Chevrolet Volt topped Consumer Reports’ latest owner-satisfaction survey

Article by Christian Andrei, on December 2, 2011

On the first year that the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid has been available in the market, it has already received the highest rating in the latest owner-satisfaction annual survey of Consumer Reports. About 93% of respondents who are Volt owners said that they will surely buy one again. Meanwhile, the V8-powered Dodge Challenger and the Porsche 911 shared second place, with a 91% rating.

When the survey was conducted, the Volt had only been in U.S. showrooms for just a few months. The Volt is currently being investigated by U.S. regulators.

The magazine said that only time will tell if it will be able to maintain this rating as the model is used by a wider audience and owners have had more time driving their vehicles.

But then, those who adopt a new technology early are usually the “most enthusiastic buyers." Consumer Reports accomplished this owner-satisfaction survey before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started investigating the safety of plug-in hybrid vehicles over an incident wherein a Volt caught fire while in storage about three weeks after a crash-testing.

The NHTSA initiated a broader probe of the Volt this week after the additional tests. The NHTSA is examining the best way to handle and store the car's lithium ion batteries after a crash. In the past, the models that have dominated Consumer Reports’ owner-satisfaction study were convertibles, sports cars and hybrids.

Powertrain

Executive director for global electrical systems at GM Micky Bly revealed that as the brand’s customers prefer technology that would lower reliance on petroleum, the company has not wavered in continuing to provide them with the highest standards for value, safety, reliability, quality, and performance.

It comes as no surprise that when it comes to the Chevrolet Volt, its best feature is the Voltec propulsion system. By combining a pure electric drive capable of output at 111 kW (149 hp) with a range-extending 1.4-liter gas-powered engine with output of 63 kW (84 hp), the Volt can go for as far as 350 miles.

On a full charge, the Volt can go emission-free for at least 25 miles and at most 50 miles. The actual range, of course, varies based on the current temperature, the terrain, and the driving skill. Should the battery ever be depleted, the Volt easily shifts to the extended-range mode where the power to the electric drive unit is now sourced from the onboard gas-powered engine to give the Volt an extra range of 310 miles.

With this combination, driving the Volt is more spirited as acceleration from 0 to 60 mph is possible in under 9 seconds and can even go for a quarter of a mile in under 17.0 seconds. Peak torque is at 273 lb.-ft. and possible at low speed though maximum speed has been measured to be 100 mph.

Going back to the battery, it is composed of a T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack with output of 16 kWh and weighs 435 pounds (198.1 kilograms) with size of 5.5 feet. This battery pack was built at a facility in Brownstown Township, Michigan. The battery itself comes with a remarkable 100,000-mile/8-year warranty. Proof that the battery has all the qualities one expects from a Chevrolet is a result of validation testing by engineers at GM since way back 2007.

Overall, 4 million hours and 1 million miles were conducted. The testing was not limited to the battery pack itself as it was also conducted for the 9 modules and the total 288 prismatic cells. With 95% of the components being designed and then engineered by GM, all the teams involved, from development to validation to testing, were not only able to meet the thousands of specifications but also managed to validate each of the 161 components. Should the battery ever be depleted, recharging it is easy.

There are two options to do it with the first using a dedicated charging station at 240 volts and total recharge time of 4 hours. The second option is easier as all that is needed is a standard household electrical outlet at 120 volts though it takes longer with total recharging time of at least 10 hours and up to 12 hours.

A unique feature of the Volt is that it can be monitored and managed remotely through a personal computer at MyVolt.com or a smart phone application which is the Chevrolet Mobile App by OnStar MyLink. Thus owners can easily schedule the charging time especially if the Volt has already been plugged in. It is possible to charge the Volt immediately or even delay it. Thus it can be set to meet the departure time or even when the electricity rates are at a much lower rate.

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