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PHOTO CAPTION: Snow-covered Chevrolet Volt logo at Hamtramck plant in Detroit winter 2011.

Chevy Volt: Ready for Winter?

Benjamin Hunting finds Volt electric hybrid offers 'fully winterized' driving experience.

Published: 18-Jan-2011

weather performance is an issue that has dogged many hybrid cars in the United States, and the Chevrolet Volt is no exception. Before plunking down their hard earned dollars on new technology, many winter belt new car buyers seek some form of reassurance that the gasoline / electric drivetrain – and important accessories such as heating systems – are capable of matching the ferocity of winter storms and the extreme cold weather that are a daily reality in the northern half of the United States.

Chevrolet has made it a point to highlight the winter capabilities of the brand new 2011 Chevrolet Volt in order to help reassure potential customers that the plug-in sedan is up to withstanding the rigors of cold temperature driving. The “winterization” of the Chevrolet Volt includes design allowances that take into account the extra burden an electric battery must bear when asked to perform in the dual role of motivating and heating an automobile.

With no traditional gasoline engine generating waste heat that can be harnessed by the Chevrolet Volt’s climate control system (the internal combustion engine in the Volt is designed to charge the battery, not power the vehicle’s wheels), Chevrolet engineers were required to introduce several innovative systems to help improve passenger comfort during the winter months. The OnStar MyLink app allows Volt owners with smartphones to start the sedan prior to their departure time, allowing the car to warm up while still plugged into the wall. This helps to preserve a full battery charge to be used during driving.

Furthermore, by incorporating heated seats into the Chevrolet Volt’s feature list driver and passenger can be kept warm more effectively than if the sedan’s cabin air was the sole source of climate control. In addition, the Chevrolet Volt’s gasoline engine features a special start / stop cycle for extreme cold operation, which enables the vehicle to burn just enough fuel to heat a small amount of coolant which is then used to regulate passenger compartment temperatures. From a safety perspective, this feature also allows for more effective defrosting of the Volt’s windows and windshield.

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