vehicle is currently in the pre-production
testing phase, in which the final bugs in the prototypes are
ironed out via minor changes, largely to the vehicle's software and
mechanical settings. A fleet of prototype Volts completed a
test-drive journey and engineers are now using the data collected
to tweak the Volt. They hope to minimize
its problems in the process.
James Riswick, an editor with
Edmunds.com, recently took one of the mules out
for a test drive to measure their progress on this front.
He reports, "[The Volt] is sort of on the more fun to drive
hybrid. The suspension is a little firmer, than say, in the
Prius, which is on the floaty, comfortable side. This is not a
sports car by any means, but actually the electric power steering is
reasonably direct and well weighted."
In his opinion, the
noise when driving under gasoline generator is minimal and seems like
"white noise". However, when stopping, a more "rough"
unpleasant sound was heard – GM says they're working on this
issue. Overall, Riswick says the car is "pretty darn
normal" and that "It drives like a pretty nice
However, as many have noted a couple of pivotal
unknowns remain -- the Volt's finalized real world gas mileage and
cost. The Volt will be available in all 50 states when it
debuts, according to GM. It will be available for around
$40,000, plus a $7,500 federal tax credit, which brings it to
approximately $32,500 (excluding additional hybrid tax breaks in
certain states). However, this price could be bumped
significantly higher or lower still.
The vehicles will
currently recharge in about 8 hours household 120-volt current, while
special 240-volt charging stations can charge it in only 3 hours.
GM estimates the car's fuel economy to
be 230 mpg, but this value has yet to be confirmed in real world
independent testing. One of GM's top priorities has been trying
to tweak the gas mileage upwards during the testing cycle.
detail that has not been widely publicized is the new vehicle's
"sports mode". Activated by a Sport button on the
center stack, the feature makes the throttle more receptive and
increases its ultimate limit, bumping 0 to 60 mph acceleration down
to 9 seconds. The Volt's urge to scoot increases in the mode,
though. Like most cars, the Volt also provides an electronic
version of a "Low" gear similar to that found in normal
cars, which allows faster deceleration. GM recommends the Low
mode for driving on slopes or in stop and go.
disappointment is that the Volt and other Lithium-ion battery-powered
electric vehicles may not be viable in hotter climates, such as some
states in the American Southwest. Despite the fact that Volts
will be sold in these states, performance may be significantly
undermined due to the heat. Volt Chief Engineer Andrew Farah
describes, "The Volt may not be right for everyone. If you live
in the Southwest, depending on how you use your car, the Volt might
not be right for you."