[ad#post_ad]I had the following discussion with Alex Cattelan who is the Volt's Chief Powertrain Engineer. It explains for the first time anywhere in more depth how the Volt's two separate electric motors function.

The design of the electric motor, is there a separate generator or does the motor itself just turn the other way and act as a generator?

Very interesting question. There are two motors. One is considered the traction motor and the other one is the generator. However, and they are two motors, the traction motor is  higher-powered and designed specifically to meet the traction requirements.  The generator is designed to efficiently couple to the engine to generate what we need and match the efficiency band of the engine as much as possible in all the operating modes. So we look at that motor as coupled with the engine in system and then we also have a traction motor.

Some of the interesting pieces though of this are, for example, in EV operation I have two motors on board and I typically use the traction motor only to drive the vehicle. However, I do have some mechanisms to couple those motors and in some points of operation these two motors can be coupled and have a more efficient state.

Does that produce more power if they’re coupled?

It's actually not additive for power, it's actually the way it's architected, and a lot of this is proprietary so I can’t get into the full architecture, but what it does is optimize the rotating speed and the losses of the motors so in certain states its better to operate both to propel the vehicle and in some states its better to utilize more of the generator and less of the traction motor. In some states its more efficient to use more of the generator and have more of the traction motor actually be a generator. That would be for example in coast down situation often we use our traction motor as a generator on regen.

We do have the ability to utilize both motors in propulsion mode.

The issue is and the direct answer to your question is we do have a primary traction motor and a primary generator motor and they are designed specifically for those levels of operation. However, we have a little bit of flexibility in exactly how we use them.