Earlier today, we heard a rumor from The Telegraph about a possible dramatic change to the drivetrain that will be used in the Chevrolet Volt (and the Opel Ampera) and though we put it to bed. The UK paper is doubling down on the story, though, writing a separate article about how General Motors is set to make some drastic changes to the Ampera by redesigning the extended-range-electric-vehicle's powertrain so that the gasoline-fueled engine can and will power the wheels under certain high-speed conditions.
If true – and we're still filing this firmly in the rumormill folder for now – this change would completely alter the entire ethos of the Volt idea. GM has gone to great pains to ensure that its green halo vehicle can be called an electric vehicle with a range extender, not a hybrid.
Semantics perhaps, but the distinction has been made clear and driven home by The General. Further, we know that the machine is well into its final development phases, and any changes of this magnitude this late in the game would be darn near impossible to implement in time.
The reason cited by The Telegraph for the recalibration is that Europeans require more power during high speed use. We find that explanation highly suspect as well, unless GM of Europe actually believes the Ampera will spend more time than normal on Autobahns in the far-left lane... which we doubt. Consider, too, that Europeans are known to embrace vehicles with much smaller and less powerful engines than Americans and the report continues failing to add up.
In any case, the report cites Andreas Voight, an Opel project engineer, who is quoted directly – "We are considering driving the wheels directly from the petrol engine" – and that we can expect an announcement on the matter this autumn. We'll see, and we'll be pestering GM for a comment in the meantime.