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Preproduction Chevy Volt, one of two being demonstrated during 2010 Winter Olympic Games

Preproduction 2010 Chevy Volt, one of two being demonstrated during 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Photos courtesy of VEVA.

The Verdict's In On the Chevy Volt

EXCLUSIVE: 40 Vancouver electric vehicle enthusiasts test drive pre-production Chevy Volts.

By John Stonier

This is much less expensive than some of the other proposed charging systems where electric car companies are offering multi-thousand dollar home charging systems (plus installation charges). The home cord will be wired to a 240Vā€“ 30A circuit in your home, essentially the same as your normal dryer plug. The SAE J1772 system does allow for higher amperages, so an oven plug (240V ā€“ 50A) service would be preferable ā€“ both are standard wiring in North American homes. In any case, the Volt is only going to draw just above 20A during any charge period, or about 3 hours on a 240V circuit for a fully discharged battery. (10 hours with regular 120V outlets).

Mobile Interface: Will your car have its own face book page too? 5 Stars *****

In the human interface area, GM has really done something fantastic. Leveraging their On-Star two-way communications network, Volt engineers have interfaced scheduled charging and vehicle monitoring into the latest downloadable app for your mobile phone (you can also do this from the console inside the car directly). Volt owners will be able to schedule what time they want their cars to charge which will take advantage of lower overnight rates for electricity, where available, or, simply ensure that your car is fully juiced for regular use. It will also tell you what the state of charge is at any time, and monitor key events such as when your charging is interrupted for any reason. This is just the beginning of the technological features electric car will make reality, and we look forward to more innovation in the future.

Overall: 4 Stars ****

GM has made a huge leap into the 21st Century by pursuing the Volt. If ever this company needed a new car on which to hang its future, the time is now, and the Volt is it. This car and its future offspring should win back the attention of the motoring public -- and we say that genuinely!

The next step must be a full electric model without the secondary gas powered system under the hood, never the less, we are pleased with the results to date, and we look forward to seeing the Volt in showrooms soon.

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