MSN Autos Declares Chevy Volt as Top American Hybrid and Tesla Model S as Top American Electric


Chevy Volt

Chevy Volt

We could argue days on end what makes an American automobile American, but we’re not inclined to discuss that right now.

For MSN Autos, American automobiles are limited to Ram, Chrysler, Jeep, Ford, Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, Tesla and so on.  Basically, American here means the automaker has its global headquarters in the US.

With that in mind, MSN Autos declared its top American vehicles by class.  Two plug-ins made the list.

  • Top American Hybrid: Chevrolet Volt
  • Top American Electric: Tesla Model S

Competition is incredibly sparse in the Top American Electric class – Chevy Spark EV, Ford Focus EV and Tesla Model S.

But in the hybrid class there’s quite a large number of vehicles, most of which don’t plug in (except for the Ford Energi models and the Cadillac ELR).

As for why the Volt gets classified as a hybrid, here’s what MSN Autos says:

“Chevrolet calls the Volt an extended-range electric vehicle because it runs mostly on electricity, but in our book if it has an engine and an electric motor it’s a hybrid.”

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

Top American Vehicles by Class, According to MSN Autos

Top American Vehicles by Class, According to MSN Autos

Source: MSN Autos

Categories: Chevrolet

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33 Comments on "MSN Autos Declares Chevy Volt as Top American Hybrid and Tesla Model S as Top American Electric"

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Yet another well deserved award for the Volt! I think GM will have to get another warehouse just to house the trophies!
And the Tesla S is just a beautiful car in so many ways.

MSN got it right. An American automaker is headquartered in America, where all the profits go. Building a stronger America.

Unlike imports use Americans to ‘assemble’ their cars on American soil, and all profits go back to their home country, building a stronger Japan, Germany, Korea, etc.

Just like American auto manufacturers who build cars in foreign countries, pulling profits back home to America, building a stronger America.

Humm, what would they have said about Fiat-Chrysler, or Daimler Chrysler? Unfortunately, its probably only a matter of time before GM is headquartered in Beijing.

Let’s not forget that GM is the pioneer of exporting America. Giving them praise for their lowest production vehicle is a great example of wearing blinders. And odds are in favor that they’re researching to export the Volt.

True praise should be given to Tesla. 100% of their vehicle sales are build and HQ’d in America and not GM’s <.01% Volt sales.

Any EV award is a good one for it helps keep them in the news. And of course having a home auto base is essential for every country. And I agree with both categories.

“Chevrolet calls the Volt an extended-range electric vehicle because it runs mostly on electricity, but in our book if it has an engine and an electric motor it’s a hybrid.”

Yes the Volt deserves this category for it is a hybrid. Of course in the future when many different flavors of range extenders exist like the BMW i3 Rex they will (by the above definition) be hybrids too.

But for the newbies looking to understand, know why Chevy Volt is not like a Prius. Not that anything is wrong with a Prius for it is a fabulous car, they simply are apples and oranges under the same hybrid classification and Chevy developed the term EREV Extended Range Electric Vehicle to help explain the difference.


It is overly simple to say hybrids “have an engine and an electric motor”. It matters how they are connected.

Some cars, can drive the wheels mechanically using the engine or electric motor. This applies to the Prius, Volt, Honda hydrids. But the BMW i3 Rex cannot do that.

Ignoring that distinction is like ignoring whether an engine is turbo charged or not.

You are preaching to the choir. Read my attached link.

Mark, happy to hear we are in agreement.

IMO the Volt is a PHEV (like the plug in Accord or plug in Prius or Ford Energi), but not an EREV. I think BMW i3 is an EREV.

Well we disagree on that point. The Volt is an EREV especially since Chevy coined the phrase.

It is definitely not like a Prius, Fusion, C Max or Accord and this is the point I blog for the newcomers. You should spend about an “hour” behind the wheel of a Volt and you will understand why it is very much an EREV. Is the i3 a “purer” EREV? Yes, but the 50,000 Volt owners will testify how they are experiencing the pure electric experience. You can argue the technicalities of this point until the cows come home, but you will only satisfy yourself by spending at least 30 miles behind the wheel trying to force it into hybrid mode. Then you will understand how it differs from the Accord, Prius, Fusion & C Max energi.

My 29,000 Volt electric miles agree with you.

That’s right… turbo or not, an ICE is an ICE. And in the end, the Volt is a hybrid. And a damn good one at that.

Agreed, Volt is a great hydrid, so why is Chevrolet marketing it as EREV instead of Hybrid?

I’d say because it has a useable all-electric range such that it functions as an EV (using no gas) for most owners on most days. Accord, Prius, and the energis can’t quite say the same thing.

Because to simply call it a hybrid does not accurately describe what it is capable of. It is also accurate to just refer to it as a car, but that doesn’t do it justice either.

A hybrid is a type of car, a plug in hybrid is a type of hybrid, an EREV is a type of plug in hybrid, etc. Each level describes more detail about how the car truly functions compared with other technologies in the landscape.

Actually, any car that has more than one source of power is a hybrid. Yes, there are distinctions, and a Volt is quite different from a Prius, but the Volt took the prize in the hybrid category, so why complain? 🙂

I completely agree Rick. I think it is great the Volt took the prize and deservedly so. I do not disagree with MSN’s hybrid definition nor ggpa’s point. I primarily blog to help those new to the party. There will be at least 100,000 EV buyers in the US alone in 2014. Some, repeat customers and most will be well informed prior to their purchase. There will be a number of people visiting this site for the first time to learn about EVs. I could care less which EV fits them best, but hope we can assist them in finding the best match for their personal driving needs. I personally think things will become more clear when more extenders are available as an option as BMW has done with the i3. And as the average range for a BEV moves toward 150, the lessening need for the extender. If you don’t need/want an extender, then by all means I would not recommend that one should by one. EREV buyers as you well know are looking for the pure electric driving experience while still requiring the extended range. Prius drivers could care less. As long as newcomers are aware of the… Read more »


Good explanations, thanks. I totally get your point that the Volt is a fabulous hybrid, and has enough battery capacity and the electric motor is sized so it has great EV-only performance, whereas the Prius has very limited EV abilities. The distinction you make is a valid one.

IMO one of the reasons Chevrolet coined the phrase EREV is because their own “hybrid” technology (think Malibu) is a joke, and they could not use the same classification for the Volt. They had to pick a new category to explain that the Volt is a very different vehicle.

Also, if you use the volt like a traditional Prius (I.e. never plug it in) it is a fairly poor “hybrid” in that sense. But when you use it as an EV there is tremendous value and energy savings. So to market the volt as a hybrid would be silly. The value of the volt is as an EV except when you need to go out of town, in which case it is an OK hybrid. GM uses EREV to make this distinction.

Using the same analogy, the value of the bmw i3 rex is as an EV except when you need to leave the metropolis, in which case it is an emergency hybrid.

ClarksonCote – sadly this is incorrect … “EREV is a type of plug in hybrid”
lithium – no, BMW i3 is not a hybrid

The way I understand it, EREVs and EVs have 1 source of propulsion, but hybrids have 2, and that is sometimes important (example follows).

I understand and share Mark’s goal of explaining this new technology to newcomers, and I get his point that the Volt is not the same as a Prius (it drives much better), but a Volt is not the same as a BMW i3 either.

Hybrids like Volt and Prius should never get the driver in a position where you fear that a truck will overrun you as described in

Actually ClarksonCote is dead on ggpa. By MSN’s definition, not mine, the i3 is a hybrid. The Volt and i3 Rex are closer than any other comparisons out there. The i3 has number or advantages over the Volt and is also about $8000 more expensive. This is not about which car is better it is about understanding the driving experience.

I think a long test drive in a Volt will help you get it better. If you can find a place to drive a Volt even up to 100 mph you are still going to be running on electricity the whole way. This experience is currently unique to the i3 and the Volt. Now some will argue the planetary gear set of the Volt and if you know exactly what you are doing, you can get the ICE to engage. You are also going to encounter the ICE on the i3 if you are on a long trip. But for the most part you are going to get more of the electric experience in these two EVs/hybrids/EREVs. Please read my original link posted above.


I appreciate the response but perhaps you misunderstood me. It is not clear what you think I’ll get when I drive a Volt. I do not disagree with the award or that the Volt is a hybrid.

Thanks again

Agree with MSN Autos – correct awards on both 🙂

When I drive 400mi in one day, my Volt IS a hybrid. On my daily commute it IS an EV.

The car is so versatile that it is not only hard to explain it’s damn near impossible to distinguish from hybrids when talking about it with non-technical people.

For the 400mi thing, I accept the this award’s veracity.


Mark et al

Thanks for the lively dicussion.

It seems \we all agree that the Volt is a hybrid. You point out that the Volt is more than a hybrid, and I guess everybody concurs, and that is why there is no dispute that the Volt won the hybrid award.

I feel the i3 is less than a hybrid, and I do not expect it to ever win such an award. IMHO if you call the i3 a hybrid like MSN does then the term becomes too vague and loses its meaning and descriptive value.

The example I mentioned above its where somebody drove an i3, stepped on the gas pedal and it did not accelerate as expected. That is not hybrid behavior.

No, actually, we do not agree that the Volt is a hybrid. Folks making that claim, including you, do not drive a Volt.

Why is this so important? Saying that the Volt is a hybrid and comparing it to other hybrids ignores the specifics and capabilities of the Volt. It ignores the technical and organizational accomplishment of the 60,000 and growing number of Volts. Doing so gives the naysayers a tool to attack GM, attack plugin cars in general, and attack the government policies in place to promote them.

Repeating that the Volt is a hybrid does not make it so, however it does detract people generally interested in electric vehicles from seriously looking at it. Whether intentionally or not it creates more confusion, where more clarity is needed.

Had MSN Auto considered the the Volt and the Model S in the same category and considered the practical aspect of each, choosing the Model S may not have been a clear cut.

its not a deal

Thanks for joining in. Technically the Volt is a PHEV but like vdiv states below it is better described as an EREV. Note how vdiv and others feel. Note how you feel when the i3 Rex is called a PHEV (Plug in Hybrid). By MSN’s definition, not mine, it is a PHEV too! This is going to help because BMW people want like the term PHEV either.

If you really want an electric highway
Say it with me now “EREV”….. (that’s for vdiv and his sense of humor)


I liked your light hearted response, but you still have not responded to the telegraph review. Joke as much as you like about the labels that vdiv or MSN chooses, but while your goal remains to help others, you should care about accuracy.

From the telegraph review we can learn that i3 and Volt are both great in EV mode while the battery lasts, but after that the Volt can cruise on fine using gasoline (not great MPG though), whereas the i3 has barely enough power to drive on the level highways and will fail on hills. You remain silent on this important issue. Do you have any idea what MPG i3 gets on gasoline?

Cadillac ELR will be a reality test of vdiv’s idea that the Volt and the Model S should be in the same category.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I do enjoy


As a volt owner, the definitons are not too important to me. The only distinction I care about is that my car can plug in and run on all-electric mode. Any hybrid that cannot plug in is more efficient than a regular gas car, but still ultimately gets 100% of its propulsion energy from the conversion of fossil fuel. A plug in with a decent all-electric range might be a “hybrid” on paper, but when it is used for thousands of miles without a drop of gas, that gets my attention more than the label.