In contrast to popular (and our) impression, once a driver uses up his 40 or so miles of electric power, the 1.4-liter gas engine generates electricity to power the electric drive motor, but does not recharge the batteries. After the 40 or so miles, the battery becomes 400 pounds of uselessness, at least until the owner can plug the car into the electrical grid for a recharge. This means that regardless of how far one drives the Volt, the driver will only ever get up to 40 miles of electric-only range.That's completely shocking to me. I've been talking about the Chevy Volt since the prototype was unveiled and it was always my impression the Volt was a series hybrid and the gas engine would not power the vehicle. It would only recharge the battery pack.
How can the battery pack not get recharged? Won't the Volt have regenerating breaks? Why would it not go back into electric mode?
A release from the day of the production prototype's reveal reads, "a gasoline/E85-powered engine generator seamlessly provides electricity to power the Volt's electric drive unit while simultaneously sustaining the charge of the battery." And by "sustaining" GM says that it means only that no additional power is drained from the batteries. Get it?Oh, alright, I guess I understand now. This quote mean the gas engine 'sustains' the battery pack, allowing it to continue to power the electric motor, which in turn lets the electric motor continue to move the sedan, the way we think it does.
I can understand that. The battery pack is best charged by plugging it in. By keeping the battery pack at a certain level, you help it last longer.
But I guess I never thought it would last 40 miles and that would be that. I would have thought the battery could get charged up and switch back into electric mode.
Update: Take a look at the powerflow the Volt uses.