One of the main concerns that many people have about the Chevy Volt is how well it will perform when running in charge sustaining mode with the engine-generator cranking away. While we haven't yet had an opportunity to try out any of the Volts or Cruze mules operating in this fashion, the engineering team has. John Blanchard, the lead calibration engineer for the engine-generator, has posted on the Voltage blog about a recent trip to Pikes Peak in Colorado with the Volt prototypes.
According to Blanchard, the Volt got to the top of the 14,110 foot peak faster than anticipated and did a good job of replenishing the battery on the downhill run. What is not clear is exactly what GM has been anticipating. The engine generator only puts out a bit over 100 hp while the traction motor has a 160 hp output. We know the Volt will be able to draw down the battery below its 30-35 percent depletion point for transient full power acceleration, using regen and surplus energy from the generator to replenish it back to depleted mode when the load drops off.
A sustained uphill run like this means that either the car will loose a significant amount of performance or draw the battery way down. Until we have a chance to talk to Blanchard or someone else on the team, we won't know for sure which it is.