Teh Twitters are abuzz with mocking comments about the price of and capabilities of the new Chevy Volt.
In the words of Samuel L. Jackson, allow me to retort.
- I own a hybrid, a 2004 Honda Civic sedan. I bought it not because it was “green” or eco-friendly (it’s not: buying a used car is MUCH better for the environment), I bought it because it was (and is) good engineering. The electric motor in a hybrid is perfect for accelerating a car from a dead stop, and the gasoline engine is great for keeping it going at highway speeds. Thus, with a hybrid, you have the best of both worlds.
- Speaking of smart engineering, in every non-hybrid car out there, stepping on the brakes just wastes energy: The forward motion of your car is turned into friction-generated heat energy that does absolutely nothing. Hybrids use regenerative braking to juice up the batteries while stopping, which turns energy that would otherwise go to waste into something that helps move your car forward after you’re done braking.
Like I said, smart engineering.
- The Chevy Volt is the ultimate expression of the hybrid. I love the concept, and i’m looking forward to seeing what it does in real life. It’s not a true electric vehicle like the Nissan Leaf and it’s not a conventional hybrid like my Honda. What it is is an electric vehicle that carries around it’s own generator.
This setup combines the advantages of an electric vehicle with the range of a gas-powered car. Yes, the price is high (really high), but it’s the most exciting advance in automotive power plants in years.
Yep, it’s the Chevy Citation. Boy, did it suck. But the X-Cars, along with the Chrysler K-Car (which also sucked) and the Ford Escort (which didn’t suck) represented a sea-change in Detroit. The monster road hogs of the 70’s were gone (all of which sucked. Yes, even the Gran Torino.); smaller and better-engineered cars (better-engineered at least in theory) were in.
It took Detroit a few years to get it right, but at least they tried, and eventually, those efforts resulted in good, reliable compact front wheel-drive cars. That’s what the Volt represents: An attempt to re-engineer what a car is and will be for the next thirty years.
Now, all that being said, will I buy one?
Oh, hell no.
As long as Chevy and Buick and Dodge are owned by the government, I won’t consider buying one of their cars, not ever. And yes, the Volt is overpriced and isn’t worth the money.
But I still think the Volt is a good idea, and I’m utterly convinced it represents the future of automotive engineering.
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July 31st, 2010 by admindude