Review: Chevy Volt Stands Out by Blending In

Graeme Fletcher writes this Chevy retains 'normal' car feel, while offering great economy.

Published: 05-Feb-2012

Listening to the radio the other day drove home just how little is known about the Chevrolet Volt. The commentator, in an off-script moment, was lamenting the fact that electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt do not have the driving range demanded by the vast majority of commuters.

While this is true of pure electric cars (most max out at 160 kilometres on a good day), it is positively wrong when it comes to the Volt. Its advanced powertrain has the ability to motivate it for up to 600 km. How can that give anyone range anxiety?

The Volt is the first of what promises to be a slew of extended-range electric cars and, make no mistake, it is an electric vehicle as the electric motor does 100 per cent of the driving. In simple terms, after charging the main 16-kWh lithium ion battery, the Volt purrs along using this power source for the first 45 km (Chevrolet says 60-plus km, but the reality is that cold weather takes its toll). From here on, the Volt relies on its 63-horsepower 1.4-litre fourcylinder gas engine. It drives a generator. In principle, it is much the same as diesel/electric locomotives - there is no connection whatsoever between the engine and drive wheels.

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