Oct 22nd, 2007 by tommaff
PriceWheels was recently invited to cover the Chevrolet road show for the Chevy Volt. This tour for the first plug-in electric concept car stopped in Miami as part of a national tour to hit several major markets like Boston, Los Angeles, and others. What makes Volt so different is that it is planned to be manufactured with the ability for the batteries to give you 40 miles of driving all on one electric fill-up. While 40 miles doesn’t seem like a lot of distance, Chevrolet states it covers two-thirds of the commute of most Americans with the average American commute being 25 miles. The event not only brought along the Volt, but the designer, Mathieu Boimare. Getting insight into how the designer saw this hybrid car come about was interesting and enlightening into the world of the next generation of automobiles. More about that later.
What makes the Volt different than the competition and cars like the Toyota Prius? Well, the Prius is more of a parellel hybrid that has two motors, the electric motor moves it when it goes slow, but to gain speed and accelerate the gas motor kicks in. The Volt on the other hand is considered a series hybrid, it has a 161 HP engine and that is all that moves the wheels. It can go from 0-60 in 8 seconds with a top speed of 120 MPH. The engine gets its power from a powerful engine that gets recharged from your standard 120 volt outlet in your house or anywhere. Estimates are it will take about 6 hours to charge. So how much will all this electricity cost? Chevrolet estimates that it equals to paying $.50 cents per gallon of gas. Sounds like a deal to me, I’d just like to see it charge a bit faster. If you
drive it to work each way for less than 20 miles and can park it overnight in the garage this seems to be a very good fit. One other note that makes the Volt different, it has another engine that is E85/gas powered. Now this engine doesn’t power the wheels to move, it powers the batteries for when they run low. This feature is expected to add 600 to 700 miles to the trip as well. With the E85 feature you should get about 50 MPG for that distance.
Now all this sounds pretty good, and given most tests are estimates based on computer models, etc… the proof will be in the pudding. What is exciting is to see major manufacturers making some headway into alternatives to our existing gas-fuel powered cars. This may not fit your needs to save money on gas today or anytime soon as production of the Volt will be around 2010, it is getting closer than you think to each of us having great alternatives to what we drive today.
I have to admit, it is one slick looking car. I immediately thought of the new Chevrolet 2009 Camaro. Getting the chance to sit at dinner with the designer Mathieu Boimare was very insightful. Mathieu told me how he started out in 2002 on the design that took him about 6 months to complete the drawings. He was pleasantly surprised to hear from GM as from all the submissions for the first electric car GM would produce, his design was the one they wanted. So speed forward to 2008 and 6 years later he is touring with his design, almost “Auto Rock Star” like. Imagine having your friends and buddies seeing your design being written about and pictures of it on TV. Pretty cool stuff, never mind as I asked him, What will it feel like to one day see your design driving down the street? Mathieu replied “I have no idea, it will just blow my mind and I will probably just freeze in my place.” His young energetic style comes out in the design and no doubt is exactly the type of person GM is turning to for the next generation of GM vehicles.
Front view of the Volt above shows that traditional Chevy muscle car wide body look. Below you can see below the interior of the Volt, it fits 4 people and has a sharp tan interior.