Chevy Volt


Check the official documentation for items listed here to be sure and in case of changes.

The Chevrolet Volt is the first plug-in hybrid car made in large quantities and sold in the United States. Some call the Chevy Volt an "electric hybrid" since its main source of power for most driving is electric. The Prius is called a gas-electric hybrid. Here is how I think that hybrids should be categorized with regard to battery energy.:

Of course, if the battery is rechargeable, as is the case for the Chevy Volt, "Plug-In" should be added in front of the hybrid-type name.

Chevrolet calls the Chevy Volt an "Extended Range Electric Car", which is slightly misleading.

The Chevy Volt has been selected by as the Green Car of the year for 2011.

Chevy Volt Owner's Manual


Battery voltage:
300 V
Battery cells:
200 Li-ion
Battery weight:
400 lb
Battery energy:
16.5 kWh (~11 kWh useable)
Generator starts:
at battery capacity of 8.8 kWh
Battery replace:
<77% of battery capacity
Charging time:
120 V:10.5 hours; 240 V: 4.25 hours
Motor power:
111 kW/149 hp
1.4 liters, 4 cylinder
Engine/generator power:
55 kW/74 hp
~382 miles
Electric range:
~35 miles
mpg after charge depletion:
Pre-warming on grid:
Heated seats:
Driving modes:
Normal | Sport | Mountain
Power cord:
Battery warranty:
100,000 miles/8 years
Basic: 36,000 miles/3 years; 100,000 miles/drivetrain(5 yr), rust(6 yr)
Gasoline tank capacity:
9.3 gallons, premium fuel
Roadside assistance:
100,000 miles/5 years
OnStar availability:
Air bags:
8: 2 front, 2 side in front, 2 knee in front, 2 roof rail
0->60 mph:
8.8 seconds
1720 kg/3790 lb
Hybrid type:
Series/parallel 30-70 mph
$39,995 (minus $7.,500 tax credit)

Engine/generator maintains battery at 8 kWh when EV operation causes the battery to fall to that level.

16-kWh lithium-ion battery

Deconstructing the Chevy-Volt battery

Reviews of Chevy Volt

EPA Ratings

Electric driving:
effective 93 mpg
Gasoline driving:
37 mpg
Electric range:
35 miles
Electric yearly cost:
Gasoline yearly cost:

Chevy Volt two-motor, four-mode extended range electric drive system

A planetary gear set (also called an epicycle gear set) is used to connect the battery/electric-motor, the gasoline-engine/generator and the wheels:

C1, C2 & C3 are automatic clutches.

Mode 1: Low-speed EV (engine off)

The outer ring gear is clutched to the chassis. The battery powers the large traction motor which passes power to the center carrier gear set and then on to the wheels through the reduction gears.

Mode 2: High-speed EV (engine off)

Both the large traction motor, through the inner sun gear, and the small motor, through the outer ring gear, are powered by the battery, which power is passed to the center carrier gear set and then on to the wheels through the reduction gears.

Mode 3: Low-speed series hybrid (engine on)

The outer ring gear is clutched to the chassis. The engine drives the small motor/generator to charge the battery, which powers the large traction motor, which passes the power on to the inner sun gear and then on to the center carrier gear set and on to the wheels through the reduction gears.

Mode 4: High-speed series/parallel hybrid (engine on)

The engine both powers the wheels through the outer ring gear and on to the center carrier gear set and powers the motor/generator to charge the battery. The battery powers the traction motor and on to the inner sun gear and then to the wheels through the reduction gears.

This is similar to the Prius series/parallel Hybrid Synergy Drive. The connections to the three components of the planetary gear set are different, as shown below.

Comparison with Prius Hybrid Synergy Drive

The Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive used in the Prius also uses a planetary gear set, but with a different way the components are connected:

ICE = internal combustion engine (connected to the center carrier gear set), MG1 = small generator/motor (connected to the inner sun gear) and MG2 = large motor/generator; the wheels and MG2 are both connected to the outer ring gear (R).

Comparing the planetary-gear-set connections for the Prius and for the Volt:

An operating difference between the Prius and the Volt series/parallel hybrids is that the Volt cannot drive the wheels solely by the ICE, whereas the Prius can.

The big advantages of the Volt over the Prius are:

A 2005-2009 Prius can be converted to a plug-in Prius:

Electric Vehicles


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L. David Roper interdisciplinary studies

L. David Roper,
4 April, 2016