Green Update–>Chevy Volt, the jgoods Car of the Year

December 28th, 2010

We know many of you have been clamoring to know how the voting would turn out. Now the envelope can be opened: The Volt is my pick for Car of the Year.

It was an easy one. Yeah, I know the car got similar awards from Motor Trend and Automobile and others. We aren’t influenced by such puffery, but the reviews everywhere are more than positive, the specs impress, it’s fun to drive, and the car should sell.

The Volt has delivered pretty much what GM had promised. Where the company really screwed up was in its first attempts to explain how the propulsion system worked and in its subsequent attempts to explain its fuel economy.

However, the Volt is a genuine breakthrough, and there is no car like it. GM created a mainstream car that is a joy to drive, seamless in its gas-electric operation, and one which uses “less fuel than any gas- or diesel-powered car sold in America.”

The best thing about it, of course, is that you’re not limited by battery power alone. You’ll get around 50 miles on the battery, then another 300 on gas assistance. The transitions are seamless, and the combined mileage one driver got is 64 mpge (120 miles, 60 driving on electric, 60 on gas assistance).

The recent computation by the EPA was complicated enough to encourage GM to make a video explaining it all. The company’s next step ought to be putting to rest the controversy over what to call the propulsion system. Actually, it’s a plug-in series hybrid, if that makes any difference to you.

The Volt differs from the Prius, for example, in the sophistication of its powertrain and the fact that it operates, from the driver’s point of view, basically as an electric car—smooth, silent, and torquey. It’s neither the best-looking nor best-handling car; the design is clunky and the interior is plasticy.

But Jeez, guys, they had to save money somewhere, with the battery pack reputedly costing some $10,000. There will continue to be nitpicking about aspects of the Volt, including its $41,000 (before incentives) cost.

The people who buy this car will not be those who are tempted by the Prius or the Chevy Cruze for $20,000 less. They will buy the Volt for its successful blend of truly innovative technology, its driving experience, and the chance to thumb their noses at Big Oil.

Automobile called the Volt “the most sophisticated, most important vehicle on the road today.” Do you agree?

—jgoods

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  1. December 30th, 2010 at 01:07 | #1

    I love bit about most ecconomical car sold in America. A lot of very ecconomical cars are not in your market including the diesel cruz. US fuel is dirt cheap even $4 per gall is very very cheap,

  2. jgoods
    December 29th, 2010 at 15:20 | #2

    @ randy
    Well, of course the Prius beats the Volt on price and will cost less to run over time when you figure in amortization. That takes nothing away from GM’s accomplishment with the car. I think your “high level of antagonism towards the company” is simply bias against a car that does everything the Prius does but much better, tax breaks notwithstanding.

    Your word against mine, but as I said, plenty of people will buy this car, particularly those who believe in the power of new technology and those who want to see GM succeed. You may not, but GM stock is up over 2 percent today, as JPMorgan and Barclays recommend a buy. See http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-28/general-motors-gains-as-jpmorgan-barclays-advise-buying-shares.html

  3. randy
    December 29th, 2010 at 12:22 | #3

    Unless gas hits $10 a gallon or more the average owner will never recoup the extra cost of this car compared to similar vehicles, and there would be virtually no interest in the vehicle if not for the government incentives. Also mix in the “government motors” tag and a high level of antagonism towards the company behind the car, it it certainly wouldn’t be my car of the year. The government incentives don’t last forever and I predict a resounding “thud” as sales of this car plummet when the tax breaks expire. I suspect that this will help Toyota as potential Volt customers check out and drive the Prius with it’s much more reasonable price tag.

  1. December 29th, 2010 at 06:02 | #1
  2. January 4th, 2011 at 14:49 | #2