Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Volt Is Not An EV

 He's not driving an EV

It seems like such an obvious statement yet there remains a lot of confusion about this issue.  Let me first state that I have nothing against the Volt, I think a plug in hybrid is a reasonable option for some people.  I do have a problem with GM marketing trying to push a plug in hybrid as an electric vehicle, while at the same time taking shots at the perceived weakness of electric vehicles.  It sends mixed messages and confuses the issue, even backfiring and hurting GM itself.  I've seen a number of comments criticizing the Volt as an over priced EV that can only go 40 miles.  Obviously they missed the point that it's actually a plug in hybrid that can go further when the gas motor turns on.  GM has been trying to sell the Volt as a Range Extended Electric Vehicle, REEV, or an Extended Range Electric Vehicle, EREV, both terms that they made up.  The Volt is simply a Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicle, PHEV.  This is to differentiate it from something like the Prius, a Hybrid Electric Vehicle, HEV, or simply hybrid.  Hybrid and plug in hybrid simply and directly denote the differences between the two types.  To dig further the Volt is a parallel/series hybrid, probably the most complex setup possible.  A parallel hybrid means that both the electric motor and ICE can power the wheels directly, think Prius.  A series hybrid has no connection between the ICE and the wheels, it's strictly an on board generator.  The Volt uses clutches to allow various connections between the electric motor, ICE, and wheels, depending on conditions, hence the parallel/series designation.
This complexity is one of the reasons it's so important not to call the Volt an EV, since an EV has none of these complexities.  An EV also does not have a gas tank, exhaust system, or an internal combustion engine.  An EV will never need an oil change, or spark plugs, drive belts, O2 sensor, fuel pump, fuel filter, air filter, catalytic converter, muffler, fuel lines, etc.
Some Volt owners argue that they never use the gas motor and only drive on electricity, which is great, but doesn't make it an EV, and also doesn't make much sense.  Why are you paying extra to haul around a gas tank and ICE that you don't need and that your goal is not to use?  That's like driving around in a pickup truck every day and never using the bed, or driving an off road capable vehicle and never driving where you actually need four wheel drive.
From all accounts the Volt seems like well designed, innovative vehicle, and for potential EV drivers who still need training wheels or actually need to use the gas motor part of the time, it's a good choice.  However, it is not and never will be an EV, it's a PHEV.

New data showing that the Volt is not an EV:
Electric vehicle means a vehicle that is powered by an electric motor drawing current from rechargeable storage batteries or other portable electrical energy storage devices, provided that:
      (1) Recharge energy must be drawn from a source off the vehicle, such as residential electric service; and
      (2) The vehicle must comply with all provisions of the Zero Emission Vehicle definition found in 40 CFR 88.104-94(g).



  2. I'd say you're insecure about your vehicle choice. I'm not at all interested in a more complex vehicle carrying around components that I don't need. EV's don't have gas tanks, period, no matter how much you wish to claim otherwise. Using all caps when you post will not make it an EV either.

  3. If it wasteful to drive around with a gas tank and ICE that is not to be used, isn't just as wasteful to drive around with a 1000 pound battery with a claimed range of 250 miles when all you do is drive 40miles or less? The advantage of the gas tank and ICE (over a huge battery that is also not used) is that the range is unlimited because of the availability of gas stations (with 5 minutes fill ups).

  4. The Roadster battery is about 900lbs, and the LA4 cycle tested range is 240 miles. It's not a claim, it's a fact. But I agree, if you only drive 40 miles or less then you don't need a Roadster. You obviously would also not need a Volt because the "unlimited" range is not needed. Keep trying.

  5. The Government says the Volt is not an EV.