GM Has Been Lying About The Volt

GM has been quite outspoken about its upcoming model, the Chevy Volt, going so far as to correct people who call it a hybrid and asking them to call it a range extended electric car. The difference between the two is that a hybrid must have 2 or more drive systems directly connected to the power-train, for example an electric motor and a gasoline motor as is used in the Prius. Cars like the Fisker Karma are technically electric cars even though they have a small gasoline engine onboard, the gasoline engine is not connected to the power-train and is only used as an “onboard generator” to recharge the batteries on the go.

GM has been outspoken about the Chevy Volt being a range extended electric vehicle;

“The Chevrolet Volt is not a hybrid. It is a one-of-a-kind, all-electrically driven vehicle designed and engineered to operate in all climates. Powered by GM’s revolutionary Voltec propulsion system, it consists of a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and electric drive unit that provide pure electric range between 25 and 50 miles, depending on terrain, driving techniques and temperature. A 1.4L gasoline-powered engine extends the range up to an additional 310 miles on a full tank of fuel by operating the vehicle’s electric drive system until the car can be plugged in and recharged or refueled. This distinguishes the Volt from electric-only vehicles, which cannot be operated when recharging is not immediately available – such as during a power interruption or on a long-distance trip.” -General Motors-

It came to light last week that GM has been speaking in “truthiness”. The Volt will have a direct link between the gasoline engine and the front wheels, in fact the front wheels will be powered by the internal combustion engine at speeds above 70 mph. This means that the Volt is actually a hybrid and not an electric vehicle.

GM has been quick to respond and released a statement, the following is an extract;

“The Voltec electric drive cannot operate without power from the electric motors.  If the traction motor is disabled, the range-extending internal combustion engine cannot drive the vehicle by itself.” -General Motors-

This is a statement designed to mislead, a hybrid doesn’t need to be capable of being powered independently by both power delivery systems. In fact, most hybrids use the electric motor as a minor boost to the internal combustion engine.

The Inside Line summed it up very well with this statement;

“As in the Prius, the Volt’s drivetrain includes a planetary gear set that acts as a transmission. The intricacies of planetary gears are many, but in rough terms each element (electric engines and internal combustion engine) of the Prius or Volt drivetrains are hooked up to different elements of the gear set. In the Volt, its Ecotec engine is clutched to the outer ring gear and as the car’s speed reaches the edge of efficiency for the electric motor, that ring is set from its normally rigid mounting in the 4ET50’s case and allowed to spin. That has the Ecotec driving the front wheels.”

It is clear that GM has been deliberately deceptive here, would this be enough to change your mind about buying a Volt?

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Read More – Inside Line - JalopnikWiredThe New York Times

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Much ado about nothing, I’d still rather have a Leaf

Fenwick Macmillan

So has been lying to us. Straight out lying their ass off. Maybe we should nickname the “volt”, “gas” or the “fossil”.

I won’t buy a GM product, ever. They were instrumental in blocking the advancement of the electric car.


Deception or not, I know most of you have your reporting wrong. The engine is connected to the wheels ONLY in the range extended mode. Not in the first 40 miles even if you go above 70mph.
Also your definition of a hybrid is pretty stupid! A SERIES HYBRID NEVER has the engine connected to the wheels and it is still a hybrid. Please go back to school before reporting and copying other dumb blog posts!

You are wrong, and this is misinformation. The Volt is an electric vehicle. GM never lied about it. The gasoline engine only serves to charge the battery.

A traditional hybrid uses the engine in conjunction with the battery to provide power to the wheels. The Volt doesn’t do that.

Take the engine out of the Volt, and it is exactly the same, just with a shorter range. Proof it is an electric vehicle.


@ ElectricFish + JP – You’re both wrong dumbasses! Did you even read the article?

@JP – “A traditional hybrid uses the engine in conjunction with the battery to provide power to the wheels. The Volt doesn’t do that.”

You’re an idiot. This is exactly what it does! This is what GM has been lying about fool.

@ElectricFish – “Also your definition of a hybrid is pretty stupid!”

If you pulled your head out of your ass you’d know that;

“The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) definition of a hybrid vehicle states that the vehicle shall have “two or more energy storage systems both of which must provide propulsion power, either together or independently.”


@Roger Please don’t lecture me on Hybrids. I am a senior member of the SAE. Anyway, althoug wikipedia is not an absolute citation, it should do here:
” Series-hybrid vehicles are driven only by electric traction. Unlike piston internal combustion engines, electric motors are efficient with exceptionally high power to weight ratios providing adequate torque over a wide speed range. Unlike combustion engines electric motors matched to the vehicle do not require a transmission between the engine and wheels shifting torque ratios. Transmissions add weight, bulk and sap power from the engine. Mechanical automatic shifting transmissions can be very complex. In a series-hybrid system, the combustion engine drives an electric generator instead of directly driving the wheels. The generator provides power for the driving electric motors. In short, a series-hybrid is simple, the vehicle is driven by electric motors with a generator set providing the electric power”
There you go… The wheel is still driven ONLY ELECTRICALLY and it is still a hybrid.
So how is your ass feeling with your head in it?


@Roger The SAE definition is correct… propulsion power does not equate to a mechanical connection. Only that the energy driving the wheels comes from two different power sources.


@ ElectricFish, sorry dude but you’re wrong.

You’ll have to convince Wired

and Jalopnik

And the rest of the motoring press. Might take you a while.

The fact of the matter is that GM lied about this, I assume you work at GM and hey, good work on the Volt, I like it, but they never needed to lie about it.


Here is a genuine source… The Economist. Read what it says “the battery is depleted and the car is running in range-extended mode, then a series of planetary gears that connect the electric motor and the generator seems to also transmit power to the wheels from the petrol engine itself, a bit like a hybrid Toyota Prius.”
So there I am not wrong.. you all are!


@ ElectricFish – You just said it yourself, it’s a hybrid, not a true electric car. That’s the whole point.


Well I am disputing the definition of a hybrid, not whether the volt is a hybrid or not. In range extend mode, it is a hybrid. In EV mode it is not


If it has two power delivery systems capable of driving the wheels then it is a hybrid. Regardless of what mode it’s in.

I think the Volt will be a good car, I just think GM needs to be honest with those who are buying it. People are buying this car to get away from fossil fuels and at the end of the day, when they are driving on the highway they will be powered by a fossil fuel engine.

Ben Branch

Before you all kill each other, this is a statement from Tom Wilkinson, an official GM spokesman.

“There is some mechanical drive force at high speed. The engineers wanted to maximize the overall performance and eliminate any potential flat spots in the acceleration curve.”

Source –


@Roger: I don’t work for GM and I agree that they should come clean…

Ony in range extended mode does the engine come into picture. Read para 5,6,7,8


@Roger I agree they need to come clean.
As long as it is an EV first 40 miles, GM did not lie. If it uses the engine in the first 40 miles, GM lied. As simple as that.

Duane Evans

You are hair spitting and grasping at straws, point-1 = this is a US based company heading in a better direction than before, point-2, it helps our manufacturing base to have domestic sourced E/V’s, point-3 we are commited to Gov. Motors even if we don’t like how we got here, it is only wishing against ourselves to see them fail, point -4 the USA can’t afford anymore $ dollar drain going to a pacific rim nations it is
beginning to cause a vicious spiral of economic decline that will ultimately result in permanent 3rd. world economic status, only manufacturing builds wealth in a nation there are no substitutes for this kind of wealth building. Point-5 it will eventually spawn a whole host of different vehicles, a virtuous circle in the right direction, real
Adam Smith thinking the “Wealth of Nations” rebuilding America at home. Besides read the news Toyota has done it’s share of lieing and cover-up in the last few years.


@ ElectricFish – I agree, it is as simple as that. If the Volt is driven over 70mph the I.C. engine provides direct drive to the wheels. This is true within the first 40 miles of range. GM have admitted this already.


GM has been dragging their A–. This vehical could have been made and on the road a year ago. No matter what they do to the drive train they will take as long as they can to get this on the road. Big oil influence holds them back.

Hmm one other thought.. those darn NiMh battery patents are going to run out 2012.. want to bet the Volt has NiMh batteries. They are cheeper to manufacture. But my doller says the price will actually increase.

Ralph Thompson

great post thanks

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