Does the Chevy Volt Require Premium Fuel? Yes and No

Despite GM’s marketing material that states the upcoming 2011 Chevrolet Volt is an “extended-range electric vehicle,” at the end of the day it’s really just a plug-in hybrid that will, in many circumstances, end up burning gas. 

The type of gas it will burn has turned into something of a controversy in the automotive blogosphere. When we found out about the Volt’s $40,280 price tag, we also discovered that the vehicle’s four-cylinder onboard generator — which maintains the Volt’s lithium-ion batteries – will require premium fuel, according to GM. That left us and others puzzled. After all, the Volt’s engine isn’t that much dissimilar to the one found in the new 2011 Chevy Cruze

Premium gas will maximize the fuel economy when the engine is used, GM powertrain spokesman Tom Read said. In an emergency, regular gas can be used on the Volt, but fuel economy will be compromised, and the engine may become noisier. The Volt’s engine computer will detect the octane change and retard ignition timing. Still, Read highly recommends refilling the Volt with premium fuel as soon as possible to avoid damaging the engine. 

Needless to say, it’s always best to use the fuel that is recommended for your car. You wouldn’t put regular gasoline in a Ferrari if it required premium, so why would you do that for an expensive plug-in hybrid? 

2011 Chevrolet Volt Has Knock Sensor, Can Run on Regular Gas (AutoBlog Green) 

Fuel 101: What You Need to Know About What You Put in Your Car



This will probably raise the same concerns similar to those of the SRX turbo. A more expensive vehicle than the Volt, "PREMIUM ONLY" written on the fuel door, regular put in by the consumer and ...*KABOOM*... People still thought that was GMs fault.


Another component not discussed in this post is that premium fuel remains stable for longer periods of time, a situation that many Volt owners may face as the fuel sits unused. I am no petroleum expert but the premise seems plausible.


I've put Regular gas into my Audi turbo's, Nissan's, and Acura's and have never had any engine reliability problems. I think it has more to do with poor General Motors design of the SRX engine than anything after all it's GM not Porsche.
This Volt thing is the most over-hyped car in recent memory.

Griffin Lovett

What about E85? It is 105 octane.
I see on the Volt specifications it states:
3-cylinder, turbocharged 1.0L gas or E85 engine. Nothing has been said much about it being able to run E85. I think the high
octane E85 would be great to run in it and it's much less costly than premium.

"the vehicle’s four-cylinder onboard generator — which charges the Volt’s lithium-ion batteries"

GM claims that the generator does _not_ charge the battery but provides juice directly to the traction motor for propulsion, with the battery remaining depleted until someone plugs it in for recharging.

I'm a bit skeptical, though. If the generator is running and the driver starts coming to a stop, the surplus power has to go _somewhere_. I would think it goes to the battery.


from what i've read, the volt is an extended range EV.

if you drive less than 40 miles a day and plug your volt in every night, then you won't burn gas.

if you go on a road trip, then you'll burn gas to...extend the range.



this Russian guy made his own electric car and it has range of >70 miles

Not too shocked here since all the other turbo's carry the Premium Recomended sticker and not Premium Required. Unless it has the Turbo Up Grade from GMPD.

Loss of HP is near 20 HP on the 2.0. I am not sure what it would do the 1.4. 10 HP?


"The Volt’s engine computer will detect the octane change and retard ignition timing."

I wonder if that means it just uses a knock sensor(s) to detect engine combustion noise to retard/advance spark/cam timing? Or, does it use a sensor in the fuel line to detect octane?


I have a 2013 Volt. If you set the driving mode to mountain, the generator will charge the battery up to 50-55%. I do this all the time when my battery depleetes, and I end up with 20-21 miles with of electric power on my battery.

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