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The Battery Can Only Go So Far - Editorialism

A Sneak Peek At Excerpts From This Issue

Peter Tarach
Mar 11, 2011

Thanks to GM, I had the opportunity to spend a day driving what many are calling the Car of the Future the vehicle that will change General Motors the Chevy Volt. It’s a car that many car enthusiasts don’t necessarily think highly of. I’ll also admit I’m a bit nervous about what the future holds for our hobby when all of the major automotive manufacturers are working on or have an electric car in their fleet.

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Could the days of modifying combustion engines be over soon? I’m not sure I have an answer for that, but after seeing what the Chevy Volt is and isn’t capable of, I’m confident that we’ll still have the ability and choice to modify and drive combustion engine vehicles for decades to come.

The Chevy Volt is a leap forward in electric car technology, and it’s amongst the very few cars on the market that has a viable consumer-based alternative to combustion engine vehicles (even though it still has its own combustion engine). But the reason why it won’t affect the tuning crowd very much is because it’s engineered to be driven conservatively to maximize its potential. Drive the Volt hard, like you would a GT-R or 370Z, and you’ll be penalized with anemic gas mileage. The problem with electric cars as a whole is that their range is extremely limited on just their batteries. After 35 miles of driving purely off the battery, the Volt switched over to its combustion engine for the remainder of my drive. And while I was extremely impressed with the 70+ mpg it achieved over the span of the day, it made me realize that we’re still a long way from a fully electric sports cars that will be practical.

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I realize Tesla is working on an electric sports car, and I’m sure it will deliver great performance numbers, but the likelihood of it lasting a full lapping day at a racetrack is very slim. Who knows, maybe the day will come when batteries will replace jugs of gasoline in the pit area, but the reality is that until auto manufacturers can figure out how to not only increase power longevity in batteries but also charge them quickly, then folks like you and me those who want to drive performance sports cars 200 miles to and from a racetrack will still have our combustion engines to play with.

With all that being said, I still think there’s a future in electric cars. Seeing the immense technology and engineering brilliance that went into the Chevy Volt, I don’t have a doubt in my mind that when there comes a real need for electric sports cars, we’ll have them. Even so, I know I’ll be leaving at least one spot in my garage for a gasoline-engine vehicle. Maybe it’s a sign that I’m getting old, but there’s something special about the sound of burnt exhaust gases exiting a 3-inch muffler that can’t be replaced.

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A Sneak Peek At Excerpts From This Issue

Drive it like a normal human being, and the little 1.5-liter will reward you with 29 mpg in the city and 35 mpg highway.

Add it all up and you’ve got a S2000 that generates enough grip around a racetrack to rival a full-blown race car.

Polyurethane is about 2530 percent stiffer than rubber, and therefore reduces any improper movement in the suspension, which is great for the track, where you want as little deflection from the suspension as possible.

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By Peter Tarach
352 Articles



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