The Chevrolet Volt is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) that was produced by General Motors. Development of the Volt began in 2005, and the car was first introduced as a concept car at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show. The production version of the Volt was released in 2010 for the 2011 model year, and it was sold in the United States and Canada through 2019.
Chevrolet built the Volt for two generations. The first-generation Volt covers the 2011 to 2015 model years. The second-generation Volt was built from 2016 to 2019. The Chevy Volt is a front-wheel drive compact hatchback car with room for four (five with the second generation).
First-Generation Chevrolet Volt (2011 to 2015)
The first-generation Chevrolet Volt comes with a propulsion system that combines an electric motor and a gasoline engine. The electric motor is a 111 kW (149 horsepower) unit that is powered by a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The gasoline engine is a 1.4-liter four-cylinder unit that serves as a generator to recharge the battery pack when it runs low.
The electric motor drives the front wheels through a single-speed planetary gearset transmission. The car can operate in pure electric mode for the first 35 to 40 miles, after which the gasoline engine turns on to generate electricity and extend the car’s range. The overall range of the car is around 380 miles, with the electric range being the first 35-40 miles, and the rest of the range supplied by the gasoline engine.
The fuel mileage for the first-generation Chevrolet Volt is listed as 35 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) in electric mode and 37 MPG in hybrid mode. This means that the car can travel 35 miles on the energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline when operating in electric mode, and 37 miles on a gallon of gasoline when operating in hybrid mode.
Upon its introduction, Chevrolet outfitted the Volt with automatic headlights, heated side mirrors, and 17-inch alloy wheels. Other features include keyless ignition, automatic climate control, cloth seat, and a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel. A 6-speaker Bose audio system with OnStar, navigation, and digital music storage came standard. The top-level Premium trim has leather seats, heated front seats, and a leather wrapped steering wheel. A rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors are extras.
Later models added Bluetooth, forward collision and lane departure systems, and featured package changes.
Second-Generation Chevrolet Volt (2016 to 2019)
For the Volt’s second generation, GM made some changes to enhance its electric range. The electric motor is a 149-horsepower unit that is powered by a 18.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The gasoline engine is a 1.5-liter four-cylinder unit that once again serves as a generator to recharge the battery pack when it runs low.
The second-generation Chevy Volt can operate in pure electric mode for the first 53 miles, after which the gasoline engine kicks in to generate electricity and extend the car’s range. The overall range of the car is around 420 miles, with the electric range being the first 53 miles, and the rest of the range being provided by the gasoline engine.
The fuel mileage for the second-generation Chevrolet Volt is listed as 106 MPGe in electric mode and 42 MPG in hybrid mode. This means that the car can travel 106 miles on the energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline when operating in electric mode, and 42 miles on a gallon of gasoline when operating in hybrid mode.
For 2016, the Chevy Volt gains a new hybrid drivetrain. A redesigned rear seat adds passenger space, making the Volt a five-passenger vehicle. Other changes include a new driver information system and upgraded infotainment system controls.
On the safety front, the Volt’s expanded driver-assist technologies include blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, collision mitigation, and automatic braking.
For 2017, adaptive cruise control and a revised automatic emergency braking system. Beginning in 2019, the Volt gained an onboard charger, a revised infotainment system, and a new rearview camera. Further, this is the only model year a power driver’s seat was offered.
Chevrolet Volt: Accolades, Criticism, and Postmortem
The Chevrolet Volt was well-received by experts and the press when it was introduced. It was named the 2011 Green Car of the Year by the Green Car Journal and also won the 2011 North American Car of the Year award. The car was praised for its innovative propulsion system, which allows it to operate as a pure electric vehicle for short trips and as a hybrid for longer trips.
Critics generally praised the Volt for its advanced technology, but some pointed out that its high price tag limited its appeal to mainstream buyers. Additionally, some slammed the car’s design, noting that it was less attractive than some of its competitors.
The Volt was discontinued by GM in 2019, citing a shift in consumer preference towards SUVs and trucks, as well as for slow sales. Some experts pointed out that the car was ahead of its time and that the market for electric cars was not as mature as it is now, so it was difficult to make a profit from it.
After its discontinuation, experts and enthusiasts praised the Volt for its technical achievement, and its role in pushing the development of electric cars. Some noted that the car was a pioneer in the plug-in hybrid electric segment, and that it paved the way for other models like the Toyota Prius Prime and the Ford Fusion Energi.
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(2019, February 22). Chevy Volt discontinued: Chevrolet’s last Volt rolls off the assembly line. CBS News.
Photos copyright GM Corp.