Is the Volt really a "Hybrid" or not?



  • larsblarsb Member Posts: 8,204
    Well, again, you make some good points.

    But I fall back on the unanswered question:

    HOW ON EARF are the utility companies going to be able to measure, and definitively quantify, the "increased usage" brought on by a few thousand EVs charging at night?

    And at what point do they want to use that as an excuse to raise rates?

  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    Something you are leaving out in your thinking. Not all companies pay the same amount for electricity at any given hour. Many places in CA will bring on higher cost gas generators when the load is higher. They may get cheaper power from a coal plant in AZ for the steady load times. Then many utilities do their maintenance on generators over night. It is not like they have so many megawatts available at all times. When the sun is down the solar does not produce. When the wind dies the windmills do not produce. Yet we want electric when we hit the switch. The only way to have a stable day and night power source is with coal and nuclear. The rest are subject to down times. Backup for less than steady solar and wind costs a lot to maintain, ready to be turned on. Someone has to pay for that. Currently it is subsidized to a large extent by the government. That is not sustainable energy.
  • dodgeman07dodgeman07 Member Posts: 574
    HOW...are the utility companies going to be able to measure, and definitively quantify, the "increased usage" brought on by a few thousand EVs charging at night?

    They're not. The impact will be so minimal, there is no point in trying. Now 20 years from now if we have 40 million electric vehicles on the road, then you'll see a blip on the radar screen. A small blip at that. U.S. electric generating capacity is on the order of thousands of billions of kWh. We're talking quadrillions of watts available.

    I live in the midwest where a manufacturing plant closes it's doors and moves production to China or Mexico or India or Taiwan or somewhere almost every day. One small plant closing opens up thousands of mWh of capacity, that's millions of kWh. 10,000 Chevy Volts all re-charging at the same time only pull 40 mWh tops. It's next to nothing.

    Until tens of millions of these vehicles are on the road, it's a drop in the bucket, and even then it will be far under 0.01% of our nation's electric consumption.

    Read more here:

    U.S. Energy
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    That is a good link. Something else to take into consideration. Power companies are in the business of providing electricity for a profit. The more the demand the more they will make. The oil companies would be the losers.

    PHEVs will have to come down in price to overcome the negatives presented by the Volt.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Interesting story (no A/C from 5-8pm). The afternoon sun feels hottest.

    Again, this makes the idea of a timer for charging all the more appealing. I'm sure GM has taken that in to consideration.

    Can't you use your iPod to check the battery level? Or was that for the Leaf?
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Administrator Posts: 11,129
    If you committed to purchasing or leasing a Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf, a reporter wants to interview you. Please email [email protected] no later than Friday, December 3, 2010 and include your daytime contact information including a few words on your decision to get your new vehicle.


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  • tdivertdiver Member Posts: 18
    My wife and I were going thru the Badlands in South Dakota on Monday 10/17/11 when about 5 or 6 Volt's all in a row went by us going the opposite direction. Does anyone out there know what was going on? I figure it may have been a car mag doing a story but really don't know. Just curious!
  • eliaselias Member Posts: 2,209
    edited March 2013
    the volt's drive system is a pure electric, thus its not a hybrid drive.
    neither is the volt's generator system a hybrid, it is pure gas-powered/atkinson engine.

    one could argue that the Volt is an electric car whose charging can be done two ways , but not at the same time. Can't "hybrid-charge" a volt both via plug and via gas engine at the same time, or can you? If yes, then it looks like we can say Volt is an electric car with a hybrid-charging system !

    Can the Plug-in-Prius be charged via gas engine as well as plug-in at the same time? IF yes then the plug-in prius is a hybrid-drive car with a hybrid-charging system! Hybrid^2 .

    according to the current terminology, if Volt's gas power went direct to the road via even a 0.0001 hp rubber-band-drivetrain, then Volt would be a hybrid.
    NewSpeak can be applied to automotive tech too, though, so maybe "hybrid" has been redefined via the Brave New Dominant Paradigm People.

    ps - volt badlands convoy sounds nifty. car mag is a good guess, or some raging GM Promotional Road Trip, like maybe to PAX EAST.

    pps - possibly by 2014 I'll select VW Golf GTD over a Volt, but seems like their prices will be close, and I will probably "cross shop" .
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I thought GM admitted that the gas motor does provide direct assist in certain conditions?

    They were scarce with details but they reluctantly admitted as much.

    So mild hybrid in reverse. The opposite of a Honda Civic - gas can't move it by itself but does assist.
  • eliaselias Member Posts: 2,209
    edited April 2013
    that's interesting, teix !
    ?GM said the volt had direct assist from the gas engine at some times?
    I'll keep reading/googling to find more about that, maybe will ask the salescritter or techs about it if i visit the dealership to testdrive the volt some day. maybe there's a way to test it. turn off the electric motors via some software override, step on the accelerator, see if car moves.... (give it a slight downgrade where it won't roll in neutral but will roll with the slightest torque/force... maybe do it on a dynamometer at whatever mph the gas engine is supposed to assist, see if it can be measured somehow?! some car nerd out there has probably done it already!)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    edited April 2013
    I'm sure GM doesn't want people to know so they'll be very secretive and hide behind patents whenever they can.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Ok, found the story, was hard to find as AB had 17 pages of hits on stories on the Volt! heels/
  • eliaselias Member Posts: 2,209
    thanks teix.
    the patents should be public too by definition - so no 'hiding' there.
    also the answer to the question is all reverse-engineerable and measurable via testing now that the car is so available. (i want one!)

    that article seems to be a 'prediction' from before the volt was available (?).
    the GM repair manual for it would probably cost a pretty penny but might be a cool place to find the details...

    whatever it is, we know the volt it has unlimited range.
    no range-anxiety for owners. that's the big win...
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Member Posts: 26,803
    >whatever it is, we know the volt it has unlimited range.

    And if the engineering is done to make the car perform better at highway speeds when a demand is made for more power, I call that a positive. If that weren't the case, we would have been hearing about lack of performance: GM should'a done this, should'a done that to make it better. They engineered it for the customer's benefit.

    If this were a foreign brand vehicle, we wouldn't be hearing a word about this engineering improvement trying to landscape it as a negative.

    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    edited April 2013
    This isn't a foreign/domestic issue at all. Why even go there?

    The issue is would it still qualify for $7500 in federal tax credits. I don't think anyone will go after GM to take those away, though.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Member Posts: 26,803
    edited April 2013
    >Why even go there?

    Because that's what continues the debate. Why even question it? :)

    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I disagree.

    The Volt has become a political issue inside the US. For whatever reason it's become both a green symbol and a political target. Imports don't even come in to the picture at all.

    I think the reason GM got defensive/secretive was they wanted to make sure the Volt still qualified for the $7500 EV credit even if it was not categorized as 100% EV.

    For the record, I was pro-bailout and I'm even in favor of the $7500 incentive. I'd even go one step further and make it a direct credit instead of a tax rebate. Though I do think it should be phased out over time.
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    For the record, I was pro-bailout and I'm even in favor of the $7500 incentive

    That is where we are opposed. In the case of the Nissan Leaf all $7500 ends up in foreign coffers. With the Volt 60% ends up out of the USA. We have a horrible history of subsidizing the rich off shore. It does not help our economy in any real significant way.

    We will soon know how much of the Leaf is built here.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    edited April 2013
    I know our opinions differ (not always, maybe half the time), but I still enjoy our civil debate.

    Nissan moved production to the USA just recently:

    So now made in Smyrna, TN. The battery is made right next door, in the USA, too.

    Alternatively you could get a Cube, but that uses 12 barrels of oil per year (per EPA), over a 10 years period that's 120 barrels, with our capacity limited that'll basically be all imported.

    You pay $92.65 a barrel but here on the East Coast we use Brent Crude and it's $103.70 even at today's mega-cheap prices.

    120 barrels would basically send around $12 grand overseas for imported oil. Of course the alternative depends on where exactly your electricity comes from.

    But that $7500 helps keep $12,000 from being added to the deficit.

    I'm with you on carefully placed incentives, and keeping the money domestic.
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    I know our opinions differ (not always, maybe half the time), but I still enjoy our civil debate.

    Me Too

    Of the two cars in the debate, I would be more apt to buy the Leaf. If I needed a commuter car. It would get me off the fence on installing Solar Panels as well. I am not likely to live long enough to justify either.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I think a sticker price of $28,800 (plus freight) is indeed hard to digest. That's the problem right there.

    But we get $2000 here in MD, so final price is $20,250, list price before discounts. You should be able to get it for $19 something.

    I only picked Cube since it's also a 5 door, but fitzmall has a no-haggle one for $18,588. Juke would cost more, even FWD.

    But...$1950 for gas per year on the Cube. You'll break even the first year even if you pay full list for the Leaf (if you can live with its range limits).

    If anything that's an argument to being phasing out incentives. Drop then by $1000 per year over the next 7 years until it's gone, then let EVs compete on merit.
  • eliaselias Member Posts: 2,209
    that article with the planetary gear thing is clear enough that the gas engine contributes 15% of the power to the wheels when hammering it on the highway >75 mph or whatev.
    Sooo.... now seems to be a good time for us all to agree that Volt is a much better hybrid than any Prius, technically, in the real/engineering world.
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    How about in the real world? I am no big fan of the Prius. But it is not unusual for them the average 45+MPG. The Volt in real world driving is closer to 40 MPG. Unless you limit yourself to battery only driving short trips between recharging. Then you can claim 1000 miles per gallon. If you live in CA and charge under tier 3 rates it will cost you about $3 to drive 25 miles according to the EPA. They claim it requires 9KWH for 25 miles of driving. If you are driving a Prius getting 45 MPG paying $4 per gallon, you will pay less per mile than someone driving a Volt in CA on electricity.

    Or you can buy a Cruze that has more USA content for about $20k less and save enough money to pay for your gas the first 160,000 miles. If you live in CA the clear winner is the Chevy Cruze.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    now seems to be a good time for us all to agree

    When has that ever happened on Edmunds? ;)

    Volt is a much better hybrid

    For the price, though? Especially when you remove the $7500 handicap.

    Remember they put in an old tech iron block that doesn't even have DI. The gas engine is surprisingly antiquated, which is why MPG when in use is nothing special.

    It really depends on how much you drive. If a Plug-In Prius has enough range for your commute, that's actually going to use less fuel. Volt is better if your commute is longer than the PIP can go, but not so long that it has to use it's inefficient gas engine for long periods.

    Finally, if you have a really long commute, where the gas engine would have to be used a lot on a Volt, then a plain old Prius will do better, as Gary mentioned above.

    What's better? It depends.
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    To me the only way an EV or Volt is practical in CA is if you have a lot of solar panels and charge during the day. Some cities do offer a night rate for charging EVs. You have to install a separate service and meter here. That will add about $5k to the price of a plug-in. Add a $30k solar system and you can tell the oil company and electric company to shove it. If you don't go past the EV range of your vehicle.

    Another question. On the charging stations you put your CC into? How much do they charge per KWH?
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Member Posts: 26,803
    >I think the reason GM got defensive/secretive was they wanted to make sure the Volt still qualified for the $7500 EV credit even if it was not categorized as 100% EV.

    I stand by my post. See next item...

    >The Volt has become a political issue inside the US.

    That's an understatement and I agree.

    >I was pro-bailout and I'm even in favor of the $7500 incentive.

    I was pro-bailout also but against gifting ownership to UAW with little in cuts to salaries and against gifting to union over the payment of bondholders, including many institutions and funds, pension funds for many of us included.

    The $7500 incentive should be for US companies. GM needs ability to sell Volt at lowest possible cost to be competitive with others who can sell at/below cost to gain market.

    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    OK, EPA has details, so let's take a peek, just for kicks:

    Prius will get 50mpg on regular fuel all the time.

    Plug-in Prius will get 95 mpg-e for 11 miles, then 50mpg on regular gas after that.

    Volt will get 98 mpg-e for 38 miles, then 37 mpg on premium fuel, which costs 9.2% more per AAA's fuel guage report as of today. So that's the equivalent of 33.6mpg if we're looking at fuel cost (and who isn't?).

    So if you drive 11 miles or less per day, the Plug-in Prius meets your needs, and costs $8000 less than a Volt. It nearly matches the mpg-e on electric power, so there's no way you'll ever break even. PIP wins.

    But who only drives 11 miles per day? Let's dig deeper.

    22 miles per day:

    PIP = [email protected], then [email protected] Weighted average is 72.5mpg.
    Volt = [email protected], so still 98mpg average, it's more efficient by 25.5mpg.'re saving 315 gallons of fuel, and that's assuming all that electricity is free, which is isn't. You still save about $950 per year on gas, so it would take 12.3 years to break even on the extra cost of a Volt.

    If the batteries last 12.3 years.

    Can we still say the Volt wins? I dunno, I think 12+ years it too long for a break-even. Too risky for me, personally. Volt still loses.

    Let's "cheat" and try to help the Volt win.

    Say you drive exactly 38 miles per day:

    PIP = [email protected]95, then [email protected], weighted average is 63 mpg.
    Volt = ideal and perfect at 98 mpg-e, so better by 35mpg.

    38*365=13870 miles, that's 396.3 gallons saved. $1415 per year at current AAA national gas price average.

    So under the most ideal of circumstances possible, however unlikely, you will break-even after 5.7 years.

    I think we can say Volt wins, but what are the odds that you drive exactly 38 miles a day, never more than that? Slim....

    My commute is 26 miles round trip, but my kids play on travel teams so the rest of my miles would probably be 90% in gas mode.


    Now let's complicate things even further, and consider the Leaf.

    The Leaf gets 99 mpg-e for 73 miles.

    So Leaf beats the Volt (99 to 98) and costs less, for anyone who drives 0-73 miles per day.

    If you drive 74 or more miles per day, then an EV is not right for you at all.

    The Volt would be better for the first 38 miles you drove, but then worse the whole rest of the time, including trips. I went to FL last year, and will go to New England this year. That's thousands of miles without charging.

    Seems for a Volt to make sense you have to set very specific circumstances, were you drive 38 miles per day as often as possible, and can wait many years to break even.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    The $7500 incentive should be for US companies

    I dunno about that, what if Chrysler gets the money and builds Fiats overseas? The 500E is made in Mexico and Poland.

    So send all the money overseas and all the profits to Italy.

    I think it should be for investments made on American soil, creating domestic jobs.

    No helping Ford in Mexico, or GM in Canada, or Chrysler in Europe.

    I say this knowing it would never happen.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Member Posts: 26,803
    >[Chrysler-Fiat]...So send all the money overseas and all the profits to Italy.

    LOL. You would have to pick a good example.

    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    edited April 2013
    You know me well.

    Call it the law of unintended consequences.

    They have a green agenda, offer perks. The company does the math and can't make a profit building anything here. So they produce the 500E in Mexico, lose $6000 per car, then make it back with the incentives. $1500 profit per car goes to owner Fiat, the Italian execs get bonuses and buy Ferraris and Maseratis.

    The US government basically subsidizes Mexican jobs. Viva Mexico!

    Screw that. Build them here!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    edited April 2013
    Fiat is not alone, Ford still builds Fusion Energi in Mexico.

    GM makes the electric motor for the Eco models in China. Not sure how much of the Volt is domestic, but Gary seems to think a lot of it is imported.

    Edit: found a Monroney, only 46% domestic for the Volt: - g

    18% Korean.

    Edit: motor comes from Austria. Trans is USA, so that must mean the battery comes from Korea.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Found a source for all, so for fun:

    Volt 46%, assembled in USA
    Fusion 30%, assembled in Mexico (CVT is from Japan)
    Mitsu i 0%, 100% Japan

    Leaf is not listed yet, production just moved to Smyrna, but it was Japan before.

    So that $7500 is subsidizing jobs overseas all around.

    What if the law was re-written, and you got the same % of domestic content?

    So for instance a Volt would get 46% of $7500, or $3450.

    That would make sense, and encourage truly domestic green cars.
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    So for instance a Volt would get 46% of $7500, or $3450.

    That would make sense, and encourage truly domestic green cars.

    I would go for that in a heart beat. If they would have done that with C4C we would have stimulated the US auto industry a lot more than we did.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    True, I think Toyota benefited the most - Prius sales were through the roof. That money went straight to Japan.
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