Tri-County news • Fall Auto Guide • Thursday, October 27, 2016
Charged up again
2nd generation of Chevrolet Volt goes even further By Mark Sherry When the Chevrolet Volt first came on the scene around 2010, it made a bit of a splash in this area—then seemed to evaporate just as quickly. According to Ed Hartmann of Vogel Chevrolet in Kiel, a big part of the issue was that for a while Volts were only available for sale on the West and East coasts. He said one local customer indeed had to purchase their Volt from New York. In addition, Chevrolet was also busy designing the second generation of the Volt. That vehicle is now on the market, and as of a few weeks ago Vogel Chevrolet had one on the lot. The key improvement in the second generation Volt seems to be—not surprisingly—improved EPA ratings. The 2015 Volt had an electric-only range of 38 miles, but the new Volt is rated at 53 miles on a single charge. Gains in efficiency allow the new Volt to improve its fuel economy in gasolineonly mode to 42 mpg, up from 37 mpg in the first-generation Volt. The official second-generation Volt’s rating for combined city/highway fuel economy in all-electric mode is 106 mpg gasoline equivalent (MPG-e), up from 98 MPG-e for the 2015 first-generation model. Better batteries Improved battery technology found in so many things these days is the key to Volt’s EPA improvements. The 18.4 kWh battery pack has new chemistry which stores 20 percent more electrical energy and uses fewer cells—192 compared to 288 on the 2014 Volt. The electric motors weigh 100 pounds less, and less weight means better mileage. GM engineers have said the secondgeneration Volt was developed using extensive input from Volt owners. “Volt owners relish the challenge of stretching their gas-free miles,” Hartmann said. Volt owners are likely to be very energy conscious people, and Chevrolet makes it easy for those people to track their energy usage with a feature on the car’s color-touch screen which scores the driver’s energy usage in a variety of categories. Connected to the improved electric/gas mileage in the new Volt is an improved range for the vehicle. The
The 2017 Chevrolet Volt Volt can travel up to 420 miles on a full charge and a full tank of gas, and Chevrolet officials expect Volt owners to travel 1,000 miles between gas fillups if they are regularly charging their vehicle. But once those improved EPA ratings are out of the way, it seemed to me that Chevrolet wants to treat the Volt as just another new car—albeit a very sharp, well-equipped new car. Hybrids are apparently becoming better understood and accepted and—although there is still a long way to go if they are to overtake gas-only vehicles in numbers—Chevrolet wants to put a lot of focus on the non-power train features of the new Volt. Hartmann pointed out that the new Volt has an upgraded dashboard display. Chevrolet calls the interior of the Volt “visually stunning,” and it is indeed impressive—but certainly very comparable to most new vehicles today.
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I test drove a Premier version of the 2017 Volt so it was well equipped. For those of you who have not driven an electric car and are wondering if it has the same get-up-and-go as a traditional vehicle, let me assure you it does. I made a couple quick rights out of Vogel Chevrolet onto STH 32/57, going from 35 mph up the viaduct hill and reaching 55 with no problem by the time I got to the top of the hill. Driving a silent vehicle I did more city driving than usual on this test drive and found the Volt to perform extremely well. My biggest concern was whether or not pedestrians would hear me coming and might walk out in front of the vehicle, but I later read that at least the first-generation Volts had an alarm which would warn pedestrians of the oncoming car. Once again, most of the rest of my Volt experience was enjoying many of the same features found on other new
vehicles today—the color touch-screen, 4G Wi-Fi availability, cellphone connectivity, and much more. One energy-related feature which I found interesting is “Regen on Demand.” Through a steering wheelmounted paddle, Regen on Demand transfers the kinetic energy from the motion of the Volt and stores it in the battery while slowing down the vehicle. The Volt can be charged in 4.5 hours using a 240-volt charging system which needs to be professionally installed, or use the standard 120-volt portable cord which charges the battery in 13 hours. The Volt I drove had a list price of about $40,000, but tax credits of up to $7,500 still may be available for buyers. Hartmann suggested that prospective owners check that out with their accountants. And in the meantime, check out the 2017 Volt at Vogel Chevrolet.
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