Until today, talking about whether the internal combustion engine (ICE) in the 2011 Chevrolet Volt should have a direct mechanical connection to the wheels was an interesting thought experiment. Sure, there were hints and patents that suggested that the ICE could drive the wheels, but General Motors kept saying its "extended range electric vehicle (ER-EV)" was just that: an electric car with a gasoline-powered generator on board. Guess what?
GM has now confirmed, late in the game, that the Volt can, in some situations, use the ICE to power the wheels. This came to light after Motor Trend was allowed to test the car for three long drives and discovered:
This is exactly the opposite of what GM has been saying for years – most recently in June, when GM spokesman Rob Peterson told AutoblogGreen that there was no mechanism in the Volt to drive the wheels even if the engineers wanted too. Or, at least, that's what we heard. Peterson told AutoblogGreen today that the "news":
However of particular interest, when going above 70 mph in charge sustaining mode, and the generator gets coupled to the drivetrain, the gas engine participates in the motive force. GM says the engine never drives the wheels all by itself, but will participate in this particular situation in the name of efficiency, which is improved by 10 to 15 percent.
Click past the jump for more.is consistent with everything we've said to date. The new "news" is that we can tell the complete story as our key patent has been allowed by the US patent office. The Volt is an electric vehicle with extended range as the Volt has full battery electric performance at all speeds when there is charge in the battery.