The Chevy Volt: An Electric Car in Disguise
From the road, the Chevy Volt looks like a “normal” gas-powered car. But how many cars have you plugged into an electric outlet at night to fuel it up for the following day?
The Volt uses a larger, more powerful version of a cell phone battery, called a lithium-ion battery, to run up to 40 miles. Once the battery’s power wanes, a small internal combustion engine kicks in to operate a generator. The generator, in turn, transforms mechanical energy (energy from moving parts) into electrical energy – which is then fed back to the electric motor.
By using GM’s E-REV family of electric propulsion systems, the Volt can run on pure electricity for the first 40 miles, drastically reducing gasoline usage. The internal combustion engine itself requires gasoline to operate. This engine may become compatible with E-85 ethanol by 2013.
Over three-quarters of U.S. citizens drive 40 miles or fewer round trips to work on a daily basis. So most of the time, Volt drivers can simply plug their car into a standard home outlet with 110 volts of power and let it charge for six hours. Then it’s ready to drive again.
How is the Volt different from hybrids?
A hybrid car uses both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor to make it move. The two motors take turns powering the car, or they can power the car in tandem.
On the other hand, the Chevy Volt uses only the electric motor to move the car. The internal combustion engine is used as a backup to run the generator only if the battery runs out.