October 2011 Archives

Let Robb Drive The Volt, Day 1

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General Motors has provided Berger Chevrolet with a Chevrolet Volt, GM's electric car, so people can test drive it.

Berger offered me a chance to drive the car for a week, no strings. I don't have to talk about it; I don't have to write about it; I don't have to mention it on television.

I drove a Chevy Volt for a test drive for a television report earlier this year. My first impression was very positive. The car behaves the way American drivers expect cars to behave; it even creeps if you let off the brake at traffic lights, as if a gas engine was engaged with the transmission. There is a gas engine in the Volt, but it's a generator, not a drive engine; two electric motors power the car through the front wheels. The generator kicks in when the battery has reached the limits of its range.

But what is it like to live with a Chevy Volt?

I think some people might be interested in my experience, the positives and the negatives.

So, here I begin. Day 1.

Volt no key
I met Brian Isch at Berger Chevrolet around 1:30 p.m. He rode with me for an orientation. After showing me a few of the bells and whistles, and there are a bunch, He officially handed me the fob. Not a key. A fob. 

(Right: No key. Just a fob. Can you see it?)

You see, except for opening the door, you don't need a key. (And with power locks, you don't need the key provided; it folds out of the way into the fob. You may never use it.) The Volt has a power button. 

Push for 'on.' Put your foot on the brake. You're ready to roll.

Very quietly.

Positive: It feels like any new car. It takes off like any V6. It has no trouble using the passing lane on US-131.

Negative: I bumped my head three times in a row getting into the thing. I'm not a tall guy. Is my perception of the roof line wrong? Maybe I'm used to getting into my minivan. But I don't bump my head getting into my Honda Civic. The fourth try, I cleared the roof getting in.

There will be more to come, now through next Monday, including a drive to Ford Field in Detroit and back.

It's close to my bedtime now. Time to plug in the car.

Volt with Brian Isch

Electric DeLorean?

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DeLorean electric motor.jpgThere are still DeLorean lovers out there.

And they congregate!

Last weekend was the International DeLorean Owners Event in Houston, Texas, and fans were introduced to a copy of the car that had the original gasoline engine replaced by an electric engine, pictured here.

Jalopnik drove it, and loved it.

FOX 17 small

FOX 17 Home

When A Highway Becomes Just Too Popular

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M-22.jpgHighway signs along M-22 are being stolen.

The highway runs through some of Michigan's most popular tourist areas, including Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which was named by Good Morning America's viewers as the country's most beautiful beach.

The Michigan Department of Transportation reported recently that signs along the route are being stolen, and staff is worried that tourists won't be able to navigate the area.

The area is being promoted by promoting the highway. You may have seen the M-22 decal on a vehicle in front of you.

Sometimes, popularity comes at a cost.

Tigers Playoffs Traffic: How MDOT Disappoints

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10-10-11 Mdot mobile app.jpgUPDATE: The day after I posted this entry, our West Michigan MDOT source tweeted out a link that is of use. Go here.

The Michigan Department of Transportation sent out a press release that should excite anyone who will make the drive from West Michigan to Comerica Park to see the Tigers in the American League Championship Series.

But MDOT will disappoint.

"Tigers vs. Rangers: MDOT puts traffic info online to help fans headed to Comerica Park," proclaims the release. Once again, says the release, MDOT IS "doing its part to help fans arrive at Comerica Park safely and on time."

Fans are directed to go to the MDOT web site for construction information, and mobile phone users are directed to the department's mobile web site. In neither case does MDOT provide traffic information specifically designed to report on traffic directly related to the games.

Instead, you get to go to the same MDOT pages available any given day.

The problem with that is you must then choose the region you want to get information about, and either choose individual highways or wade through the list of all construction projects to find out which projects affect your drive to Comerica Park.

The mobile link is the same mobile site (pictured) you get any time, but for a short series of games I would not expect anyone to go through the trouble of designing and coding an app or mobile web page that would distill road info down to just the stuff fans need.

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