Following a recent swirl of debate and controversy as to whether the Chevy Volt is or isn’t a true, green-blooded, electric vehicle, GM has posted an entry on its blog entitled “Clearing Up Confusion About the Chevrolet Volt.”
As EV Insider has reported, subsequent to a recent three-hour test drive by Motor Trend, GM confirmed to the publication that in some situations the Volt indeed uses its internal combustion engine to power its wheels.
That disclosure resulted in a steady debate among print, broadcast, online media, and blogosphere pundits as to whether the Volt is more plugin-hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) than extended-range electric vehicle (ER-EV). It even led to assertions that GM had been less than forthright in its positioning of the Volt as a true EV, with some suggesting that it was yet another sign that GM can’t be trusted when it comes to electric vehicles.
In response to this controversy, GM now has posted a clarification on its EV blog, which EV Insider has reproduced below. Interestingly, the following photo of the Volt, which accompanies GM’s blog post clarifying the Volt’s extend-range capability, appears to be intended to emphasize the resulting benefits — a sort of “Bet you can’t do this in a Leaf!” statement.
GM’s Volt appears to be on vacation, away from the city
The following is GM’s blog post:
Clearing Up Confusion About the Chevrolet Volt
We’ve officially started the media launch program for the Chevrolet Volt, and while it is generating strong critical acclaim because of its unique engineering, we want to clear up any confusion as to how the Voltec electric drive unit works among those who have not participated in the program.
The engineering of the Voltec electric drive unit is very sophisticated and as part of the media launch, we’re diving even deeper into how the system works than we have in the past. 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.
Here are the facts:
- 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.
GM’s blog post is located here, along with links to GM-selected (positive) media coverage of the issue as well as numerous reader talkbacks.
What do you think? Is the Volt an ER-EV? A plug-in hybrid? Does it matter?
Read more about the Volt in EV Insider’s post covering the Volt’s launch and in other the related stories below.