With the much-anticipated Chevrolet Volt due out in December, General Motors is scrambling to counter an unexpected barrage of negative, last-minute publicity. Auto critics who finally got a test drive were livid when they discovered the Volt sometimes is partially powered by its backup internal combustion engine and not exclusively by its electric engine, as GM has claimed. GM countered that the Volt is still essentially an electric vehicle — not a gas-electric hybrid, like Toyota's Prius — even though in some conditions the gasoline engine does help turn the wheels, rather than simply recharging the car's batteries. Does it really matter that the Volt is not a 100-percent electric car? (Watch a report about the controversy)
Of course it matters. GM lied: General Motors lied to all of us, plain and simple, says John Pearley Huffman at Edmunds' Inside Line. "The Chevy Volt isn't as electric as GM pretends it is." And "what's vexing" is that even now that the word is out GM still hands out press materials saying the Volt is driven solely by electricity. "That's simply not true" — the Volt is a plug-in hybrid, it is not an electric car.
"GM lied: Chevy Volt is not a true EV"
Drivers won't care one bit: "This is much ado about nothing," says David Welch at BusinessWeek. It may matter to "technology geeks" that GM failed to mention that the gasoline kicks in on hills or speeds over 70 mph, but consumers won't care. They want to know about the range and durability of the batters, and whether "the fuel savings justifies the extra cost of the car." GM wanted to call the Volt an EV to one-up Toyota's Prius — but it's still more advanced, whatever you call it.
"Is the Chevy Volt an EV or a Hybrid? Who cares?"
It's the mileage, stupid: The "shrill" complaints about whether the Volt is a hybrid or EV miss the point, says Jim Henry at BNET. The real problem is that GM has claimed that the Volt will get 230 mpg, although early reviews suggest that it "doesn't get anything close to that awesome mileage in real-world driving." Popular Mechanics found the Volt got around 38 mpg, which plenty of gasoline powered cars can do. If the Volt backs up its mileage claims, "all will be forgiven." If not, GM has a real problem on its hands.
"Forget GM's supposed 'lie' about the Chevy Volt — Instead, watch its mileage"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The big, gaping hole in the liberal policy arsenal
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- The militarization of America’s police
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- A gay Mormon's complicated journey
- Why you shouldn't eat dog. Not even once.
- Are there too many good shows on television?
Subscribe to the Week