Despite GM’s marketing material that states the upcoming 2011 Chevrolet Volt is an “extended-range electric vehicle,” at the end of the day it’s really just a plug-in hybrid that will, in many circumstances, end up burning gas.
The type of gas it will burn has turned into something of a controversy in the automotive blogosphere. When we found out about the Volt’s $40,280 price tag, we also discovered that the vehicle’s four-cylinder onboard generator — which maintains the Volt’s lithium-ion batteries – will require premium fuel, according to GM. That left us and others puzzled. After all, the Volt’s engine isn’t that much dissimilar to the one found in the new 2011 Chevy Cruze.
Premium gas will maximize the fuel economy when the engine is used, GM powertrain spokesman Tom Read said. In an emergency, regular gas can be used on the Volt, but fuel economy will be compromised, and the engine may become noisier. The Volt’s engine computer will detect the octane change and retard ignition timing. Still, Read highly recommends refilling the Volt with premium fuel as soon as possible to avoid damaging the engine.
Needless to say, it’s always best to use the fuel that is recommended for your car. You wouldn’t put regular gasoline in a Ferrari if it required premium, so why would you do that for an expensive plug-in hybrid?
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