Earlier this week in Washington, DC, Jen Conner, John Taylor and I had the privilege of driving the Chevrolet Volt. We wanted to share our experience with this new technology-driven, plug-in electric car with Live Earth readers. Our primary goal was to find out if it would actually function as a day-to-day car. Here’s a little video on our findings:
In addition, we crowdsourced many questions from you, my readers. Tony Posawatz, vehicle line director for the Chevrolet Volt, joined us for our ride and took questions.
Here are the answers to some of your Qs. The back seat answer for Todd Jordan is in the main video above. Video for all of the transcribed answers below can be found here on YouTube.
Q from Jim Woods: I’ve always heard that hybrid/electric cars lacked the power for fast pick-up, especially on hills. True or false?
A: False. A vehicle like a Chevy Volt is an electric drive vehicle, not a hybrid vehicle. Electric drive provides you instantaneous torque The peak torque of the Chevy Volt is at 111 kilowatts, [or translated] it’s like a 250 horsepower V-6 engine.
Q from John Taylor: For someone who is not a car person, what does that mean?
A:: It’s the equivalent of a CTS, our entry level luxury sports car. [We then punched acceleration to prove it, and yes, it’s fast enough.]
Q from Marc Meyer: How is the sound system?
A: We’re not going to show it today, but in the future you will see a Bose premium sound system, very unusual for a compact or a small car to have it. It’s the first of its kind, the most energy efficient sound system. It actually recaptures the energy from the shaking of the speakers, and it has a lower electric consumption than our base system.
Q from John Taylor: Do you feel that the Chevy Volt is a great car that happens to be green, or is it green vehicle that just happens to be a great car?
A: Our engineers who worked on this car viewed it as let’s create a technological marvel. The technological marvel had a few goals: Displace petroleum and make the car able to be your everyday car. I think it’s a technology car first that does so many things well: It can be your primary car and green and fun. I don’t think any car [available] today has been able to do it.
Electric cars have been attempted to be delivered to the market for 100 years. Thomas Edison, Ferdinand Porsche, no one has been able to solve it, and they were smarter than my team is. But collaboratively we’ve made this thing happen, and I think this can be a mass market car.
Q from Rebecca Davis: What does it feel like?
A from Geoff while driving: It feels like a real car. I’ve driven a lot of cars, I’ve had some sportier cars like Audis and obviously, I ride motorcycles. This is a nice ride, it’s pretty tight, feels good, it’s got some gumption. It definitely feel like it’s got some horsepower under it’s hood, I like it a lot. It’s very nice.
Q from Roger Williams: How close to 230 mpg do you get from start to finish of your trip?
A: It all depends. If you drive 10 to 20 miles a day, 30 miles day; if you get more than one plug in, you may get even better than that. We’re not advertising anything. The 230 was really an identification of the potential this car has, and it’s different than a conventional car. More news will come on tha., but the more plug-ins you have, the more electric miles you get.
Q from John Taylor: Talk to me about the larger approach GM has with green.
A:Well, if you look at the Chevy portfolio, we’ve used the language of gas-friendly to gas-free, so we probably have more choices for folks. The Volt is really about choice… Look at what the Volt offers you, the opportunity to use E-85 as your extended range fuel, regular gasoline, plugging it in at 120 volt in your garage, 240 volt with a special system… Chevy offers hybrids from Silverados to Tahoes, and we have more ethanol vehicles than anyone else. So I think the future is one of choice and a blended set of solutions.
Q from Andy Sternberg: Do you see any opportunities to recharge along the way?
A: One of the things we’ve announced here are start-up regions. So we’re hoping that now that someone knows [these] cars are coming, infrastructure will be put in place. And the beautiful thing is there’s some interesting fast charging technology. If people are willing to invest the monies, the Volt can literally be charged up in 10-15 minutes with one of these fast chargers. In a normal situation with 120 volt eight hours while you’re sleeping, 240 volt, three hours.
Follow up Q from Geoff: How will that impact carbon emissions with an electrical charge versus an actual gas charge?
A: The electric grid is getting greener and greener all the time. Depending on the source of the energy — and they have their own standards they have to meet — we think the battery the Volt has right smack in the center of the car, if this car is plugged in and people want to use solar and wind energy, I’ll gladly collect it in this battery and give you a green ride all the way through.