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Saturday, July 4, 2015

VOLT!: Greenlight 2016 Chevy Volt and Hot Wheels 2011 Super Volt



We are in an electric car revolution!  Pretty soon i'll have the Hot Wheels and Matchbox versions of the Tesla Model S to review, both based on the popular and technological marvel of the actual car.  With electric cars gaining in popularity thanks to fuel prices that may spike again any day now, diecast manufacturers have finally given up and started to make replica's of these uncool cars.  Still, some are pretty stylish (like the Fisker Karma), or sporty (The Tesla Roadster), while some are too contemporary (Think Toyota Prius).  Surprisingly, the Chevy Volt has not gotten much attention over the years: I only recall the concept being made by Bburago in 1:24 and the production Volt by a 1:18 manufacturer (I believe its Kyosho).  This year the Volt finally comes alive in two very different forms.




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The Volt started life as Bob Lutz idea of a high-range electric car with a gas motor to keep the battery juice plentyful.  The end result was the 2007 concept that provided a low-slung two-door look even if it is a four-door car.  In 2008 the production version was shown at GM's centennial in September; the car showed off a more Prius look than the concept, yet most investors were interested in two things: how GM will provide the promise of 150 mpg, and two if GM would survive bankruptcy.  Well, both prevailed at not so great timings: Just as the Volt was likely to enter production GM had to deal with a Chaper 11 government bailout in early 2009 to keep running.  This kept GM engineers to continue to fine tune the Volt's batteries for durability despite the unknown future of GM.  Customers finally got their Volts in December 2010.  To save costs the platform is the same Delta II shared with the 2010 Chevy Cruze and uses a twist beam rear axle.  The Lithium-Ion batteries are located in a T-shape in the middle of the body that supply power to the electric motor and can be recharged with a 240 volt plug-in on the left-front fender.  There are two electric motors: the Primary one moves the car at low speeds; at higher speeds the secondary motor assist to power the vehicle and put less of a strain on the primary motor.  The secondary motor also acts as a generator to charge the batteries with the engine or at decceleration.  A clutch connects the secondary motor to the 1.4L DOHC I-4 that helps power and charge the batteries when they get low.  A planetary gearset sends the power to the rear wheels.  Power output is 84 hp. for the gas engine, 149 hp. for the first motor, and 74 hp. for the second motor.  Total combination can range from 149 to 233 depending on power mode.  The Volt has been a successful car for GM winning awards since its introduction in 2011.





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Hot Wheels, on the other hand, wanted to take a Volt to the extreme and created the Super Volt.  This is essentially an electric car built for the dragstrip.  The large motor pokes out of the hood and supplied with the larger batteries taking over the rear seats and cargo area you'd bet this car has some serious voltage!  I'm still trying to figure out the engine details as far as the shape of the motor and if it has any supercharger or turbocharger added onto the engine.  Despite the radical look Hot Wheels still retained the stock Volt look with the front having the split bar grille, slim headlights, and signal lights on the lower bumper (note the upslope chin here).  The sides have the four-door look with the outlet door and Volt advertisement, flanked by flared fender flares.  The back gains a large rear spoiler, parachute bag, and wheelie bar while still retaining the stock taillights and the exhaust tips that are enhanced out into visibility.  The base shows off the battery pack location and some drivetrain components.  The interior, despite the loss of the rear seat the interior remains stock with the front seats, the center console with the flush with the dash shifter in park, the flat dashboard with the digital gauges and the raised center screen, and the stock 3-spoke steering wheel.  I'm glad Hot Wheels decided to keep the stock Volt look despite the crazy hyper-speed add-ons.





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On the other end of the block Greenlight gets a head start on the next Volt for 2016.  The new Volt is leaner and more efficient with new styling, interior, and an improved engine.  The battery pack is more powerful and yet smaller and lighter, allowing the rear seat to adopt a fifth person even if they have to spread their legs over the rear hump.  The engine is a new, all-aluminum (over the previous iron block) 1.5L I-4 that produces over 100 hp and now on regular gas over the required premium gas of the previous Volt.  The real surprise is the electric motors:  First, the control module is molded into the electric motor housing to eliminate the orange wires (and make the engine bay look like a stock gas unit).  Then the electric motors are both separate and ride on planetary gears to create a four-gear mode between the motors.  The smaller one uses a special fiber windings over the expensive earth materials, while the bigger motor uses less windings on its earth materials to create two powerful motors that also weight less than the old Volt's electric motor's.  EV range is expeced to increase from 40 to almost 60 miles, and combined with a more efficient engine expect the range to increase as well.  Pricing should also drop with Chevy even adding a low-cost 4-door crossover called the Bolt in a few years.  It's too early to tell but I can see the new 2016 Volt treading the same path that took the second-generation 2004 Toyota Prius to immediate success.



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Greenlight partnered with Chevy on the new Volt so that when the real car was revealed at Detroit Greenlight had blue versions to sell at the show as well.  For those who did not get the unique blue one this silver one will do.  I like the new styling of the Volt over the previous-generation, which was slab-sided and has last-minute changes to move far from the concept and more toward the Prius.  Yes, the new styling looks like a Honda but that styling also aligns with the rest of the upcoming new Chevrolet cars for 2016.  The front has headlights with integrated signal lights, while the running lights are LED's on the bumper.  The fake grilles are now smaller and have slots for ventilation to the engine.  The sides now have an upswept beltline for a more sporty look, with Greenlight adding the charging door detail on the left front fender and exterior mirrors.  The roof has a shark-fin antenna and the rear window needs a more secure mounting point as it rattles a lot when the car is moved.  At the rear the taillights take a shaplier Ford Focus 5-door look with detailed lights inside, black strip with bowtie logo, and just like the 2015 Corvette the lower bumper is blacked out to give it a smaller and sportier appearance.  Sizewise the car is actually bigger than the old Volt, but with the smoother styling you'd think it's smaller!



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The base underneath shows more fine details of the battery pack location, exhaust system, and the engine components at the front.  The Y-5-spoke wheels look much nicer than the old car's 5-spoke and adds more sport to the styling.  The interior still has the same convenient hatchback loading area, and now comes with a more roomier and better-styled interior.  Gone is the Apple I-store like look of the dashboard and now comes with the same twin-pod dashboard used across the Chevrolet car line.  The 3-spoke steering wheel sits ahead of the digital gauges that give the same readout as the old Volt on speed and battery and fuel levels, with additional calculators on the outer edges.  The center screen is now a touch screen and is more blended into the dashboard and also features the new 4G WiFi and MyLink found in other GM models.  The shifter is relocated to the open with the revised center console, has drive mode buttons to the outside of the shifter, and has a neat blue cover that lifts up to reveal the start/stop button to start the engine.  The rear seat now seats five, as mentioned before, and Greenlight added details to the seat patterns and door panels.  Great job Greenlight!



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Unlike the Ford Fiesta having the Chevy Volt in the Greenlight Motor World line is like second nature now that the oddball quirks of unfamiliar models are now a staplemate to the line, but I cannot see how the Volt will look good in the upcoming Black Bandit release.  That just makes me appreciate the silver one even more, so if you want a replica of the 2016 Volt get one in blue or silver.  And if you want the older companion to go with it, get the wild Super Volt by Hot Wheels.

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