What Happens to a Chevy Volt's Old Gas?
There are many questions about the upcoming Chevy Volt. One concerns what happens to the gas in the tank when you only drive the car short distances, using its electric power supply and not the gasoline-powered backup engine.
Local varieties notwithstanding, U.S. gas stations generally pump two types of fuel: winter blends and summer blends. The latter one, formulated to burn cleaner during high-pollution summer months, doesn’t work as well when the icicles form; in fact, it can make engines downright difficult to start. What’s more, fuel will slowly degrade as it sits in your tank. As MSN Autos reports, the components that allow fuel to combust will evaporate over time. And the chemical composition of the gas can degrade, leading to harmful deposits in your fuel system. Bottom line: If it sits, it quits.
So what will happen in cars like the upcoming Chevy Volt, whose gasoline drivetrain could potentially remain dormant for weeks at a time while its driver commutes, recharges and commutes again — all on electric power? At the Washington, D.C., auto show, we queried GM’s manager for hydrogen and electrical infrastructure commercialization, Britta Gross.
It’s certainly a concern, Gross said, but it shouldn’t be a problem: The Volt’s system stirs fuel in the tank about once a month to fight fuel-system buildup. At most, “it’s a minor impact on performance and emissions,” she said.
That doesn’t really get to the bottom of the old-fuel issue, so we asked Volt spokesman Dave Darovitz for more. Darovitz offered up a non-answer. In short: For competitive reasons, GM can’t reveal information about that right now.
“I wish I could talk about it,” he said, “but we will have solutions in place to address the aging-gasoline situation. It’s a great problem to have … [and] the engineers are addressing that situation.” The issue came up long ago during the Volt’s development, Darovitz said.
Take that answer for what you will. We’ll withhold judgment until the Volt arrives in real buyers’ hands to see if GM’s solutions, well, solve the problem. For now, share your thoughts below.