So what is it like to drive the new Chevy Volt when the battery’s charge is depleted?

New York Times reporter Lindsay Brooke recently had the chance to drive Chevy's upcoming inline hybrid the Volt after the battery was depleted.

Keep in mind that the Volt is capable of running solely on electricity for about 40 miles.

Many automotive publications have speculated that when the Volt's battery gets depleted the car will run like an East German Trabant because the car's gas engine is only used to charge up the battery and not turn the wheels like a Prius.

In other words, the Volt is a dead duck when the battery goes empty. Currently the Volt is scheduled to be sold next year by GM.

So how does the Volt drive when the battery is empty?

According to the New York Times:

"It takes a few
laps of Milford’s twisty, undulating 3.7-mile road course to deplete
the remaining eight miles of battery charge. With the dashboard icon
signaling my final mile of range, I point the Volt toward a hill and
wait for the sound and feel of the generator engine’s four pistons to
chime in.

But I completely miss it; the engine’s initial
engagement is inaudible and seamless. I’m impressed. G.M. had not
previously made test drives of the Volt in its extended-range mode
available to reporters, but I can see that in this development car, at
least, the engineers got it right.

I push the accelerator and the
engine sound does not change; the “gas pedal” controls only the flow of
battery power to the electric drive motor. The pedal has no connection
to the generator, which is programmed to run at constant, preset
speeds. This characteristic will take some getting used to by a public
accustomed to vroom-vroom feedback.

A few hundred yards later,
as we snake through the track’s infield section, the engine r.p.m.
rises sharply. The accompanying mechanical roar reminds me of a missed
shift in a manual-transmission car. For a moment the sound is
disconcerting; without a tachometer, I guess that it peaked around
3,000 r.p.m.

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