All the controversy surrounding the Chevy Volt's unique drivetrain raises a bigger issue: Why would GM mislead the media for months about how it really works? Why does the company refuse to call the Volt a plug-in hybrid, the most obvious and accurate description of the car?
Why, even now, having explained that the gas engine does indeed couple to the transaxle gearing that drives the wheels of the car, do Chevy PR people insist on making statements in their press materials like these?
On the first day of its Chevy Volt media drive program, GM officials confirmed speculation that the Volt's 1.4-liter gas engine does help drive the wheels of the car, "in low torque situations," according to Volt chief engineer Andrew Farah. "It's all about efficiency," he said.
GM is using a version of its two-mode hybrid transmission that allows for a so-called "power split" mode that connects the crankshaft of the gas engine to the Volt's two electric drive motors by means of a planetary gea
To make the most of the Volt and its unique powertrain, Chevy engineers gave the car three driving modes, Normal, Sport and Mountain. Normal and Sport are easy enough to figure out – Normal is the most efficient for everyday driving and Sport delivers a little extra off-the line spunk. However, Mountain Mode is really interesting because it goes against much of what we've read and assumed about the Volt. Here's how it works and why it's necessary.
It's hard to believe that it was just four years ago that Chris Paine's documentary "Who Killed The Electric Car?" was released. With new EVs from several manufacturers hitting showrooms over the next three years, despite gasoline prices staying stubbornly below $3.00 per gallon, the title of his new documentary could be, "Who's Buying Electric Cars?"