By on October 12, 2010

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.
The MT boys have the right attitude towards automotive journalism: when the industry you cover lies, it won and it’s your turn to play the sad clown. TheCarConnection, on the other hand, has the wrong approach: pieces titled
How GM Didn’t ‘Lie’ About The Volt, And Why The Press Is Wrong
don’t inspire respect or credibility. Nobody likes the angry clown. TCC’s Nelson Ireson has a tough go at explaining how exactly GM didn’t mislead the public , settling instead to make a stand on the assertion that critics were making a “distinction without a difference.” Ireson sums up in his most reasonable “they’re not PR guys, they’re my friends” tone
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.
But the Volt has too much history to be worth Ireson’s Dudley Do-Right impression. From Bob Lutz’s (and Ed Whitacre’s) numerous pricing and production “announcement” gaffes, to Fritz Henderson’s “230 (MPG)” stunt, to an original concept car that flunked its aero test by a mile, the Volt’s storyline couldn’t be more PR-nightmare-laden. At this point there are only three questions left: A) is the Volt a good car, B) does GM have credibility issues, and C) how does the answer to B) change the answer to A)?
The first question (A) needs a road test (TTAC’s is scheduled for next week) and more long-term reporting to answer. Just because GM wasn’t forthcoming about its technical details doesn’t mean the Volt is necessarily a bad car. On the other hand, GM’s latest credibility question simply adds to the stack of issues that have been piling up against the Volt as the years of its hype campaign have worn on. And as interesting as the Volt’s more-complex-than-we-thought innards are shaping out to be, the comedy of errors surrounding the car’s history is proving to be the more compelling story. Conception in a pique of anti-Prius Lutzian rage, government intervention, a $41k pricetag, and now this? With the storyline already overtaking the reality of the Volt, whatever “competitive” benefits GM was able to protect in this latest round of Volt PR flailing, probably weren’t worth the downsides of keeping this spectacle going.
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106 Comments on “Chevy Volt: Truth And Consequences...”


  • avatar

    I continue to fail to find myself to wound up about this.

    Perhaps it’s cynicism, but I would be surprised if any OEM didn’t try to stretch the truth a bit.

    Feel free to start your threatened deathwatch now. But I wonder: now that we’ve decided the Volt is the same as a plug-in Prius or whatnot, will you measure it similarly? Or still hold it to your inflated GM-Ford-Mopar (read: unattainable) standard?

    Feel free to commence moving the goalposts.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Maybe the engineers didn’t get the memo of what the management and PR-types thought the car should be?

    Maybe it was all misinformation to get the competition to try and develop a vehicle which had the attributes GM was touting, while GM developed a more-or-less me-almost-too product?

    If GM didn’t take advance deposits on the vehicle, then they (GM-management) didn’t defraud anybody but their lenders, bondholders, and the legislative and executive branches in D.C.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      But wasn’t the government considered a lender?
      And as such, weren’t we, the people, lied to?
      Not having a timeline in front of me, it seems this car was used as bait/hook during the bailout and bankruptcy period.
      Ed…whatever are we to do? I have the feeling as if we are a mouse giving the finger to the eagle as it pounces.
      Yesterday all over the news there was an uproar over congressional members and their staff being able to trade on insider information.
      Somehow THIS was left out of the insider trading laws when written, or later changed.
      People in the Congress writing laws and lending money to corporations can trade on this information before it becomes public!!!!!?????
      GM is a sweetheart of the government. Its union is the money and the votes.
      What are we supposed to do?
      I guess do what you are doing. Keep fighting the good fight
      .

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      I guess do what you are doing. Keep fighting the good fight … and don’t purchase GM products.

  • avatar
    MikePDX

    Oh for heaven’ sake, it’s well understood the Volt is a series hybrid. Engine->generator->battery->motor->wheels. The point of any hybrid is to smooth out the extremes so the engine runs in its most efficient range. Steady highway driving doesn’t demand much horsepower – it’s in the engine’s efficient range. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_vehicle_drivetrain#Series_hybrid  Chill!

    • 0 avatar
      doug

      That’s just it.  It isn’t actually a series hybrid.  It at times acts like a parallel hybrid which for some reason GM denied.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      It’s still not understood to be a hybrid. Phil Colley of GM is still insisting that it’s an EV.

    • 0 avatar
      MikePDX

      OK, I hadn’t yet read about the planetary gearing when I posted last night. When a series hybrid’s engine is producing as much or more power as the motor is using, it can be seen as an electric transmission, like a diesel locomotive. I thought that fact was being misinterpreted as “the engine is driving the wheels”.

      It has a parallel mechanical path after all. I’m astonished they did that. Still the Volt is a plug-in series hybrid*.
      *At speeds of 0-70 mph. Above 70 it’s a series-parallel hybrid (kluge IMO).

      How strange, truly bizarre. Why bother? 90% of drivers rarely get up to 70. Why must the electric drive be limited to 70? Why did GM hide this – they already had a black reputation over the EV-1. GM must be a weird planet.

      On the other hand, in all fairness, an MT blogger reports “127 mpg” (not counting the plug-in).

      When the plug-in Prius comes out next year, it’ll be an interesting comparison. I recently rode in the one they loaned to Portland State – it’s quite real and performs as advertised. Like I said in the Prius posting, we’re entering a period of powertrain diversity never seen in our lifetimes.
       

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      I really dig “Ready Kilowatt”!

  • avatar
    Alexdi

    It’s an improvement. In bypassing the generator, they’ve saved an extra stage of energy conversion. The counterargument is that by having a transmission, the car doesn’t conform to the press (and perhaps GM) narrative of a paradigm shift. Well, boo hoo. That doesn’t mean it’s a Prius.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    So, why does the volt get such horrible fuel economy in extended range mode compared to competitive vehicles?
    Also, when will we see some real world road tests with a depleted battery pack in mountainous regions? Pulling somewhere around 4,000 lbs with less than 80 horsepower on tap is going to get interesting.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      My guess is the Volt is destined to be a city car.  In other words, its round trip range is best suited for a daily commute.
       
      If interstate road trips are part of your regular driving, then only buy a Volt if it shares space with a better suited vehicle in your spacious two car garage.
       
      In theory you could drive one across the Rockies, but why would you?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian


      So, why does the volt get such horrible fuel economy in extended range mode compared to competitive vehicles?
       
      Probably because it’s a little engine forced to rev it’s heart out pulling a heavry car.  It’s also possible—and likely—that the Volt doesn’t “go parallel” except in very rare circumstances.  The engine is supposed to be charging the battery where possible, and it’s probably doing that all the time: running the engine at WOT to drive the wheels and attempt to charge the battery.
       
      Also, when will we see some real world road tests with a depleted battery pack in mountainous regions? Pulling somewhere around 4,000 lbs with less than 80 horsepower on tap is going to get interesting.

      Not that I don’t think real-world data is useful, but this is hardly a typical use case.  If you bought the Volt and do this regularly, you bought the wrong car, just as buying a Ram 3500 dually was probably a bonehead move if you live in Manhattan.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      ” Not that I don’t think real-world data is useful, but this is hardly a typical use case.”
      It is an every day situation for those living or travelling in the Rocky Mountain or Sierra Mountain areas. Note that the 4,000 lbs I’m talking about is the Volt plus a few people, not a 4000 lb. payload.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      Also, when will we see some real world road tests with a depleted battery pack in mountainous regions?
       
      Take a look at Motor Trend’s report on its test drive. The part about visiting Grandma if she lives at Loveland Pass.

      http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/alternative/1010_2011_chevrolet_volt_test/performance.html

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      It is an every day situation for those living or travelling in the Rocky Mountain or Sierra Mountain areas

      This is true, and if you’re doing that you shouldn’t buy a Volt.  To use my example above: it’s also true that tight parking spaces are a reality faced by people in Manhattan, but it doesn’t mean that heavy-duty pickup trucks should accommodate that market’s restrictions.

      Another interesting, and possibly mitigating, point about mountain driving in a hybrid: you can pick up a fair amount of charge going downhill if you allow the regen-braking system to do it’s thing, especially if you don’t floor it on uphills.    I don’t know if this applies to the Volt.

  • avatar
    DearS

    He made it cause he felt bad people though GM was a petroleum eating monster, and not Toyota? That is sad.

    The Volt actually has just enough range for me to get to work and back. I can’t afford one though, and If I could I’m not buying it anywhere near its current price. Unless gas prices are through the roof.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    What it boils down to is this. The Volt was touted as a game-changing green and electric product that helped justify The GM Bailout. What we ended up with is a hybrid that doesn’t appear to get better mileage than a Prius. It’ll run on electricity for short trips, but you’ll still have to plug it in at the end of the day, and if you don’t there’s no repercussion unless you forgot to put gas in it. With an additional government subsidy it can be leased for a typical lease price. They lease is the most “economical” way to “own” the vehicle, and once you’re done with your lease, it’s back to GM. Whether it lasts long term or not is irrelevant because very few people will “own” this car. Financially speaking, it’s a dumb move.
    From a “Green” perspective, one could go out, but a used mid-size, (already built, no carbon footprint in new construction) and take the savings and buy tons of carbon offsets with the spare cash.
    From a “Status” perspective, GM has successfully created another fashion accessory for eco-weenies. I That will be people who continue to be hampered by math and an understanding of physics.

  • avatar
    lightford

    So now this question is rolling around in my head…  What exactly are the qualifications for the $7500 federal incentive?  I thought there was a “propelled by battery only” stipulation.  If this is not the case then why does a Prius not qualify???

    • 0 avatar
      Benya

      This might be the most important and interesting question to come out of the revelation that the Volt is a plug in hybrid.

    • 0 avatar
      L'avventura

      Federal money is based on battery size.  The amount of rebate is calculated based on the size of the battery, with it topping out at 16 kwh.
       
      In reality the stimulus bill was designed around Chevy Volt, its no coincidence that 16 kwh was chosen, and it being the exact battery capacity of what the Volt said it would have.  True EVs like the Leaf and BMW’s Mini E won’t get any advantage for having a 50% larger battery then a Volt.
       
      So from the beginning there was absolutely no chance that the Volt wouldn’t get tax credits.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    With all the hand-wringing going on about the Volt, why doesn’t anyone at TTAC or in the industry (Nullo?) do an expose’ on what “safety” regulations make cars weigh so much in the first place? I know I asked this before, but the more efficient powertrains become, the more weight is added and that cancels out pretty much any gain in efficiency/mpg. If EV/hybrids are forced to carry extra weight in addition to a battery pack, why? Exactly what is added and where? If these cars weigh as much as my Impala, what’s to gain? Might as well keep a larger sedan and be comfortable getting 25 mpg in town and 33 mpg on the highway. Count me out as a potential customer. MPG $ is what it boils down to.

    • 0 avatar
      Ingvar

      It isn’t safety regulation and equipment that counts for the weight gain, but insulation. I’d reckon there are at least a thousand pounds of insulation in every modern car.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      The weight isn’t driven by safety, but by the batteries, compounded by the addition of an internal combustion engine.
       
      Getting 40 or so miles from batteries alone requires a lot of battery weight.  Throwing in a 150 (?) HP electric motor and a 1.4L gas engine makes for a very heavy car.

    • 0 avatar
      faygo

      @Ingvar
      you’d reckon wrong.  there is a lot of sound deadening in a modern car, but it’s not thousands of lbs.  perhaps as much as 200 when you consider all the anti-NVH components in a large car like a Lexus or BMW, I’d bet more like 150 max in something like a Volt which may have unique sounds to mask with it’s electric components and the non-speed dependent nature of the engine.
      the Volt weighs what it does because it’s got ~400 lbs of batteries and an electric motor and a gas engine and fuel system.  there’s probably a good 500-550 lbs of extra stuff.  the easiest comparison would be with a Cruze, which is same size and general architecture.
      safety equipment adds a lot of weight, as do stronger bumper beams and other non-regulatory content which is added to meet the IIHS (not government required, but industry followed) crash test standards.
      @Zackman
      there is nothing to be “exposéd” about safety regs, they are what they are.  depending on the cost/value/function equation, automakers solve the puzzle in different ways.  some use technology (special alloys, innovative structures, etc), some brute force (go back & look up some of the curb weights of some of the early Korean minivans – they were massively heavier than domestic competitors).

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      “Safety” regulations as you call them, have reduced traffic fatalities per mile traveled by over 75% since they started being phased in during the 1960s.
      http://state.tn.us/safety/stats/CrashData/FatalityRate1950-2009.pdf
       

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The big contributors to a car’s mass are powertrain, wheels, seats, sound deadening & trim and, yes, frame strength.  Swfety regs play a part, but they’re by far not the biggest contributor.
       
      In addition, many safety systems are all software and weigh nothing at all.  Other than airbags (which aren’t that heavy), you can’t really blame modern safety developments for much mass gain at all.

    • 0 avatar

      I believe that a new roll-over standard was mandated in the last couple of years. This would require stronger roof and pillar structure, which would inevitably add weight.

    • 0 avatar
      Highway27

      Also, hasn’t the side intrusion beam regulation added a bit of weight also?
       

  • avatar
    scottcom36

    Follow the links and you’ll find a “Truth” that Ed avoided mentioning: the Volt only engages a direct mechanical connection between the gas engine and the wheels above 70 mph. So in most places you’d have to break to law to engage that function. As such you might deem it an emergency mode to get your about-to-give-birth  wife to the hospital or to outrun a pursuer.
    I’m not bothered by this brouhaha. The fact remains that for a typical 30 mile round trip commute, no gasoline will be consumed. The range extension will keep you from getting stranded and will mean you can use the car for long trips. The fuel economy won’t be outstanding, but it would be more economical than keeping a second car for long trips. The Volt wouldn’t be the best choice for someone who regularly drives 200 miles a day, but it never claimed to be.
    So GM lied, or didn’t tell the whole truth. It doesn’t change the truth that they’ve produced a car that would burn very little gasoline for a large percentage of potential customers, and that will allow electric use without the range anxiety of pure electric designs.

    • 0 avatar

      Frankly, it’s good to know that the car won’t be tremendously inefficient on long highway trips. What I’d like to know is why the direct connection isn’t available at lower speeds. I assume it doesn’t make technical sense. I hope it’s not just for marketing/regulatory purposes.

    • 0 avatar
      protomech

      @Michael
      The explanation I’ve heard is that the electric motor produces less torque when it gets higher into its rev range. The planetary gearbox is set up so that above 70 mph, it switches into a mode where a second motor provides assist to over 100 mph. All on power stored in the battery.
      Above 70 mph, if the gas engine is on it will also provide mechanical assistance in acceleration from 70-100+, beyond its earlier role where it only powers a generator.
      A traditional multi-speed gearbox might have worked just as easily to keep the motor in its range of peak efficiency, but it’s possible that might have been substantially heavier than the planetary gearbox + second motor.
      MT provides the following statistics:
      * 8.8s 0-60 EV-only, 8.7s 0-60 RE mode. Unclear why RE is faster, unless that’s just test noise.
      * 11.9s 0-70 EV-only, 11.3s 0-70 RE. Controller restricts battery power after 10s of maximum acceleration to limit deterioration of the battery pack.
      * RE is 6.8s faster 0-100 mph than EV-only. It’s not clear how much of this is due to controller restricting power and how much is due to the additional mechanical assistance of the gas engine.

      Read more: http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/alternative/1010_2011_chevrolet_volt_test/index.html#ixzz12AkdsDm5

       
       

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Is that with ac or heat on?  How about a hot sunny day vs a winter day?  Sorry, not much real world data is available, and claims from GM saying one thing or another are being met with the level of skepticism earned by GM’s sorted past of wildly over or understated claims.
       
      The problem with the Volt is that it’s made by GM.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Michael,

      Because then it would be just like the Prius.  Maximum Bob wasn’t buildin’ no stinkin’ Prius.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce


      Because then it would be just like the Prius.  Maximum Bob wasn’t buildin’ no stinkin’ Prius.

      Yes, a car that uses the battery 90% of the time is just like a car that uses the battery 2% of the time.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      The GM Faithful were promised something radically different.  As delivered, the powertrains are similar.  They differ only in degree.  Upsize the Prius’ motors and battery, tweak the programming, and they’re identical.

      Next year, Toyota will likely deliver a PHEV Prius.  It will inch closer to the Volt in a purely natural progression.  Maybe next model year.  It’s coming.  Aftermarket efforts have been available for some time.

  • avatar
    segfault

    The pathetic gas mileage reported on the Volt makes me think that the Prius may be more brilliant than we give it credit for.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    I’m left with only one question:  so what?
     
    Does anyone care about this besides journalists and bloggers?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      No.  Consumers will care about the $41k price tag on the Volt, while the Cruze is 1/2 as costly and 1/4 as complicated.

    • 0 avatar

      The lies that GM and its government owner told us were the reason for the bailout and enormous incentives (e.g. Feds take our tax money, then give it to GM (owned in part by unions)). If they told us the truth — that Volt is no different from Prius — we’d ask what exactly is the reason for all the spending? Except the obvious: the transfer of wealth to the politically connected. Journalists and bloggers my butt.

  • avatar
    SkiD666

    My understanding of the Volt powertrain configuration

    Battery Mode:
    0 – 100 MPH – Series Hybrid
    Range Extending Mode:
    0 – 30 MPH – Series Hybrid
    30 – 100 MPH – Series Hybrid and Parallel Hybrid

    • 0 avatar
      faygo

      not quite :
      Range Extending Mode:
      0 – 70 MPH – Series Hybrid
      70 – 100 MPH – Series Hybrid and Parallel Hybrid

      I agree with Jalopnik’s clarification from this morning – the point of all the “controversy” is that GM PR spouted a particular line forever and then becktracked.  the car itself seems to be quite impressive and tackles some technological questions no one had previously answered.

      all the “but it gets worse mpg than my xxxxxx” is complete garbage.  if you use as intended (and marketed) as a short-distance commuter without the spectre of “range anxiety” as a back-up, it will be very useful and very economical.  on the other hand, one could argue that a Nissan Leaf would work the same and you could put the extra $5-8k you save buying (or leasing) a Leaf for a conventional car to use for longer distances.

      the biggest reason this will continue to be a point of contention for those who want to hear themselves talk is that anything GM does is inextricably tied to .gov and all the evil/good which all sides of the argument want to attach to that.  the Volt becomes a totem/symbol vs a piece of technology.  judge the technology for it’s function and suitability for it’s intended customer – that’s what I’m sure all the people actually involved in developing it would prefer.  engineers like to engineer stuff, not do PR or have their work imbued with more than the function that it holds.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    Guys,

    The problem is that the Volt was initially sold to the public as an “electric car”, whether that was done overtly or through omission is irrelevant: the American public was sold on the idea of an electric car. Moreover, the Volt was sold as a major game-changing piece of technology that would resurrect General Motors and make it relevant again. That was the package that America was sold, and whether or not that’s the facts, that’s what people think right now.

    What we’re getting, however, is essentially a hybrid like a Prius, and how this is going to play out that people are now going to question the whole bailout again because in the publics’ eye we did it all so GM could build yet another hybrid?  Seriously?  We couldn’t get that from Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen, Nissan, Ford or anyone else?  We needed to buy a car company to build a hybrid?
    That’s GM’s core problem today, kids – they oversold themselves and boxed themselves when their backs were to the wall.  Now America is expecting an “electric car”, in reality is getting “just another hybrid” (as far as most people will be concerned, engineering technicalities be damned), and it’s going to cost a good $8,000 – $10,000 more than a comparable tried-tested-and true Prius.

    This is bad mojo all the way around for GM.
     

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      For the first 40 miles- the only period where it was billed as an EV…it runs only on electric power, as promised.  What’s the difference, other than learning the transmission is more complicated than originally advertised?  That was the game-changing part, and that hasn’t changed.

      This car was always a plug in hybrid with a huge battery, and it still is.  I just have no idea why GM would misrepresent it when the real configuration is more efficient than what they were representing.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      It was never sold as “electric car,” it was sold as “electric car with ICE backup.”
      The fact that that the backup works by directly driving the wheels instead of going through the battery system was apparently some really big revelation that is making everyone cry into their milk.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Carve, What real world testing validates the 40 mile range you mention?  I’ve seen nothing substantiating this, and like any other car, is subject to driving conditions, weather, electrical usage in car, etc.  40 mile charge… if in a flat straight line?  in traffic on the 90/94?  How about on PCH?
       

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “What we’re getting, however, is essentially a hybrid like a Prius,”

    No your not. Last time I check you can’t drive a Prius or anything else for 30-50 miles on nothing but electricity.

    My understanding after reading the MT article is the ONLY time the ICE is used to move the car is at speeds over 70 MPH. Period! Because the electrical motors are just too ineffcient at that point.

    As a potential Volt customer I’m a little irritated that they didn’t come clean about this earlier  but then like everyone else posting on this board I’ve never engineered an electric car for the masses.

    • 0 avatar

      The vast majority of the car buying public could care less whether you can drive the Volt on just electricity within a VERY narrow envelope, when overall the car gets far worse mileage than its primary competitor yet costs $10,000+ more.

      The Prius does what Toyota says it can. The Volt doesn’t do what Government Motors has wasted three years hyping. The rest of your argument is essentially invalid.

    • 0 avatar

      I can drive the car to and from work, with a stop at the store, every day without using a drop of gas.  Granted, I’m just me, not the vast majority, but that seems pretty freakin’ incredible.  We usually take my wife’s car on longer trips, which means if I had a Volt, I would probably put gas in it a couple times a year.

      30 miles is not VERY narrow for most suburbanites to whom this vehicle might appeal.  It’s plenty.

    • 0 avatar

      Forgive me (and millions of other consumers) who expect a car like this to perform efficiently over a real-world spectrum of distances and conditions, rather than one VERY narrow best-case performance scenario.

      Funny, but a Prius does that for around $24K well-equipped. For that matter, so does the Daewoo Cruze. Why doesn’t the Government Motors Volt do that for $10K-$20K more?

      And while we’re on the subject, where’s the 230 MPG?

      Lies, damn lies.

  • avatar
    Syke

    So who cares?  What I’m worried about is: a. How does the car drive?  b. How reliable will it prove to be?  c.  Will it be worth it to me (note: me, not somebody else on this list) to purchase?  d. Do I want to risk being an early adopter?
     
    Everything else sounds like the usual “treat GM like the National Enquirer treats Lindsey Lohan” attitude that TTAC had for years.  We just gotta nitpick every little possible negative about the Volt that can be dug up.  It’s gotta fail.  Or at least be proven to be absolutely useless.  And if, by chance, horror or horrors, the car actually turns out to be worthwhile . . . . . . . . then minimize it’s worthwhileness at all costs, while maximizing the nit-picks.
     
    This is why I wrote the comment of a few days ago that I’m looking forward to a completely objective drive test of the Volt.  I’m seriously questioning it if this site can do one.  They’ve already got way too much slagging on the car in their history.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      You pretty much hit that one on the head.

      It’s easy to beat up on someone, but the fact is, whether one wants to believe it or not, the entire system is circling the drain and the relevant industries are doing everything they can just to survive as best they can. The American auto industry appears to be in its final stages, barring some sort of miracle, and they’re scrambling big time.

      Not to be a gloom-and-doom naysayer, but no one seems to see or prove anything different.

      I sincerely hope GM is successful in this quest. We need a game-changer.

  • avatar
    John R

    The lesson to be learned here is this: STFU and make the product.
     
    I thought this was basic. It seems like almost every other manufacturer says, “Hey we’re going to make this thing. It’ll do A,B,C while only using X,Y,Z. See you in 3-5 years.” Case in point, the GT-R and the Leaf. People knew almost next to nothing about those cars while they were in development. Nissan didn’t over promise and kept their mouth shut. Why can’t GM?

  • avatar
    LectroByte

    A parallel system seems to make more sense to me for a car than a series one does.  I can see series systems in stuff like locomotives where power demands are consistent, and you may need to couple multiple units together, but I never saw the advantage for a car.
     
    Wonder how the Volt compares to a Prius with the Hymotion plug-in conversion.  I assume Toyota could make and sell something like that pretty quickly if they had to.

    • 0 avatar
      faygo

      Toyota would be selling plug-in Prius if they had a business case for them.  they’re not, so they don’t.  primarily because of the cost of the batteries required to provide a viable range.  they had a Li-ion battery program which was/is pretty far along, but it has been hampered by engineering issues (most likely heat and much larger scale versions of the issues seen in some laptop batteries, keeping in mind the actual cell technology is just lots of little batteries).  given the other issues they have had of late, it would seem unwise to potentially tarnish your crown jewel product with a not-quite-ready technology.  or drive the price up beyond what their customers have come to expect.
       
      you cannot compare aftermarket modified vehicles with new vehicles, so a converted plug-in Prius vs Volt is not an equation that any automaker is going to consider.  some customers may, but most will not even think about it.
       

  • avatar
    Daanii2

    I think this whole thing says more about the “autoblogsphere” than it does about the Chevy Volt. Congratulations. TTAC and all the rest have shown that you ignore reality and focus on the superficial just as much as your counterparts among the political pundits.
     
    Here in California, with all our economic problems, the election for governor looks to be decided on a few burning issues. Like Meg Whitman’s firing her maid after seven years for being an illegal alien. Or Jerry Brown calling Whitman a whore in a conversation caught on tape.
     
    Not to be outdone, you pan the Chevy Volt because the gasoline engine provides part of the power to the wheels at speeds above 70 miles per hour. Even though Bob Lutz and others at GM said it does not. My God, you cry, the Volt is just like the Prius!
     
    Give me a break.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      It wouldn’t be a big deal, except that GM made it a big deal.  GM was building something better than the Prius.  They told us they were building something different from a Prius.

      Now, it turns out it’s more like the Prius than unlike the Prius.  And it’s not as good at being a Prius; it’s very heavy, probably has significantly more aerodynamic drag, only holds 4 and has a much smaller cargo area, costs $18K more and gets a whopping $7.5K sweetener from the Feds.  It appears from reports, to get worse DBFE (Dead Battery Fuel Economy).

      For the combination of outrageous price and unprecedented tax credit, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect we’d get something much, much better than a Prius with extra D cells.

  • avatar
    carve

    It’s a plug-in hybrid with a really big battery, just like it was before.  I’m glad it has a mechanical linkage- it makes for a more efficient power flow (although that makes “Popular Mechanics” mediocre MPG all the more confusing).  Baffling why they lied about it, and I’m still not a fan of the Volt despite becoming aware of this improvement.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    I was wrong. The only time the motor is used to move the car is at speeds of 70 MPH or above while in the “charge sustaining” mode.  And it went 33 miles @ 78 MPH on electricty only with the climate control on, according to PM.  Pretty damn good I’d say considering you’ve got a real car wrapped around you.. 

  • avatar
    John Horner

    The real electric car fan boys and girls will buy a Nissan Leaf. The fuel economy focused will buy a Prius. Who, exactly, does that leave as a core market for the Volt?
    The real trump card will be the release of plug-in hybrids from Toyota, Ford, etc. Swap the Prius’ old tech batteries for a lithium-ion pack, add a wall plug, kiss the Volt goodbye.
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I think the immediate future will go to new non-plug-in hybrids with extended EV modes. As battery technology improves, hybrid EV mode range and speed will increase. The advantage is that you don’t have to worry about plugging the thing in. I don’t think most Americans want to bother installing charging stations or even remembering to plug the things in. Many people are in living situations that prevent them from plugging a car in at night.
       

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    Lies and endless BS is what we have come to expect of GM. This is a corporation that is all show and no go. GM is intoxicated by it’s own PR nonsense and seems to have lost all connection with reality. This must be giving the GM engineering community no end of headaches – how to execute what the Whitacres, Fitzes and Lutzes promise on national television. It is like the Boeing debacle with the new 787. The PR people insisted on rolling out the new aircraft on 07/08/07 (787) even though it was already apparent that the new aircraft was not ready and the parts did not even fit togather correctly. To satisfy the hype manufacturing rolled out an outwardly complete airplane that was merely an empty shell with nothing inside it and literally held togather with fasteners that you or I would find in a hardware store. I hasten to say that the airplane has since been re-assembled correctly however, this PR stunt added to an already impossible schedule to get this ‘game changing’ airplane ready. It is now over 2 years late and the delay is causing a massive financial drain on Boeing. That all being said, comparisons between the 787 and the Volt end at this point because the 787 is truly a game changer and when it does enter service it will be all it’s designers hoped for and more. It does illustrate the disconnect between what the PR department says and what the engineers can execute. The Boeing PR machine undoubtley created huge headaches for engineering and manufacturing but in the end the 787 will live up to the hype. The Volt cannot possibly hope to follow the 787. There has been so much complete nonsense spewed from the GM PR dept. about this car that for it to live up to the hype it would nearly need to able to bring peace to the midde-east as well as do 230 MPG. That it turns out to be not all that different to the Prius is not in itself a bad thing especially if they re-arrange the ICE direct drive to kick in at 40MPH instead of 70 but the credability gap that GM now has with everyone except their dyed-in-the-wool fanboys because they repeated the mantra over and over that the Volt is not a hybrid, is wide enough to fly a 787 through. Add to this the lousy preliminary real world performance numbers and you have another major GM screwup. They couldn’t organise a booze-up in a brewery. This is the company on whose behalf the US government attempted the assassination of a company who can do it right. It’s enough to make you weep.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “That it turns out to be not all that different to the Prius is not in itself a bad thing especially”

    I don’t know how many times this has to be said but you can not drive a Prius without visiting a gas station, peroid! Not matter how you drive it. The Volt on ther otherhand has the capability to be driven all year without ever needing a fill. Are you people that thick? The best and brightest my butt!

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

       
      True enough… I’d still like to see how a Volt compares to a Prius with the aftermarket plug-in conversion.

    • 0 avatar
      ktm

      Seems to me like you’re the thick one.  You can only drive the Volt 25 to 50 miles on electric power alone.  Any more than that in a day and you need gas.  In Los Angeles, hell most of California, the Volt makes absolutely no sense since most people commute 25 to 50 miles one-way to work.  Also, because you are limited to 25 to 50 miles on electric power, if you do not want to use any fuel at all for the year you either need to invest in a bicycle or public transportation if you want to drive further on the weekends.

      Let’s evaluate it in reality instead of greenie make-believe world.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce


      Let’s evaluate it in reality instead of greenie make-believe world.
      In the real world, the average one-way commute is 16 miles. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/Traffic/story?id=485098&page=1

      Mine is above average at a whopping 20 miles.

      But you live in Lake Wobegone, where all the children are above average, and most people commute longer than average.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      That’s true but you can drive a Prius for a LOT less money.

      Long-range batteries aren’t ready for prime time.  That nominal 40 miles of battery costs $10K – maybe more – and takes up so much room the car only seats 4, has a very small cargo area and is extremely heavy for a compact.

      Battery life is also questionable.  GM expects the battery to degrade slowly over time and will increase the SOC window to make up for the loss of battery capacity.  The trouble with that is, by doing so, they’ll also be accelerating that degradation.  The battery is warranted for just 8 years and it’s possible that battery performance will be hitting the wall shortly after that warranty expires.

      The really expensive parts in a car have an “indefinite” life.  A good auto trans or a good engine block can be expected to last for twenty years, to the point where the rest of the car is pretty much worthless.

      In the Volt, the very expensive piece may well have trouble lasting significantly beyond 10 years and, even with advances in battery tech and cost, battery failure is likely to be a vehicle-killer.  Who puts a $5K part into a ten year old car?

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      If you put 40 miles on the battery 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year, then over 8 years you have 80,000 miles.
       
      80,000 miles in a 30mpg car with gas at $3 a gallon brings us to $8,000.
       
      This really isn’t breaking the bank.  The early adopters are going to be people who are willing to pay a premium to use less fossil fuels.
       
      Lithium-ion is supposedly more cost-efficient than flooded lead-acid, which the homebrew market has been using for decades.  That community has found over the years that (battery depreciation + electricity) costs roughly the same as (gasoline) for equivalent miles, but some people get better and some people get worse.
       
      Even a “dead” li-ion battery has value, if for nothing else than as scrap to reclaim the lithium.
       

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      In ten years, I can get scrap value for the most expensive component in the car?  Somehow, I find that less than comforting.

      The competitor for this isn’t a 30mpg car, by the way, it’s the Prius.  50mpg.  $5K in gas savings to be gained, maybe, by purchasing a car that has a questionable lifespan.  Who in his right mind is going to go for this?

  • avatar

    I gotta say, I have a warm and fuzzy feeling this morning as I check out headlines online.

    The media have called out GM for its lies.

    The public is calling out GM for its lies… and loudly questioning on what planet does this thing justify a $41,000 pricetag.

    The response from Government Motors has been tepid, at best. You can tell even they don’t wholeheartedly believe their own spin.

    There’s blood in the water, kids! The car Government Motors needs to be successful in order to survive, may be heading for the most inglorious launch since the Edsel.

    And best of all… GM brought all of this upon itself, by pretending the Volt was something it isn’t until they finally couldn’t get away with the lie anymore.

    Add all this to a likely Republican sweep next month, and I wonder if the days aren’t really numbered for Government Motors. Maybe this is how we manage to finally kill a car company that refused to die when it should have two years ago?

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    I don’t know how many times this has to be said but you can not drive a Prius without visiting a gas station, peroid! Not matter how you drive it. The Volt on ther otherhand has the capability to be driven all year without ever needing a fill. Are you people that thick? The best and brightest my butt!

    No, you are the one who is exhibiting thickness. There is a huge difference between saying it’s not all that much different and saying it’s exactly the same. If you need this pointed out to you, you should not accuse others of being thick.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    He is a very orange man.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Clever engineering. Similar to locking up the torque converter in high gear, seems like the Volt decouples the electric motor and engages direct drive to propel the car at realistic highway speeds. When the speed drops off, reverse the process and go back to motor/generator set. Elegant. A modern overdrive.
     
    As for squabbling over “lies”, I can understand the need to keep this idea quiet and away from the competition.  Er, what competition? Ah yes! Fisker.
     
    In any case, must be a slow news day if the whole industry is buzzing about this. Tempest in a teapot at best.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    I knew GM would screw this up.
    GM’s entire image was riding on the Volt, and they screwed it up.  Common sense would tell you that if it was so easy to make an all-electric vehicle for the masses, another car company would have done it long before GM did.
    The Volt will just be a less reliable, more expensive, and less efficient version of hybrids that have already been on the market for years,

    • 0 avatar
      nonce


      The Volt will just be a less reliable, more expensive, and less efficient version of hybrids that have already been on the market for years,
      But, by driving the wheels directly from the ICE they made it more efficient.

    • 0 avatar

      “But, by driving the wheels directly from the ICE they made it more efficient.”

      And yet still not anywhere near as efficient as its main competitor. But at least it costs a lot more, and (if GM history is any indicator, and I say it’s a good one) will prove to be far less reliable.

  • avatar
    nevets248

    cue up line from “Animal House”……
    “Flounder, you f*cked up! You trusted us!”
     

  • avatar
    carve

    So, If I understand it correctly, here’s how the volt’s drivetrain works.

    There’s a 150 hp electric motor for primary drive.  It’s geared fairly low.
    The 75 hp generator is also a motor that can be clutched into the drive wheels (through the large motor, I believe).  It’s also geared taller and helps to motivate the car at higher speeds, but is not always clutched to the wheels.  It can be spun up to charge the batteries independently of vehicle speed.  Because it can be connected to the wheels, it also assists in regenerative braking.

    The generator is also clutched to the ICE, obviously.  When going fast in range-extended mode, it is therefore connected to the ICE as well as the wheels at the same time.  Since the ICE can now put power to the wheels directly, it’s pointless to ramp up the generator and send the juice to the large motor.  It would just turn the same driveshaft less efficiently. I think you wind up with a system that looks a bit like this, where – = direct connection, and -][- = clutch

    (wheels)-(150 hp)-][-(motor/gen)-][-(ICE)

    Operating as pure electric drive would mean declutching that first clutch and routing electricity around it to power the large, inefficient-at-speed motor. The analogy to a lock-up torque converter is spot-on.

    As I’ve said before…it makes sense to do it this way.  In fact, they should clutch the motor to the wheels at lower speeds.  Maybe then it wouldn’t have such crappy city mpg.  Why they would misrepresent the car…I have no idea.  I’ve always hated dumb, misrepresenting marketing wonks.

  • avatar
    Blobinski

    All of this tehcnical speak and conjecture will not matter to my wife, a college student or 96% of the people that never open the hood in the first 5,000 miles.  What matters is cost, quality, performance and resale.

    Cost ?  The Volt will be expensive for what you get
    Quality?  Come on…..this is the same company that makes trucks that cannot keep their driving lights from failing.  Every Tahoe and Suburban I see has one out.
    Performance?  Oops….
    Resale?  TBD but likely not good for many reasons.

    I love that GM and the press are making excuses for the Volt (e.g. city car, no mountian driving, etc).  How about using our hard earned American bailout dollars to make a car with a reasonable cost, great quality, satisfying performance and strong resale?

    Hyundai has managed to do this in spades and didn’t take a penny of my money to do it….

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    As I’ve said before…it makes sense to do it this way.  In fact, they should clutch the motor to the wheels at lower speeds.  Maybe then it wouldn’t have such crappy city mpg.  Why they would misrepresent the car…I have no idea.  I’ve always hated dumb, misrepresenting marketing wonks.
     
    Right on! If this improves the vehicle’s performance and efficiency then why not?

    • 0 avatar
      nonce


      Right on! If this improves the vehicle’s performance and efficiency then why not?
      Because they promised us a series hybrid!  And we want a series hybrid because of mumble

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      If this improves the vehicle’s performance and efficiency then why not?

      Above 70 miles per hour, it improves efficiency. Below 70 miles per hour, it does not.

  • avatar
    deco_droid

    I am not a big fan of electric vehicles for two reasons:

    1. The government is meddling (not the first time, but still) in the free market by providing tax credits for owners of these types of vehicles.  Let the darn thing sink or swim on its own merits, people.  If the market will bear a $40k electric car (that actually costs the buyer $40k) then fine by me (well, almost…except for point #2).

    Related sidenote: I seem to recall that GM builds a car called the Corvette which, from what I am told, has never seen a profit.  The Corvette exists because GM builds other cars they can make a profit on.  That is the means whereby a Chevy Volt should exist — Let GM subsidize it, not the American taypayer.

    2.  I could be way off, but if these government enabled plug-in electric vehicles do actually end up selling well with $2.50/gallon gasoline commonplace, what is that electricity drain going to mean for the rest of us?  You know, us neanderthals who are still driving gas powered vehicles?  If thousands and thousands of new electric vehicles begin sucking mega voltage every night to “un-range-anxiety-ify” its drivers on their daily commutes, could we be in for rolling brownouts and blackouts in the coming decade?  Electric bills are typically higher in the summer due to a/c use — how much drain would 4 to 10 hours of thousands of EV’s pull from the grid every night?

    Since we do not build new electric plants in this country any longer, supply and demand principles would suggest that either the supply of electricity will decrease (brownouts) , or the price of electricity will increase for all of us — and why should I (driving my pretty darn efficient, $17k Mazda3 every day) have to pay more in electricity just so the people who buy their big buck green image cars can feel good thinking they are saving the world?  Tell me…

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “The Volt will just be a less reliable, more expensive, and less efficient version of hybrids that have already been on the market for years,”

    Here we go again. More thick headedness from the Best and the Brightest or what I refer to as TTAC Dumb and Dumber.  A reporter at AOL just got 57 miles out of a Volt in EV mode. Show me another car currenlty on the market capable of this, besides a Tesla.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Link please.

    • 0 avatar

      And please include a link to a credible news source, rather than just some dude at AOL.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      Motor Trend rates the Volt at 126.7 miles per gallon.
      http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/alternative/1010_2011_chevrolet_volt_test/specs.html

    • 0 avatar

      Motor Trend, to be blunt, is wrong. Their numbers are worthless until they measure MPG through an entire tankful, not a carefully selected best-case scenario… and that’s where the Volt suffers utterly when compared to a Prius, or even an Insight. I can coast down a steep hill in my Mazda6 and record amazing gas mileage, too.

      MT should be ashamed to publish such a blatant distortion of truth, and treated accordingly.

    • 0 avatar
      kjs

      Their numbers are worthless until they measure MPG through an entire tankful, not a carefully selected best-case scenario… and that’s where the Volt suffers utterly when compared to a Prius, or even an Insight. I can coast down a steep hill in my Mazda6 and record amazing gas mileage, too.

      I didn’t realize driving through Los Angeles traffic constituted a “carefully-selected best-case scenario.”

    • 0 avatar

      Did they drive until the tank was empty and then refuel, kjs? Or did they drive between two arbitrary points and record whatever the fuel computer told them?

      That’s not “real-world.”

    • 0 avatar
      kjs

      Rob: Did they drive until the tank was empty and then refuel, kjs? Or did they drive between two arbitrary points and record whatever the fuel computer told them?
      That’s not “real-world.”

      Driving 299 miles (36 on battery only, the remaining 263 utilizing the gas engine) around the L.A. basin — in hot weather, in traffic on city streets, on the freeway, & along mountain roads — is not “a carefully selected best-case scenario.“ (Is it “real-world” either? Do people regularly drive 300 miles a day, even in L.A.? If they’re commuting all the way from San Bernardino, they’ll go maybe 130 miles for the round-trip drive.) They used 2.36 gallons of gas over 299 miles!
      I’m no GM or Volt cheerleader. GM’s PR for the Volt was badly done, no doubt. But the pigheadedness of so many anti-GM/Volt people is really just obscene. The Volt cannot succeed even if it’s only in spite of being overhyped; the Volt simpy must fail because that’s the only result that fits certain preconceived narratives.

      I’m looking forward to TTAC’s testdrive; let’s see what kind of results they get.

    • 0 avatar
      kjs

      Well, I definitely misread the MT blog, because from their full test drive review, they travelled the 299 miles over more than one day. How many days? How many times was the battery recharged?

      Still, it came out to 2.36 gal of gas burned over 299 miles around L.A. Again, let’s see what TTAC finds.

    • 0 avatar

      This sure doesn’t look like “Real World” to me, kjs…
       
      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/motor-trend-reveals-the-secret-to-getting-127-mpg-in-chevy-volt/#comment-1671355

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    My purely speculative guess is that the Volt did start out as a straight EV with an ICE range kicker, but somewhere along the way they realized the extended-range operation would be somewhat worse than a conventional ICE car. They added the direct-drive gear but kept it quiet while they checked for possible patent infringements (which may explain the limited use of the direct gear approach).

    Of course, once you’ve decided to take that approach, the most sensible thing to do is piggyback an existing ICE car with an electric motor on the rear wheels.

  • avatar
    Blobinski

    For those who criticize us for taking issue with the Volt, please understand we have seen GM repeat huge failures for YEARS.  Now they are doing it with my money.  What are the chances, what are the CHANCES the Volt is cost effective, has high quality, good performance, and a strong resale value?  There is no way that I am rolling the dice and taking that bet. 

    Who of you would bet on the Volt?  I say we come up with a vote on TTAC and track it as the Volt is deployed and sold. Place your bets…..

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      I didn’t like GM being bailed out, but it was.  That’s done.
      Don’t let your anger over the past get in the way of fairly evaluating the car today.
      As an unwilling investor, I’m glad GM took the route of better engineering over the route of keeping to PR claims made in the past.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      I’m not criticizing you for taking issue with the Volt. Or for criticizing GM. I join you in those criticisms. I think GM should not have received government favors. And I think GM cannot afford to focus on the Volt, a speculative, no-profit project.
       
      But I do criticize those who criticize GM for making a smart engineering decision. An engineer realized that they could get 10% to 15% better fuel economy above 70 miles per hour at no cost. Just by changing the software. So they do it. Who wouldn’t?
       
      The flood of criticism for that no-brain decision stuns me. Yes, GM has its faults. Yes, the Volt is not the right project for GM. But no, the Volt is not a Prius. Not even close.
       
      And when you punish good engineering decisions by an outcry like this, don’t complain when you get shoddy work next time. This talk of “GM lied” is shameful.

    • 0 avatar
      Blobinski

      I agree with you that the Volt may not be the right car for GM, but some large number of people at GM said “Wow, this is a great idea”.

      Let’s be honest – what vehicle would you (TTAC readers) create if someone gave you a huge pile of money, a bunch of great American engineers and some slick PR folks……would you come up with the Volt?

  • avatar
    Steven02

    The amount of misinformation on here is astounding.
     
    First, there is no direct mechanical link between the engine and wheels.  I love the fact that this is flat out IGNORED by the press reporting this so called “LIE.”  It is all electrically powered.  That part has NEVER changed.  Do a lot of reading on this subject.  There is no direct link.  There is an indirect link.  This indirect link cannot drive the car on its own.  It helps spin the outer ring of a planetary gear to help change a final drive ratio.  Without the power from the generator, the car is going no where.
     
    GM omitting this is not big deal out all.  The ICE doesn’t drive the car.  The car is more complicated than previous thought.  The car is more efficient because of this design change.  GM doesn’t want to let the competition know what it is doing, so it doesn’t deliver all of the details before launch.  Seriously, what is the problem with this incident?

    • 0 avatar
      Greg Locock

      There is a direct physical metal (to oil) to metal path via gear teeth between the crankshaft and the wheel. Just like a Prius. There is no mode of operation of this trans that the Prius does not already have (Euro Prius models have an EV button).

      Engineering wise using the engine mechanically coupled is a sensible decision, PR wise, well I guess you can decide for yourself.

      If you run through the variosu bits of PR pre launch, they started with a non aerodynamic and attractive showcar that has morphed into a sort of Prius clone, shapewise.

      But they also said the Cd would be better than 0.26, whereas it is 0.29

      And they claimed a typical EV range of 40, nobody has bettered 35

      And they were going to have a whizzy little 3 cylinder turbo, and get 50 mpg in CS mode. Not a plain jane 4 cylinder and 36 mpg.

      The weight of the thing is 1.7 tons, quite a lot for a 4 seater with a tiny trunk.

      The cost increased substantially as well

      That all sounds a bit negative but I’m still glad the thing got into production. The system architecture is an interesting alternative to Prius, and for some people it will make sense. If it turns out to be a real world success then other manufacturers will introduce competitors, which is a good thing. If it is not a success then it will be an interesting (albeit expensive) case study.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Greg,
      No, there is no metal (to oil) to metal path between the crankshaft and the wheel.  The engine provides torque to an electric motor that spins the ring in a planetary gear to reduce the final drive ratio of the car.  A Prius can drive with no electric power at all.  A Volt cannot drive without electric power either coming from the generator or the battery.  It is significantly different than the Prius.
       
      BTW, the shape of the Prius isn’t a Prius original design.  It is a Kammback.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kammback
      The original design of the Volt looked cool, but it would have never made it into production.  While most people will say it is a copy of the Prius shape wise, they would be wrong.  Funny enough, the original Prius didn’t use the Kammback design.

      Edmunds has also beaten the 40 mile EV mark with 42 and 47 miles on a charge.
      http://www.autoobserver.com/2010/10/latest-controversy-aside-chevy-volt-a-shockingly-satisfying-drive.html

    • 0 avatar
      Greg Locock

      Mode 3 in their patent couples the engine mechanically  to the ring gear. The ring gear is mechanically coupled to the road. This is the high speed mode of the car, not a bad solution, but you are wrong.

      I didn’t say the Prius was a unique shape

      “The original design of the Volt looked cool, but it would have never made it into production.  ”  Exactly.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      Greg Locock, can you give us the patent number?

    • 0 avatar
      Greg Locock

      sure 20090082171

      or

       http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20090082171.pdf might still work


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