Going Electric ! — 16 Comments

  1. Come visit us on, would love to see you participation. We are proud owners of 2 Chevy Volts!

  2. Your post implies that you don’t realize the Volt can be powered by the gas engine or the electric motor or both.

    Yes, both.

    GM was unclear on this during the early days of the Volt, but in late 2011 admitted this car is a plug-in hybrid, NOT an extended-range EV.

    • Actually if you read carefully, I did mention that: “and the gas powered electricity generator can even assist the electric motor when driving at high speed”
      That being said, the gas engine never powers the car directly and solely, it powers the generator which can be coupled to help the Electric motor, this only happens at high speeds AND if you are using the gas engine (battery depleted or chose the conservation mode)

      Overall, the Volt drivetrain is very different from the hybrid system, and in my mind deserves to be called an extended range EV and not a hybrid (not that I really care about labels :) ). So far this mode has never kicked in on our Volt, even at 70mph on the highway, so it is a very rare occurrence and only accounts for a minuscule percentage of the Volt use.

      Now I did not want to get too technical about the whole thing as it is fairly elaborate, but you can see the complete explanation of the Volt amazing drivetrain here.

      • Actually after discussion with some other volt owners and re watching the video the following clarification is in order.

        As long as battery power is available, the Gas engine will NEVER be used. At high speed (above 70mph), the car will get additional power by combining the main Electric engine and the Generator, but powering the generator with the battery.

        Basically the Volt has TWO electric motors, the main one and a generator. But the generator can either be powered by the gas engine to produce electricity, or powered by the battery to be used as a second electric motor.

        And so it is only when the battery is depleted and you are already using the gas engine to power the generator that the gas engine is eventually contributing to power the car above 70mph.

        A noteworthy difference :)

        • //

          GM seems to contradict that notion.

          • It actually confirms what I just explained :)

            Read carefully “when going above 70 mph in charge sustaining mode, and the generator gets coupled to the drivetrain, the gas engine participates in the motive force. ”

            “Charge sustaining” mode” is a mode in the volt where the owner can force the gas engine to run in order to preserve the battery for later use.

            So As I explained before, if the gas engine is already running (because your battery is depleted, or because you have forced it to run to preserve the battery), then above 70mph when the generator is made to help the electric motor, you will effectively have the gas engine powering the generator itself powering the wheel, and yes at that point the gas engine is helping powering the wheel.
            EDIT: The coupling of the generator can occur at any speed above 36mph if it can improve efficiency (like stable speeds). So when Using the gas engine (an only then) the engine may end up coupled to the electric motor for maximum efficiency

            But as long as you have battery and you don’t manually force the engine to run, the car can operate at any speed ONLY using electricity. Using the gas engine is optional.

          • That article is way out of date now.

            It really looks like some PR flack at GM put out the press release before they had any understanding of what the Genus Engineers had given them. I can just see the press reports seeping into the lab and the GE’s going “What?! We never said that!” and then having a discussion with said flack about how it really worked. And like “Telephone” flack heard something entirely different from what was said, and the process repeating…

        • The Video does not actually say it needs to be 70 MPH, it is just an example. Now we know that Two-Motor Mode occurs at steady speeds as low as 38 MPH, all the way to top speed. The reason for running the two motors together is not as you say, to increase power, but rather to increase efficiency. Running a gas motor at high RPM’s is usually less efficient than a more moderate speed, and electric motors are no different. By using the second motor to spin the ring gear it, in effect, adds an “overdrive” and reduces the main motor RPM down into it’s “sweet spot”. Try this: Cruise on the highway at some constant speed, say 60 for a few minutes. After running steady state for a while mash the pedal down as if to pass. You will feel a little hesitation before full power is applied (If you have been cruising long enough). This hesitation is the Volt transmission spinning the generator down to zero RPM and locking the ring gear to the case so that the main motor can give you the power you requested. If you let up and mash the pedal down again, the power will come on right away, as there is a delay before the Two Motor Mode engages again. Once the battery is depleted the gas engine contributes it’s torque to spin the generator, and in Two Motor Mode also spin the ring gear. There may be a little more hesitation when mashing the pedal since the gas engine has to disconnect from the generator in order to bring the generator to zero RPM, I don’t really know since I rarely use the gas engine at all. (14.8 gallons since 6-8-11.) P.S. I’ve found it’s best to ignore AA-Ron.

  3. I am a delighted owner of a 2013 Volt and I really can’t understand why it is that – for some people – there is a fanatical preoccupation with the .0001% conceptual chance that under some rare and precise circumstances the Volt can possibly “couple” to perhaps get up to 10% of its power from the engine. Compared to the litany of stories about serious, real-world EV problems… Nissan Leaf batteries losing up to 40% of their capacity in 3 years, Prius hybrids failing emissions tests… THESE are the kinds of issues that the EV public should be focused on! Why for the love of God don’t they get angry about something that matters instead of focusing on something that is mostly theoretical and unimportant.

    I have driven my Volt for 5 months and have had nothing but pure joy throughout my 90% gasoline-free driving. I have taken two highway trips in “hold” mode, where I deliberately directed the car to use only the engine. One trip was 5 hours and the other 6 hours. I was thrilled with the fuel economy and astonished at how seamless and imperceptible the transition from EV to Generator was.
    On other occasions where I needed to travel outside of my normal daily commuting radius, I didn’t even think for a moment if I could “make it”. I just let the car do what it needed to do without a care in the world.

    I find it to be an incredibly eco-friendly car. not just because it is so efficient with and without the use of gasoline but also because I do not need to be responsible for the production/ownership/maintenance of a second or third car to do everything that Limited Range EVs can not do.

    The Volt is truly the perfect blend of EV technology and multi-purpose approach to getting the most out of a single vehicle.

    • I could not agree more :)

      We live in a day an age where polarization of people is everywhere (widely thanks to media an political outlets). As a result people feel increasingly compelled to argue fiercely about everything outside of their belief or comfort zone when there is little to no benefit from doing so, and instead of simply engaging in meaningful productive discussion.

      Some critical thinking and open mindedness teaching in school would go a long way, not mentioning actual affordability of higher education. But this is for another discussion :)

  4. This article contains a lot of misinformation. Most 2013 EVs charge at 6KW which allows them to fully charge in 3-4 hours. It doesn’t mention the Model S, its fantastic range and supercharging capability or the tesla powered Rav4 which is a more affordable vehicle while offering decent range.

    I am glad that the you enjoys the volt and uses the gasoline engine very little; as battery technology advances hopefully you wont need training wheels on your next car.

    • I think your use of the word misinformation is a bit exaggerated may be :)

      This was not meant (and never pretended) to be an extensive study of electric vehicles, but to give people the broad strokes on electric vehicles today for normal people, keeping it simple to digest.

      Yes many cars today can charge at 6kw in about 4 to 6 hours, but that does not change the core issue of charging time, charging 80% in 20mn does this is why I simply mention the base system everyone can use at no extra cost (240v chargers are not cheap) and the significant improvement in newer models coming up that truly enable to recharge on the go.

      Yes the model S is a great car and it falls in the full electric category I mentioned like the RAV4. I did not pretend to provide a complete list of electric cars, I only gave a few of the most common / affordable examples to illustrate each category. And with a price between 70k and 100k the model S is not for the most common people :).

      Again I was going for broad stroke, keeping it simple and easy to understand, and take the opportunity to say how much we enjoy the Volt. I certainly simplified for the sake of the article, but I don’t believe I misrepresented anything :)

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