Plugged-in: The day the power ran out

Plugged-in: The day the power ran out


One of the key messages pushed with this type of vehicle is that it alleviates ‘range anxiety’, the concern that you will run out of battery power while out and about – unable to plug-in.

Visions to mind of pushing your poo flat car down a dark street in the middle of the night.

And the system does the trick. When you need it, the 1.4-litre, 63Kw four-cylinder kicks in – although very intermitantly. It does not operate constantly – functioning more like a hybrid. The car will roll off under its battery, before the engine kicks in, rises to a steady level, and boosts the power supply for a few moments, then cuts out again when the load is off.

The only time the motor runs for significant periods of time is when you are cruising at speed – such as on the motorway, but even in that case, head down a slight incline and more often than not, the engine will cut off.

Except in rare occasions, even when the battery is flat, you are still enjoying the Volt’s incredibly linear power delivery and torque.

Most of my petrol-driving was done over one weekend – three trips to rural South Auckland – and the situation was made worse by my own forgetting to switch on the Volt charger the night before.

The Volt still kept in the 5-litre per 100km range on petrol – an impressive effort with a load of batteries on board. The 36-litre tank should be good for a 500km range on its own.

So yes, the ‘range-extender’ successfully quashes the anxiety – in fact for me, it was more a case of feeling like I had let the Volt down!

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