What Drivers Will See Inside the Chevy Volt
Front and center last night at a GM media gathering for journalists headed to the Chicago auto show was a 2011 Chevy Volt, with vehicle line executive Frank Weber on hand to detail exactly what the driver sees inside the car. High-tech green driving is the name of the game, and the car offers plenty of it. It starts with two screens along the dash — an LCD instrument panel above the steering wheel and a 7-inch display above the center controls. Both come standard.
On a full battery charge, the Volt can run on its electric motor for 40 miles. It then uses a small gas-powered engine-generator to power the motor to run the wheels. With Nintendo Wii-like renderings, the LCD instruments depict exactly what stage you’re in. Everything from vehicle speed to the remaining battery charge and fuel levels shows up in curvy, bluish renderings. Once you’re past electric range, the display switches “from electric mode to engine-generator mode,” Weber said. We’re not sure of the exact visual differences between the two, as the Volt on display flipped through a prearranged assortment of screens.
Other information displayed on the LCD screen includes a braking and acceleration meter and a tire pressure readout. Plug the car in for a few hours — it uses a standard household outlet — and when you open the door you’ll see just how much longer the car needs to reach full charge, calculated for whether you plugged into a 120V or 240V outlet, Weber said.
The center touch-screen display, meanwhile, includes stereo, A/C and (optional) navigation displays. There’s a gauge that rates the efficiency of the climate controls, as well as a fairly extensive menu to set start and end times for charging. The whole setup is meant to be fairly intuitive for young, tech-savvy folks like myself, GM's Carolyn Normandin said. (Obviously she’s never seen me program my DVR — I thought I quit recording “Hell’s Kitchen” last season, and now I have all of January’s episodes.)
One final thing, Weber added: There’s a cutoff so you can’t drive anywhere if you forget to unplug the car. Paris Hilton, take note.