A few folks expressed interest in the volt so now that I am a month in, I thought I'd send a recap of the experience so far.
For background, I have a fairly long commute about 52 miles round trip in / around Los Angeles. I have owned Audi, Saab, Volvo and recently a Prius. This is my first GM product. Apparently 7 out of 10 volt owners have not been GM customers prior.
The car has an upscale feel in both interior and drive. It reminds me a bit of my s60 volvo with a solid road feel, decent acceleration, and comfortable solid ride. The turning radius and handling are both tight and the car is very easy to drive. It is not sporty like most Audi's but I wouldn't group this with the Prius as an econo car. I am very pleased and pleasantly surprised by the ride quality.
The interior I also like. If I had some suggestions it would be around control layouts...too many buttons and gizmos with some of unclear benefit, also, there are some interesting choices of plastics from the GM parts bin that cheapen an otherwise excellent product. Nothing fatal however and my overall impression is positive.
It is quiet, and you can not tell when switching from electric charge over to the gas generator except a very slight increase in noise.
Quick aside...the volt is an electric car, it has a gas generator on board to produce power for the electric engine when the battery power is finished extending range to over 300 miles.
The only criticism I have on the drive is that the front air dam is very low so it scrapes easily. Additionally, the rear visibility is compromised a little much like the Prius due to the split hatch window due to the Kammtail and spoiler design for aerodynamics. It is not bad, just not as clear as some cars. The volt is better than the Prius in that regard.
Charging and range
With a 120 volt outlet and using the max amp setting of 12 amps, it is taking about 8 hrs to fully charge the battery. On the default setting of 8 amps it takes 10. I can use my regular outlet. With a 240 charger installation, it is said to take 4 hrs and I have no basis to think otherwise.
I have been getting between 35 and 40 miles per battery charge which is right inline with estimates, that being said the battery indicator on the car shows remaining range on the battery and that can fluctuate. For example, going up a big hill near the start of my commute takes me down to 28 miles to go, but then the 28 miles stays for about 4 miles on the flats after. I think the algo used to estimate will need to be better as tech and range improves.
To date, I have travelled close to 900 miles and only used roughly 6 gallons of gas. Almost half of that was on the day I bought the car since I got it from a dealer I do regular business with but he is about 100 miles away.
I had one issue and that was Bluetooth call quality. I needed a software update for a known issue that was pretty easy to fix. However given the volt is a specialist car, it took a lot of back and forth before I got the right answer from the dealer and the GM infotainment hotline. GM has a Volt specialist advisor hotline and that team knew right away what to do and the applicable fix. Why I wasn't directed there first from the GM infotainment helpline means they are still sorting out some process issues. That being said, the Volt advisory team is very helpful and they have a smartphone app with all the car's core data and your key contacts all embedded. I'll post about that later but it is very cool.
It seems clear that GM wants this to be a halo car and the advisory team is a nice touch. It will be interesting to see how that all plays out.
In CA, you can receive two benefits from certain zero emissions (or ultra low) and alt fuel vehicles. The volt qualifies for a1500 rebate from the state provided you own the car or lease it for 36 months. Additionally you can qualify for carpool lane status. The paperwork has been sent but 1 month I have yet to receive either. Most tell me within 60 days.
It is clear to me that we have a long way to before the tech and infrastructure puts a huge dent in gas vehicles but it is interesting to see what is up. For me, I do enjoy cars but will see if I can make next career and lifestyle change to have a bike commute. That is really my favorite way to get around. Big news to you guys I am sure.
In sum, I'd say a solid thumbs up so far.