Thursday, March 10, 2011

GM Volt review: Sweater and gloves required when driving in cold

Sweater, gloves required when driving Volt in cold: Magazine

The potential popularity of electric vehicles has always been tempered in cold climates, like here in Canada, because of the concerns that freezing temperatures will reduce the range of an EV’s batteries.

And now a long-term test report of the Chevrolet Volt, in the U.S. magazine Motor Trend, confirms that fear and also suggests you may have to keep your winter clothes on while driving the plug-in electric hybrid during colder days.

The magazine found that the Volt uses up a “considerable” amount of battery range to heat up its cabin on colder days, reducing its range to well below 30 miles (48 kms) before draining the battery and reverting to its gas generator to recharge the batteries and power its electric motor — much lower than the optimal 64 km estimate.

Based on using an aftermarket internal thermometer, the magazine also found that the Volt’s climate control system does more than just portion out the air temperature to what is set on the climate control.

Using an external thermometer, the Volt’s heater was set to 24 degrees Celsius, but the cabin temperature was closer to 18C. However, the footwell temperature reached about 28.4C.

Apparently, a warm footwell plus heated seats is Chevrolet’s strategy to make Volt drivers feel warm.

The result led to the review calling the Chevy EV as “a sweater and gloves commuter car for northern-tier Volt owners.”

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