GM's Been Lying About Chevy Volt For Years?

GM’s supposed savior, the Chevrolet Volt, is very nearly ready to hit the production lines and dealer lots – as early as next month in the States in fact. But a new revelation has Volt enthusiasts and auto journalists alike fuming.

Since the announcement of the Volt about three year’s ago, GM marketed it as a full on electric vehicle that had a gasoline engine meant to be used as a range extender. In other words, the gas engine did not power the wheels at all, it just generated power for the electric motor in the event it ran out of juice before you were able to plug it in. GM was asked time and time again whether the gas engine powered the wheels at all, and while GM didn’t outright say no, the typical non-answers and PR language for years made it seem like indeed it was just a range extender.

Well, now comes official word that the GM’s gas engine does in fact power the rear wheels. A lot of people feel quite miffed. Why? Well as mentioned, this was supposed to be GM’s halo car – a car that used a unique technology that no one had attempted in any production vehicle for the main purpose of ultimate efficiency. One of the main downsides of electric vehicles (EV’s) after all, is “range anxiety”. Meaning the driver always has a fear of running out of juice before they are able to make it back home or to a charging station. GM made it seems like it came up with a solution to that problem by having the gasoline engine act as a generator of sorts. Since that is no longer true, the Volt is not, by definition, a full electric vehicle anymore. It is a plug-in hybrid. Those interested in the Volt and those reporting on it, understandably, feel led on or lied to even. Chevy’s response is that they couldn’t reveal information about the Volt’s power train for patent publishing reasons, but now that they have it, they revealed the true nature of the power train.

My personal point of view is not quite as animated as other car blogs. Apparently Inside Line feels lied to, frustrated and have strong feelings of disbelief while Jalopnik went and photoshopped the Volt to look like the devil. However, as a fellow car enthusiast and automotive journalist, I must agree, this really is quite the disappointment. It’s not because it’s wrong for the Volt to be a plug-in hybrid, it’s because it has been force fed to us as a full on EV for years. It’s almost like having a friend who brags about working at the White House, but then you find out he’s just the janitor. Not a lie per se, but definitely misleading.

I have defended the Chevy Volt in the past against fools like Rush Limbaugh, but I’ve also been quite critical as well. This new revelation has me feeling a bit let down. I wanted the Chevy Volt to succeed and I wanted it to offer a breakthrough in power train technology. Turns out it’s just using technology that Toyota, Volvo, and Honda have been working on for years. It’s not so much the fact that the Volt isn’t a full on EV with a range extender, it’s the fact that it has apparently come to light that no one is working on such a feat when we thought GM was the whole time. Quite the let down GM. Here’s hoping the Volt will still save you as much as you think it will.

[General Motors]

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