Why A Chevy Volt ISN’T for him.

by Ben N on March 31, 2010

The Chevy Volt

Recently, a friend of mine from the eastern part of the United States had a chance to test drive a Chevy Volt, along with some other members of his local EV Club. As part of a brief post to an e-mailing list, he just mentioned at the end that he didn’t see a Chevy Volt in his future. Of course, this set off a storm of questions asking why. His response is possibly the BEST review I have heard yet of the Volt. No, it’s not a long list of specs, and carefully crafted car review as you might see in a magazine. Rather, it is his FEELINGS on the car, as well as a bit of automotive history.

(The following is a direct quote, taken with permission. Please keep in mind that this is one one person’s expressed opinion, and not that of 300MPG.org.)

“I would like to elaborate a little more on why I do not think a Chevy Volt is in my future. Before we get further into it, I would like to give you a brief history of my involvement with auto’s in general and EV’s in particular. Remember these are my opinions and do not reflect upon others I may be associated with. Also, this may have altered my perception just a little differently than others of my generation, of this I am sure.

The first car I ever bought was a 1969 Chevrolet Impala 4 Dr. Sedan Custom.
It was a boat plain and simple. After driving it around for a few years I
was glad to let her go, especially during the gas crisis of the 1970’s.
After that I took a step backwards and got interested in an automobile that
was out of production almost a decade before I purchased it. That would
begin my affair as some would call it with Studebaker. My first was a 1960
Lark 4 Dr. Sedan (which I still have in the back of my garage waiting a full
restoration at this time). This led to a Hawk GT 2 Dr. HT, and a succession
of others over the years, including several Avanti both Studebaker and those
made by its successor Avanti Motors.

My original introduction to EV’s was with an old time Studebaker collector
who had one of the few running original Studebaker Electric Vehicles from
the early part of the 20th Century. Since the 1970’s I had always been
fascinated with other EV’s and was aware of the CitiCar but never owned one
until the turn of the 21st Century. I acquired one and shortly there after
became owner to a 1994 converted S-10 EV. Since then I have acquired
several Postal EV’s as well. All are DC and range in voltage from the 48
Volt CitiCar to the 72 Volt Postal Van’s, and the 120 volt S-10. While I
have never owned one I did have a chance to drive in a 72 volt Tropica a few
years ago, as well.

Along with these vehicles I also immersed myself into their histories as
well; to a point where some consider me an expert in this area.
Fortunately, I do not count myself among the some!? Needless to say, right
or wrong this is what precedes to lead me to my conclusions here.

I would say one of the main reasons I did not care for the Chevy Volt is
mainly due to my dislike of most modern vehicles. Teck seems to have taken
over and the driver is just an after thought in the process. Also, most of
the vehicles I have been involved with over the years have had a distinct
character that reflected either that of the uniqueness of the company or
that of the designer. I have also come to appreciate certain aspects of
engineering to these vehicles as well.

To me, the Volt comes across as most GM vehicles do; the product of a
committee?! Take one from column B, two from column A, throw in a few more
columns hash it out among the committee and make it match a long line of
surveys slanted to the company’s forethought on the matter. Yes the Volt
does look like something that will sell to the masses and fit a unique nitch
in the current market, today. I would say it fits a well worn pattern that
will meet the needs of its marketed group and fulfill the dealerships
service department expectations as well as that of the oil companies.

So far I have generalized in my opinion on this vehicle. It looks like the
committee has done its work well and the car does come across as an easily
handled appliance. One of the specifics I will get into is the fact that,
while the initial 40 or so miles are pure electric drive after the batteries
are depleted to a certain point then the onboard engine kicks in not to
recharge the batteries but to generate the voltage directly to drive the
electric motor. This gives the initial 40 mile range a boost to an expected
300 miles or so. Until the gas runs out in the currently un specified size
of the gas tank?!

You will still need a charging station and 8 or so hours (@ 110V) to
recharge your batteries, at this point. Yes the motor only inputs electric,
making this fit the pattern of an EV and not a Hybrid, but the source of the
power changes from a green source (stored batteries) to a standard co2
emitting pollution source (a much too big 4 cylinder engine). This I can
assume appeases the oil companies and gives them a vale of respectability in
the process?!

In my test drive which I shared with several others I did get a good feel
for how the car handled most situations. I noted that the other drivers I
shared this test with tended to push for the pickup and go aspect of driving
as most modern drivers tend to relate to now a days. When I got my chance
behind the wheel I specifically drove like a little old lady on her way to
Sunday church. The low center of gravity due to the placement of the power
pack gave this vehicle a good road feel and positive traction even though we
tested on a rain slick roadway. The aerodynamics of the body cut through
the air at both high speeds and low with little resistance and attested to
the committee approach in its design.

Now comes my dislike for modern cars. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer
real gauges, not a computer generated image of a gauge that changes as the
mode of the drive dictates!? Likewise, to me a radio has two knobs; on/off
and volume control with maybe 5 buttons to pre selected channels, not the
multi media gizmo that inhabited the center section of the dash. The form
fitting seats and harness restricted any satisfaction one might have enjoyed
out of the drive. Finally like most modern cars entry and exit was, to me a
contortionist’s nightmare.

The displacement and overall size of the Volt is not too different than that
of my 1960 Studebaker Lark; considered one of the first compact Post War
automobiles. However the driving experience was by no means even close. I
wish GM well in this endeavor and hope the outcome is better than their EV1
project a decade ago. However, as stated in the beginning the Volt does not
look to be in my future. Thank you for your time. I would love to hear
what others thought of this experience as well.”

Peter C.

{ 3 trackbacks }

Why someone ISN'T going to buy a Chevy Volt - Fuel Economy, Hypermiling, EcoModding News and Forum - EcoModder.com
March 31, 2010 at 8:42 am
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March 31, 2010 at 10:09 am
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March 31, 2010 at 10:43 am

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