Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Is the Volt Better that Prius?

Chevrolet Volt
Way back in 2010, the Prius' parallel-hybrid powertrain, with gas and electric motors running at the same time, was supplanted by a serial hybrid design, with an electric motor delivering about 40 miles of range before depleting its batteries, at which point a small gas engine would kick in to generate more electricity.

General Motors brought exactly this vehicle to market with the Chevrolet Volt.

At the time an average commuter would need to fill up the tank about only six times a year. But there would be none of the "range anxiety" issues that plague most all-electric cars, with the exception of Teslas — if a Volt owner were unable to recharge the batteries, he or she could keep going on good old regular gasoline.

Brilliant, right? Except that the Volt's sales never took off. Toyota has sold millions of Priuses in the US, but Chevy has sold only about 90,000 Volts between 2010 and early 2016.

On of the reason could be because the Volt is more expensive than a Prius — about US$ 34,000 versus US$ 24,000 for the base versions, but that's before tax credits, which can make the Volt comparable. And Toyota is, for the moment, not producing a plug-in version of the Prius, so if somebody is in the market for a serial hybrid, the Volt and the BMW i3 with a range-extender are pretty much their only options, unless they want to go for a used Fisker Karma.

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