chevy voltGeneral Motors is firing back at the automotive press after critics' assertions that the much-anticipated Chevrolet Volt isn't a true electric car -- rather merely another hybrid, and not particularly fuel-thrifty.

Reports in Motor Trend, Popular Mechanics and on Edmunds.com assert that the Volt relies on its gasoline engine to power an electric generator that helps turn the wheels under heavy acceleration, not unlike the way in which hybrid vehicles, such as Toyota Motor's (TM) Prius, are powered.

In a posting Monday, Edmunds.com was scathing in its attack on GM, saying the Detroit automaker has "lied" because the Volt isn't a true extended-range vehicle that relies solely on its electric engine for locomotion. From the review:
  • Despite promises that the Chevy Volt will operate as an electric car at all times, it will in fact at times be directly driven in part by its internal combustion engine.
  • The mechanical link between Ecotec internal combustion engine and drive wheels will be at high speed.
GM has said the Volt, which features both electric and gasoline engines, relies solely on electricity to power its wheels, using the internal combustion engine merely as a backup to generate electricity when driving long distances. Popular Mechanics took aim at GM's eyebrow-raising claim that the Volt was capable of achieving the equivalent of 230 mpg.

In three separate, distinct driving tests, equivalent mpg ranged from about 32 mpg to about 36 mpg in extended-range mode, when its gasoline engine kicks in. Still, the magazine called the Volt a "well-engineered first step on the path to electrified vehicles." In its tests, Motor Trend said it achieved mpg in the "high 30s to low 40s."

In response, GM said on its media website it wanted to clarify points in the wake of inaccurate media reports:
  • 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 1.4 liter 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% 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 [electric vehicle] 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.
However, despite its assertions that the Volt is a true electric vehicle, it could do better in defending its claim. Using phrases such as "there is no direct mechanical connection" seems more like parsing than explaining.

With GM seeking not only to reengage American consumers but investors on Wall Street, too, ahead of its planned IPO next month, the auto giant could do better in simply explaining its claims -- and steer clear of the old GM's tendency in reacting to criticism rather than preventing it.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Investing in Emerging Markets

Learn to invest in a globalized world.

View Course »

Managing your Portfolio

Keeping your portfolio and financial life fit!

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

89 Comments

Filter by:
lldreal

This is vehicle is a great re-start for GM. Former GM CEO Rick Wagoner admitted his "worse Decision" was "Axing the EV1 Electric Vehicle Program and not putting more resources in hybrids." I think the second mistake GM did was selling the worldwide patent rights to the Nickle Metal Hydride Battery NiMH Technology to the oil company Chevron/Texico back in 2000. The EV-95 Battery was then discontinued after the Chevron/Texico Lawsuit against Toyota in using those batteries in their Toyota RAV4 EV was settled. Those patents don't expire until 2015 and they have forbidden any car maker from using those batteries in their vehicles. Look up EV-95 Battery on the internet. That is why all these car makers now have to use Lithiom Ion Batteries.

October 21 2010 at 10:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cloyd Moody

Long before I would shell out over $40,000 for a Volt, I would kick in another $8,000 and get a Tesla, look into them, they even look like a REAL car.

October 14 2010 at 12:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
vitrioleumjelly

Maybe the press is too retarded to understand. (The only thing the press is good at is praising our failed president.) GM never hid the fact that the VOLT has a gasoline motor. When the electric power runs out, the gas motor is turned on to provide electric power to the generator. This extends the range so you dont end up in the middle of nowhere with no battery power. Yes the car will burn gas if you let the batteries run out of power. I'm sure if the idiot press doesn't kill this vehicle before it makes a profit for GM then the technology will improve and maybe some day they will get the desired range from batteries alone.

October 14 2010 at 4:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
toosmart4u

Very simple. Buy a chevy volt, travel less than 40 miles in a day and you will never have to buy gas again. Now the billionaires do not want to pay their fair share of taxes, maybe they should buy us all a volt and we will not have to import any oil. This way we can put Americans back to work and help our national debt. Oh yea, there is that China thing, we will have to learn to buy American.

October 13 2010 at 6:57 AM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to toosmart4u's comment
toosmart4u

I will not buy or subscribe to either of these companies for it is shameful when american companies assult American companies. They must have a lot of stock in the foreign vehicle companies or are they just seeking publicity. Wrong type of publicity in my book.

October 13 2010 at 6:49 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to toosmart4u's comment
dvdsn61

American car companies have assaulted one another in their ads for years you hypocrite.

October 13 2010 at 7:51 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
hchevy

Everyone wanted one of these wimpy little electric cars and now when you have one you're all whining about it.

October 13 2010 at 5:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Robert

obama will be a 1 term president he is out of here

October 13 2010 at 5:45 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Aloha

The american car companies and the government refuse to give up oil, and then they attempt to sell us this rubbish. It will take China or Japan to furnish what we are looking to purchase.

October 13 2010 at 5:01 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
mikfete58

The Chevy Volt is horrendously overpriced and the new Chevy Cruze is ridiculously overpriced. FORD is about to overtake GM as our country's # 1, as rightfully it should. FORD represents value and quality. GM always makes bad cars!!!

October 13 2010 at 4:11 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
L R Adams

They also defended the *Chevette* and that turned out to be a success.

October 13 2010 at 4:01 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply