Test Driving a GM Volt - The Uncompromising EV

Friday, September 24, 2010
I was a very luckily boy last week...I got to drive a preproduction Chevy Volt and spend time talking with Britta Gross (GM, R&D and Strategic Planning on GM Volt Team) and Trent Warnke (Propulsion Engineer on GM Volt Team).  It was fun to get around two people excited to tell you all about their creation.

I gotta say, the Volt is a very impressive car...and I haven't been a fan of General Motors. 

The Volt is the most uncompromising EV on the market: it drives like a performance V6 sedan, only cost you ~$2 to go the first 40 miles, has lower maintenance than a gas car, and you can drive it across America today without having to worry about finding a charging station.

This car will win over the minds of many EV critics. 

  • It hides A LOT of complexity and works like a regular car.  Anyone who has ever designed something, knows how hard it is to make complicated things...simple.  Considering all of the technology in this car, it behaves and drives any other car, except you get these huge benefits if you charge every night...
    • Lower engine maintenance since you won't be using it much.  GM has even factored in automatically starting your engine periodically just to keep the engine lubricated and in good working order.
    • Longer brake life since you'll using regenerative braking...which puts braking energy back in your battery - an impossible feat in a gasoline powered car.
    • Very quiet operation...even when you put the petal to the metal - it's the quietest EV I've been in. 
    • Half Price fuel.  How about $2.10 for 40 miles of fuel vs. $4.36?  Assumes $0.13 kW/h, 28 MPG, and $3/Gal.
    • Smart Phone Control.  Check your available range...and chill down/warm up your car before you get in it...all from your smart phone!
  • It's quick/fast...at least from 0-30 mph (which was all we could safely do in the parking lot).
  • Nice and clear dash/instruments.  The LCD display in the dash was clearly labeled and easy to control what you were looking at.  The LCD display in the center console was also easily understood and it was a touch screen.  The "buttons" on the central console were touch sensitive...which looks cool, but isn't something you can easily operate without looking at your finger.
All this said, I'm seriously considering getting a GM Volt.  Too bad Orlando is not on Volt's early adopter city list.

Here's what it's like inside...Trent takes us through the Volt's power up sequence, tells us all about the instrument panel, and narrates our drive. Nicely done.