The Chevy Volt is electrifying the car market - especially in the wake of the oil disasters in the Gulf of Mexico and now, Lake Michigan. Every one of us needs to stop using oil so the Volt, which can drive 40 miles on a battery powered by electricity rather than an engine fueled by oil, has a lot of appeal. General Motors, which is taking orders on the car for delivery this fall, claims the vehicle is "designed to move 75% of America's daily commuters without a single drop of gas. That means for someone who drives less than 40 miles per day (which is most Americans), Chevy Volt will use zero gasoline and produce zero emissions." After 40 miles, a smaller, 4-cylinder internal combusion engine uses premium-grade gasoline to produce more electricity, extending the car's range an additional 300 miles.
I'd already been on Fox News talking about the Volt; now I jumped at the chance to do a test drive. I regularly get 45 mpg on my 2002 Prius, which I love. And last summer I test drove the Ford Fusion Hybrid for a week and loved it (even though its mileage, while better than a regular sedan, is still lower than the Prius.) But a car I can drive that gets 0 mpg - and still covers 40 miles? That sounded pretty good.
I drove over to nearby University of Maryland, where test drives were being conducted. I waited around for a few minutes until it was my turn to get behind the wheel. I slid into the driver's seat, and turned the car on. Like the Prius, the car is very quiet - if you don't know it's coming, you won't hear it, that's for sure.