Given that it got turned into a political punching bag, the Chevrolet Volt has endured a lot of bad press. Thankfully though, those attacks have appeared to die down. We’d like to say it’s because common sense, but that would be naive. As gas prices have gone up, the Volt has only become that more attractive. Last month, 1680 were sold. So far this year, the number has crossed 7000 units.
Fantastic? No, but the Volt is a high-end product. In California, dealers can’t keep it in stock – and it is the best-selling state for the Volt by far. In area where General Motors has traditionally struggled, this is good news. Elsewhere in Europe, Volt-based Opel Ampera has become a big success for the brand.
The Ampera is conquesting buyers from BMW and Mercedes. For 2013, Chevy has announced some changes to the Volt. Some we’ve already heard, such as the body-color roof and trunk and “EV Hold Mode” from the Ampera. This feature is in addition to Normal, Sport and Mountain Modes. Electric power drains quickly on the freeway, and this enables the pack to be preserved for city driving when efficiency is most impacted. It was originally developed with Europe in mind, based around penalties that can be incurred driving gasoline vehicles at peak traffic times. As such, the Hold feature is a welcomed addition.
Electric driving is the main benefit and goal of the Volt. Fitting in with this is some improvements to the car’s battery technology. The chemistry has been reworked, and the storage capacity boosted from 16 kWh to 16.5 kWh. Along with this, the state-of-charge window is up to 10.8 kWh from 10.3 kWh. The result is an improved electric battery range on the EPA cycle from 35 to 38 miles, and an 98 MPGe rating (up from 94). Any improvements in this area are welcomed. The car’s 37 MPG rating on range-extended power has remained unchanged. Chevrolet has shown an aptitude for continuous improvement of the Volt. That will carry through to next year, when the Volt is supposed to gain a significant mid-cycle enhancement.