We drive the Chevy Volt--yep the real one--and the 2011 Kia Sorento (with monkey.) The Nissan Leaf is open to anyone to preorder. Smart airbags may not be so smart. And we'll find out why mobile TV in your car may not be that easy to receive.Subscribe with iTunes (audio) Subscribe with iTunes (video) Subscribe with RSS (audio) Subscribe with RSS (video) EPISODE 169 SHOW NOTES
The Chevrolet Volt has probably been "coming soon" for longer than any vehicle in automotive history, but trust us, it's real. We know this because we were recently handed the keys to a preproduction version of GM's electric Prius-hunter for a test-drive in downtown San Francisco.
GM tells us that this preproduction model was hand-built late last year, and that substantial tweaks have been made to both the software driving the Volt and the fit and finish of the interior of newer versions being tested elsewhere--and that the production models that roll off assembly lines in November will be tweaked further still. However, the actual hardware of the vehicle's drivetrain is about as showroom-ready as it gets.
Extended range electric vehicle The hardware in question begins with a T-shaped lithium ion battery pack running the length of the vehicle's center tunnel and rear seats that provides power to a 120kW electric motor. The motor is connected to the front wheels through a single-speed transmission and handles all of the vehicle's motivational duties. Running in electric vehicle (EV) mode, the Volt has an estimated optimal range of 40 miles, more than enough--by GM's estimates--to handle commuter duties for the vast majority of drivers.
Also tucked under the Volt's hood is a 1.4-liter gasoline engine. This engine integrates a generator, producing juice to keep the Volt's batteries trickle-charged in extended range (ER) mode when trips exceed the vehicle's 40-mile EV range. This gasoline engine is not mechanically connected to the drive wheels or transmission, only the electric motor is. So don't go calling the Volt a hybrid around GM's people. The preferred term is extended range electric vehicle, or EREV.… Read more
Concerned that drivers will suffer performance on the steepest of grades, General Motors engineers have included a "Mountain" mode in the Chevy Volt to boost the available power.
Mountain mode, which will be selected by the driver, is essentially a cue to the car to start storing up extra energy in the battery. Once in place, it means that the car will have all the available power from the gasoline engine and batteries, explained Larry Nitz, GM's executive director of hybrid and electric powertrain engineering, during an update with the media on Tuesday.
There are few circumstances … Read more
General Motors today announced the company has made its final payment of $5.8 billion to the U.S. Treasury and Export Development Canada, paying back its government loans in full, ahead of schedule.
Company Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre made the announcement at GM's Fairfax, Kansas facility.
"GM is able to repay the taxpayers in full, with interest, ahead of schedule, because more customers are buying vehicles like the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse and Buick LaCrosse we build here in Fairfax," said Whitacre. "We are now building some of the best cars, trucks, and … Read more
I ended last week's blog with a video and blurb about the new lightweight, energy-efficient stereo system designed for the 2011 Chevy Volt by Bose. And then I realized that I'd never done a full-fledged blog theme week about car stereos. But better late than never, right?
And so here I start a new theme all about car stereo systems, how they work, and how they're installed. And just to whet our appetites, I have a video of European cars being made over into bass-thumpin' beat machines. Unfortunately I don't have any specs on the components … Read more
Today's video isn't new, but I thought since we were on the subject of electric cars this past week I'd present this Web clip about an all-electric heavy-duty truck--a project vehicle commissioned by the Port of Los Angeles and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD).
This project was put together to make a prototype of the world's strongest, most heavy-duty truck that could run for short hauls exclusively on electricity. Reportedly it was the first heavy-duty electric cargo truck from any port in the world, and statistically it could haul over 50,000 lbs. … Read more
After all the informative video thrown your way this week, you may be wondering if there's anything about the 2011 Chevy Volt that isn't more efficient than other vehicles. Sorry, but even the stereo isn't one of them. Today's video clip is about how professional audio titan Bose got involved in the making of Chevrolet's electric hybrid car set for release later this year.
In this video, Ed Peper, Chevy's North American vice president, introduces the partnership between the American auto manufacturer and Bose in the conception and creation of an energy-efficient sound system … Read more
By now I'm pretty certain that most of you are aware of the potential ecological and economical benefits of driving an electric or hybrid car that isn't reliant solely on fossil fuels. Not surprisingly, the U.S. government is getting behind the cause as well, influenced in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The ARRA is the official term for the economic stimulus package passed by Congress in early 2009 to help create jobs and promote investment in American enterprises during the current recession. And when it comes to the conception and push … Read more
In yesterday's video blog, we looked inside and out at a production version of the Chevrolet Volt electric hybrid that's set to hit the streets later this year. Car and Driver that clip in late 2009 on location in the parking lot of Dodger's Stadium; however, Chevy assembled and presented at least a few other prototypes before finally coming up with the production-ready Volt you may have seen images of. Today, we're showing you one of the other Volt prototypes that Chevy showed at the Paris Motor Show in late 2008.
Sure, the car doesn't … Read more
Seeing as I gave quite a bit of mostly positive airtime to the Toyota Prius last week, I thought it would be good to do the same for a new electric hybrid made stateside that's set to roll out later this year. And in case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm referring to the 2011 Chevrolet Volt. The Volt marks Chevy's first serious foray into the hybrid car market, and by the looks and sounds of things, this one may make a serious automotive splash.
Today's lengthy but informative video gives us a look … Read more