With the big Chevy Volt = 230 mpg push by General Motors, there’s understandably going to be a lot of interest in just what that numbers means and people trying to understand how the car actually works. Here’s the reality: you can’t put a gallon of gas into the Chevy Volt and then drive 230 miles. Don’t try it, because you’ll get stranded and need to let the friendly OnStar folks help you out. But, one thing that you will be able to do is put zero gasoline into the tank and then drive.
We heard from GM about a similar issue when we visited the Warren Tech Center campus a little over a year ago, how long gas could sit in the
12-gallon 8-9 gallon (estimate) tank and not be used before causing a problem. We wanted to get a clearer understanding of how the car will operate if you just plain refuse to put anything into the tank. The answer: it won’t be a problem.
Here’s how it’ll work, according to Tony Posawatz, vehicle line director of the Chevrolet Volt. To make the Volt as easy to operate as possible – i.e., so there’s no need to rush to the owner’s manual all the time – the engine will want to turn on at least every few months, just to keep things lubricated and running smooth. If you dutifully plug the Volt in each night and never go more than ~40 miles between charges then, at some point after two or three months, the car will alert you to put fuel into the tank soon. Posawatz didn’t say what would happen if you ignored that warning, but if you’re interested in performing such a feat, perhaps you should be buying a pure electric vehicle. Still, if you’re interested in making the Volt act like an EV, now you know it’ll be possible.