General Motors is firing back at the automotive press after critics' assertions that the much-anticipated Chevrolet Volt isn't a true electric car -- rather merely another hybrid, and not particularly fuel-thrifty.
Reports in Motor Trend, Popular Mechanics and on Edmunds.com assert that the Volt relies on its gasoline engine to power an electric generator that helps turn the wheels under heavy acceleration, not unlike the way in which hybrid vehicles, such as Toyota Motor's (TM) Prius, are powered.
In a posting Monday, Edmunds.com was scathing in its attack on GM, saying the Detroit automaker has "lied" because the Volt isn't a true extended-range vehicle that relies solely on its electric engine for locomotion. From the review:
GM has said the Volt, which features both electric and gasoline engines, relies solely on electricity to power its wheels, using the internal combustion engine merely as a backup to generate electricity when driving long distances. Popular Mechanics took aim at GM's eyebrow-raising claim that the Volt was capable of achieving the equivalent of 230 mpg.
In three separate, distinct driving tests, equivalent mpg ranged from about 32 mpg to about 36 mpg in extended-range mode, when its gasoline engine kicks in. Still, the magazine called the Volt a "well-engineered first step on the path to electrified vehicles." In its tests, Motor Trend said it achieved mpg in the "high 30s to low 40s."
In response, GM said on its media website it wanted to clarify points in the wake of inaccurate media reports:
However, despite its assertions that the Volt is a true electric vehicle, it could do better in defending its claim. Using phrases such as "there is no direct mechanical connection" seems more like parsing than explaining.
With GM seeking not only to reengage American consumers but investors on Wall Street, too, ahead of its planned IPO next month, the auto giant could do better in simply explaining its claims -- and steer clear of the old GM's tendency in reacting to criticism rather than preventing it.