The most recent What Is It? photo showed a section of the 2013 Chevrolet Volt, which uses an electric motor and has a gasoline engine that augments the electric power. For a better photograph and a road test, read this week’s review of the car.
Chosen randomly from the correct entries was Robert Blackburn, of Graniteville, who told us:
“My wife and I decided to buy a car, and it was between the Volt and the Toyota Prius. We bought the Prius.”
Other readers correctly identifying the Volt were:
CANTON, GA.: David Anderson wrote: “The Chevrolet Volt was introduced as a 2011 model and is now in its third year of production. It is also sold worldwide as the Holden Volt and as both the Opel and Vauxhall Ampera. (I wish the U.S. version would adopt more of the Ampera styling cues!)
“Since December 2009, GM has reportedly spent more than $561 million in development costs related to the Volt, including expanding and updating the Detroit Hamtramck facility where all Volts and Amperas are built. This facility will now produce the luxury version of the Volt, the Cadillac ELR.
“When all of these development costs are factored into the number of units sold or that are expected to be sold, along with the lifespan of the car, some estimates put the loss per car to GM at more than $40,000.
“The manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the 2013 base model Volt is just under that number at $39,145. That figure is mitigated somewhat by our dear old Uncle Sam with a one-time $7,500 tax credit when purchased new.
“GM saw to it that the Volt is classified as a plug-in electric and not a hybrid. A hybrid will at times be propelled solely by the gas engine. This is never the case with the Volt. The onboard gas engine is always referred to as a generator and is primarily used to generate the electricity needed to power the electric motors and/or recharge the batteries.
“However, in high-demand situations such as quick acceleration or climbing a steep grade, the generator can directly connect to the output of the transmission to supplement the electric motors; but those electric motors are always powering the drive wheels.
“As of April 2013, the Volt was named the top selling plug-in electric vehicle, with more than 31,000 cars on the road.
“The Volt offers a choice of driving modes – Normal, Sport, Mountain and Hold. The Normal mode is the most efficient, eco-friendly operating mode, while the Sport and Mountain settings offer more driver feedback and a bit more responsiveness and on-demand torque.
“The Hold mode is new for 2013 and gives the driver the option of saving the stored battery charge and operate solely off of the electricity produced by the generator. This of course means the onboard generator is running 100 percent of the time.
“The Hold mode actually plays an important role in the overall engine and fuel management. The more frugal among us could actually have gas sitting in the tank long enough that it goes stale. To alleviate these concerns, the fuel tank is sealed and pressurized to reduce moisture formation in the tank. The system knows when gas is added and therefore how old the gas is.
“The owner will first be alerted that maybe they need to run some gas out so that they can mix some newer, fresh gas in with it. If no action is taken, then after 365 days the system will automatically operate the car in Hold mode to run the old gas out. Because GM feels this is a very real possibility and because the engine compression is high to improve combustion, the Volt requires premium gas.
“When the Volt was first hitting the dealer showrooms, my next-door neighbor (a GM exec), drove one home in the middle of the week. I, of course, was over at his house as soon as I noticed it and he was more than happy to show me the car and let me drive it.
“When asked if this was his new corporate car, he said, ‘No, we have a trade show this weekend and I have to drive the car hard in the Mountain setting to keep the engine running and use up the gas in the tank.’ He respectfully declined my offer to test-drive the car until the weekend, using it in my daily almost-80-mile roundtrip commute.”
CUMMING, GA.: Chris Rhodes
EVANS: Wayne Wilke wrote: “The car is a 2013 Chevrolet Volt. The Volt can drive about 35 miles on its battery power and then it requires four hours for a 240-volt supply to recharge it.
“Or if you want to keep going when its battery runs down, a 1.4-liter gasoline acts as a generator to extend its range. It might be convenient to save all that money on gas, if you only ever want to travel less than 17 miles from home.”
Also: Jerry Paul and Bill Harding
MARTINEZ: Jim Muraski
ORANGE, CALIF.: Tim Reissmueller wrote: “The profile shot from this week’s contest is none other than the Chevrolet Volt. While taking on a lot of criticism from the media and conservatives that are angered by the $7,500 federal credit, those that own them are some of the happiest customers in the business. Thanks for the fun.”
PERRY, FLA.: Larry Anderson
SHAWANO, WIS.: Karen McKenna
WARRENVILLE: James Covar