2011 Chevrolet Volt Photo

2011 Chevrolet Volt - Review


2011 Chevrolet Volt mule - Volt powertrain in Cruze body

2011 Chevrolet Volt mule - Volt powertrain in Cruze body

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Well, the big day has come and gone: Now we've driven a 2011 Chevrolet Volt prototype. More than 18 months before buyers can walk into a Chevy dealer and test one, we got behind the wheel.

What's the Volt like? It's remarkably ... unremarkable.

And we mean that as praise. General Motors has managed to build a radical car that seems so normal it'll make the average American driver completely comfortable with electric drive.

For half an hour today, we drove a Volt "mule"--a Volt powertrain installed in the body of a 2010 Chevrolet Cruze subcompact--around the roads of the GM Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. It uses "production-intent" components and, said vehicle line executive Frank Weber, provides about 80 percent of the capabilities of the final car.

2011 Chevrolet Volt mule - Cruze interior with test-car kill switch

2011 Chevrolet Volt mule - Cruze interior with test-car kill switch

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Just like normal, only different

In fact, the Volt accelerates, brakes, and drives exactly like a quiet, smooth subcompact. If, that is, it happened to have a powerful engine mated to an automatic transmission so quiet you couldn't hear it shift--ever.

Electric motors put out maximum torque power at 0 rpm, making the Volt mule pretty sprightly when accelerating from rest. The goal for the production Volt is 0 to 60 mph in 8.8 seconds; ours did it in about 9.5 seconds. We even got the inside front wheel to spin accelerating around a turn from rest.

It's no 2009 Tesla Roadster, mind you, but it's not designed to be. It has four seats, four doors, and it's designed to provide its 40-mile electric range and undiminished performance even after 10 years or 150,000 miles. (We quickly learned that GM executives get very snitty if Tesla is mentioned, making irritable remarks that cite the technical flaws of "certain startup West Coast electric-car makers".)

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Comments (7)
  1. "Tom G"

    Heh, they should be upset by the west coast startups. Don't look to giant companies for quick innovation. Tesla has the right model - release as soon as possible and revise and update later. They will probably get bought by a big company sometime anyway.

  2. "mm"

    You have no idea what your talking about. GM and Ford are looking at "affordable" vehicles for average consumers. Tesla makes a 100+k vehicle that has two seats. hardly practical and hardly an impact in any market. If the Volt is going to help save GM, it needs to be a mass produced vehicle. Building a limited use vehicle won't help.

  3. By limiting the battery charge to 40 miles, The Volt is strictly a commuter vehicle. After 40 miles it is just like any gas-powered car with good to a little better gas mileage. Tesla Model S Sedan has a better design with a 300-mile range before charging and NO gas!

  4. Regarding Tesla not being affordable, they will be announcing later this year a much affordable model car that will be one for the masses to be able to afford as noted their on their site. GM is just mad that Tesla beat them to selling a real EV to the public in less time and are profitable at the same time. Also GM proves that they can't separate themselves from using gasoline. Plus the Volts $40K sticker price is way above what most people can afford. Plus, Telsa maks pure EV's using no gas!

  5. Don't mix apples and oranges when talking about or comparing capabilities of electric or hybrid vehicles. The Volt is an electric vehicle with an onboard charger system which will allow you to continue if you need to go more than 40 miles (think SoCal, the great plains, midwest, and etc.). The Tesla is an electric vehicle that will go 300 miles and then must be recharged. The Volt and any other vehicle configured that way is a much better way forward for the country instead of a city/urban ONLY vehicle. A Volt type powertrain can be configured to use diesel, CNG, and etc. to provide the range needed. The Tesla has to have the grid and time (recharging) to provide the ranged needed. I believe Chevrolet is on the correct path and time will prove or deny that path based on sales and if other manufacturers follow that path. A perfect example of a path not to follow is the Smartcar. It has two seats but mileage is no better than many small four seaters. It's only advantage is parking is small places and because of that is doomed to failure in this country.

  6. A problem with electric only would seem to be what mileage per charge one gets when using AC or Heat.
    Not to mention radios, lights and such.
    The Volt approach seems to be better for my uses.
    As far as green goes, don't forget how as all that electricity is produced. Nat gas hybrid might be the cleanest possible car.

  7. Here with the Ford Focus EV, Ford Company has announced bang in Electric Version. they have taken all the care to make this car as this would be the first from them & this will make the step ahead to new era of electric car. waiting for you Focus.

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