TTAC has a long, proud tradition of tearing into puffy automotive journalism, so it was not without a little trepidation that I wrote in the comments section of Michael Karesh’s excellent review of Zero To Sixty that
Toothless reporters put execs at their ease… which allows them to say naive or revealing things that toothy bloggers can then rip into. In a weird way, the worse the reporter, the better the reporting (as long as the quotes are then duly digested). As time goes on, I find myself more and more at peace with this evolving media food chain… and TTAC’s place in it.
To be clear, this is not an endorsement of toothless coverage per se, it’s just a pragmatic response to the reality that auto industry coverage will continue to be dominated by PR-approved puff. And this video provides yet more proof that non-threatening journalists are actually the most effective at snagging scoops, even if they’re totally unaware of said scoop. Which is where the bloggers come in.
AOL Autos’ TransLogic was invited to Milford Proving Grounds for a PR-guided tour of the Volt, and in the process accidentally reveals one of the few still-guarded secrets about the Volt’s performance: post-EV-range, or “Charge Sustaining Mode” (CS Mode) efficiency. Speculation has been rampant about what kind of mileage the Volt gets after exhausting its 40-mile electric range, with guesses ranging from 30 MPG to 50 MPG. And though the video shows that TransLogic was able to get the Volt to 43 miles on electric range, it also shows that, as gm-volt.com reports,
The car then traveled an additional 16.1 miles using .59 gallons of gas for an average real-world MPG of 27.3 MPG.
Now, 16 miles isn’t exactly a definitive test, nor do we know exactly how the 16 miles was driven. Besides, GM would surely argue that the Volt tested was not a true production model, and that drawing inferences from this inadvertent information nuglet is premature. Still, they’re the ones concealing the Volt’s CS Mode performance, and if sub 30 MPG performance is what we can expect, the decision to keep the number under wraps is completely understandable. After all, that’s hardly an eco-friendly number coming from the Volt’s main claimed competitive advantage over the Nissan Leaf, namely its gas range-extender. With the “230 MPG” fiasco still festering, and GM and the EPA “negotiating” a fuel economy window sticker that is likely to be unique to the Volt (at least for now), we have to wonder how truthful GM plans on being about the Volt’s CS Mode efficiency.
Here’s hoping we learn more soon via a tough question honestly answered, rather than through an inadvertent leak by way of a breathless video report… but who’s holding their breath for that?