What It’s Like to Drive a Chevy Volt Hybrid-Electric Car


| 9/6/2017 12:02:00 PM


Tags: electric vehicles, auto review, David Borden,

 

In this guest series, former hot-rodder and mechanical engineer David Borden offers advice for first-time electric-vehicle drivers by reviewing the 2017 Chevy Volt Premier. Read David’s additional notes here, including advice to first-time EV drivers, keeping Volt batteries charged, and range issues.

Driving the Chevy Volt car is a pleasant experience and can be best summed up with the two “Qs”: Quick and Quiet.

Most of my driving has been done using the electric motor, and it is a very satisfactory performer. The motor generates max torque at stall speeds, and it is very easy to break traction when first starting (c.f. “laying a patch”). Mildly embarrassing for a responsible senior citizen, but pleasantly erotic for a recovering hot-rodder!

It is responsive and entirely satisfactory in the urban, suburban, and interstate traffic I normally encounter. Merging into expressway traffic and keeping up with traffic on the Interstates was never a problem.

Again, throttle response was immediate and it is very quick, encouraging dicing in and out of traffic. Tire noise from the low-rolling resistance, low-profile Michelins is excessive and intrudes into the cabin — or is it that the cabin is so well insulated and sealed that the only sounds you hear are tire noise? Probably that.

greenvan
9/10/2017 11:50:54 AM

Dear tbbbnbab, The short answer is “I have no idea”. My personal bias is to use electric power as much as possible. In part this is because most of the power my electric utility dispenses is bought from a Canadian Hydropower producer and is considered “clean energy”, but it also strongly influenced by an awareness of the ways society can and does put the Carbon atom to use. From synthetic cloth to aspirin to Carbon Structural elements we are dependent upon this industry as a linchpin of our civilization today and for well into the future. Consider that roughly 9 out of every 10 graduate chemical engineers end up working in Organic Chemistry, and the feedstock for that industry is Petroleum; as such, it is a resource that should not be squandered on lesser uses. And as time passes and technology advances, powering transportation is quickly becoming a “lesser use”. Also, there are the negative political ramifications of so many Petrodollars flowing to unfriendly nations, many of whom support activities antithetical to our Western Civilization. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers I’m familiar with. My Volt yields 5.0 to 5.5 miles on a KWHr , which is sold to me by our utility at 16 cents a KWHr. Dividing this gives me an operational cost of 3 cents a mile. Using the ICE (hybrid mode) the car is rated at 44 MPG (I have just come back from a 1500 mile trip at highway speed and achieved slightly better than this.). If regular gasoline can be bought at $2.50 per gallon, then your operational cost should be 6 cents a mile. Now it gets complicated; is this a fair comparison? My electric consumption was measured around town during suburban driving, and for that time my electric range estimate (probably based upon a usage algorithm) increased from the EPA quoted 53 miles to 70-72 miles. Would I still get the same range per KWHr at continuous highway speeds? Probably not, but would it be halved (to equal gasoline cost), or reduced by 26% which these numbers suggest. I don’t know, but you can help me find out. I would suggest that the next time you are going to make a highway run, do it on Battery only, then check your little usage summary on the center screen Energy Summary when you stop to see how many miles you can travel on a single KWHr. Your electricity cost (total per KWHr) is shown on your bill and you know what you pay for gasoline … do the math (like I did above) and see how your costs compare. Love to hear your real-world numbers. Oh! If you have your own solar panel array and sell juice back to your utility, the above does not apply! Dave Borden


d_borden
9/10/2017 11:50:52 AM

Dear tbbbnbab, The short answer is “I have no idea”. My personal bias is to use electric power as much as possible. In part this is because most of the power my electric utility dispenses is bought from a Canadian Hydropower producer and is considered “clean energy”, but it also strongly influenced by an awareness of the ways society can and does put the Carbon atom to use. From synthetic cloth to aspirin to Carbon Structural elements we are dependent upon this industry as a linchpin of our civilization today and for well into the future. Consider that roughly 9 out of every 10 graduate chemical engineers end up working in Organic Chemistry, and the feedstock for that industry is Petroleum; as such, it is a resource that should not be squandered on lesser uses. And as time passes and technology advances, powering transportation is quickly becoming a “lesser use”. Also, there are the negative political ramifications of so many Petrodollars flowing to unfriendly nations, many of whom support activities antithetical to our Western Civilization. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers I’m familiar with. My Volt yields 5.0 to 5.5 miles on a KWHr , which is sold to me by our utility at 16 cents a KWHr. Dividing this gives me an operational cost of 3 cents a mile. Using the ICE (hybrid mode) the car is rated at 44 MPG (I have just come back from a 1500 mile trip at highway speed and achieved slightly better than this.). If regular gasoline can be bought at $2.50 per gallon, then your operational cost should be 6 cents a mile. Now it gets complicated; is this a fair comparison? My electric consumption was measured around town during suburban driving, and for that time my electric range estimate (probably based upon a usage algorithm) increased from the EPA quoted 53 miles to 70-72 miles. Would I still get the same range per KWHr at continuous highway speeds? Probably not, but would it be halved (to equal gasoline cost), or reduced by 26% which these numbers suggest. I don’t know, but you can help me find out. I would suggest that the next time you are going to make a highway run, do it on Battery only, then check your little usage summary on the center screen Energy Summary when you stop to see how many miles you can travel on a single KWHr. Your electricity cost (total per KWHr) is shown on your bill and you know what you pay for gasoline … do the math (like I did above) and see how your costs compare. Love to hear your real-world numbers. Oh! If you have your own solar panel array and sell juice back to your utility, the above does not apply! Dave Borden


tbbbnbab
9/7/2017 9:47:47 AM

Nice article. I am also a new Volt owner, and have been thoroughly impressed. After a lifetime of owning Japanese and German cars, this is my very first American car. While most of my driving is done in the standard "battery" mode, I usually switch to "hold" mode (which activates the ICE range extender and preserves battery power) when I am on highways because I heard somewhere that the energy consumed at highway speeds is more efficient/economical when powered by the ICE range extender. This allows me to protect battery range for city driving, where it is most efficient, useful and fun. Can you comment on the idea of using the ICE at highway speeds?


tbbbnbab
9/7/2017 9:11:50 AM

Nice article. I am also a new Volt owner, and have been thoroughly impressed. After a lifetime of owning Japanese and German cars, this is my very first American car. While most of my driving is done in the standard "battery" mode, I usually switch to "hold" mode (which activates the ICE range extender and preserves battery power) when I am on highways because I heard somewhere that the energy consumed at highway speeds is more efficient/economical when powered by the ICE range extender. This allows me to protect battery range for city driving, where it is most efficient, useful and fun. Can you comment on the idea of using the ICE at highway speeds?





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