Chevy Volt looking good with gas around $4 a gallon

2012 Chevy Volt has bold, sleek styling with wide front and rear tracks, a wheels-out stance and a sculpted belt line.

With gasoline approaching $4 a gallon, it might be time to take another look at the growing number of electric vehicles available today.

The Chevrolet Volt should be at the top of your list if you’re considering an electric new-car purchase; it’s safe, economical, has a 379-mile range with its onboard gasoline generator, and it’s really not that expensive after you factor in the tax credits and rebates.

The Volt has bold, sleek styling and looks like an upscale, midsize sport sedan with its wide front and rear tracks, wheels-out stance and sculpted belt line. That said, there are few changes in the 2012 Volt and GM seems comfortable enough with the styling and performance to leave it alone, at least for the moment.

Frankly, I like the Volt; it has good power and excellent torque, and it is surprisingly fast. Not only does it easily reach a top speed of 100 mph, it clocks 0-60 mph in under nine seconds and runs the quarter-mile in less than 17 seconds. That’s not too shabby.

The knock on the Volt is that it is not a true PEV because it has an on-board gasoline-powered generator. GM counters that the Volt is not a hybrid, but “a one-of-a-kind, all-electrically driven vehicle designed and engineered to operate in all climates.”

The Volt is powered by GM’s Voltec propulsion system, consisting of a 16-kW lithium-ion battery pack and electric drive unit that allow a pure electric range of between 25 and 50 miles, depending on terrain, driving technique and temperature. A 1.4-liter gasoline-powered engine extends the range up to an additional 344 miles on a full tank of gas by operating the vehicle’s electric drive system until the car can be plugged in and recharged or refueled.

The Volt’s long-life battery consists of a 5.5-foot, 435-pound, T-shaped, lithium-ion battery pack manufactured in Brownstown Township, MI. It supplies energy to an advanced 149 hp electric drive unit. GM says the Volt battery is designed to deliver value, safety, quality, performance, durability and reliability, and is covered by an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty.

GM engineers, since 2007, have completed more than a million miles and four million hours of testing on Volt battery packs, as well as each pack’s nine modules and 288 cells. A GM representative told me that every major element of the Volt was designed and analyzed for efficiency, including its highly aerodynamic exterior, lightweight wheels, specially designed tires and even the energy-saving premium stereo system.

Base price on the Volt is $39,995, but a $7,500 tax credit brings the cost down to $32,495.

Ron Beasley is the automotive editor for Miami’s Community Newspapers. He may be contacted by calling 305-662-2277, ext. 261, or by addressing email correspondence to LetsTalkCars@aol.com.

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