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Chevrolet Volt to be powered by engine at high speeds? Seems unlikely.


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Filed under: Hybrid, Sedan, Europe, Chevrolet, GM, Opel, Vauxhall, UK, Rumormill, Electric

Opel Ampera - Click above for high-res image gallery

Whoa. Color us shocked and awed if this rumor from The Telegraph is accurate. According to the UK paper, General Motors is set to make some drastic changes to the Chevrolet Volt's European Opel Ampera twin. Specifically, the report suggests that the extended-range-electric-vehicle's powertrain is being redesigned so that the gasoline-fueled engine can and will power the wheels under certain high-speed conditions.

If true - and we're filing this firmly in the rumormill folder for now - this change would completely alter the entire ethos of the Volt idea. GM has gone to great pains to ensure that its green halo vehicle can be called an electric vehicle with a range extender, not a hybrid.

Semantics perhaps, but the distinction has been made clear and driven home by The General. Further, we know that the machine is well into its final development phases, and any changes of this magnitude this late in the game would be darn near impossible to implement in time.

The reason cited by The Telegraph for the recalibration is that Europeans require more power during high speed use. We find that explanation highly suspect as well, unless GM of Europe actually believes the Ampera will spend more time than normal on Autobahns in the far-left lane... which we doubt. Consider too that Europeans are known to embrace vehicles with much smaller and less powerful engines than Americans and the report continues failing to add up.

In any case, the report cites Andreas Voight, an Opel project engineer, who is quoted as saying that we can expect an announcement on the matter this autumn. We'll see, and we'll be pestering GM for a comment in the meantime.

Gallery: Opel Ampera


[source: The Telegraph]

Chevrolet Volt to be powered by engine at high speeds? Seems unlikely. originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 28 Jun 2010 15:27:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Not physically connected, but I can see the engine running constantly above a certain speed in order to maintain speed.

Agreed, though I wouldn't think it would be needed, as a highly aerodynamic car should be able to maintain highway speeds on level ground with less than 20hp. That shouldn't require a constant flow of the amount of electricity the generator should be producing at the engine's peak efficiency. So unless it's harder on the battery or engine to do a cycle of charging, shutting off for a while, charging & shutting off for a while, I wouldn't think they would set it up to have the engine run under peak efficiency at a constant rate to maintain highway speeds.

Oh, and the Ampera looks better than the Volt, IMO.

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This would make sense in Europe where they can see speeds we seldom drive at here in most areas of the country. Not legally anyways.

High speed crusing would not be a strain on the MPG anyway and the electric would take care of the stop and go in town.

I agree the Opel is very cool in the front. Hmmm! Since most Opels are now brcoming Buicks how about Buick Electra????LOL! [Relax it was just a joke]

Edited by hyperv6
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That's too bad... for a moment there it sounded like the Volt might actually be able to deliver the goods.

The issue highlighted by the reporter was that above 50MPH or so the Volt has poor acceleration. I suspect that is true as the Volt's 0-60 time of ~9s is ~150HP 4cyl performance. But GM claims ~250HP V6 performance for the Volt and reporters do report brisk acceleration on the low speed test tracks to which GM seems to restrict test drives (that is telling right there). If the 0-60 is ~250HP equivalent at times then at other times it must sub-100HP to yield that net ~150HP 0-60 time.

The other big news is that the Volt apparently gets sub 35MPG on the ICE. GM has put out an educational sheet where they claim that "After the charge in the battery is depleted, Volt automatically uses gas to generate its own electricity. Enough to power it for up to 300 additional miles until you can plug it in or fill up again."


And GM apparently told CR that the Volt's gas tank would be 9 gallons:


That's 33.3MPG on ICE. Interestingly, after months of everyone and their dog on GM-Volt.com predicting the ICE MPG, the community seems to have pretty much just ignored this information. I assume it is too traumatic for them. (It reminds me of Lyle's reaction upon witnessing the Volt getting 16.5 MPG during a series of press drives.)

A direct connection from the ICE to the wheels likely would have solved both these issues. Perhaps in Volt 2.0?

Edited by GXT
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