General Motors officially introduced the Chevy Volt which will go on sale at Chevy dealers before the end of the year. The GM line: “The Chevrolet Volt is not a hybrid. It is a one-of-a-kind, all-electrically driven vehicle designed and engineered to operate in all climates.” Priced at just over $40,000, it is eligible for a $7,500 federal subsidy that is not available to hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius ($22,000 base price).
GM’s claim that the Volt is not a hybrid is disputed by Motor Trend and by Edmunds Inside Line who have tested the car. They claim that under certain conditions, the gasoline engine drives the vehicle, thereby making it a hybrid. (They note, however, that the Volt handles much better than the Prius) See:
Motor Trend story Unbolting the Chevy Volt to See How it Ticks
Edmunds Inside Line story: GM Lied: Chevy Volt Is Not a True EV
Popular Mechanics tested the Volt’s range and fuel economy: “In addition to measuring EV range, we also recorded the fuel use when the car was in its ‘charge sustaining’ mode. In other words, we computed the fuel economy after the battery was depleted, both on our city loop and the highway trip. In the city, we recorded 31.67 mpg and achieved 36.0 mpg on the highway. If we factor in the distance traveled on the battery’s energy the fuel economy jumps to 37.5 mpg city and 38.15 mpg highway.” The average range on batteries alone was 33 miles.
I once owned a 1984 Toyota Tercel that got up to 44 mpg on the highway. So why is the Volt touted as such a breakthrough rather than just another expensive toy?