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How far can you really drive in a Volt?

I haven’t found the answer to these questions on line but I’ll bet someone here knows. So, all the hype says you can drive a Volt about 40 miles on pure electric and 300 miles on gas (the extended range motor). (1) Is it possible to run down the battery on a Volt even in extended range mode (such as by driving too fast or too aggressively)? (2) If you do, do you just pull over and let the gas engine recharge the battery or do you have to get towed to a plug? (3) Is performance in extended range mode deliberately limited to prevent this? (4) Could you drive cross-country entirely on gas if you wanted to?

Skip the Volt and get an EV1. They did 120miles with no gas motor. Ooops! That’s right. Can’t do it. GM crushed & shredded them all…

(Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I don’t know squat about the Volt. Since I don’t take it to be a serious engineering attempt and don’t buy new cars anyway I’ve never looked).

I don’t even think the 1st production Volt has been delivered yet. The 40 mile range can vary depending on driving style, speed, and terrain. There is a display that shows the status of the battery. The gas motor kicks in automatically when the battery requires a charge and you can drive the car as fast as you want for as long as you want, even cross country.

When you need more gas you just go to a gas station like any other car. Fill it up and hit the road. The generator can provide enough electricity to recharge the battery even as the battery is providing juice to turn the electric motor.

Is the car and the control systems “bulletproof”? Only time will tell. The gas motor will need filters, and maintenance just like any gas motor. How well the generator will hold up, now long the batteries will last, and how well the electric computer controls switches sensors and solenoids last is all to be determined.

One of the issues with the Volt could be climate control. In the winter driving range could be much less if you want to have heat in the car. Heat means either an electric heater using battery power, or the gas motor has to run just to provide heat to the cabin. AC in the summer is also going to be a drain on the battery. The 40 mile range is likely an “ideal” figure that might be significantly reduced in real world driving in very hot or very cold weather.

I’ll stick with my conventional cars and let the “early adopters” try out the Volt. I do think it might be a perfect patrol car for our community safety officer.

I have no experience with the Volt. However, it would be idiotic if you couldn’t keep driving with the gas engine powering the car in some way, even if it was with greatly reduced performance. You could pull over, but I’m sure the Volt will let you continue with the generator powering the car. Just don’t expect stunning acceleration until the battery accumulates some charge.

I saw on “Top Gear” (great show from the UK by the way—if you have streaming Netflix, look for it, otherwise it’s on BBC America) where they tested an early pre-production model of the Volt and managed to run it out of juice in single-digit miles doing hot laps on their track. This was a model without a gas engine, purely electric. I expect the battery in the production Volt won’t do much better if you stand on the go pedal all the time.

“they tested an early pre-production model of the Volt and managed to run it out of juice in single-digit miles doing hot laps on their track.”

I saw the program, and it wasn’t a Chevy Volt. It was a Tesla.
Top Gear has not yet tested a Chevy Volt.

Unc, I Live Where It’s Very Cold For Several Months. I Keep Wonderng About Heat And Defrost On These EVs Or Almost EVs Like The Volt.

I looked at a little Think City EV at the world’s largest auto show and it had a radiator / liquid cooling system for the relatively large electric motor. Maybe that’s where they get the heat needed.


It’s interesting then. The Cruze, which is the gas version of the Volt, supposedly gets 50 mpg, and the Volt supposedly gets 48 mpg in gas-only mode, and you can drive it forever on gas without having to stop due to battery issues. That tells me that the only barrier to making every car an extended-range electric vehicle is the cost of the battery and electric drive. In other words, if the Cruze and the Volt cost the same amount (without subsidies and tax credits, of course), then every car could be built that way. People who drive less than the battery range would see a significant reduction in gas consumption and pollution, and people who drove more than the battery limit, or who don’t or can’t recharge, wouldn’t be impacted at all.

Of course, the cost of the battery and electric drive is a significant barrier now, but I wonder about the future.