SXSW Eco, like most conferences of that ilk, are rich with “swag”, cool freebies that companies are dying to give away. This year, Chevy was a major corporate sponsor of the conference so the place was crawling with Chevy employees. On top of it, they were pushing free test drives in Chevy’s electric car, the Volt.
Before I even had time to pick up my badge, I was being asked to sign up for a test drive. Since my sister worked on the Volt, I didn’t need any convincing to go for a test drive. But for those people who needed a little something extra, the Chevy folks were even passing out free solar cell phone chargers for taking the time to test drive.
It works great, by the way.
The test drive was awesome, too. The employee who accompanied me on my test drive grew up in Milford, MI, where the GM Proving Grounds are located. He remembers seeing the Volt driving around town before the official announcement had been made that the company was developing an electric car and wondering what in the world it was.
It turns out this electric marvel is quite comfortable. The inside was spacious and the trunk space was open to the inside of the car. This one came with Bose speakers to boot. The electric battery is fully warrantied for 10 years and will get you 40 to 50 miles around town on a charge. The Volt also has a gas-powered generator, which will get you another 300-400 miles on a tank in case you’ve got a long trip in mind.
One of the coolest things in my mind is that you can plug the Volt into your typical 110 V outlet and get a full charge overnight. Not only that, but the car likes to be plugged in. Other batteries — your laptop or cell phone, for example — will lose capacity over time if you continually leave them plugged in after they’re fully charged. But according to the Chevy rep I talked to, leaving the car plugged in keeps the battery happy because it’s able to maintain the battery’s ideal temperature. And you’ve always got that 10-year warranty to fall back on should anything go awry.
I promise that my only compensation for this post was a cell phone charger and a test drive, but the Volt was nice to drive — comfortable and quiet — so check it out if you’re in the market for a new car.