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Volt gains "Sport" mode and works out some of its noise issues

The 2011 GM Volt is generating unprecedented hype as the highest profile upcoming mass-market electric vehicle.  With the U.S. government and automakers worldwide all betting big on electric vehicles, General Motors has done perhaps the best job at promoting its upcoming vehicle.

The 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 long 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, 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 car"

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.

One 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.

One 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."

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RE: Sports mode
By Keeir on 11/30/2009 6:01:36 PM , Rating: 2

GM hasn't released the final 0-60 times. Its hard to guess at them, since we the buying public are more used to gearing switchs and ICE power curves. believes the 0-60 time will be less than 9 seconds, close to 8 seconds.

GM has stated its goal is close to 7 seconds.

To compare, most 4-cylinder cars without Turbo are in the 9s range. Most turboed 4-cylinder cars are in the 7s. Diesels such as the Golf TDI are in the 8s-9s range.

And guess what? The Volt has a gasoline tank that means you can drive -forever- provided you purchase gasoline, just like you do now. You will have the option to use cheap electricity to replace expensive gas whenever convient!

RE: Sports mode
By brybir on 11/30/2009 8:17:01 PM , Rating: 2
You keep replying with "sigh" to everything as if this is some burden for you to make posts in this discussion. If it is hard work, or you feel somehow about the conversation, feel free not to post.

We do not need you here to clarify other's speculation with more speculation of your own. The car will arrive when it arrives, and it will either be compelling to enough people at a given price point or it will not.

In any event, the point many are wondering about is whether the volt, when operated like a Prius (i.e. gas only and no charging) can be worth the estimated price point given that without being a plug in hybrid, the Volt has the characteristics and performance of, well, a Toyota Prius.

RE: Sports mode
By bug77 on 11/30/2009 8:49:15 PM , Rating: 2
Drive forever? Maybe, if the gas engine can fill the battery faster than driving depletes it. Somehow I doubt that's the case.

It just hit me: what will happen with a fully-depleted battery and a full gas tank? Will the Volt run?

RE: Sports mode
By SunLord on 12/1/2009 6:30:08 AM , Rating: 2
Unless you drive around with the tank empty the generator will recharge the battery to 30% anytime it isn't under load plus you recharge the battery a lil every time you break.
So if you keep putting gas into the volt you would never need to plug it into the wall which would be stupid to do anyways.

I'm not sure if the volt will even let you run it's battery down the zero if you run out of gas or if it will shut off until you plug it in or add gas. Even if you manage to run the battery down to "0" it should still have enough power to fire up the generator to recharge the battery to 30%.

RE: Sports mode
By mindless1 on 12/1/2009 9:54:06 PM , Rating: 2
Define "0". I'll assume 0%...

No it will not allow running the battery down till it is completely depleted as this would damage it - and being under warranty they're not going to even give people the option ever, most likely.

For the battery to still be able to start the generator at 0% remaining, it would have to lack a cutoff circuit for low voltage, something it will have.

However, they could simply redefine 0% as not a percentage of battery capacity but as percentage of (what they allow you to...) usable capacity, but either way 0 is zero, becomes a matter of whether it's 0.0 or 0.4 rounded down then.

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