1. Jim I.
I spent $425.00 and 16 hours to get 12 minutes inside a Volt. Was it worth it?

In one word - ABSOLUTELY!!!


All of the pictures I had seen of the production Volt do not do it any justice. The actual car is really quite well done, both inside and out. Walking around the car, there was not a single angle where I did not like the look of the car. Inside, the controls were all well placed and fit and finish were excellent. The front seats were quite roomy. The rear seats are a bit cramped, when the front seat is pushed back, but if it is moved forward, the leg room is fine. The rear seats fold down flat, giving a lot of space to haul things. All of the concerns we have discussed about the center console touch sensitive buttons being hard to manipulate, will be a non-issue IMHO.  Forward and rear vision is quite good, and the backup camera is really a nice touch. There are also radar sensors on both the front and rear bumpers, which will help avoid those nasty scrapes when getting too close to a wall, etc. The two display screens had lots of information, but quite honestly, there was just not enough time to get to play around with all of them.

The test drives, were really amazing. I was able to get two runs around the track driving, and twice I rode in the back seat. We had a chance to test the difference between regular and sport mode, as well as re-gen braking. Handling was really good, since the weight of the battery pack lowers the center of gravity. Steering was tight. Unless you are expecting a race car, you will be very happy with the acceleration. And it is so very quiet! This is just a fun car to drive!

The only thing I would have liked to experience was the transfer to CS mode with the engine, but with the charge remaining in the battery pack, there was no way to try that.

I met and talked for quite a while with Jim Campbell, Bob Boniface, and Dave Darovitz. You can very quickly sense the pride they all have in this vehicle. They were very forthcoming with answers they were allowed to discuss, and they were quite honest to say that there are some things they would not be able to talk about. I think they really wanted to, but just could not. It was also very apparent that everyone from GM was very interested in our opinions of the vehicle. They also seemed very impressed that we came in from all over the country just to give this car a test for a few minutes.

Here were some of my questions:

Will the next E-REV be a smaller or a larger vehicle? Bob smiled and said “It will be different from the Volt, that is all I can say at this point”.

I was told that the gas tank in the cut away demonstration unit is not the tank in the production vehicle, so those that think they have figured it out by the size are probably wrong. And I could not get an answer out of them on the final size of the tank. Nor could I get a firm answer on CS mode MPG. Basically, they feel that it will depend on the driving style of the operator and conditions it will be driven in, and I can agree with that.

I asked about the reasons for the slow ramp up. I was given a reason that it was a battery production issue for the first year, but it was also mentioned that management still has a concern that some hidden problem that may crop up, and if it should happen they do not want it to destroy the entire program. They were quite emphatic that they have had no real problem in any of their testing to date, but they are going to play it safe. I understand the position, although it means I most likely will not be able to get a Volt in the first year in Youngstown. All of us were unanimous in telling the GM reps that we believed they were underestimating the demand for this
vehicle.

All of them felt that pricing was going to be the deciding factor on how many units would be sold long term. And for that we will just have to wait.

It was also interesting to put faces to the other gm-volt members.

Finally, I just wanted to say “Thank You” to both Lyle and GM for this opportunity!

2. J Jackson Callan, Jr (aka Jackson)
Entry was easy, and the seat comfortable. All controls fell within easy reach, and visibility was excellent. I was told to put my foot on the brake and press the Power button; the moment my finger went in, the brake sank about a half inch; somehow this conveyed to me that I was ready to go. I put the Volt into “gear” with the big shifter, and when I lifted my foot off the brake, the Volt crept forward; just like a normal automatic. It followed the wheel easily and precisely.
After a lifetime of driving straight-shift I still run into trouble “second-guessing” what an automatic transmission is going to do with my foot input. There was absolutely no ambiguity with the Volt; response was instant, but never unexpected. I hadn’t driven far before feeling completely at ease, it seemed almost incredibly sure-footed.

It didn’t seem to “feel” the ramp upgrade, it just silently and obediently climbed. There wasn’t a trace of lean or top-heaviness, with 4 passengers.
Accelerating on the longest straightaway, I reminded myself that I would normally hear the loud drone of a four-cylinder winding up. Instead, there was impressive silence; with no pauses for shifting. It seemed like as much power as I would ever need. When the GM engineer pressed a button to engage “Sport Mode,” the Volt suddenly grew a pair. No, an extra pair of cylinders, what did you think I meant? There was an amazing push which felt as though it would continue as long as I held the pedal down.

The windshield wipers haven’t escaped special attention. They hide behind a fairing when not in use, for aerodynamics; but do a remarkable job of clearing the glass. Wider than ordinary wipers, they operate from a ‘hands-folded’ attitude at the base of the windshield; rise to the sides, then fold down again.
After so much anticipation, encountering the real thing is supposed to be an eye-opener. The greatest surprise of my drive was how little of a surprise it really was; the Volt did what it was supposed to do, with great quality. It was both a real electric car, and a real car. Ma and Pa back home would have no problem whatever driving it.
When I later mentioned my impressions to Bob Boniface, he quoted Andrew Farrah’s “Remarkably unremarkable;” which is really true. That is, if you also add “Amazing.”


3. Larry G. (Tagamet)
It’s 3 AM as I slide into the seat of my Jeep Grand Cherokee for the trip to NYC. By 7-ish the sun is rising to reveal a beautiful pre-Spring morning, with the temperature well over a dozen degrees above freezing. Although the skies are a bright Robin’s-egg blue, the clouds today are remarkably low, so the wipers regularly whisk them from the windshield. Having stabled my steed in a NYC sub-terrainean shelter, I journeyed a short distance on foot to the site of the event. The two fine women who helped me register, suggested (in whispered tones) that I might want to “blend in” with the first group to take test drives, rather than wait 3 hours for “my“ group. Somewhat magically, I became a NJ Electric Car Club attendee. Unfortunately, that meant forfeiting my chance to actually meet some of our people. :-(

The early arrival allowed me plenty of time to mingle with the other devotees and the GM team. As a totally subjective observation, I felt myself drawn to, or aligned with, the Volt team members. Although I got a lot of “We can’t talk about that yet” replies from the Volt Team, it was (almost) always with a smile. Chats with the NJ club members often wandered to their other favorite electric vehicles, (which, in itself, might explain the difference). With uncharacteristic foresight, I’d brought one of my Volt T-shirts and a Sharpie marker. With the help of a very kind Britta Gross, I was able to secure a personalized “Volt Team Signature” souvenir of the occasion!

Each of the three short presentations by Team members was followed by questions from the attendees. I’d love to have heard the questions from our group. I know that there is some “overlap” in people who were there from the Car Club and those here at gm-volt.com, but I suspect that the questions may have differed just a bit. In very broad brush strokes, if the question was actually answered (and many were), I knew the answer. And if *I* knew the answer, well, you know….

By this point, I’m getting anxious to get to the car – a little like a pregnant lady whose water has broken and is still at home (I’m told). The group is finally directed to the front of the building and the two waiting Volts.

Following a short “Please don’t drive off the pier” speech by an authoritarian dude, I found myself in the driver’s seat of the silver Volt! FIRST DRIVER! With Trent - our “handler”, riding shotgun, and Mr. Rolex and Mr. Stude “E” Baker in the back seats, off we went. Some of my thoughts about the drive have already been immortalized by our own Brian Thompson (BT) in the article and news video. Being the savvy newsman that he is, he left a great deal of my stream of consciousness babbling on the editing room floor. Initially, I spoke passionately about “the quiet”. I’m sure that he didn’t have a question completed and I was rambling about THE QUIET, IT WAS THE QUIET! I *think* that that’s where I said “Quiet as a church mouse!” The “Softer than a butterfly’s kiss” referred to the exquisitely soft ride experience. How can a ride be that soft and yet that stable? Travelling up and down serpentine ramps and navigating “S-Pattern” cones, and yet *absolutely* level. Zero lean or sway. Yes, the instant torque was remarkable. And yes, the “Boost Mode” was even more remarkable. Oh, but did I mention the quiet?

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/video .
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