• Aug 3, 2010
2011 Chevrolet Volt – Click above for high-res image gallery

When General Motors announced pricing for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt last week, one new technical detail grabbed some attention. Vehicle line director Tony Posawatz was apparently the first exec to mention to the press that the range-extending engine in the Volt had been calibrated to run on premium gasoline.

There have been some question about what happens if you put regular gas in the tank and whether that would damage the engine. GM powertrain spokesman Tom Read confirmed to Autoblog that the Volt's 1.4-liter inline-four is equipped with a block-mounted knock sensor like virtually every other modern engine. The engine is calibrated for premium with extra spark advance to optimize the efficiency and output of the engine. If regular gas is used, the knock sensor will adjust the spark advance to prevent engine damage. Premium gas also reportedly has a longer shelf life than regular, which could be an issue for Volt drivers who maximize their plug-in's electric capability by using as little gasoline as possible.



Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.
[Source: Facebook, General Motors]


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  • 45 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      The supposed Electric Powered "VOLT" is actually a Prius Hybrid Wanna-be!!!
        • 4 Years Ago
        And a bad one at that
      • 4 Years Ago
      A non-issue.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Too bad GM already made an awesome, liveable electric car in the late 90's. And people wept and protested as GM sent those cars to the crusher. One person even made a movie about it.

      Wouldn't want to do that again. That made too much sense.
      • 4 Years Ago
      All i'm saying is that if you want to get off gas, this is both a bad and expensive way to do it. EVs are good for short trips until batteries improve. 40 miles is a good distance, but for the truly petrophobic, AKA the people who have both money AND a desire to get off oil, it is about as desirable as a Prius... but twice the cost.

      At least you can neglect plugging in the Leaf every once and a while. But head to the grocery store in this, and you have to plug it in, drive it, take it home, and plug it in again, otherwise your next journey will involve burning dino juice.

      If you've been following Autobloggreen at all, you would have seen people who actually have the income to buy a 'green' car gradually go from 'pretty interested' in the Volt to 'i have a deposit down on a Leaf and i don't want that thing'.

      I think this car tries to please everybody but ends up not pleasing anyone. I don't know any EV advocates that are actually interested in it. Who wants it? maybe the GM loyal who also happen to be loaded with cash. Because GM owners are rich.... right? ;)

      Monotym, word on the street is that when the gas is running, the battery does not recharge. Still a rumor though. And i reiterated my point to show the various average MPGs.. sorry it sounded like i wasn't listening to you :p
        • 4 Years Ago
        LOL.. go figure people assume i'm a Nissan fanboy. I'm not at all. People assumed i was a BMW fanboy when i had a BMW sig.. no dude, just reppin' the home team. I wouldn't touch a Nissan past 1999 or recommend anyone else do that either until this car came out. Even then, i am not interested in the Leaf, i like the MiEV/FT-CH better..

        Now that's out of the way.

        "For every one else ponder this:
        What car would you take to a destination 55 miles away?"

        A Prius would be ideal. Or wait for an EV with a longer range if you need to go that far.

        "...or would you take the Volt which would get you there ... and burn up about 2 gallons worth of gas to get you home."

        You could drive there and plug in to even a 120v socket to get you enough juice to get you home. But i agree, having a 100 mile range sucks. This is why i don't advocate either car for the average joe. Again.. if you're gonna spend $41k on a new green car you don't want to burn gas. Especially that much gas.

        "Is a Prius unpleasant to drive with that little power?"

        Not particularly. But a Prius is ~3000lb. Earlier models were less than that. The smallest engine that came in the Prius was a 1.5L motor and was 2900-2800lb. But the difference is in drive systems - the motor was coupled mechanically to the driveshaft and wasn't incurring any losses of any sort. To go from mechanical to electric and back to mechanical, you are incurring two losses of at least 5% each.

        Montoym, you could be right about the power in range extender mode. GM Could surprise us, but the numbers look disappointing from the start.

        I'll admit that the Fisker Karma was a bad example, but the Model S is not. It's a luxury car. It's a different class of vehicle. Do i have other examples? no, not really. Everyone is keeping quiet about what they have in the pipeline. So you got me :P

        But i'll tell you this... a $41k electric car that will go 200 miles already exists in the car conversion world, thus a mass produced car of that capability is possible, at that price, *right now* It's only a matter of time until one is produced for the mainstream.

        Why bother with half measures? Go big or go home. Need to do long trips? buy a hybrid or sit tight and wait for EVs to improve in the next few years. The Volt is a waste of time and money. On the flipside, when real EVs come out, they will be dirt cheap to buy used since they'll be outdated and gas will be in the $4-5 range or more.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The Volt is a good choice for some people, but the amount of people it's a good choice for is even narrower than the Leaf.

        Yes, you will probably use less gas overall than a Prius, but at an enormous price differential. Like i've stated before, you'd be better off with a dedicated EV and a fuel efficient car as a secondary. That would use less gasoline than every option available.

        I do believe that those who are willing to spend that kind of money are petrophobic enough to not be okay with the range extender's MPG. The interest levels in the Leaf and Volt speak for themselves.

        Give this article a look:
        http://green.autoblog.com/2010/08/03/nissan-leaf-still-outpacing-chevy-volt-on-google-trends

        Anyway i'm done arguing too.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "So, int he interest of not burning a small amount of gasoline you would go out of your way to plug the car in at every chance? A little extreme don't you think?"

        If you're going to spend $41k on a green car, you're damn right. Who would spend that kind of money on a Volt? not someone who's cross shopping a BMW or Corvette.

        So in order to achieve that, you'd need to plug it in very often. Yes, you'd have a backup, that's nice and all.... but you don't spend $41k on a green car to use gasoline. Especially since you'd be getting mid-30 mpg, which is more average fuel consumption than a lot of 'gas sipper' type cars. It would be acceptable if it were in the hybrid range of MPG, but it looks like it's gonna be nowhere near that.

        There will be charging stations all over the place, so the only place in which the Leaf fails is in long trips - it would require too many recharges. But the Volt fails here too, as on any long trip, you have the environmental performance of a mid-sized car like a Camry. It's a nice safety net but it negates the whole idea of buying a $41k car so you can use less gas.

        And if you do find yourself in range extender mode, it *will* be unpleasant. The 1.4L motor produces about 75kw, which translates to 100 horsepower *before* the power loss. So basically you will be driving a 3500-4000lb car with less horsepower than a Honda Fit. Sounds like 'limp home' to me. Hopefully there are no hills nearby...

        If you suffer extreme range anxiety, are not petrophobic, and have large amounts of money, sure.. this car is for you. But fewer and fewer exist that are 'on the fence'. But you don't have to be an 'environmentalist wacko' to realize the writing is on the wall for oil.

        By the way, plenty of 150-300 mile electric cars are on the horizon. Tesla Model S, Fisker Karma, etc are all in line to be produced within the next 2 years. And every major car company aside from Lamborghini and Ferrari are working on electric powertrains now.

        I honestly feel sorry for the sucker who forks over for this, only to have a ~200 mile range EV come out ( within the Volt's price range ) a few months/years later.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Can you possibly be more wrong?

        The whole point of the Volt is that you DON'T have to plug it in every second.

        It's 40 mile range is far enough where most people can do all the driving they do on a typical day while running on juice... and on those occasions that you do indeed exceed battery capacity, you got the ICE. No fear of being left stranded.

        You can't do that with the Leaf... you run out of juice, you are toast, which means you do have to keep it plugged in ALL the time and keep an eagle eye on the battery meter at all times. Until battery tech improves (which it eventually will), the Leaf is totally impractical for most people, while the Volt gives people 100% of the practicality that they are used to, but gives them all the benefits of an EV for most daily driving.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I debated even responding this last time, but decided it was a fairly easy comeback so here goes.

        quote - "And if you do find yourself in range extender mode, it *will* be unpleasant. The 1.4L motor produces about 75kw, which translates to 100 horsepower *before* the power loss" -

        So, you've apparently never looked at the power output of a Prius then. The new model bumped up the power, but still makes due with a 98hp gas engine, coupled with the electric motor, total output is about 134hp. The previous model(which was wildly popular as well) had much less power with a 76hp gas engine and a total combined power output of 110hp. How many people have you heard complain about the performance of a Prius? Is a Prius unpleasant to drive with that little power?

        Secondly, the Volt is not powered directly by the range extender, so the range extender's output is somewhat immaterial due to the buffer of a large battery pack which is what directly powers the electric motors. The battery pack is never fully discharged so there is always excess power there to send to the electric motor.

        Again, the range extender charges the batteries(see previous link above) and the batteries provide power to the electric motor(which is about 148hp btw). The reason there can be a difference there is because drivers are virtually never using 100% of the power of their engines. Cruising down the highway, it takes a minimal amount of power to maintain speed. Driving down the highway at 70mph, you might only be using 30-35hp. That excess power can be fed to the batteries to charge them as a buffer.

        In the city, it's even less of an issue because the power demand is not constant and there's also regen braking to recover energy as well(one reason hybrids achieve better city mileage). The only times when you are likely using 100% of the engine's power is during hard acceleration and/or when the car is heavily loaded. Neither of which are common occurrences and it's not as though they will require 100% power 100% of the time. That's unrealistic for any vehicle, ICE or not.

        A range extender of 75kW feeding a 16kW-hr battery pack that's powering a 111kW electric motor will be just fine.

        quote - "By the way, plenty of 150-300 mile electric cars are on the horizon. Tesla Model S, Fisker Karma, etc are all in line to be produced within the next 2 years." -

        Yes, awesome, thanks for posting those. If you hadn't completely deflated your argument already, these certainly would.

        Let's see, first we have the Tesla Model S, an EV with an estimated 160 mile range that's estimated to cost over $57k. Yes, that's a better option than the Volt(and you call the Volt expensive). Considering how much you talk about the cost of the Volt, I'm surprised you didn't even consider the Model S price. Compared to the Leaf, it's 72% more expensive($57k vs. $33k) while giving you 60% more range(160 vs. 100).

        Then there's the Fisker Karma. Ahh yes, a model that follows very closely the Volt architecture. What better way to knock down the Volt than to compare it to a much more expensive version of the same idea?

        Let's dissect the Karma a bit. The Karma is predicted to have a 50mile all-electric range(compared to the Volt's 40miles) from a 20kW-hr battery pack(compared to the Volt's 16kW-hr). Beyond that 50miles, it has a 2.0L range extender(sourced from GM no less, it's the LNF engine from the Pontiac Solstice) that puts out 260hp. The total range of the Karma is 250miles(presumably includes the all-electric range as they don't specify) compared to well over 300miles for the Volt, 40mi all electric plus the unconfirmed "over 300" mile range of the range extender.

        Also, that range extender in the Karma has to drive two 200hp electric motors. If you have an issue with the Volt having a 100hp range extender feeding a 148hp electric motor, what then of a 260hp range extender feeding a 400hp electric drivetrain?

        All this at the bargain cost of $87,900.

        If someone's not going to pay $41k to still burn gas in a green car, then why would they pay over twice as much for the same in the Fisker?

        It's truly funny to watch you trip all over yourself trying to soil the Volt with weak arguments. You make it too easy.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Just a final quick reply.

        quote - "Need to do long trips? buy a hybrid" -

        Agreed. The Volt is a hybrid as well though. It's just series vs. parallel.

        If long trips make up a large portion of your total driving(a small portion of the population) then a Volt may not be the right car for you, agreed. But again, your taking a small sample of the population and stating that since the Volt isn't a good choice for them that it's not a good choice for anyone, which is outright false.

        I would bet large amounts of money that the lifetime fuel economy of a Volt driver would be significantly higher than that of a Prius driver if they were driven identically and the Volt driver plugged in the car every night. I'm talking significant on the order or 30+mpg difference. Driven the way the average driver does, I have no doubt that 100+mpg is easily attainable, almost too easy.

        I don't hesitate to say that at all, despite the fact that the Volt's range extender will be less efficient than the Prius's powertrain. By what factor it will be less efficient, we don't yet know, but I will state that the Volt won't achieve 50mpg in charge sustaining mode, but it doesn't need to really. That's offset by the fact that 80+% of the average person's driving will be done without the range extender at all, so its mileage accounts for only a small portion of an average owner's total driving. Put another way, if the range extender achieved 50mpg instead of 35mpg, the total effect on the mileage of a Volt would not be the same 15mpg because the range extender is only used a portion of the time. I could extrapolate further, but I did state that this would be a short reply and I'm already pushing that. If I feel the need later, I just might scratch out a couple of examples.

        I'm quite interested to see what the next several months brings once the Volt is released to reviewers and to see what kinds of comparison tests they come up with. Should be an interesting winter.
        • 4 Years Ago
        quote - "The erroneous information provided by Chevrolet yesterday was today contradicted by John Lauckner, GM's VP for Global Program Management, who says that the 1.4-liter gasoline engine does in fact send whatever surplus power it makes to the lithium-ion battery. The gas engine will never come close to recharging the battery to its operational maximum, however." -

        http://www.insideline.com/chevrolet/volt/2011/as-the-volt-turns-gm-exec-says-battery-will-recharge-while-driving.html

        Makes sense for the Volt to work that way. It's far more efficient to charge the batteries from a plug-in source, so the Volt will recharge the batteries in order to provide a buffer, but it will not recharge them fully. Due to the fact that the Volt has a range extender, it can get away with that. It makes little sense for the range extender to fully charge the batteries, I can't think of any scenario in which that would be advantageous.

        quote - "At least you can neglect plugging in the Leaf every once and a while. But head to the grocery store in this, and you have to plug it in, drive it, take it home, and plug it in again, otherwise your next journey will involve burning dino juice." -

        So, int he interest of not burning a small amount of gasoline you would go out of your way to plug the car in at every chance? A little extreme don't you think? Not to mention that if you do forget to plug in the Leaf and you happen to run out of juice, then what? It's sure going to be a much bigger inconvenience than having to run the ICE range extender for a little while as you drive. You can neglect to plug in the Volt for a year if you wanted and it would still run exactly the same. You'll be burnign more gasoline than necessary, but you won't be stranded like you would in the Leaf.

        You keep trying to compare the Volt directly to an EV(while ignoring the huge downfalls of an EV mind you) when it's really not 100% comparable to an EV. It's basically just a different kind of hybrid, one that gives you almost all of the advantages of an EV while also including enough tech from a standard ICE car to make the vehicle more palatable to consumers who are still weary of EV technology(primarily range anxiety).

        quote - "I don't know any EV advocates that are actually interested in it." -

        And I'm not surprised. EV advocates are exactly that. They are against virtually anything that isn't 100% free of dino juice. Since the Volt is not, they won't accept it. I really could care less what they think, they have a single idela in mind.

        In that sense, they are much like wacko environmentalists(many are both) and they are against most technologies except a few choice ones that they have hitched their wagons to. They don't want baby steps towards a greener future, they want the future here yesterday and advocate doing anything to make that happen.
      • 4 Years Ago
      For a car like this where the gas could sit in the tank for weeks or longer, i don't see what the issue is with putting some premium gas? It's about $2 extra for a tank of gas. At Starbucks you won't even be let in the door for that. Non issue as far as i am concerned.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Premium gasoline degrades at the -same- rate as lower octane grades of gas. Premium gasoline does -not- have any additional additives or conditioners that are not found in lower octane grades of gasoline from a given marketer. None of the major U.S. refiners/marketers claim otherwise.

        Major marketers may claim their special, proprietary blend of additives is somehow better than those of competitors, but those claims are always limited to how the additives affect cleanliness and/or operation of the engine. All grades and brands of gas deteriorate at essentially the same rate.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Not to mention an automatic transmission, power windows, airbags, and anti-lock brakes!

        News at 11!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Middle Way is a complete tool. There should be a test for Internet access.
        • 4 Years Ago
        No, i just have a different view and the groupthink here can't deal with it.
        I get 5 stars on autobloggreen for typing the same thing.

        Go ahead and keep clicking that negative star, i get positive ones elsewhere and don't really care what you think anyway.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm satisfied with this explanation. Now if GM can reign in dealers
      on $20,000 mark-ups...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Great, maybe they will place it under the intake and down in a hole 3" so water will eat away at the sensor and the block at the same time! Oh wait, thats my silverado, I'm sure those Red X engineers put a stop to that crazy talk! Yeah, right.. I'd say I cant wait for them to go bankrupt but apparently that isn't allowed to happen no matter what craptacular junk they turn out.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Isn't the volt going to be direct injected like all the other new GM models?? Higher compression, more power, less fuel, better emissions etc... This really shoul be a non issue.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Nope. This is basically the 1.4L motor out of the cruze with no turbo.

        Indeed, they could have done better with a DI SOHC 1.0 or 1.2. That might actually be more cost effective..
      • 4 Years Ago
      Sucessful Troll is Sucessful here.


      Just downrate him into oblivion.
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