YUMA, AZ - Summer for the Chevrolet Volt engineering team means hot weather testing. And taking on the hottest Mother Nature has to offer is what they're doing at the General Motors Desert Proving Grounds in Arizona.
While the Volt is designed to operate in all weather and temperature conditions, one of the tests it is undergoing in the desert is the Hot Soak Evaluation, where temperatures inside the cabin can exceed 175 degrees F.
Engineers "bake" the Volt in the sun for several hours, then open everything in the car, cycle all of the electric accessories and then take the car down the ride handling track to check for squeaks and rattles. Additionally, they check to make sure the door seals continue to close off the cabin to the hot air as they cool the Volt down using its high-efficiency air conditioning system.
"The car performed well," said senior durability test engineer Steve Pratt. "The air conditioner cooled things off from our interior temperature of 138 degrees down to a nice comfortable temperature for driving."
While the Volt will not be equipped to handle towing, the engineering team regularly puts the Volt through some weight training via Grade Load testing. Engineers use a towing dynamometer -- which simulates endless hill and mountain climbing anywhere from a 2 to 10 percent grade -- to put stress and strain on the Volt's engine and chassis to determine how well it will perform while climbing a mountain at temperatures above 100 degrees F.
In addition, the Volt undergoes routine City Cycle testing two to three times each day. In this test, the battery receives added heat from the electrical energy generated by the steering, air conditioning, accessories and components under repetitive, cumulative use. The engineers are making sure there are no heat-related issues. The Volt has yet to disappoint during real-world city driving cycles.
In fact, the Volt has performed very well under the stress and strain of all these tests, but the rigorous testing and validation continues because the Volt is an electric vehicle for all temperatures and seasons.