The main differences in the motors of the Prius and Volt come down to the way the engine is charged and the way both cars act in gasoline mode.
These images may or may not mean much to you. But, they give you a simple idea of what is going on under the hoods of each of these cars. Each contains a planetary gear set, the common gears found in most automatic vehicles. They both also have two sizeable electric motors. The difference is how the power is introduced to the car. The Prius uses a Continuous Variable Transmission which can change “steplessly” through an infinite number of gear ratios. The Volt uses a two step introduction of power to the vehicle, creating better fuel economy. The Volt, however, has about 700 extra pounds under the hood and gets around 13 miles less per gallon when in gasoline mode than the Prius. There are some other differences between the two, but this is one of the major ones.
The original Prius was designed to run off gasoline by converting the gasoline to electricity first to run the motor. However, the Volt can go several miles on battery power alone. This is good because it means that the Volt can be charged from renewable sources of energy. Many people have taken their Priuses and converted them to run several miles on straight battery power like the Volt does by adding extra batteries.
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