep us from running over ourselves, you could leave a manual transmissioned car in gear and operate the starter.

      I routinely did this with my buddy’s 1969 Chevy pickup, much to his chagrin. It was a way to move the truck around very short distances without actually starting the thing. Not really recommended, because it could start and run and give you a nasty surprise…

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    @wsn- You are right about Prius. The EV mode is for getting out of your garage, or subdivision. It can go only up to 34 MPH before automatically switching to ICE. The plug-in hybrid Prius has a range of 10-15miles with this limitation,”Prius Plug-in EV mode works under certain conditions up to near freeway speeds for approximately 10-15 miles on a full charge. Sudden acceleration or climate control usage may prevent EV mode usage.”- from Toyota.com

    You could drive your Volt an average of 80MPH with speeds up to 100MPH (lawbreaker!)for a 20 mile commute, plug it into a 110V outlet and return home at the end of the work day at the same speeds, never using an ounce of gasoline. You could not even get to work with the prius before requiring gas.

    Clearly, the benefits of these attributes depend on your typical usage, but Volt and Leaf are the only EVs that can accomplish a typical American’s commute and stay with traffic on the expressway.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    The Prius Hybrid certainly provides admirable mileage and Toyota deserves accolades for it, the most fuel efficient car available. On the other hand, Toyota is late to the EV segment. Their plug-in, not due until Spring 2012, is a “me too” effort to be perceived as an EV which is mostly smoke and mirrors, falling far short of the two, and only, real EV’s on the market at this time.

    If you want a PURE, pure EV with no risk of ever using an ICE (or possibility of ever travelling more than 35-45 miles from home without an overnight recharge) Leaf is your only choice. If you are among the 80% of Americans whose commute is 40 miles or less, Volt is the only solution and can function as a pure EV most of the time, and still take you coast to coast if you want.

    I wish Volt’s technology was not so damn expensive. It is a great driving car, would meet my needs, and It would be very cool to seldom or never need to buy gasoline! Unfortunately, I could buy enough fuel for years of operation with savings on a high efficiency and inexpensive car such as the Cruze Eco. The 6 speed manual would just be icing on the cake!

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @Dr Olds: When I first heard about the Volt, I thought it was a really good idea. Mine and my wife’s places of work are well within the Volt’s range, where we’d never use a drop of fuel if we could charge overnight. But, this car would have the capacity to take us on our fairly frequent out of state trips.

      Initially prices were published (not official) which would have put the Volt at a much lower cost than the current (no pun) price. I would have loved to have purchased one, but subsequently with the announcement of the actual price, I was out of the game.

      I have high hopes for version two. I’m hoping the price will be closer to regular mid-sized cars (without a gov’t handout).

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      > Toyota is late to the EV segment

      Toyota sold more RAV4 EV’s than GM had sold EV1′s

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_RAV4_EV

  • avatar
    wsn

    Again, to iterate my point. Depends on how you define and EV.

    Def 1: doesn’t have an ICE ==> GM EV1/Nissan Leaf is the first mass EV, depending on how you judge “mass”.

    Def 2: can drive a range solely on electricity ==> Toyota Prius is the first mass model. That range is very small (maybe a quarter mile), but it’s there, not unlike how the first airplane was defined.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    The Neighborhood Electric Vehicles Toyota and others lobbied for to forestall the California ZEV mandate and cut GM’s legs out from under them after they spent $Billions on EV1 seem to have met Def 2 ahead of Prius.

  • avatar
    md12

    And how is this an improvement over a 50 mpg Prius that’s a real hatchback and seats three in the back and can be had with dynamic cruise control?


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