Plug it in, Baby!

I was invited to check out two prototype models of Chevy’s upcoming Volt plug-in electric vehicle today. I can safely say nobody has ever offered to let me drive a pre-production vehicle before so I jumped at the chance.

Chevy Volt Prototype Electric Vehicle

These cars were handmade in at GM’s design factory and are in town during the Olympics (GM is a vehicle sponsor). The fit and finish (and even some of the tech) wasn’t final yet as they are still tweaking the designs at this point.

Chevy Volt Prototype Electric Vehicle

It’s the first fully electric, plug-in vehicle and it was a lot of fun to drive. We were in a parking lot with a little track made out of cones around it and were able to get it going at a pretty good clip. Definitely ‘peppier’ than I was expecting.

I really like the idea of being able to simply plug the car into a normal wall outlet (you actually plug it into a box that plugs into the wall). It can currently go approximately 64 kms per charge running in practically silent electric mode. It will cost just under a $1 a day to charge the vehicle.
Chevy Volt Prototype Electric Vehicle

The driver’s dashboard:
Chevy Volt Prototype Electric Vehicle

The centre console:
Chevy Volt Prototype Electric Vehicle

This is what happens when you get the Volt up over 88 mph:
Chevy Volt Prototype Electric Vehicle

Chevy Volt iPhone app
They even have an iPhone app that allows to you monitor many aspects of the vehicle as well as unlock/lock, start and charge it all remotely.

It’s all tied into the OnStar system. A free demo version of the Volt ‘Experience’ app is already on the (US) App Store if you want to check it out yourself…search for “OnStar Experience”.

I was also able to attach a camera to the windshield to get some driving video. Because it was a prototype, with a custom paint job, the engineers didn’t want me to attach the camera to any painted surfaces. I didn’t want to be the guy that damages a very expensive prototype either.

Chevy Volt Prototype Electric Vehicle

Here’s the resulting video with a cheeky soundtrack I added by Basement Jaxx that I think GM should licence for the Volt’s promotion:

It was a pretty cool opportunity to check out this pre-production vehicle, chat with a couple of the engineers who designed it and for the chance to drive it. I’ll be curious to see what changes get made when they finally put it into production next year. It’s supposed to hit the Canadian market in mid-2011.

You can view the rest of my photos on Flickr.

Thanks to GM Canada for letting me drive their prototype…I didn’t crash it either!

6 Comments

  1. Morten says:

    Man, I would have loved to drive that thing! Very envious. It’s a great concept but I can’t for the life of me figure out why they insist on jamming a gas engine in there as well. Well actually I know exactly why they did that, and that’s what is so disappointing about the Volt. Two steps forward and one and a half back.

  2. Chris says:

    The display changes at 88 mph? Hmm.. did GM install a flux capacitor or something? Or at least a Mr. Fusion under the hood? Sorry, I just find it funny that 88 mph causes things to happen – whether or not it was a “Back to the Future” plug.

  3. Gerry says:

    That is really cool! I am not a big fan of North American Cars but this one looks pretty neat. Lucky You!

  4. John says:

    Chris: I was joking about the 88 mph shot…it’s just an animation that happens while starting the car.

  5. VancityAllie says:

    Wow that looks AWESOME. Can’t wait to see electric cars become more mainstream.

  6. I got a chance to drive that baby too, thanks to a friend in the cleantech sector. They didn’t let me play with the iPhone app, though. Looks pretty cool.

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