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Discussion Starter #1
Today, I rode in a Prius for the first time. Let me tell you that I was not impressed. My biggest complaint was the lack of perceived refinement in the operation of the vehicle. When the Prius came to a stop, you could fell the ICE shudder as it switched itself off. Upon starting off from a stop, a definant clunk could be felt and heard along with seamingly high engine RPM sound before it felt like the car "hooked-up". All-in-all a very grating experience.

To be fair, I am a BMW fan and owner since about 1984. Currently I drive a 1998 E38 7-series. My point is that I like a appreciate cars with a high level of refinement.

So, how does this relate to the Volt, a vehicle that I currently expect to be my next new car purchase. Well, GM better get it right with a level of refinement way better than the Prius given the anticipated price differential. Given the differences in technology (series instead of parallel), I expect this can be achieved.

Bottom line, after I drop $35k plus on a new car, it better feel like a $35k+ car in respect to refinement...otherwise, I would rather drive my gas guzzling BMW's (which I will never be without).

Currently, I recently purchased a MINI convertible (BMW again) which will be replaced by the Volt. The MINI is the "spare" car used for quick solo errands mainly to conserve fuel over the other thirsty cars. But, I have to say, the MINI is a harsh car compaired to what I like, so the wife drives it more than me, which I expect will be true with the Volt as well.

Get it right GM and I look forward to November of 2010. BTW, I plan on leasing the Volt (something I normally am against) just so that I can easily upgrade as the technology improves. Plus, it belays my fear of battery ownership/replacement.
 

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Of course it's pure speculation to say how refined the Volt will be, and a Chevrolet isn't a Cadillac or BMW (though that gap has been narrowing drastically of late, and a new Volt might be able to offer some nice benefits over a 12-year-old 7-series.) The E-flex concept allows them to isolate the engine vastly more than is possible in a mechanical-drive car, since there doesn't have to be a "hard" connection between the vibrating, torqueing engine and the rest of the drivetrain. That combined with the amount of load control available with a genset should allow engineers to start and run the ICE pretty smoothly. Shutdown can be tricky, but with the opportunity to use very compliant engine mounts they should be able to absorb quite a bit of shutdown quiver without transmitting a noticeable amount to the interior.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Granted. My main concern is that it [Volt] needs to have a high level of refinement given the expected price tag. People who spend $35k + on cars expect it now-a-days...I do.

Maybe I could forgive the Prius (NVH) given its role in life with high fuel economy and a $22k price tag, not so if I was spending $35k +

Would a cylinder decompression device of some sort help during shut down?

I am betting GM gets it right.
 

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Good conversation here that bring out some important issues.

-Since the Volt will be an EREV (basically an EV with a generator), there will obviously be no ICE noise or vibration until the all electric range (AER) has been exhausted. Once this happens the ICE will turn on, but not for directly powering the car. How the ICE is controlled is a major part of the engineering left to do according to GM. They have indicated it will run in a "range extending" state of charge band for the battery. Thus, depending how the car is being driven the ICE may be on for a long time and at steady output. They have stated yet for sure, but it is very likely they will have 2 or 3 steady-state power output modes for the ICE. Since the power demands for the ICE are never urgent, it will change gradually between these modes or shut off if the upper limit of the range extended charge band is reached. During low power driving/idling the ICE will not run as long but will most likely still run for more than 10 minutes at a time. This is based on likely charging rates and the narrow range extended charge band (assuming Generator recharge < 10KW, RE charge band approx 2.5KWh).

-Undoubtably refinement will not match 7 series Beamer, but neither will the price.

-Ahhh...the much debated price. It is unfair to the Volt or any plug-in to dismiss the value of the storable energy. In analyzing a 40 mile AER Volt, the driver should estimate how many of their miles will be electric only and adjust the price accordingly. For example, if you expect to drive 60,000 miles lifetime all electric and are comparing to a Prius then you will save 1300 gallons of gas. Their will also be residual value for the large battery that the Prius or other non-plug cars won't have. Everyone will come up with different values, but no reasonable analysis will be $0. For me, the Volt will be worth about $10,000 more than a comparable non-plug car for just the AER alone based on today's expectations for gas prices.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I agree that when in electric only mode, the ICE is a non issue. But, let's look at the role of the ICE in a little more depth. Everyone is talking about the ICE running at it's "sweet spot" for maximum efficiency. Fine and good if I am driving at speed. However, what if I am driving very slowly or when I come to a stop. To me, the ICE has to idle down or be shut off. I cannot imagine coming to a stop and having the ICE running at an elevated RPM while sitting at a stop light....everyone (on the sidewalk, convertible, bike) will look over and wonder why the idiot in the new car is revving his engine. So, I imagine the ICE will indeed be starting and stopping just like the Prius when in traffic. So, I hope GM can make this happen more seamlessly than Toyota. Like I said before, I imagine they can since the engine is not part of the drivetrain.

To me, GM needs to strive for the level of refinement of BMW on all their products if they want to recapture the heart and minds of the buying public. Sure, you get what you pay for, but at $35k I don't want to live with too many compromises. I will however, understand the nature of the Volt and forgive some things....but if NVH are high, then I will have to pass until the refinement comes. Because of NVH, the Prius would absolutely drive me crazy if I had to drive it everyday. I immediately noticed that the Prius Owner I rode with had to compensate for the quirkyness (sp?) of the Prius when the came to a stop or accelerated away froma stop. I am sure it was second nature to him, but it was definately noticable.
 

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Cannot use the Prius in all electric mode at Freeway speed even if it was converted as a plug-in. I'd call all the EV's that can't do freeway speed as neighborhood golf carts. I don't even bother looking them up. I need to drive 60-75 mph most times. When it comes to pure EV mode, the Prius is just a glamourized golf cart, it will suck gas when traveling on the freeway to feed the people who hate us.
 

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I have never driven a Prius but I have owned two Lexus hybrids [2007 RX400H & a GS450H that I now own] I had a very hard time figuring out when the engine was on with the RX and it is pretty much impossible to tell if it is running in the GS. Hybrids have an energy monitor in the dashboard to let the driver know if the car is on battery, ICE or both. Maybe the Toyota is more noticeable because it is less expensive, or maybe there were problems with that particular car. But there is no doubt in my mind that I can put anyone in the passenger seat of my GS450H and they won’t be able to tell what the ICE is doing. I am 8972.on the wait list and am looking forward to getting a Volt when my Lexus lease expires in 34 months but if there isn’t a version with the same luxury features as the Lexus I’ll just keep the Lexus and buy out the Lease when it expires. My Lexus is two months old and it only has 511 miles on it so my fuel costs aren’t that high so I will not sacrifice comfort and luxury to save money of fuel. I would love to stop sending my money to the oil producing countries overseas that are our enemies but I have back problems and need something that is comfortable to sit in.
 

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I agree that when in electric only mode, the ICE is a non issue. But, let's look at the role of the ICE in a little more depth. Everyone is talking about the ICE running at it's "sweet spot" for maximum efficiency. Fine and good if I am driving at speed. However, what if I am driving very slowly or when I come to a stop. To me, the ICE has to idle down or be shut off. I cannot imagine coming to a stop and having the ICE running at an elevated RPM while sitting at a stop light....everyone (on the sidewalk, convertible, bike) will look over and wonder why the idiot in the new car is revving his engine. So, I imagine the ICE will indeed be starting and stopping just like the Prius when in traffic. So, I hope GM can make this happen more seamlessly than Toyota. Like I said before, I imagine they can since the engine is not part of the drivetrain.

To me, GM needs to strive for the level of refinement of BMW on all their products if they want to recapture the heart and minds of the buying public. Sure, you get what you pay for, but at $35k I don't want to live with too many compromises. I will however, understand the nature of the Volt and forgive some things....but if NVH are high, then I will have to pass until the refinement comes. Because of NVH, the Prius would absolutely drive me crazy if I had to drive it everyday. I immediately noticed that the Prius Owner I rode with had to compensate for the quirkyness (sp?) of the Prius when the came to a stop or accelerated away froma stop. I am sure it was second nature to him, but it was definately noticable.
Having the ICE running while at a stop light or slowly moving down the intersate during rush hour traffic is the best time to have it recharging your battery. You're not using much electricity to move the vehicle, so most of the electricity is going to recharge your batteries. Personally, I could care less what people on the sidewalk think.
 

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I agree that when in electric only mode, the ICE is a non issue. But, let's look at the role of the ICE in a little more depth. Everyone is talking about the ICE running at it's "sweet spot" for maximum efficiency. Fine and good if I am driving at speed. However, what if I am driving very slowly or when I come to a stop. To me, the ICE has to idle down or be shut off. I cannot imagine coming to a stop and having the ICE running at an elevated RPM while sitting at a stop light....everyone (on the sidewalk, convertible, bike) will look over and wonder why the idiot in the new car is revving his engine. So, I imagine the ICE will indeed be starting and stopping just like the Prius when in traffic. So, I hope GM can make this happen more seamlessly than Toyota. Like I said before, I imagine they can since the engine is not part of the drivetrain.

To me, GM needs to strive for the level of refinement of BMW on all their products if they want to recapture the heart and minds of the buying public. Sure, you get what you pay for, but at $35k I don't want to live with too many compromises. I will however, understand the nature of the Volt and forgive some things....but if NVH are high, then I will have to pass until the refinement comes. Because of NVH, the Prius would absolutely drive me crazy if I had to drive it everyday. I immediately noticed that the Prius Owner I rode with had to compensate for the quirkyness (sp?) of the Prius when the came to a stop or accelerated away froma stop. I am sure it was second nature to him, but it was definately noticable.
GM stated they were planning on having 2 or 3 operating points for the Genset (I'm guessing 3: 10KW, 25KW, 50KW). Of course this was before switching to the I4 block but only this only increases the benefit of set operating points. It would be a huge waste to run at 50KW while stopped since this is to high of a recharge rate. This is all guesswork at this point but the controls will most likely be designed to "sense" the load requirements and run the ICE accordingly. It will not be an instantaneous control however. The will probably combine recent loads and speeds (perhaps previous minute of operation) with current load and speed. Remember the ICE will be isolated more from the car than in a standard vehicle or a Prius since there is no mechanical connection to the wheels. This will allow for smoother feel. Also, I assume the algorightms will lower the output to the lowest point during stops and low energy operation. They should be able to make this very seamless to the occupants.

I want the car to be nice, comfortable, peppy, etc too but if your looking for 7 series BMW refinement I don't think this Chevy will have it. Maybe they have a Cadillac EREV a couple of years later.
 

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I've heard people talking about the soft engine mounts in the Volt that should reduce noise and vibration significantly, so I expect it to be smooth and quiet for the most part.
 

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Today, I rode in a Prius for the first time. Let me tell you that I was not impressed. My biggest complaint was the lack of perceived refinement in the operation of the vehicle.
I too have driven a Prius and I was similarly unimpressed, be it for some different reasons. My first reaction as I sat down was that the dash board looked awful. The instrument cluster is in the middle of the dash, not in front of the driver. I instictivly glace down to check the instruments, and all I saw was plastic/vinyl. Then I was forced to take my eyes off the road and search over where the radio should be to find the vehicle information.

Well, OK, I thought, maybe thats a consession to international whims. I am after all a 100% American car driver. So I get the car started after a bit and go to back out. Boy, rear visability sure sucks, hope there's no little kids back there I thought to myself. The visability factor and instrument placement turned out to be such a distration to me that I'll never rent another Prius.

Yup, Chevy better do much better than the Prius, but from my experience, they would have to hire a troop of monkeys to design something as bad or worse, so I'm not worried.
 

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I too have driven a Prius and I was similarly unimpressed, be it for some different reasons. My first reaction as I sat down was that the dash board looked awful. The instrument cluster is in the middle of the dash, not in front of the driver. I instictivly glace down to check the instruments, and all I saw was plastic/vinyl. Then I was forced to take my eyes off the road and search over where the radio should be to find the vehicle information.

Well, OK, I thought, maybe thats a consession to international whims. I am after all a 100% American car driver. So I get the car started after a bit and go to back out. Boy, rear visability sure sucks, hope there's no little kids back there I thought to myself. The visability factor and instrument placement turned out to be such a distration to me that I'll never rent another Prius.

Yup, Chevy better do much better than the Prius, but from my experience, they would have to hire a troop of monkeys to design something as bad or worse, so I'm not worried.
Thanks for the info, I was thinking about renting a Prius for my next drive to NY. I racked up a lot of credit points with Hertz when I was in the process of moving from NY to SC and have earned enough for a free rental. I think I will just drive the Lexus to NYT on my next trip.

As I mentioned before I don't have any driving experience with the Prius but I love the RX Lexus I had and the GS I now have. The GS is fast as heck and gets great mileage for a large luxury car. I would love to trade the Lexus for a luxury electric car and stop using gas, I just hope that GM makes a Cadillac version

By the way both the Lexus car had back up cameras. They are great for checking if the is a kid or pet behind you but they aren't good for judging distance
 

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I rented a Prius and was quite impressed. Now, I wasn't expecting luxury appointments, but I found the car to be quite acceptable. I am a big guy (6' 3") and I found it easy to enter and exit the car. Once inside, I found plenty of headroom. The dash controls were indeed in a different location than some other cars I have rented, but no big deal. I found them easy to get used to. The central video panel can also function as a back-up camera if the car is equipped with that option.

I really have no complaints with the Prius - something I can't say for some of the other rental cars I have had. I most enjoyed the amount of space inside.

I guess that old dogs who can't learn new tricks need not apply. ;)
 

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To davidf:

I would suggest that you go down to the nearest Pontiac dealer and test drive a G8. It is very closely patterned after the BMW 5 series in everything except the price and the lame iDrive. It's also one of GM's latest efforts. If it falls short of your refinement expectations, then I would give up on the Volt. It won't be any better. It should be as good or better than a Mini though, so maybe your wife would like one.
 

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while there are times that the ICE shut down gives a bit of a shutter it's usually just the first time it shuts down after warm-up and it tends to be more noticable in cold weather. Most of the time during driving it's nearly impossible to tell if the ICE is on or not.

If by 'refinement' you mean as in a luxury vehicle I'll agree with you. I'd love better sound insulation and a little bit better interior refinement. But nearly 5 years into ownership my Prius is holding up quite well and looks almost as good as the day I got it.

I suggest a second test drive is in order...it will make you a better Volt owner/driver ultimately.

Oh, the key instruments you need to drive the car are in a heads up display directly in the driver's line of sight...in fact you barely need to refocus your eyes to get a clear look at the gear/speed or gas guage. The stuff on the MFD is all 'fluff'/bonus material...and with barely any time at all it becomes second nature to glance at and access the plethora of information available there. FWIW many of the fancy new Lexus/BMW/etc. have center placed MFDs as well.
 
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