Test driving the Chevy Volt

By: Frank Waugh Email
By: Frank Waugh Email

A new car will hit the car dealerships of Michiana soon and while it looks like a normal car from the outside, it is far from normal under the hood.

The Chevy Volt is the first electric car produced by General Motors. The four passenger electric car can be plugged in at home and will have the owner filling up a lot less.

With gas prices soaring with no end in sight, the timing could not be better as the Chevy Volt will soon hit the lots of selected dealers.

From the outside, it looks like your everyday automobile. It has four wheels, enough room for two kids and the soccer gear. The difference, however, is in the engine and when you turn it on.

“You put your foot on the brake, push the power button, now it is powered up,” said Brad LeValley of LeValley Chevrolet in Benton Harbor, Mich. “It's ready to go, you can't hear anything, there's no emission being created out of the tail pipe. It's completely electric right now.”

A giant battery in the center of the car powers the electric motor that drives the front wheels. After the battery is drained during the first 40 miles of driving, a gasoline generator steps in to provide the electricity. The generator sends the car another 300 miles on 9 gallons of fuel.

With the Volt, maximizing battery life is the name of the game. A game which means keeping the green ball from moving up or down.

“It's like driving a video game,” said LeValley. “You are getting graded the entire time as far as your driving style goes.”

Accelerating too fast wastes too much energy and the ball sinks. Apply the brakes too fast and the ball moves up.

“You definitely have to curb your driving habits,” said LeValley. “And that's kind of what it is teaching you to do, drive more efficient.”

The car comes standard equipped with eight air bags and five years of On-Star Automatic Crash Response. It also comes with instructions on how to cut the power supply in the event of a crash.

“This car is designed for the person who is eco-friendly,” said LeValley. “They want to have the technology that is the newest. They want to be the first one to have it.”

Can't wait to get behind the wheel? You might have to wait.

Michigan is one of the first states to get the new car and LeValley expects that they will have to put people on a waiting list as the initial supply will be limited.

Dealers in Indiana hope to have the car by late fall.

The base model starts at about $40,000 and buyers can take advantage of a $7,500 tax credit. The Volt is manufactured in Detroit, Mich.

To read Frank's blog about the test drive, click here

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