2011 Chevrolet Volt Long Term Road Test - Miscellaneous

2011 Chevrolet Volt Long Term Road Test

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Geneva Auto Show's European Car of the Year

March 07, 2012


It's been a mixed bag for Volt lovers in recent days. The good news is that our former long-term greenmobile (which is sold in Europe as the Opel Ampera) was named "European Car of the Year" earlier this week at the Geneva Auto Show. The voting committee called the Volt/Ampera "a mature product, after years of development and perfectioning [sic] by General Motors, and the first example of an electric vehicle with extended range." Okay, then -- thanks.

The not-so-good news concerns GM's announcement last week that it plans to halt Volt production for five weeks. GM has attributed the temporary suspension to inventory concerns.

Can't win 'em all, apparently.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Reserve Not Met

February 08, 2012

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The eBay auction on our 2011 Chevrolet Volt ended last night and while we got eight bids, none were high enough to meet the reserve. We started the bidding at $27,500 and after a few days it had gone up to $30,001.99. With about a day left in the auction, we slightly lowered the reserve and the "buy it now," price, hoping it would generate some last- minute bidding.

The top bidder had e-mailed us to ask what our reserve price was. This was like asking someone to show their hand in poker. That's not information you reveal to your opponent in cards, or in this case, a potential buyer in an auction.

The top bidder told us he had wanted a Volt ever since it was announced back in 2007, and added that his Prius was getting old. But the bids never moved from $30K. That seemed to be the most that he -- and other bidders-- were willing to pay for our Volt.

It's a shame we couldn't sell the car to this guy. He wanted the car so bad that he was willing to put $10K on a credit card, $10K in cash, and pay the rest via wire transfer. Much like giving away a pet you care about, you want your car to go to a new owner who will appreciate it and take good care of it. But that three-pronged payment would have been a big hassle for us. And, more to the point, there's a check waiting for us at Carmax for $2,000 more.

If eBay bidders are only willing to pay $30K for a 2011 Volt with 15,000 miles, Carmax is going to have a tough time selling it. My guess is that Carmax probably will list it for $35,000. I'll head to Carmax later today to finalize the transaction.

I'm really going to miss the Volt. Unlike many of my colleagues, I'm more of a green-car enthusiast than a performance enthusiast, so the Volt was right up my alley. It was my favorite long-term car and it helped me change my outlook on EVs and PHEVs.

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate @ 15,063 miles

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2011 Chevy Volt: Hello 15,000 Miles

February 07, 2012

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We've had two electric cars in our fleet, a Mini E and a Nissan Leaf. Accumulating miles on the two plug-ins was difficult due to their limited range. Neither could venture very far from home. After 12-months we had only driven the Mini 7,683 miles and the Leaf only covered 3,551 miles during its 6-month stay with us.

Our Chevy Volt, however, has proven itself to be much more useful. Much more of a real car than those pure electrics. Despite very few "road trips" (I think the furthest it has traveled from our Santa Monica office is San Francisco) the plug-in hybrid has covered 15,002 miles since we bought it 13-months ago.

Heck, just yesterday I drove our Volt 140 miles from Santa Monica to Oxnard, CA and back on the picturesque Pacific Coast Highway. A trip both the Mini E and the Leaf are incapable of making without a very long stop for charging.

In the Volt, the first 39.7 miles of the trip were on pure electric, then I was burning the black gold.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: The Importance of Stop-Gap Technology

February 06, 2012


The Chevrolet Volt, and to a greater extent, plug-in hybrids, remind me of the combo VHS/DVD players from over a decade ago. Back then, many people were invested in their VHS tape collection and were hesitant to embrace the better, but more expensive DVD technology. The electronics companies noted this slow adoption rate, and released these VHS/DVD hybrids as a stop-gap measure. They offered the best of both worlds.

One day, we'll look back on plug-in hybrids as the automotive equivalent of the combo media player. We'll tell our grandkids, that back in the day, some people were afraid that their electric car would leave them stranded, so they bought cars with a back-up gas engine to extend the range.

Some people are quick to dismiss the Volt for not being more a pure EV. But the truth is that not everyone is willing to go all-electric. I wonder if having a gas station on every corner is the equivalent of having a big VHS collection -- it reinforces a fear of taking a risk on a new format.

We need stop-gap technology like the Volt to bridge the gap until we have a more extensive charging infrastructure -- or until more people can get past their range anxiety.

What are your thoughts on the future of plug-in hybrids and EVs?

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: For Sale on eBayMotors

February 03, 2012

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Our 2011 Chevrolet Volt is up for sale now and we decided it would make a great car to offer on eBayMotors. It's only a five-day auction, ending next Tuesday night, so get your bid in quickly. Here's a link to the auction page.

Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 14,900 miles

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2011 Chevy Volt: A Look Underneath

February 03, 2012


We're trying to sell our 2011 Chevy Volt. But before it goes to a new home we wanted to put it up on our 2-post Rotary Lift . Go to the next page to get a detailed look at its bottom.

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Carmax Appraisal, Take Two

February 03, 2012


The last time we took our 2011 Chevrolet Volt for an appraisal at Carmax, the used-car superstore offered us $32,000. It was a solid price, but at the time we just wanted to get an idea of what the car was worth. That was about two months ago and we've put 2,000 more miles on it since. Now we are going to move forward with selling the car and this quote will serve as a reference point for our listing price.

This is the first time that we’ve taken a car for a second appraisal at Carmax and we weren't sure what to expect. Would it drop in price? Would it keep its value? Would the price go up?

"I'm going to have to do some research on this one," the Carmax appraiser said. "This is only the second Volt I've done."

"That other one was ours," I responded. "We brought it a couple of months ago."

My guess was $31,000 and I was right on the money -- for about five minutes. The $31K was the price on screen when the Carmax representative showed me the offer. But when he brought back the printout, he said the appraiser had made a mistake, and that the actual offer was $32,000.

The Volt held its value despite the added miles and recent negative publicity. But I wonder if this had more to do with the lack of a sample size of comparable vehicles than the retained value.

We're going to see if we can improve on the $32K and we have seven days to do so.

What would you do? Take the $32K or sell it on your own?

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate @ 14,860 Miles

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Revenge of the Electric Car

January 30, 2012


The Chevrolet Volt has been caught in the crossfire recently, as representatives in the government began to question the car's safety and technology. But it wasn't that long ago, that the Volt represented a new direction for General Motors. I watched "Revenge of the Electric Car" this weekend. This documentary is a sequel to "Who Killed the Electric Car?" and gives a lot of background on the creation of the Chevrolet Volt, the Tesla Roadster and the Nissan Leaf. In the film, you get to see the approach and unique challenges that each automaker faced when trying to create an electric vehicle.

Chris Paine, the writer and director of the film, was given unprecedented access to backroom meetings with GM's Bob Lutz, Nissan's Carlos Ghosn and Tesla's Elon Musk. He was also allowed to film on GM's proving grounds. One particular image that stuck with me was seeing a previous generation Chevy Malibu with Volt parts underneath being used as a test mule.

Overall, I really enjoyed the documentary, but I don’t think the title is that descriptive of what actually happens. Much like "Revenge of the Jedi," was renamed "Return of the Jedi" because George Lucas felt that it was out of character for a Jedi to take revenge, "Revenge of the Electric Car" would have been better named "Return of the Electric Car." EVs aren’t really taking revenge on gas cars or anyone else, but rather have returned to the market in different forms that give the consumer more choices.

"Revenge of the Electric Car" is out on video now and is also available on Netflix instant streaming. Take a look at the trailer below. Let us know if you've seen it or plan on watching it.

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Chevy Gets Their Detroit Pride on With New Volt Ad: Morning in Hamtramck

January 26, 2012

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"This isn't just the car we wanted to build; it's the car America had to build. The extended-range electric Chevy Volt, from the heart of Detroit to the health of the country, Chevy runs deep."

The car America had to build? According to whom? Watch the thankfully-not-a-Super Bowl-ad after the jump and let us know if this one hits the mark or is a misguided attempt to convince a free market to buy a car they don't really want. (Though it is a car I personally want.)

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2011 Chevy Volt: Thoughts from the Curb

January 25, 2012

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At the risk of being punny, the Chevy Volt is a lightning rod -- for conversation, for controversy, for confusion and for grand-standing wind bags. From its concept's unveiling at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show to today, no car has come remotely close to garnering as much attention, especially outside the little car world in which we inhabit.

This past Saturday I went to a friend's backyard barbecue, where my car for the weekend certainly did not go unnoticed (I mean, look where I parked it). The usual questions and misconceptions we've encountered over the course of the year popped up, plus a few new ones. I was only too happy to oblige with my usual scattered helping of thoughts.

"Gas engine? Wait, I thought it was electric." No, it's better than electric. If it was electric, I wouldn't have been able to drive it here, or I would be trying to bum electricity as we speak. There's something so chintzy and undignified about that.

"So what do you think about it?" I like it a lot, there's a reason I've driven it so much this year. There's something really cool about an electric motor -- it's quiet, there's no vibration and it's all torque, so it really plants you in your seat. It feels so very effortless. But I also like how it drives beyond that. It feels really substantial. It's more expensive than a Prius (I add once the guy with the Prius leaves the room), but it should be, it's better in about every possible way.

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2011 Chevy Volt: No Carpool Access For 2012s Until March

January 20, 2012


Pictured is a 2012 Chevy Volt and not our long term one. You can tell this because a) it's parked at the Detroit Auto Show and b) it has small buttons on the door handles that let you lock/unlock the car without having to touch the key.

Item B is one of my favorite things about the 2012 model. There are few things as annoying as a car with keyless start but no proximity entry. You've already had to take the key out of your pocket, what are you supposed to do with it once you're in the car?!

Anyway, that's not the point here. For most Californians, the point of the 2012 is not the excellent access, but the car's ability to travel in the HOV lanes. For that, a car needs to be AT-PZEV. And the 2012 Volt is, if you get the Low Emissions Package. We've covered this before.

Here's the rub, when Chevy made the announcement back in November, they stated that the low emissions package would be standard on California cars. More recently they've clarified this to note that 2012 AT-PZEV cars will be shipping to California until late Feb and will be arriving at dealers in March. GM has limited non-AT-PZEV 2012 Volt deliveries to California over the last three months, but there are 2012 Volts which are not carpool lane friendly on dealer lots as we speak.

If the carpool lane (or the $1,500 California rebate -- not the fed tax credit) doesn't matter to you (carpool lane access wouldn't help my life in the slightest) then any 2012 you find will be just fine. If, however, you're looking for that AT-PZEV rating and the stickers, shop carefully and know what you're looking for.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Inside Line

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: The Elusive Gas Door Release

January 19, 2012


Not sure why this catches my eye every time I drive the Volt. Is it the fact that it uses an extra little arrow to point out the somewhat hidden location of the gas door release? Or maybe it's the fact that the gas door release is hidden while the plug-door button gets more prominent placement? Conspiracy theories abound I'm sure.

Then again, if the Volt was a German car the engineers would have said, "Forget the little icon, let them figure out where the button is on their own." Either way, it's one of the odd little quirks about the Volt that reminds you that this is no ordinary car. I'm guessing most owners don't mind being reminded of that every now and again.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: A Federal Case?

January 18, 2012

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Here's an incendiary name for a congressional hearing: "Volt Vehicle Fire: What did NHTSA know and when did they know it?"

That's the topic on the docket for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Jan. 25. Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif) also has grilled NHTSA over CAFE standards and Toyota's unintended acceleration incidents.

In this case, Issa says that politics were involved when NHTSA didn't publicly disclose until Nov. 12 that a Chevrolet Volt caught fire while it was stored in a garage at a NHTSA testing center. The fire broke out three weeks after a side-impact crash test in May. GM has made adjustments to the Volt's battery, but NHTSA says its investigation is ongoing.

In an interview with Fox Business Tuesday, Issa called the Volt a "fiery failure" that GM was "coerced" into building because it was a recipient of a federal bailout. He said GM CEO Daniel F. Akerson will testify at the hearing next week.

"Here is one of the big points. This may have been a bridge too far, too quick for General Motors," Issa said in the interview. "If you push a company to make a show car, and you push them from Washington, you're almost inviting these problems and then if in fact you ignore the problems, you invite fires and disasters."

Issa says his committee wants GM -- and all automakers -- to put safety first.

Take a look at the 4-minute Fox Business interview and let us know what you think -- were politics built into the Volt?

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: What Do Car Guys Think of Its Grille?

January 13, 2012

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Here's a close-up of our 2011 Chevrolet Volt's grille. Just curious, as car guys, what's your gut reaction?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Trade-In Appraisal and a Surprise Feature

December 08, 2011

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Yesterday I talked about the unique challenges that we faced when trying to determine the Chevrolet Volt's value. Our Edmunds True Market Value (TMV) experts had already calculated a figure, but we thought that a number from a consultation with Carmax would help verify it with a real-world price quote.

The Carmax appraisals are typically done by a single person. But our Volt was such a unique car that two appraisers were put to the test. A sales rep stopped to spectate and asked the appraiser a few questions. He seemed very knowledgeable about the car. As we’ve seen in past experience with Carmax, the appraisers walk around the car and test out all the accessories. If a car is still under warranty, they forgo the one-mile test drive they typically take.

Something strange happened when the appraisers popped the Volt’s hood. All of a sudden I heard the engine come on. This surprised me, because we had an estimated 31 miles of electric charge remaining in the Volt’s batteries. I had never seen this behavior before and even asked the appraisers if they had somehow forced the engine to switch over. It turns out that this engine ignition when the hood pops open is part of the Volt's design. According to GM's reps, this is actually a safety feature. Since the Volt is so quiet, the gas engine will start after the hood is popped to remind owners that the car is still on.

Going back to the appraisal, Carmax offered us $32,000. We asked our readers to submit their own guesses about the Volt's trade-in value and Curry2spicy was the first to guess correctly. My own prediction was $33,000. The $32K isn't too far off from what our analysts were expecting, so it’s a fair price. If the depreciation seems severe to you, keep in mind that this price is factoring in the federal tax credit.

We later contacted a Chevrolet dealer for a second opinion. The dealer gave us a significantly lower price than Carmax, $27,000. Jlaszlo was the closest to this price. He guessed $27,500.

With no true reference points out there yet, pricing the 2011 Chevrolet Volt’s trade-in value is like the Wild West right now, as they say. But this variation between our estimate, Carmax’s offer and the Chevy dealer’s offer should serve as a reminder that trade-in price quotes are simply educated guesses that might not always match up with what you were anticipating. So whether you have a Chevy Volt or a Chevy Malibu, it is important to get an appraisal from multiple sources. Otherwise, you can easily miss out on thousands of dollars.

It's not quite time to sell our 2011 Chevrolet Volt, so for now we'll let the Carmax appraisal expire. Our TMV experts are in the process of calculating a private party TMV figure. This should help us get a better handle on the price at which to list it when the time comes.

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Asssociate

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Researching the Used Car Price

December 07, 2011


Our Chevrolet Volt is nearing the end of its long term test. At this time, we typically research a car's value to estimate what we'll get and what we'll sell it for. So far, Edmunds (or any other pricing guides for that matter) does not have any used car pricing data on this car. We were one of the first to buy a Volt, and will probably be one of the first to sell it at the used private party price when the time comes. We are in uncharted waters and we need a point of reference. So we decided to take the Volt to Carmax and see what they offer.

The 2011 Volt presents a few unique challenges when trying to determine its value. As a potential buyer, you'll have to assume that the prior owner has taken the $7,500 tax credit. As a seller, you'll have to realize that this tax credit is still available to new buyers and adjust your price accordingly. Plus, you may have to discount it even further, because not only is the 2012 Volt about $1,000 cheaper, it also now qualifies to travel in California's carpool lanes.

Our Volt has roughly 12,850 miles on it, 40 percent of which have been on the electric engine. This is great information for our fuel economy updates, but can we use that as a selling point for a potential buyer? Would they feel better knowing that although this car has 12,850 miles, only 7,710 have been on the gas engine? For warranty purposes, the only miles that matter are whatever the odometer says.

When we bought the car new, we paid $44,695 (plus tax and title). Subtract the $7,500 federal tax credit and this leaves you at $37,195. But where do you go from there?

We'll have the answer for you tomorrow, but in the meantime, what's your prediction for the Carmax offer?

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate @ 12,850 miles

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Still Very Safe, Says IIHS

December 06, 2011


The Volt did exceptionally well in crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) back when the model was first introduced for the 2011 model year. That organization gave it the highest score possible in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash testing, and named it a Top Safety Pick.

Given the car's troubles with post-crash battery fires, some suspected that the IIHS would perhaps give the car a less glowing rating for 2012, but that isn't the case.

The safety group reports that it found no evidence of damage to the Volt's battery pack during its tests, and the car has retained its Top Safety Pick designation for 2012.

Says IIHS spokesman Russ Rader: "If we had found that the battery pack had been damaged or certainly if we had subsequent concerns about fire risk -- that would have raised red flags."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) -- the federal regulators that launched the investigation into the safety of the Volt's battery pack back on November 25 -- also reports that it has no plans to change the Volt's safety rating for 2012. NHTSA currently gives the car a perfect five-star overall safety rating.

GM is reportedly close to a fix that would eliminate the risk of a fire being triggered in the Volt's battery days after a crash. Repairs under discussion involve laminating the circuitry of the car's battery pack and beefing up the case that encloses the lithium-ion battery.

At this point, repairs are expected to run GM about $9 million in total, which works out to about $1,000 per Volt.

(Automotive News)

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: A Macro Look at Interior Materials

November 30, 2011


Last night was my first time getting behind the wheel of our 2011 Chevrolet Volt, and I have to say, I liked it. Decent interior materials and everything feels pretty solid (well, except what's up with that crack in the shifter?). The leather on the seats isn't exactly plush but it doesn't feel cheap either.

We bought our Volt for $44,695, which includes the $1,395 Premium Trim Package with leather seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and premium door trim. Just for comparison's sake, here's the interior of our $41K Volvo S60 T5.

How do you like the looks of our Volt's cabin?

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Calling the Volt Advisor

November 29, 2011


General Motors is offering skittish owners of the Chevrolet Volt loaner cars, while it sorts out what's going on with a couple of Volts that caught fire after crash testing. We thought we'd check the process out and see what some other Volt owners plan on doing.

On the official Volt blog, many owners are deciding to forgo the loaner and remain confident that their vehicle is safe to drive. "Thanks for offering to loan me another vehicle," says Greg Hendrick, a commenter on the blog, "but frankly I would be far more concerned with the gasoline tank exploding in the loaner car than the battery in my Volt."

We're going to keep driving our Volt, but we were curious to see what sort of loaner was being offered.

When we called in, the advisor first assured us that the Volt was still safe to drive and that those fires were isolated incidents. He then said that the loaner would most likely be a Chevy Cruze or Malibu, based on availability. If the local dealership had an in-house rental service like an Enterprise outlet, you would likely get a vehicle from that fleet. Our Volt advisor added that if a consumer had a special request, it would be taken into consideration. If a person chooses to take the loaner, they would have it for about 30 days or until GM resolves the issue.

Is a Cruze or Malibu an acceptable replacement for the Volt? What would you request?

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate

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2011 Chevy Volt: Leno is Wrecking Us

November 18, 2011


When we get a new long term car early, we like to lead the mileage pack. Remember the GT-R? We hit every mileage milestone first. We needed an oil change before Nissan America had even figured out how to price them. We got the super-expensive 18,000 mile service first. Hit the 20,000 and 25,000 mile markers, too.

With 12,000 miles on our Volt, we knew we weren't leading the pack, but learning that Jay Leno has put 11,000 miles (the press release said 10,000, but one of GM's guys tells us he's now over 11) on his Volt...on electricity alone. He's never even put gas in it. He's got a 41-mile commute that must be the perfect speed, slow but never stopped.

GM is celebrating this achievement by giving owners a special "10,000 mile Electric Mile" badge. Ours will be sold long before we manage that number. (Will update this post when I figure out how many EV miles ours has. In progress.)

Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Inside Line

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Thunk

November 11, 2011


Never underestimate the power of a robust, low-frequency pulse of air, and its resonance on the surrounding sheet metal, when closing a car's door. The Volt has a nice, reassuring thunk that says it's more mid-90's Impala than, well, mid-2000 Malibu.

I think the Chevy marketing people are working the wrong angle here. Instead of playing on the "isn't that an electric?" range-anxiety theme, they should be working the Volt's substantive feel, how it presents itself as more of a solid metal cocoon than the standard go-to hybrids on the road.

Granted, any automaker can layer the doors with sound deadening material and structural reinforcement. Doesn't make it a good car, necessarily. And most car shoppers won't mind the sound of anemic metal-to-metal contact if they think the car will get them 50 mpg. But the Volt is a good car. And the sound it makes when you get in and close the door, and when you step out and do the same, would give it a head-start in most people's minds.

Probably wouldn't hurt if the accounting department shaved $10,000 off the sticker, either.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: 10,000 Sold By Year's End?

November 08, 2011

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GM had its best month of Volt sales so far in October, with 1,108 models sold. That's a pretty sizable increase over sales in September, which came in at 723 units, and it puts total year-to-date sales for the model at a little over 5,000 units.

Now you may remember that GM projected first-year sales of 10,000 units for the Volt, back when the model was first introduced. With just a couple months left in the year, the manufacturer obviously has some catching up to do if it hopes to meet its forecast.

One approach that GM is taking to boost sales involves shoring up its supply. According to the manufacturer, Volt dealers have complained about having more customers than inventory, and it plans to make more Volts available to customers by allowing dealerships to sell the 2,300 demonstration models that it had been requiring them to keep on the lots. As a result, retail inventory will more than double, from 1,800 to 4,100. GM also plans to grow its Volt dealer network by year's end.

What do you think? Will these efforts enable GM to reach its target? Or is 10,000 units by the end of the year a pipe dream?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Chevy Volt: That Looks Familiar

October 07, 2011

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Hm...where have I seen this not-very-good backup light before?

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2011 Chevy Volt: Wacky Wipers

October 05, 2011

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The Chevy Volt has a wacky wipers. You know, the ones that are pretty much equal in size and work in opposite directions as if in mirror image of each other. These used to be common in minivans and many GM cars in the '90s had them, but they are pretty rare today. Amongst cars I can think of the Honda Civic and the Volt -- though there's almost certainly something I've forgotten. It would seem that they are a good solution for cars with broad windshields.

For some other interesting windshield wipers, see the old Mercedes-Benz uniwiper, the Toyota FJ Cruiser triad and the drunk Dodge Viper ones that went in opposite directions like the Volt but not at the same time.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 11,160 miles

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: I Could Be An Ideal Candidate

September 19, 2011


If you were to ask GM's marketing gurus who their target buyer of the Chevrolet Volt would be, it'd probably be somebody similar to me. I own a house in California suburbia that has both a garage and solar panels (the panels aren't currently operational, but that's another story.) I'm interested in alternative energy, both for vehicles and in general. Finally, my total household income is enough to theoretically support the purchase of a $35,000 new car.

OK, so I'm not actually in need of a Volt as I already have other vehicles and working for Edmunds/Inside Line dictates otherwise. But I find the idea interesting. So for this week and part of next week, I'll be trying to emulate a Volt buyer. My general plan will be to drive the Volt as if I was a stay-at-home parent and see how it works out. I'll be running errands, taking kids to school, visiting friends and doing whatever else I can think of. I'll be looking out for how much electricity and gas I use, charging issues and general interest.

Enlightening or boring, I'm not sure how it will play out. But I'm curious.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 10,616 miles

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2011 Chevy Volt: Boop Beep Boo Beep Boop

September 14, 2011

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"These aren't the droids you're looking for ..."

That is all.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Now At The Co-Op

September 07, 2011

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A Volt sighting is far from an everyday occurrence in these parts but I can't think of a place more likely to harbor a nest of Volts than the Co-Op -- a grocery store deep in the heart of Santa Monica where the produce is organic and the shoppers come in an instantly recognizable shade of green.

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Low Awareness

August 19, 2011


Since I was driving the Volt for a few days, I decided to poll some friends and family to find out how many knew what the Volt was. Not very many, I found.

Most didn't know what it was at all. One knew what it was but thought it was "an electric car." Of about 10 people I asked (an admittedly small sample), only one really knew the deal. And I'd consider him a car enthusiast.

Maybe I shouldn't be surprised. But I'd be happier if more people knew about it, if for no other reason that it's an American car the general public can actually be proud of.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Less Guilty Conscience For Short Trips

August 18, 2011


One thing I've noticed when driving our Chevrolet Volt for a short trip or errand is that my conscience doesn't gnaw at me as much as if I had driven a regular car instead. It can be something as simple as backing the Volt out of my driveway to unblock a car in the garage -- there's no fretting about cold-start emissions or needless wear-and-tear on the engine. Instead all I did was use a bit of electricity. It's a similar experience if I have to make a quick trip to something like a grocery store. There's no wasted gas at startup or waiting at stop lights.

Of course I'm still using energy for such things. But the Volt is much better suited.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2011 Chevy Volt: What if it were a Cadillac?

August 17, 2011


...because it's going to be.

Meet the Cadillac ELR, currently in development.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Inside Line

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Right Time, Right Place

August 17, 2011

Volt and Challenger.jpg

I recently got to spend some significant seat time in the Chevy Volt. Like other editors, I found positive and negative (no pun intended) aspects about GM's much-hyped plug-in hybrid. More about those in other posts, but I had a very positive experience while driving the Volt on the interstate one day.

I saw a brand-new Dodge Challenger with dealer plates barreling down a freeway onramp. As the driver merged onto the highway behind me, he had huge a grin on his face. My guess is he'd just bought the car and was taking it out for a sunset shakedown cruise. His grin grew a bit bigger when he sidled up next to the Volt and I gave him a thumbs-up. But sorry about that Bright White color, bro ...

Watching him pull away made me think what a great time it is to be a car enthusiast. And a fan of American cars.

I missed the classic muscle car era, although the first vehicle I bought was a '71 Chevelle Malibu and spent most weekends pulling parts at junkyards with like-minded friends. (Collectively we owned a '65 Pontiac Catalina, '64 Pontiac Tempest, a '71 Plymouth Barracuda 340, a '74 Dodge Duster 360 and a '71 El Camino SS 454.) And I came of age in the middle of the domestic auto industry's Malaise Era. Except for the occasional Buick Grand National and the Camaro IROC-Z, these were lean times for fans of American cars.

When the Volt crossed paths with the Challenger, it made me realize and appreciate the times we're living and driving in now. And it made me consider how Detroit -- and especially left-for-dead GM and Chrysler -- can still make cool, innovative and competitive cars.

I've never been the nationalistic, flag-waving type, although I have a soft spot for muscle cars and have always been a Chevy fan. Maybe listening to Neil Young's Rust Never Sleeps made me nostalgic. And his song "Motor City" has been on my mind a lot lately.

Regardless, the present sure beats driving a 1981 Chevy Chevette in the past. Or seeing a 1981 Dodge Challenger pass you on the road.

Doug Newcomb, Senior Editor, Technology

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Sorry About That, Socket

July 26, 2011


Our 2011 Chevrolet Volt no longer has a charge cord because, well, the friendly folks at Guaranty Chevrolet wouldn't give it back to me after I brought our Volt in for service this afternoon. "Too dangerous to use," they said.

Our poor Kill-A-Watt socket agrees. I do, too, but I'm a little disappointed because I was looking forward to free airport EV parking tomorrow.

There's nothing wrong with the car itself, so I'm still driving it on gasoline. Turns out the strain relief disentegrated on the Volt's standard charge cord, exposing wires inside and stoppping a recent charge attempt dead in its tracks.

We first noticed this after an overnight charge resulted in just 5 miles of electric driving range -- the charge system had shut itself down overnight, but not before our little friend here got scorched. It seems the wall outlet itself would have been the thing that overheated if I hadn't had this handy kWh measuring device sandwiched in between.

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2011 Chevy Volt: Dusting Off EV Parking Spots

July 25, 2011


This parking lot is at Helms Bakery in Culver City, which is not actually a bakery any more, but rather a group of furniture-selling outlets. More importantly, this parking lot has a pair of electric vehicle parking spaces with a charger hooked up to solar panels on the roof. Great concept ... if it's 1997 and you have a GM EV1. Or one of the few surviving RAV4's.

Perhaps there's a household-style plug on there somewhere, but for our Volt and Leaf, chargers like these are otherwise useless. They have the old EV car plug, which looks like a black paddle and can be used for the 1990s-era EVs. With only those surviving RAV4s, these chargers (which can be found throughout Southern California) have only been collecting dust over the years while the spots they occupy have been conquered by drivers smart enough to realize that there's a greater chance of a unicorn dropping a deuce on their hood than an electric car stopping by to angrily discover some gasoline-swilling knob in their designated space.

Yet, electric cars are back. Or rather, electric cars and super hybridy plug-in cars like the Volt. As such, it's been fun parking the Volt in these old spots whenever I can as a symbolic gesture. Sure, I can't actually plug in, but then it's not like I'd extract much juice while popping in to look at an ottoman for 20 minutes anyway. It's the thought that counts.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 8,389 miles

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2011 Chevy Volt: We're Not Parking It ...

July 12, 2011

Volt in Fontucky 2.JPG

"We're not parking it, we're abandoning it." - John Winger, Stripes

I had a similar notion as I pulled away from our test track this afternoon, leaving behind the car I brought there. So why have I abandoned our Volt in Fontana? Have Santa Monica utility rates just become too much? Do I think the Volt could be improved by the addition of giant spiders?

Find out tomorrow morning.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

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2011 Chevy Volt: Gorgeous?

July 08, 2011


So the parking attendant at the gym I go to is a pretty casual car guy. He gets cars to some degree, he knows what's special and what's cool and chats me up about what I'm driving every day. He isn't, however, an enthusiast and, until yesterday, had never shown any interest in any green vehicles I may have been driving.

"That's my next car, bro!"

"This is?"

"Oh yeah. I need that."

"Huh, really? I didn't peg you as an electric car type of guy."

"It's electric?"

"Well, kind of...see it's got....Yes. It is electric."

"Whatever, man, I don't care, that thing is gorgeous and I want it in my garage!"

I was lucky enough to get the Volt two days in a row -- seriously, I still love driving this thing -- and he said the same thing the next day. "Gorgeous!"

I don't see it, however. Sure, it looks kind of menacing in black and our Volt-specific color is by far the worst, but even in the good colors, gorgeous? A Prius-based design with a bowtie?

Now the first Volt concept? That was a looker.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Inside Line

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Silly Airdam

June 29, 2011

Volt front end lead.jpg

It's been said before, but I'm saying it again: The Volt's front airdam is ridiculously low. Heck, it may very well be the lowest airdam of any car we've tested, including tuners and exotics.

There are some minor, minor speed bumps near our office. And even if you're going slowly, the Volt's airdam smashes down on the pavement as you drive off the bump. Every time.

As a result of speed bumps and driveways, here's what's happening to our Volt:

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: That's Not Distracting

June 24, 2011

Volt for Jen.jpg

So I'm driving down the 405 South yesterday afternoon in our long-term Chevy Volt. I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing: minding my own business, keeping my road rage in check and paying attention to the all-important electric-to-gasoline switchover. Which was at 39.9 miles (versus the previous day's 34.6), the slower-moving traffic playing right into the Volt's electric hands.

Oh, and I was getting a little more annoyed at the Volt's low-speed braking weirdness, the amount of braking force not always related to the amount of pedal pressure. I eventually started moving the console lever to L as much as possible to slow the Volt instead of using the brakes.

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2011 Chevy Volt: A Surprise Gift!

June 22, 2011


Look what came in the mail today to "Volt Owner."

Wonder what's in it....

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: What's Your Number?

June 15, 2011


Right around the time the Volt was being released, I had the opportunity to sit down with some of the engineers who produced the driver interface. I asked them if there were any Easter eggs that were hidden in the system, you know, like if you hit a certain combination of seven buttons at once, the screen will bring up a Tetris game. But no, according to them there are no hidden gems in there. What they did tell me, however, was what that green number is on the bottom of the screen.

It's the production number. We have the 340th Volt to roll off the assembly line. While it's not as cool as a game of Tetris, I thought this was an interesting tidbit.

Seriously, though, how cool would it be to have a game of Tempest hidden away? Just look at that, it's got a knob and a fire button right there!

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2011 Chevy Volt: 2012 Chevy Volt Gets Price Cut

June 10, 2011


For 2011, the Chevy Volt was priced at $41,000. For 2012, that number will be $39,995 --$1,005 less than before-- or $32,495 with the $7,500 tax credit. This price lowering is possible "in part because of a wider range of options and configurations that come with the expansion of Volt production for sale nationally." There are now seven option packages for the 2012 Volt compared with three for 2011.

The new top-of-the-line Volt with leather, backup camera, nav, premium paint and premium wheels will go for $46,265.

New standard features include: keyless access with passive locking -- the car locks/unlocks automatically when the key is close to the car. ( THANK YOU, GM ) OnStar turn-by-turn navigation for three years, Chevy MyLink and available 17-inch sport alloy wheels.

The 2012 Chevy Volt is now available for national pre-order.

At $32,495, the Volt is an enticing possibility if you've got a place to charge it.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Inside Line

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: GM Increases Volt Production

May 18, 2011


General Motors announced it's going to increase its production of the Chevrolet Volt next year by 33 percent. So now instead of building 45,000 for 2012, it'll be 60,000. This year production went up from 15,000 to 16,000 Volts.

This is GM's answer to the rising gas prices. According to GM CEO Dan Akerson, the Voltec gas-electric drive system will also be added to more models in preparation of even higher gas prices.

With the talk that crude may increase up to $120 a barrel (last week it was less than $100 a barrel), would that inspire you to buy a Volt soonish?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: The Green-archy

May 04, 2011


This is bad. Self-righteousness and infighting is turning green drivers against each other. A green car caste system is taking root on the highways! This must be a plot hatched by Big Oil.

On the drive in this morning in the Volt, I needed to pass some slower traffic that wasn't keeping right. Switched on my left-hand turn signal and waited for Prius Guy to either speed up or roll back and let me in.

Except he didn't. He just hung in the blind spot, trying to appear oblivious. This continued for more than half a mile, even after I telegraphed my intentions with a gradual drift to the lane divider.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to maintain some flow with traffic and not end up in the bumper of a laden Toyota landscaping truck with blown shocks, nor invite my follower into the Volt's back seat.

Finally, I saw a little developing break in the action. The Volt was running on gas by now, so I wasn't concerned about maximizing electric range. I stomped it, then slotted in ahead of Prius Guy. In the rearview mirror, I saw some muttering and exaggerated indignity. Probably a philosophy professor at Long Beach State. Now he's got something to riff on at the next faculty wine-and-cheese mixer.

Easy, Prius Guy. There's room enough for all us Earth-savers (and our Raptors). Your car is no longer the big story. Get over it.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Helping Chevy Crack A New Segment, Apparently

May 02, 2011

chevy volt.jpg

Sure, it might be kinda overpriced for what you get, but based on GM's reports, the Volt is doing a great job of introducing the Chevy brand to a different kind of buyer -- one with a decidedly green perspective. The manufacturer notes that almost nine of 10 Volt buyers who traded in a vehicle as part of their purchase are brand-new to Chevrolet.

GM hopes to keep this momentum going by tagging hundreds of Volts as demo vehicles, so that curious shoppers can test-drive and hopefully fall in love with the Volt after visiting the dealership.

"The Volt is clearly bringing new customers to our dealership," said Rick Alpern, general manager of Keyes Chevrolet in Van Nuys, California. "We are seeing customers who own competitive brands that have never visited a Chevy dealership before. Now they have a Chevy on their shopping list because of the Volt."

GM notes that Chevrolet dealerships in the initial launch markets of California, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Virginia and Washington, D.C. have added more than 550 dedicated Volt demonstration vehicles, for the purpose of facilitating test drives. The manufacturer expects that there will be Volt demos at more than 2,500 dealerships across the nation by year's end; by this point, the vehicle's availability will have broadened to include 50 states.

"We know the best way to experience the Volt is to get behind the wheel and drive it," said Cristi Landy, Chevrolet marketing director. "An added bonus is that our dealers are seeing that the Volt is increasing traffic onto our dealer showroom floors and is exposing consumers to Chevy's line of ‘gas-friendly’ vehicles, including the Cruze, Malibu and Equinox."

With its space-age console design and whatnot, I can certainly see how the Volt would dazzle greenies on the hunt for the newest object of affection -- it definitely delivers a unique driving experience, and that can be a selling point with cars like this.

Anyone out there test-driven a Volt? Were you impressed or disappointed?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Aces IIHS Crash Tests

April 26, 2011


The Insurance Insitute for Highway Safety, the official test body of the auto insurance companies, released a full battery of test results for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt today, and the results were very good.

The Volt earned the top "Good" rating in the important frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests, plus Good ratings for its roof strength and head restraints. It's an IIHS Top Safety Pick. We just wish the IIHS wouldn't repeat the untruth that the Volt is an electric car in its press release -- series-parallel plug-in hybrid, please.

More details on its performance can be found here, and there are more photos and videos after the jump.

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Voltec Technology Wins Edmunds' 2011 Green Car Breakthrough Award

April 20, 2011


The Volt's hustle comes from General Motors' Voltec technology, a rechargeable hybrid setup that allows the car to boogie for 20 to 40 miles on an electric charge; beyond this point, an internal combustion engine kicks in power. We think this tech is kinda nifty, so we've decided to recognize it with our 2011 Green Car Breakthrough Award.

Scheduled to be presented at the New York Auto Show, the Green Car Breakthrough Award is given out each year to a "vehicle, technology or program that sets new standards in fuel efficiency, emissions reduction and/or sustainability, or that stands out for promoting public use and acceptance of such a vehicle or technology."

"Voltec is a game changer for the electric vehicle community and it offers a blueprint for commercial manufacturers to build upon as these types of vehicles continue to develop," said John O'Dell, senior editor at Edmunds.com. "Applied to a broader base of vehicles, Voltec and other automakers' versions of the extended-range plug-in hybrid technology can have a tremendous impact on U.S. fuel consumption."

What do you think? Is Voltec a game changer or not?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Test Drive the Range Extender

April 13, 2011

Main Street in Motion.jpg

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 don’t 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.

Event locations and dates

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Full House

April 05, 2011

2011 Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf.jpg

Now that a 2011 Nissan Leaf has joined our long-term fleet, it has created a small impact on our long-term 2011 Chevy Volt.

We purchased a Coulomb Chargepoint CT2103 charger with the expectation that it could handle two EV vehicles. And it does. Our Coulomb charger supports simultaneous charging of one Level II (240VAC @ 32A) Electric Vehicle and one Level I (120VAC @ 16A) EV (or Plug-in Hybrid EV, PHEV).

Our Nissan Leaf requires a charging time (full charge from depletion) of 8 hrs on Level II and 21 hrs for Level I. The Volt, in contrast, needs only 4 hrs on 240V and 10-12 hrs on 120V.

Because Level I charging takes so long for the Leaf, it generally gets priority on the stronger Level II charger. That leaves the 120V charger for the Volt. And if the Volt's battery is depleted -- as it was over the weekend -- it results in that 10-12 hr charge to full or a incompletely charged battery. I got the latter last night.

So we may have to allow the Volt to remain parked for the night here and there to get fully charged, or re-visit our charging priorities.

All of this probably won't apply to a Volt owner, unless she, too, has another EV.
But maybe that's our future.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 3,850 miles

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Sucker Punched While Charging

March 28, 2011

Volt Sucker Punch.jpg

I had our Chevrolet Volt for the weekend and by Saturday evening, I had used up all its EV range. I had a lot of driving to do on Sunday and I felt a little irresponsible driving it on gas for the rest of the weekend. Half the fun of this car is driving it on electricity and seeing how far you can go. Since I was planning to see a movie that night, I came up with a plan to stay all electric.

I arrived at the Edmunds offices at around 7pm. I put the Volt on the charger then took the bus into downtown Santa Monica. It was a 15 minute bus ride at one dollar per passenger. I arrived at the movie theater in time to see an 8 p.m. showing of "Sucker Punch".

I caught the bus back to the office and was sitting in the car by 11:05pm. The Volt's charge meter said it would be ready by 11:15pm. I had planned to wait it out, but it actually reached its full charge five minutes early.

As I took the Volt home that night, I wondered if other Volt owners would take such elaborate steps to make sure they drove the car on electricity as much as possible. The best thing about the Volt versus a true EV however, is that I really didn’t have to charge it that night. But it did feel good to conserve fuel and drive the Volt only on electricity.

As for Sucker Punch, anytime you have Dragons, Samurai's with chain guns, Robots and attractive women all in the same movie, it's an automatic two thumbs up from me.

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate @ 3,550 miles.

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: There's Always a Good Parking Spot

March 15, 2011


As you can see, our Chevrolet Volt gets us some perks. At my local grocery store, there are spaces up front that are reserved for "Electrical Vehicles Only." They're leftover from the EV-1 days, complete with big ol' spider-web-covered paddles for charging.

Clearly they haven't been getting much use in the last decade or so, but now that we have the Volt and the Leaf I plan on taking full advantage of them. I suspect they won't last for long given the fact that "electrical" cars are becoming more mainstream. Then again, I never seen another one parked in either of the three spots available, so it could be some time before I lose my privileges.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inisde Line

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2011 Chevy Volt: GM Explains How the Volt Deals With Old Fuel

March 11, 2011

Volt fuel.jpg

One of the most common questions on the 2011 Chevy Volt is, "How does it deal with stale fuel if someone drives mostly in EV mode?" And it was a question even GM asked as they were developing it -- gas doesn't like sitting around for a year or so and that's a real possibility with the Volt.

Well, GM has made a video answer. Essentially, there's a fully-sealed fuel system that is vented upon customer activation (there may be a warning light) and two maintenance modes to burn off contaminants and calculates fuel age for controlled burnoffs.

Follow the jump for the full rundown.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Inside Line

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Our Favorite Caption

March 04, 2011


Thanks to breif for this week's favorite caption. Here are the others that gave us a jolt.

Ah, this should pay for a years worth of gas... (tellurium)
Get off of my lawn. (oldchap)
Ohm Sweet Ohm (ergsum)
Does owning a Volt mean you have to live in Watts? (ergsum)
Parked in a red zone??? It's my own driveway! (ahightower)
power sale! (jacton)
How much for the volt? Oh...too much. (fuel_on_fire85)
No charging. Cash only. (breif)
The Volt's "True Cost to Own" (anonimo)
The Volt needs a new ohm... (mrryte)
Electric Currency (ergsum)
Conducting Business (ergsum)
At least the batteries are included with the Volt... (jchan2)
ahh, poor James, the fiancee has currently grounded him (mnorm1)
Ohm my god, Watts that Joule of a Volt cost? (greenpony)
Who sold the electric car? (stpawyfrmdonut)
It's not that easy being green. (teampenske3)

What was your favorite?

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: You Write the Caption

March 04, 2011


Soon-to-be-newlywed James Riswick sent me this photo of our Chevy Volt at a garage sale. How much for the Volt? Just kidding, don't want to get into that argument again.

What is your caption?

We'll post our favorite this afternoon.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: What's the Right Price?

March 01, 2011


I would consider putting a Chevy Volt in my garage, but not at the current price of $43,000. Even after the federal tax credit we're looking at $35,500, and that's too steep. Just think of the cars in that price range.

After a rare trip to our local gas station (our Volt drank only 5.6 gallons after traveling over 500 miles) I found that the average Joe has pretty strong feelings about the price. One guy in particular gave me a piece of his mind.

Here's an interesting conversation I had while pumping $3.95 premium gas into the Volt.

Him: That's going to be my first Chevy? Aren't you lovin' it?

Me: I love it when I'm in all-electric. But the range is a little disappointing. And the price is too high.

Him: Yeah, they're rippin' everyone off.

I loved the way he flipped from one extreme to the other. But it's obvious that the word is out: the price is too high.

I have my opinion. But I'd be interested in hearing what you think the right price is for the Chevy Volt?

Philip Reed, Edmunds Senior Consumer Advice Editor, @ 2,864 miles

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Free Parking, Free Juice

February 28, 2011

Two Volts and RAV4_1600.jpg

Last week, I mentioned in a blog that I would be going to the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) twice in the 2011 Chevrolet Volt over the weekend. One reader, Defiant2, suggested I use the free parking near Terminal 1. After some online research, I found that there are two free parking areas for EVs but only one has the charging unit we need.

Friday night I drove through driving rain to pick up my father and used the EV parking near Terminal 6. While they had the old style chargers that didn't fit the Volt, it allowed me to park without hunting for an open spot. As I was exiting I told the attendant that EVs got free parking. She laughed pleasantly and said, "Yeah, wouldn't that be cool? That'll be $5, please." It was 1:30 a.m. and I didn't feel like arguing the point. So I paid.

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2011 Chevy Volt: What's Missing Here?

February 17, 2011

Chevy Volt back window.jpg

Our Chevy Volt's back window does have footprints from a cat or raccoon on it. It does NOT have something rather important. What's missing here?

If you said "Calvin Pissing on Toyota Logo Sticker," you are incorrect. The answer is a rear windshield wiper.

Many of the other cars with this fastback hatchback (fastchback?) body style have one: Prius, Insight, CR-Z. The BMW 5 Series GT and Scion tC do not, however.

Perhaps the rake of the Volt's back window isn't all that different than the increasingly coupe-like greenhouses of many sedans, but rear visibility isn't especially good, and with rain and general schmutz, it gets worse. As such, I think the Volt could benefit from a rear wiper -- or at least the option of one like Porsche offers for the 911.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 2,577 miles

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: One Backup Lamp Short

February 10, 2011


I'm not a fan of single center-mounted backup lamps like the one found on our 2011 Chevrolet Volt. Yeah, it looks plenty big from the outside, but I need more illumination to the sides so I can see stuff in my side-view mirrors, too. I leave the house at dark, at 5:00 am, and on Friday mornings three trash cans are hidden in the shadows on the left side of the frame.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Makes You Think Green

February 10, 2011

Volt Solar Panel.jpg

Somewhere between one and two years ago (I've honestly lost track) I used some credit card reward points to order two 15-watt solar panels. I ordered them because:
A. They were essentially free, and
B. I was curious to see what, if any, benefit they would deliver

But as I said, I received these panels a while back and had done exactly nothing with them. Then I got the most expensive electric bill I'd ever received and suddenly it seemed foolish to not even give these panels a shot at reducing my electric costs (plus there's that whole carbon footprint thing).

Something about having the Volt in my garage (and sucking up expensive California electricity), along with seeing that monstrous bill convinced me to unpack those panels and let some UV rays hit them. But I needed to confirm what mounting screws to use, which meant taking one of the panels to my local hardware store.

No worries, as the panel fit easily in the Volt's cargo bay and I was able to have a store employee confirm the diameter and length of the screws I'd need to secure them to my roof. And yes, I had fleeting thoughts of strapping them to the top of the Volt in an attempt to improve the pure electric range.

A few hours (and solder burns) later I had both panels mounted and 35 feet of wire running down the side of my house to a couple leftover automotive batteries (yes, I also know deep marine cycle batteries are better for this application). I won't bore you with all the details involving charge controllers and inverters, but I will say I technically watched the second half of the Super Bowl via the power of the sun. Well, almost. The inverter's low-voltage alarm went off at about the two-minute warning, so my football entertainment had to go back "on the grid" for the game finale.

But there's no doubt my experiences with the Volt finally drove me to go solar (on a limited basis). If one of the many points of these cars is to make us more seriously consider our energy usage, mission accomplished.

Karl Brauer, Edmunds.com Editor at Large

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2011 Chevy Volt: Is It Good Looking?

February 02, 2011

Chevy Volt at Track 16.jpg

I like driving the Volt, but is it good looking? I don't think so. Definitely not from the back. Too bulbous, too much going on and I'm not a fan of that huge central reverse light.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Volt: Spotted in the Wild

January 27, 2011


Came across this 2011 Chevrolet Volt out in the parking lot at a nearby lunchtime spot in Santa Monica. Will the Volt take the place of the Prius as the official car of the Republic of Santa Monica?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Chevy Volt: What. The. Beep.

January 22, 2011

Just in case you happen upon a blind guy and a deaf girl trying to cross the street in front of your brand new 2011 Chevy Volt (in the unlikely chance that the EV power is on and the really loud gas motor is not) Chevy has had the foresight to link flashing the high beam with a really, really annoying horn chirp.

The first time this happened I was certain that there were some wires crossed and that the car would surely electrocute me. I pulled over and called Dan Edmunds while my passenger checked the owner's manual.

Turns out that's just what it does. It's a safety feature. Awesome. Wait, not awesome. Annoying. That's the one.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Inside Line

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