Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Did the General Lie to us about its Chevrolet Volt?

It appears as if GM has some explaining to do when it comes to the oh-so-important Chevrolet Volt. In layman's terms, various sources are showing up to call out the General about how, specifically, the Volt is motivated.

GM says the gasoline engine doesn't officially move the wheels, and the critics say at some point it does, which if true, means the Volt is a plug-in hybrid (albeit, an advanced one at that) and GM has been lying to us all along.

For your convenience (and so we don't mix anything up), we've added the press release below. Read it for yourself and see if you can clearly discern whether or not the Volt is showing up as advertised. Needless to say, we're a bit confused regarding an issue which should be black-and-white. If anyone official is willing to clarify below, we'd be much obliged.

By Phil Alex

Press Release

Chevrolet Volt Electric Drive: Engineered for Efficiency

DETROIT – As GM has started the media launch program for the Chevrolet Volt, some confusion has emerged about details of the Volt's drive technology.

The engineering of the Voltec electric drive unit is very sophisticated. As part of the media launch, we're diving deeper into how the system works than we have in the past. We did not share all the details until now because the information was competitive and we awaited patent approvals. Following a small number of inaccurate media reports, we want to clarify a few points.

The Volt has an innovative electric drive system that 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, and longer trips – all with no range anxiety.

To read what journalists who have spent time with the Volt have to say, please click the links below:

Unbolting the Chevy Volt to See How it Ticks (MotorTrend.com)

"On paper, the Voltec drivetrain has more in common with a Prius (and other Toyota, Ford, or Nissan Altima hybrids) than anyone suspected. Each system employs a single planetary gear set, a gasoline-powered piston engine, and two electric motor/generators. But the way Chevy connects them is entirely different, and – if you ask me – superior."

Chevy Volt Surprise (Automobilemag.com)

"To trump both the Prius and the Leaf, Volt combines their merits in one handy advanced-technology sedan. It employs cheaper and cleaner electrical energy drawn from the grid. It provides efficient electric drive without the usual compromises. It uses gasoline intelligently in a supporting role. It is a pure electric, a series hybrid, and a parallel hybrid all rolled into one.


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