The benefits of an electric drivetrain with a nearly 400-mile range
With the 2011 introduction of the Chevrolet Volt, General Motors was one of the first manufacturers to offer the best of both worlds with the Voltec propulsion system, a system that can run up to 50 miles exclusively on electric power before switching to a gasoline-powered, 1.4-liter engine for around 400 miles of total range.
What truly makes the Voltec propulsion system unique, however, is that the combustion engine does not power the front wheels of the Chevy Volt; it functions purely as an onboard generator to recharge the 111kW (149 hp) electric drive unit. The Volt has a combustion engine, but what actually powers the wheels is pure electric power, so it’s not considered a hybrid.
This unique and innovative approach to an automotive drivetrain puts the 2012 Chevrolet Volt (MSRP $39,145 before federal tax savings of up to $7,500) in a class by itself, and it has garnered a cabinet full of the most prestigious awards a car can receive including Motor Trend 2011 “Car of the Year,” Automobile magazine 2011 “Automobile of the Year,” Car and Driver “10 Best for 2011” and 2011 “Top Safety Pick” from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
These awards have come as a result of more than one million miles and four million hours of testing the 16kW battery packs in the Volt to ensure they are as durable and reliable as possible. As a testament to this quality commitment, GM offers an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty on every American-sourced Volt lithium-ion battery pack.
Where other pure electric vehicles, like the Nissan Leaf, have a real-life range of 100 miles or less before running out of power, requiring hours to recharge, once the Chevy Volt uses up its electric power, it seamlessly transitions to extended-range mode for continuous operation, just like a combustion engine vehicle. And once plugged in, the Volt can take as little as four hours (240-volt outlet) for a full charge. Using a conventional 120-volt household outlet, you can fully charge the battery in about 10 hours.
Unlike some pure electric vehicles, which struggle to maintain even 60 miles an hour, the Volt flexes 273 lb/ft of electrified, instant low-speed torque muscle en route to a sub-nine-second zero-to-60 mph sprint and a 100 mph top track speed while still delivering 95 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) city/93 MPGe highway in all-electric mode, 35 mpg city/40 mpg highway in extended range mode and 60 MPGe combined.
Not only does the Volt accelerate quickly, it also handles with surprising agility. A rack-mounted electric power steering system typically found on premium sports sedans helps the Volt deliver a smooth, refined road feel while giving just the right amount of quick steering feedback. Premium front and rear hydraulic ride bushings on the Volt help neutralize road harshness while ultra-lightweight 17.8-pound aluminum wheels and Goodyear Fuel Max low-rolling-resistance tires optimize efficiency and performance.
In addition to its innovative Voltec propulsion system under the hood, the Volt also offers a suite of intuitive technology features inside the cabin that will take interacting with your vehicle to a whole new level.
Two seven-inch, high-resolution full-color screens illuminate the Volt interior. The reconfigurable Drive Information Center display is interactive, showing information like when the Volt is operating in electric-only or extended range mode and the fuel economy it’s returning. The second screen in the center stack features an integrated shifter and an “Efficiency” switch that shows energy usage, power flow and charging screens. Three driving modes – “Normal,” “Sport” and “Mountain” – allow drivers to tailor the car’s driving responses and power delivery to suit conditions.
The Volt offers interior space, comfort and conveniences that you would expect to find in a premium sedan. Standard features include keyless access with remote start, the Chevrolet MyLink system for voice-controlled streaming radio, hands-free Bluetooth integration, Radio Data System, pause-and-play radio functions, three years of standard OnStar with Directions and Connections service and Turn-by-Turn Navigation and three free months of SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Options include leather upholstery, a navigation system featuring a 60GB hard disc drive with voice recognition and a premium, energy-saving six-speaker Bose audio system.
Technological advancements also make the Chevrolet Volt one of the safest cars on the road. In addition to its Top Safety Pick designation, the Volt earned a perfect “5-Star” overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Every Volt comes standard with four-wheel disc brakes with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), traction control, StabiliTrak electronic stability control, eight airbags, including head-curtain side-impact and new knee bags and LED daytime running lamps for improved motorist and pedestrian visibility. The Volt is constructed with advanced, high-strength steel for outstanding stiffness and occupant protection. If a crash does occur, OnStar will automatically alert an OnStar advisor who will send emergency assistance to the exact location of your vehicle, even if you don’t know where you are.
The Volt even includes safety features for those outside the vehicle. Because the Volt operates silently in all-electric mode, a driver-activated, non-offensive alert tone helps pedestrians hear an approaching Volt.
The 2012 Chevrolet Volt is the world’s first mass-produced electric vehicle with extended range. Some industry experts call it a “game changer,” a car that is having an enormous impact on the development of every electric and hybrid vehicle in the future.
It isn’t very often a car is referred to as a “game changer,” so schedule a test drive of the 2012 Chevrolet Volt today at Pat McGrath Chevyland in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and experience this technological marvel for yourself.