Consumer Reports Tries Out Chevy Volt, Enjoys Driving It

Yes, Virginia, there is an electric car. Sibling Consumer Reports got their hands on a pre-production model of the Chevy Volt, a new plug-in electric car hitting the asphalt this fall. It has a range of 40 miles on just electric. After the battery is depleted, the gas engine kicks in, extending the total range to 300 miles. Yep, you can plug it in to a standard outlet. But how’s the ride?

Consumer Reports testers enjoyed the smooth quiet ride, though they said the 3,800 pounder felt heavy in the corners.

The car will only be sold in LA, DC and Michigan in November, with an expected national rollout to “select” dealers” within a year.

It’ll run you about $40,000, though tax incentives should bring that into the low $30’s.

Overall assessment? “Not bad!” Be interesting to see what they think after they buy their own in the fall – Consumer Reports buys all the products it tests just like a regular consumer – and put it through its paces.

What do you think, is the Chevy Volt a viable electric car or just another Detroit pipe dream to blow smoke up all our asses? Sound off in the comments.

Chevy Volt: Car of the Future? [ConsumerReports.org]
Video: 2011 Chevrolet Volt highlights from Consumer Reports track [Consumer Reports Cars Blog]

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  1. TuxthePenguin says:

    Okay, so given the price differential between gasoline and electricity, how far would you have to drive to get your money back versus a standard ICE engine? Versus a traditional hybrid? What’s the actual environmental savings between the two (remember, that electricity comes from somewhere).

    Anyone seen a report on those issue, which, in my mind, are the biggest?

    • domcolosi says:

      The environmental impact is easy. Getting power to the car is more efficient when it comes from a plant, and plants are often better at not polluting (relative to the amount of energy produced) than cars are. There’s no question there, IMO.

      Cost-wise, it definitely depends on where you live, since electricity rates vary wildly. Some places make electricity cheaper/more expensive if you use a lot, so that’s worth considering. I think it’ll be way cheaper, though.

      • danmac says:

        You beat me to it :)

      • anewmachine615 says:

        Well, there’re other things. A lot of people talk about the “dirty” process of generating the lithium batteries used in these vehicles, and if you factor that into the overall “clean-ness” of it, the payoff will take longer to come. Even longer if the batteries degrade and need to be replaced, which is likely.

      • FatLynn says:

        No, the environmental impact is not that easy. Depending on your region of the country, electricity may be produced at a higher carbon cost than fueling with gasoline. Scientific American just did a big chart on this, I think.

      • pantheonoutcast says:

        Wait, it only has a range of 40 miles on electric? For some cars, that’s one gallon of gas. Even my 18 year old Explorer gets 17 miles to the gallon.

        And then it switches to a gas engine anyway? So what’s the big deal? It saves a gallon of gas? Who in their right mind will pay $40 K to save a gallon of gas? Especially when the 40 miles worth of electricity is probably around the same price…

        • ARP says:

          Many people don’t drive 40 miles in one “outing.” For example, if you lived 15 miles from your work, you could drive to work and back (and stop off for errands), without ever starting the ICE on your car. When you get home, you can plug it in.

          If you’re driving more than 40 miles per day, you’re either a long haul commuter or doing a road trip. If you do that a lot, a compact car would be a better bet.

          • OnePumpChump says:

            Oh man, I just thought of a possible failure mode for this car:
            Bad gas when the ICE finally does kick in after months of going electric-only. I wonder if they’ve planned for that…like have it use the engine occasionally whether it needs the power or not.

            • AnthonyC says:

              Yeah… people have been talking about that for years, ever since they first announced the volt. I guarnatee they’ve thought long and hard about that.

        • TouchMyMonkey says:

          That’s not quite accurate. The gas engine turns a generator that charges the batteries to keep the electric motor going. It’s not connected to the transmission. My problem is that GM felt they needed to just pull an engine off the shelf for this purpose instead of designing a much smaller one optimized for use in power generation. For one thing, you only need a quarter of the energy to run an electric motor than you would to run a similarly capable ICE.

          The Nissan Leaf’s battery holds something like 20 KwH, which is the equivalent of about 5 liters of gas, but it runs for 100 miles, so they say. If that’s true, the math shows an equivalent in the range of 150 mpg. An all-electric car isn’t lugging a 1.4 liter ICE around, either.

          So I don’t know. Seems to me the Volt is more the modern equivalent of the Stanley Steamer or the Benz Motorwagen than anything we’ll be driving 20 years from now.

          • huadpe says:

            Most likely it’s a regulatory issue. Getting a new engine approved for use in motor vehicles is a very long and expensive process. There are tons of purpose-built electric generator engines out there already, but they’re not usually designed for road use.

    • danmac says:

      It’s probably hard to gauge because the cost of electricity differs so much from one place to another. In California, where public utilities cost a frickin’ arm and a leg, this car might not even save you money…in other states, electricity is much cheaper, so it’s really variable.

      Electricity comes from a number of places, including hydroelectric dams, wind farms, nuclear power plants, and coal power plants. There are environmental factors with each of these things (damming rivers, killing birds, polluting the atmosphere, creating nuclear waste, etc.). That said, I don’t know enough about the net environmental impact to ascertain whether gas or electricity has a higher “net impact”.

      • AnthonyC says:

        Given the increased efficiency of electrics motors versus ICE and of burning fossil fuels in a power plant versus a car, even a car using electricity that all came from the country’s oldest coal-fired power plant is at least as clean as a gas-powered hybrid, as far as greenhouse gases are concerned. This you can calculate for yourself. Particulate emissions, I have no numbers for.

      • Firethorn says:

        Let’s say that a pure-gasoline equivalent of the volt is $25k – IE MSRP of a 2010 Impala.

        That’s a $15k price difference. Assuming the car lasts a decade, electricity is free, and no cost of capital/extra interest, that’s $1500/year. That’s 500 gallons of gas @$3, or 9k miles/year @ the Impala’s 18mpg city. I get 10.4k miles if you drive 40 miles on battery 260 days a year(52weeks*5 workdays).

        Using my EV calculator, 5% loan, 10k miles/year, $3 gas, $200/year saved maintenance, break even is 12.25 years. $200 of electricity/year at 10 cents/kwh, displacing $1,667 of gasoline. For a 5 year loan at 5% the Impala payment will run $472/month, the Volt $755. You’ll save $139 in gasoline. You’ll be paying out an extra $144/month for the privilage of driving a volt.

        Go to a Malibu at 22mpg city for $22k, break even is 22 years.

        • sonneillon says:

          if you include the tax rebate it changes it to about 8 years assuming dollar for dollar, and with some state rebates you can make up the difference before then. The volt can be used to hedge against market fluctuations in oil though. If you think gasoline is going up then this might be a practical purchase, but I honestly don’t think we are going to see 6 dollars a gallon which would mean that the car will still be under warranty.

  2. Awjvail says:

    Why do people call this an electric car? Should we start calling a Prius an electric car as well?

    Isn’t this a Hybrid? I mean, it’s got a gasoline engine that does most of the work.

    • david0mp says:

      “It has a range of 40 miles on just electric. After the battery is depleted, the regular engine kicks in…”

      The Volt can run on just electric. The Prius (and other hybrids) cannot.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        What about if you’re going 80mph?

        My problem with the prius is that it doesn’t use the electric motor @ highway speeds, thus negating its gas-saving effects

        • Kensuke Nakamura says:

          I mentioned this in a separate comment but the gas engine doesn’t directly drive the car a all, it’s a generator that charges the battery. So going fast won’t cause the gas engine to kick in.

        • djneuro says:

          “My problem with the prius is that it doesn’t use the electric motor @ highway speeds, thus negating its gas-saving effects”

          If this is correct, and driving the Prius on the highway negates its gas-saving effects, then how do you square this with the fact that the 2010 Prius is rated at 48 MPG highway? And why does mine actually get about 55 MPG highway? This is a pretty big improvment over a Civic, for instance, which gets in the mid-to-upper 30s on the highway and is smaller than a Prius.

          I don’t think you understand how the Prius works.

          • enad58 says:

            You own one so I don’t think you understand how the Prius works. You paid (approx.) $4,000 dollars more for an engine upgrade that won’t save you $4,000 over the life of the vehicle.

            Unless you are a tree-hugger and bought it for ‘environmental’ reasons, or a snobby ‘I’m doing my part – why aren’t you?’ (judging by the post I assume this is you.) the Prius is not a money saver (nor any hybrid)

            • djneuro says:

              yikes! where did that come from? i was addressing a specific point in the previous message about the prius getting poor mileage on the highway, a claim that is demonstrably false. how is your response even remotely relevant to what i said? i’m all ears.

              that being said, here’s why i bought a prius:

              1) consumer reports rates it as the #1 best new car buy — it’s exceedingly reliable and very cheap to maintain, contrary to the myths perpetrated by online trolls.

              2) there are very, very few midsize hatchbacks out there. the prius can transport a surprisingly huge amount of stuff — i can’t tell you how many times i’ve gone to pick up a big piece of furniture to have the seller scoff at me when i pull up in my prius. five minutes later, i’m on the road with the massive console table in my car. no sedan can transport nearly as much, and the matrix/fit/etc are significantly smaller.

              i’m not sure where this $4000 number came from. a comparably equipped toyota matrix costs $2000 less than i paid for my prius, is MUCH smaller, and gets half the mileage. ignoring the size difference, which is worth something in and of itself, i’ll save $1800 a year on fuel (assuming i drive 15,000 miles/year and gas is $3).

              i don’t give a crap that the prius is a hybrid. i want a midsize hatchback with good fuel economy, and the fact of the matter is that the choices for this kind of car are really limited.

            • djneuro says:

              yikes! where did that come from? i was addressing a specific point in the previous message about the prius getting poor mileage on the highway, a claim that is demonstrably false. how is your response even remotely relevant to what i said? i’m all ears.

              that being said, here’s why i bought a prius:

              1) consumer reports rates it as the #1 best new car buy — it’s exceedingly reliable and very cheap to maintain, contrary to the myths perpetrated by online trolls.

              2) there are very, very few midsize hatchbacks out there. the prius can transport a surprisingly huge amount of stuff — i can’t tell you how many times i’ve gone to pick up a big piece of furniture to have the seller scoff at me when i pull up in my prius. five minutes later, i’m on the road with the massive console table in my car. no sedan can transport nearly as much, and the matrix/fit/etc are significantly smaller.

              i’m not sure where this $4000 number came from. a comparably equipped toyota matrix costs $2000 less than i paid for my prius, is MUCH smaller, and gets half the mileage. ignoring the size difference, which is worth something in and of itself, i’ll save $900 a year on fuel (assuming i drive 15,000 miles/year and gas is $3).

              i don’t give a crap that the prius is a hybrid. i want a midsize hatchback with good fuel economy, and the fact of the matter is that the choices for this kind of car are really limited.

    • timkassouf says:

      It’s an electric car for two reasons… 1. It’s “plug-in” and 2. The electric engine does most of the work, not the other way around. In fact, the idea is that your daily travel is much less than 40 miles, so you should be able to go for days without ever even touching the gas.

      A hybrid, on the other hand, actually goes back and forth between the gas and electric constantly throughout the ride… using gas for strong accelerations, electric for idling, etc.

    • APriusAndAGrill says:

      Some Prius’ are electric in a way…… the 2010 can be purchased with a plug in option, and they have a button that will switch off the ICE until the battery is depleted or 37mph. This usually lasts about 5-10 miles depending on driver. My 2007 has had the EV button installed, at the dealership as it is a factory option. EV buttons were installed on all generation 2 Prius’ in Asian and Europe. So IMHO if the volt is an EV, yes so are some Prius’. Also talk about a big step backwards for GM
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EV1
      in 1999 they had the EV1 going 100-150 miles on Electricity, now just 40? Shame.

      • dadelus says:

        How is it a shame? They had the EV1 going 100 miles and then it was a door stop until you could plug it in and get it charged up again over the course of several hours. The information gleaned from the EV1 project has led to the Volt.

        The Volt goes 40 miles on pure electric then kicks in a generator to keep the battery at a certain depletion level so that it is still a useful vehicle outside of that 40 mile range. The whole point of the Volt is for it to be a launchpad for better batteries tech and new ideas.

        So I say again, how is it a shame?

      • knacko says:

        ‘The first batch of batteries were provided by GM’s Delphi branch; these were rated at a mere 53 amp-hours at 312 volts, and provided the initially mediocre range of 55 to 75 miles (90 to 120 km) per charge.”

        “Despite containing near identical energy,(+/- 0.5kWh) the Volt’s battery pack is over 70% lighter than the EV1’s original 1,310 lb (590 kg), 16.5 kW·h AC Delco lead-acid battery pack.”

        “The Volt’s 375 lb (170 kg), 220-cell lithium-ion battery (Li-ion) pack is anticipated to store 16 kW·h of energy, but will be restricted (in software) to use only 8.8 kW·h of this capacity to maximize the life of the pack.”

        They’re reduced the weight to 1/3 and are limited to using only half the battery. The performance is very similar between the original EV1 and Volt. The newer batteries used on the EV1 did give 100-150 miles/charge, but they were nearly double the capacity of the Volt’s while still weight ~500kg. And because the EV1 was shelved, we don’t know how the battery pack would have held up to continuous discharge cycles.

    • AnthonyC says:

      The Prius is a parallel hybrid. The battery and the engine simultaneously provide power to the wheels. The battery outputs some horsepower, and when you’re going over a certainly speed (or when the battery needs charging) the engine covers the rest.

      The Volt is a serial hybrid. You plug it in to charge the battery. Only the battery powers the wheels: the range extender is *not* connected to the wheels, even at maximum speeds. Many people don’t like the idea of electric cars because recharging a battery is slow. In the Volt, when the battery gets low, an on-board generator recharges the battery using gas (equivalent to ~50mph at that point).

      On most days, most people drive less than 40 miles, or if they drive more, they may be able to recharge in between. On normal days you’ll never use any gas. BUT when you need to drive long distances, you can refill at any gas station just like with any other car.

      A true “electric car” would lack the range extender. It also wouldn’t sell as well, because a battery pack that provides an acceptable maximum range would be much more expensive, and wouldn’t save much additional fuel over the life of the car. So the Volt is a stepping stone technology; far more of an electric car than any parallel hybrid, but still able to use other fuel sources.

    • red3001 says:

      well, no. It is not a hybrid. It is an electric vehicle with a gasoline generator on board. it just supplements the extra electricity to go more than 40 miles.

      all other hybrids on the road are both electric drive and gasoline drive. Either system can power the drivetrain.

  3. Kensuke Nakamura says:

    It’s not really a regular engine, It’s a gas engine but it’s a generator that is not mechanically connected to the drivetrain. It simply recharges the battery while powering the electric motor. Small difference but this makes it much more efficient since the generator can run at a steady optimal charging speed.

    • rushevents says:

      Just like diesel-electric freight train engines. The big engines simply charge the electric motor batteries which are the parts actually turning the wheels.

  4. pantheonoutcast says:

    Does it come standard with the 200 foot extension cord so I can run a line from my parking space to my apartment’s electrical outlet, or is that an option?

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      If the price tag (and the fact htat it is a family sized sedan) isn’t an indication it looks like these are being targeted for the garage crowd.

      • GuJiaXian says:

        That’s an astounding ignorant comment. I currently live in an apartment complex (having just moved to a new area and not knowing enough about the area to buy a house quite yet), though I have owned a house in the past. I’ve noticed that many of my neighbors who also live in the apartment complex drive very expensive vehicles. It seems to me that some people don’t care about (or don’t want to deal with) home ownership and instead spend their money in other ways (such as on vehicles much more expensive than the Volt).

        • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

          It’s not ignorant. They’re targeting people who have a place to store their car and electricity close by. The configuration of the car suggests this, the fact it requires plug-in close suggests this, and the price tag suggests this.

          I wan’t insulting your affluence and lack-of-house, geez.

  5. david0mp says:

    So when do the “electric” stations start popping up charging $2.99 per 9/10 of a kW-h?

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      I think the more feasible question is, how long does it take to charge.

      Electric cars aren’t going to take off until these “stations” take no more than 5 minutes to fuel up the car. Americans don’t want to have to wait 2 hours on a road trip.

      • Kensuke Nakamura says:

        That’s why they have the range extending gas generator. If you’re doing your daily drive, you don’t need gas, if you’re going cross country, you can use gas.

      • ARP says:

        Slightly off topic- How often do you take road trips? If it’s only a few times per year, getting a full electric car that goes 100 miles per charge and then renting an ICE car when you need to go long distances would work for most situations (and be cost effective).

        The average commute to work is around 20 miles. So, if you drove to work (20 miles), drove homes (20 miles= 40) topped a few places on the way home (10 miles= 50), went and picked up the kids from soccer (10 miles= 60), and then immediately drove back out to dinner (20 miles= 80), you’d still have 20 miles to spare to run AC, radio, etc. If you put a solar panel on top of the car, you could probably recover a few miles (not more than 10 under current technology). Worst case scenario is that you stop at a electric station for 10 minutes to give you enough juice to get home.

        • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

          The car only goes 40 miles on a charge – so you’d use it up in a day on a standard commute in your example. Sure, most people wouldnt’ use gas at all, but I’m looking at a new commute of 60 miles ONE WAY.

          I’d love to do more to get better mileage / use less gas – hybrids don’t work at highway speeds, and without a charging station at work, plug-in electrics won’t work either unless you only want the savings one-way.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      My employer is help rolling ‘em out around this area over the summer.

      • NarcolepticGirl says:

        please ignore my grammar there.

        Also, the charge takes about 15-20 minutes or so.

        We will also have solar powered stations as well.

  6. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I’m excited about it – though I could never afford the price tag even after incentives. I’m excited because it’s a step; hopefully a step towards cheaper and more accessable hybrid vehicles.

    • APriusAndAGrill says:

      A used Prius costs less than $12000…. the Ford and Saturn hybrids can cost even less I have heard. A new Insight costs 19,000 or less. How does this even remotely help?

  7. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    Too expensive, too big.
    If I’m going to be driving an electric car, I want it to be reasonable (groceries, commuter people) but not family sized. At least, for me, personally.

    Its size makes it ever so much more inefficient.

    • red3001 says:

      not me, I want a full size sedan. versatility is best, I can’t wait for a truck. That is, if i don’t make my own anytime soon…

  8. legwork says:

    That doesn’t look bad, and I’m not a big Chevy fan.

    Still, CR, how are we to really know until you give Stig a lap?

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      +1

    • anewmachine615 says:

      C’mon, he’d blow through the battery by the first corner. Did you see how quick Clarkson killed the Tesla Roadster? And that’s designed to go way further on battery-only…

    • Mike says:

      Some say that he once backed a Pinto through a brick wall without blowing up, and that he can make a hybrid get less than 1 MPG. All we know is he’s called the Stig.

  9. rpm773 says:

    I thought we killed this thing….

  10. pantheonoutcast says:

    Whoops. Wrong spot. Let’s try this again:

    Wait, it only has a range of 40 miles on electric? For some cars, that’s one gallon of gas. Even my 18 year old Explorer gets 17 miles to the gallon.

    And then it switches to a gas engine anyway? So what’s the big deal? It saves a gallon of gas? Who in their right mind will pay $40 K to save a gallon of gas? Especially when the 40 miles worth of electricity is probably around the same price…(actually, I have no idea how much 40 miles worth of electricity would cost. Anyone?)

    • kjherron says:

      You only burn gas if you go more than 40 miles between charges. Maybe your daily commute is unusually long, but most car trips are less than 40 miles. Plus, as electric cars become more popular, you’ll start to see charging stations in mall parking lots and the like.

      Even when running on gas, the Volt is pretty fuel-efficient. A gas engine designed to run at a constant speed can be made smaller, lighter, and more efficient than one designed to run at a wide range of speeds. The railroads have been using this arrangement for years. Most diesel locomotives use a diesel engine to drive a generator, which powers electric motors in the wheels.

    • wetrat says:

      First of all, you’re implying that it gets 40 miles just once, and then uses a whole tank of gas. This is flat-out wrong unless you’re driving across the country or something. You can charge it every night. So if your daily commute is 50 miles, then 80% of your driving is entirely electric (i.e., uses no gas).

      Second of all, once you’re past 40 miles it does NOT use a gas engine like in a regular car, as you imply. It uses a gas-powered generator to recharge the battery, and then uses the charge from the battery to power the electric engine. This is much more efficient. As mentioned by another commenter, it allows the generator to run at a constant speed, unlike gas engines which are more or less efficient depending on the speed at which you are driving.

      • pantheonoutcast says:

        “It uses a gas-powered generator to recharge the battery, and then uses the charge from the battery to power the electric engine.”

        Ah, it wasn’t very clear previously. This makes more sense.

    • Anachronism says:

      “And then it switches to a gas engine anyway? So what’s the big deal? It saves a gallon of gas? Who in their right mind will pay $40 K to save a gallon of gas?”

      The vast majority of people in this country drive less than 40 miles in their normal “work week” day. So, you aren’t saving a gallon of gas, you are saving a gallon of gas (and really more, because next to no vehicles get 40 mpg city) EVERY DAY.

      So, the average person uses this car in their average day, goes home and plugs it in, and the next day does the same thing, without burning a drop of gas. Gas going stale in the tank (along with people neglecting oil changes for the gasoline engine that may not see use in weeks) is a real concern with this car.

      Gasoline becomes something that only gets used in this car on the weekends when you are actually going somewhere- IF you use this car at all outside of the commute.

      I really like this idea because it fixes the primary flaw of earlier electric cars- once you run the battery out, you can’t use the car until you recharge it for lots of hours. This fixes that and gives you a car you COULD drive cross country, even though it is really designed to be run 40 miles a day. No more worrying about needing to drive somewhere in an emergency and not being able to because you “tank” is empty and you can’t refill it.

      Last year, GM was advertising the “effective” milage for the Volt, for the average person, when factoring in the electric costs and typical driving, was 230 mpg. Even if the true effective milage is half that, wouldn’t you pay extra for car that costs you the equivalent of getting 115 mpg?

      The only thing that prevents me from lusting over this is the SH*TTY GM vehicles I’ve had experience with in the past. I really hope this is the one that gets done right, and helps turn Government Motors around.

  11. Just_A_Guy says:

    Shouldn’t an electric car be able to charge itself during the ride, or sitting? Granted it’s not powering an entire engine, but a normal battery is recharged while driving. Seems like there are efficiencies there that could be used, not to mention solar power so it could recharge while sitting in a parking lot. My guess is that the oil companies are paying them to keep the range limited.

    • Kensuke Nakamura says:

      The amount of power that can be caught with current solar panels is I believe about enough to run the fans (not full air conditioning) you could get a slight amount of power that way but not worth the price of the panel or the materials. As for the battery charging itself in current cars, it’s charging off of excess energy from the gas engine. That’s why when your battery is drained form leaving your lights on in the parking lot, you have to get a jump and then let your engine idle for a few minutes.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        Considering how many cars just sit and bake in the parking lot all day, covering the tops of them with solar panels would save *something* no? Would be a viable alternative for people like me who might want an electric plug-in but have no way to plug it in at work to get home on electric after work.

    • rpm773 says:

      Actually, there were some articles floating around a few years ago claiming the then-Republican Congress, in collusion with oil-industry lobbyists, passed what was called the conservation of energy law, making it illegal to design electric cars to recharge themselves through the motion of their wheels when moving.

      It’s scary stuff, even though the conservative media didn’t cover it.

    • dadelus says:

      The normal battery in a car is charged by a device connected to the engince called an alternator. The power needed for the alternator to do that comes from the gasoline in the car. So it’s not like the energy just magically appears.

      If you have an electric car turn a large alternator WHILE the car is driving you’re not gaining anything because the power required to turn the alternator is more then the power you actually get out of the alternator.

      The Volt does make use of a process known as regenerative braking which reclaims power when the brakes are applied but that isn’t much in most situations.

      The GM folks took the Volt up Pikes peak to test it’s performance on long inclines. It did fine. What suprised them was that on the way down the battery actually got a pretty decent recharge from all the braking they had to do.

  12. DRW says:

    Crap-ola. No one will pay $40K for this when they can get better at half the price — as in the Prius and Insight.

    Plus, for me anyway, the cost of electricity on Long Island is no bargain … plugging in is just trading one expense for another.

    No thanks.

    • Kensuke Nakamura says:

      People bought priuses when they first came out at around $40000, at that time they could buy an Echo which got around 35, 40 mpg without being a hybrid for around $15000. And gas was less than a $1.50.
      New technology doesn’t become affordable until enough people buy it and bring costs down. This may be not for you or me but people will buy it.

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      The Nissan Leaf’s battery holds 20 KwH. I’m repeating myself, I know, but in my neck of the woods Upstate, a KwH of electricity costs about 12 cents. Thus, you can fill the battery from dead-empty for about $2.40, which gets you 100 miles or so. Assuming an average of 30 MPG for your garden-variety compact car, that’s the same as about 3.3 gal. of gasoline, which would set you back around ten bucks.

    • majortom1981 says:

      I also live on long island our power is 30 cents a KwH. So here on long island a VOLT will actually be More expensive to run since it will cost more to charge the battery then the equivalent gas.

  13. Boylerules says:

    I’m super interested in this type of hybrid/electric car. Right now the $40k price tag puts it way out of my price range, but it seems like it takes the hybrid concept much further. Where in the current hybrid cars the electric motor is there just to supplement the gas motor, in the case of the Volt the gas motor is there to supplement the electric motor.

    Also, electric motor is just fine for someone like me. I live in an area with reasonable rates for electricity and my commute is about 8 miles each way. With a 40 mile range on electricity I can drive to and from work and still have plenty of juice to do whatever I need to do without dipping into the gas tank. Rarely having to get gas is really appealing to me.

  14. Rachacha says:

    I want me a Volt with the optional accessory that is supposedly being worked on…a solar panel. So when I park in the commuter lot during the day, or when I am parked in my driveway in the evenings or weekends, I am charging the vehicle.

    My daily commute round trip to the commuter rail station is about 15 miles, meaning I could charge my car every day and never use an ounce of gasoline. If you could use the Volt engine/generator as an emergency generator for your home, even better!

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      Yeah, this.
      Sure it might go 40 miles on a charge, but what if your commute is 40 miles one way and there’s no plug in your parking lot.

      Solution – cover the top of the car with solar! They should do that on all cars anyway to power the AC/radio except on cloudy days- would take the strain off the motor and make all the cars more efficient.

      • dadelus says:

        Check out

        http://www.gm-volt.com

        They’ve been following the development of the Volt for a couple of years now.

        FYI:

        The car takes 8 hours to charge using a 110 outlet and 3 hours to charge using a 220 outlet.

        There have been rumors of an optional solar roof but no confirmation from GM as of yet. Even if
        they did so with current technology it would take much longer to charge then it would if it were plugged in.

        Asking the car to charge the battery through the motion of the wheels while driving is ridiculous. The added weight and resistence created by the generators would burn more energy then they created. The Volt will make use of regenerative braking.

      • dadelus says:

        Todays solar panels aren’t that powerful.

      • Bubb says:

        You could supplement the solar panels with mini-fan-blade wind mills. Quite often, when you don’t have sun, you do have wind.

  15. sallysassypants says:

    I live in the greater Detroit area and saw a Volt in the wild on my way to work yesterday – the license plate had “manufacturer” stamped on it. I was pretty darn excited to see it! It looked good, but there were weird, ugly wires visible near the trunk and hood, though probably it was just pre-production so stuff like that will be taken care of for the ones that get sold.

  16. TVGenius says:

    So they say they’re only selling them in LA, DC, and Detroit… but other than the inconvenience of service, is there any reason everyone else can’t get one? It’s not like they need specialized charging stations like the old EVs…

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      Detroit is home turf, but I don’t see many people buying them there.

      LA and DC make sense because of the large commuter population.

    • 420greg says:

      DC because every politician in the Country will want one.
      All off the local politician here have been driving prius’ for years.

  17. jpdanzig says:

    Too expensive, too impractical. I’m sure there are some early adopters with too much money who will buy one — the car’s not bad-looking — but I can’t see this being a success in the long term. Also — only folks with too much money will be able to replace the batteries in this heap when the power pack loses charging capacity in a few years. But then, those same folks will probably have already moved onto the next big thing, leaving their dead Volts in the junkyard.

    • ARP says:

      In order of your comments:

      1) Too expensive compared to what? Does that apply to all luxury cars? I think the additional cost ROI may be something to discuss, but a general statement doesn’t help.

      2) How is it impractical? The car automatically move to gas when it runs out of battery. If you didn’t want to plug in the car, you don’t have to. You’re wasting money by doing that, but that’s your choice. In fact, if you plugged in the car, you could probably save a good amount of money (an get ROI faster) if you typically drive short distances.

      3) Prius batteries are lasting around 100k miles (and often more). I know ICE cars that can barely last that long.

      4) Battery packs can be recycled and cost around $5k. I’ve spent that much money on car repairs before 100k miles (I’m looking at you Saab).

      In Summary, you’re a concern troll. You don’t like it because you don’t like it, or because it represents something “green” or progressive, rather than considering the practicality of the car.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        1) It’s not a luxury car. Even if you chose to run it on gas, it is a standard mid-size. Your average consumer that would benefit most from saving every day on their commute probably doesn’t drive, or can they afford a luxury car.

        2) Again the people most likely to use this car commute to work. Its nice to have a mid-size for the home life, but having to carry around all that extra weight and bulk (the thing is almost 2 tons!) makes it extremely inefficient.

        3) True that most cars probably tucker out after 100k, but even if you take good care of the prius you’re going to have to spend an arm and leg to get it back in working order at that point or get a new car. Most ICE cars, if well maintained, do not require sudden unavoidable expenditure at 100k unless you’ve been grossly negligent in the maintenance.

        Don’t get me wrong, its a good start, but 40 miles is NOTHING, and should not really be viewed as some sort of achievement.

        • djneuro says:

          “True that most cars probably tucker out after 100k, but even if you take good care of the prius you’re going to have to spend an arm and leg to get it back in working order at that point or get a new car.”

          You’re assuming here that the battery pack in every Prius will immediately fail at 100,000 miles, just because this is when the warranty runs out. This is a preposterous assumption. Nissan’s powertrain warranty is 60,000 miles — this does not mean that every Nissan powertrain will immediately fail at 60,000 miles. Prius taxis are wildly popular — would cabbies be so keen on them if they actually had to replace the battery every 100,000 miles (i.e., after a couple of years)? In practice, the battery lasts longer than this.

          Finally, it costs about 2 grand to get a new battery pack for a Prius. You seem to think that a standard ICE, after 100,000 miles of operation, could not possibly require a repair costing more than this. I would have to disagree.

  18. NarcolepticGirl says:

    What a cute-o in the video

  19. SphinxRB says:

    The VOLT is always propelled forward by electricity, not the gas engine. The gas engine in this car very small, just enough to run a generator to re-charge the battery. There is no transmission either. I prefer the Volt over the Nissan Leaf, because if you run your battery down, the gas engine kicks in, recharges, and you can just keep traveling, as long as you want; if you need more distance, just get more gas. The Leaf , you will have to stop for 8-20 hours to re-charge; the Volt can recharge in 3-8 hours. Plus the gas tank on the Volt is only about 7 gallons which can extend the range about 300 miles, hence 42MPG. The Volt will do most daily commuting on electricity(40 miles per charge), and can go on any family trip when needed. Also, this small engine will produce a lot less emissions than a large engine used to propell most cars, you can’t even rev this engine, it comes on at a steady RPM just to charge the battery. It’s not like anything every made, all facts need to be considered to make an decision. With the tax credit, and the fuel savings, the car will cost you around $25K over 5 years, not bad at all, plus your helping the the planet. WHen quick charging cars & stations are everywere, the Leaf will make better sense, but with gas stations so plentiful, I think the Volt is the best transsition step we can take.

  20. dolemite says:

    I think they should install little cycling things in these cars, and you make the passengers peddle to charge up the batteries while you drive.

  21. Jnetty says:

    Does anyone have the exact cost to recharge the battery every night?

    • Jnetty says:

      Okay never mind. It cost about $1.50 a day to recharge it completely.

      • majortom1981 says:

        That depends on where you live . HEre on long island electricity cost about 30 cents a kwh and the volt would costs $4.8 to charge every night.

  22. Mike says:

    I like what GM did with this, but there are two things that worry me:

    1) Plugs are not available for everyone. Although many of us have garages in our homes, there is a huge percentage of the population that does not live where they can plug their car in every night. Sure, there are still people who will buy the car, but your customer base is limited to people who live in a home with a garage, or driveway that allows them to plug in. Most apartment dwellers cannot take advantage of the technology. You could just rely on the engine to charge the batteries, but then that defeats the whole purpose from what I understand of this technology.

    2) Price worries me a bit. In a prolonged recession, we are hoping that people will drop $40k on a GM when they can get a Lexus 250h Hybrid for the same price? Again, some people will be willing to do this, but it does shrink your potential customer market even smaller. There are some die-hard buy American at all costs people out there, but I worked at a GM dealership and let me tell you those die hard buy American people are a dying breed. Especially since so many cars by foreign companies are being made in the US now.

    For $40k you can buy a 2008 Corvette, or for $22k you could buy a pretty decently equipped Malibu. Outside of Cadillac, the only cars that GM makes in the $40k price range are huge SUVs like the Suburban and Tahoe. You are trying to bring in people who are willing to spend $40k on a sedan and these people normally go straight to the luxury dealers.

    So the ideal Volt customer meets the following conditions:

    1) Has a living situation where they have a plug available at home.

    2) Is willing to spend $40k on a Chevy that isn’t a Corvette.

    3) Would rather own a plug-in Chevy over a Lexus hybrid.

    4) Would rather pay $40k for a Volt than $22k for a comparably equipped Malibu.

    That is a small, niche market. I wonder if there are enough people there to make the Volt a profitable endeavor.

    • dadelus says:

      http://gm-volt.com/join-us/

      Currently 52,229 people have signed up on this list.

      I realize this is less then scientific, but with GMs projected roll out numbers it accounts for the first year of production before it even rolls off the assembly line.

      • Mike says:

        Uh-oh, that makes me worry even more. While 52,000 may seem like a large number, this is merely a “want list” and my experience with this sort of thing in the car business taught me that you would be lucky if .5% of those who joined such a list would actually buy the car. I guess we just need to wait and see the numbers.

  23. vastrightwing says:

    I dug up some numbers and made a spreadsheet and here’s what I found.

    According to a couple of web articles, I found that the Volt gets about 5 miles per kilowatt hour. From here, I’m going to make a bunch of assumptions. I’m only going to drive the car within its 40 mile electric range, so I don’t use the gas motor. I’m also always going to completely drain the battery. I know in the real world this won’t happen. In my case, it costs me $0.21/KWH for electricity. I’m going to drive my Volt 10,000 miles a year and my total cost will be $420.00. This compares with a gasoline car which gets about 72 Miles/gallon when gas costs $3.00/gallon. Chevy is claiming they get over 160 miles/gallon and they can only claim this when electricity is less than $0.10/KWH. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anyone who pays anything close to that. Sure, the power costs me $0.10/KWH but I also have to pay a delivery fee and bunch of other fees that brings my total cost to $0.21/KWH.

    So here are my formulas so you can make your own spreadsheet.

    Cell
    A1: “Cost/Gal”
    A2: “MPG”
    A3: “GALS”
    A4: “Total Miles”
    A5: “Total Cost”
    B1: 3.00
    B2: 22
    B3: =$B4/B2
    B4: 10000
    B5: =($B4/B2)*$B1
    A7: “Cost/Kwh”
    A8: “Miles/KW”
    A9: “KWH”
    A10: “Total Miles”
    A11: “Total cost”
    B7: 0.21
    B8: 5
    B9: =$B10/B8
    B10: 10000
    B11: =B10/$B8*$B7

  24. akacrash says:

    Electricity still has to come from somewhere. Unless you live near a hydro or nuclear plant, it’s no more environmentally friendly than gasoline.

    • kjherron says:

      Well, some people *do* live near nuclear or hydro plants. Or natural gas, which mainly emits water and CO2. And even with coal, it’s easier to control emissions of one big plant than thousands of cars.

  25. AnthonyC says:

    “After the battery is depleted, the gas engine kicks in, extending the total range to 300 miles.”

    Please be more specific. For an all-gas car, “range” means distance before the tank is empty. For an all-electric car, “range” is how far the battery will take you before you need to recharge from an outlet. The volt is neither all-gas nor all-electric, so the word “range” by itself is ambiguous.

    The Volt can keep going forever, as long as you add gas, just like a normal gas car. I’ve met many people who mistakenly think that after 300 miles you simply have to plug in for several hours.

  26. Bubb says:

    I think the consequences of this car could be enormous in tangential ways.

    If you have this car, maybe you refuel once every six months.

    If enough people buy this car, it will begin to affect the price of gas and balance of payments for the country, because those things fluctuate at the margins. If suddenly 1/10 of consumers reduce their consumption of gasoline by 1/10th, then things begin to change at the margins: demand for gas shrinks, prices go down, and the massive amount of money we send to the mid-east shrinks.

    Taken in the aggregate, this could have a tremendously positive effect on our economy. Imagine if once again, Detroit saves the country (and itself at the same time).

    I believe, therefore the tax breaks for buying this car are justified, and would like it if they were even bigger. If the price comes down to, say, $21,000, every family that can afford it, buys this car. It’s a patriotic act as well.

    I suspect that this is the only seriously practical electrical car offered. I suspect that a ‘battery’ only car is not practical, because you can’t use those cars for road trips to another city – where you might not have access to the right electric outlet and even if you did, you’d need 4 hours to charge it.

    I keep using “I suspect” because I’m not an engineer.

    I would be interested to know if they couldn’t have used an even more efficient engine to function as the generator – perhaps a smaller 3 cylinder or even a diesel calibrated at its peak production cycle.

    I hope that this is just the beginning. Once this becomes accepted architecture, they’ll find better and more efficient generators. Eventually, we’ll have capacitor batteries – and when that happens, things will really begin to change, because then, you won’t need the generator.

    The next step is building more, many more, new nuclear power plants (using new safe technologies) to complete our migration to green. I recently read that resource poor, over crowded South Korea is building 40 new nuclear power plants to make itself greener and energy independent. They also recently received contracts worth $40 billion to build nuclear power plants in the Middle East. So they are turning their energy situation inside out using nuclear energy.

    So I think, all in all, this car is a very important step forward. A turning point. I can’t wait to see them on the road.

  27. TehLlama says:

    Why am I helping to subsidize $10,000 worth of tax payoffs to idiots buying such a mediocre car. A 4000lb vehicle that will never even have a break even point (none calculated have been within the useful lifetime of the batteries themselves, which will require rather costly replacement), while they’ve done a rather impressive job of making a turd into a car, and kudos to GM for that, the inevitable use of government resources to try and force a competitive advantage to the Volt is sickening.
    This strikes me the same way as all the morons I know in Kalifornia who bought Priuses for their 50mi/day commutes, and only after ridicule realized they were getting worse mileage for their cost and trouble.

    • Bubb says:

      You might ask the same thing about gasoline.

      How much of your tax dollars goes to supplement the cost of petroleum?

      How much money does our government spend in sending military forces to the Middle East, and hundreds of other locations for the sake of oil. The Iraq war alone is priced at about $1 trillion. It would be nice if the government could simply hand the bill for that to the oil companies, and then they could roll the cost into the price of a gallon of gas.

      The government also gives big dollars straight away to oil companies.

      To me the greatest value of the Volt is patriotic: If I owned it, I might only fill up the tank every six months. Instead of sending my money to Saudi Arabia to pay for gas, it stays in the country, helping the balance of payments. The money it freezes up can be spent on generating local jobs.

      In short, because profits and prices are set at the margins, the Volt could have a huge impact.

      Remember, the early Prius’ cost as much as the Volt. Prices will come down as volume goes up. Our government, you and me, have every incentive to see to it that as many people as possible drive a Volt, or something like it.

      If every American drove a volt, we wouldn’t need to import any oil from countries of questionable stability, or politics, etc…

  28. Biokinetica says:

    Consumer Reports buys all the products it tests just like a regular consumer

    And I was all ready to get up on my soap box about this, but no; you guys just had to remember to put it in the article…

  29. gman863 says:

    “CR Tries Chevy Product, Likes It”

    This headline is more unbelivable than anything The Weekly World News ever came up with.

  30. Benjamin Stearns says:

    Of course they enjoyed driving it. For them to evaluate this car, and NOT like it, they would be bashed left and right by all of the global warming kooks. I hope they didn’t drive the whole 40 miles in one trip.

  31. Ablinkin says:

    $41,000 for a Volt, $37,000 for the Mitsubishi iMeiv, $30,000 for a Leaf. When are the car companies going to really get serious about plug-in electrics and put out an AFFORDABLE vehicle. Yes those with disposable incomes will be buying these little econo-boxes. Far better to put your money into a cheaper hybrid/TDI/ or all gas powered vehicle than these current offerings.