By on August 14, 2009

USA Today re-joins the cavalcade of media outlets helping GM destroy as much Volt “buzz” as possible via premature recapitulation. Yes, it’s a recycled review of the Volt that fails to address questions surrounding the Hail Mary-shaped plug-in hybrid’s internal combustion engine (ICE). When does it kick in? How does the car behave when it kicks in? What’s the Volt’s operating range? What’s the mpg when the ICE is operative? Of course, you can’t blame USA Today for this sin of omission. GM has point blank refused to let a journalist drive the car in “extended range” mode. But you can blame the media for pretending they’re reviewing a “real” car. Of course, they always mention it at some point in the “review,” but, by then, the un-damage has been done. As for “GM and the government are discussing how to calculate a realistic fuel-economy number,” we all know how that turned out.

Tuning of the gasoline engine. It wasn’t operable in the test cars, so there was no hint of how smooth and quiet it’ll be when it comes on to charge the batteries, if needed.

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25 Comments on “Quote of the Day: Volt Review Re-Run Still Runs Out of Gas...”


  • avatar
    TexN

    Yawn. Wake me up when GM goes bankrupt. (AGAIN!)

  • avatar
    Buick61

    I’m absolutely tired of this Volt hate parade.

    At least they let drivers drive the prototypes in some form or another. That’s exceptionally rare at this stage of development. Systems aren’t always online at this point, so it’s not a big deal if they don’t let the journalists see how the ICE operates. Was Toyota letting USA Today drive the 2010 Prius in early 2008?

  • avatar
    rehposolihp

    Was Toyota letting USA Today drive the 2010 Prius in early 2008?

    Perhaps more importantly:

    Was Toyota extolling how great the 2010 Prius would be in early 2008?

  • avatar
    cmcmail

    Has anyone seen a test (by an outside reviewer) that tells actual range on the existing batteries. My understanding is that the batteries are still experimental and still a long way from consumer ready. It would be nice to see the results with A/C or heating on,full of people and up and down hills. I have been forced into an ownership position (by paying taxes), and would like to know about my investment.

  • avatar
    JMII

    cmcmail – good question. They keep saying “40 miles on battery” but at what speed? What load? Downhill with a steady tailwind?

    Everything (and I do mean EVERY-THING) about the Volt is PR fluff at this point, just glad TTAC is keeping a record so when it finally arrives (in 2012? 13?) we can really laugh at the pathetic real world range/mpg. By then the Prius should be getting around 80mpg.

    This is the problem with too much hype… it just sets you up for a much bigger disappointment down the road. Game consoles, movies and football draft picks are prime examples.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    “you’ll be able to embarrass muscle-car drivers when the light turns green”

    This is either hyperbole, or crazy talk.

    “Posawatz promises it’ll avoid the shudders common on some hybrids”

    This will be an interesting feat for an ICE that may not have run for weeks, and may be starting when it’s -20F outside. I hope they can do it.

    “But to sell enough Volts to make money, the car has to appeal to mainstreamers, who — it is presumed — want a car a lot like the one they’re driving now while using less gas.”

    Except that the car they’re driving now doesn’t thirst for the power cord every night, to the tune of an $800/month car payment.

  • avatar
    ajla-

    “you’ll be able to embarrass muscle-car drivers when the light turns green”

    That line is gonna sell a lot of Camaros.

    I’m assuming that by “Muscle Car” they are referring to a 1984 Camaro with the “Iron Duke” I4.

  • avatar
    tparkit

    Lessee, what might a Volt-hating test driver do?

    – turn the headlights on.
    – run the heater or air conditioner.
    – listen to the radio.
    – drive in conditions which require some speed, and occasional acceleration.
    – bring several passengers along.
    – drive on cold winter days.
    – plug it in at home for a week, and check the electric bill.

    I hope GM keeps such a UAW-hating, Government Motors-despising bastard away from the Volt as long as possible. We’re never going to march in solidarity into Utopia if people keep scrutinizing the steps along the way!

  • avatar
    Boff

    @JMII:

    Baseball draft picks might be an even more apt comparison. They’re usually at least 3 years away from major league readiness, and most never get a taste of The Show.

    The Volt story has been as much about PR for GM from the beginning. The Prius analogy is appropriate (hopefully) on a number of levels, in that the Prius was not immediately economic, but laid the foundation for better and more cost-effective iterations, all the while giving Toyota a green halo.

    The Volt hate parade is indeed tiresome, but GM brought it upon itself by developing the product in public.

  • avatar
    lahru

    Hey everybody! Look! We have a hybrid too. It gets a gazillion miles per gallon.

    We are pretty sure about these MPG numbers and because we are GM we will build whatever we want and find a few thousand suckers to buy.

    We have done this many times in the past 25 years and we are good it.

    General Motors Has Attention Deficit Disorder!

    Now Planning The Next Big Thing!

  • avatar
    Porsche986

    Buick61 is right… GM is giving unprecedented access to a LOT of people to keep the “hype” going. This is nothing new. Some movies are previewed for a year or more before they actually come out. How many times do you see a GREAT preview and find that they only used the good parts of the movie for the preview and the rest sucks?

    I also think that comparisons to the Prius are not relevant. The Prius cannot be plugged in. The Prius still has nickel metal hydride batteries. The Prius engine is directly hooked up to the wheels. If I understand all of the “hype” the sole purpose of the gasoline engine (in the Volt) is as a generator for the motor. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    I don’t like the bailout of GM and Chrysler any more than the next guy, and I think GM has made and will make a lot of mistakes

  • avatar
    Billy Bobb 2

    JMII:

    Are you the JMII of EZGT fame?

    Your game consoles mention got me thinkin’…

  • avatar

    “you’ll be able to embarrass muscle-car drivers when the light turns green”

    This is either hyperbole, or crazy talk.

    Electric motors generate a lot or torque at real low revs (like zero rpm) so they should be good for acceleration. I once saw an EV1 take off from stop lights like it had been catapulted.

    “Posawatz promises it’ll avoid the shudders common on some hybrids”

    This will be an interesting feat for an ICE that may not have run for weeks, and may be starting when it’s -20F outside. I hope they can do it.

    The ICE won’t be connected to any drive train, so can be completely isolated from the chassis. It also doesn’t have to kick in immediately at some rpm or speed like in a Prius. Instead it switches on once juice starts to run low in the cells which will be known miles in advance and can be managed gradually.

  • avatar
    97escort

    Re: I once saw an EV1 take off from stop lights like it had been catapulted.

    Teslas look sexy in drag:

    http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/08/teslas-look-sexy-in-drag/

  • avatar
    ajla-

    Electric motors generate a lot or torque at real low revs (like zero rpm) so they should be good for acceleration.

    There is still no way in hell that the Volt is going to be “embarrassing a muscle car”.

    On July 22, 2009 the GM Fastlane Blog did a livechat with Jon Lauckner, one of the founder’s of the Volt program. Fastlane Webchat.

    Here is what he said about the Volt’s performance:
    “0-60 will be approx 8.5-9 seconds depending on how many people are in the car, luggage, etc. But, thanks to the characteristics of electric motors (max torque at 1 RPM), the launch feel of the Volt is equivalent to a 250 hp V6 engine.”

    So about the launch you get with a Malibu V6 (which honestly isn’t bad), and the 0-60 time of an I4 Camry.

    I don’t think muscle car owners who have a car built either before 1974 or after 1989 have much to fear.

    It was a lame line by USA Today.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    I cannot stifle a laugh every time I see “ICE” as if a gasoline burning engine is some sort of exotic component they borrowed from NASA just for GM’s Project Eyewash, er.. the Volt.

    The concept works–well except for the part that charges the batteries as you roll down the road-you know the part that GM has been building by the millions for the last 80 years or so.. little problem with that part.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    The Volt won’t be a slouch; electric cars do have that going for them. Malibu-like performance is probable, at least for the first 40 miles.

    The video of Teslas at the drag strip was fun.

    And although I’m no Volt fan, I don’t think it’s a bad-looking car.

  • avatar
    mcs

    In the review, Robert Kruse of GM says that owners will be able to tell Volt they want to leave the house for work at, say, 8 a.m. and the car will automatically get the battery pack and the car itself heated or cooled so it’s right and ready.

    WTF??? You mean I can’t just decide on the spur of the moment to jump in that $45K piece of crap and go for a drive?? I have to decide ahead of time?? Oh, the public is really gonna love that one.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    @mcs:

    No, what they mean is that the car can operate the heater or A/C without running a gasoline engine – sort of like remote start, but without the engine running. The battery pack will also have improved range if it’s warmed up instead of freezing.

    It would be a nice feature, but I wonder how many miles it removes from the 40 stored in the battery.

  • avatar
    mcs

    @gslippy: You’re right. After a bit of quick reading, it looks like it operates using the ICE until the battery is warmed up to the min. 32f, so it should be possible to jump in and go.

    It would be a nice feature, but I wonder how many miles it removes from the 40 stored in the battery.

    It seems to be a feature that would work better when the car is plugged in. Hopefully, there won’t be any nasty software bugs that would allow the ICE to start to help warm the car when it’s parked in a garage that’s built into a house. Carbon monoxide poisoning wouldn’t be a good thing.

  • avatar
    Lokkii

    If it weren’t for the fact that GM has been ‘developing their cars in public’ since the Vega, I wouldn’t be so cynical.

    Beginning in 1968, three years before the star-crossed Vega finally landed, GM cranked up a huge publicity campaign for its coming “import killer,” code named XP-887. Every month in Popular Science, I read of the miraculous XP-887, accompanied by spy sketches. This huge PR build-up was unprecedented. Previously, new cars were kept under wraps as long as possible.

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/chevy-volt-vega-redux/

  • avatar
    John Horner

    GM needs to look up the definition of “Doing an Osborne”, because they repeatedly make this mistake.

  • avatar
    ChristyGarwood

    +1 Porsche986 – do you work for GM like I do? JK

    All, GM is currently in the testing cycle of the Volt development in Arizona and Michigan. The Volt will be tested in all sorts of weather, hot and cold, all sorts of load cases – one or more passengers, luggage in the trunk, radio blasting, HVAC on/ off, climbing up long mountains, braking down the same, running totally electric and running until the gas tank empties. Standard testing cycles for most cars and trucks plus some not so standard because of the new tech.

    This is just my opinion, but if I were a gambler I would say that GM has performance criteria that the gas engine was designed to and is currently refining the system during physical cycles. Maybe they are making discoveries, good and bad, that require alterations to fuel tank size, what RPM is most efficient for the ICE to run at, and finally total range on a full charge and full tank of gas.

    BTW panzerfaust, what’s wrong with using ICE? We use WTF, NSFW, IIRC, etc. don’t we?

    RE: the media blitz for sooo long, maybe it is putting pressure on GM to make sure that the Volt lives up to everything that GM is claiming it will do. And just maybe they still want some pleasant surprises to expose to the public when it goes on sale – do you really want to know everything about your spouse before you tie the knot?

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    ChristyGarwood; I think I made my reason for my annoyance with the use of ICE clear.

  • avatar
    Dangerous Dave

    I was testing manager for a now defunct neighborhood electric vehicle (street legal golf cart)manufacturer. We tested on deserted roads that were going to be a housing development that never happened. We ran the NEVs wide open on the closed course until the low charge light came on. The test cycle lasted 45 – 50 minutes. I had a new test driver that didn’t grasp the wide open concept and stopped at all the intersections. His test cycle lasted 25 minutes.
    Stop and go in an electric vehilcle takes a lot more out of the batteries than a steady cruise. My question is how is this 40 miles being obtained? Is it flat road at 35 MPH, or a more realistic traffic pattern with stop and go, varied speeds, and an occasional hill thrown in for good measure.

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