General Motors launched the “extended-range electric” Chevrolet Volt in December 2010 but apparently misconceptions about it are so common the company has been compelled to run commercials to help get the message out.
Along the lines of other ads in which Volt drivers offer personal testimonials that they are among the “happiest drivers on the planet,” the adopters of the still-nascent technology shed light on some of the more common confusion they hear as Volt owners.
It’s all being presented in good humor, but no doubt honest misconceptions among consumers compound deliberate attacks also being bandied about by certain critics against the car.
If you have any misconceptions, here’s how it works in simplified terms: The Volt Is basically an electric vehicle with gasoline backup, but can operate like any gasoline car if you really want it to. Actually, it’s meant to be used like a mid-range electric vehicle and offers somewhere between 25-50 all-electric miles (mid-30 miles to low 40s is most common and the 2013 model promises a few more miles when it comes out in August).
The Volt recharges its battery via an included special cord from ordinary 120-volt house current or you can buy and install a 240-volt charger if you want faster battery replenishment. On the road, it drives like an ordinary car – albeit very quietly and smoothly thanks to electric drive, instead of a conventional powertrain. Although a compact class car, it fits full-sized people, as some in the video explain – at least up front, although rear seat leg room may be insufficient for taller people.
Once the batteries run out of juice, the gasoline-powered generator automatically kicks on, and you keep going seamlessly. The fuel tank holds a little less than 10 gallons of premium gasoline (yes, premium is required), and at 37 mpg EPA rating, you have over 300 miles range.
As mentioned, the Volt could theoretically never be plugged in, and one could just run it on gasoline alone, not that that would make much sense.
Obviously, the real idea is to minimize use of gasoline, and given most peoples’ daily driving needs are within the Volt’s all-electric range, tales of some people going hundreds and even thousands of miles without stopping for gasoline are not uncommon. As long as they stay within electric range, they just plug in regularly, while reserving the gasoline in the tank for when needed.
If the gas sits long enough, a computer monitoring the special pressurized tank will turn the engine on to burn off the aging fuel before letting it turn stale, but this is not before many months of potentially gas-free, or gas-minimal driving.
The Volt was recently rated by Consumer Reports as number one in owner satisfaction, and there seems to be no shortage of Volt drivers – taking sides against known critics, and willing to help GM overcome genuine misconceptions – as GM and its growing fan base promote its new kind of car.