Musings on the Chevy Volt Motor

by Larry Siebert
(Ann Arbor, MI)

What basic type of electric motor does the GM Volt use? And what does it weigh? How could I get a schematic diagram?

Hi, Larry -
A 3-phase AC induction motor.

Here's an interesting tidbit you might not have heard: According to GM Volt's website, the Chevy Volt actually has two electric motors; a 111 kw drive motor, and a 54 kw generator motor.

I'm not sure about the weight and the diagram, sorry.

Next interesting tidbit: According to this Motor Trend article, the gas engine DOES drive the wheels under some circumstances. GM originally said it didn't, and then last year sometime they said it does, and now I'm not sure if we're back to "doesn't" or not. If you find out, let me know before it changes again.

That same article illuminates another aspect of the Chevy Volt's hybrid system that I thought was interesting: their use of planetary gears.


"The Volt’s 149-horse electric motor spins the sun gear. When starting off, the ring is locked to the case and power flows to the wheels through the planet carrier, providing more mechanical advantage than the Prius’ 80-horse electric motor gets driving the wheels directly."

Sometimes I think that by trying to sell themselves (a little dishonestly) to America's electric car drivers, GM missed the opportunity to stake their claim as the maker of an honest plug-in hybrid that's...I don't know...kind of macho looking.

That's gotta count for something.


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