GM Posts New Chevy Volt Video; Tries to Simplify Explanation of EREV Tech

As we get closer to the launch of the Chevy Volt extended range electric vehicle (EREV), it’s becoming clear that GM has some hard work ahead of themselves trying to figure out how best to explain to the average consumer everything from EREV fuel economy to how a range-extender system works.

In a new short video, GM walks you through what they think could be just about the average daily commute for many people — plus they use some fancy graphics from Google Earth to make sure you are wowed by flying and zooming over the world as we learn about Volt commuting!

Seriously though, I’ve always thought that marketing the Volt would be one of the hardest aspects of its acceptance. A gas car? We know how that works and it’s a simple concept. Fuel goes in one end for a certain price and out the other end comes a certain number of miles. A pure battery electric? Same easy calculations, electricity goes in one end and a range comes out the other.

But an EREV presents complexities that many people find hard to wrap their brains around. It can travel on both electricity and fuel and it has different efficiencies for each mode. Nobody — not even the EPA — knows how to rate it in terms of some kind of average fuel economy, and GM is struggling with how to explain its benefits to the average consumer.

Personally I don’t see the issue with understanding how it works and I have faith that people will get it, but clearly the marketers are extremely concerned… which should tell you something about how much credit I give the average person. If people really are having trouble understanding how the Volt works, then there’s certainly no way Audi’s Johan DeNysschen was right when he said the Volt “is a car for idiots.”

Even if I’m wrong and the average consumer just doesn’t get it, it’s one of those things that over time people will get used to… but in that case the Volt has to be on the market for a certain amount of time before the complexities of its operation become part of pop culture. And, for the Volt to be on the market long enough for that to happen, it has to make sense to enough people that enough of them buy it. See the Catch 22?

Anyway, you can see the fancy Google Earth bling in the video below… but try not to get motion sick, okay? I don’t want to be held liable for you ruining your keyboard.

Nick Chambers

Not your traditional car guy.