2011 Volt "GM Lied" Debate: They Hate GM, They Really Hate GM

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This will be our last word on the whole "GM Lied!" and "Is the Volt a hybrid?" controversy, which blew up yesterday at the first day of the 2011 Chevrolet Volt press launch.

Late last night, GM issued a press release (largely reprised on its Voltage site) entitled "Clearing up confusion about the Chevy Volt." The company noted, "some confusion has emerged about details of the Volt’s drive technology."

Well, yes. Indeed.

Electric yes, hybrid OK, gasoline-driven ... no

In brief, GM revealed a mode of operation for the Volt in which under certain circumstances, the gasoline engine contributes mechanical torque that is blended with torque from the traction motor to propel the Volt.

2011 Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt

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This has caused no end of shrieking and hyperventilating about whether the Volt is a hybrid, whether GM has deliberately deceived you, me, and the Volt-buying public, and so forth.

Frankly, we're a little miffed that GM omitted this detail and has insisted for three years that the engine never directly drives the wheels. That's true, but there's more to the story.

Still, we think the entire controversy--fomented by a few aggrieved writers who may not have driven the saleable Volt, since we didn't see them at the first day of official drives--is absurd for a couple of reasons.

Take out the pack, and ??

First, the 2011 Volt runs electrically. It couldn't move an inch if you removed the lithium-ion battery pack, but it could run just fine--for 25 to 50 miles--if you yanked out the range extender gasoline engine. It's an electric car.

1.4-liter range extending engine and Voltec drive unit on 2011 Chevrolet Volt

1.4-liter range extending engine and Voltec drive unit on 2011 Chevrolet Volt

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Second, we've driven the Volt. The car is propelled by electric power, all the time. There is no way that any passenger can tell at what point the engine clutches in to assist the traction motor with some added direct torque.

And that's very different to a hybrid like the Toyota Prius, when you can often tell from the rising and falling engine note which parts of the powertrain are providing power.

If you removed the battery pack from the Toyota Prius hybrid, by the way, it would run just fine. As a gasoline car.

Finally, GM had intellectual property reasons to keep the new function close to its chest. The company applied for a patent on the drive mode in September 2007; it wasn't granted until September 21 this year. Tipping off other makers wouldn't make sense.

Many, many people hate GM

But the bigger point here--and the place we think GM clearly fell down--is that a surprisingly large number of people truly loathe, despise, and hate General Motors, and will take any opportunity to bash the company.

That's a handicap that other electric-car makers (e.g. Nissan, Coda) simply don't have to cope with. The 2011 Nissan Leaf electric car has a range of up to 100 miles, and Chevy is energetically trying to paint that as inadequate, even downright dangerous.

Could the so-called Voltgate hoohah overshadow a serious discussion of the two cars' relative capacities and merits? Yep.

GM response to Volt/PR fiasco

GM response to Volt/PR fiasco

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EV1, bailout, even Obama

Looking at the comments on a calm, rationed counterpoint to the hysteria propounded by some parts of the automotive media, it's clear that many people loathe GM because:

  • In the memorable phrase popularized by "documentary" film maker Chris Paine, GM killed the EV1 electric car.
  • GM also received government assistance to emerge from bankruptcy, leaving U.S. taxpayers owning a majority of the company with no guarantees they'll get paid back at 100 cents on the dollar.
  • The company built many substandard cars for 30 years, losing an entire generation of educated buyers to largely Asian competitors; many of those lost customers are still bitter over their lousy experiences with past GM products.
  • Even dislike and contempt for President Barack Obama, who made the decision to rescue GM, plays into the hatred.

In the end, we suspect that GM executives may have taken their eye off the ball in a flush of pride over the successful launch of the world's first mass-produced range-extended electric vehicle (or "series hybrid" if you prefer).

That kind of willful blindness to negative views of the domestic auto industry--GM especially, Ford less so--is something we see a lot in Detroit. And now that GM is back on more solid footing and building mostly competitive products, it seems to be increasing.

We think that's a very, very dangerous attitude for any GM employee or supporter to have. For several years to come.

Chelsea Sexton

Chelsea Sexton

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Cynicism: More than just EV1 drivers

To quote no less a luminary than electric-car advocate Chelsea Sexton--prominently featured in Who Killed the Electric Car?--"GM is in denial about how much the cynicism about the company and about electric cars extends beyond EV1 drivers themselves."

Sexton, it's worth noting, is about to take delivery of a brand-new 2011 Volt for three months, courtesy of GM, as one of 15 EV advocates who form the Volt's Customer Advisory Board.

She too thinks the so-called controversy is overblown: "From a technical perspective, everyone's getting way too hot and bothered about the semantics."

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Comments (49)
  1. I am thrilled for GM and the Volt. I read many car sites, and the ones that are touting "GM Lied" are now dropped from my reading list. I want unbiased balanced coverage. Thanks to TCC for providing this. Anyone that has bothered to read the details on how the engine works with the drivetrain should understand this is not like a Prius. Also, the whole pending-patent aspect is key. Had Toyota done this nobody would be complaining.

  2. GM "losing an entire generation of educated buyers" Ah did you just say that only uneducated buyers bought GM cars for 30 years? Ouch.
    OK, the E-REV details are no big deal. Let's start talking about the lousy MPG, poor charging efficient, heavy weight, lower than expected range, higher than expected charge the battery uses.
    I think VoltGate may widen.

  3. John, I don't think the 30 some odd MPG that the volt will get with no electric biasing is terrible considering the weight of the car. the weight isn't terrible considering the weight of the batteries in it (which by the way is why you're buying it). the batteries aren't all that heavy either considering the weight of the pack that was in the EV1 that those /sarcasm_on #$%&%)$*&#$%&*$%*#$&@#ing GM killed /sarcasm_off.
    we can be critical of the volt all we want but lets take a step back and compare it to the competition... oh ****. never mind.
    I do agree that calling the last 30 years of GM buyers to be less intelligent than people who were buying foreign cars during that time is a little stereotypical. The last statistic I read about CEO's and what brand car they drive, the leader was Ford at 10% market share.. GM and toyota weren't far behind.
    In fact if we want to take swipes at the intelligence of the automotive buying public, I'd be more willing to say that those people who blindly buy japanese cars (because golly doncha know everything from japan is perfect?) are less intelligent than the average consumer.

  4. But the bigger point here--and the place we think GM clearly fell down--is that a surprisingly large number of people truly loathe, despise, and hate General Motors, and will take any opportunity to bash the company.
    This statement offers the veiled perception that people have an irrational dislike of GM. I have more faith in my fellow human's judgement. I believe that GM has, for decades now, misread its market. Slowly and steadily through it's own arrogance and poor decision making GM has steadily lost market share and blaming the consumer is just stupid. I don't hate GM but I feel sorry for it because it's still, at this late date, out of touch with reality.

  5. GLK, I think if you look back into the market share of the american auto industry, you'll find that GM, ford, and chrysler have all swapped top spot in the last 30 years many times and all for very good reasons... because they had the best bang for the buck product at that time.
    something to consider is that maybe the american auto companies got hit hardest by the economic downturn because typically blue collar workers were buying "american" brands.. and guess who got hit hardest when the economy crashed. all of the import buyers were more economically stable, so when the market recovered, they kept buying those cars, but the "typical" american brand buyer is still trying to recover from this last market melt down. Ford's done a lot of work to entice the japanese brand's clients over to them, and GM is doing the same with more limited offerings.
    I think Chrysler and GM are great examples of how quickly a market turn can kill a company. they made cars with lower quality than japan for a very long time, but it only took 6 months of bad market to kill them.

  6. Gm may not have technically lied but they clearly mislead everyone. I got a new company car of my choosing for over 30 years and I chose a lot of GM cars until the downtime drove me to MOPAR and Ford products after a disasterous 83 model. I now have a GM product (Impala) only because I bought it for half of MSRP at one year old.
    How can GM expect the public to trust their new technology after we lived through the 350 diesel engine, 4-6-8 Cadillac engine, Turboglide transmission, early air ride suspension, rack and pinion problems on the early X bodies, Quad 4 engines, turbo 200 transmissions, aluminum engines in the early 60s and on and on.

  7. I agree that there are many highly vocal critics of GM based on purely political views. These people don't necessarily know anything about cars or GM's cars in particular. They just don't like Obama and they don't like it that the Federal government stepped in to save thousands of vital manufacturing jobs during this economic crisis. If you read the political blogs, you can plainly see this hatred of all things GM. What puzzles me is that there doesn't appear to be the same hatred of Chrysler's products. They received government money too very few people express hatred for them like they do for GM.
    We need to give the Volt a chance and let the market determine if it is a breakthrough product or just a stepping stone to something better. I like the concept and I also like the Leaf. The more options we have the better.

  8. GM's wanting to keep things confidential due to "patents" excuse does not fly.
    Patent applications are published 18 months after filing. So GM's "patent" was already out there in the public for competitors to see.

  9. Wasn't the auto industry bailout approved in the Fall of 2008 under the Bush administration?

  10. gm decided to come out with a one of a kind vehicle.
    too much ballyhoo about it.
    i dont think it will fly.
    time will tell.

  11. I think people in Detroit are in such an insular culture that they are out of touch with the real world. They see people outside with a far lower opinion of them than they have of themselves and call it hatred. They see marginal profitability after years of overwhelming losses and billions in government spending and wonder why everyone isn't as impressed with them as they are with themselves.
    The fact of the matter is Detroit still has a long way to go and all of the boasting and spin that works so well in Detroit doesn't ring true outside of it. They should practice a little transparency and humility; over deliver rather than overpromise; and work hard to regain the trust of people outside of Detroit.

  12. When GM first released information on the production Volt didn't they refer to it as a plug-in hybrid? It does seem as though they changed their minds sometime during the development and started calling it an E-REV. I wouldn't say that GM lied it seems more like marketing issues. I think of it as a plug-in hybrid because once it's done with it's electric charge the gas motor starts up, and it does aid in turning the wheels. Personally I think it will do well, and we do need cars like this as we face unstable gas prices and supplies. One day we will be driving pure electrics, but to get to an electric future we will need cars that bridge the gap and thats what cars like the Volt and Fisker Karma do. I personally am ready for full electrics.

  13. I don't really see the angst that this is supposed to generate. Newly generated terminology aside ("extended range electric vehicle") this car has always been a series hybrid.
    If the coupling makes the car run better at higher speeds - a potential sign that GM is being pragmatic rather than being anchored to philosophy - so much the better. Would you rather have a philosophically pure car that runs poorly on low battery, or one that works well?

  14. i would rather have seen them not married to big oil, and come out with a real ev.
    let me see - a gazillion car companies are coming out with evs, and gm comes out with one that burns gas after 40 miles.
    it is an anti-ev car, pure and simple.
    their advertising says buy ours, cuz evs will leave you stranded in the desert.
    i cant see how this escapes anyone with no agenda.
    we have a limited number of cars to sell. such that there are big waiting lines.
    we dont need to attract those people who are worried about range. we got a gazillion other people who want evs, as they are now.
    this isnt rocket science. if gm had wanted to promote evs, they would have come out with an ev, so we could get a lot more ev enthusiasts on the road that much quicker.
    spend 43,00 for a volt, when you can spend 5-10,000 for a good quality used gas car. both burn lots of gas.

  15. EV,
    From your post it would seem that someone is forcing you to drive a Chevy Volt. Last time I checked that wasn't the case.
    Your quote "We don't need to attract those people who are worried about range" is a very short-sighted comment. Those who want pure electric cars will buy them. But after that, if no-one crosses over, using cars like the plug-in Prius and the Chevy Volt then the uptake of electric vehicles will dramatically slow.
    Do you want EV ownership to remain an exclusive club?

  16. hi nikki,
    have you read my posts on many other threads ?
    your mistake is to assume that everything stays exactly as it is. the cars stay the same, the people stay the same, and once you run out of those who are currently interested, the game is over.
    nothing could be further from the truth.
    we only have a limited number of cars to sell. there is a waiting line. this is why prices are high. this is why range is 100 miles. BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING ELSE NEEDED TO SELL THE CARS THAT ARE BEING MANUFACTURED.
    so yes, we do not need to attract those people who ARE CURRENTLY worried about range.

  17. i am highly motivated to get this planet off oil and the wars that it causes. i simply am using the correct logic with which to do so.
    gm, on the other hand, wants to keep us entrenched in oil, for as long as possible. this is the purpose of the volt. all this talk about a bridge is buying into gm. gm is saying buy ours, cuz evs will leave you stranded in the desert. sure seems like gm is promoting electric cars NOT !!!!!!!
    what we need to do is get as many cars out to those who are current buyers. this promotes electric cars more than anything else we can do. because we now begin to have non-owners who have access to someone who actually owns one.
    they can begin talking to a neighbor, a friend, an acquaintance about the car, instead of a salesman or a car site.
    when people start hearing ACTUAL OWNERS tell them that they have no problem with charging their cars and no range anxiety - they will begin to lose their own range anxiety, because it is mostly manufactured in their minds, due to unfamiliarity with a new product.

  18. as each year goes by, and more evs are on the road, range anxiety, for those who have it, will continue to dwindle.
    coupled together with that, will be lowering of prices and an increase in range.
    currently, the price is much more of a deterrent than is the range, insofar as getting more owners.
    they can get away with that price today, because demand far outstrips supply.
    but we would be much better off with a 100 mile car at half the price, as opposed to a 200 mile car at the same price.
    price is where we need the most work.
    but the magic of the system is how sales works. the range and price will be what is needed to sell the cars they make each year.
    it is not about CREATING technology. we already have it. it is about RELEASING technology. when it is profitable for the bigwigs to sell us something, they always seem to have the technology to sell it.
    doesnt that give you a big clue ?

  19. so placed in a capsule, the ev market will evolve. as it does, people will become buyers based upon actualities instead of unfamiliarities.
    prices and range will continue to be updated, such that the vehicles made will be sold.
    i was a computer analyst at a time when most businesses were converting from manual systems.
    one of my jobs was to train the operators to run the programs that were on the computer. these were business programs (inventory, accounts receivable, etc.)
    these operators were totally unfamiliar with a computer. and they did indeed have "keyboard anxiety". IF I HIT THE WRONG BUTTON, WILL I DAMAGE THE COMPUTER ?
    i had to convince them that if they hit the wrong button, the computer would beep at them, display a helpful prompt on the screen as to what was wrong, and wait for a correct response.
    guess what ? after a couple months, they were becoming very familiar with what they were doing, and the keyboard anxiety started to vanish.
    instead of asking me if they were gonna damage the computer, they begin asking me can i make it do this or make it do that ?
    sound a little bit familiar ?

  20. I do think there is a lot of biased negativity toward GM for a variety of reasons.
    GM is being practacle. Right now, power sources for EV's are not always going to be available. Hopefully, they will soon, but for the time being, this is the way to go. Personally, I think GM should also offer a version with a bio-diesel range extender.

  21. if gm had wanted to help the ev industry, they would have made the volt an ev, thereby increasing the supply when we most need it - because now we have a waiting list.
    instead, they put out a vehicle that burns a lot of gas. and they are marketing their vehicle not against nissan or coda, but rather an electric vehicle.
    you wont get stranded with our gas burning vehicle that can go 40 miles on electricity, but you will get stranded with a real ev that can go 100 miles.
    i think the masses are gonna see through this veil of disguise, and the volt will not be a good seller.
    hopefully this is true, cuz the volt DAMAGES the ev industry. they are counter one another.
    need i remind everyone of what gm did when they had the only ev in town ?
    they are not our friends.

  22. EV. What in the hell are you talking about? Range anxiety is not some unwarranted phobia (like fear of keyboards or clowns). It's a very real world limitation that current pure EVs have no solution for. I've driven more than 100 mi each way several times this month. That is NOT possible with the best hopes for the 2011 leaf. Should I stop at the side of the road, find somewhere to charge and wait 10 hours? Not make the trip? Wait to buy an EV until they run 350 mi+ & recharge in 5 minutes like my current gas vehicle? The Volt is a comprimise between those "couple of months" type trips and daily driving. Step away from your "in an ideal world" agenda here. Until EVs have the 350mi, 5min ability similar to what Americans have grown accustomer to over 50 years, the Volt is the best thing around.

  23. most people do not drive over 100 miles in a day. when they do, they can rent a car.
    my goal is about getting this world off oil and off wars. i happen to think that the lives of our young men are worth more than the pocketbooks of the bigwigs. gm does not.
    some people on this site are gm shills, big oil people, etc. i will assume for sake of argument, that you are not one such person, and therefore simply have flawed logic in your decision making.
    as ev enthusiasts, our goal is to have evs on the road as soon as possible. the correct logic to do this is as i stated.

  24. our goal is not to make evs available to every person with every type of driving experience. but rather to sell the cars that are able to be manufactured each year.
    so yes, if your mindset is that you must have a vehicle that runs 350 miles and recharge in 5 minutes, then stay with your gas car.
    you will be one of the last people that will end up buying evs, because as i said, they are not gonna give us any more than is necessary to sell the cars that they have.

  25. gm could have been of real help this year, when our supply is low. the leaf, and a few codas are about all that we have in this initial release.
    a big company like gm could have put out a lot of cars like nissan, and possibly double the amount of first year owners.
    instead, they come out with a gas burning car after 40 miles, and advertise that ev owners are gonna get stranded in the desert.
    instead of making cars for those that are racing over there to get them, gm makes a car that is only gonna appeal to someone who is an iffy prospect - someone who is leary about range, etc.
    once gotten, they are stuck with that car for awhile.
    range anxiety, for the most part, is not a formidable opponent for the majority.
    for anyone who is truly an ev advocate, i am very much on your side, even if you dont figure that out until some time later

  26. it is common to hear someone say something like "i am not gonna buy such and such a product until it can do this and this and that".
    and for some of these people, it turns out to be true. BUT NOT FOR EVERYONE.
    there are tons of advantages that evs have over gas cars. but because of unfamiliarity, the average person tends to just dwell on what the ev cant do that his current gas car can.
    the ev has way less parts and things that can go wrong. it has only a forward, reverse drivetrain, instead of the typical transmission. it has no radiator, no smog equipment, no california smog check, much less trips and down time at the car shop, etc. etc. etc.
    these advantages will start to sway a lot of those people who werent gonna buy one until it could go 350 miles on a charge and get charged up in 5 minutes.
    but this wont happen UNTIL WE GET EVS ON THE ROAD.
    so we should be targeting those people who are running towards us, instead of trying to capture those who are anxious, etc.
    we have tons of first responders. and once we get those first responders, we have a huge advertising force for our second responders, and then our third responders, etc.

  27. OK, so is the Volt Really any different from the Prius? We now know that they both use a planetary gear arrangement and both can supply both electric and ICE torque to the wheels. So what is the difference?
    Much is made of the Prius only being able to travel at low speeds on EV only mode. However as more people start converting the Prius to plug-in, we keep seeing them get it to higher and higher speeds on electric only mode. So perhaps the Prius can only go 60 MPH on electric and the Volt can go 80 MPH on electric. Not really such a difference.
    I guess the battery size is the biggest difference. However, the plug-in Prius and the Volt may end up being very similar to the consumer. Except the Plug-in Prius will probably get significantly higher MPG.
    John C. Briggs

  28. @ev enthusiast - the Chevy Volt is a compromise. My commute to work is about 7 miles each way. My weekend driving is minimal. A Volt would be perfect for me. Only in very rare instances would I use gas. In the vast majority of cases, I would run on electric only. When I go on a long trip, however, I can still use my Volt. Is GM evil for wanting to deliver this sort of convenience? I just don't understand bashing GM. In most people's cases, they will only be using electric. What is the problem with that? Isn't that meeting your agenda of weaning the American public off oil? Would I prefer a car that goes 200+ miles on electric only? You bet. It's not economically viable today. The Volt is a major step in bringing production costs of those batteries down so that they are viable solutions in the future. Maybe you should thank GM. BTW - I'm not a GM apologist. They haven't gotten it for many years. Their line of 23 SUV's getting 16mpg and selling for $51,000 was off the mark for years and I stayed away from them as much as anyone. I get your point though. They could have built a 100 mile range EV just like Nissan. But don't bash them when they build a EV-Hybrid. Because it would work for me, and many, many others. And not spill a drop of oil in doing so. Your same argument then applies to every major car manufacturer in the world, not just GM. Because they aren't building anything available today either in EV form.

  29. @John Briggs - they are different. I'm no expert, but from what I understand you could take the ICE out of the Volt and it would run with no issue on electric (with a 25-50 mile range). That can't be said for the Prius. It needs the ICE. Conversely, you cannot take the electric portion out of the Volt, it's needed to drive the vehicle. However, with the Prius, you could take out the electric components and drive it (as a typical gas only car).

  30. @Jim, I have heard that too. Neither statement is true. You can drive a Prius at highway speeds in EV mode. The people that convert Priuses have been doing it for a while.

  31. Mr Voelcker, this statement seems a little weird
    "The Volt runs on electricity all the time; it can’t operate without its electric motor."
    You are implying that the Prius is different. I think the Prius is the exactly the same. Under all operating modes, the Prius uses MG2 to get traction to the wheels. In electric mode, MG2 is on. In normal mode MG2 is on at 1700 RPM. In High Speed mode, MG2 is on at 4100 RPM.

  32. I think this statement gets at that heart of it.
    "Today, it’s (the Volt) the sole electric car going on sale that operates as a series hybrid,..."
    Right it is "operating" as a series hybrid, but it is actually almost identical to the Prius drivetrain.
    Of course I know the Prius has
    1) smaller battery
    2) MG2 with lower hp
    3) software that acts differently.
    However, the Volt "operates" like a series hybrid only due to software. Otherwise the drivetrain is very Prius-like. Not at all what I expected.

  33. @John: I think "identical to the Prius drivetrain" is a gross overstatement. While I--like a lot of journalists--am grumpy about seemingly being played by GM, the Volt is predominantly electric. Look at the motive power for the first 25-50 miles: a 111-kW electric motor. The Prius electric motors, which are smaller, are very limited in their ability to move the entire vehicle on electricity alone. The idea that "you can drive a Prius at highway speeds in EV mode" does NOT apply to regular Priuses. And I have pretty major concerns about the durability, safety, and edge-case engineering of the conversions--which really aren't germane to major automaker products.
    Does the Volt run at least partially on engine-generated torque? Yep. Is that the main motivating force? Nope.
    But if you ask those Qs for the Prius, the answers are reversed.
    GM regardless, I am moving toward the position that the Volt is a hybrid--of sorts--but it is a qualitatively different kind of hybrid than the prius.
    Moreover, I have yet to see ANY data that convinces me that consumers care about any of this. EV enthusiasts can fulminate til they're blue in the face, but what car buyers do is the ultimate test. And I tend to believe that the Volt has a lot of supporters--for reasons both good and bad--and they will be the people who decide to sign on the line.
    Or not.

  34. The Volt and the plug-in Prius differ in degree, but not in kind (we now know). The Volt I would call a serial/parallel hybrid, and the plug-in Prius is a parallel/serial hybrid. :-)
    The Volt does 25-50 miles as an EV, and then is a serial hybrid, up to 70mph when it transitions to be a split hybrid (both serial and parallel at once).
    The plug-in Prius does 12-14 miles as an EV, and then it becomes a multi-way hybrid: it can do any of 3 different modes: serial, parallel, and split.
    By all indications, the Prius will do significantly better FE in hybrid mode; but obviously it has much less EV range.
    The Prius seats 5, while the Volt seats 4.
    Sincerely, Neil

  35. (con't.)
    The ICE in the Volt does not use the biggest advantage that it could: if it ran the ICE at a single, peak efficiency RPM and charged the battery, then it would avoid the biggest problem with convention ICE powertrains. The fact that you need a multi-ratio transmission means that the ICE by definition cannot be run at peak efficiency much of the time.
    As GM *should* know, an EV is working with a lot less energy storage, and so it needs to be as efficient as possible. And a good serial hybrid is a good EV with an added genset that is *just* as big as it needs to be. Lotus, and GETRAG, and FEV, have designed such gensets.
    If GM had equaled the EV1 in aero drag, and improved on the weight (of the EV1) with lighter lithium batteries (they are rumored to have a 4 seat EV1 all set to go) -- and they *did* have gas turbine serial hybrid version of the EV1 that got 60-100mpg -- then they would have had a home run on their hands.
    As it stands, they have hit safely for a single.
    Sincerely, Neil

  36. @John Voelcker.
    OK from a consumer perspective, the Volt and the Prius are substantially different.
    However, I got to say from a technology standpoint the drivetrain (two motor/generators, one ICE, and a power split planetary gear system) is identical. So I am seconding the motion that "differ in degree, but not in kind". These are the same type of drivetrain though they may be programmed to "operate" differently.
    I don't buy the argument that the Prius's smaller electric motor makes it a fundamentally different drivetrain. It is like you are saying a car with a small ICE engine is a different drivetrain than one with a large ICE engine. That is not the case.

    So here is the problem that I have with your argument. If a new generation of Prius comes out with a larger battery (coming) and a larger MG2 (maybe), suddenly is it no longer a "Prius-style" hybrid. It does not make sense.
    John C. Briggs

  37. One more point. If they can convert a Prius to be a Plug-in with a 50 miie EV range (and they can), doesn't that prove the Volt and Prius drivetrains are identical? Right, it may not be a great idea, but it shows just how similar the drivetrains are.

  38. hi jim,
    reread my comments. we could have used twice as many evs this first release. gm did just the opposite, and its advertising is contrary to evs. the ev will leave you stranded.
    we want to get as many people on the road as possible with evs. with the volt, we are trying to appeal to those people who are "iffy" prospects to begin with.
    they simply are not the people we want to try selling evs to, as our first responders.
    gm did so, to put delays into the ev revolution.

  39. @John Voelcker
    After thinking about this some more, I think I have decided in favor of GM's marketing department. The E-REV terminology is the best description of what they have created.

    For the first 40 miles it is an EV and after that it uses a Prius style drive train. I think this is important distinction and deserves its own classification. I might even suggest it be called E-REV40 to indicate 40 mile range. Then if Toyota ever comes out with an E-REV14 (unlikely) we can see the difference. The key here is Toyota will not have an E-REV, they will have a plug-in.
    So does this morning's revelation that the Volt uses the gasoline engine from 30-70 MPH, change anything. NOPE. Still an E-REV and the engineers are programming the range extender for maximum efficiency. No surprise that it happens to be exactly what Toyota has been doing for 10 years.
    John C. Briggs

  40. all of you VOLT cheerleaders are seriously getting played!!! @briggs "wow" nice spin! Are you also a part of a PR team for GM? working as a senior engeneer at Fraunhofer USA who takes in millions from GM did you already know about this new negative information in regard to CS mode and EV mode before it hit the media?... GM is on my Sh*# list for misleading information... peace, love and ZERO emissions...:)

  41. @Ryan,
    Where have you been? I have missed you. The comment section didn't feel complete without you here.
    John C. Briggs

  42. guys,
    i wouldnt let gm worry you much. they are only one company. there are a lot of car companies now who are scurrying to get out real evs.
    i am sick of gm, for sure, but the volt is not gonna derail anything.
    this is a world-wide industry that is developing along many angles. if gm does not want to put out an ev, they will simply go belly up.

  43. @John Briggs - Ok, I see what you are saying in terms of from a technical standpoint the drivetrain is the same. I agree with you on that. The argument of converting a Prius to be a plug-in car does not hold any water with me...that is so in the minority for consumers the argument is not even worth mentioning. The fundamental difference is this: with a bigger battery, the Volt can run on EV alone for 25-50 miles. Therefore, I'm not using any gas. That may be the only difference, but it's a big one. Therefore, I'm helping the environment, "going green", etc, etc. That is what the average consumer will see and care about. Essentially gas independence for everyday use. The Prius can't say that. The revelation that the Volt uses the ICE from 30mph - 70mph in extended range mode doesn't change anything. Before, it already used the ICE in extended range mode albeit in a different way.

  44. @ev enthusiast - I see your point and I don't disagree that GM is attempting to sway people away from the Leaf. Make no mistake; they are direct competitors. Any business would do that. It's how you make money. GM isn't in business to wean Americans off oil or to start an ev revolution. They are in business to make money. I also agree with your statement that the consumers GM is marketing the Volt to are not ideal first responders to spread an ev revolution. This is not an ideal world, and the notion that any car company gives two iota's about an ev revolution is borderline crazy.

  45. hi jim,
    it is not the leaf. their advertising is attempting to scare people about buying an ev.
    after crushing the ev1s, they had the nerve to come out with the volt the first year that evs are coming out, and saying the evs are gonna strand you in the desert ?
    if they had come out with it after several years, i would not even have blinked an eye, except to think that their marketing knowledge went bananas.
    gm is controlled by the very, very wealthy - who control our politicians and much of what goes on.
    in any case, gm is gonna come up a day late and a dollar short.
    as i stated in the past, i dont think the hybrid volt is gonna be produced for very long.
    the volt would seem to be a starting point for a real ev from gm, since it should be easy to take a hybrid volt, and make it into a pure ev.
    just remove the gas components, add extra batteries, and you got an ev.
    in that way, gm does what they can to keep oil going, and when that is over, they pretty much already have an ev ready to go.
    let's see what happens.

  46. @Jim,
    I totally agree with you. I was merely pondering the technical details of the Volt drivetrain. It is really much more similar to the Prius drivetrain than I would have thought.
    But I think the path forward will be the most interesting. If there is a plug-in Prius (~14 mile ev range) and if Chevy comes out with an E-REV with a 20 mile electric range (something they have discussed in the past) the difference between the Prius and the Volt will become very blurred.
    Also worth considering, for people that commute to work at 30 MPH or less (like me) a plug-in Prius will use basically zero gasoline. But the really question is, how much does it cost.
    John C. Briggs

  47. The VOLT-hoax is nothing but a Prius-imitator; GM happens to own the technology patent for the Synergy Drive so it was no problem for them to lease it to themselves.
    But as for an EV? The VOLT-hoax is pathetic. If you could disconnect the engine from the planetary gear it would NOT run on battery power alone; the on-board would throw all kinds of error-codes. Morevoer, the second motor-generator hooked to the planetary gear would then be useless, it too would have to be disconnected.
    As would-be EV converters have discovered, there's no easy way, perhaps no way at all, to convert a Synergy Drive vehicle like the Prius or VOLT-hoax to a pure electric car.
    GM and Toyota spent lots of energy and talent to make that an impossibility.

  48. GM's main problem is the false idea that a pure electric car has a "range problem". In fact, none of the EV1 drivers who wanted to keep their cars thought that a 100-mile-range (lead-acid) or 150 mile-range (NiMH) was the problem.
    The PROBLEM was GM not being willing to SELL the EV1, and lying about the reason to this day.

  49. In the memorable phrase popularized by "documentary" film maker Chris Paine, GM killed the EV1 electric car.
    The film is "Who Killed the Electric Car?" and if you watched it, you would see that the filmmakers answered the question with the answer "everybody"

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