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Electronics & Test
My Chevy Volt Test Drive
7/22/2011

The Volt's spiced red interior gives the feel of a fighter jet cockpit.  Source: GM
The Volt's spiced red interior gives the feel of a fighter jet cockpit.
Source: GM

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Alexander Wolfe
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Turning Heads
Alexander Wolfe   7/22/2011 11:41:44 AM
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Your initial impressions have changed my perception (fair or unfair) of the Volt as a first-generation white elephant that's not ready for normal driving by an average driver. It sounds like you had a really positive experience and that the driveability of the Volt is much more refined than I imagined. I'm still concerned about the long-term durability and, of course, the price. However, I am willing to rethink my stance in the face of the information you've provided. I'll be interested to read your forthcoming posts on Volt energy usage.

Rob Spiegel
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Gas fueled generator?
Rob Spiegel   7/22/2011 11:50:33 AM
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I didn't realize the Volt burned gas to run a generator. Hmm. I would think that function would -- in time, with engineering advances -- contribute to longer drive time between charges. I'm also curious about the amount of gas consumption goes with a drive between charges.

Ivan Kirkpatrick
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Cross Country Drive?
Ivan Kirkpatrick   7/22/2011 12:05:02 PM
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A cross country drive seems like an unusual test for a car that requires access to a charging outlet.  And the price makes it seem they don't really want to sell that many.

I think that until the battery packs can be improved, the electric cars will have limited utility.  Given the current state of the art, they should be designed so as to perform that service well.  That service being the daily commute (less than 100 miles) of one or two people.  A car designed for that service could be made a lot more affordable and still have a luxury look and feel.  It would be a small two seater and have a very low curb weight.

At the noted price, someone buying a chevy volt must be a dedicated early adopter.  The chevy volt appears to be an attempt at a replacement for the family sedan.  As such, it is over priced compared to the alternatives and limited in its utility.

I think the design and engineering are interesting but they have targeted the wrong market.  The technology does not suit the application.

When the technology (batteries, controls and charging system) catch up, the family sedan will probably have battery packs built into the structure and utilize individual wheel motors.  This frees up considerable space in that the engine compartment disappears altogether along with all the ancillary heating, cooling and transmission components.  A battery pack the same size as the comparable fuel tank, but distributed throughout the vehicle structure in a distributed fashion would allow for greater freedom of design and engineering. 


Beth Stackpole
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Re: Sticker Shock
Beth Stackpole   7/22/2011 1:45:22 PM
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A $57,000 price tag puts this in the Tesla category--a vehicle aimed at those who like, and more realistically, can afford--luxury cars. I know former luxury car people who traded down in terms of luxury for the Prius because they liked the "greenie status," but the Prius didn't cost near as much. Is there enough luxury here to make it appealing to the high audience or is there a model with a more palatable sticker price? Seems like it might be stuck in between.

 

umo
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Please get the facts straight! IT IS NOT 57K!!!!
umo   7/22/2011 2:07:34 PM
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This is to the author:  Please get your facts straight.  The car is NOT 57,000.   The MSRP is $40,280.   Even with most options, the car is about $43000.

Now, factor in the $7500 tax credit, the car is $35500 with backup camera, and premium leather and only $32,780 if you get the base model.  How in the world did you come up with $57,000?  Most dealers are NOT charging over MSRP. 

I have owned the Volt for about a month now.  I have gone 1000 miles, and used about 3.5 gallons of gas, and about $28 of electricity.  I am in no way a hypermiler, and I get about 40-43 miles per charge-- and I'm in Texas! (100F weather recently).  Even on gas, I get about 40MPG.   I bought my car at MSRP $43,204.

I should also note that I came from an Acura TL which gave me about 21MPG average...   The Volt is actually more comfortable and quieter the the TL.

Douglas Smock
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Travels with Brian
Douglas Smock   7/22/2011 2:08:42 PM
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So it seems that old friends are now showing up not for a free meal, but rather a free charge. Sounds like that's what Brian had in mine when he couldn't charge the Volt at his hotel. Why is that a  surprise? Half the time I go to a hotel, I can't find an outlet to plug in a laptop or an iron. Can you imagine the fee they would access for charging an electric car? If a phone call is $10.50, than a charge must be about $80.50.

Otherwise, everything looks pretty good about the Volt, except of course for the sticker shock. It's interesting that the Prius seems to have become an everyman's car, but the Volt is still up there in something like EV1 territory.

Is Brian traveling with a dog, ala John Steinbeck?

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Please get the facts straight! IT IS NOT 57K!!!!
Rob Spiegel   7/22/2011 2:32:43 PM
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If the price is closer to $33,000 after the tax credit, the cost vs. performance issue begins to change. Combine that with performance advances -- ala the Pike's Peak race (where an EV came in 20th) -- and we're getting closer to the time when an EV becomes a realistic purchase. With cafe standards going up, and gas prices going up, we may be just a few short years away from an EV as a fair middle-class choice of transportation.

Alexander Wolfe
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Re: Please get the facts straight! IT IS NOT 57K!!!!
Alexander Wolfe   7/23/2011 9:06:46 AM
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To commenter umo, who had the question about how we paid, we did indeed pay $57,000. We did that to get the car immediately and also to get a red one, which is the color used by our partner Avnet Express in our Drive for Innovation. But umo is correct about the $40k MSRP and $7,500 tax credit, which we should have noted.

jmiller
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Platinum
Re:Sticker Shock
jmiller   7/24/2011 11:25:16 PM
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Even at $40K when you start to look at ar payments and how much money one really spends on gas and it's tough to make the numbers work out.  My car currently gets 28 mph and I drive 80 miles a day.  Even with the money I spend I gas, there's just no way with gas prices where they are at that I could make the car pay for itself with the savings in gas.  And I think that's where a lot of these cars will fall short.  At least until gas rises sgnificantly.

christinawhite099
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Iron
Re:Sticker Shock
christinawhite099   7/25/2011 7:33:27 AM
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Nice to share your comments...tahnk you....

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