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by Brett Davis

According to a recent report by Bloomberg, automotive critics who have road tested the upcoming Chevrolet Volt say the car is not a true electric vehicle which runs solely on an electric motor as originally marketed by General Motors.

Although it was very clear the car used a petrol motor to assist in regenerating power for the batteries, new tests reveal the petrol engine also propels the car in the same way as a conventional hybrid Toyota, for instance.

Reports from Motor Trend, Edmunds and Popular Mechanics all reveal the Volt as a plug-in hybrid. They say that under heavy acceleration the petrol motor will directly assist the electric motor – which drives the front wheels – like a Toyota Prius.

General Motors has been marketing the car as an electric vehicle that uses a petrol engine for range-extending purposes only. Reality is, the Volt uses a system very similar to the Toyota Prius only the Volt can drive for much longer without intervention from the petrol engine… except during times of heavy acceleration.

Jim Hall, pricipal of 2953 Analytics Inc., an automotive consulting firm, said in the Bloomberg report,

“In a Prius, there is no mechanical linkage between the engine and the wheels – it goes through a [electric] motor. They use the engine to drive a direct-drive generator to drive the motor. The Volt does the same thing, it’s just that the Volt can run with electric power without an engine longer than pretty much any hybrid right now can.”

The reports also say the manufacturer’s claimed fuel consumption figures are also a little misleading, and that the Volt can not run for the claimed 370km per gallon (3.8 litres) of fuel.

It will all come as a bit of a shock, especially for the consumers who have already placed orders on the Volt thinking it was a car which ran solely on an electric-driven motor, only using a petrol engine for charging the batteries.

General Motors said on its website that the car is an extended-range electric vehicle, and that it is not a hybrid like the Toyota Prius. The Edmunds review of the Chevrolet Volt was headed: ‘GM Lied: Chevy Volt is not a true EV.’

Reports say GM is trying to separate it’s technology from rest by presenting the misleading marketing headlines.

At the end of the day, the car is likely to emit the lowest emissions compared to any other car on the market, which is a great step forward.

*Updated
General Motors has spoken out about the critic’s claims, GM recently said,

“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.”

The company has also expressed that most consumers don’t care what the car is called anyway – electric vehicle or hybrid – that buyers are more interested in the battery life and recharging concerns.

Meanwhile the New York Times has said,

“GM’s insistence that the car is fully electric is hard to understand in light of the fact that the gas engine provides direct motive power under certain conditions.”




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