2011 Chevrolet Volt - Click above for high-res gallery
We don't have to tell you how important the Chevrolet Volt is to General Motors. Even if the model isn't likely to turn a profit for many years, the plug-in electric car's success or failure is likely to be seen as a crucial indicator of GM's post-bankruptcy prospects in the eyes of many. This being the case, it's not surprising that automaker is practically throwing everything it's got at the project. According to Chief Engineer Andrew Farah, the Volt team is currently working on getting the sound and feel of the driving experience just right. Speaking to Automotive News, Farah said:
The engine, not being directly connected to the foot, is one of the things we continue to tune. We don't want it to be discomforting to people. There is an expectation of what happens when you put your accelerator to the floor in the way the car sounds and feels. We've got the feel. We've got the feel of a sports car. The sound part and the way the engine plays into that perception is one of the areas we have to work on.Clearly, creating a plug-in car with mass-market appeal isn't as simple as bolting an electric motor and a bunch of batteries into an existing chassis. People have come to expect certain things to happen as an automobile is driven, and GM needs to find the right compromise between zero-emissions technology and time-honored driving dynamics. Further complicating the issue is the tremendous weight of the car's T-shaped battery pack. Farah explains:
Here's the thing to remember: When you put the battery in, it actually lowers the center of gravity of the car. There are a thousand reasons why heavy is bad, but a few why it is good. And so we are getting those advantages of the good heavy, and the disadvantages we are managing.
[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd]