Poll: Should GM give in and call the Volt a hybrid?

Apart from the humorous articles and the plethora of eBay finds we come up with, Carscoop’s bread and butter is automotive news straight from the manufacturer. And as such, we read a lot of press releases. In all the ones I’ve read, General Motors refuses to call the Chevrolet Volt a hybrid. It’s a range extended electric vehicle.

I speculate that it might have something to do with hybrids being uncool (so sayeth GM CEO Dan Akerson) or to avoid comparisons with that other hybrid. You know, the one made by the world’s other biggest car manufacturer.

So let’s hear the cases for and against:

Yes, GM should call the Volt a hybrid and here’s why:

A hybrid, by definition, is a vehicle that has two or more powerplants. In most cases, one is an electric motor and the other is a gasoline engine. There’s no requirement that these run in tandem, or be connected to one another in any way. More than one powerplant and you have a hybrid. And let’s face it: GM isn’t trying to lure buyers away from the Nissan Leaf or the Mitsubishi iMiev; their target is and always has been the Toyota Prius. And what’s the Prius, children? “A hybrid!” In a dumbed down worldview, nobody wanted to buy a Saturn Green Line so this was Option B. The Volt looks like a hybrid, is mechanically like a hybrid and was designed to compete with hybrids. For this, the Volt is one and the same.

No, GM should call the Volt a range extended electric vehicle and here’s why:

The Prius uses its electric motor at low speeds, when idling and when overtaking. The rest of the time it’s running on its gasoline engine alone. On the other hand, the Volt engages its gasoline engine only when its electric motor has run out of juice. Like a WWII submarine limping home on its diesel engines after its batteries have run dry. So if anything, the Volt is like a Nissan Leaf with the added security of a gasoline engine making sure you don’t end up on the hard shoulder, waiting for the AAA man to come along with a very long extension cord. For this, the Volt is a range extended electric vehicle.

So where do you stand? Do you buy GM’s marketing buzz or do you side with the cynics? Cast your vote and leave us a comment.

By Tristan Hankins


What should GM call the Chevrolet Volt?