General Motors today that's resulted in some puzzled expressions at Engadget HQ. We've learned that the Volt, which Chevrolet has been making quite a fuss about calling an "extended range electric vehicle," is actually just a traditional hybrid with some... potentially misleading marketing behind it. Since the concept stage the company has been saying how the onboard internal combustion engine was just to charge the batteries, that only the electric motors (there are two) are actually connected to the drivetrain. Indeed that's what we were told in person when we test drove the thing back in March. We're now learning that is not the case, that the Volt's gasoline engine can directly provide power to the wheels in concert with the electric motors.
Is that a problem? In terms of efficiency the answer is "apparently not," as we're guessing the car would not have been designed this way if it weren't the most frugal way to go. So, why all the deception? Why insist this isn't just a hybrid when it apparently is? When the company went looking for a government bailout it was in part awarded one because of the innovation shown in the Volt. Now that we're learning the Volt is basically just a plug-in hybrid with a bigger than average battery pack (Popular Mechanics is finding 30-odd miles of purely electric range), we're left wondering: where's the innovation?
Update: We've added some further details and analysis below, and a confirmation from Chevrolet as well.