Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

First drive: Chevy Volt test

A few laps behind the wheel of an early version of GM's electric car shows the strengths - and possible weaknesses - of the technology.

1 of 5
Early results
It was a rare opportunity when General Motors recently invited a few reporters to test drive a Chevrolet Volt electric car "test mule" at the carmaker's proving grounds in Milford, Mich.

Very few people who don't work for a car company ever get to drive "mules." These are not-ready-for-prime-time mock-ups used to test new engine, transmission and suspension technologies.

To create a "mule," engineers stuff the mechanicals of a new vehicle into the body of an existing vehicle and test drive that for months. It beats waiting for a whole car.

In this case, the body was that of a Chevrolet Cruze, a new small car model that GM will start selling here next year. The interior, except for a big red "kill" switch on the dashboard, was that of a Cruze, too. Underneath, though, was the battery pack and electric motor, packed under the gasoline engine, of a Chevy Volt electric car.

The guts of the car were about 80% those of the final Chevy Volt, according to Vehicle Line Executive Frank Weber.

Some tweaking still needs to be done before the car enters production, but this is a Chevy Volt.

Here's what it's like to drive GM's big gamble.

NEXT: Charging ahead
Last updated April 15 2009: 1:14 PM ET
Find Your Next Car
More Galleries
Ralph Lauren's many looks A look at his brands and iconic creations More
8 biggest job killing companies of 2015 Whole Foods became the latest corporate giant to lay off workers. Here's a look at the companies that have announced the most jobs cuts this year. More
America's best beer towns Here are the best cities to crack open a cold one and celebrate Oktoberfest, according to Trulia. More

Special Offer