Filed under: Green
The Chevy Volt extended range electric sedan is critical to the new General Motors that has emerged from bankruptcy last year, and is about to try and sell its initial-public-offering to investors. But as it unveils the car to the media this week, some critics are blasting the automaker for over-stating the car's fuel efficiency and innovation.
GM has long called the Volt an 'extended age electric vehicle." That made it decidedly different from the Toyota Prius and Toyota's and Honda's other full-hybrids. The key difference, GM has said for three years, is that the gas-fed motor in the Volt never directly drives the wheels of the car. The motor in the Volt, GM has said, powers the battery after its charge runs down, eliminating the risk of the driver running out of power before reaching their destination or a recharging station.
But GM executives confirmed this week that the Volt can use the internal combustion motor under its hood to power the wheels. This fact was first reported by MotorTrend.com, which was allowed to test the car for three long drives. The magazine discovered "...when going above 70 mph in 'charge sustaining mode,' and the generator gets coupled to the drive-train, the gas engine participates in the motive force. GM says the engine never drives the wheels all by itself, but will participate in this particular situation in the name of efficiency, which is improved by 10 to 15 percent."
It may not seem like much, but this does fly in the face of what GM officials have been saying for the last three years as it has hyped the Volt as being an industry leading innovation. The fact that the gas-powered motor can directly power the wheels of the Volt makes it much closer to traditional hybrids already on the market.