From June 2009 to June 2010 I had the privilege of Driving an All Electric MIMI E for a year, it was a great experience, and got me hooked on electric cars. I've since moved on to other electric cars which I will blog about.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Driving the Volt

As regular readers of this blog know, I'm very interested in the chevy Volt. I had been reading everything I could about it since well before the MINI E was even announced, and it was one of the reasons I decided to sign up for the MINI E.
A few weeks ago Lyle at offered a contest entitled "Why I want a the Chevy Volt", with the 10 winners being invited to test drive the Chevy Volt. I submitted my essay and was lucky enough to be one of the 10 finalists.
I only live 40 miles from NYC, so my first choice was whether to drive the MINI E, into the event. Its been warmer lately and it has the range, but honestly I hate driving into the city, especially during rush hour which is when I'd have to go, do I took a different electric vehicle, the train in.
GM started with a presentation giving us a look at its new fuel efficient up and coming cars, first was the Spark, an all electric compact car, about the size of the MINI, with nice styling that seemed to take ques from the Scion, no mention of its range or when it would be released. Next up was a Ario RS (SP?) a sporty traditional compact car, then the Chevy Cruise a treditional mid to small size car, which shares many of the same components and is the same size as the Volt, and finally the Volt.
The Designers talked about the engineering, and showed off key features that increased its aerodynamics on a non-functional Volt prototype. Then we got our chance to see the real thing. The first thing I thought was wow it actually looks cute, this doesnt come across in pictures but its length seems a little compacted, and the lines seemed to flow together very well, something that wasnt obvious from either pictures or even the prototype. There was a silver and a dark gray version, and although I've told my fiancée again and again how much I hate that 90% of the cars on the road seem to be silver, I have to say it looked good, much better then the dark gray, where all of the cool black accent panels blended into the gray.
It was a rainy day as we got into drive and I had a big shock when I say the wiper blades, each of them was twice as long as a normal cars wiper blades, we had no troubles seeing through the light rain while driving.
At first I had to sit in the back seat, and I'm afraid the limited leg room in the back was my biggest disappointment from the whole experience. Luckly I dont plan on sitting in the back when I get a Volt, thats going to be someone else's problem, still 2 more inches would have made all the difference in the world.
I got to drive second and it was a very pleasant experience it was all in pure electric mode, unfortunately we didnt get to experience range extending mode. The car was so quite inside, I couldnt hear any road noise from the tires or wind or the electric motor, it made the MINI E seem down right noisy, something no MINI E driver would normally imagine.
The car has two modes an economy, or normal mode, and a sports mode, we got to try out both, and even in normal mode, it was quite peppy, with no hesitation from the dead stop, but when you kicked in sport the car jumped forward and I couldn't keep the accelerator floored for long, on the short course.
Handling was fantastic, the Volt has some very wide tires, and a very low and balanced center of gravity, and it held up to some tight weaving and sharp accelerations, and a wet track without any tire slippage, or spin outs, or even a traction control system kicking in. This car is a pleasure to dive.
In low gear you get regenerative braking when you let off of the accelerator, but even in normal Drive gear you get regenerative braking when you press lightly on the brake, and friction braking as you press harder.
We folded down the rear seats and this give you a lot of room in the hatchback, enough room for a bike, or two, or over 4 full backpacks. Well thats what I'm planning to put in there.
Yes I'm hooked, this is a pleasurable full featured car, that just happens to be electric, and I'm going to buy one the first chance I get.


  1. Hey Robert,
    Great report, congratulations on being picked to do the test drive.
    I too like the volt and am considering buying one. But I would buy it for my wife to use and for long family trips. I drive a lot (my mini-e has over 25,000 miles already!)and I'm afraid I'd be burning too much gasoline with a Volt so it's not what I'd want to drive every day 130 miles or so. The Leaf just announced pricing and it's about $32K, 25 after the fed rebate so I'm really thinking hard about it. Maybe they'll be both a Volt and a Leaf in my garage by 2012! I'm going to arrange another get together before the cars go back in June so I hope you can make it.

  2. Thanks Tom,
    If I drove the way you do, I'd keep the MINI E too, but the Volt fits my driving habits better. I'm still not sure what the real world driving range on the Leaf is going to be especially in the cold, I hope they dont promise too much and get people disappointed, but the price is great. Another get together would be great, hopefully we can make it