The Chevrolet Volt Reigns and Won't Get Challenged by Germans

By · September 04, 2013

Chevrolet Volt in France

Chevrolet Volt in France

The Frankfurt motor show opens next week, and news about the cars that will be introduced there are coming fast. There will be several new plug-in hybrids: Audi A3 e-tron, BMW i8, and Mercedes S-class, and others. But none have specifications that match those of the Chevrolet Volt.

The Volt is one the most incredible cars on the market today, and no automobile company dares challenge it. What sets the Volt apart is that it is a true EV, with a range-extender added, whereas all the plug-in hybrids are merely hybrids with a larger battery to increase their low-speed all electric range. It's time that we—as journalists, drivers, and EV fans all around the world—fully recognize and emphasize this difference.

Chevrolet Volt in France

Chevrolet Volt in France

The Volt is a true EV in a sense that it drives exactly the same with its battery charged or discharged. None of the plug-in hybrids introduced by the German brands are like that. Their electric mode is more like a reduced power mode. BMW was the first (I believe) to introduce a car with a valet-parking mode. It was the 2005 M5. This car normally made 507 horsepower, but there was a mode to reduce that power to 400 hp, in case the owner would give his car to some inexperienced driver. Ford followed, and in some new Ford cars, if the owner has a teenager, he can electronically limit top speed to 45 mph before handing over the keys. Those new plug-in hybrids are just like that. The Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid is a great car with 416 ponies, but that drops down to 95 hp when driving on battery power. The Audi Sport Quattro concept which will be one of the stars of the Frankfurt show isn't better. It sure is a 700-horsepower monster that will get all the kids excited, but there's only 149 hp (110-kW) when in electric mode.

Chevrolet Volt in France

Chevrolet Volt in France: the computer says fuel consumption is 2 liter per 100 km. That's 117 mpg.

When you're in a fast food joint, the cashier always asks if the customer wants the regular, or the supersize burger. Most people go for the big one. When it comes to cars, plug-in hybrid buyers are most often only offered the choice of a half-sized burger. Their electric mode are limited to short city errands, low miles at low speed.

It's the Chevrolet Volt versus the world, but looking further it may be America against Germany. Plug-in hybrid technology is expensive technology, and to any German automaker, expensive technology calls for high performance. The exception is the Volkswagen XL1 at €111,000, but Volkswagen is not planning to build more than 250 units. GM had much higher volumes in mind when it conceived the Volt, just like the Germans now have for their regular plug-in hybrids. If it was fine for a $30,000 American plug-in hybrid to have a top speed of 100 mph, yet all the German models will have a top speed above 125 mph running on gas. Nobody should expect a fast EV with a range extender from Germany in the near future.

Electric power is for city driving, while the autobahn requires gasoline. Actually, it's quite true that EVs are poor performers on fast highway drives. It just takes too much energy to go more than 100 miles per hour. Batteries don't last long in such an exercise. That means a huge opportunity for GM. The company made it right, and it should not face any competition from a German automaker in the near future, nor from Toyota. That makes things easier for consumers. When someone wants to buy an EV with a gas range extender, there's no choice but to go to a Chevrolet dealer.

Comments

· · 45 weeks ago

GM spent a ton of money developing this car and they have completely dropped the ball marketing it. If you just looked at a Volt from a driving performance perspective it's a great ride. Throw in the EV aspect and only the Model S (at twice the price) can outperform the Volt. It sounds like maybe with the Cadillac ELR version GM might finally wake up and give this technology the media exposure it deserves.

· · 45 weeks ago

Yeah, I think that the Volt/Ampera will provided a much better value than all the upcoming German PHEVs. GM did the early work and is now on the reducing costs stage whereas the German makers are still trying to get their initial models out the door. Being a first-mover does have its advantages.

· · 45 weeks ago

I love mine. Can't wait for gen. 2

The Volt is the best EREV/PHEV, not just comparing to German models but also Japan's. The only thing the Ford C-Max Energi has on it is, it's slightly bigger. But nothing (EREV/PHEV) beats it on EV range, performance, or handling. Plus most of us get better than the EPA EV range estimate 3/4's of the year.

· · 45 weeks ago

Thank you Laurent for expressing this shared sentiment. The BMW i3 is probably as close as the German Automakers are getting and my hope is that the i3 proves better in person than just reading the stats. This remains to be seen in the US three years after the Volt was released and counting.

It is really unfortunate for the German Automakers as well as Honda and Toyota to abdicate their leadership in the EV space on one hand, and on the other it is really important to recognize the achievements and the often not so clear-cut commitment of the large GM and even Nissan, despite all of the internal and external odds against the EV.

· · 45 weeks ago

"What sets the Volt apart is that it is a true EV, with a range-extender added, whereas all the plug-in hybrids are merely hybrids with a larger battery to increase their low-speed all electric range. It's time that we—as journalists, drivers, and EV fans all around the world—fully recognize and emphasize this difference."

Except it's, you know, WRONG.

But before you tell us why you're wrong about all the other plug-in hybrids, first tell us why you're wrong about the Volt.

Google around a bit, maybe you professional journalist types may be able to find what is wrong in your above statement.

After that - come back and we can get in to the other plug-in hybrids and how you're wrong there too...

· · 45 weeks ago

It is true that Volt is in a class by itself.

Most critics failed to understand the fact that in EV mode, NO other EREV/PHEV is as true EV as the Volt. (maybe Fisker Karma is the closet one)

As far as Valkraider's whining, it is about the "extended range" mode where at speed above 70mph, the Volt's engine will couple torque to the ring gear of the planet gearset allowing torque to assist the main traction motor. But it goes through a clutch and it is controlled by a clutch.

The main difference between Volt and all other PHEV is the fact that Volt's main electric motor has to turn at all time. Its ICE can NOT power the wheel alone like another other PHEV. And it is the ONLY one where main electric motor is about 2x more powerful than the ICE. So, calling the Volt PHEV is kind of misleading. BMW's i3 with REx is simliar to Volt except its ICE is NOT designed for long distance driving where the Volt can rely on its ICE for long range.

Volt is a true dual energy/source vehicle. It is an EV, EREV and PHEV in one.

There should be a class by itself called Volt.

Of course, I can support a Volt with 60 miles EV range

· · 45 weeks ago

@MMF: the Prius (plug-in or not) is equally incapable of running without its electrical motors.
Its drivetrain is actually very similar to the Volt, and you would have realized this a long time ago if you could only get off of the GM koolaid every once in a while...

· · 45 weeks ago

@Mr. O.

If you actually get of the GM hate train, you would have studied the powertrain in more details and figure out the difference between the two plantary gear set. Yes. That name is about all that is the same. The planet gear, sun gear and ring gear are all connected to different power source in the Volt.

Prius can be SOLELY powered by ICE without any "input" of the electric motor, even though the motor is connected to the wheel directly. The ICE is using the planetary gearset as a reduction box so either the ICE or the electric motor can "independently" drive the wheel. Volt can't, not without the electric motor spinning. That is the major difference. Of course, the additional 3 clutches are there to adjust the ratios and modes.

Not to mention the fact that Volt is the only system where the max power of the electric motor is far greater than its ICE counterpart which is designed to have the MAX performance with electric motor, NOT Its ICE unlike every other "hybrid"....

· · 45 weeks ago

I gotta say that the Volt really is a significant technological accomplishment. Count me as one who was cynical a few years back and really only appreciated the car after I got to live with one for a few weeks on loan.

I'm really holding out on a pure BEV that will be able to match the Volt's performance (range, specifically) at a similar price point, but that car simply doesn't exist yet. The Volt is here today and it's pretty damned good. Could certain aspects of it be better? Sure. But it really does make just about anything else out there in the current PHEV lineup look only marginally good by comparison (doesn't both the Plug-In Prius and the C-Max Energi essentially become ICE-only over 30mph?)

Surprisingly, nothing on the immediate PHEV horizon looks like it's going to get remotely close to the Volt's pure electric performance. You'd think the German's, especially, would have something on the horizon that would trump it . . . especially at those gilded price points.

· · 45 weeks ago

@Benjamin Nead,

I agree with what you said. I would think that BMW i3 with REx will somewhat take a small % of Volt sales away. Some Volt buyers bought Volt NOT for the long trip travel but for the range anxiety. In that case, i3 with REx is a better car for that purpose. But it is NOT the long range capable car like the Volt.

IMHO, I think the future Volt should come in 3-4 option level. A: 40 miles EV range with 80 HP engine/generator for over 400 miles range and 46 MPG. B: 60 miles EV range with 60HP engine/generator for over 250 miles (gas) range and 42 MPG. C: 80 miles EV range with only 40HP engine/generator for over 150 miles range and 38 MPG. D: 100 miles EV range with no engine and DC fast charger... But I am NOT sure if the volume would justify the different trim and battery sizes.. Maybe if GM makes the Battery assembly modular, then change the battery size would be relatively low cost and painless...

· · 45 weeks ago

'The Volt is a true EV in a sense that it drives exactly the same with its battery charged or discharged. None of the plug-in hybrids introduced by the German brands are like that. Their electric mode is more like a reduced power mode. '

Really? Care to substantiate that with references?

When you were challenged before on a grossly inaccurate statement, I believe on the Mitsubishi, you simply disappeared.

Those who have driven the Golg PHEV and the Audi A3 PHEV haven't remarked on any lack of power in EV mode, with grabby brakes in the prototype their only gripe:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/car-manufacturers/volkswagen/9900884/Volkswagen-Golf-Plug-in-Hybrid-review.html

Since in the A3 and the Golf the 0-60 time is 7.6 seconds there would need to be quite a decrease to get as slow as the Volt.

The EV range is less than the Volt, at around 30 miles, but there would seem no reason to suppose that the performance will be in any way inadequate.

Have you got anything at all to back up your claims, or are you simply making wild allegations?

· · 45 weeks ago

@Davemart

The Golf and A3 PHEVs you speak of are trial vehicles unavailable to the general public. The Volt has been for sale now for almost 3 years.

Audi can't even make up their mind if the A3 eTron will be all-electric or a PHEV. The trial ones the employees still drive around here are all-electric. VW is mulling again for the nth time the release of an eGolf. The blue-E-motion prototype is now 5 years old!

Read the article you quoted carefully and compare it to what MMF said.

"Group-wide, the Plug-in Hybrid models will combine a 148bhp/184lb ft, 1.4-litre TSI, turbocharged, four-cylinder, petrol engine and a 101bhp/243lb ft VW-manufactured electric motor, which weighs 75lb."
The Volt is rated at 149hp /111W which is the power output of the traction el. motor. The engine is rated at 80hp/60kW and the second el. motor/generator is rated at 73hp/55kW.

"The battery is a 96-cell, 8.8kWh Sanyo unit which weighs 258lb and sits under the rear seats."
The Volt has a 288-cell 16.5kWh LG Chem battery weighing at 435lbs and sits under the rear seats AND in the tunnel to the engine compartment.

"Combined fuel consumption is 188.3mpg "
One of the "problems" with the Volt is it stops indicating fuel efficiency above 250mpg. Many Volt drivers have to use telemetry data available on voltstats.net or OnStar to figure out their actual efficiency, which at that point becomes meaningless. Instead people use the Watt-hour/mile for consumption (i.e. 270Wh/mi) or miles per kWh for efficiency (i.e. 3.7miles/kWh)

"Total system power is 201bhp and torque is 258lb ft."
The Volt total system power is the aforementioned for the traction el. motor 149hp and 273ft.lbs torque.

"Volkswagen quotes a maximum range of 31 miles using only battery power and 416 miles using petrol and battery power."
The Volt real-world EV only range exceeds 50 miles and another 350 miles on extended range EV mode.

A rather ridiculous portion of the Volt owners drive their car on electricity only and are subjected to engine and fuel maintenance modes that are intended to keep the engine and fuel in shape since they are never used. Otherwise they do not use any petrol.
I drive mine 84% of the distance as an EV, averaging currently 239mpg and am barely in the middle of voltstats.net. Last time I filled with gas was back in May and I drive around just carrying it.

So which one sounds more like an ICE motivated car or more like an EV to you?

· · 45 weeks ago

> valkraider & ModernMarvelFan

I agree that the Volt is not a true EV with an range extender by architecture, but it is one by the feeling it provides. My last time in a Volt, I remember that I had fully discharged the battery and I was running on gas on the highway. I stopped at a toll booth, and the gas engine stopped. It started again when I left sometimes when I accelerated. It may happen sometimes that the gas engine sends its power directly to the wheels, but this doesn't make any difference to the driver. This is what matters.

The Volt would have been a true EV with a range extender, with a straight and simple serial architecture, that would have made no difference to the driver. This is the difference with all the German plug-in hybrids, and even the Prius. No matter their battery is charged or discharged, when the driver floors the accelerator, the engine starts. Not in the Volt.

· · 45 weeks ago

It is the zero sum binary thinking that since the Volt has a gas engine therefore it is not an EV. Over 98% of the time in my Volt the gas engine, the fuel tank, the intake, the exhaust, and the engine coolant systems just go along for the ride. They do nothing. The car is entirely powered by the battery charged from the grid, propelled by the el. motor with the full power and torque, maximum speed of 101 mph and acceleration. Sometimes that is just 14 miles a day, and sometimes it is as many as my record of 121 miles a day, all on battery power.

That is an EV.

In the other 2% of the time when I take a road trip every 3-4 months for a couple of days and rely on the gas generator, the car performs the same. That is since the predominant function of the said generator is to produce electricity, which in turn is used by the el. motor to propel the car.

2% of the time.

· · 45 weeks ago

@Laurent:
"I agree that the Volt is not a true EV with an range extender"
Indeed, so why do you claim the exact opposite in your article in the first place??

"No matter their battery is charged or discharged, when the driver floors the accelerator, the engine starts. Not in the Volt."
Obviously the Volt's ICE will be called for too when its battery is discharged, maybe just not as urgently as other hybrids. I don't think that drivers will care much whether the engine starts within one, five or 20 seconds in such case.

I side with valkraider and Davemart when they suggest you should have spent a little more time researching the topic -- and at the very least, the BMW i3, which fulfills pretty much everything you claim PHVs other than the Volt can't do.

I also can't possibly understand why one would suggest that a vehicle with a top speed of 160 km/h (100 mph) would work well on German Autobahnen...
.

@MMF: the Prius has no clutch, and just like the Volt, no gearbox. It relies on electrical motors connected to two sides of its planetary gearset to act as CVT at the very least, and as you should know, this requires those motors to contribute various amounts of torque at all times (save for when the ICE is not running and the car is coasting).
Go ahead, play with it... http://www.eahart.com/prius/psd/

Also, like Laurent, you seem to ignore the i3 when stating that the Volt is the only hybrid in which the electrical motor(s) is/are sized (barely) larger than the ICE.

Btw, even though this likely has little impact on day-to-day driving, dyno testing also proved wrong the preconception that the Volt has identical performance with or without its ICE running:
http://image.motortrend.com/f/roadtests/alternative/1010_2011_chevrolet_...
.

@vdiv: great that you drive so much on electricity. Still, how one uses a specific vehicle doesn't change what it is, just like not loading anything on a pick-up truck makes it less of one.
Otherwise, where should be the magical gas/electricity threshold at which an hybrid would get to call itself an EV, and who gets to set it so we can all talk about the same thing?

Most people (me included) and surely legislators understand "EV" to imply electricity only (not just some or most of the time), hence no smog check etc. We'll see if and how those rules get adjusted for the i3 for example, but I suspect that only the non-REx version will be recognized as EV in most places, and rightly so IMHO.

Using percentages would be more accurate (e.g. "electric 80% of the time/distance") but those are bound to change significantly depending on one's driving pattern...

· · 45 weeks ago

@BenNead wrote: >>>>>>>>>Surprisingly, nothing on the immediate PHEV horizon looks like it's going to get remotely close to the Volt's pure electric performance.<<<<<<<<<

I guess it depends how we define "remotely." If the Outlander PHEV ever shows up here (the main problem being Mitsu's inability and/or unwillingness to beef up capacity to catch up with current demand in Japan and queued orders in Europe), it looks like it's going to have 2/3 the EV range, better hybrid MPG, and electric AWD. I think that compares favorably with Volt has on offer in terms of EV capability. Caveat on all that is we need to see how all the numbers hold up in U.S. EPA test cycles.

And while not relevant to the "electric performance" part, it's probably worth mentioning that the O-PHEV has scads more passenger and cargo room. For all the talk about how much better suited the Volt's drivetrain is for long distance road trips, the somewhat ridiculous packaging of the car itself is terribly unsuited for such missions.

· · 45 weeks ago

@Mr.O.

" the Prius has no clutch, and just like the Volt, no gearbox. It relies on electrical motors connected to two sides of its planetary gearset to act as CVT at the very least, and as you should know, this requires those motors to contribute various amounts of torque at all times (save for when the ICE is not running and the car is coasting). "

And this is your base of your arguement? Like I said, why don't you tell me where each ring, planet and sun gear connect to? They are all different between the Volt and Prius. Prius use the "generator" motor to modulate the gear ratio for the ICE and Main traction motor is completely in free wheeling mode during ICE operation. Its ICE is geared through this CVT to power the wheel. In the case of the Volt. Both the ICE and generator motore are connected through a clutch with power the ring gear. The main traction motor is powering the sun gear and geared to planet carrier which power the wheel. Its ICE can't power the wheel directly without the main traction motor modulation of the gear ratio b/c it is connected to the ring gear only. And it has to go through 3 seperate clutches getting there. That is big difference in detail.

Now, let us talk about your MT jpg of the power at the wheel.
1. We don't know the test condition of the jpg. All EVs will cut down its power output when the battery drain is severe. It does that to save battery and power elecontric. The SW feature is available on both the Volt and Leaf.

2. The 0-60mph and 1/4 performance between the two mode are virtually identical.

3. You are confusing the statement between "hybrid" mode and EV mode vs. ICE power vs. EV power. In the hybrid mode of the Volt, the power of both the main traction motor and the power of generator and ICE are all added together. That mode can't be sustained. Try to use "normal" mode in the Volt with ICE running and no battery buffer and you will see a different curve.

If you really want to get to the bottom of this, you will have at least 4 different curve.

EV mode in Full power.
EV mode in reduced power or battery saving.
Hybrid mode with both battery reserve/mountain mode
hybrid mode with "normal" and depleted battery mode.

The only car that more EREV like is the Fisker Karma with the exception that in sport mode, it will start the engine to provide additional power that battery can't provide at peak demand.

You keep mentioning i3 (which is NOT available today) with REx. But even BMW is trying to make the REx a "limp mode" instead of a full on long range capable car.

· · 45 weeks ago

@Mr. O.

"Obviously the Volt's ICE will be called for too when its battery is discharged, maybe just not as urgently as other hybrids. I don't think that drivers will care much whether the engine starts within one, five or 20 seconds in such case."

You mean 1 second as in the Prius Plugin case with heat on or about 30 mins to 1 hr later in the Volt case is NO big difference? That is just silly.

Also, other PHEV such as Prius Plugin will turn on the ICE even when the battery is NOT depleted. It requires ICE for power requirement. Same on the Ford's energi models.

Now, a regular BEV such as Leaf would require ICE once its battery is depleted as well. It is called "Tow Truck"....

· · 45 weeks ago

@MMF: sigh... Do you agree that
1) if any part of a planetary gears set (sun, planets or ring) is left freewheeling, no torque will be transmitted between the other two -- any two.
2) the ICE is connected to one part of the gearset (planets for the Prius, ring on the Volt), the wheels to another (ring on the Prius, planets on the Volt), with a motor/generator on the remaining one (sun gear in both designs).
3) on either vehicle, no power can be transferred from the ICE to the wheels unless that motor/generator contributes some torque.
Q.E.D.

Motortrend chart: answers are right on their website:
http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/alternative/1010_2011_chevrolet_volt...

Regarding the i3: first, I think it's more than fair to mention it in the context of this article, which claims to be all about upcoming German PHVs.
Next, where did you get the impression that "even BMW is trying to make the REx a limp mode"? Acceleration remains the same on the REx, and sustaining 75 mph isn't exactly "limping" either... is it?

As to your 2nd post, please actually read who and what I was responding to.

· · 45 weeks ago

@Benjamin Nead: "doesn't both the Plug-In Prius and the C-Max Energi essentially become ICE-only over 30mph?"

The Prius plug-in can be electric-only up to about 60mph, but that is only feathering the pedal.

The C-Max Energi can run electric-only up to about 85mph. It even provides an "EV Now" button which forces the car to stay in EV, regardless of how hard you press the pedal.

· · 45 weeks ago

@Benjamin Nead: "doesn't both the Plug-In Prius and the C-Max Energi essentially become ICE-only over 30mph?"

The Prius plug-in can be electric-only up to about 60mph, but that is only feathering the pedal.

The C-Max Energi can run electric-only up to about 85mph. It even provides an "EV Now" button which forces the car to stay in EV, regardless of how hard you press the pedal.

· · 45 weeks ago

@vdiv:
The title of the article says that the Volt will not get challenged by the Germans.
So we are not just talking about current production models, as Laurent is perfectly clearly saying that those that they have in the pipeline will not do the job either.
VW/Audi have been perfectly clear also that their emphasis is on PHEV, and that both the Golf and the Audi PHEVs are scheduled for early release.

Your assessing the Volt by claiming that in the 'real world' it gets 50 miles EV motoring, but using book figures for the Golf PHEV smacks of a very partial outlook.

The rest of the detailed engineering you are on about simply asks whether VW have exactly duplicated what GM did, and to the extent that they didn't marks VW as a fail.

VW have in reality come up with, of course, rather different solutions in detail, but there is no reason at all to think that they will be any less effective, or that electric power on their cars represents in any way a 'limp home' mode.

If you really want to press the pedal to the metal, not doubt the gas engine switches in, but that is a feature, not a demerit.

There is every reason to expect that they have designed a car which will commute about town just fine on electric, but both has more power and is more roomy than the Volt.

· · 45 weeks ago

Laurent:
I note that you have revisited this thread, but made no attempt to support your claim:

''The Volt is a true EV in a sense that it drives exactly the same with its battery charged or discharged. None of the plug-in hybrids introduced by the German brands are like that. Their electric mode is more like a reduced power mode. '
You said.

I replied:
'Really? Care to substantiate that with references?'

If you can't back up your wild allegations, have the guts to retract.

You should realise that you are a zero credibility zone here.

What possesses you to write articles about subjects which you are clearly entirely ignorant of baffles me.

· · 45 weeks ago

All the comments are about technical architecture and design, whereas I'm basing my writings on experiences and feelings. Volt and German-engineered plug-in hybrids deliver totally different driving experiences.

I invite everyone to test drive all the cars just like I did. Once you do that, you'll understand the Volt is in another league, without any competition. It's ten times better than all the others.

· · 45 weeks ago

@Davemart

I don't think you care about references or anything that was said here. If you really did you'd follow Laurent's advise, drive the cars, and then share your personal experiences. The Volt speaks for itself, the question is are you willing to listen.

· · 45 weeks ago

@Laurent: you wrote
"There will be several new plug-in hybrids: Audi A3 e-tron, BMW i8, and Mercedes S-class, and others. But none have specifications that match those of the Chevrolet Volt."

Unsurprisingly, you were called on that (I mean, what were you thinking?)

Now you backpedal "I'm basing my writings on experiences and feelings". Well, that would have been honest of you to say so right of the bat, because one's gut feelings aren't generally accepted to be "specifications".

Let's pass on that. You continue "I invite everyone to test drive all the cars just like I did".

A3 e-tron, i8, Mercedes S, Panamera S E-hybrid, VW XL1 and Audi Sport Quattro concept -- you drove all those!?
(and I guess you skipped the i3 because it was too... available?)

AWESOME, that's what the article should have been about! None of us mere mortal will be able to do that for quite some time, if ever. Please don't let us down again, tell us all about them!

· · 45 weeks ago

vdiv:
Since I answered in detail every point you made, it seems you are now reduced to generalised aspersions regarding what you assume I am interested in.
Instead of ad hominem flings, try reading and responding to arguments.

· · 45 weeks ago

@Laurent:
As Mr O noted, you are utterly unable to substantiate your claim that:
' none have specifications that match those of the Chevrolet Volt.'

So you instead resort to your own personal impression on driving the cars.

Plenty of others have liked the various German cars in this field, and many of them have considerably more respect for the facts than you appear to have.

You have made categorical assertions, and now can produce absolutely nothing to back them up, other than your own personal opinion.

· · 45 weeks ago

@Laurent:
As Mr O noted, you are utterly unable to substantiate your claim that:
' none have specifications that match those of the Chevrolet Volt.'

So you instead resort to your own personal impression on driving the cars.

Plenty of others have liked the various German cars in this field, and many of them have considerably more respect for the facts than you appear to have.

You have made categorical assertions, and now can produce absolutely nothing to back them up, other than your own personal opinion.

· · 45 weeks ago

@Mr. O,

" 1) if any part of a planetary gears set (sun, planets or ring) is left freewheeling, no torque will be transmitted between the other two -- any two."

It is true. But in the case of the Prius, The main electric motor can be free wheeling without disconnecting the power from the ICE to the wheel. Where in the case of the Volt, the main traction motor has to spin.

" 2) the ICE is connected to one part of the gearset (planets for the Prius, ring on the Volt), the wheels to another (ring on the Prius, planets on the Volt), with a motor/generator on the remaining one (sun gear in both designs)."

Incorrect in your description. You are mixing up the generator between the two. That is the key. In the Prius, the generator is the sun and ICE is on the planet gear and so are the main traction motor. So either ICE or Main traction motor can modulate the speed directly. The generator/motor is there to modulate the gearing ratio (CVT) for the ICE. In the Volt, the ICE and Generator are both on the ring gear in a series connection, with planet carrier to the wheel and main traction motor connecting to the sun. A clutch seperates the ICE and generator and seperating the ring gear. By doing so, the main traction motor is geared by geneator/motor if Needed to. But it can operate up to full speed of the car without any input of the ICE. That is the KEY difference. In the Prius case, it can't do that with its traction motor (which is DC motor) that will lose significant torque as speed increase so its main power source is the ICE at high speed. Those two concepts are very different at high speed. Of course, you are probably making your reasoning based on the fact that you think there is NO difference between the motor/generator and main traction motor. But the difference is actually there. Generator on both car use permanent magent. In Prius, the main traction motor is also permanent magnet. But in the Volt, it is induction motor. The ONLY reason that prius even bothers with second generator motor (where the main motor can easily be used as regen motor) is for its ICE CVT mode where the ICE needs help in modulating ratio and speed. In the case of the Volt, the regen has to be done at genarator level and AC Induction main traction motor can't be used for regen. Also, the generator/motor is used primarily for gearing the ratio of main traction motor at high speed.

Design intent and execution of the two are completely different.

" 3) on either vehicle, no power can be transferred from the ICE to the wheels unless that motor/generator contributes some torque."

See my explain above. By using the motor generator as the intent of "EV" mode is no different than GM's lame claim of "mild hybrid" with a larger starter/alternator....

Please don't lower yourself to the GM 'mild hybrid' marketing team....

I have talked about the motortrend study already. Still it confirms my explaination of the battery protection mode already and it still doesn't state the conditon of the test. It did mention that "the controller decreases the power output slightly to preserve the battery. When the engine’s running, the power it generates covers this power sag," But it didn't mention whether the chart was collected with power sag or NOT.

Again, let me repeat this again. Hybrid mode is different from ICE mode. In the study, the Prius is always in hybrid mode. In the Volt's hybrid mode, it combines the max Electric motor power with the ICE power. On other hybrids, ICE is usually far more power than its electric motor. In the case of Volt. It is the opposite. That is why Volt will NOT not be able to climb most mountains in the North America without the assist of battery and electric motor. Most other hybrids can.

"Regarding the i3: first, I think it's more than fair to mention it in the context of this article, which claims to be all about upcoming German PHVs."

That is fair. I would agree to that.

" Next, where did you get the impression that "even BMW is trying to make the REx a limp mode"? Acceleration remains the same on the REx, and sustaining 75 mph isn't exactly "limping" either... is it?"

Sustaining at 75mph on flat is different than climbing a 6% grade with 70mph. First of all. There are NO EV hold mode or "mountain mode" announced. Yes, the REx will have a small buffer (estimated to be about 10% of the total range so that is about 2KWh). But once that buffer is out, there is NO way that small engine will be able to keep up the performance. That is NO different from the Volt where if you don't engage "mountain mode" the buffer will be gone and performance will be limited. Also, in order to qualify for the CARB's so called "BEVx" and white sticker, the REx has to use up its electric range first and then engage the ICE as last resort. So, by that definition, the performance in "long range" travel will be questioned. That problem is further impacted with the ICE design where at higher elevation, the efficiency of the ICE will drop further due to thinner air.

"As to your 2nd post, please actually read who and what I was responding to."

Sure, that was pointed at another commenter, but the fact is that those statements are false. The original comment was about how Volt is different from other PHEV. And they are different by a large margin. That is why I decided to reply and point that out...

Like I said, Volt is NOT perfect, I would wish it would offer different EV range and different motor size for different application from REx for range anxiety to true long distance capable motoring. Maybe 40 miles, 60 miles and 80 miles trim level would be great. But the fact is that Volt is truly trying to give the people capability of oil free daily commute (75% people drive less than 40 miles per day) and LONG TRIP capability. That is a "combination" that is still missing from the market today.

· · 45 weeks ago

@Mr. O.

Just so you know, I would have supported the Prius Plugin FAR MORE if the so called 11 miles are as "real" as the Volt so people can truly do oil free daily commute. I have driven the Pip. Trying to keep it in EV mode is just "unreasonable" in my opinion. At least make it more Ford Energi like...

· · 45 weeks ago

@Brian,

"The C-Max Energi can run electric-only up to about 85mph. It even provides an "EV Now" button which forces the car to stay in EV, regardless of how hard you press the pedal."

Actually, if you load up 4 people and luggage in the car and climb a steep grade, the Energi will pop out of its EV mode and starts the ICE to assist. But those situation are FAR MORE rare than the conditon that will start the Prius plugin. And it comes with electric heat which will diminish the weather related ICE start....

· · 45 weeks ago

@Davemart,

"If you really want to press the pedal to the metal, not doubt the gas engine switches in, but that is a feature, not a demerit. There is every reason to expect that they have designed a car which will commute about town just fine on electric, but both has more power and is more roomy than the Volt."

I agree that it is good that we have more choice. But I think Laurent was trying to explain that ONLY Volt is giving you the "all electric" mode where ICE doesn't come on based on performance need where other PHEV do. So far, all other PHEV (even Fisker Karma in Sports mode do) turn on the ICE for performance requirement where Volt won't. You might think that is a feature, but that prevent the "full electric" mode even in short drive where there are plenty of electric power left. Sure, the driver can reduce the performance and stay in EV mode, but that is NOT "full electric" experience. Most "plug in " buyers want to stay in EV mode as much as they can. But sacrificing certain performance just to stay in EV mode isn't exactly "full electric" experience.

Also, most of those offering have more combined performance and power all due to its combined power or much higher ICE power rating. BMW i3 with REx is the only one that has more performance. But I really consider i3 as full electric. or BEV/BEVx.

· · 45 weeks ago

@MMF,

Duly noted. Makes perfect sense. I was simply refuting Ben's statement that the ICE comes on at 30mph when Ford says it (nominally) doesn't come on until 85mph. Does anyone know offhand if the Energi cars can be remote pre-conditioned from the grid during hot/cold weather? To me, that's a necessary feature, to be able to preheat the car when it is below freezing outside.

· · 45 weeks ago

@Davemart

I haven't seen anything that Laurant has said that is not true.. I own a 2011 Volt and Roadster.. They are quite different cars, but it would be interesting to pick 5 points and explain precisely why Laurant is wrong, which, he isn't, he's completely right. To just say that a person is wrong and you are right without proving your point is arrogant.

Most here seem to be splitting hairs. Volt owners though, realize the great car they've got. My only minor complaint is the car is too complicated, but , the end result works and it has a great warranty.

I've never driven a PIPrius, and assume it is also a nice car, but my perception is that it is a poor value compared to the plain old prius. If they'd take ten thousand off the list price, then that would be different.

· · 45 weeks ago

@Brian,

Yes the Ford Energis can pre-heat/cool when plugged in. You can program either through the car or the phone app. Regarding EV Now mode, so far the only times when the ICE has come on is if I floor the accelerator. If you then let off the pedal, it will run for about 1 minute and then shut off and resume EV Now mode. I've had it at freeway speeds (65 - 70 mph), accelerating on on-ramps, up hills, passing, etc. and it will stay EV. Of course, the faster speeds use up the charge faster. I'm able to regularly drive 25 -27 miles on a charge driving at 35 - 40 mph in suburban/city driving and including a short 6 mile roundtrip section of freeway at 60 mph.

· · 45 weeks ago

Sorry forgot to clarify that the 25 - 27 miles range is all EV, The ICE does not come on at all.

· · 45 weeks ago

@Vdiv

The obvious question to ask you, Vdiv, is if you use the Volt as an EV 98% of the time then why not just get a pure EV? You can carshare for that 2% of the time.

· · 45 weeks ago

@Bill:
Before you start dishing out accusations of arrogance perhaps you would explain exactly how Laurent has substantiated his claim per the article title that the Volt reigns supreme and won't get challenged by the Germans?
Because I have seen nothing at all to back it up.

To make my own position perfectly clear, I think the Volt is a fine car, and remarkable ground breaking engineering.
That is a long way from being unchallengeable though, and a faster, roomier Golf PHEV with decent EV range may well suit a lot of people better.

So, do tell?
What is the basis for Laurent's claims?
I am certainly not aware that he has shown any.

Apparently he has taken some of the cars for some sort of test drive, and fancied the Volt better, but he does not specify which cars and under what conditions.

This is hardly an adequate basis for a sweeping claim that the Germans can't compete.

Reading the Volt forums although they love the car, they think it is susceptible to considerable improvement.

· · 45 weeks ago

@Davemart

The basis for Laurent's claim is his opinion as to how the cars feel when driving, as he has stated more than once. He has also stated that, in his opinion the car feels ten times superior to current German offerings he has also test drove.

I believe he is allowed to state his opinion, and amoungst the people here he seems to have one of the milder more well-reasoned ones .

My statement is not an accusation of arrogance, its a definition of it.

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