The 2011 Chevrolet Volt represents a revolutionary step in personal transportation. The compact, extended-range hybrid electric car melds the best of both worlds making use of both a battery-powered drivetrain for a pure electric driving experience and a backup gasoline generator to keep the Volt moving forward on long distance trips.
The technology involved in making the Chevrolet Volt possible is impressive, but what’s even more interesting is just how competent the Volt feels from behind the wheel. Let’s take a closer look at 10 things you need to know about the 2011 Chevrolet Volt and explore this compact sedan from every angle.
01. The 2011 Chevrolet Volt Is A Plug-In Hybrid
The 2011 Chevrolet Volt is motivated exclusively by a 149 horsepower electric motor that in turn derives its power from a T-shaped battery pack that is mounted within the floor of the compact sedan. The Chevrolet Volt doesn’t make use of a traditional transmission – instead, it employs a unique planetary gear system that sends the output of its electric motor directly to the front wheels. Unlike other hybrids, there is no gasoline engine working alongside the battery pack in order to provide additional thrust – it’s all electric, all the time when it comes to the Volt’s drivetrain. More on that later.
02. The 2011 Chevrolet Volt Can Charge Its Battery Pack Fast
How long does it take to charge the 2011 Chevrolet Volt’s battery pack once it’s been drained of electricity? If all you have at your destination is access to a standard 110-volt power outlet, General Motors claims that it will take no more than 10 hours to replenish the Volt’s battery pack. Chevrolet also offers a special charging station that uses 240-volt power to cut this time down dramatically, offering a full charge in a very reasonable four hours.
The Volt’s power management system also makes sure to keep a reserve charge within the cells of the vehicle’s battery. By keeping it roughly 30 percent “full” at all times, General Motors claims that the pack will last through 150,000 miles of use or 10 years, whichever comes first.
03. The 2011 Chevrolet Volt Has a 40 Mile Battery Range
How far can you drive on a fully-charged battery in the 2011 Chevrolet Volt? As with all electric cars, the Volt’s battery range is directly tied in to driving style and environmental conditions. It is possible that driving in very cold or very hot conditions can adversely affect the range of the Chevrolet Volt as extreme temperatures can influence the speed at which the battery discharges. However, in general most drivers have been able to get 40 miles of cruising out of the vehicle’s battery pack, which is more than enough to satisfy the daily activities of most urban dwellers.
04. The 2011 Chevrolet Volt Can Extend That Range By Another 300 Miles
Although the 2011 Chevrolet Volt features a pure electric drivetrain, it is a hybrid vehicle in the sense that it offers a gasoline engine as a backup. This 1.4-liter, four-cylinder engine is not directly coupled to the Volt’s wheels – in fact, the gasoline motor provides no motivation at all for the sedan. Instead, it acts as a range-extending generator that provides enough electricity to run the Volt’s electric motor once its battery charge has been depleted. The gasoline generator adds up to 300 additional miles of range on a full tank, which gives the Chevrolet Volt a significant advantage over other electric cars which are more restricted by the limitations of their drivetrain design and battery storage capability.
05. The 2011 Chevrolet Volt Offers Regenerative Braking
The 2011 Chevrolet Volt can also benefit from the energy that is produced when the vehicle’s brakes are used. The Volt features a regenerative braking system that converts the kinetic energy that is a side effect of slowing down the vehicle’s wheels into electricity that can recharge the sedan’s battery. The system is almost completely transparent, although some drivers might need a few blocks to get used to the slightly heavier brake pedal feel that is part and parcel of such a system. The Volt also offers an information display that is designed to help train owners to develop the most fuel efficient driving habits, and this display includes real-time visual feedback for fine-tuning braking technique.
06. The 2011 Chevrolet Volt Comes With a Federal Tax Credit
The 2011 Chevrolet Volt carries with it an MSRP of $40,280. However, that price is significantly lowered by the available $7,500 federal tax credit that goes along with each and every Chevrolet Volt purchase. The tax credit, which is intended to promote the use of “green” vehicles like the Volt plug-in hybrid, has Chevrolet advertising that the effective MSRP of the 2011 Volt is actually $32,780. It is also possible to lease the Chevrolet Volt and take advantage of the credit by having the tax savings – which are in this case passed on to the dealer – included in the form of reduced monthly payments.
07. The 2011 Chevrolet Volt Is Well-Equipped
In addition to offering phenomenal fuel savings, the 2011 Chevrolet Volt also comes with a long list of standard features. All versions of the Volt are equipped with keyless ignition, automatic climate control, remote start capability, Bluetooth integration, a touchscreen navigation system and a hard drive for storing digital music. It’s also possible to order such luxury items as heated leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and front and rear parking sensors that are complemented by a rearview camera. The Volt makes use of a “2+2” seating arrangement, which brings the total number of adults that the vehicle can accommodate to four, and the compact sedan offers just over 10 cubic feet of trunk space.
08. The 2011 Chevrolet Volt Drives Like A Normal Car
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of driving the 2011 Chevrolet Volt is the way the sedan never makes you feel like you are piloting anything other than a regular sedan. Power delivery from the electric drivetrain is instantaneous and smooth, which means that launching from a stop is accomplished with authority – as is putting the pedal down to the floor during passing maneuvers. The Chevrolet Volt enjoys better acceleration than several of its hybrid and pure-electric peers, and it also provides a reasonably responsive electric power steering system and a quiet cabin that is well insulated against road noise.
09. The 2011 Chevrolet Volt Can Keep Fuel Fresh
If you spend most or all of your time driving the 2011 Chevrolet Volt within its 40 mile battery-only range, you might wonder how fresh the gasoline sitting in the tank will be if you ever need the car to kick in its auxiliary generator. Chevrolet has installed several features in the Volt that are designed to make sure the sedan’s fuel never degrades over time.
The Volt comes with a completely sealed fuel system that does not allow for condensation to form inside the tank, and it also offers a “maintenance mode” that notifies drivers who have not used the gasoline engine after a six-week interval that the motor must be turned on in order to idle through at least some of the gasoline in the tank. After 12 months of battery-only operation (a very real possibility with the Volt), the gasoline engine will automatically turn on and run either until the tank has been emptied, or until fresh fuel is added to the mix.
10. The 2011 Chevrolet Volt Can Tackle Winter With No Problems
Anyone who has ever been stuck with a dead battery on the side of the road in the middle of winter might be understandably wary regarding the 2011 Chevrolet Volt’s ability to weather cold, harsh climates. Chevrolet engineers have risen to the task and designed the Volt to put its most efficient face forward when dealing with very low temperatures. Volt owners can remotely trigger their vehicle’s heating systems while the automobile is still plugged into its charger, ensuring a toasty cabin perfect for short trips. The vehicle also makes use of a climate control system that can activate the sedan’s optional heated seats in order to keep drivers warm while using less power than running the full blower system. Finally, the Volt’s gasoline engine can also be run for short bursts in order to bring additional heat to the passenger compartment.
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