The Great Chevy Volt Hybrid Mishap Explained


Of all the information spilling out of the Chevrolet Volt's national media launch in Detroit this week, none is more surprising to us tech heads than news that the Volt actually does, at times, power the drive wheels directly with the gasoline engine.
More specifically, at some speeds it contributes to the propulsion effort, but only once the battery pack has run down and the engine has turned on to run the generator. It never drives the wheels on its own, only as a hybrid, using both motor and engine.
How is this possible?

Well, there's more to the Voltec Electric Drive system than anyone knew before now. Because Chevrolet was protective of its pending patent, everyone on the outside was left — and arguably led — to believe the Voltec system was simpler. As we understood it, there was an electric drive motor that also served as a generator when coasting or braking, as all such motors do in hybrids and electrics. It was powered by a battery for the first 40-ish miles. There was also to be an onboard generator powered by a gasoline engine that did nothing but supply electricity to run the drive motor (or, as is often misreported, to recharge the battery). This would turn the battery-electric car into a simple series hybrid: Engine drives generator, generator powers electric drive motor, car accelerates.

Now we know two interesting things that change our understanding of how the system works. First, the generator is actually a motor-generator that's tied not just to the gas engine but also to the other components, including the drive wheels. In lieu of a conventional transmission, there's a power-split device similar to the type in hybrids from Toyota and Ford. (There's some similarity with GM's 2 Mode system, too, but the latter uses a conventional transmission, and a power-split device essentially takes a conventional transmission's place.) The second thing is that the motor-generator and gas engine are both tied mechanically to the drive wheels.
Rather than a generator attached to an engine off on its own somewhere, the generator is actually a motor-generator tied into a planetary gearset along with the main drive motor, the gas engine and the wheels. Actually, the motor-generator can contribute to propelling the car along with the main "traction" motor. It's a method Volt engineers say is preferable to a single, high-rpm electric motor.
There are three clutches, as represented in the accompanying photo. One (called clutch No. 1) is between the ring gear and the case. Clutch No. 2 is between the motor-generator and the ring gear, and clutch No. 3 is between the motor-generator and the gas engine.
At speeds above 70 mph, the gas engine contributes its motive force to the wheels, and Volt powertrain engineer Pam Fletcher said it can also play a part at speeds as low as roughly 35 mph. The result is a performance boost and an efficiency improvement of 10 to 15 percent versus if the engine worked just to supply energy to the battery and electric motor.
The buzz around the internet — and at this event — suggests the world will soon come to an end because the Volt isn't what people thought it would be, that it's somehow a lesser vehicle. I don't see it. Once the engine starts, the point is efficiency.
I liken it to the fixation people have on electric-only driving in conventional hybrids (and their future plug-in versions). Driving for some number of miles on electric power alone might seem satisfying to drivers of, say, a Prius, but if that doesn't make it as efficient as it could be, what's the point?
It's a similar notion for the Volt, though the car is designed for something else entirely: to be gas-free for about 40 miles (roughly) of electric-only driving, not to get the lowest possible mpg rating in sustained driving, as conventional hybrids are. (To that end, the engineers estimate the Volt's good for 35 to 40 mpg in range-extending mode, once the engine starts up, and that's nothing to get excited about.) It seems to me the detractors would be more satisfied if the gas engine didn't power the wheels at all and the car got 25 mpg with the engine running.
This does raise the question of why folks at Chevrolet didn't release this information earlier. The answer, they said, was competitive concerns. They didn't want anyone to know exactly how the car operates too soon, especially given the long lead time. The details were relatively tightly held within the engineering group.
I'll keep digging into this and will report back here and in a coming review of the Volt.



So, this effectively makes Volt not an electric vehicle but gas-electric hybrid.
I hope our government will realize that before putting "special" stickers on this POS.


yes, it is a $41,000 Prius, Toyota makes a $23,000 Hybrid, 10 years later GM makes a copy for twice the price. who says GM isn't AWESOME!!


The Volt is a "hybrid" in so far as it uses two sources of energy—battery and gas engine—but it's being marketed as an "extended-range EV" because people like the detractors posting here will otherwise miss the point.

Plug-in hybrids that are currently under development like the Prius or Escape plug-ins work more like traditional "hybrids," in which at low speeds and low rates of acceleration, these cars can run on electric power only, but otherwise the gas motor is the primary motivator with the electric motor providing assistance, regardless of the battery's state of charge.

Volt drives at any speed and any rate of acceleration on electric power only for the first 25-50 miles. Once the battery is depleted, the engine turns on. Whether it just provides charging or also mechanically assists the electric motor seems to me irrelevant (aside from marketing).

Amuro Ray

The world isn't coming to an end, 'coz there's the Nissan Leaf.

JW, it IS somewhat of a less vehicle 'coz GM itself has marketed itself to be sthg that it really is NOT from the get-go! Sure car fans know, but most of the general public don't! The only info they can rely on is exactly what GM has told them ( may have such info, but I bet that there are a lot of people who don't know anythg 'bou, which is why u've to advertise your site on TV!). This is essentially deceptive marketing (compare the statements GM has made 'bou Volt to today's news release) - except for the fact that Volt is NOT available for sale yet.
A lot of people bash the Volt not 'coz it's GM, as I've stated in other post, but the wrongful representation of what it can do as an EV from GM's own press release, and then try to justify its own statement by, instead of supporting its own R&D's results, putting down its competitors. There are those, and there are MANY of those, who really try to contribute to the green movement, and thought that this is way better than a Prius 'coz it is supposed to be zero emission under GM's own words for daily commute. Imagine what they will think if they buy a Volt 'coz of its lies...

Amuro Ray


Tell us the truth at the very beginning, and people will accept what it is. Sure there will still be criticism, but it is still the truth.

Tell us lies, then that's a whole different story...

BTW, u DO know what an EV means, right? FYI-It is NOT the same as a hybrid. Funny how u and many other "supporters" can change ur position and wording from one post to another SO EASILY...

It pisses me off 'coz GM lies, and it uses my tax money (both as a shareholder, and as part of the tax credit for those who purchase a Volt) to spread the lie! It's like, I'm going with the lie too.

Shame on GM's management!


Isn't this just the same as a Toyota Prius but more expensive? Looks like GM lied to us and screwed up as usual.... I'm not surprised by this.



let me translate your name to others: I am for GM (government?)

Thanks for educating us. Apparently your statement
"Volt drives at any speed and any rate of acceleration on electric power only for the first 25-50 miles."
is also NOT TRUE.
GM designer said, that there will be times, especially around 70 mph when gasoline engine will drive wheels directly.

Volt myth is busted. It is calculated to be equal to 35mpg average fuel economy (premium vs regular included) and regular Prius makes 50 and costs > 10G less even with GM tax break.

I wouldn't care much but our sorry govmnt dumped so much money around Volt that it is not funny.

Edward W

The reason this news upsets me is that I belived this the Volt was a true first generation serial hybrid. My hope was that subsequent generations would improve the battery-only range and also that the genset might improve in performance and ligher weight. Perhaps an aircooled genset, for example. Eventually, in Gen x, the platform would drop the ICE and the genset might be a fuel cell. So, I essentially viewed the Volt as forking a new branch for electric car innovation. Clearly that is now not the case. It's not that I'm an electric vehicle purist but rather I was looking for that new innovation branch and the Volt isn't it.

Amuro Ray

I would also like to add that (again against JW, his statement about efficiency).

If u look at this as an increased efficiency by having the ICE engaging the wheels directly by 10-15%, and oh, that's good for me, u just fall into a very typical American "thinkism" - bandage approach, and ignore the root of the problem - that there is a high inefficiency between ICE and the electricity generator (as u may have suggested). Instead of figuring out ways to correct this inefficiency (maybe it's a design fault, or it's just that such system just doesn't work well and a new one has to be developed), GM took the easy way out here.

It's like, u've money problem by not paying ur loans and have no $ at all to pay for your luxurious daily expenses, and ur way to "correct" this is to borrow even more money to cover those expenses, rather than to face the fact that u simply have to live like a poor person!


Edward W got it exactly right in his post. This was to be a new platform, one more akin to a diesel electric locomotive than to a Prius. Very disappointing news.


Amuro Ray,

There is no such thing as correcting the inefficiency. It goes against the very law of conservation of energy. Transforming chemical energy in the form of gasoline to electricity and then to kinetic energy will ALWAYS BE less efficient than transforming chemical energy directly to kinetic energy.

Learn about it first, comment second.



The vehicle is an electric car whenever the batteries have sufficient energy to propel the vehicle. The ICE assists only during charge sustain mode.

Read and UNDERSTAND first.


So the purists are disappointed because they wanted a true series hybrid vehicle? That is an inferior technology and not the most efficient by any means. Again, law of conservation of energy applies.

Amuro Ray

Style, u've actually just kicked ur own butt, and u don't even know it?


And somehow because of the few times I drive over the 25-50 miles of pure electric and exceed 70 mph in charge sustaining mode the gas engine will a part of the power deliver will be from the gas engine. This is a bad thing? When all it does improve efficiency under high load. What amazes me most is how anyone fails to see the greater picture, in that 80% of the time you will never use a drop of gas to run the Volt. Any daily commute or travel between charging points less than 25-50 miles will net a MPG of infinity. Obviously this is silly becuase we all should be rating all cars in kw/h/m, but anyone of use can use our normal driving cycle and apply the Volts abilties to it and seem dramitic reduction in gasoline use. And isn't that the point! Lets please stop the GM bashing, it never ceases to amaze me how much as we Americans love to hate ourselves just because we can.


Is that a question?

Here's a statement: You are ignorant.

Amuro Ray

I guess that u really dunno how u kicked ur own butt, Style. Call me what u can and want to; I ain't the one kicking my own a$$.

DonO, what's great 'bou this country is that we can criticize when we see that there's sthg wrong...and this time, GM flat out lies 'bou Volt's capabilities (from initial info to what it is now). U can sugar wrap a bad product as much as u can, but the root of the problem is that it is still a rotten product, and that's exactly what u think of as "ok, we can overlook it."

The points of EV are (at least 2 of them):
- use no gas (Volt can't)
- emits nothing (Volt can't)
Let's put it this way - buy a Leaf + a fuel efficient compact (Yaris, Fit, Versa, Fiesta, etc.) or buy a Hybrid + a fuel efficient compact, and u r saving more $ compare to high $ for the Volt, contribute to the use less gas (or use no gas) clause, or better yet, for that 25 mi electricity range - take public transportation or car pool! BTW, 100% of the time u'll use gas on the Volt, because it's range in real world is 25 mi (take a look at the cities that it is being released, and search for its geography - mountain ranges, temperature, and driving condition on a daily basis) and AS PER GM'S OWN PRESS RELEASE, the avg commute is 33 mi!


Sure ignorant is a name I’ve been called before and sometimes I may be, but most times I'd like to think I'm pretty intelligent as a person that holds a masters degree in electrical engineering. Therefore as I feel I am intelligent say 90% of the time I'll go with that name. Sort of like the Chevy Volt where 98% of the time it will run solely on electrically driving power I'll call it an electric vehicle. The lines suppose are somewhat blurry aren’t they?

Should we now consider a car with an electric steering a hybrid too, because the efficiency of the engine is improved using the alternator to proved the motive force for steering the vehicle and obvious necessity. Which is a device connected the driveshaft by gears or chains.

Ok maybe thats a strech.

But once more why do we care what we call it as long as it improves our chances of reducing our consumption of foreign oil.

Also seems ironic this article is written by an individual with familiar ties to Nissan.


DonO and Style don't want to understand one thing, why Volt is a failure. It is failure because it doesn't live to expectations.
It is a car with no customer base. May be some city dwellers will buy it but will they spend $40g on a car, which function can be achieved by spending $15g on Mazda2? In suburbs this car is out of question. It is economic disaster for the suburban family to buy car like this.
Besides, we start to find "interesting details" about something that was presented as something else. Recently they said, the electric mileage will likely be around 30 and not 40 miles.
Volt project is very suspicious. They couldn't figure out this thing, moved the launch, etc. With this kind of new, I am curious, how many recalls there would be and how well is it built?
Right now, it looks like Honda Fit is SUPER alternative to Volt. And if one doesn't like to burn fuel, I have good news for you. With the "electric" cars roaming the streets get ready for government tax you for something like "car ownership". Do you think you gonna have a free ride? Pay per mile program is already in the works by feds. Get ready.


this motortend review looks pretty promising. i'm not entirely sure how they calculated the 126.7 mpg, but they did test it thoroughly.


Does the ICE still run at a fixed RPM?


another motortrend article on how it works, with some toyota/ford comparisons.

seems much better than what is making it out to be....not really surprising.

Jonathan V

Yep, exactly like a Prius. Except it can go up to 50 Miles on 100% electricity from its Advanced Lithium Ion Battery. Once the battery is depleted, it can switch to a series Hybrid to extend the range and provide maximum efficiency, then; at high speed it can switch from a series to parallel hybrid as needed to improve efficiency.

But yeah, Just like a Prius.

Hey cody,
We'll have a Volt review up as soon as possible. No need to bash what isn't here. The story you link to also goes over almost exactly what we do. Not sure if you're saying their writing style is better or what not, but on the facts we're pretty much on the same page.

Johnathan V and of course Joe Wiesenfelder explain it correctly. This is NOT the same as a standard Prius. There were some mentions of the plug-in Prius Toyota is planning and that's where some people may be getting confused.

Essentially, the Volt does exactly what they've always said it will do. You can travel up to a certain distance at any speed* for up to 50 miles and then a gas engine kicks in to help maintain a charge*

We just get a couple of asterisks we didn't have before. Namely over 70 mph and on tough inclines the engine does kick on before the electric range is depleted. And the second one now changes to it powering the wheels along with the motor, a la a hybrid, again, only when the battery is depleted.

The point a to point b of what the Volt does has not changed to the consumer on the surface.

Jonathan V

@Amuro Ray

No, the point of an EV is the same as any car, The ability to travel to my destination. While an EV happens to use no gas is not fundamental to its use. I use no gas (or electricity) at all just staying home. But that doesn't help me to reach my destination.

I don't understand all this hate for the Volt from EV purists. If anything the VOLT is the EV we need now. It's an EV when it can be and a hybrid when there is no way to charge it.

A pure EV, like the Leaf, has a major downfall, Which isn't really flaw in it's design, but a matter of it's infancy; That downfall is lack of charging infrastructure. You can't just charge these things anywhere.

The VOLT is a transitional EV. It's an EV when you are close enough to a charger, otherwise it's a hybrid that can be refueled at any gas station anywhere in the country.

This IS what we need until there are fast charging stations conveniently located throughout the country.

Also to all those that say, just buy a Leaf and another Gas car. That only solves one aspect; the PLANNED long excursion. But there are PLEANTY of times (several times a week) that I take an UNPLANNED excursion from my normal route. (So do most people, we probably hardly notice it, because in our GAS cars it’s a non-issue)

-i.e. Boss called, I got to go help a customer off site; My wife broke down, got to go rescue her; My friends called and want to meet for dinner; There was a detour, There was a bad accident and heavy traffic; A major system broke and I have to run to the parts store; plus 1000 other scenarios

This is where a pure EV fails, this is where I either get stranded, or am unable to do what I NEED or WANT to do.

That is not why I have a car. I have a car to get me to where I NEED or WANT to go, every time.



My comment was directed to Amuro Ray.


another good review from car and driver...where's your review


Is the Volt for everyones commute no, but Amuro lets use your example of 33 miles of a daily commute. Worst case the Volt only got 25 miles on electricity therfore 8 miles of the trip where on gasoline. Worst case scenario the Volt gets 32mpg in those 8 miles. So I now have traveled 33 miles using a .25 gallon of gas. My effective mpg for that day are 132mpg. Now there are 114,000 btu's of energy in a gallon of gas. Therfore the Volt obtains 950 btu's per mile. From the The US Transportation Energy Data Book states the following figures for Passenger transportation in 2006. We see that Buses (Transit) avg. 8.8 passenges when getting normally 4 mpg which equals 4,235 btu's per mile per passaenger. Rail service Commuter) avg passangers 31.3 equals 2,996 btu/ mile per person.
SO the Volt is 950 btu's per person/mile vs. 4235 and 2996. Which is better?


Sorry Style, that moment of confusion fell into my 10% ignorant period. :)

as said before it will be up as soon as possible.


I fail to see how this impacts the quantity of gasoline the Volt will use every year.

So, if my experience as an owner (not that I own one) doesn't change, then why should I care?

And certainly why should I come on and scream up and down that the Volt is a huge failure, GM is Hitler, and that everyone who disagrees with me is a (insert prefix here)-ist?

Seriously, do we all have such low self esteem that the only way we can feel good about ourselves is to find lame/desperate excuses as to why the brand of car that we don't own is bad?


dave t.

sorry about that. i had c&d open in another tab and didn't refresh this one to see all the new posts.

the previous comment was not some much bashing as pointing out that your writing style for all things gm or chrysler is somewhat luke-warm or pessimistic.

We try very hard to be as unbiased as possible and go to great lengths to stay that way. We pay our own way for travel for example. I don't think any publication mentioned in any of the comments above can say that.

I think if you read every one of our reviews on every car we really take each vehicle on its own merits. We've run negative Toyota reviews, glowing GM reviews, lukewarm Ford reviews for example because they've earned it. We've run the exact opposite as well for all those makes and all others.

We've been very pessimistic on Chrysler in particular in the past but for good reason. Hopefully their new products continue to change our mind.

I really don't mind questioning our reviews and we hope to answer anything we can. I just thought it was hard to bash us for something not written yet. It's a very important review and we want to get it right. Thanks again.


So, let me get this straight, GM applied technology to the Volt to make it more efficient, and people are complaining about it?

One of the earlier complaints about the Volt was that the ICE could not power the wheels. Now that it has come to light that the ICE can power the wheels, most of the same "bloggers" and other internet know-it-alls are now complaining that the ICE can power the wheels. Ignorance abounds, or is it just blind hate for all things GM?

This just proves (as if there was ever any doubt) that there are a bunch of ignorant, self-serving, or just plain uninformed people out there in the internets. Oh wait, this is GM, people will use anything they can against GM, regardless of whether they have engaged in rational thought before they typed all of their ignorant vitriol.

GM did not "lie" about anything, they just witheld information that could not have been disclosed before the patent. GM NEVER called the Volt an EV, it's an EREV, which is totally different thing than an EV. What part of that don't people understand?

Also, judging by some of the comments here, and elsewhere, there seem to be some people who think, or WANT people to think, that GM claimed that the Volt's range would be 230 miles. They never said this, they said it could achieve 230MPG, which is a bit misleading, yes, but technically, it can be achieved.

I know GM has made many, MANY missteps in the past, and has made a lot of enemies along the way, including yours truly, but let's not let our bias distract from what the Volt really is, a great technological achievement that is already being copied by other manufacturers.

The Volt is NOT "a more expensive Prius", and it is totally different than a basic EV like the Leaf, it is an EREV. If you still do not understand, or are unable to comprehend what an EREV is, I suggest you read up on the subject before spewing anymore idiotic rants about what the Volt is or isn't.

Amuro Ray


33 mi is NOT my example. It's what GM itself states.

The data you used actually points out to how under-utilized our public transportation is, but that's all I can say 'bou your interpretation of the statistics. The report doesn't state how far those 8.8 or 31.3 passengers travel, does it? Otherwise, u r just placing additional constraints on data that isn't collected for such purpose.

In addition, how about doing the same math again using the supposed what these public systems are designed for? Now won't that be a better reflection of what these systems can do, NOT what we are getting because we choose to not use it.

Besides, the benefit of not emitting any harmful gases (from say, able to use 100% EV throughout commute) is just as important too.

@ JV, Volt is not an EV; it's a hybrid. Don't try to claim that it is something and enjoy all the "benefits" that the label comes with, when it is not. Toyota, Honda and Ford don't label their vehicles as EV simply 'coz they aren't. These companies understand what an EV is, and what an EV is not. GM Volt's, in high level, is precisely what a hybrid is. As a hybrid, I've nothing against the Volt; but as an EV which GM initially labels it, but chooses to ignore all the caveats behind it, that's what make me "very crossed."

The competitor of has a blog article today, simply calling GM a lier and it has very good logical reason behind it.


I want to see someone be able to repair and/or buy parts for this complicated loser in 10 years....the wording "Thats been discontinued" comes to mind.


Amuro Ray,

Please show me where GM ever labeled the Volt as a an EV. Oh, you can't? That's right, you can't, because they NEVER labeled it as an EV. They have called it an EREV from the very start, which is exactly what it is.



Not sure if you have noticed, but all new cars are overly complicated these days. I see your point, but what you said can be applied to almost any new car that is on sale today, unless you go out and buy a base Yaris or something along those lines.

Jonathan V

@ Amuro Ray
So for a vehicle to be an EV it must completly stop in its tracks once the battery is depleted?

The definition I think is better suited, and the one GM appears to be refering to is:
"A Car that can propel itself for a significant distance using grid supplied electricity and no cumbustable fuel"

after the EV runs out of juice, what does the "Definition" care how the car gets home, by using gas or on a flatbed?

Amuro Ray


U just want to have ur own butt kicked too, don't ya? A VERY SIMPLE search reveals MANY places where GM labels Volt as Electric Vehicle, NOT EREV.

Look at your web browsers title/label bar. The VERY TOP of your browser. You will see what GM says "2011 Volt | Electric Car |"

(2) Do a Google search on "GM Volt" and you will see that the 1st hit is
GM-Volt: Chevy Volt Electric Car Site.

(3) In the 2nd link (which also claims the Volt as an electric car), you'll see "About GM-VOLT
The definitive source of real-time, news, information, and discussion about the Chevy Volt electric car and related topics."

(4) A description of Volt's twitter page:
The definitive source of news, information, and discussion about the Chevy Volt electric car.

If you know about the Internet, these "texts" are what GM describes the vehicle is about, not google's description. Most of these links are calling Volt as an electric vehicle, not EREV that you so strongly suggested.

OT lie here:
"Much more importantly, you will need NO GASOLINE for drives up to 40 miles."
NOT TRUE! As Dave T. has stated earlier, "Namely over 70 mph and on tough inclines the engine does kick on before the electric range is depleted."

Butt kicked. More importantly, lies revealed!


My butt is just fine, that proves absolutely nothing, except your bias.


The car is ugly, overpriced, and the Prius gets better mileage. I was excited about the Volt but now that I've seen it more up close and in-depth I'm no longer impressed.


BTW, you do realize that the link you provided, and your whole "Electric Car in the title bar" argument is a bit of a stretch, right?

Oh, and the link you provided, well look at that, right there on the front page, in big letters, "Volt, more than electric".

Sorry about your butt.


Also, a little more reading comprehension might be needed on your part, the ICE only kicks in above 70mph WHEN THE BATTERY IS DEPLETED.

So, in light of this, everything you have said is completely irrelevant.

Amuro Ray

Last time for me to get into a 1:1 argument with someone who doesn't even read what they have written...

(1) "Please show me where GM ever labeled the Volt as a an EV."

- Yup, I've done it. All the links I've shown you: they were written by GM and no one else. They all said that Volt is an electric car, not and "extended range electric vehicle" as u've said earlier. It's NOT difficult to add "extended range" in those places, but GM opts not to do it.

Sure there are places where GM labels it as sthg else, but that's NOT what u were asking me to show u, weren't u?

(2) a little more reading comprehension might be needed on your part, the ICE only kicks in above 70mph WHEN THE BATTERY IS DEPLETED.

- Please look at comment by David Thomas - KickingTires Editor @
Oct 11, 2010 3:50:19 PM

Gee's, may be I didn't kick hard enuf the 1st time.

Amuro Ray

Ok, I'm gonna break my last promise...THIS ONE IS GONNABE MY LAST 1:1 ARGUMENT.

More proof, NAIL IN THE COFFIN for Pokey.

Oh man...

Electric Vehicles (and NOT EREV) on the left panel, Electric Vehicle on top of a picture of...THE VOLT.


GM is 10 years late to the game. So what else is new?

Ken L.

For the premium price you pay for what is essentially a plug in Prius with a bigger battery, it just not worth it when comparing it to the $23k Prius. The gas tank on the Volt is 9.3 gallons versus the Prius' 11.9, and from fully charged and fully gassed, to empty, the Prius provides a longer driving range, and you don't have to plug it in every night. Let's face it, I do not think many people will feel too comfortable plugging in their cars, the same reason why some people choose the full service gas station lanes when filling up. We do not like the hassle of having to do an additional "something" on a repetitive base. We have forgotten to charge our phones and laptops right? Life is stressful enough; we don't need to deal with plugging it in and gassing up the same vehicle (I'm not a fan of plug in hybrids, even the upcoming Prius or Nissan's EV Leaf). And let's not forget, the Volt requires Premium gasoline, whereas the Prius will take regular 87 just fine.

It seems each time we learn more about the Volt, the more we are disappointed. First, the design changed dramatically from the concept -I know, it was only a concept car, but it looked much better than the current Prius look-alike. Then the whole 230 Miles Per GALLON advertisement (yeah, I still remember that white outlet with the smiley face), the revised 50 miles per gallon estimate, the re-revised 25-45 miles per gallon estimate, and now the latest on its powertrain technology. All in all, it's a good effort by GM, but not the breakthrough in design, technology, and efficiency that most were hoping for. But I do wonder how it drives and handles...


motortrend reported over 125 mpg in their extensive test of this vehicle, which i assume was mostly city driving...that beats the hell out of my prius.

If it is completely a hybrid car then it is no.1 in technology.As in hybrid cars engine is not used to rcharge the battery but used to run the car.however in volt engine is only used to recharge battery that indicates the better economy.


Volt is a plug-in hybrid - this is fact.
-it uses premium gasoline
-it seats only 4
-it is too expensive

The question is, how many people actually want to buy it?


BTW, Prius considered to be a family car.


Bob Lutz (GM):

"My desire was to put an electric car concept out there to show the world that unlike the press reports that painted GM as an unfeeling uncaring squanderer of petroleum resources while wonderful Toyota was reinventing the automobile, I just wanted something on the show stand that would show that hey we’re not just thinking of a Prius hybrid here, we’re trying to get gasoline OUT of the equation ENTIRELY."

nuff said


125mpg? Big deal.
Car and Driver did 127 in the first gen Insight. That was 10 years ago.

Amuro Ray

@ Cody,

I've read the MT article. I don't see where or how it determines the 126 mpg throughout the write-up (other than the #). Maybe I missed it somehow, but I do want to remind you that...and I think it was you who reminded everyone initially in another post, there's really no EPA rating on the Volt at this point, and we don't know anything about the mpg of the gasoline engine as per gov't rating. Thus, it may be that they just total up the miles (range) and divide it by gas tank size, or sthg else...

OTOH, since u own a Prius, and to all Prius owners (I think that they know already, but this is the 1st time I've learned the actual data although I know that it is possible), you can actually drive ur Prius WITHOUT using a drop of gas for 13 mi! Thus, by changing ur driving habit a bit, u can achieve zero emission as well with just a regular Prius, $20K + cheaper, and no need to worry 'bou vehicle depreciation on trading/selling ur Prius for a Volt. In certain conditions, u can even drive beyond the 25-50 mi limit of a Volt, and still NOT A SINGLE DROP OF GAS!

Yes, it requires driving habit change, but isn't that what the Volt (and the LEAF) is all about (plugging in at night)?

I've only managed about 4-5 miles on EV in a Prius, you must be driving downhill or other hypermiling to get 13 yes? The argument isn't really valid as the Volt will be all electric no matter how you drive it until the charge is gone.

How is this so hard for people to understand? That hasn't changed. Actually nothing has changed except for some semantics about the engine helping to power a motor-generator instead of the generator and battery and only then at certain times.

Amuro Ray


that 13 mi is from the MT writeup that Cody is referring to.

I guess that people like me who is "blashing" the Volt is really not 'coz it's a problem with Volt's mechanism. It's great. Better than what the Prius/Insight/etc. are using at this point, but not as good as the LEAF (assuming that u know what u bought a LEAF is for, as per ur LEAF's test drive today).

What people are upset 'bou is not 'bou the Volt per se, but how GM has presented the Volt from the get-go. The semantics here - GM knew it all along, but keep on insisting sthg else otherwise. I knew that there's sthg fishy based on my Engineering education and experience (that the initially reported setup doesn't make 100% sense), but how US Corp is presenting a rosy picture, and finally the truth is far from what it is (from an entirely EV to sthg that will use gas even before the charge has used up, under some conditions). That's the GM we knew, and that's the GM we were hoping to see changes...but not on the Volt. You (marketing, that is, not DT) can play with all the words, but those that are smart enuf can read through the lines from the get-go too (again, thx to my mentor who's a public PR guy).

The other thg that people are pissed 'bou are from the greenies too. Not all greenies, esp those pro-GM greenies, but if u look at it from another angle, GM invented the term "range anxiety" for the LEAF, as well as constant beat down comparison of the Prius (plus others). The resulting product sounded initially to be better than both, but truth and behold, it doesn't have the EV range of a LEAF - NOT EVEN CLOSE, and it's not really that much better than a Prius or similar, if u factor in cost of owning the vehicle. If GM is really encouraging green energy with Volt, then suppressing any other green vehicles that are greener or as green as the Volt does NO help. There are many of those who really try to push hard into environmentalism without going to the extreme, and GM is playing these folks with its marketing bit. GM promised a lot on the green factor, but delivering v. little here (zero emission, no gas use for daily commute - now it's condition dependent), then saying the rest of the green vehicles are even worse, and that's the 2nd factor that many are upset.

Again, from a car journalist/fan point of view, Volt is great. Put yourself in another angle, maybe you'll see it differently than.


13 miles? But AR said you could drive beyond the 25-50 mile range of the Volt under certain conditions. For certain he couldn't be lying because everything he says is always true? Oh he must be talking about that perpetual downhill run on I-453 in Timbuktu with the 60 mph tailwind.

Actually I think the press is more upset because we asked direct questions and were told one thing by the PR team while the engineering team was doing something else. The public shouldn't really care about the changes.

From my basic understanding of what has changed you can't really call the Volt a Plug In Hybrid now either. It is something different/unique.

The public who will be buying this will get exactly what they've been told. All electric driving for their commute and gas power when they need it.

Think of it this way.

You want to take a 3 hour, 180 mile road trip for the weekend to the beach. It will take you 3 hours in the Volt and you might not even have to refuel on the return trip.

In the Leaf you'll have to pull over at the 100 mile mark, recharge for 4-8 hours and then finish. Meaning, you can't take a 3 hour road trip in a Leaf.

That's why GM is going this route. They wanted it to be for 1 car households, and not just a commuter/city car.

After driving the Leaf I can say it's pretty amazing and I think both will basically sell out. The Volt in real world use will log many many more miles on EV than a Prius.

Now, we won't know until people start buying them as to how they'll actually use them. I'm sure GM will be monitoring that data closely.


The questions are- what is more economical for the consumer -a 180 road trip in a Volt or a Prius? Or if you just drive 40-50 miles a day - which is more economical? If you're a one car household wouldn't you want the most economical car and if you're a one car household then the chances are very likely that you're not going to just drive it 33 miles a day.

You're absolutely right it all depends on the owner. I drive 25 miles each way to work for example.
So for me, a Volt would be more economical on gas than a Prius.

We probably drive over that amount (without the ability to recharge anywhere) 20 times a year? Still you're offsetting those 20 times with 250 daily commutes of barely any gas use.



i noticed the same thing and stated as much in my first post. i suspect you're right. they probably drove the car around throughout their test, then divided the total miles driven by the amount of gas consumed. pretty solid numbers though, especially given the way motortrend flogs cars during their tests.

i'm not very good at staying in ev mode in my prius. i tend to just try to drive it like a regular car, which still returns really good mileage.

am i planning on trading my prius in for a volt? no. it's less than a year old. however, i might consider trading it in for the next generation volt, as the fuel economy gains are hard to argue with. i could drive back in forth to work without using any gas, while still being able to make long trips to visit family or vacation.


also, i don't think gm invented the term 'range axiety'. it's actually a real concern for people that live in larger states that tend to be more spread out. that limited range allowed the ICE to beat out EVs around the turn of the century (1900), and it limited the appeal of GM's EV1.

i think they learned a lesson from the EV1 and applied it here. just my 2 cents.

Amuro Ray

I"m just gonna ignore Style...

I think that the bigger picture here from a green car perspective is that, if u live and work close by, but do need to drive a vehicle for such, the LEAF is a better choice for you, DT, since I believe that you already have another vehicle that can do long trip (the Subaru you posted). The question is, "what if I want to go beyond the charge mileage?"

Nissan from day 1 has stated that the LEAF is a commute vehicle, a 2nd car. Nothing more, nothing less.

But what 'bou the extra mileage I need?

Well, then the LEAF is not for you, if it's the only vehicle you've. Unless of 'coz, ur trips is very occasional - car rental.

I do question your comment 'bou GM wants the Volt to be a 1-car household vehicle...I mean, does GM want to sell only 1 car to such household? Business values said otherwise (the more cars each household buy no matter what the condition of the household is, the better). This is just kidding, of 'coz...

Amuro Ray

@ Cody,

Reported in many places about the term "range anxiety" and how GM wants to trademark it for marketing purposes on its Volt:

As for your Prius - there are commercial places where they can convert your Prius to a plug-in hybrid. Dunno 'bou the warranty thg, so may best to do it later on if it voids Toyota's warranty...It's 'bou $10K for the conversion, but still cheaper than the Volt (assuming that ur Prius is 'bou $25K). There's also the EV mode button that can allow Prius to operate in EV mode - sthg that's DIY in US, but Toyota provided features around the world.


Ignore me if you want however it was your ridiculous statement, not mine. Substantiate it and I'll apologize for making fun of your statement.


Amuro and the other Volt bashing idiots need to get a grip on reality. This is NOT a Prius. Its amazing how technically inept people are on these internet sites. A Prius cannot propel itself for extended periods of time or at speeds above 20mph or so on battery power alone. THAT is why the Prius isnt an electric car. The Volt and the Leaf are fully capable of driving for many miles (up to 50 for Volt, up to 100 or so for Leaf) on electric power. THAT is why they are electric cars. If you commute 10-15 miles a day you can conceivable use the Volt daily and use battery power ONLY. You cannot do that in a Prius unless you commute consists of speeds under 15-20mph on flat roads. A hybrid recharges its battery by utilizing kinetic energy from the brakes. The Volt primarily charges its battery from an outlet in your house. The fact that the engine is capable of helping propel the car at highway speeds DOES NOT mean the car isnt an electric car- it simply means its a different type of electric car. In a hybrid the gas engine can propel the car solely without the electric motor-can't do that with the Volt. The electric motor is required at all times to move the car.


"125mpg? Big deal.
Car and Driver did 127 in the first gen Insight. That was 10 years ago."

Are you serious? That was a 2 seater that needed about 11-12 secs to hit 60 and had no practicality. On top of that the real EPA rating was about 68mpg, not 127mpg in this phantom C&D test you mention. The Volt can actually be used as a practical car for a couple or small family while the first Insight was a limited use car that flopped in the marketplace.


You arent too bright. MT calculated the 127mpg by dividing mileage but how much gas they used- its pretty simple. They said that number came from 6 different commuter drives while they had the car- presumably for 3 days. In terms of MPG in urban driving the Volt will destroy the Prius and every other hybrid- period. If you drive 30-40miles per day you will rarely, if ever, use gas on your commute.

You would have to drive unrealistically to get the Prius or any other hybrid to remain in EV mode for an extended period of time. IN normal driving you WILL use the gas engine in ANY hybrid- that is why they aren't called electric vehicles. The Volt can use its battery only for up to 50 miles if conditions allow. Anyone claiming they can easily get 13m of EV use in a Prisu without resorting to extreme or dangerous driving is a liar. Period.


The car is only supposed to made in limited numbers- about 10k in 2011. That is HARDLY a lot of vehicles for Chevy. They sell 20k+ Corvettes in a bad year so moving 10k of these cars will not be a problem. There are a lot of well off people in this country who are obsessed with lowering their carbon footprints. They will have no trouble moving this vehicle. People who hate GM and the Volt are acting like t his vehicle has to sell in Malibu like numbers to be successful- the reality is they need to sell about 1k per month for this to be considered a success. The Prius is a lower end product and its priced accordingly and sells accordingly.



You sound like a wounded Toyota fanboy who can't acknowledge Toyota has been surpassed. You are completely wrong in asserting this is basically the same as the Prius. It's not because you can conceivable drive this car daily and not use gas if your commute is short enough. The Prius CANNOT do that. PERIOD. I am wondering if you bothered to read anything about the car before posting.

Premium gas? Are you serious? Its a $40k car and most cars in that range need premium fuel. A $27k CC required premium fuel. Considering the amount of gas used I dont think owners will care about using premium. If I use 10 gallons of gas per month I can afford to buy premium.

You deride electric cars as impractical but Toyota is working on a plug in Prius and Ford is working on a plug in Focus. Cars that can be charged are coming in a major way so the Volt is merely one of the first. You seem to be suggesting that Toyota isnt worrying about plug in tech because they have the perfect solution in synergy drive but Toyota is working on electric cars and plug ins as we speak.

The concept car was a tiny hatch that was never going to make it to production. The real car needs room for people, cargo and a huge battery pack. The shape is largely determined by packaging and aerodynamics so common sense dictates that it will have a similar shape to Prius. GM NEVER said the car was supposed to get 40 miles on battery power in all conditions. They said a MAX of 40miles from DAY one. They recently revised it to 25-50 miles- it was the first time that the minimum range was established. The 230mpg number was based on how GM thought the government was going to rate electric cars but the EPA backed away from GM after that and said they hadnt finalized the procedure for measuring EV efficiency. The 230mpg was based on rarely using the gas engine in the city and its acheivable if you drive less than 50 miles per day. In additon, the 230mpg figure was only for measuing gas use, NOT total operating costs. Your claim that the car isnt a breakthrough is hard to swallow. It's the first and ONLY vehicle of its kind which automatically makes it a breakthrough. If GM is able to raise battery capacity in the next generation this car will be light years ahead of any budding competitors.



Your writing style and grammar are horrible and it seems like you are doing it on purpose. Who cares if GM is trademarking "range anxiety"? All you need to worry about is the fact that its REAL and Nissan is considering steps to make up for the limited range of the Leaf. Chevy is marketing their product based on its advantage in the marketplace. That's called smart in my eyes. What would you prefer them to do? Market the Leaf's advantages instead?

And lets not act like all Prius models cost $23k- that is the STARTING PRICE. A loaded Prius equipped more like the Volt is over $34k. The Volt is nearly loaded at $41l so comparing it to a stripped down $23k Prius is disingenuous.


In major cities its possible for one or both working people in a household to not drive to work. I don't drive to work. For people in a city like mine a Volt can make a lot of sense because there are lots of households where one or both adults don't drive. 90% of the round trips I take in my car are less than 15-20 miles. The Volt is out of my price range but in terms of lifestyle it would work well for my driving. Let's stop with all the excuse making and Prius praising. People who buy the volt will do so because they want to be the first with such a cutting edge product, not because they want to "save money" vs owning a Prius. Hell, the Prius doesn't even make sense from a cost perspective vs a cheap corolla.



You say the range of the Volt isnt even close to that of the Leaf. Not true, Leaf's range is 50-100m with C&D saying 70 is probably achievable in the real world based on their testing. The range gap on the Leaf is double that of the Volt which means that adverse conditions and use of HVAC must have a major affect on range. At the end of the day no one is going to take a 70 or 80m round trip in the Leaf so the REAL WORLD range (useful range) of the Leaf isn't going to be much higher than the Volt. Of course the Volt will allow you to take a 100m trip with no concerns so its in a totally different category really.

GM hasnt done any Prius bashing, they have merely said that the Volt is unlike any existing hybrid and that is true. They have taken shots at the Leaf and rightfully so because the Leaf is a city car ONLY. Nissan has taken shots at the Volt for its price.


While bashing the others can't type in formal English, Sheth is doing something so similar. By replying the same person in 4 separate post, which is just as annoying.
By the way, "isn't" needs an apostrophe. Thanks.

Ken L.

First and foremost, let me clarify my position here. I am not a fan of ANY vehicle, including upcoming ones, which require DAILY HOME PLUG IN. I think once the novelty of plugging in your own car wears off, you will find that it's going to be a daily chore. I don't think many people are interested in shutting off their car and then having to fiddle around and plug it in before locking it up for the night. Most will probably just want to come home, shut off their car and go about their own business. Now, if the battery range is 400-600 miles per charge on any vehicle, and charging stations were more readily available, then yes, I would LOVE Plug Ins. I look forward to the day where Moore's Law would double the range of EVs with every new introduction. I believe we can achieve the 400 - 600 miles per charge within the next decade, easily. But, until then...

The issue I, and many others have, is not mainly with the Volt. In fact, I think the Volt is a pretty descent car. The first 25 - 40 miles or so is amazing -even beats my 2010 Prius, the overall miles per gallon from fully charged and fueled to empty is "respectable" as well. The issue here is GM and its early claims on the Volt. A Manufacturer should not have to defend itself and resort to damage control on a new product. It's better to under hype and over deliver, than vice versa.

Personally, this vehicle only benefits those that own a home, have access to the garage, and don't mind the cost of charging the vehicle overnight on a DAILY bases + the premium of the Volt over the Prius. Will it sell? Sure. But if it was priced 2k or so over every Prius II - V, then it could sell a whole lot more and raise GM's reputation. 40k is luxury car territory. Period.


Somehow this has already become some political-style controversy where people have totally disregarded reason and logic (see Jalopnik coverage).

#1 - Yes, the car works similarly to a prius at speeds that are illegal in most states. Um, so what?

#2 - I think it's actually significantly more complex to be able to have the drivetrain work in this way, so perhaps GM should be cheered instead of having a car that craps out at 70 mph.

All this hype and name calling for a car no one has actually road tested yet. I say, sell the car and then decide whether the car is good on its merits, not based on rumors, name calling, and all this silliness.


Quoting Ken L.:
"First and foremost, let me clarify my position here. I am not a fan of ANY vehicle, including upcoming ones, which require DAILY HOME PLUG IN. I think once the novelty of plugging in your own car wears off, you will find that it's going to be a daily chore."

Don't you get gas? Why is this harder?

Ken L.


I do get gas, but NOT daily. Current plug-ins are harder because it becomes a daily chore. Since I use mass transit to get to work, I get gas every 3 - 4 weeks with my Prius -which I do not mind at all, that's the way it should be. Each fill up cost in the mid $20s + or - $3 (I use 89 @ $3.03/gallon where I am). Even with aftermarket upgrades to 17 inches wheels on the Prius, I get over 450 miles till empty (this varies, but it's according to the vehicle's on-board computer after filling up) and feel that all future Hybrids/EVs intro should at least come close to or beating that range, that's all.


Don't bash the Prius because others are bashing the Volt. Your statement that the Prius can't go more than 20 mph on electricity only, is dead wrong. Prius will go more than 30 mph on electricity from a stop and under optimal conditions on the highway it will run on electricity only at highway speeds for short periods. You are correct in pointing out that the Volt is not a Prius and that most people posting here don't have the technical intelligence to know the difference.

G Patterson

Is anyone surprised to find out GM lied about the Volt's capabilities? I gave up on GM in the late 80's and haven't looked back. Hallelujah!


So the purists are disappointed because they wanted a true series hybrid vehicle? That is an inferior technology and not the most efficient by any means. Again, law of conservation of energy applies.



i had previously read about the places that convert prius's (sp?) to plug-in, but i don't think i'd try it. voiding the warranty is obviously a concern, and i don't think i'd be able to recoup the $10k investment. i paid a little over $23k for mine, and felt pretty good about the price considering what other mid-sized cars go for these days.

i get what you mean about the term 'range anxiety'. i'm just saying that it is a real concern for a lot of people, not just something gm made up. the fact that they coined the phrase and tried to trade mark it doesn't make it fabricated.

the nissan leaf is $32,780 according to nissan's website. the volt is less than $10k more, and you get a much more capable car for the money. in my opinion, the nissan seems a bit overpriced by comparison.


the link below explains how motortrend came up with 127.6 mpg during their volt test, and also provides some additional mileage info.

Amuro Ray

So in MT's favorable review, Volt's ICE milage is about 52 mpg, just like ur Prius..well, plus a bonus of 36 electricity mi. Put it this way - you pay close to $20K for the bonus 36 electric mi. Not too good of a deal in my eyes.

What's sad 'bou the story is that they keep on comparing the Volt with the LEAF, when the former is a hybrid whereas LEAF is a pure EV with zero emission, which is apple to oranges OTOH, MT decides NOT to compare it to the Prius, a less advanced hybrid technology at this point, but much cheaper and on par in terms of fuel economy!



The majority of Americans arent interested in electric cars. Guess what? Most Americans don't want or can't afford M3s or CTS-V's either. So what? The Volt is a high tech car for those who can afford an EREV and want the latest technology. Most can agree that the car is too pricey for the average family but they are only hoping to sell 10k a year. You seem to be missing the point that GM knows this car wont sell in Prius type volumes. The first Insight didnt sell well but it laid the groundwork for all the hybrids we have today. The Volt will be low volume at first but those who buy it will OBVIOUSLY not have an issue with charging it at night. That's the whole point. There is a small, but vocal contingent of people who have been clamoring for more electric cars and many folks are ready to plug in their cars. If the car isn't for you there is nothing to worry about. The range of the Volt is dependent on how far you drive in between plug ins. If you drive 30-50miles a day and plug in at night you are going to get far more than 450miles on a 9 gallon tank of gas.


Aside from the styling I don't have an issue with the Prius. You and I both know the car CANNOT drive appreciable distances under normal conditions under electric power. I haven't driven the 2010 model but I drove the 2nd gen model and it was very difficult to not engage the gas engine. On the highway the gas engine can shut down when it's not needed to propel the car but if you try to accelerate the engine will re-engage. You cannot drive 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 miles on the Prius without using the gas engine, that's just a fact. BTW, I never said the Prius can't be driven faster than 20mph in electric mode. I said you cannot drive any notable distance without using the gas engine unless you were hypermiling.



The rang for the Leaf is 60-140 miles, not 50 to 100 miles.



the point is 50mpg is the best my car can do, period. with the volt, i could potentially drive all week using no gas at all to get to and from work and take care of my around town errands, and still with the same car, drive from killeen texas down to san antonio texas to visit family.

i would need to buy a leaf ($32,780) and a second car..say a nissan versa hatchback ($13,520) to have the same capability...and pay for insurance for both vehicles...and the versa will still achieve lower fuel economy than the volt on my longer trips.

the combined fuel economy achieved by the volt (as it is one car and it shouldn't be seperated), is simply amazing.


I cannot comprehend how far GM can go with GM Volt story. Using a hybrid car in electric mode only, driving 40 mi / day commute, means to shorten the battery pack life to 2 - 3 years. The battery pack itself, rated at 16 kilowatts/hour, comprises more than 220 separate cells wired in series. The Volt pack is about six feet long and weighs a hefty 375 pounds. (Equal with two passengers). The replacement cost $8000 to $12000.
In winter time and steep roads one charge cannot cover 40 miles distance. The electricity is not cheap and 50 % of electricity is produced by burning coal.
Using as a hybrid it is a different story, but using a VW Jetta TDI Diessel, 50 mpg, 2.0L 140 hp engine, for $18,000 to $23,000 is a REALITY and not an UTOPIA.

good progress in the future will be a better world is waiting for good clean environment


The Volt is a great car. Doesn't need any service except 25k oil change. I just got 43 miles on one charge driving into LA and back. 1.50 to go 43 miles.Torque and handling like no other.Drives like a midline BMW 3 series. Solid construction like a Mercedes or BMW. Drives the same after the gas engine starts(still gets 40 miles per gallon). Totally great car. Great lease price or if you buy it you get a 9k tax credit. Savings of about 1k over 3 years of service visits as compared to my Toyota Camry. 1.50 per day as opposed to $9.00 per day at 4.50 for 2 gallons of gas. The anti Volt propaganda must be originating from the.....Oil Companies??? ...or who??

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