Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chevy Volt is NOT an electric car

I was discussing the upcoming Chevy Volt with a colleague yesterday who proudly how the US is getting into the electric vehicle business because "even Chevy makes an electric car".

I pointed out the the Volt - despite it's electric name - is in fact a hybrid, no different that a Toyota Prius. "No, No, No, it's an electric car" he stammered, "the gasoline engine only charges the batteries"

I beg to differ...

The new Chevy Volt is no more an EV that a Toyota Prius. It uses the gasoline engine to assist the electric motor to drive the wheels when necessary. You see my colleague made the mistake of actually listening to GM.

GM has recently uh.. 'adjusted' many of the original claims about the car. The first one to go as the 230 MPG claim. How didn't see this one coming. In August 2008 then-CEO Fritz Henderson claimed "230 MPG in city driving". Popular Mechanics recently tested a pre-production model and saw about 37 MPG, more than a little short the original GM claims.

I could write that off and new product optimism. What pisses me off is that contrary to 2+ years of PR claims, it's not even an electric car. It's a plug-in hybrid very similar to the current Toyota Prius.

GM now claims the original description was misleading because they wanted to ensure all their patents were approved before disclosing the real nature of the drive system. So, dishonestly is fine in the name of IP protection.

I'm not saying the Volt isn't fuel efficient, or that it's a bad car. I'm saying when you call something an electric vehicle for 2+ years and then launch a hybrid partially driven by it's gasoline engine, some people are going to cry "foul".

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