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BY STEVE SILER,
October 2008



GM just turned 100 years old, and at its birthday gala in Detroit in September, GM gave the world a long-awaited first look at what it’s calling the “production” Chevrolet Volt, a car upon which the future of the world’s largest automaker rests.

Proud as we are of GM for getting by for a century, we’re not piling on the presents in the form of unqualified praise and optimism about the Volt, which will start rolling down GM’s Hamtramck, Michigan, assembly line in November, 2010. After all, we remember the 1996 GM EV1, an electric car that proved only that electric propulsion wasn’t ready for prime time.

With the splashy reveal safely behind us, we’ve taken several opportunities to look more critically at the Volt, studying the design, crawling around inside, and interviewing—make that interrogating—many of those responsible for making it a reality, including Bob Lutz, vice president of global product development, and Jon Lauckner, vice president of global project management. They all promise a game-changer certainly for GM, and over time, possibly the world.

Still, a reality check is in order.

Design: Bye-Bye, Gangsta-Mini. Hello, Sensible Sedan.

The “production” Volt seen here has garnered its share of criticism on account of its styling, which has changed vastly from the gangsta-chopped mini sedan look of the ballyhooed Volt concept into a more slab-sided, wind-friendly design that relies on intricate lighting graphics and trim pieces for its cool factor. Frankly, we think it comes across pretty awful in pictures, but we can attest that it appears well proportioned and convincingly cool in person: the details indeed carry the day.

But will all those details on the “production intent” car actually make it to, you know, production? We’re told by Lauckner that pretty much all of them will. The intricate headlamp elements, for example, will remain as a signature identifying mark of the Volt, he says, although the actual illumination technology could change. Ditto the taillamps, which will probably become LEDs. A touch more chrome could be added around the paneled-off grille. Certain surfaces, such as that of the hatchback’s high rear spoiler, could change by a millimeter or two. But the “raccoon-eye” window treatment—an homage to the funky glass windows of the Volt concept—will stay.

In any case, however, the Volt shouldn’t look perceptibly different than the one you see here, according to both Lutz and Lauckner. And that’s a good thing—most of us that have seen the Volt’s numerous clever details and pleasing road stance in the flesh wholeheartedly approve. And GM says it’s a design that takes on different personalities in different colors. We look forward to seeing them all.

Room for George, Jane, Judy, and Elroy—but not Astro

If any car should have such a Jetsons-inspired interior, the Volt is the one. Still, even circa 2011, the Volt’s futuristic space should raise the bar in term of cabin high-techiness. If the exterior’s signatures are the headlamps and black “window liner,” the interior’s is the cool, shiny “iPod console.” In lieu of buttons, it features “capacitive touch” controls, similar to the interior lighting and glovebox controls in the Jaguar XF. It’s a little gimmicky, we think, and might require a bit too much of the driver’s focus to use when whirring along at 70 mph, but is nonetheless bound to wow everyone in the neighborhood the second they sit down. Above those controls lives a separate, fixed seven-inch touch-operated infotainment screen that mirrors the similarly customizable gauge display in front of the driver.

The T-shape arrangement of the battery pack renders the rear seat a two-butt space only. But if you didn’t tell your rear-seaters, they would never know that there were batteries under their armrest (Sorry, Astro, you’re gonna need to sit on the armrest or lay down under the cargo area glass). The rear seats will fold down, too, allowing for a long cargo floor, albeit one a bit far from the ground.

http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews...the_2011_chevrolet_volt_hype_or_hope_car_news
 

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the only gripe on the article is when the author says the car has "limited range". its limited to 40 miles on charge alone, but when you have a full tank its something like 400 miles i think. no less than a lot of vehicles today. and 4 seats really isnt a big deal. if someone wants to seat 5, they will (my buddy fit 8, 8!, into his mazda3 the other night).
 

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the only gripe on the article is when the author says the car has "limited range". its limited to 40 miles on charge alone, but when you have a full tank its something like 400 miles i think. no less than a lot of vehicles today. and 4 seats really isnt a big deal. if someone wants to seat 5, they will (my buddy fit 8, 8!, into his mazda3 the other night).
The G6 coupe is 4 seats, most RWD cars are 4 seats (the 5th is so uncomfortable and impossible to sit on). I cannot begin to fathom any way how that would be such a bad thing. Journalists are just begining to look for excuses and want it to fail for the imports' sake.

His complaints on the interior are also false. Though they are touch, you can feel the difference betwen the buttons. It will come in 3 colours.
 

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The G6 coupe is 4 seats, most RWD cars are 4 seats (the 5th is so uncomfortable and impossible to sit on). I cannot begin to fathom any way how that would be such a bad thing. Journalists are just begining to look for excuses and want it to fail for the imports' sake.

His complaints on the interior are also false. Though they are touch, you can feel the difference betwen the buttons. It will come in 3 colours.
I'd consider a Volt at some point but with only 4 seats I won't buy one. I understand the reason why it won't seat 5 and I don't blame them and I doubt it will affect sales much but it definitely affects me with 3 kids. I'll just hope for an E-Flex Orlando eventually.
 

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I'd consider a Volt at some point but with only 4 seats I won't buy one. I understand the reason why it won't seat 5 and I don't blame them and I doubt it will affect sales much but it definitely affects me with 3 kids. I'll just hope for an E-Flex Orlando eventually.
Thats understandable. The bulk of the people I have talked to that are going to be getting the Volt however only want it to commute. They said that they may not use it for anything but that unless they want to travel to the store and small errand. If you have one car already in the family, this as a second vehicle would make sense if one of you needs to drive to work every day. The other car will be used to carry the family. The Volt ends up costing the same as a $25k car averaging 30 mpg in yearly payments (including gas and related maintenance).
 

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Everyone knows the Volt is probably the biggest risk GM has took in recent years.. GM has put tons of money into this project, Im hoping it works!! If the Volt fail, GM would be in trouble i think.
 

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Everyone knows the Volt is probably the biggest risk GM has took in recent years.. GM has put tons of money into this project, Im hoping it works!! If the Volt fail, GM would be in trouble i think.
How do you figure it would be in trouble? The Volt was never meant to be a money maker, they will sell them at a loss most likely.
 

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How do you figure it would be in trouble? The Volt was never meant to be a money maker, they will sell them at a loss most likely.

I don't see a big market for 30k electric car when the Civic Hybrid and Prious are 22-24k. Especially when most of America is predisposed to the perception that American vehicles are crap and imports are the best. Hard to overcome that notion. GM would have to come out with an electric Suburban for 18500 with DVD player, moonroof and 4 wheel drive before they'd be accepted into the electric car game by the pious elitists that are looking for the next coming of Christ in a sedan.
 

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I don't see a big market for 30k electric car when the Civic Hybrid and Prious are 22-24k. Especially when most of America is predisposed to the perception that American vehicles are crap and imports are the best. Hard to overcome that notion. GM would have to come out with an electric Suburban for 18500 with DVD player, moonroof and 4 wheel drive before they'd be accepted into the electric car game by the pious elitists that are looking for the next coming of Christ in a sedan.
That has no relevance to what you are replying to, how would GM be in trouble if the Volt fails?

You may not see a market, but it is there. People want to break free from gasolines. People are already going up to dealerships and calling in to ask if they can make down payments for the Volt. Over 30k people have already showed interest in purchasing the Volt. Prius and Civic both use gasoline to operate.

Cost to drive 15k miles per year at $2.91 per gallon (driving about 40 miles per day):
Prius: $947
Civic Hybrid: $1039
Volt: ~$70

The Volt's yearly payments will be equal to a Civic's yearly payment if you include gas.
 

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If oil stays here for the next few years, Volt is doomed.

I think oil will go back over $100 when the economy improves and that will make Volt the best alternative to gas on the road bar none.
 

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If oil stays here for the next few years, Volt is doomed.

I think oil will go back over $100 when the economy improves and that will make Volt the best alternative to gas on the road bar none.
Even with the gas at $2.91 per gallon it will cost the Volt almost $1500 less per year on gas than the Honda Civic.
 

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I don't see a big market for 30k electric car when the Civic Hybrid and Prious are 22-24k. Especially when most of America is predisposed to the perception that American vehicles are crap and imports are the best. Hard to overcome that notion. GM would have to come out with an electric Suburban for 18500 with DVD player, moonroof and 4 wheel drive before they'd be accepted into the electric car game by the pious elitists that are looking for the next coming of Christ in a sedan.
Assuming Lutz can keep the MSRP to $35k, now subtract the $7500 credit from the federal moffia, and you have a $27,500 vehicle that can drive 40 miles on electric power alone, negating the need for gas for most commuters, and still has the viability to be used in a cross country trip with the onboard genset.

Could someone explain to me WHY they keep insisting on comparing this vehcle to ANY Honda Hybrid, which as a zero mile EV range, or a Toyota Prius which requires some serious driving finesse and good luck to get more than three to four miles total, with 3/4 of that time spent getting the car to coast with the system "idle"? How is it again that the "plug in" Prius would have any hope to compete with it's laughable at best 7 to 10 mile range.

Toyota had no viable competetion when the Prius originallly launched. GM will be in the exact same environment with the Volt on it's launch date - even WITH Toyota in full panic mode. I don't care if gas is down to a buck a gallon when the Volt is launched. I WANT ONE!!!!!
 

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If the Volt can deliver that 40 miles running only on battery power, it will be a huge hit.

I commute 32 miles to work round-trip. I would not need to buy any gasoline at all for my work commute.

You can't tell me that people wouldn't line up to buy a car that may completely eliminate their need to buy gasoline to commute to and from work.
 

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If the Volt can deliver that 40 miles running only on battery power, it will be a huge hit.

I commute 32 miles to work round-trip. I would not need to buy any gasoline at all for my work commute.

You can't tell me that people wouldn't line up to buy a car that may completely eliminate their need to buy gasoline to commute to and from work.
That would be no problem since the current mules charge up to 80% and discharge up to 30%, while running 40 miles without a problem.
 
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