I’ll admit it: I’m not a big fan of baseball. The extent of my baseball knowledge can be summed up as follows: the pitcher throws the ball, and the batter tries to connect with the pitch. There are three possible outcomes, one of which is a strike, the other a ball and the final a hit. Technically, there are foul balls as well, which usually count as a strike. If the batter gets a hit, he tries to run the bases until he scores a run or gets tagged out. My problem with the sport is down time, since there’s not a lot going on between pitches. If baseball were played at double speed, or if they jumped in carts to drive an extended baseline, or if they released tigers on the field at random intervals, it would be worth watching. For me it’s like watching paint dry, with slightly less action.
George Will, on the other hand, can tell you anything you’d ever want to know about the game. Will is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, who the Wall Street Journal once called “perhaps the most powerful journalist in America”. It’s a shame then, that Will would choose to write on a subject he’s sadly misinformed about, without even bothering to do research. I’m referring to a commentary that Will wrote about the Chevy Volt, entitled, “‘Electric Car’ Is Really A Hybrid”. Will is referring to the inaccurate disinformation that was circulated a few weeks back, when the internet was abuzz that the Chevy Volt’s 1.4 liter gasoline engine powered the wheels above 70 miles per hour.
Mr. Will, in the unlikely event you read this piece, I suggest the following: first and foremost, go drive a Volt, because it’s clear from your op-ed hatchet job that you haven’t even bothered to do so. Next, I’d suggest you research “true” hybrid vehicles, like the Toyota Prius or the Honda CR-Z, to learn the difference between a “hybrid” and an “extended range electric vehicle”, like the Chevy Volt. True hybrids are primarily gasoline driven with a battery assist to supplement horsepower and boost fuel economy. If you want to fully understand the difference, try this test: run a hybrid, like the Honda CR-Z, up to 70 miles per hour and then shift into reverse. It’ll take some effort, since you’ll be turning the transmission and driveline into a fragmentation grenade. I’d also suggest you do this in an area devoid of traffic and obstacles, since you’re going to lose control of the car and make quite a mess.
Now try the same with a Chevy Volt and see what happens. The answer is not much, since the Volt is driven exclusively by electric motors and doesn’t even use a conventional transmission. The car will slow (because selecting reverse essentially changes the polarity of the motor), and eventually will stop and reverse. Is there a mechanical assist from the engine above seventy miles per hour? Yes, to add torque and improve drivability, which only serves to make the Volt a better automobile. I assure you, having driven the Volt, that there is no point where the gasoline engine exclusively powers the wheels, as you’ve claimed. Also, the Volt will take you forty miles on battery power alone, without even starting the engine, whereas no other hybrid made today will do the same. The Volt is “just another hybrid” like Neil Armstrong’s steps on the moon were “just another walk on sandy soil”.
Mr. Will, I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have on the Volt, hybrids, the automotive industry or trends in current automotive technology. I’ll also make you a deal: I’ll avoid writing about baseball if you avoid writing about automobiles. Fair enough?
Note: Will’s editorial appeared in the Sunday Florida Times Union as “‘Electric Car’ Is Really A Hybrid”. The same editorial appeared under the title “What’s Driving Obama’s Subsidies of the Chevy Volt” in Sunday’s Washington Post.