Goodness gracious, great electrified vehicles; every time I turn around it seems like we are learning something new about the Volt, Leaf or i-MiEV. Chevrolet certainly is getting a lot of press these days with the anticipated launch of the Volt, a car that Chevrolet hopes and believes will revolutionize people’s perspective on plug-in hybrids and the use of electric motors to propel a car. The unique part of the Volt, as many of you probably know, is that it uses a 1.4-liter 80 horsepower engine to keep the battery at a minimum charge once it has depleted to a certain point. As such, this motor be fed by fuel and in this case gasoline. The newest reveal—Premium is required for maximum efficiency. Ouch.

Sure you can go an estimated 300 additional miles on the range-extend mode, but now we are told you have to fill’er up with premium fuel? That makes the deal a little less appetizing when paired with a $41K sticker price and considering that fuel economy estimates in range-extend mode have been placed right about 38 mpg. Yikes, stripes, that is less than the new 2011 Ford Fiesta and sounds a lot like the Smart car dilemma I recently wrote about in my “Great Smart Car Road Trip” series (more here). This is the trick as I see it and the way it has been explained by GM: Most people drive under 40 miles a day, so the Volt should theoretically work with their lifestyle and allow them to drive gasoline free for the majority of their driving. However, in case they want or have to travel greater distance the range-extend mode can be activated for up to about 300 additional miles of travel.

So who does this work for? Generally, this should be perfect for the same people that might find a Smart car attractive, but need or want more space. If you are driving in the city and you make a short trip to and froe, then you are set. Of course, then you might also consider the less expensive and purely electric Nissan Leaf. Difference between the two—the Volt give people the sense of security that they can miscalculate and still get home. Now the question that remains for the Volt is: How much less is the fuel efficiency if you put in regular?


[Source: Automotive News]