2011 Chevrolet Volt: Test Drive the Range Extender
April 13, 2011
I went to GM's Main Street in Motion last weekend. It's a fun event that gives you the chance you test drive a number of GM cars and their competitors. People at these events tend to drive the cars pretty rough, but understandably so -- it's their one chance to see what the cars can do. GM clearly wants people to put the cars through their paces (within reason). In some spots along the test course, you'll encounter a big stop sign for you to try out the brakes. As I looked over at the Chevrolet Volt booth (I didn't have my camera with me, the above photo is from the GM site), I began to wonder about how they were standing up to the acceleration and braking.
If people are driving the Volts the same way they were driving other cars, they'd probably used up their charge. I asked an event rep if any of the four Volts being tested were running on electricity. "Not right now," she replied. They started the day with a full charge, she said, but at the time (it was about 11 a.m.) people were only test-driving the range-extending gasoline engine. I think they were missing out on the best part.
I could imagine that managing test-drives with a plug-in hybrid could be tough. As the event planner you have to decide whether you want to keep the line moving with four Volts active, or set half of them aside to charge, while the others are being driven. And even if they did put two cars on chargers, I doubt if the GM folks would have enough time to fully charge them during an event day.
But I dont think most people really care -- or notice -- one way or the other. At the end of the day, people can tell their buddies that they drove a Volt. But if you go to Main Street in Motion to get the feeling of the Volt running on electricity, I suggest you get there early.
Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate