Print 113 comment(s) - last by etrading59.. on Dec 7 at 7:55 AM

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."

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By AlfB on 12/1/2009 8:11:00 AM , Rating: 3
I did a little math just to see what real world savings might look like. I am not trying to say these numbers give a firm idea of the the savings, just a quick look to see what they might look like. I make many assumptions here as well as probably leave out some important details but this is a quick and dirty "how feasible is this car for me" calculation. I used conservative numbers for my situation.

Electricity: $0.10/KWh (some will be lower and some higher)
Gas: $2.50 (about what it is for me but may be higher)
Charge: 8 hours @ 15 Amps (amperage may be a little high)

Cost of 40 miles (time a charge lasts per reports):

(120V * 15A * 8 hours)/1000 = 14.4 KWh per charge
14.4KWh @ $0.10/KWh = $1.44 per charge
$1.44/40 miles per charge = $0.036 per mile

20 MPG car: $2.50/20 = $0.125 per mile

30 MPG car: $2.50/30 = $0.083 per mile

50 MPG car: $2.50/50 = $0.05 per mile

Payback for 15,000 miles per year:

20 MPG car (@$25,000): ($32,500 - $25,000)/$0.089 = $1335 per year or a 5.6 year payback.

30 MPG car (@$25,000): ($32,500 - $25,000)/$0.047 = $709 per year or a 10.6 year payback.

50 MPG car (@$25,000): ($32,500 - $25,000)/$0.014 = $210 per year or a 35.7 year payback.

A lot of factors such as comparable car cost will vary this but it looks to me like that based on savings alone it will be hard to justify replacing anything that gets more than 20 MPG which is not even a good payback.

RE: Savings?
By JediJeb on 12/1/2009 1:53:05 PM , Rating: 2
When gas went to $4/gallon last year I did a similar calculation in thinking about replacing my truck with a more fuel efficient car. If I went from my 18mpg truck to a 35mpg car, considering my truck is paid for, I would need to buy a car I could make $80/month payments on to even break even by the money I saved on gas. Since prices for gas dropped that number comes down to about $50/month payments. Just can't find a fuel efficient vehicle for that kind of money. A $25,000 vehicle at $80/month payments would take 26 years to pay it off. To get it on a 5 year loan that would only be a $4,600 car, not many fuel efficient cars for that price either.

Feel good factor for being more efficient has more to do with it than actual savings. Now that is to replace a working vehicle with a new one just to save money on fuel. If you really need to replace your vehicle then it will be a whole different set of calculation to see what makes the most financial sense to buy. Just don't get suckered into believing that because another car gets twice the fuel efficiency you are going to save money if you buy it.

RE: Savings?
By mindless1 on 12/1/2009 10:06:18 PM , Rating: 2
True, a whole different set of calculations but you bring up a point many don't mention when you wrote about monthly loan payments.

The point is about interest on money. Seldom do I see people adding in the difference in price of the hybrid/other car and calculating out how much interest that money would've drawn sitting in the bank.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

Most Popular ArticlesAre you ready for this ? HyperDrive Aircraft
September 24, 2016, 9:29 AM
Leaked – Samsung S8 is a Dream and a Dream 2
September 25, 2016, 8:00 AM
Yahoo Hacked - Change Your Passwords and Security Info ASAP!
September 23, 2016, 5:45 AM
A is for Apples
September 23, 2016, 5:32 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki