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USA: Road Test: 2012 Chevrolet Volt

David Booth, National Post · Aug. 4, 2011 | Last Updated: Aug. 4, 2011 3:03 PM ET
General Motors bills it as “more car than electric,” an admonishment that it’s time for alternatively fuelled automobiles to hit the mainstream. And through more than 1,500 kilometres and four days of driving, my lasting impression of the new Chevrolet Volt is just that — it’s a car. A novel one, to be sure, and one pointing in the general direction, at least, of a less profligate future, but a car nonetheless — with some of the same foibles (and a few of its own) as other mid-sized automobiles on the market.

That said, the Volt competes in a segment — extended-range electric vehicles — that it alone occupies. It earns this unique (for now) designation by being powered by a 111-kilowatt (149-horsepower) primary electric motor fed, alternately, by a 16-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack and, when that is depleted, by a generator powered by an 84-hp 1.4-litre Ecotec gasoline engine.

Though this sounds like the formula for a garden-variety hybrid, the new Chevy is most certainly not a hybrid. It doesn’t operate like a hybrid, it doesn’t drive like a hybrid and, even when the internal-combustion engine is operating, it doesn’t consume fuel in the same fashion as a hybrid.


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