A popular trend in modern day motoring is going with a hybrid.  With the high gas prices, people are trading in their old vehicles for cars that get better gas mileage.  The hybrid is powered by both a gas engine and an electric motor. The heat from the engine charges the battery.  The most popular hybrid is the Toyota Prius.  Chevrolet decided to enter the hybrid market when it first revealed the  Volt in 2008.  The Volt would be a plug-in hybrid, in which the battery could be charged by an external source.  In Mid-December 2010, the Volt was released.  Chevrolet classifies the Volt as an extended range electric vehicle, but I consider it a plug-in hybrid because the car can be propelled by a gas engine.

I first saw the Chevrolet volt at the 2011 Houston Auto Show and I was not impressed.  Chevrolet is promoting the wrong car.  Chevrolet showed off the Corvette Stingray concept, which I hope goes into production, a Camaro convertible, and another Camaro powered by a 7.0L engine.  All those I would rather have than the Volt.  I think the Volt is slow, overrated, and overpriced.

The Volt is powered by 16 kW-h lithium-ion battery that powers a 149 hp, 273 lb-ft torque electric motor and 1.4L gas engine that uses premium gas and generates 74 hp.  The gas engine never charges the battery, it turns a generator that powers the electric motor.  The car can go for 40 miles on its batteries before the gas engine kicks in and give the Volt an additional 310 miles.  It takes 3.5 hours to recharge the battery with a 240 VAC outlet.  The Volt goes from 0 to 60 mph in 9 seconds and has a top speed of 100 mph.  To offset the cost of R & D on the Volt, it costs $41,000 dollars, but with th $7,500 tax incentives, it costs $33,500 to the owner.

The Volt can be seen in Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen as the Autobot Jolt.  Motorweek reviewed the Volt, praising the car so much that the Volt was Motorweeks’s 2011 Driver’s Choice Car of the Year.  Motortrend Magazine named the Volt its 2011 Car of the Year.  

Final Thoughts:  I don’t think the Volt deserves the praise it is getting.  The Volt gets poor mileage, slow, and overpriced.  I was with my family at a wedding in Dallas.  We were in a V6 Toyota Camry and got over 400 miles on less than a tank of  regular gas.  The Volt uses premium gas, which is more expensive than regular gas.  The Volt gets about 350 miles before running out of gas and juice.  I could name several cars that are more deserving of 2011 Car of the Year.  Better cars include the Camaro, Mustang, Corvette, Infiniti G and M sedans, BMW M3, BMW M5, Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, and any diesel powered vehicle.  At the $33,500 price after the tax incentives, you could instead get a V8 mustang or a V8 Camaro.  Porsche will be releasing a plug-in hybrid that gets 78 mpg and can reach speeds of 200 mph, the 918, first announced in 2009 and costs $630,000 when it will be released.  Since the Volt is a plug-in hybrid, you need to have a place to charge the car over night.  The technology for electric and hybrid vehicles is still not there.  Most hybrids are slow and electric vehicles get poor mileage.  Wait for improvements in hybrid and electric vehicle technologies.  I would pass on the Volt.


Photo taken from a camera phone

Originally written on March 8, 2011 in the TGWTG blog section

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