Taking an electric car up one of the toughest ascents in the country may not sound like the best of ideas, but Chevrolet has been doing it with the 2011 Volt in testing for over a year now. Today, a video of a convoy of the extended-range electric cars reaching the top of Pikes Peak has surfaced, further proving the merit of electric-only drive.
As John Voelcker wrote last October, there's a lot of merit in testing on Pikes Peak, both in terms of evaluating the Volt itself and in the public perception of electric-powered vehicles. It's one thing to take an EV to the grocery store; it's a whole different animal to head up to 14,110 feet in the face of snow, rain, gravel, and sheer cliffs.
According to Inside Line, GM's Rob Peterson says the Volt has logged "around 800 miles" on the Pikes Peak trail, where testers are measuring brake regeneration and high-altitude performance as well as the raw ability to get up and down the mountain. So far it's performing well. In a single descent down the mountain, the Volt can regenerate "double-digit miles of energy," says Peterson.
During a summer run up Pikes Peak, the cooling system of both the battery pack and the onboard generator take a beating, but the Volt appears to be holding up well--a promising result for hot-weather, high-altitude performance in states like California, Arizona, and New Mexico where driving at several thousand feet above sea level and in temperatures above 100 degrees is common.
The real question at the end of the day, however, is whether all of this testing is reaching the driving public, and whether they'll understand, or even believe, that an electric-drive car can perform as well as or better than a standard gasoline-powered vehicle.