When it debuted for the 2011 model year, the Chevrolet Volt established an entirely new segment in the global automotive market. It is a five-door, four-passenger car designed to provide the benefits of an electric vehicle without the range limitations associated with other electric vehicles.
The Volt offers a total driving range of 379 miles, based on EPA estimates. For the first 35 miles, it can drive gas-free and tailpipe emissions-free using a full charge of electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery. When the Volt’s battery runs low, a 1.4L gas-powered engine/generator seamlessly engages to extend the driving range another 344 miles on a full change.
This distinguishes the Volt from electric-only vehicles, which cannot be operated when recharging is not immediately available – such as during a power interruption or on a long-distance trip.
The Volt is available throughout the U.S., with additional exports to Europe, China and Canada.
Updates for 2012 include two new exterior colors – Summit White and Blue Topaz Metallic (late availability) – and two new interior trim combinations, along with new 17-inch wheels with black accent inserts. Dealer-available color inserts can be inserted in place of the standard black inserts. Passive entry for all doors and the liftgate is added for 2012, as is Turn-by-Turn navigation with the standard OnStar system.
Also new for 2012 is Chevrolet MyLink, which includes Bluetooth-enabled streaming audio for music and select smartphones, voice recognition for the phone, music and audio systems, Pandora and Stitcher smartphone compatibility, Gracenote (Playlist+ and Album Art) and software that can be updated for the Gracenote database.
The Volt is built at General Motors’ Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, which will soon be home to the largest photovoltaic solar array in southeast Michigan. The facility will use the 516 kilowatts of solar energy generated by the 264,000-square-foot array to help power the plant while Volts are being assembled.
Volt propulsion system
The heart of the Chevrolet Volt is its Voltec propulsion system, which combines pure electric drive and an efficient, range-extending engine, giving to the Volt up to 379 total miles of range.
The Volt’s long-life battery consists of a 5.5-foot, 435-pound (198.1 kg) T-shaped, 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack manufactured in Brownstown Township, Mich. It supplies energy to an advanced, 111-kW (149-hp) electric drive unit to propel the vehicle. Using only the energy stored in the battery, the Volt delivers an EPA-estimated 35 miles of fuel- and tailpipe emissions-free electric driving, depending on terrain, driving techniques and temperature.
The Volt battery is covered by an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty. When the battery energy is depleted, the Volt seamlessly transitions to extended-range mode. Power is inverted from a technically advanced, 1.4L 63-kW (84-hp) gasoline-powered onboard engine to the electric drive unit to provide up to 344 additional miles of range.
Charging the Volt’s battery is simple and intuitive, and can be done with a 120V conventional household electrical outlet, or a dedicated 240V charging station. The vehicle is completely rechargeable in about four hours using a 240V outlet and 10 to 12 hours in a 120V outlet. Once the vehicle is plugged in, owners can schedule either immediate or delayed charges, even coordinating charging according to departure time or when electricity rates are lower. Owners also can manage and monitor the Volt remotely via computer on MyVolt.com; or an exclusive smartphone application, Chevrolet Mobile App powered by OnStar.
Volt design and exterior features
Working closely with aerodynamicists in GM’s wind tunnel to shape the Volt, design and engineering teams developed the most aerodynamic vehicle in Chevrolet’s history. By reducing the energy needed to overcome air resistance, Volt aerodynamicists contributed an estimated eight miles of electric range, and 50 miles of extended range.
The Volt’s rounded and flush front fascia, tapered corners and grille enable air to move easily around the car to reduce drag. In the rear, sharp edges and a carefully designed spoiler control air flow. An aggressive rake on the windshield and back glass also helps reduce turbulence and drag.
Additional exterior features include:
- Daytime running lamps with LED illumination
- LED center high-mounted stop lamp
- Heated and power-adjustable mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators
- Seventeen-inch aluminum wheels are standard
- Seventeen-inch polished aluminum wheels are optional
- Seventeen-inch aluminum wheels with black inserts are optional
- Pedestrian-friendly alert, featuring a driver-activated horn chirp
- Exterior color choices: Silver Ice Metallic, Summit White, Black, Crystal Red Tintcoat, White Diamond Tricoat, Viridian Joule Tricoat and Blue Topaz Metallic.
Inside, the Volt offers the space, comfort, convenience and safety features that customers expect in a premium five-door sedan – including storage compartments and 40/40 rear-folding seats. It also delivers them in a variety of interior color, lighting and trim options unlike any offered before on a Chevrolet sedan, but with Chevrolet’s signature dual cockpit design.
Two seven-inch, high-resolution full-color screens are featured: One is a reconfigurable graphic cluster display and the other, in the center stack, features a touch screen display, touch-control switches and integrated shifter. The graphics in the instrument panel and door inserts are repeated in the standard cloth or available leather-appointed seats.
Standard interior features include:
- Audio system with CD player/MP3 playback and a seven-inch color touch-screen display
- USB audio interface port
- SiriusXM Satellite Radio with a three-month trial
- Bluetooth phone connectivity
- Automatic climate control
- Keyless ignition
- Auto-dimming inside mirror
- MyVOLT.com vehicle connectivity
- Three auxiliary 12-volt power outlets
- Remote vehicle starting system
- Cloth seat trim
- Interior trim combinations include: Jet Black and Green seats with Dark accents, Light Neutral seat with Dark accents, Jet Black seat with Ceramic White accents, Jet Black seats with Dark accents and Jet Black and Spice Red seats with Dark accents.
Available interior features include:
- Chevrolet MyLink
- Navigation radio system with audio storage hard drive and SiriusXM Nav Traffic
- Rearview camera system and ultrasonic park assist
- Perforated leather seat trim with color-keyed textile accents
- Premium Trim Package with perforated leather seating appointments, leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats and premium door trim.
Volt chassis and suspension
The Volt’s MacPherson strut-type suspension, sophisticated compound crank rear axle and quick-reacting, rack-mounted electric power steering system with ZF steering gear have been tuned to deliver a smooth, refined ride with responsive handling and a solid, on-center feel. A low center of gravity combines with the wider track and long wheelbase for balanced performance, and front and rear hydraulic ride bushings help eliminate road harshness.
An electro-hydraulic regenerative brake system captures energy up to 0.2g for transfer back to the battery. The friction braking system features large rotors with a special finishing process that protects against corrosion and promotes longer life.
The Volt rides on lightweight aluminum wheels that weigh only 17.8 pounds (8.1 kg) each, compared to 24.2 pounds (11 kg) for typical 17-inch wheels. They’re wrapped in Goodyear Fuel Max all-season, low-rolling resistance tires optimized for electric vehicle range, noise, feel and performance.
Volt safety and crash-avoidance features
The Volt helps protect occupants before, during and after a crash. Crash-avoidance features include standard anti-lock brakes with traction control, StabiliTrak electronic stability control and advanced, LED daytime running lamps that make the Volt more visible to other motorists and pedestrians.
Occupant protection continues with a strong structure, and the Chevrolet Volt’s body-frame-integral structure strategically blends advanced steels to help ensure crashworthiness and stiffness. Nearly 80 percent of the Volt’s overall structure consists either of high-strength, advanced high-strength or ultra high-strength steel. Active occupant protection features include eight standard air bags and safety belts with dual pretensioners to help reduce the risk of injury.
After a crash, the Chevrolet Volt offers the security of OnStar, which uses built-in vehicle sensors to automatically alert an OnStar advisor in certain types of collisions. The advisor is immediately connected to the vehicle and can request that emergency help be sent to its location.
Because the Volt operates so quietly in all-electric mode, a driver-activated feature sounds a noise to alert pedestrians, particularly those with visual impairments, in an intersection. The alert was developed in conjunction with the American Federation of the Blind.
Additional safety features include:
- Eight standard air bags including dual-stage driver and passenger air bags; front driver and passenger knee air bags to help mitigate lower leg injuries; roof rail side-curtain air bags extend over both seating rows for side-impact and rollover protection; and seat-mounted thorax and pelvic side air bags
- Automatic occupant sensing system detects the presence of a child or smaller adult in the front passenger seat and suppresses the air bag to help avoid an injury
- Rollover sensing and protection system
- Tip-up sensors that proactively predict tip-up on a flat surface and apply brake force to the outside front and rear wheels to reduce lateral force in the vehicle
- Collapsible pedal assembly to protect against lower leg injuries
- Safety belt shoulder belt retractor and lap belt pretensioners in the driver and front passenger positions
- LATCH child seat installation system in rear seating positions
- Anti-lock brakes, traction control and StabiliTrak electronic stability enhancement
- Tire pressure monitoring system.
OnStar is standard. It uses GPS and cellular phone technology to automatically call for help in the event of crash. OnStar subscribers also can use the service to be Good Samaritans by sending help to other motorists, and to call for help in other non-crash emergencies.
- OnStar is the leading provider of in-vehicle safety, security and information services in the United States and Canada.
- Six months of complimentary OnStar Directions and Connections service with Turn-by-Turn navigation for easier route guidance on all Volt models
- Stolen Vehicle Assistance helps police track the vehicle.