Test driving the Space car

I was invited to test-drive a prototype car, the Chevy Volt, and had the appointment today at the HR MacMillan Space Centre over in Vancouver. Mike and I packed up our cameras and headed over to check out the battery car. Strangely, I had no preconceived ideas about the car. I had no idea what to expect – I’ve never even driven a hybrid car. It was just cool to be invited to try a car that’s not sold in Canada yet. I love any kind of sneak-peek opportunities.

We met with Tony (employee number 1 on this project) and Tom and they gave us the run-down of the car. They’ve been working on this product since 2006.

More photos below:

Tom told us all about this plug-in system (shown above). There’s a special cord that attaches to the car and then you just plug it into one of those outdoor plugs on the side of your house OR in plug-in stations that will be made available around the city. The City of Vancouver has already approved these stations, so they’ll be popping up around the city in the near future. Anyway, eight hours after being plugged in, your battery is all charged up!

And how do you know that your battery is all charged up without turning your car on? You use your iphone or Blackberry and there’s an application that shows you. It also will send you an alert if someone messes with your charge cable. Total space car.

Then they let us test drive it! YAY!

Those tail lights remind me of TRON.

The car opens up with a fob and you press “START” to start the car. Told you it was a space car. And it’s quiet. It’s so quiet that they created a special “pedestrian horn” – it’s the friendly version of the usual honking horn on a car so you can alert people who may not be able to hear you approaching them. And it feels like a regular car when you drive it. There’s no lag when you hit the accelerator. And it’s been tested on the Autobahn so it can handle high speeds. Ask Mike about that. When he drove the car, he actually peeled out a bit. Not me. I took the leisurely Sunday drive around the closed track.

Other details about the car:

  • it does use gas – but a small amount as it fuels the battery generator in the car.
  • the battery is a long, t-shaped battery that runs up the middle of the car and branches out under the back seats.
  • it’s a 4 door with a trunk.
  • the battery will last 10 years, plus an additional 5 years for other uses (other than in the car. Tom suggested it be used for household use. Due to automotive regulations, they can’t be used in a vehicle after it goes below 70% efficiency) and then after that, it can be recycled.

If you would like the fact sheet so you can see all the other details, like how many kilometers on a single charge and long distance facts, etc, you can down load it right here: volt-fact-sheet.pdf (129 kb PDF file)

This was a fun adventure and being invited to test drive the prototype car was very cool. When they come to Canada in 2011, I’m sure we’ll see these bad boys out and about.

Thank you to Tony, Tom and Nick for the experience.

Full disclosure: They did give us some Olympic pins. Yay! And I’ve got a big pin trading date on Wednesday at lunch with a serious pin trader I met on twitter. I’m sure she’ll be impressed.


  1. ablom says:

    I have hopes for that car. It’s way past the time we should be using these things. I bet it was a lot of fun!

  2. Carol Browne says:

    It really was, Art. I loved it. I think you’d only need to stop 2 times for gas to get up to your place from Vancouver. I think they said it was 500 km on 1 tank of gas + 1 charge. But don’t quote me on that. I might have the math wrong.

    Take care of your knee. I hear you’re injured.

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