It’s been a year since TheDetroitBureau.com reported first driving the innovative Chevrolet Volt, the first fully developed gas-electric plug-in hybrid. In the months since there has been a lot written about the Volt, its rivalry with the pure battery-electric Leaf and the slow market acceptance of battery vehicles. So, we thought, it might be time to go back and take another look to see if that initial, positive review still held.
In a few words, I liked it. A lot. It neatly solves the problem of range anxiety suffered by pure electrics. The Volt switches back-and-forth effortlessly from stored electric juice to its 1.4-liter
Austrian-made gasoline engine. Altogether, it is a very pleasant, quiet, easily handling, smooth performing and riding car.
The biggest problem I could discern was the nameplate. At a sticker price of nearly $44,000 as delivered from GM’s media test fleet and quipped with premium options of navigation system and sunroof—but before the federal tax credits — General Motors should have branded it a Cadillac.
Normally, new car buyers would not consider entering a Chevrolet dealership to cough up that kind of money, whereas they’d expect it at a Cadillac store. Still, whatever the brand name, this kind of car does not attract normal buyers, as witness the Toyota’s experience with the Prius. People don’t buy hybrids and electrics to save money on fuel costs. They do it because they like new, high-tech toys, because they want to help the environment, because they want to stick a thumb in the eye of Middle East (or Texas) oil barons, or just because they’re show-offs.