Junkyard Gem: 2013 Chevrolet Volt

I’ve been finding pure electric vehicles in the big self-service car graveyards I frequent for well over a decade, including an incredibly rare example of Toyota’s competitor to the GM EV1. Plug-in hybrids have been a different story; the first modern mass-production plug-in hybrid available in the United States was the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, and I’ve finally found a discarded example of that first-generation ground-breaker.

The first-generation Volt was available here from the 2011 through 2015 model years. I reviewed one of these cars back then (seen here with its distant and hilariously less efficient cousin many times removed) and burned 2.1 gallons of gasoline while covering 340 miles. Each full charge of the hybrid battery cost $1.68 at that time, by my calculations.

Even so, gasoline prices never did rise enough to compensate for the first-gen Volt’s big MSRP ($39,145 for the 2013 model, or $52,247 in 2024 bucks), but it was a decent enough car to drive and was very green if you had a short commute and got your electricity from non-carbon-spewing sources.

I was hoping to find a non-crashed Volt to document for this series, but 8- to 11-year-old cars are pretty young to show up in these yards, and Volt owners tend to love their rides enough to maintain them correctly. This one got mashed hard in the front, but at least it’s recognizable.

When the airbags fire in a car this new, the insurance company generally declares it a total.

That’s a shame, because the interior and body seemed to be in decent enough shape before the crash.

This car is a series hybrid, meaning the internal-combustion engine is there just to generate electricity to charge the battery and power the electric drive motor. In this case, the ICE is a 1.4-liter Opel four-cylinder and the electric drive motor is a 111kW unit that sends 149 horsepower and an impressive 273 pound-feet to the front wheels.

The main battery is gone (self-service junkyards aren’t about to let customers go jabbing screwdrivers into hot high-voltage components, plus hybrid and EV batteries are worth real money), but the controlling circuitry is still present.

In the future, there will be lifelike robot puppies, augmented reality on tablet computers, deer… and Chevy Volts. Looks like the marketers got that last one wrong.

Jim Gauthier had a Volt for you! What is it about Manitoba, anyway?

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