Test Driving The Volt—One Impressive Ride
CNBC Auto and Airline Industry Reporter
Ever since GM introduced its extended range electric car, the Chevy Volt, people have said to me, "Tell me if it's a decent drive or like putzing along in my grandpa's golf cart?"
Here's your answer: the Volt is an impressive drive.
I took the car out for an extended, real world test drive late last week. Over the course of 6 hours I tooled around eastern Michigan on highways and side streets. Regardless of where I drove the car, I kept saying to myself, "This car is going to change how people feel about driving an electric car."
It is smooth, effortless, and yes, fun to drive.
Is it a Corvette? No.
But the Volt has plenty of giddy up. With the electric motor providing 149 horsepower and 273 pounds of torque, the Volt instantly responds when you hit the gas pedal.
And GM has succeeded in making the Volt's transition from electric power to the gas assist engine a smooth one.
When I drove a Volt prototype at the GM proving grounds a few months back, the was considerable noise when the gas assist kicked in. No more.
Also, I like the iPod-like center stack. It provides a steady stream of data (how much battery life is left, how efficiently I'm driving, etc.) And is easy to work. The touch pad is understated but attractive.
While I, and others, like with the Volt and how it drives, the real question is whether the Volt will sell. At $41,000 it ain't cheap. Yes, buyers will qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit and then there are state tax credits of $2,000 to $5,000 depending on where you live. Still, if gas prices stay at the moderate level where they are right now, some may hesitate to pay $41,000 for an electric car.
But for now, GM is betting they will. More than 120,000 have said they are interested in buying. The electric car race is on and the Volt is ready to charge up the competition.
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