Why haven't cars been made with the Chevy Volt concept all along, like...

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...all those diesel-electric locomotives? Long before plug-in batteries were practical for cars like the Chevy Volt, diesel-electric trains were running on the same general concept, with the combustion engine generating electricity and not physically attached to the drive-line.

It seems very logical to have just an electric motor powering the drive-line, to reduce the complexity of transmission gearing, etc. The small gas (or diesel) generator under the hood could be less complex than a typical engine and much easier to swap out if it fails. It could be designed for a much narrower range of RPM, like a stationary generator.

Since the Volt can get about 37 MPG in "generator mode" (after the battery charge fades), was such a system (minus the main plug-in battery) practical long ago? Or was there some breakthrough in making a super efficient gas generator that's part of the Volt package?
anon a: I don't think you read the gist of my question. There would be no need for a "drive battery" just an onboard generator powering the electric motor vs. powering the wheels itself.
 
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