The autoblogosphere is agog at the revelation that the Volt’s gas engine occasionally powers its wheels. The GM-created “category” of Extended-Range Electric Vehicles (EREV, or E-REV) as uniquely epitomized by the Volt is suddenly revealed [by Motor Trend via GM] to
[have] more in common with a Prius (and other Toyota, Ford, or Nissan Altima hybrids) than anyone suspected.
So, why did the putative “Father of the Volt” (aka “Maximum” Bob Lutz) tell the car’s primary fan site gm-volt.com that the Volt was born because
My desire was to put an electric car concept out there to show the world that unlike the press reports that painted GM as an unfeeling uncaring squanderer of petroleum resources while wonderful Toyota was reinventing the automobile, I just wanted something on the show stand that would show that hey we’re not just thinking of a Prius hybrid here, we’re trying to get gasoline out of the equation entirely.
OK, so MaxBob made frequent “off-reservation” appearances. Let’s not take his word for it. Once and for all, what is the GM position on the Volt powertrain?
- The Volt has an innovative electric drive system which can deliver power in both pure electric and extended range driving. The Voltec Electric Drive cannot operate without power from the electric motors. If the traction motor is disabled, the range-extending internal combustion engine cannot drive the vehicle by itself.
- There is no direct mechanical connection (fixed gear ratio) between the Volt’s extended-range 1.4L engine and the drive wheels. In extended-range driving, the engine generates power that is fed through the drive unit and is balanced by the generator and traction motor. The resulting power flow provides a 10 to 15 percent improvement in highway fuel economy.
Our overriding objective in developing the Voltec Electric Drive was to deliver the most efficient, yet fun-to-drive experience in both pure electric and extended-range driving. We think our unique technology lives up to its most important promise: delivering our customers with the only EV that can be their primary vehicle, with EV operation for normal daily driving, and extended range driving for weekends, holidays, longer trips, all with no range anxiety.
That’s from an official GM post titled “Clearing Up Myths About the Chevrolet Volt.” The post links to friendly pieces from Motor Trend, Automobile and TheCarConnection, none of which ever question GM’s reason for hiding the fact the Volt’s gas engine does power its wheels in range-extended mode. The excuse:
We did not share all the details on how the system works until now because the information was competitive as we awaited patent approvals. Based on a small number of inaccurate media reports, we want to set the record straight.
Or, as Motor Trend masterfully dissects the newly GM-approved “party line”:
“It’s not a hybrid! It’s an electric car with a range-extending, gas-powered generator onboard.” That was the party line during most of the masterfully orchestrated press rollout of what we’ve been promised will be the most thoroughly new car since, what, the Chrysler Turbine? The Lunar Rover? Well, the cat is now out of the bag, and guess what? It is a hybrid, after all. Yes, Virginia, the Chevy Volt’s gas engine does turn the wheels. Sometimes.
How GM Didn’t ‘Lie’ About The Volt, And Why The Press Is Wrong
The “GM lied” fanatics can build their semantic sand castles and kick down GM’s own all day long, but at the end of the day, this “lie” means the Volt is more capable than any other vehicle in its class. Is a flashy headline really worth dragging what may be the best EV/hybrid/futuremobile/whatever through the mud over a case of dubitable nomenclature? Apparently, to some, it is.