The Chevy Volt could be one of the best stepping-stone models between hybrid and electric vehicles (EV), and the miles prove it.
While hybrid electric vehicles offer the best fuel economy in a non-plug-in vehicle, they do have the limitation that they cannot run in pure electric mode for more than a couple miles. To reduce gasoline consumption even further, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, such as the Chevy Volt, have much better battery capacity, enabling many more miles of pure electric driving.
General Motors officially describes the Chevy Volt as an extended-range electric vehicle, since it isn’t actually a parallel hybrid, such as the Toyota Prius Plug-In. The Volt has a pure electric driving mode of, officially, 37 miles, after which a small gasoline-powered internal combustion engine (ICE) generator kicks in to generate electricity to drive the vehicle. There is actually no mechanical connection between the ICE and the wheels. General Motors’ studies of over 300 Volts in California reveal that some 15% of Volt owners regularly exceed 40 miles pure electric driving.
What makes the Chevy Volt so appealing, in spite of its short EV range, is the seamless integration of the ICE, eliminating range anxiety. Volt drivers are more likely to use their whole EV range than pure EV drivers, such as the Nissan Leaf, but General Motors has found that Chevy Volt owners are still highly attached to their charging stations, doing more than 60% of their driving in EV mode, and typically driving nearly 1,000 miles between fill-ups at the gas station. Since the Chevy Volt’s introduction in 2010, over 500 million miles have been driven in EV mode, offsetting more than 25 million gallons of fuel.
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