The Chevy Volt's Dirty Secret

Who says electricity is clean?
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2010 1:50 PM CDT
An SAE J-1772 common charge coupler from the charging station port plugs into the Chevy Volt on the grounds of NextEnergy in Detroit on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010.   (AP Photo/The Detroit News, Brandy Baker)

(Newser) – The Chevy Volt has a secret: It’s not run solely on electricity, it has a gas engine that, under some circumstances, directly moves the wheels. “I know. When I heard this, I ran about the house shrieking, ‘Well, then, the Volt is not an ‘extended-range’ EV but a series-parallel hybrid!’ I’m sure you did too,” quips Holman Jenkins of the Wall Street Journal. OK, that’s not his real complaint. His real complaint is this: “Why bother with all this complicated doohickery?”

Cars account for just 9% of US greenhouse emissions—much less than the “dirty coal” power plants that will wind up fueling most Volts, and which are gleefully paying for its charging stations. Nor will the car significantly change our strategic oil objectives. So why are taxpayers paying GM and its customers hefty subsidies to produce this car? “The ethanol scam is your model here—a gravy train that will have to continue in perpetuity because mass-market electric cars can’t survive on their own merits.”

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