31 May 2012
(Odometer: 27, 423 miles)
PIKES PEAK, Colo.–Since this road trip began in Illinois, July 10, 2011, I've wanted to push the Volt as high and as far as it would go. It is, after all, bleeding-edge electronics technology, and we had a year-long road test in effect.
Pikes Peak would be the place to find out. But as we get closer and confronted the mountainous western geography, my doubts grew. Heading up the Grapevine outside of Los Angeles, the "reduced propulsion" warning light came on. On steep grades, the Volt's electronics govern how fast the car can drive given the stress being put on the generator-charge system by the highway speeds and grade. It seemed to govern us at about 60 mph, tops.
Once you level out, the warning light goes on and you're back to 65 and above. The same situation occurred as we headed east toward Colorado and ascended the western side of the Sierra in California. Same again as we rolled east from Salt Lake City into the Wasatch range.
Pikes Peak would be another matter altogether. People die driving that road, and it's very steep. Plus, the Volt had never been above 8,000 feet (passing the Lincoln's Head Monument in Wyoming).
How would the Volt perform at altitude almost twice as high?
Here's our attempt at the ascent, followed (below) by our descent, where we guessed how much regenerative power the car would develop: