The Chevrolet Volt found a new fan in the person of the highest official of the United States of America, President Barack Obama. Of course the electric plug-in Volt is not the type of car a president should ride for security reasons, but Obama said he will gladly buy a Volt when his term ends. Speaking at a UAW conference on Tuesday, Obama said he enjoyed the feel of the Volt when he rode one while touring a Chevrolet assembly plant in Detroit in 2010.
Obama, however, has to get the permission of his security, the Secret Service, or wait for the end of his term before he could ride one. “I'll bet it drives real good,” Obama said, adding “Five years from now when I'm not president anymore, I'll buy one and drive it myself."
From his speech, it seems Obama is confident he would be given a second four-year term after the votes are counted in the upcoming November 6 presidential election. Obama centers his re-election campaign on the successful bailout of the auto sector, particularly General Motors, Chevrolet’s parent, and Chrysler, now run by Italian carmaker Fiat SpA. The Obama administration approved more than $2 billion in funds to help develop battery systems for electric cars, which includes the $40,000 Volt.
Since the Volt is a fuel-efficient vehicle, thanks to a hybrid power source of a rechargeable battery and a gasoline-powered electric generator, its buyers qualify to get a $7,500 tax credit for every vehicle they buy. The car’s battery had been the center of a probe and was a political controversy in January, when some Republicans accused the administration of hiding the Volt’s battery fire risks from the public. GM CEO Dan Akerson, who himself drives a Volt, defended the Volt and said the car had become a "political punching bag."
What truly makes the Chevrolet Volt remarkable is the Voltec propulsion system which utilizes a pure electric drive and is combined with the range-extending engine. This allows the Volt to reach a range of 350 miles. The electric drive itself moves the Volt with output of 149 hp (111 kW). As mentioned, part of the drive is the lithium-ion battery pack and in this case, it sports a T-shape weighing 435 lbs. (198.1 kg) and measuring 5.5 feet.
Produced at the brand’s factory located in Brownstown Township, Michigan, the battery is able to deliver an output of 16 kWh. Running solely on electricity, the Volt can go for as short as 25 miles to as distant as 50 miles. All of which are done with no emissions.
The actual range will clearly vary and depending on the driving technique, the current temperature, and the terrain. Fuel efficiency and zero emission are not the only benefits that the battery pack delivers. In fact, driving solely on electricity can be spirited as well. Acceleration from 0 to 60 mph is possible in shorter than 9.0 seconds. Sprinting from standstill to a quarter of a mile is achievable in under 17.0 seconds.
Maximum torque is at 23 lb.-ft. (Nm) and available even at low speed. Top speed of the Volt has been measured at 100 mph. Should the energy inside the battery be depleted, the Voltec system immediately shifts to the extended-range mode. Rather than the battery pack, the energy is now sourced from the 1.4-liter gas-powered engine that has an output of 84 hp (63 kW).
Using this engine, the Volt gets an extra total range of 310 miles. Commenting on the Volt, GM Global Electrical System Executive Director Micky Bly shared that GM’s customers had long been committed to using technology that ensure dependence on petroleum is lowered. He added that because of this, the brand in turn promises to offer the highest standards when it comes to performance, quality, reliability, safety, and value.
Customers are assured that the battery was created with the characteristics of durability, performance, quality, reliability, safety, and value, in mind. The battery pack is covered with a warranty covering 8 years or 100,000 miles. This pack has been in development going as far back as 2007 with the engineers at GM managing to complete validation testing worth 4 million hours and 1 million miles.
The testing was not limited to the pack itself but also done for the 9 modules and the 288 prismatic cells. In order to come out with the best parts, the development team, the validation team, and the test team managed to accomplish thousands of specifications. They were even able to validate the 161 parts of the battery. Of these, 95% of them has been engineered and designed by GM.