Update Oct. 14th, 2010
"We still think that even this amount of corporate stupidity - on part of PR at GM - will not kill the idea about an electric car from GM second time. GM Volt has a lot of unique features and can not be called in the end just an "overcharged Prius." We are very pleased, personally, to confirm - that GM Volt will be able to drive in a pure electric mode: at least with fully charged battery until it will be depleted and the generator will kick in, which can have a mechanical connection to transmission in that mode at different speed ranges, contrary to everything we have heard before.
We will refer you to the "The EVcast episode" this week discussing this issue at depth".
We are shocked as well as Engadget is, GM Volt staff in France at Paris Motor Show 2010 just one week ago assured us about the pure electric mode of the power train at all times of driving and that the generator will only kick in to produce electricity, when the battery is depleted. Today we have found out that, maybe, GM Volt should be marketed as "No Range Anxiety, but No Pure EV mode as well"?
Who cares and why all the fuss? - some marketing wizards at GM have decided to strike at the competitor - pure EV - Nissan Leaf with "Range Anxiety" this summer and have made a lot of fuss about it in the media. Now explanation is warranted at least from GM on part about its pure electric mode - can Chevy Volt go in a pure electric mode at all range of speed and driving patterns at least with the battery, which is still above the depletion level?
It will not affect significance of GM Volt roll out in U.S. these days, but marketing strategy is questionable at least. With price tag above 40k before rebates GM Volt is loosing to Nissan Leaf with its price just above 30k before rebates - now in the eyes of "pure electric crowd" Chevy Volt will be an expensive version of Prius with larger battery (and the lithium one - what is important for us here!).
It is a pity that such an important campaign on Electric Cars roll out will start with this "potentially misleading marketing behind it". REV - Range Extended Vehicles, Like GM Volt, Opel Ampera and Fisker Karma will be a very important transition point before the pure EVs can take off in a mass fashion with advanced lithium ion batteries and created charging infrastructure. REV are crossing the urban space and allow you to have one Electric Car in the family today, ideally you can drive in pure electric mode most of the times and still go across USA or Canada from coat to coast today.
We are not mechanical experts by any stretch of the imagination and will dig this story further to find out the truth. Maybe this marketing controversy will even drive more interest to this historic event, but Engadget could be so right questioning - "where's the innovation?"
"We do not know, when the warning about Peak Oil will find its way to the White House and mass media at its full extend, but any market controversy and other small worries about GM Volt will be nothing compare to the groundbreaking fact that we have the technology now to survive after Peak Oil and it is already on the streets."
Shocker: Chevy says Volt's gas engine can power the wheels, it's just a hybrid after all
"Interesting news from General Motors today that's resulted in some puzzled expressions at Engadget HQ. We've learned that the Volt, which Chevrolet has been making quite a fuss about calling an "extended range electric vehicle," is actually just a traditional hybrid with some... potentially misleading marketing behind it. Since the concept stage the company has been saying how the onboard internal combustion engine was just to charge the batteries, that only the electric motors (there are two) are actually connected to the drivetrain. Indeed that's what we were told in person when we test drove the thing back in March. We're now learning that is not the case, that the Volt's gasoline engine can directly provide power to the wheels in concert with the electric motors.
Is that a problem? In terms of efficiency the answer is "apparently not," as we're guessing the car would not have been designed this way if it weren't the most frugal way to go. So, why all the deception? Why insist this isn't just a hybrid when it apparently is? When the company went looking for a government bailout it was in part awarded one because of the innovation shown in the Volt. Now that we're learning the Volt is basically just a plug-in hybrid with a bigger than average battery pack (Popular Mechanics is finding 30-odd miles of purely electric range), we're left wondering: where's the innovation?"
Motor Trend Explains the Volt’s Powertrain
The Chevrolet Volt’s technical details are now being laid bare for all the world to see. Motor Trend magazine was the first to get a full debriefing on how the Volt’s powertrain functions and according to GM engineers I have just spoken with, have done an excellent job explaining this.
As you are reading this article I am spending a full day driving the Volt more than 100 miles throughout Detroit in both EV and extended range mode and attending technical briefings on the inner working of the car. More on this soon.
Frank Markus of Motor Trend took the car for an extended test drive and found it lived up well to GM’s promises. He also explains the inner workings of the Volt’s transmission for the first time. The previously reported patent application found by our own reader Cab Driver was confirmed as accurate.
Here’s how it works.
The drivetrain has a bit in common with the Prius and Ford hybrids. It consist of a single planetary gearset, two electric motors, and one gas engine. Motor Trend thinks the design is superior and more efficient than Toyota’s, and according to GM engineers with whom I spoke, is on the verge of patented.
There is a large central sun gear turned by the 149 horsepower electric motor at all times. Around it is a planetary carrier which turns the wheels. When the car is in charge depleting mode, an outer ring is locked to the case. The engine and generator are disengaged.
When the car reaches 70 mph the main motor spins too fast to be maximally efficient, and a clutch disengages the ring from the case. This allows the second electric motor to participate and both motors act in parallel to reach speeds of 101 mph with adequate power.
In charge sustaining mode, the gas engine goes on and clutches to the generator causing it to produce electricity to continue powering the main motor.
However of particular interest, when going above 70 mph in charge sustaining mode, and the generator gets coupled to the drivetrain, 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.
Markus liked driving the car and he noted he was surprised about the direct mechanical connection.
Motor Trend found 0 to 60 in 8.8 seconds in EV mode and 8.7 seconds in extended range mode. This difference was verified to me by engineers. Noting it to be “no sports car” the Volt still blows the Prius away (9.8 seconds 0 to 60).
Though not specifically tesing it, Markus said drivers should expect fuel effieicny when running on gas from high 30s to low 40s.
He also noted the Volt will flash a dash message “low propulsion power” when going up steep grades in extended range mode and will drop to 40 MPH. This will not happen if mountain mode is engaged ahead of time, which will leave extra energy in the battery, causing the engine to go on sooner.
They found it quiet as well as quick and nippy in traffic.
The brakes were noted to be suprtior to the Prius, and do an excellent job mating and feathering initial regenerative motor braking and eventual disc caliper braking.
Motor Trend also was abe to map the behavior of the Volt’s generator and found it generally followed power demand in the way a customer would expect.
Motor Trends bottom line: If the gas/electric and plug-in sport sedans (Fisker, Tesla) and supercars (Jag, Lotus, Porsche, Ferrari) are as well-engineered as this subcompact, enthusiasts need not fear the 60-mpg future."
The strongest opinion about GM corporate machine came from:
GM Lied: Chevy Volt is Not a True EV
Published Oct 11, 2010
Just the Facts:
•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.
DETROIT — It's the big headline currently on GM's media news site:
"2011 Chevrolet Volt Reinvents Automotive Transportation IN A Complete No Compromises Electric Package"
Um, well, no. Even conceding that all engineering projects involve compromise and chalking that phrase up to marketing hyperbole, the Chevy Volt isn't as electric as GM pretends it is. And it isn't as electric as GM has been saying for the past three years. You know, GM statements like this one:
"The Chevrolet Volt is not a hybrid. It is a one-of-a-kind, all-electrically driven vehicle designed and engineered to operate in all climates." More.
Update Oct. 12th, 2010
GM comes to clear the mess:
Clearing Up Confusion About the Chevrolet Volt
Unbolting the Chevy Volt to See How it Ticks
“It’s not a hybrid! It’s an electric car with a range-extending, gas-powered generator onboard.” That was the party line during most of the masterfully orchestrated press rollout of what we’ve been promised will be the most thoroughly new car since, what, the Chrysler Turbine? The Lunar Rover? Well, the cat is now out of the bag, and guess what? It is a hybrid, after all. Yes, Virginia, the Chevy Volt’s gas engine does turn the wheels. Sometimes."