Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Plug-In Volt Is Quick and Quirky

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Plug-In Volt Is Quick and Quirky

Article excerpt

2013 Chevrolet Volt: Charging into the future.

Price: $42,525 (includes $1,395 for leather trim package; $895 for Chevrolet MyLink radio with navigation, $595 for polished aluminum wheels and $495 for Bose premium speakers). A $7,500 federal tax credit helps defray this cost a bit.

Marketer's pitch: "Electric when you want it; gas when you need it."

Conventional wisdom: It's the Al Gore of cars -- people learn to love it, or hate it with a passion that burns brighter than a thousand coal-fired electricity generating plants.

Reality: A lot like Al Gore, with its heart in the right place but a few compromises, annoyances and drawbacks, and not much personality.

Running the Volt: The Volt is operated by an electric motor that powers the wheels in all situations. When the vehicle is recharged by a wall socket, the batteries store enough power to operate the vehicle for a promised 38 miles (depending on driving conditions; that's what I averaged before the engine kicked in). When that supply is depleted, the 1.4-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine operates only as a generator for the electric motor.

Recharging: Frankly, this can be a bit of pain. The cord that GM ships with the vehicle is about 10 feet long, and the charging unit has to be hung near the wall outlet and then run to the car. A slightly longer cord would be much more convenient.

A 110-volt cord comes standard, and it makes for slow recharges (10 hours is advertised, I was looking at 21 hours at one point, according to the vehicle). A 220-volt would quicken the charging speed to four hours, but most garages don't have 220-volt outlets.

(The Volt did inexplicably not charge on one occasion for me. The dashboard does tell you if it's charging, so I guess I didn't check it. We'll call that operator error).

Still, this proves it's not a car for everyone. …

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