I’m fascinated by the interest in the Chevrolet Volt’s transmission. What intrigues me even more is the detail of the transmission itself.
The gut reaction of many enthusiasts has been disappointment that GM’s ground-breaking electric car is not so ground-breaking after all. Certainly, GM could have done with being clearer about the technical design earlier in the product cycle.
The ‘mopping up’ and media blitz that we are now witnessing is down to its failure to do so. The Volt does have a mechanical link (in the sense of gears, clutches and shafts) between its petrol engine and the tyres that touch the road. Yes, we were all under the impression that it didn’t.
However, there’s a danger we’ll be overwhelmed by our own “It’s not really electric” cynicism. I nearly was. But after wading through vast amounts of GM press material – full of sunshine and noble intentions – I found a few technical notes and images that show exactly how the car works. And it’s an extremely impressive piece of engineering.
I think the fact that it allows a direct drive from the engine to the wheels in certain situations (alongside the motors), reducing generating losses and generally making the system more efficient, is something that should be welcomed. I simply don’t understand the objections. The point of the exercise, after all, is to make the car more economical.