The Volt: Just a Prius with a bigger battery?

volt-greeny-backeditors-blog-entry3The big news in the plug-in vehicle world is that GM’s Chevy Volt isn’t exactly what GM led us to believe it is, meaning it might not be a pure EREV (Extended Range Electric Vehicle).

A recent test drive by Motor Trend has revealed that when driven consistently at about 70 m.p.h. or more the Volt’s gasoline engine can sometimes kick in, even if these bursts of speed come in the first few miles of driving the Volt on a fully charged battery.

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GM has said in the past that the Volt would run on electric power only for up to 40 miles.

Now, it appears this isn’t exactly true. This has some in the automotive media, and elsewhere, saying that GM essentially lied about the Volt. The Volt, according to this view, is essentially a plug-in Prius with a bigger battery pack.

I’ve never been GM fan, and I definitely don’t like its Chevy Volt marketing approach, which, up to this point has essentially dissed pure EVs in an effort to get more people into the Volt camp — an approach that’s having the opposite effect on me.

However, if the Volt consistently goes 30 to 40 miles on pure electric when driven no faster than, say, 65 m.p.h., that still seems like a great leap forward. And, for many of us, it still leaves the possibility of pretty close to pure solar-charged driving for much of one’s driving in the Volt.

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Finally, while the plug-in Prius is intriguing to me as a second car to complement a pure, solar-charged EV for us, the fact that the Prius can only go about 12 miles on battery power alone, makes it comparatively unattractive to me. In other words, if the Volt is indeed basically a plug-in Prius with a bigger battery pack, I’m still inclined to buy the Volt, or a similarly equiped PHEV/EREV, rather than the plug-in Prius.

That’s because we want to come close to giving Big Oil a complete goodbye. One pure, solar-charged EV, plus a partially solar-charged PHEV/EREV with a battery pack big enough to ensure that, say, two-thirds of the miles we cover in that PHEV/EREV are solar-charged gets us as close as we possibly can to this goal.

What do you think: How does the revelation that the Volt doesn’t always run 100 percent on its battery for the first few miles it’s driven affect your views on GM’s forthcoming PHEV?

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