The Chevrolet Volt 2010
It’s hard to believe Chevrolet Volt was born less than half a day. Until recently, the world’s largest automaker was a good idea that I expected it to be created after years of intelligent research and thought in a top secret laboratory in Detroit. It’s an electric vehicle that uses a second onboard power source to charge its giant battery. So it’s a hybrid, but not as we know it.
A genius at GM sketched out everything on a piece of paper after being asked by car manager Bob Lutz about the group’s reaction to Toyota Prius. “We have recalled the electric car from the historical news. Now the award is in sight,” said John Lockner, vice president of planning at General Motors.
He and everyone in the Volt team at GM started with Lutz, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic as the countdown continues to the first Volt production car in November. After driving I was also Fan. This is the most important new car I’ve driven since the Honda FCX Clarity, another all-electric car that uses hydrogen from the fuel cell stack to generate electricity.
Like Clarity and unlike the Prius, the Volt is entirely electric. Its gasoline engine never spins the wheel and only fires up to recharge the giant 200 kg battery pack that fits into the giant T-shaped along the center console and below the back seat.
The Volt will run 64 km with battery power – compared to two kilometers for a Prius – and once the 1.4-liter petrol engine is operational, it will run about 600 km between stops.
“It’s the only electric vehicle that can be your only vehicle,” said Andre Farah, Volt’s chief engineer. I had a day in the Volt-Land for a visit to the Detroit Auto Show covering everything from basic vehicle concepts to advanced battery laboratories. All done at GM’s huge engineering center near Detroit and culminated in a short stretch of the car.
So what basically? The Volt is based on the GM Cruze, making it a compact vehicle with a hatchback tail. It looks a bit like the Prius and the Honda Insight hybrid because of the aerodynamic rules, which dictate the optimal shape for the body, although GM has tried to make it a bit more sporty.
It’s just a four-seater vehicle, because of the battery, and trying to get more details on the car is a waste of time. GM is keeping it a secret until sales begin in November of this year, though all will be common knowledge by the time Volt arrived in Australia in 2011. GM people won’t even disclose the size. of the fuel tank, or the operation of the system transmission, or performance or economic figures. It won’t be cheap, with a base price in the US of around $ 40,000 – maybe $ 60,000 for Australia.
The Volt is an extremely landmark vehicle and drives very well. It was a big call after less than five minutes on wheels and a total of about 15 cars, but the idea of an electric car that could do Forest Gump and “run, run and run” was fantastic.
As a driver, the Volt is as simple and easy as any electric vehicle. Press the ‘start’ button, wait for the right light, then choose D and go. There are a lot of interesting things in the Volt, from its oddly shaped movement to the dash display that assesses your driving economy, but the basics are solid.
GM has reduced the performance for the journalist’s preview, but the car still blends quite quickly with a full load on board. It’s not as sharp as a petrol car but much better than an electric car Mitsubishi iMiev or Subaru Stella.
The driving feel is like a Corolla, the brakes don’t jerk like a Prius, and the quality on the driving car before production is good. It’s cramped for rear space, and there’s only four seats, and I’m worried about sun drying from the large back door. For me too, it’s not the most beautiful future car I’ve ever seen.
But the Volt is another window in the future and it allows a blast of fresh air through the hybrid world. Now I can’t wait for a real drive – something like Melbourne to Sydney.