Volt Birth Watch 149: "300 Miles on a Full Charge and a Full Tank"

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Eddy gave us the heads-up on Chevrolet Volt Vehicle Chief Engineer Andrew Farah’s party piece over at FastLane. Straight out of the gate, Farah’s not shooting straight on the all-important question of the Volt’s effective driving range. “Scott” asks Andy to compare the Volt to the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius non-plug-in hybrids. “Clearly I enjoyed the significantly longer EV distance that is available with the Volt. I had to drive quite some distance before the engine came on, even though I didn’t start with a full charge. By comparison, our chassis is much more sporty than either of the other vehicles.” Non-starter and a non-sequitur in the same comment; nicely played. And just when you thought it was safe to sit and spin, another e-interlocutor gets Andy to spill the beans.

“What will be the approximate size of the fuel tank and maximum range?” he asks.

We’re still balancing the size of the tank with other factors, but the range will be more than 300 miles on a full charge and with a full tank of fuel.

That, it has to be said, is not a lot. And probably calculated under ideal (i.e., EPA-mandated) conditions.

Farah also has some info for potential customers blowing hot and cold on the potential effect of temperature extremes on the Volt’s range and performance. First, he hints that the Volt will match the new Prius’ solar-powered roof panel AC thingiemabob. At least that’s my take on his enigmatic promise: “We plan to give drivers some unique options when it comes to controlling there [sic] cabin comfort.” As for chilly weather compatibility:

As most people know, cold batteries cannot deliver as much power as warm batteries. The Volt is equipped with an automatic battery thermal management system that will keep them within an optimal temperature range. However, in extremely cold situations we will have to use the engine to supplement the battery.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Paris-dakar Paris-dakar on Jun 26, 2009
    You know, for alot of people who comment on here I have to believe that if Toyo or Honda were bringing this car to market, the posts would read as “You see this is Toyo taking a leadership position, why can’t GM do this, even if they lose money on everyone, it’s the perception that matters” The fact that GM is doing it first leads to “it’s destined to fail.” Maybe because GM has already introduced three (or is it four?) different Hybrid systems and none have proved to be successful in the market - partially because GM has never bothered to develop or market any properly, preferring to move on to the next 'killer app'. Toyota, on the other hand, wouldn't bring this car to market, because they've already decided on their Hybrid system and are working to refine it and reduce the costs.
  • Davejay Davejay on Jun 27, 2009
    "...more than 300 miles on a full charge and with a full tank of fuel." That, it has to be said, is not a lot. What? My Versa has a practical range of around 340, meaning anything further than that and I'll start sweating if I don't see a gas station soon. Most of the cars I've owned have fallen into that sweet spot. I read the "more than 300 miles" quote and thought "oh, well, that's plenty good enough." However, it really is starting to sound like they're just selling a normal gasoline-engine-powered car with an undersized fuel tank, and 40 miles worth of battery + electric motor so you can run errands and such without turning the engine on. I wonder what the electric range would be without the gas tank, gas and gas engine. Perhaps the range extending equipment should be an optional extra. If they're taking that approach, then perhaps Mazda should do the same, only using a rotary. Sure, the gas mileage on 'em is crap, but they're very small and very light -- so you'd get more electric range for day-to-day use, but would have to gas it up more often over a long drive. Personally I'd prefer that.
  • Lou_BC Collective bargaining provides workers with the ability to counter a rather one-sided relationship. Let them exercise their democratic right to vote. I found it interesting that Conservative leaders were against unionization. The fear there stems from unions preferring left leaning political parties. Wouldn't a "populist" party favour unionization?
  • Jrhurren I enjoyed this
  • Jeff Corey, Thanks again for this series on the Eldorado.
  • AZFelix If I ever buy a GM product, this will be the one.
  • IBx1 Everyone in the working class (if you’re not in the obscenely wealthy capital class and you perform work for money you’re working class) should unionize.