Tuesday, May 15, 2012
2012 Chevrolet Volt test drive review. Today's car of the future
For example, in 1958, Ford offered the Nucleon Concept—a car that was supposed to be powered by a nuclear reactor. In 1953, General Motors offered Harley Earl’s radically styled Firebird I Concept, which looked like a jet airplane and ran off of a turbine engine. Chrysler really took the turbine thing to new levels with the 1963 Turbine Cars, which could run on tequila, among other things.
Still, the more things change, the more things stay the same. In 2007, I was personally in the crowd of automotive media professionals when Bob Lutz presented the Chevrolet Volt concept car to the world. There was a lot of buzz about this sleek electric concept car that had lithium batteries that could be charged by an on-board gasoline engine.
Obviously, history has proved my prediction incorrect, and today we have the revolutionary Chevrolet Volt production vehicle silently going about its business. I had the distinct opportunity to drive one of these cars for an entire week, and I have to admit, it was a lot more fun than I expected.
In the Volt, the gasoline engine never actually runs the car at all. In fact, if you take short commutes (about 30-miles) and plug your Volt into the wall outlet every night to recharge it, you could conceivably never use a drop of gasoline again. The car itself runs completely, 100-percent on electricity.
The actual fuel economy of the Volt really depends on how you use it. If you just use the gasoline-generated power, you can get as much as 37-MPG. That’s not bad. But plug it in, run off the electricity, and kick over to the gasoline for half your trip, and you’ll be looking at 60-MPG. That’s even better. Or, charge it up and take it on a short trip where you’ll just use electricity, and you’re looking at 94-MPGe. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!
One thing that continues to haunt the Volt is the price tag. My Silver Ice Metallic test vehicle clocked-in at $43,880. That’s almost double the cost of a Chevrolet Cruze Eco, the basic car on which the Volt is based. Of course, I've read stories about people paying double the price of a new Prius in California for used examples, just because they had carpool lane stickers that were no longer being made available by the state government. Never underestimate what people will pay for things like this.
I’ll tell you one thing for sure about the Chevy Volt—for an environmental geek-mobile, it is darn good looking. I know it took a lot of flak for not being as radical as the concept, but honestly, how could it be? The large wheels fill out the wheel wells just right at the corners, the stance is very aggressive, and it is loaded with interesting details. It might be the same basic shape as an Insight or a Prius, but as far as I’m concerned, there’s no comparison in the way they come across. The Volt is leaps and bounds more attractive.
My experience with the Volt was fun, educational, and eye-opening. This truly is a car of the future whose time has come. It really is like a radical ‘50s dream car concept, but unlike most of the stillborn ideas of the past, this one actually made it. It’s no wonder this car keeps winning awards like the 2011 Motor Trend Car of the Year, the 2011 Automobile Magazine Automobile of the Year, and the 2011 North American Car of the Year. It doesn’t just predict the future. The future is now.