BOSTON (CBS) — With the push of a button, you’re on your way.
That’s not the newest technology; many cars have a push-button start. But the Chevrolet Volt has some other surprises. For one, it’s electric.
WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong goes for a test drive.
So for the first 40 or so miles you get limitless MPG. After that, gas helps out.
It might sound like a hybrid, but there’s a key difference. A typical hybrid has a regular gas engine that gets supplemented by its electric motor. The Chevy Volt, however, has only the electric motor. It uses gas, yes, but not in the traditional way. Gas in a Volt powers a generator that keeps that battery charged, and that’s what keeps you driving.
General Motors hopes the car and its high-tech features will remind people what American car manufacturers can do.
“It’s a very important vehicle to us for showing what we can do from a technology standpoint,” says GM’s Stephen Marlin, who accompanied WBZ on a test drive of a Volt at the Boston car show.
It’s fair to say that GM and Chevy have a lot riding on the success of the Volt. But its $41,000 price tag might make it a bit of a tough sell. That price does include standard navigation and five years of On*Star assistance. Plus, the car’s fuel efficiency qualifies it for a $7,500 federal tax credit. As with all new technology, the price is expected to drop as the years go by.
But GM’s got hurdles beyond price. As Marlin puts it, “there’s talk about something called range anxiety; people are nervous about owning electric vehicles.”
Drivers don’t like the idea that their car has a finite range, even if there is a backup that will take them as far as they need to go and instrumentation that tells them how many miles they have left before empty.
More than “range anxiety,” plenty of drivers are still cool to the idea of electric cars.
The Volt does try to address some of those concerns.
For one, size: there’s a good amount of room inside even for very tall people (though, with as with any other similarly-sized vehicles, people in the back seat are going to feel a bit squished). The volt WBZ test drove is a hatch-back, and had enough storage for our purposes.
A lot of people have in their minds that electric cars can’t go fast; the Volt has pretty good pickup and can go as fast as you need…within reason.