It was a cold Monday morning in the Portland, Oregon suburb of Hillsboro when four mostly silent Chevy Volt cars rolled onto one of the campuses of Intel to greet local media, Intel employees and electric vehicles lovers alike. The vehicles, which were lined up for demo rides near a couple of electric vehicle charging stations, represent for GM, once a struggling American automaker but now slowly recovering, a future which could have it seeing green in more ways than one.
The Chevy Volt cars, of which some confusion is ongoing at the moment as to whether or not they are true electric cars or instead souped up plug-in hybrids, look in many ways like other American sedans at first glance. As you’ll notice from the pictures we took at this last minute planned stopover – part of a national tour of the vehicles prior to a roll out to dealers before year’s end – the Volt doesn’t from a distance stand out in some way which makes it scream that it is a green car.
Get up close, however, and things look a lot different. Pop the hood and notice how it doesn’t look like what you might be used to. Note the panel door on the front left side of the vehicle, which is for the charger connection – this is supplemented by a traditional looking gas panel door on the back right side for what we believe is the place to fuel the range extender engine (which, by the way, only takes premium gas). Look through the window of the car and see how there’s a mostly lack of levers, knobs and manual gauges – these are replaced by tactile buttons and two color display screens, one of which is touch sensitive and very interactive.