Accelerating up the motorway slip road, the Ampera charges hard and deceptively quickly up to 50mph, but by then the single-speed electric motor’s flat torque curve has begun a nose dive and acceleration at high speeds is poor.
The 0-62mph time of 9 seconds and top speed of 100mph are an indication of this – most family hatchbacks with that sort of sprint capability will have a top speed of nearer 130mph
The Telegraph‘s Andrew English lays into the Chevy Volt/Opel Ampera’s high-speed acceleration, in an early test drive on European roads. Apparently an Opel engineer was embarassed enough by the performance to tell English that
We are considering driving the wheels directly from the petrol engine
Opel’s Andreas Voight continues on this unexpected theme, telling English:
There are a number of different ways we could do it, but the whole thing is subject to some intellectual property rights negotiations so I can’t say any more. You will see an announcement this autumn
Except that GM already has a two-mode “parallel” hybrid drivetrain, and the Volt has been presented as an extended-range EV. Allowing the gas engine to power the wheels would be a fundamental repudiation of everything the Volt is supposed to be.
Luckily gm-volt.com was on-hand to help The General get on top of this nasty development. Via the independent website, GM’s spokesfolks say
This report is inaccurate. First off, the Volt cannot be driven without electric power. It always makes use of electric power within the drive unit.
Secondly, we have no plans to make any mechanical or control strategy changes prior to launch.
The team is in the final stages of validation and durability and have not identified any reason to make any changes. We have a very innovative drive unit that includes a number of clutches and a planetary gear-set which is highly efficient and exists in our pre-production vehicles today. For competitive reasons we won’t provide more details on the operation at this point, but will soon.
Notice that GM does not comment on the Volt’s high-speed performance, and has not officially allowed reporters to drive a Volt over 50 MPH yet (although there is a rumor of someone hitting 92 MPH in a Volt). So, how will the Volt perform at freeway speeds? Though some argue that freeway performance for the Volt is irrelevant, the reality is that Chevy designed the Volt around the idea that it could be used as a single-family car. After all, what’s the point of eliminating range anxiety if the Volt isn’t up to long freeway jaunts at speed?
The answer to the problem: weigh less than 3800 lbs. But how?
[Want more answers than questions... check out Consumer Reports' test of a pre-production Volt]