It’s interesting about the Chevy Volt.
Uniquely, it carries around its own recharger – so it’s not tied to a corded umbilical like other electric cars. So it isn’t gimped by a much-abbreviated radius of action, like all other electric cars – the best of which can travel maybe 150 or so miles before their batteries conk out and the car must hook up to an electric IV for an extended recharging session.
When the Volt’s battery pack’s charge runs down, fresh current is fed into it as you drive – without having to stop driving.
Unlike hybrids, the Volt is a true electric car. A motor and batteries provide the primary motive power – what makes it go – as opposed to back-up power. There is a small (1.5 liter) gas engine, but it serves almost exclusively as a generator. It comes on as needed to make electricity for the batteries, not torque and horsepower to turn the wheels. In the Volt, electric motors do that.
All the time.
The Volt’s electric motors always propel the car.
In a hybrid, the electric motor and batteries take over when the vehicle isn’t moving – or moving at low speed. Most can only creep along for a couple of miles – and no faster than about 30 MPH – before the gas engine cuts in and takes over to propel the car, just like any other car.
A few (the plug-ins, which have more powerful battery packs) can travel for about 10-15 miles and at higher road speeds on battery power alone, but revert to internal combustion for propulsion when the charge depletes. Also, anything less than than eggshell-pressure on the throttle causes the hybrid car’s gas engine to kick on – because the battery pack/motors are too weak to provide adequate acceleration by themselves.
Which makes it difficult to avoid regularly using the gas engine, in other words.
As a result, hybrids use a fair amount of gas. The best of them – the plug-in version of the current (2018) Toyota Prius average in the mid-50s. Most of the others are in the low 40s, high 30s. This is good but not nearly as good as the Volt – which uses so little fuel that owners have to worry about the gas in the tank going stale.
The Chevy can travel 50 miles on electricity only – and without driving it like there’s a Faberge egg under the accelerator pedal. The motors/batteries are designed to be powerful enough to accelerate the car adequately without assistance. And if your trip is less than 50 miles, you can plug the thing in when you get there and burn no gas at all on the return trip.
Owners may go a month or more in between fill-ups. Some go months, plural.
No other hybrid can match this fuel sippyness.
And no electric car can match the Volt’s practicality.
Because it doesn’t have to be plugged in to keep on going. If you need to go farther than 50 miles, just keep on going. The onboard generator will generate electricity and keep the electric motors turning the wheels. With its nine gallon tank topped off, the Volt can travel more than 400 miles before it stops for a refill – and that takes less than 5 minutes – as opposed to a 30-45 minute recharge for the conventional electric car, which cannot recharge itself.
No performance anxiety. No range anxiety. The Volt is economical and practical. At least, vs. any electric car you can buy right now.
Which is probably why it isn’t touted as The Future of Transportation while highly impractical, uneconomic electric cars like the Tesla are embarrassingly slobbered over by the largely mechanically and otherwise illiterate car press and force-fed onto the market via “sales” (really, give-them-away) quotas each manufacturer must genuflect before if they wish to sell any cars at all in states like California (a huge market).
It is very odd . . . if the reason for the electric car push is truly green rather than red.
The Volt’s emissions of objectionable combustion byproducts – unburned hydrocarbons, stuff like that – are slim to nil because its combustion engine is both small and very clean-running but also because it doesn’t run most of the time.
If objective threats to planetary or human health are really the criteria, then the Volt passes with the equivalent of a 1600 SAT score – or within the margin of error, at least.
Certainly, its total emissions are very close to the total emissions produced by any electric car, if one factors in the elsewhere emissions that are generated at the utility plants which produce the electricity for them on an industrial scale (as opposed to using a small-scale onboard generator as the Volt does, which is usually not even running – unlike an industrial-scale utility plant).
The Volt does not require billions in new infrastructure “investment” to make it viable as a car for real people who really need to get places without having to stop every 150 miles or so for a 30-45 minute recharge.
It works, it makes sense.
Aye, but there’s the rub.
The Volt has been shunted aside in favor of electric cars that don’t work or make sense; often both things. There is no reason for this . . . if the stated reasons are the real reasons.
But what if the real reason is simply to ban internal combustion, no matter how efficient, practical or clean? To use the pretext of “green” in order to erect a red regime? One in which personal cars are all-electric and very expensive and very impractical and so very few persons can actually afford to own one?
Then it all begins to make sense.
Just a different kind of sense.
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